Weekly e-News Friday, February 20, 2015

Looking Ahead

           Sunday Worship times: 8:45 a.m., 10:00 Sunday School, 11:00 Contemporary Worship

Bible Study Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Bible Study Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

Xtreme Faith youth group Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, February 27 at 9:00 a.m. Presbytery of South Dakota will convene in Onida.

Sunday, March 1, we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion

 

 

           Thank you to those who have paid their Per Capita of $26.27. This amount for each member is sent to the Presbytery from our general fund. Your re-imbursement is greatly appreciated.

           The Deacons have an Easter Gift for each family. Feb. 22 is the first Sunday of Lent and the Deacons will be handing out the first piece of this collection during worship. When you come each Sunday of Lent another piece will be given out to add to the arrangement. We are very thankful to Jim Thuringer for his wood crafting skills and helping with this project, and for each Deacon for their contributions.

Do you have any ideas for outreach, ways that we might connect with people outside Wild Flower and bring encouragement in their lives through worship and the groups of our church?

            The Sermon Sunday is “Take Up His Cross” from Psalm 25:1-10- Prayer asking God to teach us His paths that we might follow; and Luke 9:23-27- Take up my cross and follow me

“And [Jesus] said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Luke 9:23.

Around Church this Week:

            Our Choir sang at the Ash Wednesday service at Westminster on Wednesday and did a great job of glorifying God and inspiring the congregation there.

Session met on Thursday. We are exploring the idea of having an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) in the church in case of an emergency- heart attack. If you have thoughts one way or another, please share them with one of the Elders.

           Xtreme Faith Youth started selling a fundraiser in the form of discount cards. We hope you will buy one and tell others about it. #1- it is a fundraiser for Wild Flower youth ministry, you can think of it as a donation to the work. #2- it is an investment for you that will yield positive returns. If you use this card to for things you would do anyway- pizza, KFC, A & W, oil changes, tires, etc. – you will make a profit.

Hands and Feet Project: Brenda Hansel stopped on Tuesday to let Leola know that a couple of notes responding to cards she had written through the Cards of Compassion program for Hospice patients would be read on KNWC radio 96.5 on Tuesday morning about 7:30 a.m. You can get involved by cutting off the fronts of greeting cards (or just drop them at the office and they can be cut with the paper cutter). They also need card making supplies, colored card stock and paper, colored ink pads, card stock adhesive tape, and other things to make cards. Volunteers will gather Fri. Feb 27 between 11 am and 11 pm to make cards.

You can join with other crafters on Friday, Feb 27, 11 am-11:00 pm at R Scrapbook Store (Sioux Falls) 3709 W. 41st St. Suite #4, (near Guitar Center), (605)338-7502 to make cards. You are invited to be a part of bringing hope to individuals and families experiencing hospice care. We’ll have treats, too, so bring a friend, your kids (preferably age 10 and up), or anyone else who loves crafting.

Chuckle: “The One whose throne is in heaven sits laughing. . . .” (Psalms 2:4)

A couple of Goobers are out in the woods hunting when one of them falls to the ground.  He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls 911.

Panic-stricken, he says to the operator, “I think Cletus is dead!  What should I do?”

The operator, in a calm soothing voice says, “Just take it easy. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.”

There is a silence, then a shot rings out.

The goober comes back on the line and says, “OK, now what?”

Birthdays this Week:

13 Joan Reich
13 Norma Bonnes
17 Marcia Hoiland

Prayer Thought:

           Unceasing prayer may sound complicated, but it needn’t be that way. Do this. Think of prayer less as an activity for God and more as an awareness of God. Seek to live in uninterrupted awareness. As you stand in line to register your car, think, “Thank you, Lord, for being here.” In the grocery store as you shop, think, “Your presence, my King, I welcome.” As you wash the dishes, worship your Maker.

Brother Lawrence called himself the “lord of all pots and pans.” He wrote, “The time of busy-ness does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon knees at the blessed sacrament.”

So talk to God, always. Besides, it makes more sense to talk to God than mumble to yourself!

~ by Max Lucado

Please keep in prayer: Christa DeRemiggio (Volzke’s g-dau.), Leona Kinsey; Eldora Hayes; Joyce Gries; Nicole Stoll; Dale Klutman; For Arlene Lewis, Pete and Dolores Van Regenmorter– pray for balance, core strength and protection from falls.

Please check out my Pastor’s Ponderings in the newsletter. Here is a note I came across from a pastor I know who has a renewal ministry, Stan Ott:

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. 1 Thess. 5:11.

I was waiting in the hospital for a routine blood test when I became aware of a strained mumbling voice nearby. Looking up I saw a good-looking man in his early 40’s in a wheelchair having difficulty speaking and clearly sitting uncomfortably. An older gentleman, almost certainly his dad, was trying to arrange a supportive pillow behind his head. Then I saw the sign on the wall next to them, “Speech Therapy.”
Something about it was unspeakably sad. I do not know if he is an injured veteran or suffering from some terrible affliction but this young man in the prime of life is in a deep hole and his father is in there with him.
As I was heading out of the hospital I was immensely aware of the gift of health and then of the thought, “Go back and say something.” I wondered what that would be and if it would be invasive. I paused puzzling and then headed for the exit except I found my legs taking me back the way I had come.
I knew somehow my mind was not directing my steps and I wondered what I would say. I walked right up to the old gentleman and his son looked them in the eye and said, “I feel impelled to tell you I am praying for you. May God bless you.” The gentleman immediately and sincerely replied, “Thank you,” as he continued to adjust the pillow for his uncomfortable son.
This episode had nothing to do with me. My gesture of concern may have taken five seconds. That father is offering care 24 hours a day every day. The true paraclete, the one who comes alongside to help, comes alongside for the long haul. (The Holy Spirit is our paraklete- Gk for helper ~PD)
God did want me to see something and to say something. I left overwhelmed with the feeling of sadness for this family and the deep awareness of those close to me and others who are in similar places of suffering.
It may be a cliché to say it, but when our Lord said these words, he actually meant them, ” “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens,” Matthew 11:28* “…weep with those who weep,” Romans 12:15 and “Comfort, O comfort my people” Isaiah 40:1.

 

David Dwight and Nicole Unice share
4 ways to make sharing your faith more natural.

Driving up the East Coast’s Interstate 95 will teach you about one approach to evangelism. Sponsored by an anonymous donor, several billboards present travelers with various theological messages. “Have you read my #1 Bestseller? There will be a test,” reads one. And, “You think it’s hot here?”

These billboards represent the kind of evangelism that many ministry leaders today grew up with. I (David) was told as a young believer that I needed to share my faith so people could avoid hell. The approach was transactional: “Just get them to pray a sinner’s prayer.”

But what I was taught about how to do evangelism didn’t match up with my own experience of coming to faith. My search began with questions and a lot of doubt. Sometimes I would get answers like, “You just need to give your life to Christ.” I felt these Christians were really saying, “You shouldn’t ask these kinds of questions—just believe.”

Perhaps that’s why, some 30 years later, evangelism is a hot topic for me and for the church I serve. What does it mean to evangelize today? Here are four principles that we’ve applied to reform our evangelism.

  1. Start with sovereignty.

In ministry, success is not easy to measure. We yearn to be effective in our work, and it can become easy to look for ways to know we are getting it right—attendance, finances, new members, baptisms, etc. These things are important but they can become a tempting way to decide just how well we’re doing—with or without God. This same performance temptation can apply to our evangelism. We have mixed motives. We want people to know Christ because we love them, but we also want people to know Christ so that we can feel good about ourselves and “count our work.”

We both realized early in ministry that trying hard to be an effective evangelist led to being really ineffective evangelists. It took time—and awkward conversations—to realize that the methods we’d been taught placed the burden of conversion on ourselves. It felt like a personal responsibility to actually be the one to pray with someone to receive Christ. That kind of pressure actually sabotaged our efforts.

Now we possess the paradoxical spirit of urgency and lightness when it comes to salvation. We stay urgent in prayer, but we embrace Paul’s attitude. “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (1 Cor. 3:6.) We do our part, as authentically as we can, but expect that the Holy Spirit is ultimately the one who draws people. Turns out, it is much easier to help people find a relationship with Christ once you jettison the idea that we are the sole responsible party for their conversion.

  1. Incarnate the message.

Jesus embodied obedience to his Father and a relentless love for people. He attracted the humble ones who needed him and repelled those who were too proud to admit their need. And that is our model for evangelism.

Now, consider the popular programs and classes that characterize the modern-day approach to evangelism. It’s not that the content of these models is bad or the people behind them aren’t well-meaning. The problem is that they take what was meant to be a way of life and make it impersonal. They reduce evangelism to an inquiry of knowledge. They seek to initiate conversations designed to spark confrontation.

An incarnational model is relational, rather than transactional. Years ago a mentor said to me, “David, let your spiritual life be natural and your natural life be spiritual.” I’ve never forgotten it—it felt like something I could do. Christ came into the world as a human being to reach human beings. As followers of Christ, we should do the same.

We find that now when we share Christ, we ask more questions than we ever used to. The intent of the questions is to get to know the heart and mind and story of a person’s life. Some time ago, a person who was new at our church told one of our colleagues, “This church is a safe place to be human.” It’s a compliment that we’ve cherished. He meant, “I can bring my questions, my doubts, my hope—the real me.”

We lead from this incarnational model in the way we approach God’s Word and God’s people. We try to lead with humility. We allow room for doubt in the way we communicate and teach. We don’t assume everyone listening to us already believes, but try to address those doubts with gentleness. In doing so, we communicate that it’s okay to be human here. It’s okay to not have it all figured out. And then we trust that it’s God who’s doing the work, drawing people to himself, wooing them into the kingdom as we assist in the process.

  1. Give invitations, not answers

I (Nicole) remember a conversation with a friend who was struggling to accept Christ. I began to ask her about whether she was ready to commit to life with Jesus. She was definitely not, she informed me, in very colorful language.

Earlier in ministry this would have disturbed me. I would have felt like I messed it up somehow and that it was all on me to “close the deal.” But that night I didn’t try to give her answers. I told her stories. I told her the story about Peter wondering who Jesus was and his answer: “Come and see.” I talked with her about Nicodemus, and the woman at the well, and Adam and Eve, and Jesus’ resurrection. That relationship sharpened my theology and Bible knowledge more than any Christian friendship I had! Another three years went by, and my friend received Christ, not because I answered all her questions, but because she had a true encounter with God’s love and surrendered to his grace. In this case, God didn’t need my help for her to pray the Sinner’s Prayer. With her, I was relational rather than transactional.

What if a better measure of our success as evangelists was about how we are helping people become hungrier for God? When my friend reacted negatively to my question I was forced to think of ways to help her be intrigued by God. This means that she was really in my life—not just coffee once a month, but truly in life together—in raising kids, in marriage, in hanging out on Thursdays nights on the couch. Relationships like that are demanding and time-consuming. And they don’t fit well into programs.

Jesus often asked questions instead of offering statements—and he made his questions personal. “Who do you say that I am?” “Do you believe this?” In our ministry we invite people to consider such questions and ask ones of their own. Rather than giving answers, we see Jesus giving invitations: “Come to me,” “Follow me.” And as we help people on this road, we encourage them when they’re ready, when they know enough of God to trust him, to receive him as the beginning of this new life.

  1. Remember that it’s all evangelism.

For those of us who like structure and systems, an incarnational model of evangelism can feel too loose. We wonder how we will know if people are being saved, if our leaders are effective, if the work we are doing is, well, working.

What if a better measure of our success as evangelists was about how we are helping people become hungrier for God?

Rick Warren once tweeted, “You naturally evangelize anything you love.” We’ve come to believe that the main effort of our work needs to be helping our elders, staff, and leaders love Christ more. This means that whether people are beginning a relationship with Christ or have known him for decades, we are always helping them grow more in love with him. We pray from Psalm 51:12: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” We believe that it is our mandate to keep drawing people toward their own experience of joy and love in Christ. We believe that if our leaders are in love with Jesus, they can’t help but evangelize. Our lives become a testimony to the grace and joy of living in the kingdom.

On a recent Sunday, we closed a service singing the familiar words “Holy, Holy, is the Lord Almighty.” As we listened to the voices all around us, it felt like we were singing people into the kingdom of God. This is the power that we are invited to live in, to share, and to love from. This is a different evangelism—a host of souls in love with Christ, creating an irresistible place with God being the irresistible force, drawing those around us toward himself. We still have a long way to go, but we’re learning.

—David Dwight is the Senior Pastor of Hope Church in Richmond, VA; Nicole Unice serves on the ministry staff; Together, they’ve authored Start Here: Beginning a Relationship with Jesus (David C Cook, 2014); adapted from our sister publication Leadership Journal, © 2014 Christianity Today. For more articles like this, visit www.LeadershipJournal.net.

 

Eternally Blessed,    

Pastor Dave Ullom <*}}}<.

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