Dear Friends and Fellow Disciples,
The Lord is Risen, happy resurrection month! April 4th will be our celebration of the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. We are hoping that this will be a great day for many of our families to return to church after a long season of physical distancing facilitated by digital worship. Many of our families have stayed away for personal safety reasons, and we certainly understand. As more and more citizens are vaccinated it is our hope that those who have stayed away will feel comfortable to return to in-person worship. What better day to do that than Resurrection Sunday! May we all rise up from the isolation imposed by world health conditions over the past year. Whether you return for one special Sunday, or as the initiation of a permanent return, we look forward to seeing you April 4th!
On Saturday, April 3rd, Connect Community, an outreach ministry of a number of local churches will be holding a food distribution with free lunch and entertainments for kids at the Buckroe Shopping Center in front of the old Save-A-Lot store, on Pembroke Avenue. Along with the food and fun, prayer will be offered to all who come to the event. This is a great opportunity to observe this type of ministry right in our backyard, as well as being available to share in praying for someone in need of God’s Love. Please consider investing a few minutes of your Resurrection weekend sharing in God’s love to our community.
Over the past year many of our traditional activities have been canceled due to public health concerns. Many churches are returning to certain activities. Our neighbors at Fox Hill Road Baptist Church are having both a Maundy Thursday Service and a Good Friday Service. If you are interested in sharing with our brothers and sisters in Christ, the information can be found on their website at: http://www.fhrbc.com/. Additionally, our fellow disciples at New Covenant Church or Hampton are hosting a Sunrise Service at Buckroe Beach on Resurrection Sunday at 6:30, and will be serving communion as part of the service.
Easter or Resurrection Sunday is a day when the body of Christ around the world celebrates one of the most vital days of our faith. Remember Paul’s words to the Corinthian church, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:14 (ESV). What a strong statement! The resurrection of Christ is the hope of all who believe in Him for a new life, not just in eternity, but on earth as well.
Please be in prayer for all of the events and activities mentioned above. God is moving in so many ways and in so many lives. I hope that you are looking forward with anticipation for all that He will do in the hearts and minds of men and women and boys and girls in the coming weeks and months.
May God bless and keep you, in the bond of His Peace,
Dear Friends and Fellow Disciples,
As we begin to see signs of spring’s arrival, we are hopeful that we can begin to move more freely around our city and region. God has a way of bring hope to life as the trees, flowers, and all of nature begins to bloom. It has indeed been a hard winter.
Please join us in praying for our church as we watch the recent trends in public health. As the temps climb up and the case counts descend, and as vaccinations increase, we are hoping to be able to enjoy a fuller experience in our faith community. This month alone, both the youth and the men will enjoy safe and healthy retreat experiences.
The Elders and the staff are all praying about our return. What will our enhanced Sunday morning and Mid-Week schedule look like? Will our members be willing to engage in ministries like Small/Home Groups, Children’s Church, Sunday Morning Bible Study for all ages? Will you be willing to serve and/or participate in more activities on the grounds of the church? I know that I am ready to see more of you benefiting from the community that we share. Our church is a friendly and inviting place with loving people who serve and love a God who is Himself loving and kind. Please pray and consider all that God might call us to as a church family.
The final Sunday of this month will be Palm Sunday and then the first Sunday of April will be Easter. These two Sunday’s could be our biggest attendance Sundays in recent memory. Jamie and the Children’s Ministry Team would love to have all of our children and their families here on these special occasions. We are planning for a great time of worship and teaching that will focus on God’s love for us and Jesus’ demonstration of sacrifice. Please plan to be here to celebrate all that these days commemorate.
My hope for all of us in this fast moving New Year is that we will all grow in our love for the Savior and experience a stronger presence of His Spirit in our lives daily and when we come together to share in the fellowship of our faith. I hope that we will be inspired to go out to our neighbors, co-workers, family and friends and tell them the great things God is doing through His Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives. Our Sunday experience is such a blessing but it is really only a very small portion of all God wants for us to experience in our lives as we walk in obedience to His Spirit and in community with one another.
You will be hearing more about the simple message that we are to share. God loves you, and Jesus proved it. We were created as God’s children to know and love our Father. We messed things up, but He kept loving us. Ultimately He sent His Son as the clear and present proof of that reality. Jesus’ obedient gift was the culmination of God’s grand redemption plan. Now, all we need do is respond to His love with faith, believing that His death on the Cross was for each of us individually and all of us collectively. What a great and simple message, God loves you (John 3:16) Jesus proved it (Romans 5:8). We who know God and His redemption have all been transformed by this simple truth. And we have become the bearers of that message through “the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.” Revelation 12:11. This gives us overcoming power to live each day victoriously.
I love Resurrection Sunday so much! It is the marker of completion for God’s redemption plan which began in the Garden of Eden thousands of years before. It is the statement of God’s approachability for all people who have come into the world since that day. Jesus came to die and He died to save me and you of our sin. Faith in that message transforms our relation to everything and everyone. I am in awe that this could be true! Fortunately, it is true. I hope that you will be in awe as well.
On a personal note, thank you to all of you who sent gifts or kind words on my birthday. I am so glad to be here at Restoration at this time in my life. I know that so many of you are praying for me and Cindy on a regular basis. I feel your love and appreciate you all more than I can express.
In the bond of Peace,
Dear Friends and Fellow Disciples,
February has arrived and our New Year flows on. It has been said that “time waits for no man”. That is true. We are living in a day and age where we are challenged on many fronts. There is the continuing affect of the world-wide pandemic, ongoing political turmoil, and a new focus on just what is justice in this country.
As Jesus followers and students of God’s Holy Word, we need to seek God’s Glory and truth in determining a response to all these serious situations, as well as our own personal life challenges. God has not left us to our own resources! He has given us the indwelling Spirit of God to lead us in connection to His Holy Word.
For the past two years we have started the year with a period of prayer and fasting in order to refocus ourselves on God’s voice and presence. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were forced to postpone this vital experience for a time. That time is now. We will begin our fast on Sunday, February 7. For 3 weeks we will be forgoing certain personal preferences with the desire to focus less on ourselves and more on our Heavenly Father. Whether you choose a food fast, technology fast or some other form of self-denial, fasting is a great spiritual discipline. A few weeks ago, we sent out some very helpful information on fasting as a part of a Wednesday evening study. If you do not have that information, please contact the church office and we will get it to you.
We have so much to be praying about for this year. The issues mentioned above are just the big ones, each of us have many personal and family concerns that need dedicated prayer and an answer from God. As we fast, we will be having daily devotion and prayer times on Facebook Live. We will be handing out a devotional book on February 7th that will be used for our devotion time, as well as guide some of our prayer. If you are currently watching online services and would like a copy of the devotional, please contact the church office.
Over the past several years fasting has made a big impact on my spiritual walk with the Lord. I have gone from just doing a “Daniel Fast”, to adding a few other personal challenges like, not watching TV, not eating out, to adding a water only fast one day each week of the fast. God has used these challenges to show me things about myself, reveal sin, and taught me to depend on Him in ways nothing else can teach. I can share testimonies of many people who have been very creative in how they choose to commit to this discipline, and the outcomes that have been transformative. When Jesus started His earthly ministry with a 40 day fast, two things happened. Jesus was tempted by the enemy, and God showed Himself faithful. I know that this will be a time of self-imposed difficulty, but it will also yield a deeper dependence on and greater awareness of the Lord.
If you have any questions about fasting, please let me know by calling the church office. Remember, if you have any medical conditions, you should always talk to your medical provider before beginning any type of food fast.
In the Bond of Peace,
Dear Friends and Fellow Disciples,
2021! A New Year has begun! While remnants of the past year still affect us, we are moving closer to resolutions that mean more than desired change in our personal lives. We will see a new term of government begin, we will see millions of vaccines injected, and hopefully we will see positive movement in the actualization of real justice for all people in our nation and states.
For most of us as regular citizens we will not be involved in systemic change in any of the major issues which burst onto the scene in the previous year or reached their tipping point. We do not have the power, authority or position, to make policy or enforce civil law or cultural change. However, that does not leave us in the margin or dismiss us to the irrelevant. Our commission is to do more than contribute to social change by being instruments of eternal change.
We have been entrusted with the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel has the power to change eternal destinies, bring healing to the sick, hope to the hopeless and meaning and purpose to the lowly. The acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as well as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a complete transformation for anyone who believes. We are healed by His stripes, we become citizens of the eternal Kingdom of God, and we know that justice was accomplished on our behalf by God’s Son.
The maladies that exist have their source in sin and the spiritual forces that are opposed to God the Father. Since that first act of rebellion in Paradise humans have been caught up in the battle for God’s Glory. As we learned in our study in spiritual warfare last year, we know the war is over and Jesus won the victory for God and for our salvation.
We also learned that the enemy has not given up even though he is defeated. Unfortunately, the collateral damage of this battle has great ramification for all of us. We need not be shocked or amazed at the level to which the enemy seeks to sink our world for his amusement.
The hard thing for me (I am sure I am not alone) is to realize that people are not the problem. The enemies greatest weapon is deception. Those who are still lost in their sin and even some well-meaning people of faith are deceived by the enemy’s humanistic ideologies and philosophies that draw so many away from the Holy Glory of the One True God. Those who are deceived see the answer to the problems of the world in the institutions of government, education and social action, while the only true eternal resolution comes through faith and obedience to the Sovereign Creator. He has given us His word to inform us and His Spirit to guide and empower us so that His will will be done on earth.
Our greatest weapon coming into the New Year will be prayer. We must pray for His leading to guide us to share His message of love. We must pray for His Spirit to lead us in generously ministering to those who most need compassionate love that will lead them to our Savior. We must pray as directed in the Word for our governmental leaders regardless of party affiliation. We must pray for God to reign supreme in our own hearts and reveal to us what is limiting our own experience of Him and turn away from those things. I look forward to our time of fasting this year to join you in an increased reliance on His Spirit and an increased corporate prayer for God’s Glory in our lives.
Many have celebrated the ending of last year, but my hope is not in a new number on a page, it is in my God who is bigger than all the calendars of the world and who will live beyond the very concept of calendars altogether. My hope is not in a vaccine that prevents disease, but a Savior who heals body and soul. My confidence is not in a governmental system that inconsistently attempts to help its people, but in an Eternal Kingdom ruled by a King who never changes.
I have high hopes for our New Year, and I hope you do too. My hopes are firmly grounded in the promises of a King who is eternally faithful. I look forward to sharing all that the Lord will bring to our lives in this season. Continue to pray and see what God will do.
In the Bond of Peace,