This week, we will continue to "tag-along" with the nation of Israel on their trek to the Promised Land. Last week I shared by belief that their journey was less about the destination and more about the preparation. Like the Israelites, we too find ourselves in a season of preparation as God leads us into a future filled with hope and excitement.
As we prepare for the role God wants us to play in the future of His church, I want to share an excerpt from a book by author, Philip Yancey. The book is titled, Vanishing Grace, and addresses the need for the church to return to a Good News filled with grace AND truth. I shared this at our last church council meeting and thought I would share it with you as well. As you read, be thinking about what God might be asking you to do in building an irresistible church, with an irresistible message about Jesus Christ!
"As I read accounts of the New Testament church, no characteristic stands out more sharply than diversity, the primary testing ground of grace. Beginning with Pentecost--a gathering of people from many countries--the Christian church dismantled the barriers of gender, race, and social class that had marked Jewish congregations. Even Paul marveled over the radical change.
Diversity complicates life, and perhaps for this reason we tend to surround ourselves with people of similar age, economic class, and outlook. Church offers a place where infants and grandparents, unemployed and executives, immigrants and blue bloods can all come together. Where else can we go to find that mixture.
Diversity, however, succeeds in a group of people who share a common vision. In John 17, Jesus stressed one request above all others: 'That they may be one.' Paul's letters repeatedly call for unity and to end divisions. The existence of so many denominations worldwide shows how poorly Christians have fulfilled that goal. Major church splits have occurred over such issues as what kind of bread to use in the Eucharist and whether to make the sign of the cross with two or three fingers. We have not, in fact, been faithful stewards of God's grace.
Ideally, the church should be a place that reminds us of lasting truths: that God intends the best for us, that sin and failure are inevitable but forgiveness is guaranteed, that a supportive community bears burdens and comforts the needy. A pastor friend of mine did a series of sermons on the phrase 'one another.' He found twenty-nine uses of that phrase in the New Testament which, taken together, show what a true community would look like. They include the following:
Love one another.....Forgive one another.....Pray for one another.....Bear one another's burdens.....Regard one another as more important than yourself.....Do not speak against one another.....Do not judge one another.....Show tolerance for one another.....Be kind to one another.....Speak truth to one another.....Build up one another.....Stimulate one another to love and good deeds.
I wonder how different the church would look to a watching world, not to mention how different history would look, if Christians everywhere followed that model."
See you Sunday.
As the school year winds-down, the same can't necessarily be said for our church calendar. In fact, the final two weeks of June will be pretty busy ones here on our church campus. With this in mind, I thought it would be helpful if I filled this week's edition of Think, Act and Be Like Jesus, with some "Dates to Remember". So, below are some important dates and information on upcoming events at FBC:
Friday, June 15 (tomorrow): Screenagers: Growing up in the Digital Age @ 7:00pm in the Sanctuary. This is a great documentary looking at the impact of technology on our kids and grandkids. In our effort to "Grow Younger" this would be a great opportunity to invite a family with Junior High or High School-age kids.
Saturday, June 16th: Concert of Prayer @ 5:00pm in the Sanctuary. Join us as we cry out to God, asking Him to redeem our church for His purpose and glory.
Sunday, June 17th: Sunday Worship Service @ 9:00am in the Sanctuary. This Sunday, as we conclude our series on Faith, our focus will be on Jesus and how the greatness of His faith was rooted in the greatness of his surrender to His Heavenly Father.
Wednesday, June 20th: Adults on Mission @ 10:30am. This month's meeting will be at the home of Troy and Lenora Smith (14285 SW Cherryhill Drive, Beaverton) Our focus will be on the kids in our community and how we can reach them with the story of Jesus.
Saturday, June 30th: Landscaping and Cleanup Day @ 9:00am (FBC Campus). Help us clean-up the exterior of our church. We will focus our attention on weeding and cutting back vegetation near the buildings.
Sunday, July 1st: Sunday Worship Service @ 9:00am in the Sanctuary. On this first Sunday of July, we will begin a new summer sermon series on the book of Philippians. Join us as we walk through the most intimate of Paul's letters, where he paints for us a beautiful picture of what it is to be a mature Christian.
WOW! I know your thinking, "That's a lot of dates/times and information to remember", which is why you now have it in an email and can refer to it as needed.
I hope you will take advantage of all or at least most of the opportunities listed above. Each opportunity, even cleaning the church grounds, serves to help us accomplish our mission to Preach the Gospel in Beaverton!
See you tomorrow and/or Saturday and/or Sunday and/or...…
I want to thank you for voting last Sunday in favor of selling our rental properties. Our hope is that as we sell these homes, we will be able to significantly reduce our monthly loan payment. All this will help us to further our calling to "Preach the Gospel in Beaverton". The vote was unanimous with 73 yes votes and 0 no votes. I want to give praise to God for how he is continuing to clarify for FBC, His plans for the future of His church.
As we continue to ask God for clarity in moving forward as a church, I want to invite all of you to join us on Saturday night June 16th, from 5:00pm to 7:00pm, for a Concert of Prayer. I also want to ask you to take time each day, between now and June 16th, to read Psalm 90:12-17. These final six verses of Psalm 90 were written by Moses as a prayer by and for people who are in need of God's grace...….that includes you and me.
In this prayer to God, Moses asks for two things. First, he prays that in view of life's limitations, in view of life's frustrations: give us the grace to live life wisely. Look at what he wrote, "teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom". Moses is asking God to help the nation of Israel "get it right", to help them live life in the awareness of their limits. I want this to be our prayer, too!
Moses goes on to make a second request in verses 13-17. In these verses, Moses prays for God to remove their limitations and frustrations, but only after he'd prayed for God to give them the grace to live in the midst of their frustrations and weaknesses. He then ends his prayer by asking God to use their hands to bring His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. This was the prayer of Moses for the nation of Israel and I want this to be our prayer today.....that we would gain hearts of wisdom, that God would continue to show His splendor to future generations, and that our hands and feet would be used to share the message of the cross.
Please block-out 9:00am to Noon on Saturday, June 30th, as we take time to do some much needed work on the exterior landscape of our church campus. The focus will be on weeding and cutting back vegetation near the buildings. See the bulletin on Sunday for more information.
This Sunday, we will continue in our series on Faith, as Larry Annes will share how to have a rock-solid faith.....even when God says "NO"!
See you Sunday