Hello everyone !
So much on my heart and mind these days – I will try to share a little bit. At least three times this past week, I’ve heard someone say this about what’s going on at Emmanuel : “God is at work here !” That’s really encouraging because I know that you, like me, invest a lot of spiritual and emotional (and even physical !) energy into serving the Lord and people, trying to create a ministry where the Christian life is not just something that’s talked about but is real.
God is at work …
when lives are changed, as many are presently being changed ;
when God’s Spirit moves among us in ways such as we felt in worship last Sunday ;
when people are applying the Bible to real life.
When those things are happening we realize the effort is worth it all, and we understand that we are simply instruments God’s using in plans he has for us, our community, and our world.
I’ve been reading through the books of Kings and Chronicles recently – I’ve almost made it through all those stories and interesting personalities ! Two statements about two different kings jumped out at me this week.
To King Hezekiah, who led the southern kingdom of Israel through a time of wonderful revival, God once said, “Because you have prayed to Me about …, I have heard you” (2 Kings 19:20). King Hezekiah was praying about the impending attack of an enemy army, but I love how simply the grace of God is expressed. We could almost just fill in the blank ourselves : “Because you have prayed to Me about __________________ , I have heard you.” How would you fill in the blank ?
Of King Manasseh, who was one of the most wicked kings in Israel, this very simple statement is made : “The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention” (2 Chronicles 33:10). Amazing ! Have you ever felt God was speaking to you and yet you ignored him ? I’m pretty certain I have. I can remember times when the “Stop” signs were frantically going up in my head, but I ran right through them ! What a terrible indictment on a king and on the people : “The Lord spoke, but they paid no attention.”
At Emmanuel, are we listening to the Lord ? Are we listening to each other ?
Are we praying ? What are we praying for and about ?
I love the thoughts of E.M. Bounds linking prayer and desire. What are the deep, burning desires of our heart ? Are those the things that are really driving our prayers ? Or, do our prayers remain at a somewhat superficial, safe, “religious” level – saying the things we feel we should say but not necessarily expressing the real burdens and desires of our hearts ? Consider E.M. Bounds’ thoughts from the book The Necessity of Prayer :
True prayer must be aflame. Christian life and character need to be all on fire.
Many things may be catalogued and much ground covered (in prayer). But does desire compile the catalogue ? Does desire map out the region to be covered ? On the answer, hangs the issue of whether our petitioning be prating or prayer. Desire is intense, but narrow ; it cannot spread itself over a wide area. It wants a few things, and wants them badly, so badly that nothing but God’s willingness to answer can bring it easement or content. Desire single-shots at its objective. There may be many things desired, but they are specifically and individually felt and expressed. David did not yearn for everything ; nor did he allow his desires to spread out everywhere and hit nothing. Here is the way his desires ran and found expression : “One thing have I desired of the Lord …” (Psalm 27:4).
God can, and does, tolerate many things in the way of infirmity and error in his children. He can, and will pardon sin when the penitent prays, but two things are intolerable to him – insincerity and lukewarmeness.
Jesus said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
After reading those passages, I tried to catalogue a few of my desires for Emmanuel. Here’s what I came up with. Maybe you’ve heard me speak about some of these things in the recent or distant past. What would you add ?
that we would take steps to validate, encourage, and retain our volunteer ministry servants
that we would be more intentional about praying for lost souls in Hermann, and more intentional in presenting the Gospel to them through many means
that we would remember and “own” the things we learned in our 101, 201, 301, and 401 classes, particularly about who we are as a church
that we would somehow know how to expand involvement of members of the congregation in decision-making and vision-casting (This may require more faithful attendance by ministry team leaders at our Staff meetings.)
that we would have regular, on-going training and support for families (child-training, marriage, and finances)
that we would have clear financial goals that include a vision for paying down building debt and adding additional ministry staff in the future
that we would have an expectation that God will do more than what we expect, not less
that we would have more training of discipleship leaders.
That’s a long list. I may need to hone it down a bit. But that’s what I’m red-hot about for Emmanuel, even in this time of transition. How about you ?
Good Times Ahead
Here’s a partial list of some regular and out-of-the-ordinary events coming up at Emmanuel :
Baby dedications. There will be a time of baby presentation and dedication at the end of our worship service this Sunday. Remember how much help you needed raising your little ones ? Let’s show our support and offer thanks and prayers to God for babies and families this Sunday.
Carry-In Dinner & Talent Show. The day of the big talent show, sponsored by our JAM group, is upon us. We’ll enjoy lunch together right after worship, then move into the talent show. We’ll connect with each other and with kids and families who are part of JAM and not necessarily attenders at Emmanuel. Please bring a main dish and a side dish or dessert. Looking for talent ! — Contact Darrel Boyer (573-225-4060) if you would like to be part of the talent show !
201 Adult Course, “Discovering Spiritual Maturity”. It’s not too late to join the 201 adult course if you haven’t already. We’re studying ways to improve habits that lead to spiritual growth and maturity. 9:00 on Sunday mornings in the dining room.
Tuesday Noon Prayer. One of my favorite times at church this fall is praying with several of you at noon on Tuesdays. This is nitty-gritty spiritual work. Would love for others of you to join us if you’re able … for about 30 minutes or however long you have.
Thanksgiving Outreach. The Missions Team is sponsoring a Thanksgiving outreach again this year. The purpose of this outreach is to provide a Thanksgiving meal to people in the area who would not otherwise be able to enjoy a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal. We will be putting together the meals at the church on Saturday, November 22 at 10:00 a.m. We will be needing a few desserts as well as some help putting the meals together and delivering them. If you would like to help out in any way, please contact Valerie Uthlaut at (573)826-8119.
Community Thanksgiving Service. The Hermann Community Thanksgiving service will be held this year on Sunday, November 23, at 7 pm. Our own Jeff Roth will preach the evening message. Watch for details about location.
Christmas Eve Celebration. We will have a Christmas Eve celebration at Emmanuel similar to last year’s – an all-day Open House at the church which will include worship and Scripture readings at three different times during the day. Cookies, hot drinks, time to talk and focus on what the season is really about – God’s love. You’ll see some sign-up sheets soon if you would like to lead us in Scripture reading or bring some Christmas cookies ! Think about a friend or family member you might like to bring that day.
New Members Course, 101 – “Discovering Christ and the Church” beginning in January. Right now is a good time to pursue membership at Emmanuel, as we have a number of important decisions coming up. If you are not a voting member, please consider being part of this class on Sunday mornings in January.
Thank You. Thank you for the very kind and generous “Pastors Appreciation” gift I received this past Sunday. You have humbled and overwhelmed me with your expressions of love these past several weeks. I am so proud to serve the Lord with you, and I pray you may know much blessing from serving him and from your generous gift.
See you Sunday !
Adult and children’s classes at 9:00 a.m.
Worship at 10:15 a.m.
Baby Dedications at the close of service.
Carry-in Dinner & Talent Show beginning at noon.