What an exciting weekend we just experienced at Emmanuel, with 81 middle-schoolers, plus chaperones, at the JAM Lock-In Friday night and Saturday morning. Can you imagine more than 80 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders running wild in the church ? If you’ve been up at the church on a Wednesday evening lately, then you’ve had a little taste of it. And yet, the church building was spotless on the following Sunday morning – thanks to a great clean-up crew !
God did a wonderful work among us, as seven young people made decisions to trust Christ personally as their Savior. Oh my, now do we have work to do ! Some of these kids need rides to church ; some need rides to JAM on Wednesday nights. Some will need to be plugged into a small study group, like the three Ignite groups that are currently functioning. Oh, but we’ll need leaders for those extra groups ! Some of these kids’ parents may need someone to connect with them and help them understand what their kids are getting into !
Now, we learned last night that some 25 middle-schoolers have signed up to attend the Winter Blast weekend event in February at Hidden Acres Camp, our Central District retreat center outside Des Moines, Iowa. More new spiritual life ahead ??
It’s an exciting position to be in, but would you please pray ! This is a chance to put into practice the things we’ve been learning in our adult Sunday morning classes (101, 201, etc) this school year … and the commitments we’ve said we’re making as people who attend Emmanuel :
- a commitment to a relationship with Jesus Christ and the church body
- a commitment to habits that develop spiritual maturity
- a commitment to serving (Ministry)
- a commitment to sharing the Good News with others (Missions).
I learned something about Harold Oncken while preparing his funeral service this week. Harold was 88 years old when he died, so I’ve only known him since he was 75, but I learned that for 25 years he and Mildred were youth group leaders out here at the Stolpe Church in my neck of the woods ! On Monday, I ran into someone (about my age ?) who had been a part of one of their youth groups and who was telling me about the good things the young people of Stolpe enjoyed back then. Amazing ! God takes ordinary people and uses them in impactful ways. By the way, did you know that one of my junior high youth group leaders still writes to me, encourages me and teaches me things ?
Follow-up of new believers is mainly about a person – a person who will take an interest in someone who is learning to follow Christ and will help them along in their new journey.
Al Frank, our EFCA Central District Associate Superintendent, told us about these things last Sunday morning – how a Christian in Al’s workplace modeled the authentic love of Jesus to him, answered some of Al’s questions about spiritual things, and helped him in a new journey of eternal life.
Everywhere you go – no matter what your position in life – you are encountering people … people God loves, and people who need to be pointed toward eternal life. That’s our job. Sometimes it’s a slow job – modeling, living something out, persevering through the trials of life ; sometimes it’s an explosion, such as we’re encountering right now among students and young people. Either way, we are invited (commanded ?) by the Lord to “drop our nets” and join Him in this wonderful life-calling :
Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. — Mark 1:16-17
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” — Matthew 28:19
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. — 2 Timothy 2:2
Will you, with me, keep viewing ministry at Emmanuel through the lens of discipleship. Let’s make it the “operating system” by which our ministry works !
- Adult Sunday Morning Classes : Our 101 Class for adults continues in the Dining Room this Sunday morning at 9:00. The Gospel of John study group will continue to meet in the Conference Room at the same time. The 301 Class, “Discovering My Ministry,” will begin Sunday, February 9, at 9:00. This is a key class in our series for adults. Hope to see everyone there ! Childcare will be provided through age 11.
- Day of Prayer : Come pray and be prayed for. Next Wednesday, January 29, the church will be open from noon ‘til 7 pm for a continuous time of prayer. We have much for which to pray. Please join us for a quiet time of communicating with the Lord about personal and ministry-related needs.
- Super Saturday Men’s Event at the church from 9:00 – 4:00, Saturday, February 1. Lunch will be included. Please contact Al Gaus for further information.
- Super Bowl Party for men at 5:30 pm, Sunday, February 2, at Alex Grieshaber’s home. Contact Al Gaus or Alex for information.
- Franklin County Men of the Church banquet : Rich Brune can get tickets for Emmanuel’s men who want to attend the annual Franklin County Men of the Church banquet at LifeStream Church in Washington, on Thursday, February 6, but he needs to know right away (this week) if you are interested in going. The speakers this year are individuals connected to the events surrounding last year’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Please let Rich know if you would like a ticket.
- New Candidates for Church Membership : The Elder Board is pleased to announce that Lee and Keely Pettijohn have completed the process for membership at Emmanuel and have asked to become members of the church.
- New Sermon Series Starts This Sunday
I hate to admit it, but what a favorite Bible teacher of mine says often is true : The Christian life on the earth is not a playground, but a battlefield.
As Christians, we continue to be subject to the trials and sorrows of life and, in addition, we may be viewed with suspicion or disdain by those around us. An author has written, “Men always view with suspicion people who are different. Conformity, not distinctiveness, is the way to a trouble-free life.”
The Christian life is not a trouble-free life, as many at Emmanuel know. But, God has answers and help for us in our grief, trials, sorrow, and persecution. Some of the best comfort and encouragement comes from the little New Testament book of 1 Peter which will be the subject of our Sunday morning sermons starting this Sunday and going right up to Easter. “Faith Tested By Fire” will be our theme, and we’ll start this Sunday in 1 Peter 1 by examining what trials can and can’t do to us.
I hope you’ll join us. I think it will be a very personal, penetrating, and uplifting series. Bring along a friend who needs help through life’s battlefield.
In my life, there have often been certain things God brings to my eyes that I’ve accepted as regular reminders of His presence. This week we’ve had two eagles gliding high in the skies over our house and over the Gasconade River. It’s a thrill for our family to look up in the sky at the big birds, waiting for that glimpse of white on the head and tail that tells us it’s a bald eagle. The thrill of those two flashes of white are like a little reminder that God is up above, in control.
When I was in France, there was a period of time when I enjoyed jogging in the late afternoon down a small lane that led out of the town in which we lived. As I came to the end of my run, usually around 5:00, and made my u-turn to go home, I almost always caught a glimpse of the 5:00 train crossing the bridge over the Isere River, coming into town. I took it as a reminder that God is always there, always on time.
Little God-sightings, … and the book of 1 Peter helps us look to God in the fiery trials which may be a part of our lives.
These reminders in closing :
God loves you (Jer 31:3).
God goes before you (Deut 31:8)
God strengthens you (Isa 41:10).
God guides you (Isa 58:11).
God provides for you (1 Tim 6:17).
God delights in you (Zeph 3:17).
God is with you (Josh 1:9).
God answers you (Jer 33:3).
God blesses you (Deut 7:13).
God gives you rest (Matt 11:28).
Hope to see you Sunday !