The Missing Ingredient

Christmas is near – I know that because my wife’s birthday in December 7 and she is wonderful about reminding me! But I know Christmas is coming because my email inbox is stuffed full of ‘Special Offers’ for special customers (it’s nice to be special!).

As I drive around our area making hospital visits and attending various parties and functions during the season I know Christmas is near because of the lights on people’s homes. The shopping centers are lit brightly, inviting me to stop in and browse merchandise that will certainly bring happiness to those in my family and give me joy as I give.

But as I see the lights, as I see the shopping centers I also see people. As I find parking spots in the places I visit I see people drifting in and out of the stores, the places of business. As I see their faces I see a hopelessness. I overhear bits and pieces of conversation and wonder – what happened to hope? Oh, I hear it – ‘I hope he/she can use this,’ or ‘I hope this fits.’ But the hopelessness I sense is deeper than that.

Can a gift, can an invitation to a party or an open house heal the deep wounds of brokenness that have been created by the selfishness of 11 months and 24 days? Can one day – Christmas – or one season – “the hap-hap-happiest time of year” heal the hurt of loss? Behind the smiles, behind the masks people wear is a deep sense of hopelessness.

And yet the answer for hopelessness is the One whose birth is the very reason for the celebration. Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of Mary who had been wed to Joseph, is the bearer of hope. In Him we see unveiled the ability of God to fulfill His promises – in spite of generations of failure by His people. In Jesus we see before us the possibility that God will reverse the curse of sin and death. In the birth of Jesus we hear good news for all people – all can enter into a relationship with God through the gift of life in Jesus Christ.

May your Christmas season be one of hope! Hope in knowing that God will finish what He has begun, hope in knowing that nothing can break a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, hope in knowing that no sin is too great, no failure is too large for the love of God given us in and through Jesus Christ!

10 DAYS OF SIMPLE AND STRATEGIC PRAYER IN PREPARATION FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON

We have ten days left in November, and then only one month left in 2016. These next several weeks are often some of the busiest ones in the life of a church, especially as we prepare to celebrate our Lord’s birth. Think about using this post to guide your church’s praying for the rest of this month.

Day 1Pray for your church staff and leaders. Pray that all will be holy, passionate, and evangelistic.

Day 2Pray for your church’s small group leaders. Ask God to give them a caring heart, a teaching ability, and a prayerful spirit. Pray they will willingly reproduce themselves and multiply their groups.

Day 3Pray for the children in your church. Pray your church will give them such grounding in the gospel they will always think about Christian faithfulness when confronted with the world’s options.

Day 4Pray for the students in your church. Pray they will be vibrant witnesses in their schools. Ask the Lord to give them strength in temptation. Ask God to raise up a next generation of missionaries from your church.

Day 5Pray for the couples in your church. Lift them up by name, and pray for their marriages. Pray that each husband will love his wife as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25). Intercede especially for those couples you know are struggling.

Day 6Pray Ephesians 6:18-20 and Colossians 4:2-4 for ten leaders in your church. Ask God to give them boldness in sharing, clarity in message, and others ready to hear. A few members with a thirst for evangelism can spark an awakening.

Day 7Pray for new believers in your church. Ask the Lord to raise up disciplers for them. If your church does not have any new members, ask God to give your congregation a renewed heart for evangelism.

Day 8Pray for your church to be a Great Commission-minded church. Prayerfully consider committing to interceding for an unreached people group around the world. If your congregation is already going to the nations, pray for more members to go.

Day 9Pray for more laborers in your church (Matt. 9:35-38). Jesus told us to pray that way, so be obedient to His command. You may find you seldom struggle in finding workers when you pray this way.

Day 10Pray for your church’s work during the Christmas season. Ask God to make Himself known in such a powerful way that your members, your community, and the nations see His glory.

 

COPIED W/ PERMISSION FROM

10 Days of Simple and Strategic Prayer in Preparation for the Holiday Season

 

The Day After…

In 1983 ABC aired a made-for-tv movie, The Day After. The premise was to show the reactions of everyday Americans to a nuclear attack. I don’t remember much about the movie, but I do remember a great deal of discussion about whether children should be allowed to watch (my son was just a few months old) and whether it would be too graphic for the average tv viewer.

Today is the day after one of the most contentious and divisive presidential election cycles in recent American history. Donald Trump pulled of a victory that is still reverberating through the mainstream media, the political elite, and the evangelical community. Few experts saw this coming. Many evangelical leaders counseled believers to be stewards of their vote and demonstrate wisdom by either abstaining from the presidential contest or voting for a third-party candidate. At least report some 86% of self-identified evangelicals voted for Trump showing an interesting divide between evangelical leaders and the evangelicals in the pews (or more likely, chairs).

Now that President-Elect Trump begins the transition from businessman, citizen to the highest office in the land we as believers are to continue to pray for those in authority over us. Yes, that includes our current President, Barak Obama. Yes, that includes a multitude of other Democrats (in Oregon a Democratic governor, Kate Brown, won handily) in a variety of state and local offices.

Finally, as we pray let us never forget that our ultimate allegiance is not to an ideology or a country, but to Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of the Father!

 

Voting in Oregon

Oregon is a great place to live in many ways. There are also a couple of frustrations with living in Oregon- particularly in a Presidential Election year. First, we vote by mail in Oregon – which just irritates me! I remember fondly having to wait till the day of the election, showing up at a voting station, showing ID and actually filling our a ballot. Inconvenient? Yes. Yet there was something about the inconvenience that made me appreciate the freedom I had to participate in the election. Second, by the time many of us voted here on the West Coast, some news outlets were already predicting victories. Since we are three hours behind the nerve center of TV land – New York City – we sometimes were treated as an afterthought. Finally, living in Oregon with a whopping 7 (yes, seven) electoral college votes means that, well, we don’t really matter all that much (yes, most states in the West share that same sense of ‘does it really matter?’)

I will vote! I will mail in my ballot because I am privileged to live in the United States where voting does matter. I will vote my conscience and I will vote for candidates that will support life – from beginning to end, candidates who will uphold the constitution as written and will make efforts to remind the judicial branch that their role is not to create law or find rights, and candidates who will work towards maintaining a healthy economy and a healthy environment for conversation and the free exchange of ideas.

 

I Watched!

I watched last night’s Town Hall Debate between Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In light of recent revelations about both of them, I was interested in listening to their explanations and answers.

Unfortunately specifics were hard to hear – because neither candidate seemed to offer much beyond what they repeat numerous times a week in their ‘stump’ speeches. Of course asking a question regarding how to change Obama Care might require more than 120 seconds – unless soundbites are all that one is hoping to hear!

I came away saddened and disappointed. Saddened because political discourse is no longer about ideas but rather about personality and character. Disappointed because instead of hearing clear differences between alternative futures I heard nothing to bolster any confidence about the future of the American representative form of government,

 

Spiritual Warfare

On Wednesday evenings during our Adult Bible Study and Prayer meeting we are studying Ephesians 6:10-20. Here are some additional verses to memorize as we grow in our understanding of the spiritual war raging round us:

The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8)
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23)
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 8:1)
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:32)
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteous- ness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)
You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Cor. 8:9)
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Tim. 1:15)
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (Rev. 5:9)

Praying for Umpqua Community College

This week marks the beginning of classes for a new academic year at Umpqua Community College. Yesterday in our worship service we prayed for the following requests. Please use these requests to guide your prayer for the students, staff, and faculty at UCC as they continue the healing process.

PRAYING FOR UMPQUA COMMUNITY COLLEGE SEPTEMBER 25, 2016 October 1, 2015, has forever changed our lives. Since classes had only begun a few days previously students, faculty and staff were still learning to navigate a new school year. Gunshots rang out and in just a few minutes 9 students had been killed and some 17 other students had been injured by the gunfire. The culprit also died as police responded. September 26, 2016 will be the beginning of a new school year for UCC. As students, faculty and staff come together tomorrow please pray for the following requests (submitted by various faculty at staff at UCC): Continued healing- physical, emotional, spiritual Courage and strength for those whose memories are making this a difficult transition Members of the Board of Trustee’s as they move forward in achieving the mission of the college Dr. Debra Thatcher, new president of UCC (she began on July 1, 2016) Safety and security around and on campus For students to be able to learn For unity among faculty and staff

PRAYER FOR OUR COUNTRY

Here is a link to an article I found helpful…http://www.albertmohler.com/2016/09/12/terror-teaches-learned-anything-3/

 

Yesterday, September 11 was the 15th anniversary of the terror attacks of Sept 11, 2001. In memory of those who died on that day, and those who have sacrificed their lives serving our country during these years of the war on terror we spent time praying for our country. Here is the prayer guide we shared:

PRAYER GUIDE SEPTEMBER 11, 2016 For the next few moments pray with those gathered around your table. Feel free to pray out loud, being aware of others praying at other tables, or pray silently using the following prayer thoughts:

LORD, I humble myself to seek You above all other things in my life “and [if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14, HCSB)

I will turn from my sin and self-effort: “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Psalm 24:3–5, HCSB)

I will yield to God’s Lordship and the fullness of the Holy Spirit: “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Psalm 24:3–5, HCSB) “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Psalm 24:3–5, HCSB)

LORD, I/We pray that biblical foundations would be restored in our lives…

that our marriages and families would honor You…

that our schools would be protected from the evil one and that believers who work in our schools will be empowered to share their faith with students and other staff and faculty.

I/We pray that Your people who live in the nation known as the United States, would turn to You, that they would learnt o seek You, and that You would enable all to see the truth and grace that are available in Jesus Christ.

LORD, We cry to you, seeking to be freshly filled with Your Holy Spirit so that our lives would clearly reflect Your presence and that our words would be spoken in such a way that Your presence and power are magnified.

LABOR DAY`

MATTHEW 1!:28-30

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005.

Today is Labor Day! Enjoy a day of physical rest and take some time to celebrate the ‘rest’ that God gives us through Jesus Christ!

HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!

august 28Yesterday was a remarkable and notable day for Community Baptist Church. Pastor Steve & Cindy celebrated 25 years of ministry here in Winston. Pastor Steve also turned 60 earlier in August and he and Cindy celebrated 40 years of marriage on August 2. Community Baptist Church also acknowledged 30 years of service to central Douglas County, Oregon.

We had a wonderful time of worship and feasting!

Here’s to the next 30 years!