I want to let you know of a great opportunity to travel to Israel, June 2-12, 2009. We will be having an interest meeting in the next few weeks with a packet of information. So, keep looking for more details to follow!
Many of you have been so gracious to ask how my doctorate is coming. After taking (essentially) a year off when we first arrived here, my writing was slow for the next several months. However, progress has picked up significantly in the last 4-6 months and will be pulling together several within our church body to participate in a project that will take another 4 months to complete. So, Lord willing, my writing and everything will be complete by the Spring, but due to the timing of deadlines I won’t be able to officially graduate until December 2009. My goal, which you can pray for, is to finish all my work by May.
Recent Church Letter
I hope you all have received your pastoral letter recently. I encourage you to read through it carefully and be encouraged as well as challenged. I’m going to try to write these church-wide letters quarterly, plus we are going to be working very hard on taking our communications up another level in the coming months.
Isn’t it a great time to be alive? There are wars around us. An election so full of rhetoric that it’s hard hear the real issues (it’s almost a travesty!). Our financial systems are show major cracks in the armor.
Wait a minute! How is that great? I mean, what’s so great about all these terrible things going on? Well, if we respond to these things like the world does, then I guess it could be overwhelming. Certainly when we have a hearts set on something (or someone) our treasures will be exposed.
These are great days because there is so much around us that the world “banks” (literally) on. We, as the church, have a great opportunity to have more exposed hope than when things are just plodding along as usual. Keep in mind, and I guess this could depend on your eschatalogical (end-times) viewpoint, that the gospel is making its way around the world like never before! Sure, there is persecution (and I’m not demeaning it), but there has ALWAYS been suffering and persecution. The fact that the gospel is going out to all flesh means that God’s renown is spreading.
We too often believe that we (as the church) are exempt from suffering and tribulation, but the scriptures tell us there will be private and corporate suffering in the church for the world to see. In a small way, all that causes so many of us concerns right now in our culture are means to show forth that we are people of hope and just may cause the world to ask us why we have this hope…
14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:14-17 (ESV)