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Pastor’s Newsletter 2020

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December 2020

Dear Fellow Disciples of Jesus Christ, Merry Christmas!

Don’t you just love the Christmas season? I love the fact that Jesus is front and center; you see Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in stores, and hear songs declaring “Glory to God in the highest!” throughout malls. Christmas is a time when it is easy to start conversations about spiritual things.

Christmas is also a time to give in reflection of God’s great gift of His Son. Wow are we giving! Our Operation Christmas Child efforts were again very successful, we are continuing to give to missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and we will also be reaching out to our partners at Tyler Elementary School. It is great to know that we are meeting needs and living in obedience to the scriptural mandate to care for those in need. Thank you for your willingness to consider God’s children and your fellow man!

In the October newsletter I wrote that we would be experiencing three major holidays over the next three months, with two down and one to go, it seems like time is flying by. Despite great challenges facing our world, our church continues to reach out. We have sent our first team to HELP’s new facility for the homeless. They are housing the homeless of the city at Central United Methodist Church and churches are supplying dinner and breakfast and volunteers to serve and stay overnight one time per month. We are serving on the fourth Monday of each month. We will serve again on December 28th. If you are interested in serving with fellow church members contact the church office for more information.

This Christmas season we will hear God’s message of the incarnation. I will be doing a three-part series from the first two chapters of the Book of Hebrews. This passage clearly lays out the importance and significance of Jesus coming. These may not be the traditional passages for this season, but I am sure you will comprehend the relevance and impact that these verses will make in deepening your understanding of why He had to come as He did. God speaks to the world through a child born in a remote manger in the middle of nowhere, roughly six miles from anywhere. Where, when, why, and how all mattered. God’s message of salvation, grace and compassion are a message that the world still needs and we need to continue to proclaim.

My Christmas prayer is that we will all see Jesus in a new light, a brighter light that shines into every aspect of our lives. It is a great time! Jesus truly is the Reason for the Season. I hope that you will have the opportunity to share your story of how God has changed your life through faith in the Child born in a manger on a star filled in night who became a Sacrifice who died on a rugged Cross and a Savior who rose from a borrowed tomb. This is the season of celebrating all our faith stands for and all that God the Father has done for us, rejoice in Him now and forevermore!

In the bond of Peace,

Pastor Mike

November 2020

Dear Friends and Fellow Disciples,

In a year that has been a challenge for literally everyone, we still have much to be thankful for! God has been so good to our church through all of the difficulties.

At the beginning of the year we were seeing very strong attendance, guests were coming, our Wednesday Evening study was seeing great attendance, and we had a wonderful plan of outreach for the year. When COVID hit in March, we had to go digital for three months, Big Days were canceled, and plans were scrapped. Fortunately, our D-Groups continued to meet in person or digitally. We were able to move many of our resources online, and God was faithful through the dedication and devotion of members and regular attenders. Thank you so much for your faithful online participation, giving and tireless prayer support.

Now that we have been back to in person worship, Children’s Church and Nursery, it is wonderful to gather and celebrate the Lord. We have seen participation in services steadily increase, continued faithful giving, and an increase in guest participation as well. What a joy it was to be together for our October Baptism Service, when we all celebrated with Amanda and her decision to tell the world that her life belongs to Jesus. Additionally, we were able to hold our annual Disciple-Making Forum and Breakfast in August. As a result, we have again almost doubled the number of disciples who are attending weekly D-Groups and seek the Lord in His Word, character accountability, and praying for the lost in our lives. What a great blessing to know that God is moving in the lives of our members and attenders to grow closer to Him and to each other, even in the midst of one of the most difficult times in the history of our nation. What a blessing!

In light of the spirit of thankfulness that is November, it is a month of giving. What a great time to celebrate God’s generosity to us by giving to others who have not been as fortunate as we have. First, we are participating in the Samaritan’s Purse Shoe Box outreach. As we have for so long, we will be filling boxes with gifts for children around the world who are in impoverished countries. We are hoping to collect over 250 filled boxes by Sunday November 15th. Next, we are collecting food for local needy families in order to provide “baskets” of provisions for their Thanksgiving meal. Finally, this year we will also be participating in the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Week of Prayer. Beginning November 29 we will be collecting a special offering for the work of the International Mission Board. We will have prayer guides along with other resources to inform you of the work of this mission organization. With giving through December 27th, our goal is to raise at least $2,500 to help support the thousands of missionaries around the world that are funded largely through this collective offering.

We have had a tough year and there is much to continue to be resolved. Be praying for the outcome of the elections which are taking place on November 3rd. As we saw recently in 1 Timothy 2:2, we are called to pray for “those in high positions.” So many men and women are either trying to be elected or reelected to positions of power and influence. We need to pray that God’s power and influence will rule the day and rule in the hearts of our leaders. We also need to pray for equal justice for all people in our nation, that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives with all dignity. And lastly, we should be continually praying for better therapeutic treatments and a vaccine for COVID – 19. We may never “get back to normal,” but we cannot move to a new normal without adequate treatment and prevention of this virus. Only God can resolve this problem, for He holds the key to knowledge and understanding.

Today, I am thankful, and I am hopeful for all God will do in what remains of this year and in the one to come. I hope that I will see all of you in person at a worship service soon. I know that God is doing more than we know and wants to bless us more than we can comprehend. I hope you will join me in thankfulness and hope as we look forward with marvelous anticipation of His Glory!

In the bond of Peace,
Pastor Mike

October 2020

Dear Friends and Fellow Disciples,

Welcome to the Fall! Lower temps, shorter days, sweaters and jackets and the holiday season. Over the next few months we will have at least one major holiday every 30 days. What a great time to interact with friends and family. I know under our current context gatherings may not include as many friends and family as we may prefer, but we can gather and we can experience the love we share with each other and with the Lord.

As Fall returns, so will our Children’s Church and Nursery ministries on Sunday Mornings. I am so excited to welcome back families that may have been hesitant to bring children into the worship center for concerns about their little ones being a distraction to others. We will have faithful loving teams to host your precious little ones in a clean, safe COVID compliant environment. Jamie and our Children’s Ministry Teams will be sure to be available to answer any questions you may have before we launch on October 4th. Please feel free to call the church or con-tact Jamie directly to ask questions or to volunteer to become a team member. We would love to have more loving members who are excited to be a part of this vital caring ministry.

Disciple-Making Report

In August many enjoyed an informative and inspiring Disciple-Making Forum and Breakfast. Over 25 of you participated in learning about our Disciple-Making life-style vision. With returning disciples and new disciple members, we now have 40 confirmed participants in D-Groups for this year. I am so excited for all of you who have renewed or begun a commitment to a New Testament life-style of a shared experience with Bible devotions, account-ability and character development, as well as intense prayer for lost persons in the lives of your fellow D-Group members.

 Disciple Making Forum Link to Facebook

For those of you who were unable to attend our Forum and Breakfast, the session is available on our Facebook Live video site. The video runs just less than one hour and gives a thorough description of the D-Group experience and its various components and expectations. If you have any questions about participation in a D-Group, please feel free to contact the church office or contact me directly.

Please be praying!   This is a very important time in our year and even in the history of our nation. Beside the worldwide pandemic (yes that is redundant), here in the United States, we have turbulent protests and a contentious election year. As biblical followers of Jesus Christ our assignment is clear. Yes, we should be responsible citizens to vote, but there is more,

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,   for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified   in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be   saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4 ESV)

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18 ESV)

  As those who represent Jesus to the world and to those around us, we cannot be drawn in to loud and uncivil arguments with those who do not share our beliefs or possibly our views on something like politics. We are commanded to pray for leaders and by extension, the process by which leaders are chosen in our context. It will not be surprising if over the next six weeks and potentially beyond, the political climate will become more turbulent and filled with unseemly rhetoric. We need to remember that our God is in control regardless of the outcome and in the end we are fellow citizens with those who win and those who loose. We should not do anything in the short term context that will cause us to jeopardize our long-term witness. We are called to pray and be at peace with “ALL PEOPLE”. That includes those with opposing social and political views.

God is not defeated nor are His plans thwarted, Daniel 2:20-21 states, “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;”

Be at peace and trust that God will do His will in us and in our nation.   Enjoy the Fall temps, the colorful display of God’s handiwork in creation, and the increased opportunities to love during the holidays. God is with us, and we are here to support and encourage one another.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible every Sunday and Wednesday for an uplifting experience in God’s Word with God’s people!

In the bond of Peace,

Pastor Mike

September 2020

THANK YOU ALL!
    As we turn to a new school year, fall is not far away, summer vacation is behind us, and we move forward still not really sure of what is ahead of us. I would like to take this time to say thank you to some very important people around Restoration Church.
COVID – 19 threw a wrench into a lot of things. In March we discontinued public worship services and went to Facebook Live as our delivery format for our church. Although only being here less than 6 months at the time, Andrew lead his team of Praise leaders, audio team and video squad to step up to the plate and knock a home run. We did not miss a single Sunday Service, although we had some glitches, they handled the situation without panic and the service always went on and went out. Thank you Andrew and all of the Praise team members and the AV team for delivering great Sunday worship under extreme circumstances.
When the pandemic hit we were not receiving offerings online. We were in discussions with a service provider at the time, but we were not really ready to “pull the trigger” on the service. Moving to online worship and not having regular collections in person caused us to advance the time table on that decision. As a result, Kelley Williams was pushed to facilitate that process going online almost on the spot. Through the “online only” period your generosity in using online giving, mail and dropping off your offerings was inspiring. Kelley’s persistence in communicating with all the necessary agencies to get online giving done was incredible. Thank you Kelley for you hard work and perseverance.
With shelter-in-place orders and shutdowns all around us, staying in touch with youth and children was a real difficult experience. Leslie and Jamie went to extreme lengths to maintain contact with their kids and youth. Leslie put together weekly broadcasts to youth from her home. David, Abby and Nick also participated in keeping the experience fun and engaging. Leslie used an interactive quiz app to have weekly competitions and challenges and taught lessons from almost every room in her house. Jamie quickly went to online Sunday School and also did monthly surprises. Each month she would drive to every child’s home and drop off a “surprise” for them. What a valiant effort put forth by our staff to maintain relationships, continue to minister and to get the Word out to our beloved membership and friends. Thank you Leslie and Jamie for your considerable efforts in continuing to care for those God has entrusted to you.
Unfortunately, there was no format to provide us with an adequate platform for our small/home groups. However, all but one of our D-Groups maintained their meetings. Some continued to meet in person while others used Zoom or Facebook Video Chat. I appreciate the groups being creative and courageous to continue to focus on the Word of God, personal accountability and praying for the lost, what a blessing.
   Additionally, I would like to thank our Elders for their encouragement and support. We continued to hold our monthly meetings, sometimes while wearing masks. The love of these leaders is very uplifting. I also know that many of our members made phone calls and sent notes of encouragement to others. Life has continued regardless of the pandemic and other emergencies in our nation and around the world. I am so glad that the members and staff of Restoration Church have done their best to continue to worship and serve the Lord, (Love Jesus) to reach out and care for those in the church and in our community, (Love People) and to see the difference that love makes in the lives of people (See Transformed Lives).
 
This letter only touches on a few of the things that RCH members and attenders have done over the past 6 months. Masks were made and distributed, a computer donated to someone in need, money given to benevolence and so much more. Thank you to all of you who have served, given, prayed and loved so well. I look forward to all God will do through your obedience for His Glory in the Fall and in in the New Year!
In the Bond of Peace,
Pastor Mike

August 2020

Dear Fellow Disciples,

A new month is upon us and the year is speeding by. We have all endured a year of challenge like no other in our life time. Between the global pandemic, social unrest, and the political chaos that we have experienced, we are all pressed to keep our sense of peace knowing that God is in control despite how it looks or feels. We have a lot in front of us as well. The Presidential election campaigns will fill the air waves with mud and venom like we have never seen, the pandemic will continue to dominate the news until a vaccine is approved, and we may continue to see stories of violent protests from across the nation. But, God is surely in control!

Our faith is the key to remaining at peace when the world seems to be completely out of control. The Lord has called us to His grace and mercy to be His confident representatives in a very unstable world. This month I will be focusing on Disciple-Making. When Cindy and I came here two-and-a-half years ago, we came with a vision of Disciple-Making. Disciple-Making as found in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) begins with evangelism and continues to and through Christian obedience and maturity. Jesus modeled for us the process that we should follow.

For the first four Sundays of August my messages will focus on various aspects of biblical disciple-making. We will be looking at Jesus, as well as the Apostles and how they lead the church in the New Testament, and the patterns that we are to establish in our life as followers of Jesus Christ. The Christian Life is more than going to church on Sunday and experiencing the personal peace gained by God’s forgiveness of our sins. There is a journey and an adventure to be had in living our life as God’s ambassadors to a lost and dying world. Being conformed into the image of God’s Son is a life-long challenge fraught with spiritual peril. Yet, He calls us to the narrow path that leads to righteousness and God’s glory in our lives, and He promises His empowering presence through His Holy-Spirit living in our hearts.

On Saturday, August 22, we will have our annual Disciple-Making Forum. The forum will answer questions you may have about joining a Discipleship-Group (D-Group). Over the past two years we have grown from 4 to 20 participants in D-Groups. During the messages this month you will hear testimonies from a number of fellow Christ Followers here at Restoration who have participated in a D-Group. I hope that their stories will encourage you to be in a D-Group starting in September. Please make plans now to attend the Forum on the 22nd, and begin to pray now about participating in a D-Group this year.

Please pray for our church as we continue to minister to you our members as well as trying to reach out to our community. Pray for Leslie and the Youth Ministry, Jamie and the Children’s Ministry, as well as David and the Young Adult Ministry. Also pray for our Elders, Deacons and other leaders in ministry. These are challenging times for all of us to remain connected and grow in the Lord. It is my prayer for you that you will continue to seek the fellowship of the body of believers as well as study the Word diligently, and pray consistently for God’s will to be done in your life and in the ministry of Restoration Church. I look forward to seeing you soon, and pray for your physical and spiritual health and safety.

 

In the Bond of Peace,

Michael C. Smith

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

 

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RESTORATION CHURCH

Loving Jesus. Loving People. Lives Transformed

508 Fox Hill Road,
Hampton, VA 23669
757-851-3625 – phone
757-851-3629 – fax
restoration@rcpb.net

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