Step Up in September

The Step Up in September campaign is a plan to encourage every one in this church family to make a special effort to attend all Bible classes and worship services each week for the month of September. 

There may be some who cannot be present for all of the classes/worship because of work, or health, etc., but please come when you can.

Additionally we are trying to encourage parents to see that all children and teens attend all Bible classes and worship, as well.

We would greatly appreciate your willingness to help.  We know that from time to time, we all need encouragement on working towards the goal given by Paul in Hebrews 10:23-25.  “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking the assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

Not only are we trying to encourage the faithful assembling instructed in the Scripture, but it is also a way of saying thank you to our Lord for forgiving us of our sins and His promise of saving us in heaven.

From the Elders

 

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Apollo and God

Man sets foot on the surface of the moon!  Apollo 11, July 20, 1969.

Twenty-one years old, along with 94% of Americans, I watched on black & white TV, Neil Armstrong stepping onto lunar soil. "One small step for man, One giant leap for Mankind." Before that, because it was Sunday when they landed, Buzz Aldrin brought along communion.  The first thing eaten on the moon was the Lords' Supper!

Fascinated at what America had achieved then, even more today, I was amazed at the awesomeness of the Creator we witnessed.  In a breathtaking view, even through grainy in the pictures, I saw the handiwork of our God from space.  Psalms 19:1

We just celebrated the Apollo Space Program's 50th anniversary and I couldn't help      but compare the program if it were happening today.

When the astronauts left earth they were bid "God's speed" from Ground Control and the first humans orbited the moon on  Dec. 24, 1968 in Apollo 8.  Emerging from behind the moon, the men observed an "Earth-rise". For the first time we saw our world as God might view it.  That provoked them to read from Genesis 1 to the souls back "on the good Earth".  I remember crying as I heard the Word from space on  Christmas eve.  And when the last manned Lunar exploration left Lunar orbit (Apollo 17), Astronaut Gene Cernan stated..."God willing"... man would return.

I wonder what they would read today? What would an astronaut say today while circling or landing on the moon, or on Mars, or some other celestial body?  I wonder would God be honored at all if these events were to happen today?

I believe we had a successful space program because God was included, credited and honored in these accomplishments of men. Pray that we never forget to show our honor, amazement and awe for the true wonder of creation - our God!  

Psalms 8: 3-4!

 

 

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How Are You Listening

V.E. Howard, well known preacher for the International Gospel Hour, who preached on the radio for fifty years, punctuated his sermons with the sobering question, “Are You Listening?” Despite the reputation he gained for that preaching pattern, have we appreciated the appropriateness and pertinence of what he was doing?

 In Jeremiah 7, God “rejected and abandoned “ His people  (v.29), mentioning five different times that a failure to listen to Him was the cause (vv. 13, 16, 24, 26, 27 NIV).  In verse 13 God pointed to the time they were at Shiloh.  God spoke to them “again and again, but you did not listen.”  God reviewed when they came out of Egyptian bondage, He cared for them and gave them commands, but they “did not listen to Me” (v.26).  Then God warned Jeremiah, “When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you” (v.27).  God spanned centuries, stating that His people had a listening problem!

Centuries later, when Jesus came, He reportedly said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15; 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23, 7:16 KJV; Lk. 18:8; 14:35).  They all had ears, but Jesus challenged them—and us—to “Take heed therefore how you hear!” (Lk. 8:18).

God informs us that the failure “to listen” resulted in Israel going “backward and not forward,” becoming “stiff necked” and “did more evil than their ancestors,” and “Truth has perished...vanished from their lips” (Jer. 7:24-28).

The next time you sit in a Bible class, hear the preacher preach, hear God’s Word quoted or read—You might want to run the question by your ears,

 “How are you listening?”

 

 

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Why Was Jesus Crucified?

Of course it was part of God’s great plan to redeem man, but how was it that people came to hate him so much that they begged the Romans to crucify him?

Simply put, Jesus made people uncomfortable, because he told the truth.

In a world that hates truth, truth is hate.

Folks were told that believing Jesus would get them thrown out of the synagogue (John 9:22 & 12:42).  Those who loved the approval of men realized they could not express approval of Jesus and reach their goal.  Even Jesus said that we can only have one master, and that the one we rejected would be hated.

Folks were told that believing in Jesus would start a war, “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation”, John 11:48.  Yes, of course it was a lie.  But it is surprising how readily some folks will believe a lie without thinking for themselves. 

Some said Jesus had a demon (John 7:20 & 10:20).  It is easy to believe an ugly, unsubstantiated statement about someone who is different from you.  This is especially true if the unsubstantiated statement comes from someone whose acceptance you crave.  You don’t want conflict with them, do you?  So once again, to find acceptance among men you must deny the one who heals the sick, makes the lame walk, gives sight to the blind, even raises the dead and teaches you wonderful things you know are true.

When lies are embraced, you can’t tell the truth without stepping on toes.  But if you don’t tell the truth, what’s the point?  Jesus came to confront the lies and the sin being practiced.  That was love.

Love like Jesus loved.  Tell them the truth so they have a chance to choose something over the lies the world is telling them daily.

But watch out.  It may get you crucified too.

 

 

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Big Church, Little Church

The first question people ask when they find out that I’m a minister is the name of the church that I preach for and then, without fail, follow up with the query, “How big is your congregation?” It seems as if there is something about the size of the congregation I serve that somehow gives them insight into who I am and probably my abilities as a minister.

When it comes to judging the value of any congregation of the Lord’s church and the competency of its workers, however, size is of limited use. Throughout the New Testament Jesus and His Apostles addressed disciples and churches on all kinds of issues both commending and correcting them but never once did they mention the size of any assembly in a negative or positive light. It’s as if how big they were was not a factor used in judging their appeal to God.

This may be because churches can be pleasing to the Lord and useful in ministry no matter what size they eventually become.

For example, big churches can do big things like take on the support of an entire mission team that will plant churches and more quickly build up the kingdom in a place where Christianity is not well known. Large mega-churches also have weightier reputations in the community and can often influence local leaders in the doing of good that is Christian in nature and spiritually productive for the general public. The list of advantages available to large congregations goes on and on but they are not without their own problems.

Lack of intimacy and the “corporate” feel of overly organized large churches tend to discourage people looking to connect with other Christians or have specific needs best served by the blessings of fellowship and the security of quiet, sincere friendships. Not that these are absent in big churches but they usually take more time to develop.

Small churches, on the other hand, are all about friendliness, close fellowship and a relaxed familiar feel. They don’t usually exercise a lot of public influence but their members are fiercely loyal to one another and they understand how important every single saint is to the body because when even one of the sheep goes missing or is hurt, everyone knows about it and all are affected in some way.

This is not to say that little churches are not productive, but much like the makers of exotic sports cars, each addition to the small church is hand crafted and requires the investment of many members. Unlike big churches who are able to delegate different ministries to various individuals and groups gifted for each type of work, in little churches the progress is usually the result of the entire church’s effort. There are no “specialists” in small churches, only generalists.

In the end, however, both big and little churches will be judged using the same measure. When the Lord comes, He will seek out those who have been faithful, regardless of the size of congregation in which they lived out their Christian lives.

We must not, therefore, be proud or boastful of the size of our assemblies (I.e. bigger is better/smaller is more sincere etc.). In the end, the size of our assemblies depends on the Lord because He is the One who adds (Acts 2:47) and thus deserves the credit and praise for the numbers. Our task is to remain faithful and we will be judged on this because we control faithfulness not numbers. Let us remember, therefore, that when Lord comes the operative word will not be big or little, but faithful.

 


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Embarrassed?

Think for a moment...Have you ever had a child say or do something in a public surrounding that made you want to dig a hole and pull the ground in over you? 

It could be your child, or grandchild, cousin, some relative or maybe someone unrelated to you at all.  The words or actions at that moment may come from an innocent child, but  we, with our extreme maturity, don't know how to react. We just wish we were someone else at the time. We don't know whether to laugh or to cry.

Did you ever think how our Heavenly Father might feel when our actions or our mouths overload our brain and produce embarrassment in Him?  Whether intentional or innocent in our behavior, God wants us to be His reflection on earth. (Job 9:20)  Though He may become disappointed in our behavior, He is still totally forgiving because He loves us so much.  Just like we forgive that embarrassing child's actions, God is always willing to forgive and more importantly, forget.

In His infinite mercy, God loves us enough to wonder why we do some dumb (sinful) things, but is ready to exonerate our short comings. He has promised unconditional love and  He is prepared to accept us as "little children", who hopefully are struggling toward maturity. 

So remember the next time a child says or does something to embarrass you ... that God loves us enough to sacrifice His only Son for you and me. (John 3:16)

In spite of our embarrassing behaviors.

 

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Communication is Key

We have all most likely heard the phrase, “Communication is Key.” It is usually connected to an intimate relationship like a marriage or a friendship. The phrase is also used in most job places. Now that I’m involved in ministry, I realize it applies to the Church as well.

My wife and I used to think we were good communicators. We found out we were good “assumers” and it tore us apart. We ended up in marriage counseling on opposite ends of a couch unable to speak to one another. Our counselor made us open up a line of “real” communication sitting on that couch. She made us have direct communication whether it was good or bad. It was awful; at first. We realized we didn’t know each other anymore.

After about a month, we found that we really enjoyed going to counseling. We found that direct communication with each other was fixing most of our problems because we no longer had to assume what each other wanted. We had to humble ourselves and listen. We knew how we felt or what we wanted because we got the information directly from the source. We learned to compromise. We became unified once we began to communicate. We found out that communication was, indeed, the key.

Christ and the Church are compared to a marriage between a man and a woman in Ephesians 5. A church must communicate between the leadership, the body, and individual members. Such as: Is a church communicating the truth it is teaching? Meaning, is the church on the same page about what truth is?

Is a church communicating the issues? Meaning, if there is an issue, is it addressed in a biblical way? Is it addressed to the congregation? Do members with issues communicate with one another a biblical way? Members of a church cannot be afraid to communicate with one another directly. In fact, it is a unifying process. How can God bless a body that is not unified?

 

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Love One Another

I have been thinking lately about what our individual roles are in the Church. Are we working? I seem to have tunnel vision toward this subject of doing Kingdom works and just regular works that come with being involved in church. What is the need and how do we fulfill it? As I’ve been thinking about ways to get members involved, I’ve started to ask myself, “How can it be made simple?” I mean, what is the most basic way to get brothers and sisters involved in the church? After some studying, I have realized it is a very simple answer that is very hard to do.

John 13:34-35 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 The answer is to love one another. To love each other is the foundation on which our relationships are built. It’s easy to work when you love the person you are working with. When we have no love for each other, we cannot properly function. When we have no love, we put up walls that Christ never intended to be in His Church. When we have no love, we don’t worship the way God wants us to worship. If we have no love for the assembly, our children will have no love for the assembly.

So, what keeps us from loving each other? Lack of patience? Pride? Gossip? A generally negative outlook? What ever our personal issues are, we, as members of the Body of Christ, must love each other or we cannot begin to work together. Remember, Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”        

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New Sunday Adult Classes Coming for the Summer

On Sunday, July 7th our new Summer education quarter for adult Bible classes begin. 

On Wednesday nights we will have the third edition of “The Main Lesson in____” series with different speakers coming each week to summarize and explain what they believe is the main teaching of each book of the Bible.  We have a great line of speakers beginning with Howard Norton, kicking off the series on Wednesday, July 10th reviewing Paul’s first epistle to the Thessalonians.  Look for brochures in your mailboxes with the information on all the speakers and the books they have chosen to teach.

On Sunday mornings we will offer two adult classes.  One will be taught by Marty Kessler in the auditorium entitled “Minor Prophets-Anything but Minor”.  In this class Marty hopes to spend some time in each of these books and will be taking a closer look at these prophets and their relevance today.

The other adult class will be a series devoted to building happy marriages entitled, “Marriage Prep 101.”  This class is specifically designed for college age, young marrieds and married couples with young children.  It will provide the kind of experienced based, Biblically sound information to help prepare young people for marriage and support young marrieds in their efforts to build strong and happy Christian marriages.  This class will be taught by Mike Mazzalongo in the fellowship hall.

The children’s Bible class new quarter will also begin on July 7th.  All children ages 30 months-4th grade will be promoted on the same Sunday if they are the appropriate age or grade.  Kindergartners will have a special Bible presentation on Sunday, June 30th.

 

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The Profound Impact of Fathers

The Profound Impact of Fathers

                  “The supreme test of any civilization is whether or not it can

teach men to be good fathers”

                                                    —-Margaret Meade, cultural anthropologist

 “Every social ill that we are dealing with is directly or indirectly related to

fatherlessness”

—-Otto Kelly, executive director of Crisis Pregnancy Center, Reno Nevada

 Do the above quotes reflect the truth?  Consider the statistics below…..

 1 out of every 3 children grow up without the presence of their biological father

Fatherless children are 10 x more likely to abuse chemical substances

Fatherless children are 4 x more likely to be living in poverty

Fatherless young women are 164% more likely to have premarital sex

Fatherless young women are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers

Fatherless young women who marry are 92% more likely to get divorced

Fatherless young women are 4 x more likely to have a child while in their teens

Young women who have conceived a child are more than 2 x more likely to lose the child if their father is not supportive

Fatherless children are 2 x more likely to drop out of school

Fatherless children are 2 x more likely to commit suicide

85% of young men in prison are from fatherless homes

75% of rapists are found to be acting out anger due to a sense of abandonment by their fathers

We tend to pattern our perception of God after the perception we have of our earthly father.  Is it any wonder, therefore, that fatherlessness has led to Godlessness?

What this all means is that fathers simply by being present, even when minimally active in the lives of their children make a huge difference.

Stay in the fight for your children, dads.  Your commitment to being a father will have an impact on the lives of your children, and indeed, the world, that will last into eternity.

 

      Marty Kessler

 

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