Celebration is one of the hallmarks of the people of God. From the creation of the world, to the exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt, to the return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity, to the birth of Jesus, to the good news in Jesus' teachings, to the resurrection of Jesus, to the gift of the Holy Spirit--God's people have been a people of praise and celebration in response to the mighty acts of God.
C.S. Lewis said, "Joy is the serious business of Heaven."
The Apostle Paul wrote, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice."
After teaching on the need for obedience, Jesus told his friends that his aim was that they should be filled with joy, but not just any kind of joy: "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete."
As Christians, we have greatly underestimated the necessity of joy. In Nehemiah 8:9-10, Nehemiah said to his grieving congregation, "This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.....Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
People who want to pursue joy especially need to practice the spiritual discipline of celebration. This is the primary reason that we see much emphasis placed on feast days in the Old Testament. Times of feasting were to be transforming experiences--just as times of meditation and fasting were. Celebration generally involves activities that bring pleasure--gathering with people we love, eating and singing. Spiritual celebration means doing them while reflecting on the wonderful God who has given us such wonderful gifts. When we celebrate, we exercise our ability to see and feel goodness in the simplest gifts of God. We are able to take delight today in something we wouldn't have even noticed yesterday.
So how do we pursue joy? Begin now. The psalmist says, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." He doesn't say, "Yesterday was God's day, let me rejoice in what God did." Nor does he say, "Tomorrow will be better, I'll just endure until then." This is the day the Lord has made, with all its shortcomings, I will rejoice and celebrate it! If we don't rejoice today, we will not rejoice at all. If we wait until conditions are perfect, we will still be waiting when we die. If we are going to rejoice, it must be in this day.
In preparation for Sunday, go wash your face in a bath of praise. Pick up your Bible and read Psalm 146, then join us on Sunday as we continue, not begin, celebrating the God of all creation, who just happens to be our Heavenly Father. Join us at 9:00am as we conclude our series titled, Brand New. Then stick around for our Concert of Prayer at 10:30am, as we take time to celebrate the faithfulness of God!
Let me close with James 1:17. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." I can't think of a better reason to celebrate!
See you Sunday.
In preparation for our all-church meeting this Sunday at 10:00am, I want to take this edition of TAB and focus on the details for this meeting. My goal is to give you the opportunity to think about, ask questions about and pray about your role as we Replant FBC.
At this meeting, we will be asking our congregation three things.....
1. Vote to approve a loan with the Northwest Baptist Foundation in order to pay-off our loan with Umpqua bank.
The original balloon payment of approximately $1.4 million was due on June 5th. Umpqua has provided us with a 6 month extension that gives us until December 5th to close the sale of our properties and secure new financing with the Northwest Baptist Foundation.
We have been approved for a loan with the Northwest Baptist Foundation, but we do need congregational approval to move forward with the loan. Here are the details of the new loan. The Northwest Baptist Foundation has agreed to loan our church $600,000 at an interest rate of 5.7% with a term of 25 years. If we combine this $600,000 with the $850,000 we will receive from the sale of the two homes, we are able to easily satisfy our debt with Umpqua.
2. Give your recommendation for a new church name based on the list below. We will be asking you to choose a "first name" and a "last name". For example, our current first name is First Baptist and our last name is Church. Another example would be, Beaverton Christian (first name) and Church (last name).
Here are the name choices:
Discovery Church, Discovery Christian Church, Generations Community Church, Generations Fellowship, Parkside Community Church, Parkside Church, Parkside Fellowship
3. Choose the service that you plan to attend, as this will help us in the planning process
To help you in making the right service choice, below are the times and a brief explanation about each service.
Our "classic" service at 9:15am, will have a more traditional church feel. The music will be a mix of hymns and classic praise songs, accompanied by the piano and organ. The message will be the same Biblically-based message as our modern service, but with a focus on the mature believer. If I were trying to describe this service to someone, it would go something like this....."Our classic service is a time for the family of God to gather together, reflect on and thank God for the salvation that we have through His Son Jesus Christ. This is done through joyful celebration as we sing the timeless hymns of the faith, followed by an inspirational message from God's Word." The "modern" service at 10:30am is designed for the new or young believer, who is discovering what it means to have a relationship with God and how this relationship fits into his or her everyday life. This is done through a combination of passionate worship led by a band, videos, live testimonies and an unapologetic, Biblically-based message.
I hope this information is helpful as we gather together on Sunday. Please don't hesitate to email or call me if you have any questions or concerns. I would be happy to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk.
Before I close, I need to share one more piece of important information with you. As much as I value the ability to provide the opportunity for individuals to give online, unfortunately the company that provides this service for us does so at a price that does not make it cost-effective. Therefore, FBC will no longer be accepting gifts online. I will continue to look for an option that is reasonably priced and let you know when that system is in place. Thanks for your continued prayers and support during this season of change.
See you Sunday.