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July 2020

Dear Friends and Fellow Disciples of Jesus,

July is always an exciting month for our family. The 4th usually means fireworks and fun, a family gathering and more fun. July 15th is Cindy’s birthday, and we usually take a vacation around that time. This year COVID-19 has put a halt to all fireworks and we have not planned any family gatherings to this point. Our vacation will be abbreviated

for sure, but I am still looking forward to some time to unplug and relax. I know some of you are working through some of the very same things we are. I hope that in the midst of all that is going on, you can find some time to unplug and enjoy some family time soon.

It has been so great to have in-person worship for the past month. The gathering of the church is essential for us to share our love in community with one-another. We are created by God for worship and fellowship with all of God’s children. As of July 1st we will be in phase 3 of the pandemic “reopening.” This does not cause any significant change to what we are doing on Sunday initially. It is my hope that either physical distancing or masks will be eliminated soon. However, I do not have a realistic expectation for this until there is a vaccine available to the public.

I want to thank Billy Siefers, Cindy Smith, Anita Starling, and Kathy Hersom for their diligent work in preparing our church for the reopening process. Their time and energy have contributed significantly to our ability to come back with peace of mind that we have done all we can to provide you with a safe and clean environment to enjoy worship. Additionally, I want to thank Rob and Kristine Hall for guiding the process of the renovation and creation of the Welcome Center. It is a beautiful facility that is warm and inviting for all our members, regular attenders, and guests. I hope you will take some time to enjoy this new facility in the coming months.

As you know, we have had to reschedule VBS. We are still considering all the factors that will allow us to have a fun and exciting experience for the children. In our current context there is much to be considered, please be praying for Jamie and all of our staff and Elders as we make this crucial decision.

As July will fly by, I want to give you a heads up on August. August will be Discipleship Month here at Restoration Church. I will be preaching through the key texts emphasizing our mutual call to discipleship, the various components of biblical discipleship, examples of the outcomes of discipleship, and also answering any questions that our members, regular attenders and guests may have about living a disciple making life style. On Saturday, August 22, we will have a Discipleship Breakfast Forum for all interested at 8:30 AM. (Depending on COVID Restrictions on serving food) We will discuss the specifics of the D-Group experience, including forming a group, doing a SHARE Devotion, accountability and prayer. Please begin to pray now about how God is leading you in obedience to this call.

Please be praying for the Elders and Staff here at Restoration as we join in praying for you. There is still a great unrest in our world about COVID-19, as well as in our country concerning social justice and racial equity. God is pressing the church to respond with grace, compassion and authentic love for people who are hurting in so many ways.  The Gospels compel and command us to love our neighbors. And let us not forget the question, “And who is my neighbor?” and the Lords unexpected answer. (Luke 10:25-37). I hope you have a wonderful and safe Summer!

In the bond of Peace,

Michael C. Smith

 

June 2020

Dear Fellow Disciples,

This month marks our return to congregational worship after a long and sometimes difficult period. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused our world to shut-down for some time, but we are coming out of the isolation of “sheltering-in.” Thanks to all of you for being patient, being prayerful, and for being persistent in your support of our efforts to continue to preach and teach and worship through Facebook live.

Consider the words of Paul to the Romans, “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (1:11-12 ESV). To say that it has been strange to exercise my calling to preach in front of 8-9 fellow servants and a camera hopefully reaching others, is putting it mildly. Because of your feedback I am encouraged that you are there, and you are listening. Like Paul, I long to see you all face to face, as soon as possible.  Your presence in worship on Sundays and in study on Wednesdays means so much to me and I hope it is encouraging to you as well.

While there have been many public and private debates about the essential nature of church in culture, there is no doubt to the faithful that church assembly is essential to the encouragement of faithfulness in everyday life. The source of much of the debate has come from Hebrews 10:25, but let’s look at it along with verse 24, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (ESV) Notice that the motivation for the author to encourage the recipients of this letter was not religious obedience to a legal requirement of law. The encouragement to gather stems from the collective building up of those who participate and the resultant desire to participate in good works and loving, as well as the continued encouragement for one-another.  Being together in the presence of God and fellow believers, who are our brothers and sisters in the Lord is encouraging.  We are encouraged to love each other as well as demonstrating our love for those who need Jesus through good works. Meeting together is essential for all of us to exercise our spiritual gifts and to share in the love we all have for the Lord and our spiritual family.

While God surely knew this day was coming, I cannot imagine the writer of Hebrews could.  Never in a million years would someone of that time be able to think of the technological advances that have allowed us to gather around our computers and “do church.”  But, we do not do church, we are the church. There is no benefit to avoiding the congregation of the delivered in Jesus Name! If you are hurting there is healing, if you are anxious there is comfort, if you are needing there is provision, if you are fallen there is grace to help you up, if you are lonely there is true love, the church is the present manifestation of the presence of God. And, where God is, there is provision for every need! Thank you Jesus that we can know God through His sacrifice!

As we look to being together on June 7, there is a ministry team that is working to prepare us all for that day.  We are continuing to voluntarily comply with certain requirements as well as promote those measures that will provide us all with as safe an experience as is possible. Billy Siefers, Anita Starling, Cindy Smith, and Kathy Hersom are serving as our Reopening Ministry Team. You should have already received an email from them outlining the opportunities to assist in this effort. If you feel lead to be a part of that team, please contact one of them directly to express your interest. I am excited to see you soon!

 

In the bond of Peace,

Michael C. Smith

 

 

May 2020

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

I don’t know about you, but this COVID-19thing is getting old! I am sure that is being said all around the world at this point. There are articles everywhere and on every aspect of what this is going to mean in the future. I asked last month what the legacy of this would be, and now depending on who you ask, you could get too many answers to number.

Podcasts, webinars, reading posts and articles about the post-COVID-19 world of life and ministry in the local church have occupied several hours of my time in the past weeks. It is dizzying! But one thing is sure in the mind of those who have an opinion and a platform to share it, we are never going back to normal. The pandemic will change the culture of the planet and the church, and when the stay at home orders are lifted, things will not be the same.

 

In a recent conversation with a regional church missionary, I was told that one church pastor was informed by older members of his congregation that they would not return to public worship until there was a vaccine. That could be up to two years. Will the pandemic create such fear and apprehension?

 

How will the proliferation of Facebook live affect teaching in the post-pandemic world? At Restoration Church we have already decided that we will continue to broadcast Wednesday evening on the web.

What do we need to know in these unsettling times of dynamic change and unrest?

God is in control! Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (ESV) Methods of ministry have had to adjust to shifts in culture and government throughout history, and shifts will continue to be made, but not to our message. Jesus is still the answer to all the most important questions.

In the spring of 2018 we all enjoyed the study by Henry Blackaby, “Your Church Experiencing God Together.” If you remember that study then you remember that the church is a body, a family, and a gathering of those called out by God to be His representatives to a lost and dying world. The church is the people, both gathered in worship, and sent out on mission. Right now we are dispersed to our most minimal units of life, our core families. The time will come when we can again come together and celebrate all that God has done for us, in us, and with us. But we should remember that the in-gathering is not the only manifestation of the church. We are called out as well as called in.

Meeting together as a church is a privilege. Yes, we have a constitutional right to the free expression of our faith, and the freedom of lawful assembly however, our faith tells us we have no right to claim anything from God without His grace! While I do not believe God has caused this to occur, Genesis tells us, “what the devil meant for evil, God can use for good.” How precious it will be when we will again see each other face to face to celebrate His goodness. Until then, we can and should stay in touch through the use of the technology that is at our disposal.

I know that this pandemic will come to an end. But, life is not on hold, babies are being born, people are dying and going to eternity. Our mandate from God to be His witnesses has not been set aside. Invite people to watch our church services online, share your own testimony when you can, study the scriptures, and pray for God’s will to be done.

Be encouraged! You still have an eternal purpose and a very present God and Father! I hope to see you all before I have to write another newsletter article! If not know that your church staff and leaders are praying for you and love you with the love of the Lord!

In the bond of Peace,

Michael C. Smith

April 2020

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

We are living in memorable times. The Class of 2020 will always be remembered as having no classes for the last 3.5 months of school, no prom, and no graduation. The canceling of events of the present days, weeks and possibly months will live on in the memories of so many. We are being called on to forgo many of the normal activities of life that we may not even have a normal when this thing is all over.

The interesting thing is that we are all being called on to sacrifice our preferences for the life and health of others. The reasonably healthy and strong are called upon to stop life in order to prevent the spread of a virus that we will most likely not come into contact with. And we are doing so, not to prevent our own infection, but by and large to prevent the transmission and infection of others in the society. This is a first in world history, but it is not a first.

Paul writes in Philippians 2, that the Son was equal to the Father, but left heaven to come to earth. He took on the form of humanity with all its limitations, was obedient in all His ways to the will of the Father, including the cruel death of the cross, and He died in our place. He set aside His glory for the eternal life of mankind.

Accepting limits on our personal freedom for the good of our fellow humans is a noble act. For this to occur across the world at the same time to face a common enemy, is incredible. We see the world today on a level plane for the first time in a reality that could reshape international relations for the foreseeable future.

This virus could reach every country of the world, and every socioeconomic strata of society. From Senators and Congressmen, to Tom Hanks, to impoverished senior citizens, people from all walks of life are being affected by COVID-19. It knows no limits to country of origin, language, income level, education, race or sexual orientation. This is an all access, equal opportunity infection. Does that sound familiar?

I do not believe that God has created and initiated this as a warning or curse as some may say, but I know He can use it for His Glory! We have all been called to slow down, shelter in place, and consider what is truly important. The amount of air-time in the media that has been given to figuring out how to be a functional family when we are forced to be a family is amazing. We have been forced to stay in the same house, eat the same food, and actually spend time together! And we are being told we do not know how to do that. WOW! What have we become that we need a global pandemic to remind us what family is? The legacy from 9/11 is the TSA. What will be the legacy from COVID-19? Maybe, just maybe it will be a less busy, more family oriented lifestyle! Wouldn’t that be great?

Let us love as Jesus loved, let us live as Jesus lived, and let us strive for what Jesus strove. To give God glory, and build His kingdom through obedient, sacrificial love! Jesus’ sacrificial love was first for His Father and second for mankind. We become beneficiaries of that love when we surrender to it. What a great love!

In the bond of Peace,

Michael C. Smith

March 2020

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

Every Sunday morning a group of our members gathers in my office to pray for our services before Sunday morning Bible study. We hold hands in a circle and pray. When it comes around to me I always start, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Of course that is from Psalm 118, I also have a picture on the wall in my office with that verse on it that I see every time I walk in.  This morning as I was getting ready to come to church I was struck by a national TV co-host going on a long monologue about being grateful. She spoke about how blessed she and her husband were to have healthy children, good jobs, healthy parents, etc. It was great to hear someone with that media platform choose to be grateful and encourage her viewers to take a time each day, regardless of what difficulties we may be facing, and count life’s blessings.

As this new month approaches we have so much to be grateful for! One of those blessings is the knowledge that God has given us an eternal purpose to be His representatives in this world that He created. He has commissioned us to multiply His glory and praise in the earth. Over the next few weeks we will have many opportunities to serve Him in His church for his glory. On March 29th we will have our first of two scheduled BIG DAYS! this year. The first BIG DAY will be two weeks before our Easter celebration. Our hope is what our guests experience on BIG DAY will inspire them to return to share in worshiping with us on Easter. We will need an ALL HANDS ON DECK effort for BIG DAY to be a success.

We will need additional hospitality volunteers, a parking lot team, greeters, bounce house attendants, games, greeters, guides and so much more. Sign-ups will be available starting March 1 on the wall outside the church office. We really hope everyone will sign up as soon as you know you are willing to serve in whatever capacity God is calling you. We will have a Family Meeting on March 22nd to answer any last minute question and discuss all things BIG DAY!

On March 4th, myself, Pastor Thom as well as Cindy and Sharon will be attending blueprint 2.0. This will be a follow-up to the event we hosted with Bridge Church in 2018. We are hoping to learn many new aspects of Disciple-Making that will enhance our D- Group experience at Restoration Church. In light of this training, I will be preaching a 3-week mini-series on Disciple-Making leading up to BIG DAY!  Also, this training will be a significant part of our Discipleship Forum on August 15th, which will prepare us all for our Fall Launch of the new D-groups. More information will follow on this, begin praying now about being a part of this life changing step to Christ-likeness.

Lastly, if you are not already coming on Wednesday evening, consider doing so! Our current series on Spiritual Warfare has been powerful.  We are currently taking a journey through the text of the Bible marking and considering most of the passages that reference Satan, demons, and spiritual warfare. It is an enlightening study to see how often God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the disciples were confronted by spiritual forces. In a few weeks we will begin to discuss practical application for the principals learned in scripture as applied to our church, our families, and our personal lives. Please make every effort to participate in this crucial series.

Cindy and I look forward to seeing all of you this Sunday!

Michael C. Smith

 

February 2020

Dear Fellow Believers and Friends,

Last month we were again reminded how fragile life really is. On Sunday January 26, a father and his daughter ventured out on a routine commute to the daughter’s basketball game. They had a couple of teammates with them and their parents as well. It was a foggy morning, but that is nothing unusual for the hilly regions of the west coast. The family was a family of privilege and wealth, hard earned wealth, but enough so that they could travel by helicopter to beat the snarled Los Angeles traffic. That day was foggy, so foggy that even the police air patrols were grounded, but these passengers and crew were cleared for takeoff, and they went on their way. They never arrived at their intended destination. Nine people plummeted to their death on a foggy hillside.

In the group were athletes, one of the most famous athletes of all time, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter. There are so many things to consider about this tragic accident. Money and fame cannot buy safety; you never know when “what if” will become a reality. For me even four days later, I am still a little emotional about this loss. As an avid sports fan, I was deeply saddened by this event and the constant coverage on ESPN and so many other channels perpetuated the sadness. There have been tributes at sports arenas literally around the world for this one man whose great contribution to the world was playing basketball, and encouraging others to do so. He was an ambassador for the game.

This photo provided by Pacific Park on the Santa Monica, Calif., Pier

Many people wrote about him on social media. I responded to a couple of my own friends posts on Facebook. I was struck by how one man could literally be known on every continent and almost every country of the world and how the news of his death could span the globe almost instantly. His face has been shown in lights on buildings and sports complexes across the country, purple and gold lights have shown on towers and structures in countless cities for days now. Kobe was 41 years old. I am not trying to take anything from the loss of this and the other families, what I want to say is that I grieve his death, but I marvel at his popularity and notoriety.

People are looking to be connected to something or someone. So many were connected to each other through admiration for Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers. This weekend the Super Bowl will be played, and millions of people will wear 49ers jerseys or Chiefs jerseys. Recently, I read part of an article addressing the sports craze as a longing for community and connection. We (as believers) are connected to a man who died at 33. He was not an athlete and during His lifetime, his fame and notoriety did not span the globe. He did a few spectacular things for some people, but His star only shown for a brief three years. His legacy has lasted for two thousand years, and lives
are still being changed by faith in His name.

I do not think as Christ followers we should ignore sports, or reject celebrating the almost superhuman feats some are capable of doing, however, our identity should not be formed around a team, activity or interest that we are passionate about. We serve a risen savior. Jesus is not in a tomb in Jerusalem, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and one day he will return. We should grieve the loss of people we admire, but our hope is in Jesus. And He has commissioned us to give that hope to others whose identity is misplaced in the various flickering lights of this life like what team or superstar we follow. Enjoy the game, but follow only Jesus!

In the bond of Peace,

Michael C. Smith

December 2019

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14

Dear Fellow Believers,

It is hard for us in our finite minds to comprehend what the words quoted above really mean. We can assent to the definitions of the words and the concept that is described. But to be in eternity, the fact that God without limit willingly submitted to put on human form is beyond fleshly comprehension. However, this is exactly what we are celebrating in Christmas. The Creator communing with creation in order to redeem the creation. This is indeed an unmatched gift. Thank you God!

Jesus was God’s agent of creation (Colossians 1:16), He speaks and His words become reality, and then He is born as a baby that could not speak a single intelligible word. Christmas is full of paradoxical thoughts like this. He was born to die, God in flesh, Son of God and Son of Man, born innocent to carry the sins of the world, Jesus is the greatest gift in the universe.

As Followers of this Christ, we are commissioned to tell this story and that of His death, burial and resurrection as often as we can to those who know it and to those who do not. Many years ago it became a popular catch phrase to say, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!” There has been a movement in culture to focus on the more secular aspects of Christmas instead of the real reason. I pray that we will all remember the journey to Bethlehem, the shepherds keeping their flocks, the angels singing peace on earth, and the wise men coming from afar, all for the birth of the Christ who was born to save all mankind from the wrath of God.

We are so blessed. This year we will have a special night of celebration on December 8th, “Keepsake Christmas.” Jamie will be leading us in this family event for all, we will have finger foods and desserts as well as participate in a unique presentation of the story of Christmas. Join us for a great time of fellowship and remembrance. Also, we will have a Christmas Eve Candlelight service to celebrate the Light of the World coming to give us hope and salvation. This will be a reflective and inspiring time to consider God’s great sacrifice that was initiated in this event.

On December 14th, Cindy and I will be opening our home for the church and for our neighbors. You are all invited to stop by for some fellowship and Christmas refreshments. We have been working hard on some big renovations and we are excited to have our church family and neighbors in our home to share in this wonderful season. We will be sharing more specific information about this day soon.

Lastly, this is budget month. You should have received the proposed budget for 2020 in your email last week, or you can pick one up at the church. Please be praying for our Family Meeting on December 15th. God has great things in store for us in the New Year!

I pray that you all will have a Wonderful Christmas!

Michael C. Smith

November 2019

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

November is upon us again, and Fall is in full display. How beautiful are the colors of the Fall with leaves changing, how nice are the cooler temperatures, and the anticipation of the holidays that are ahead of us? This month we will enjoy the gathering of family and friends to celebrate and remember all that God has blessed us with this year. How great is it to live in a nation that set apart a day to Thank God for His many blessings? Regardless of what the revisionist-historians say, Thanksgiving is to give thanks to the One True God of the Bible who led our forefathers to come to this continent and found this great nation. We are not without our historical faults, that is true, however, this is the greatest nation in the history of the world.

In just a few days we will be hosting the Christianity & Culture Conference in partnership with The Worldview Academy and The Bridge Network of Churches, who gave us a generous sponsorship and has endorsed the conference to its 98 churches. I hope you have been and will continue to pray that God will bring many to attend and be impacted by this event. There is so much going on in our culture today that needs to be addressed biblically. This will be an opportunity for all of us to be equipped to answer important questions, and be conversant in matters that are affecting so many. Please register now and plan to attend and serve on November 8 & 9.

During September and October, we also began our new season of D-Groups. It is great to see more of our body embracing the Disciple making life style. We are encouraged my so many verses to make disciples, to grow, study God’s Word, to be involved in personal accountability, to pray for the lost, and so many of the aspects of D-Groups. Again, I am hearing how even at the beginning of our year how some are seeing a change in their life due to the D-Group experience. We will launch again next September! Begin to pray now about being in a D-Group!

Make sure you introduce yourself (if you haven’t already) to Andrew and Hannah Carpenter, our new Minister of Music family. We are excited to see how the Lord has led them to be a part of the Restoration Church family.

One other thing, this week we will have an election. As followers of Christ we have a duty to be good citizens. Romans 13 and many other passages instruct us to respond rightly to our governmental leaders. In our nation there is no better show of appreciation or displeasure than the vote. Our hope is not in the government, but we do need to be represented and guarded by “magistrates” who hold to similar convictions as we do. Most nations of the world do not have the freedoms we do, and do not experience such peaceful change of power. We must participate as we are allowed in order to stand for the Lord and for our Nation. Please remember to vote.

I hope that you will have a safe and joyous holiday season. Remember to share at every opportunity that Thanks are to God and Christmas is for Jesus! We should all be warmed and encouraged by the time we will spend with friends and family, as well as blessed by the remembrance of the great lengths God was willing to go to demonstrate His love. Happy Thanksgiving!

In the bond of Peace,

Michael C. Smith

October 2019

 

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

Last week the church staff all took a day and went off-site to a local retreat center to pray, plan and connect. The day was a true blessing to each of us individually and helped to bring us closer together as a team. During our calendar session, as we were looking at the coming fall months and 2020, I was asked about discipleship and other aspects of church life. In response to that question I asked rhetorically, “What should the life of a Restoration Church member look like?” As I answered that question, Kelley responded by asking me, “Did you explain it to the church like that?”  The answer was no, but I will now.

How does it all fit together in a cohesive vision and strategy to help us form community, relationship, character and mission for God’s glory? Most of us are experienced church goers from way back. I did not grow up in church, but I came to know the Lord 40 years ago, and I have been active in church ever since. Many of you have been here at Restoration at least that long or longer. Some of us don’t know how not to come to church, but to what end? Is it a thing that we do because we do it, or does it truly have meaning in our lives? We are told in Romans that God has called us and chosen us to receive His Gospel so that our lives will be conformed to the life image of Jesus. Coming to church by itself will not accomplish this end.

Jesus was sent to be born according to the plan of God, as a boy His self-proclaimed mission was to be about His Father’s business, as a man He prayed not My will but Your’s (God the Father’s) be done. For Jesus, mind, body, purpose, life and death were for God and in God’s hands. Jesus was raised in a worshiping community at temple, He lived in relationship with family, friends and neighbors, He was taught by His Father and His earthly father also, and worked and served with His talents. Jesus was a real person that was born, grew, was educated, and lived as we do. Then He died like none of us could.

As the church, we are charged with helping each other become more like Him in mind, body, purpose, life and death. We do that in a few primary areas:

WORSHIP – Each Sunday we come together as a community of faith to worship the Lord. We join together in prayer, songs of praise and worship, preaching and teaching of God’s Word, taking of The Lord’s Supper, and fellowship. This is the corporate gathering of the church body where we celebrate God and love each other.

 

SMALL GROUP – On various days of the week we come together in small groups, in homes or at church to build relationships, study the word, fellowship, pray and connect. Small group is more relational than the Sunday experience and allows for deeper relationships and more intense caring.

 

DISCIPLESHIP GROUP – For the past 18 months, we have had active Discipleship Groups of 3 or 4 men who have been meeting together for personal Bible Study, accountability and character development, and prayer for the lost. This group allow for personal transparency in a covenant group of trust. Participants commit to daily devotions, honest disclosure, and sincere prayer.

 

MINISTRY TEAM – God has endowed us with the manifestation of His Spirit living inside of each one of us individually. As such, we are gifted to serve in His church. We are told in 1 Corinthians that, “He has given gifts to each one for the profit of all.” As we serve teaching, assisting, cleaning up, hanging fliers, giving out breakfast, making copies, counting money, and in ways I don’t even know about, we are experiencing the fulfilling purpose of God in our lives, and growing in Christ-likeness.

To put it more succinctly, at Restoration Church we demonstrate our love for God when we WORSHIP in community, we demonstrate our love for people when we connect in relational SMALL GROUPS, and serve within and without on MINISTRY TEAMS, and we transform lives through growth in DISCIPLESHIP GROUPS. Connecting at each of these levels should be an intentional part of your personal spiritual surrender to the Lord. It is not our desire to make you busy for the sake of busyness, however, scripture clearly demonstrates each of these spiritual disciplines as formative in the life of a Christ follower. Pray for us as a church as we seek to live out the biblical mandate to provide you, our church body, with the opportunities to grow into Christ, and pray that you will surrender to the process by taking advantage of those opportunities for growth.

On September 28th we held a Discipleship Group Breakfast. At that gathering the ministry was completely explained and our D-Groups for 2019-20 were launched. If you are not in a D-Group this year, pray about joining one next year.

I hope this helps all of us to understand how everything works together. If someone asks you what it means to be a part of Restoration Church, consider this answer, “We gather together in community for WORSHIP, connect relationally in SMALL GROUPS, develop Christ-like character in DISCIPLESHIP, and find purpose through serving in MINISTRY.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this article and how you can get engaged at any level of our community of faith.

In the bond of Peace,
Michael C. Smith

 

September 2019

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

WOW!  Did summer fly by or what?  This month, college students are back on campus, regular school is back in session, and home school started the end of August.  When I worked at NSU for nine years, one of my favorite parts of the Fall was band practice.  The practice field was not far from my office, and I could hear the fight song being played repeatedly.  It always put a little bounce in my step when I lead a campus tour during that time.

Now as a pastor of a church, there is a similar phenomenon that happens.  Throughout the Summer families go on vacation (including mine) and it seems that every week someone is missing that I hope to see.  With the Fall and the return to school, families travel less and many come back to church on a more regular basis.  It is a joy to see the family of believers together and celebrating the presence of God.  It is exciting to see you all returning to a more consistent worship experience.  I do hope that your families are refreshed by times of travel and by new and exciting ventures which make lasting memories.

For the next couple of weeks, we will be looking at some important aspects of discipleship and church life.  Together we are called as a family to encourage one another in our walk with God, we are called to glorify Him in every aspect of our lives, to hold one another accountable to our God, and to be there when any of us is struggling.  The world is not kind to our faith and we are given to one another to help, console, and forgive.  We will be having a fellowship lunch on September 8th to kick off our new discipleship groups, as well as our home and small groups.  I am looking forward to all that God will do over the next 10 months as we again walk together in love and unity for the Glory of God!

This month, the staff will be taking a day and going off-site to have a planning retreat.  We will be considering all ministry areas and how God wants to use us to grow our faith as well as proclaim the faith to our community in love.  Please be praying for us as we go on this retreat.  Ask God to lead and direct our hearts as well as our heads as we seek to do exactly what He wants us to do as we seek to guide our church in the roles He has called us to.

It is my hope that all of us as fellow believers and children of God are praying to the Lord and asking Him to reveal to us through His spirit all that we need to see personal and corporately so that we can be fully surrendered to all He has for us.  At the end of my message at the end of August I said, “Give all that you have so that you can have all that He gives.”  Ask the Lord to show you where you affections are misaligned and when He shows you repent to let Him fill you beyond anything you have experienced in the past.  My prayer for you is that you would grow in grace and knowledge and devotion, that your greatest desire would be for His presence and power to be in you every day.

 

In the bond of Peace,

 

Michael C Smith

 

 

August 2019

 

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

As I write this newsletter I am sitting n the hotel lobby in Bishop’s Falls Newfoundland, Canada. We are one week in to a two week trip with my mother and sister. My brother was here, but he has returned to Virginia already and is back at work in the sweltering heat of our home state. We are experiencing cool weather, low 50’s in the mornings and highs in the low 70’s. Most mornings are foggy and cool, the sun does break through in the mid-afternoon.

We have seen some beautiful scenery (pics included). The coastline here is rocky and jagged with high cliffs and turbulent seas. We have seen whales, and hope to see an iceberg today. Yesterday we were in Twillingate, also known as Iceberg Alley. We did not see any, but we are still hoping.

Cindy and I have taken two wonderful hikes, one around Fairhaven, my mom’s home town, and one on the Skerwink Trail in Bonivista, rated as one of the top 10 trails in North America. God’s creativity is seen at every turn. The expanse of the seas and bays, the rugged cliffs and rocks, the vivid green meadows and trees, and the beautiful colors of the wild flowers are absolutely awe inspiring.

 

We have had a great time seeing family, aunts, uncles, cousins some of whom I have never met, but many I have prayed for over the years. Being able to sit and relax and share about our life and hearing about theirs has been great. We will return to Fairhaven in a few days where we are hoping to see more family and continue to experience more of Newfoundland.

Newfoundlanders are a wonderful people. As we are traveling we have been treated with warmth and kindness. Most are willing to stop and talk, offer a kind hello, give directions or information with gentleness. The people of this province are known for their hospitality and kindness, and so far they have lived up to their reputation. There are many churches in Newfoundland. Most of even the smallest villages have at least a Salvation Army Church or a Church of Canada (Anglican). I get the sense that there is a great need for the Gospel here.

By the time you read this we will be back home. I appreciate the opportunity to be here on my home soil. I have never spent this much time discovering the land where I was born. To be able to share this with Cindy has been the fulfillment of a life long dream. We are even traveling to places that my mom has never been. We are all discovering things for the first time, what a great memory to share.

I will have much to share when we return to Hampton. I hope that we all will have great things to share from our vacations this summer.  On the day we return to Virginia, I will be leaving immediately to take my final class for my studies at Southeastern Seminary in North Carolina. I have been reading during the trip, and I am gaining new perspectives that are important.

In light of that, I want to remind us all of the out reach on August 24th with Buckroe Pointe. The event is called the “Back to School Barbeque. We are going to be supplying the bounce houses, and games for the afternoon event. We want our members and attenders to come out and facilitate the games and entertainments, do face painting, and just be present to meet people and share some encouragement. We will continue to share information about the event as it gets closer, please mark your calendar and plan to attend.

God bless you, I look forward to seeing you all soon!

In the bond of Peace,

Michael C. Smith

July 2019

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

WOW! The summer is at full steam! VBS is behind us, members are heading out on vacations, temps are north of 90 multiple times per week, and the longest day of the year has already been lived. Don’t blink!

Speaking of VBS, God did a great work! This year we moved our VBS to the week after school let out. This was a lot earlier than we have done it in a long, long time. We promoted the experience by door hangers (thanks to all who helped), personal invites, post cards from previous events, and for the first time, we used social media advertising.

 

We had a number of parents who told us they saw our ad on Facebook. The result was we had a total of 57 children register and attend for at least one night. Our high attendance was 49 on Thursday evening when the Gospel was shared. Many parents also heard that presentation. To God be the glory for the seeds that were planted in the hearts of families! Also, we had an average of 53 volunteers who were available to be used to love and lead those children. Thank you to all who assisted!

In June, we also had the great privilege to witness the Baptism of three of our young people. Grace and Ben Bullard, and Audrey Brewer all made their public profession of Jesus. What a great time it is when young people with so much life ahead of them stand and say it is all for Jesus. I pray that you will all walk with Jesus and know the power of His love and forgiveness for your entire lives!

As most of you know, Cindy and I will be taking some time off in July to go with my family to Newfoundland, Canada. My mom was born and raised there, and I was born there and came to Norfolk at the age of two. I am excited to return with my brother and sister for the first time since we were all teenagers. One of the reason I am so excited about this trip is the opportunity to show Cindy where I was born. In 2014 we went to the youth camp at Saranac Lake, NY where I gave my life to Christ. After this trip I can say that I have shared the most important places in my life with the most important person in my life.

As most of you know our Awana Commander stepped down at the end of the Spring term. We have a number of openings for leaders and assistants in Awana. We need the following positions filled: Commander and Co-Commander/Secretary, T&T Girls Director, 2 leaders and 1-2 helpers, Trek Director and leader, and a Cubbies helper. I know many of you are very dedicated to Awana. We cannot do this ministry without solid, committed leadership. If you are interested in any of these positions, please let us know as soon as possible. If we do not have all of these positions filled with trained church members by August 16th, we will not be able to have Awana this fall.

I also want to invite you to join us on Wednesday night in the Summer! We are here! In July and August, we will be enjoying some of the best preachers in Baptist life. As with last year, I purchased the sermons from the SBC Pastor’s Conference and Annual Meeting. The theme for the Pastor’s Conference was based on the B-Attitudes in Matthew 5. There were some tremendous messages and preachers who declared Kingdom Character in a very special way. Also on Wednesday evenings, we are engaging the children in Team Kid, a missions focused children’s education program that helps them to understand God’s work in the world to spread the Gospel in a culturally relevant way. Join us this Wednesday!

I want to encourage you all to continue in your spiritual disciplines over the summer. Spend time in the Word and prayer, be ready to share an encouraging word, invite people to be your guest at church. When you are at the beach or pool, the amusement/water park, camping, or where ever else you may choose to go, share your faith with someone. I have engaged many people on the beach during the summer, and most are very willing to talk and share. Step out and see what God will do!

Have a great Summer,

Michael C. Smith

June 2019

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

Here come the high temperatures, long days of sunshine, the end of school, mosquitoes and lawn maintenance. With the changing of the seasons and the coming of summer, many of us will be taking family vacations, trips to the beach or the mountains, going back home to see family, and just taking some time. This month Cindy and I will be traveling to Birmingham for the SBC Annual Meeting with a stop in Easley, SC to see one of Cindy’s lifelong friends.

Summer also brings VBS! This year the ROAR we will hear from the scripture is about the goodness of our God. When life is unfair, scary, changing, sad or good… God is Good! Indeed, our understanding of who God is, is not based on the daily fluctuations or our emotions or circumstances, but on His character and consistent love for us as His children. This year VBS is June 17-21, the week after school ends. This means that we are in go mode right now. The worship center is being decorated, training is taking place and we should all be praying that God will draw a number of families to entrust us with sharing His love with their children.

In light of what we know and learn about God’s goodness in the midst of change, at the end of this month we will say farewell to the Bullard family. Erik, Jenn, Grace, Ben and Abby have made a huge impact here at Restoration, and in the lives of so many. Jenn has served well as our Children’s Ministry Director. Her tireless efforts have blessed us all in so many ways, too many to enumerate. Jamie Starr will be stepping in as our Interim Children’s Ministry Director as we pray about God’s direction for this position. Personally, I will miss seeing Ben and Abby in the afternoons, they give great hugs, and like to play a little office basketball. Grace has been a real blessing to watch in her love for the Lord. I will also miss Erik’s humble spirit and the conversations we have had in the office. Even though Cindy and I have only been here for 15 months, I am so appreciative of this family and all they mean to this church family. It has been a privilege to help lead both Ben and Abby in receiving Jesus as their Savior in the past year. I know that Jesus will be glorified and lifted up in their lives. On June 30, we will be celebrating our love for the Bullard family in a gathering following the morning worship service.

On June 23, we will be celebrating baptism for a number of our children and young people. Many of the children being baptized put their faith in Jesus during last year’s Vacation Bible School. What a joy it is that we are seeing God impacting lives in our church. Cindy accepted Christ as a 9 year-old and has often spoken that her testimony is not what God saved her “out of” but what God saved her “from.” Pray for all of our children, that they will live lives in love with Jesus, His Word and His people. Pray that they will devote their hearts and lives to His pleasure, and that their identity will be firmly established in His sacrificial love for them.

I hope we are all praying for and seeking God’s glory at Restoration Church. We are called to be disciples, and we are called to make disciples. It is my hope that God will draw people from all backgrounds into our church and into our everyday lives to know Jesus as we live for Him and He expresses Himself in us. We are His representatives to a lost and dying world. This week my D-group has been reading 1 & 2 Thessalonians. In 2 Thess. 1:8-9 we are told that those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus will go to an eternity without the presence of God. In context, there is a sense that this was written not as a warning to those who did not believe, but as an inspiration and motivation for those who did. Does the eternal peril of your lost family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and community members motivate you to boldly share the love of God in Christ Jesus? Be ready and share without fear!

In the bond of Peace,
Michael C. Smith

May 2019

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

First. Let me say a BIG THANK YOU! to all of you who prayed, painted, invited, hung door hangers, or did anything to make BIG DAY a success! Easter was a great day at Restoration Church. We showed ourselves that we can rally and create a great environment for worship, fellowship and celebration that is inviting and welcoming to our community! We are meeting to discuss lessons learned and looking to our next BIG DAY this year.

As we move toward a busy summer, I hope all of you continue to pray for our many guests that came to our church for the first time. We have a very active schedule coming up. On May 24th we will have our Breakfast on the Go outreach to Buckroe Point Townhomes, and in June we will all again be on deck for Vacation Bible School! Jenn is enlisting for positions to love on our kids this summer. Please be praying for all that is to come.

As many of you know we have had a number of families to have babies in April, including mine. On April 23rd, Emelia Smith was born, our fourth granddaughter. She weighed in at 8 lbs 14 oz, and measured 20 inches long. We are so happy to have another child to love!

In many ways, I feel like our first BIG DAY event was like having a baby. It is more than the work up for the day, it is an ongoing responsibility.  We employed a number of volunteers for Big Day that we could use throughout the year. Many of the people I talked with after the service and during the amusements commented on how great it was to be greeted as soon as they drove on the property, or before they even walked in the building, many just said how warm and welcoming our church was. I noticed the energy produced by all of us wearing the same t-shirt, and how focused we all were on inviting people, it was a great effort all around.

While we cannot stay at that level of intensity, we do need to continue to be intentional. Please continue to take invite cards and give them out when you can. We can all continue to treat our guests with enthusiasm and genuine care. We can notice areas around our building that need special attention and chip in to see that we are presenting the best possible environment to all who attend our services and activities.

God has given us an eternal purpose to see transformed lives and destinies. Every invite, every kind act, and every ready word of encouragement can lead to a changed life for an individual or family! Remember, “…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15.

We are seeing in the Book of Acts, that God uses His faithful followers to build His church. We are seeing that it takes persistence, boldness and faithful reliance on Him to bring the increase. Our role is clear, we proclaim and pursue relationship as good stewards of the Gospel, and He will draw all unto Him. Thank you for all you do to increase His Kingdom in the hearts of all.

Let’s have the best May ever!

In the bond of Peace,
Michael C. Smith

April 2019

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

April is here! This year Easter is at the latest point in the season that it can be. We will be celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior on April 21st. This year we are planning a grand celebration. The Easter BIG DAY Celebration will be an exciting experience for all who participate. We are canceling Sunday School, moving the service to 10 AM, and incorporating many elements for children and families. There will be a drama from our youth and young adults during the service and after there will be an egg hunt, bounce houses, popcorn, cotton candy and hot dogs.

We are going to invite our community to come, hear the Easter story of Christ’s Resurrection and celebrate the life He gives us with friends and family and fun. Through personal invite cards, door hangers, elementary school post cards, and even social media advertising, we are getting the word out to get the gospel out. We are asking you, our members and regular attendees to make this a “Sacrifice Sunday” by being ready to serve our guests with love, a welcoming smile, and a hospitable spirit. We need you to serve in the parking lot, helping our guests to have a pleasant time from the second they drive onto the property. You can serve on a greeting team to help families
get in the building with a warm handshake and a welcoming smile. You may need to help our guests find a restroom, nursery care, or a good seat in the worship center. We need willing members to work with our children’s ministry to organize and run the egg hunt, the bounce houses, and serve our snacks and food to those who come.

On April 14th we will be having a family meeting following our Palm Sunday service to get organized. Plan on staying so that we can be ready for all who God will send us to hear His message of love and experience His community of love at Restoration. Please be praying for this BIG DAY outreach to our city. Pray that God will draw the lost and de-churched to come to Him and to His family with hearts open to His love. Pray that we will be ready, organized and loving. Pray that everyone here at Restoration Church will be willing to serve, share and care for our guests. The staff and Elders are praying that we will “double-in-one-day.” That means we are asking God to see
twice as many people here on Easter Sunday than we do on an “average” Sunday. This means that potentially a hundred more people hearing the Gospel, given the opportunity to change their eternal destiny, and experience the life transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Please be praying, please be willing to serve, and please meet, greet, seat, and treat all of our guest with the love of our resurrected Savior on His BIG DAY!

Contact Kelley or Jenn for more information about how you can serve on a team for this great day of celebration.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and service to the glory of our God and King, Jesus!

In the bond of Peace,
Michael C. Smith

 

 

 

March 2019

Dear Friends and Fellow Followers of Christ,

The months seem to be flying by! It is hard to believe that March is upon us. Before you know it the beaches and pools will be open and the kids will be out of school. Wait a minute! Spring before Summer please?

Oh, OK. This month will be another month of retreats as the young ladies head to the beach and the mature ladies head to Williamsburg.  Last month the men went to the mountains and learned about being spiritual men, while also shooting and throwing things. The young adults went to the mountains and learned about building their lives on the foundation of Christ. What a great time to pull aside from the busyness of life and ministry to seek reconnecting with the Lord and the life He has given us. I pray that all of you who have been or will be on retreat will experience a blessing and move forward in your relationship with Jesus, for His glory and your good.

This month we will be launching a special 4-week study on sharing our faith. For many followers of Christ there is nothing more unnerving than sharing our faith. Many feel that it is scary, intimidating, complicated and relationally risky. However, we can share our faith in a way that is loving, simple, Bible based without having to memorize, and proven to be successful, without being pushy. Sounds great doesn’t it? Sharing Jesus Without Fear is a simple Bible based method of presenting Jesus without force while respecting people and honoring God. We will begin our study on Sunday evening, March 17th at 6:00 PM. Books will be available soon. If you have any questions you can contact me or the church office.

Additionally, Easter is almost as late in the year as it can be. We need to be praying now that God will do a special thing on April 21st. We have fasted, we are still praying, and we are hoping for a great outpouring of His Spirit. We must understand our role in inviting, and even bringing people with us to this special celebration of His Resurrection. Remember what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…” (ESV). We believe and know that Jesus was raised, and He is our hope. Ask God to make you sensitive and ready to share your faith with those who need to hear it. He will guide your thoughts and words when you need Him to.

Lastly, I hope that you are as excited as I am about our study in the Book of Acts. As we begin to see the power of the Holy Spirit move on the early disciples and Apostles, we should be encouraged that God is the same today as He was in those days. He wants to do in His church today what He did in His church in that day. Are we truly ready? Have we prayed? Have we confessed? Have we submitted ourselves? Are we truly desiring all that He wants in our church and in our individual lives? Will you pray with me that we will be ready?

Let us seek Him and His glory in His church!

In the bond of Peace,
Michael C. Smith

 

 

February 2019

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

Happy Anniversary to us! What a blessing it is to celebrate one year of being at Restoration Church. Cindy and I have been so blessed by all of you who have loved and supported us through a very challenging year personally. The sale of our house, the purchase of a new house, moving and all the construction on both ends.

God has been truly better to us than we deserve, thank you God for your mercy!

Here at the church we have been laying the ground work for what we believe the Bible tells us God wants His church to be. From the In Christ series, the Experiencing God Together study, our new discipleship culture, to our new relationship with Buckroe Pointe Apartments and their residents; it has been quite a year. I look forward to see all that God will do in the New Year following our time of calling out to Him this January.

Now we will venture into a series through the Book of Acts. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, “I will build my church…” In Acts, we have the foundation of Jesus doing just that. He tells His disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit and they obediently gather and pray together for that very thing. As God empowers His church it boldly proclaims Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, and the one who has brought salvation to all mankind, through faith in Him. Starting as a small group and growing to a worldwide church in just a few decades, Acts is the record of Jesus’ work that stands today. His work is not finished! We must learn from Him and His early followers as we will see them
spreading the Spirit empowered message of the Gospel. We will see the church as a community of loving brothers and sisters, a persecuted band of rebels, and as passionate messengers of life giving hope and truth that transforms.

I am anxious to see what God will do in His present church as we look closely at what He did to build His ancient church. Will you journey with me? Will you open your heart to consider what God wants to do in your life as His Spirit comes alive in the messages from the pages of this Book, will you allow Him to do a new thing in your heart and mind and life? He has called you, equipped you with His Spirit that dwells in the heart of all who call Him Lord, and He has prepared works for all of us to walk in them. What a great God we serve.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Pastor. It is an honor that I cherish. I pray for all of us that we will experience His presence, His power, and be witnesses to miraculous and marvelous works for which only He can get the glory!

In the bond of Peace,

Michael C. Smith

January 2019

Dear Friends and Family,
Happy New Year!

What lies ahead for you, your family and Restoration Church in 2019?


We are starting the year with 21 days of Prayer and Fasting.


We will initiate our fast on January 6th with the Lord’s Supper, and conclude our fast on January 27th with a fellowship meal following our Sunday worship.

What is our hope for this time of spiritual seeking? It is my hope, as your pastor, that you will first personally hear from God in a powerful way to bring clarity to His love and purpose for you. That you will become aware of His great holiness and our great need for Him, that He will show to you (and to me in my life) areas of your life that need to be confessed and cleansed. Additionally, it is my hope that He will speak to you and bring clarity to your calling as a believer as He uses you to build His church and reach those most desperate for His love. He has given you gifts and wants to manifest His power in your life and ministry every day. Are you open to Him using you in
ways that you are not personally capable of being used, but with the endowment of His Spirit you are capable through Him?

To enhance and encourage our 21 days of prayer and fasting we will be having special times of prayer each week day morning at the church at 7:00 AM. This time will be a time to come together to encourage each other, to hear a devotion from God’s Word, and pray together for our personal walk and our ministry at Restoration Church.

Begin praying now as the time quickly approaches. Ask God to begin to show you what you need to be praying for during this season of prayer. Discern if there is something inhibiting your communication with God. Consider if God is calling you to service in a way that you have never served Him before, including full-time service.

I pray that you, all of you will experience a spiritual breakthrough that will inspire you to follow Him closer, love Him deeper and experience Him in greater power in 2019 than ever before!

Cindy and I wish you all a wonderful and blessed New Year! We look forward to seeing all that God will do for His glory and your good.

In the bond of His Peace,

Michael C. Smith

 

December 2018

 

Dear Friends and Fellow Followers,

Merry Christmas!  The Friday following Thanksgiving, Cindy and I drove through at a fast food restaurant while on our way to completing a long list of errands.  As the young lady handed me our order, I smiled back at her and said those words, “Merry Christmas!”  The young lady responded with a head snap and a strange look on her face.  I did not make a comment to her, but I asked Cindy if she saw what I saw.  Cindy said, “She was not ready for that.”  The reaction was not negative or positive it was surprise.

We carry Christmas with us 24/7 – 365.  I regularly ask people, “How are you doing?”  I am genuinely interested most of the time, and do not have an expected answer.  The strange thing is when I they respond with the knee jerk, “Fine, how are you?”  I have started to respond, “Better than I deserve!”  I often follow that with, “It is all about grace!”

Why am I telling you this this month?  I am hoping to encourage you to be present in every moment and see the opportunity to introduce grace to someone who needs a kind word.  Jesus was always present in the moments of His day.  In Matthew 19, the children wanted to get to Jesus, and the disciples treated them like and interruption, Jesus instructed them to, “Let the children come.”  On His way to deal with a sick child He was touched by as sick women, (Mark 5) He did not disregard her and simply move on to the next thing.  He engaged her, blessed her and sent her away changed.  Also in Matthew 19, a man came running up to Him and asked Him about eternity, unfortunately this man did not receive the counsel of Jesus, but not because Jesus failed to give him His full attention.  He did just that.  Jesus was constantly being pressed, interrupted and engaged by people.  Some were humble and weak needing something, some were rude and arrogant wanting Him to bow to their agenda, many were just searching for something true and real that would give them hope in a hopeless life.

These people are all around us, the associate at Wal-Mart that seems not to respond to your request for help, the fast food worker that is overwhelmed by the holiday crush, the lady in line in front of you with two baskets full of groceries and three kids driving her crazy.  Will you choose not to see these people as an inconvenient interruption to your schedule, but to see these people as desperately in need of a loving word, a gentle response and a genuinely caring heart?

Jesus was the ultimate interruption.  He stepped out of eternity and became flesh, interrupting the course of human history with a divine interruption.  John 1 tells us, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”  Maybe God is sending someone to you through an interruption?  Will you be ready to respond with grace and gentleness instead of snapping back with impatience?  Learn to expect the interruption, and see that on your way to one thing God may go outside your expectation and make an interruption a true eternal blessing!

Have a wonderful Christmas,

Michael C. Smith

 

 

November 2018

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers, Happy November!

This is typically considered the month of giving thanks. But who is it that we are thanking? For those of us who have surrendered to God through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, we know who we are thanking.  To be thankful we must understand grace, forgiveness, boundless love and perseverance.  All of these things are visible in the willing birth life, death, and resurrection of Jesus!

As we come to a season of holidays, gatherings of family, eating of meals, and giving of gifts, I want to remind you and encourage you to remember where all the joy comes from. Without Jesus in our lives, we would be (maybe unknowingly) lost, without hope, destined to eternal suffering in the next life and trapped in sin in this life.  Oh what God has done for us.

I write these things to you today, not to put a damper on the joy of the season, but to make you more appreciative of all that is yours through Him.  Also, to make you aware of the ones that you walk next to in the malls, stores and seasonal attractions, and how much they need the Gospel that God has graciously opened your eyes to see.

So many look to this time of year to feel something good in a life of disappointment, failure and unmet expectations.  Many leave this time of year and head into the new year with the same disappointment and sense of hopelessness.  We have the answer.  His name is Jesus!

It is my hope to hear your testimony of faith and obedience as you have opportunity to share your greatest gift in the season of giving.  Give thanks for God’s blessings, give toys to children, give money to teenagers, give gift certificates to your friends, but also, be ready to give the Gospel to a hurting soul.

In the spirit of thanks, Cindy and I cannot say how thankful we are for all of you!  Restoration Church has been an overwhelming blessing to us.  You have been the hands and feet of a loving Christ to us as we have made the transition to this community.  We have  great anticipation for what God will do in this ministry, in all of our lives and through your generosity and goodness.

I hope that you will all have a great month and a wonderful season of thanks!

In the bond of Peace,

Michael C. Smith

 

 

October 2018

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

Fall is upon us! Cooler temperatures, shorter days, sweaters and pants instead of tee shirts and shorts. We see the goodness of God in the rhythm of the seasons that He controls (Eccl 3:1-8) Next week I will be taking my mother up to Oakland, Maryland to Autumn Glory. It is a Fall Festival celebrating the changing of the leaves in the mountains of our neighboring state to the North. Nature tells us that life is
a series of seasons, changes and adaptations.

I want to thank all of you for your prayers for me and Cindy over the past few months as we have been preparing to transition to the Peninsula from the Southside. We appreciate your grace and patience as we have worked to prepare our home of almost 12 years to be sold. Our house was originally built in 1948 and we maintained it well, but it is amazing what looking through someone else’s eyes can reveal about something you have been looking at for a long time.

As of this writing, we have a contract on our home, and a contract on a home on Mohawk Road just 2.1 miles from Restoration Church. We are so excited to know where we are going to live for the foreseeable future. If everything goes as planned, we will be purchasing a home from a lovely couple, who loves the Lord and His Church, and are excited to turn over their home to a minister of the Gospel! It is great to know that our future home has been a place of prayer, love and God’s Word. Please pray for Bob and Winnie Bennett as they move to Christiansburg, VA to be closer to family.

This month is going by so fast already! I apologize for the delay in getting this out to you. Home school has returned and Thursdays again are filled with families in the halls and classrooms.

To be truthful, October is not my favorite month of the year. While I love the temperatures and the colors of changing leaves, the emphasis on Halloween is just a little unnerving to me. The TV has nothing but scary or even evil movies, and even the regular shows have their seasonal specials that turn, at minimum, to an attempt to scare the audience. On Wednesday October 31, we will have a Halloween alternative, Trunk-OR-Treat. We are collecting candy for the kids, and hope that you will pray that we will have opportunity to interact with members of our community we may have not met in the past. Come out and decorate your car and enjoy the fellowship.

We have launched the men’s disciple groups (D-Groups) and the ladies will soon join in the challenging and exciting journey of growing closer to Christ with fellow followers. I hope that in time everyone at Restoration Church will respond to the Lord’s call to follow Him in close relationship with others. Please let me know if you have any questions about our discipleship culture.

In the bond of Peace,
Michael C. Smith

 

September 2018

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

It is hard to believe we have come to the end of the Summer!  Cindy and I have spent the bulk of our time this Summer working on our house in Norfolk.  It is amazing how long it takes to do the things you have put off for 11 years.  When you decide to move, at least for us, you do all those “one day” projects. New counters and back splash in the kitchen, new tile in the bathroom, a fresh coat of paint for the front porch, replace the crumbling brick steps, and on and on the list goes.  But hey, the house is looking great!

How many of us have “one day” projects in our spiritual lives? One day I am going to sit down and really study the Book of Romans.  One day I am going to get committed to my daily devotions.  One day I am going to start to pray for my lost friends and family.  One day I am going to start being more vocal about my relationship with Jesus.  We all have so many many spiritual aspirations, but how do those want-to

wishes become daily realities?  In the Book of Proverbs, the wisest man to ever live put it this way, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  (27:17 ESV)

We are tentative to share with other people exactly where our hearts are, generally because most of us have been hurt or betrayed in the past. It is difficult to trust, but it is a biblical command to those who share faith in Jesus.  Acts 2:44 states, “And all who believed were together and had all things in common.”  (ESV)  One of those things they had in common was a commitment to the good will of their fellow followers of Jesus Christ, including genuine and sincere love and accountability.

The Christian life was always meant to be lived in community and meaningful relationship.  When we look in the Gospels we see Jesus and the 12 walking, eating, resting, retreating, and serving together, this is the true picture of disciple making.  It does not happen sitting by yourself in a recliner in your den at home, it happens in relationship.

 For me and the Elders it has been happening at Chick-fil-A at 7 AM on Saturday morning, reviewing scripture, getting honest with each other, and praying together.  I hope that you are all praying about being involved in biblical discipleship this year.  We will continue to hear from God’s Word about this aspect of the spiritual life of those who live by His example, and we will be challenged to participate as well.

On the second Sunday of this month we will be having a Family Meeting following the service.

 It will be great to hear about this Summer’s activities and how God is ministering in our body. Please plan to attend and share how you have seen God moving!

Also in September, there will be a deacon training weekend which will include the deacons’ wives.  On the 14th and 15th, we will be learning via DVD from Johnny Hunt.  The Deacon I Want to Be is a biblical and practical look at the ministry of the Deacon in the church.  We will have teaching, discussion and fellowship as we discuss the role of deacons here at Restoration Church. I look forward to sharing this time with our deacons and their wives.

Lastly, many of our families are going back to school this month.  Whether it is public, private or home school, all of our families need prayer.  Pray that God will be glorified in all of our educational settings, and that our students will grow in their walk with the Lord as they bear witness to their fellow students. It is my prayer that you all, students, teachers, and parents have a great year!

May your experience His Peace as we follow Him together!

Michael C. Smith

 

 

 

August 2018

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

WOW! Can you believe it is August! Cindy and I have been here a full six months! What a blessing you have been to us. God has blessed us with the privilege of being your lead ministry family, and we are so excited about what we can see God doing in the coming months and years.

This month has a lot to come. As you all know the Summer Carnival with Buckroe Pointe Townhome Apartments had to be rescheduled and is happening the first Saturday. I am still excited about the opportunity to be out showing God’s love to the community.

Vacation Bible School comes up on the 13th, and again it is all hands on deck. I am praying that our relationship with our community will mean some new children to hear the Gospel and connect with God’s family. I hope you have all prepared for VBS by attending one of Jenn’s training sessions. There are still some items that we are trying to collect or borrow, check out the back wall of the worship center for more opportunities to share in this great opportunity.

On August 25th, we will share in a great experience for personal and corporate spiritual growth in our church family. The Discipleship Blueprint Workshop with Bridge Church in Virginia Beach will be a banner day for all who participate. God has called us all to be disciples, and to make disciples. This workshop will help us all discover exactly what that is, and give us the tools to begin to more biblically obey this Great Commission from our Savior and our God. I hope you will all make every effort to attend
and to encourage others to do the same!

Sunday, August 5th will also be a day to remember for all of us who call Restoration Church home. Since we will have finished Your Church Experiencing God Together on the last Sunday in July, we are going to join in making a covenant with the Lord and with each other that reinforces the principles we have learned in this foundational and transformational study. Please be praying about your willingness to completely obey the Lord as the head of the church, seek His presence in every gathering of the church,
and that you will commit to encouraging and assisting in helping your brothers and sisters in Christ to grow in their relationship with Him.

This is going to be a tremendous month: two great outreach events, a focus on spiritual growth, and making a covenant together for God’s Glory to be a primary priority for our body. We cannot do all of this, or any of this without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Please be intentional in your intercession for the church this month. It is my prayer that we will have many testimonies of God’s power and movement during this final month of our summer. I hope you will join us in every possible way to witness to God’s great salvation and His power!

May God richly bless you as you serve for His glory!

Michael C. Smith

 

July 2018

 

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

This is a great month with so many great events and opportunities. As we celebrate the birth of this God given nation, we are going to pray for our country. Check out call2fall.com. We will set aside five minutes at the beginning of the service on July 1st, to pray for God’s wisdom in the leaders of our nation, healing for racial strife, and the general wellbeing of our country.

You have been hearing a lot about the outreach to Buckroe Pointe Apartments on the 21st from 3 to 6 PM with set up and clean up at least one hour before and after. We are going to provide a party trailer and games for the families of the community. There are sign-up streets in the office hallway for those who are planning to help. We will be manning the games, bounce houses, cotton candy, snow cones, and pop-corn, and Leslie and the youth will be doing face painting. What a great opportunity this will be to show God’s hospitality, goodness and love to our neighbors. Please plan to be a part of all God is going to do!

Remember to pray for Leslie and those who are playing volleyball on the beach on Sunday afternoon. This is a whole church activity, and all are welcome. I plan to join them on Sundays in August. I hope you will as well!
I am so excited for our participation in our Blackaby Study. Sunday evenings have been a wonderful time of sharing and discussing god’s hand in our church. If you have not joined us, books are still available, and the DVDs can be checked out. Even if you are not in the study, I invite you to join us on Sunday evening to participate in the discussions.

As I write this I have the smell of salt water and sand in my nose. I just returned from the Virginia Beach ocean front on Friday morning. I headed out about 6 AM to get in some time of recreation in God’s grand creation. The waves were knee to chest and clean. It was great. It is amazing how the complexion of the beach changes from 6:30 AM to 9:30 AM. the early morning is mostly local hard core surfers who really know what they are doing, getting in some fun before going to work. It is as much fun to watch these people and girls doing what they really love, as it is being in the water by myself. I alternate being in the water with some time in a beach chair reading scripture, it is a beautiful time. As the morning goes on, the surfers go to work; when it gets closer to 9:oo AM, the tourist begin to come out, parasailers go up in the sky, and the jet skis begin to cut up the water outside the break. But it is still a great place to be.

This morning, I was in the water waiting for a wave to get on, when a man paddles by me on his way back out after catching a wave. He looked me square in the face and said with a South American accent, “God is good!” I have to admit, I was caught a little off guard. I returned His praise with, “god is good!” Nestor was a much better surfer than I am a body boarder. He took wave after wave, each time praising God for the water, the sun, and all of creation. The joy this man had for the Lord and this gift of creation was inspiring. Nestor has lived in Virginia Beach for three years. He grew up in Brazil in a completely secular world. “I did not know God’s love or that it was possible for something like it to exist” he told me. When I asked him how he came to know Jesus, he explained that he came to the United States 13 years ago and landed in New Jersey. He was taken in by a Christian family that, “loved me into God’s family.” To say it was a joy to meet this brother is a drastic understatement. It was my divine appointment of the day. What a blessing.

This month we have many opportunities to be that loving presence of God to someone who may not know that God’s love indeed exists, and is available for them. Do no miss what God may want to do through you and Restoration Church this month. Be a part, ride the wave of God’s love into the community where God has placed us.

In the bond of Peace,
Michael C. Smith

 

June 2018

 

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

Summer is here!  Can you believe it, the temps are coming up, we have had our first named storm and the tourists are not far away!  We have quite a summer on tap for Restoration Church!  We are a few weeks into our study of Your Church Experiencing God Together, and we are hearing some great comments about the study and what we are learning about God’s Great Salvation and His desire for the Church.  The Student Ministry has had the first volleyball at Buckroe Beach, Cindy and I are looking forward to being out there very soon!

Saturday, July 21st will be our second outreach to Buckroe Pointe, when we will sponsor a Summer Carnival with a party trailer and games for the residents.  There will be two bounce house activities, a popcorn machine, cotton candy and snow cones.  I hope that many of you will participate by helping to man these activities.  There will be a sign up in the foyer starting

June 17th.  It will be a great day to impact lives by forming new relationships in the community.

August brings two vital events in the life of the church.  On the 13th through the 17th, we will have our Vacation Bible School.

We will learn from the Book of Daniel.  How relevant in a world that pressures everyone to compromise their values and beliefs for cultural correctness.  VBS is often the number one outreach in terms of member participation.  Jenn and the Children’s Ministry is in need of help.  Please pray and be obedient to the Lord’s leading as this opportunity approaches.  There are sign ups posted in the hallway outside the church office, sign up as soon as possible!

The weekend following VBS, on August 25th, there will be a great opportunity for Restoration Church.  We will be partnering with The Bridge Church, in Virginia Beach, for a one-day Disciple Making Conference.  Chris Swain of Replicate Ministry (replicate.org) will be facilitating an information and training opportunity for churches interested in launching biblical discipleship movements in their churches.  This is one of the principle aspects of church life that I am studying in my DMin, and something I strongly believe is needed in a high percentage of churches today.  Please save this date and plan to attend.

How exciting is it to know that God is moving in your church?  I hope you sense the same thing that I do.  If you are excited about what is going on, invite someone new to be your guest this coming Sunday!  We should be challenged when we read Romans 10:14 “…  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have not heard?…”  If you are not confident in sharing the

Gospel, be confident in the experience that friend, neighbor, acquaintance will have when they are your guest at your church!

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe summer of 2018!  I look forward to sharing some great moments with all of you!  Be blessed as you experience the presence of a living God, and the fellowship of your brothers and sisters in the Lord!

In the bond of Peace,

Michael C. Smith

 

May 2018

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

We have a very active month planned for May 2018. The first Sunday of the month we will welcome Bill Teate, Regional Director with Glad Tidings India. He is coming to update us on the ministry to the people of India and share a new challenge. Of course we all know that May is the month of Mother’s Day! I am sure we are all thankful to God for our mothers! What a blessing it is to be brought up by someone who sets the example of grace and compassion for their loved ones.

On the 18th we will be providing Breakfast-On-The-Go to Buckroe Pointe Apartments. We will be there at 7:00 AM to distribute breakfast sandwiches, and thanks to a generous donation, bottles of orange juice, to the children going to school and the adults leaving for work. I know that some of you have signed up to help purchase a number of sandwiches. Simply figure $2 per sandwich and drop your designated gift in the offering plate any time between now and the 18th.

Also, we will be starting a new series of messages as well as a Sunday night study for all adults and youth who want to participate. Your Church Experiencing God Together is the follow up study to Henry Blackaby’s world impacting study Experiencing God. This study helps churches come together around God’s purposes for the Church on a local level. We are all here for a reason, and God’s Word is clear on that reason! This study will help us all to be on the same page and promote a greater sense of unity for all who are willing to participate. The experience includes a daily devotional ($10) for all participants which will be given at the introductory session on May 20th at 6:30 PM. You can sign up at the table in the foyer anytime you are at church. Also, it looks like the beach volleyball will begin on the last Sunday of the month. Plan to spend your afternoons on the beach having some fun in the community!

God has called us to be salt and light in the world. We are hoping to be able to begin to form relationships with individuals and families in our community that will lead to life transformation and spiritual renewal. Please be praying for our church to be all that God has planned for it to be. And, pray about exactly how God would call you to participate, and that you would be obedient to that call. Remember, Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (ESV)

In the Bond of Peace,

Michael C. Smith

 

April 2018

Dear Friends and Fellow Believers,

As we consider the Easter season, we must spend time considering the character of our Savior Jesus Christ. Character is defined by one online dictionary as, “the mental and moral distinctive to an individual.” Jesus mentality and moral distinctives are unmatchable, but are also imputed to us through the Holy Spirit and reinforced by the scriptures. We are in the process of becoming like Christ as we are “conformed in to His image.”

In John’s Gospel, John the Baptist is quoted as having said, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” That is to say that my character will grow over time to become more like Christ’s, but it is not a given, it does not happen automatically. Character is developed through many different aspects of learning. One can learn academically, you can learn by your mistakes, you can learn my mentoring with someone, or by any other different model of learning.

Jesus character was described for us in Philippians 2:5-11, Romans 5:8, Galatians 2:20, and many, many other verses of the New Testament. Displayed equally in these verses is Christ love for humanity and His willingness to submit to God the Father’s will in sacrificing Himself for our salvation. In Galatians 2:20 we get a real glimpse of what I like to call the “life for life” exchange. The character of Christ is imparted to us as a faith transaction at salvation, but it is also worked out daily as we relinquish more and more of who we were to more and more of who he is making us.

Jesus character guided Him through some very difficult situations: request from His mother at the wedding feast of Canna, the three fold temptation in the wilderness, the abuses of the temple both at the beginning and the end of His ministry, and of course taking on the sins of the world on Calvary. There is debate over whether or not Jesus, as the Son of God could have sinned by choice or not. Some say that being human he could have chosen to sin, others say that as the divine Son of God it was impossible for Him to sin. I believe that as fully human, He could have chosen selfishly, but because of His divine character He did not. Character does not remove from us the ability to choose, but once developed, it does enable us to see the choice more clearly, and make the right choice.

I have been a student of leadership and motivation for a very long time. I have read books and articles, and seen online courses that discuss these topics at length. What is interesting to me is that in the more recent literature and course work, leadership is now being discussed in reference to character unlike I have seen before. I believe this is a response to the moral bankruptcy that is seen on Wall Street, in Government, and even in the high profile failures of Christian leaders during the last 15 years. Salvation by faith is a given scripturally, but development of character, especially the character of Christ, is not in any circumstances a given.

Jesus character was demonstrated. He lived His life as an example without boasting or bragging, He just did it. When the rubber met the road, when He stood to be tried, He was faithful. The privacy of the garden prayer was the fuel for the public display of obedient character in times of trial. Character is forged by small acts of selfless obedience, and fueled by an outward focus for God’s glory. Jesus walked the walk, because he talked the talk, not publicly, privately in prayer with His Father.

As we consider all that Easter presents to us this year, consider the character that Christ displayed, and the character on displayed in your life every day. Join us in celebrating what He did, so we could become like Him.

In the Bond of Peace

Michael C. Smith

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Loving Jesus. Loving People. Lives Transformed

508 Fox Hill Road,
Hampton, VA 23669
757-851-3625 – phone
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restoration@rcpb.net

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