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October 9, 2019, 11:41 AM

Vision Newsletter for September 2019 from the Pastor


Welcome to fall! The somewhat more relaxed summer schedule is giving what to the renewed work of the fall. We should pause and give thanks for the summer season before looking with joy and anticipation to the blessings fall will bring.

Scripture calls is to rejoice in every circumstance because you rejoice in the Lord who is the author of all our circumstances. The Apostle Paul writes,

 

Phil. 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Rejoicing in the Lord means looking to God who made you, saved you and is with you always even when life is uncertain, hard, and painful. With God you have access to the eternal peace, love, and rest your soul needs to deal with whatever you face in life. God is with you and will show you the way to deal with life to his glory. He promises eternal life with him no matter how painful, embarrassing or humiliating your circumstances may be.

The ability to rejoice in the midst of suffering does not come from humanity, it comes only from God. The ability of a tree to stand the power of the storm does not rest in itself but in its connection to the ground in which its roots are deeply imbedded in the soil.

 

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

 

The best source of fullness for your soul is to rejoice in the Lord and live in a faithful yoked relationship with the only eternal source of filling for your soul.

When you seek God and rejoice in him you will be filled to overflowing with joy and peace says Paul. Jesus said that by abiding in him you will bear much fruit.

Delighting and rejoicing in God will improve every situation of your life. Every day is stressful. Stress tries to take life from you and drain your soul. Whenever your soul is empty you have nothing to give anyone else. Their despair joins with yours and drains you more and more.

In contrast by turning to the Lord you can delight and rejoice in Him in all situations so your soul is filled and your gentleness will be evident. Your life will bear fruit of love, joy, peace and all the fruit of the spirit. People around you will receive life and be less empty.

 

  1. life we crave, the life everyone craves deep in their souls comes only from God. By delighting in God first good things get even better and we get the ability to resist those things that are sinful and must be resisted. In order to have the life our souls crave we must go to God every day as individuals, as families and as his people, as we go to him now to delight in his love and be filled at his table.

 

 

May God richly bless your Fall season!

 

 

 

Jon




October 9, 2019, 11:00 AM

October 2019 Letter from the Pastor


Psa 424 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?

The psalmist recalls a time when ministry was vital, when he joined with the multitude, when he led the procession to the house of God. But at the time of this writing, his life and his ministry is the opposite of vital. The multitudes have disappeared and he is left alone with a downcast soul. Psalmist and downcast sheep have something important in common. One source defines a downcast sheep as “one that has laid down and can't get up because its center of gravity is off - sometimes because it's pregnant or simply because it has a full fleece. Once down, gasses start to build up in their abdomen and they can die in a matter of hours. If you get them back up on their feet, then they're fine.”

Downcast sheep can’t get themselves up; Other sheep can’t get them up; even the sheepdog can’t help them, only the shepherd can. If the shepherd gets there in time, the sheep he returns the sheep to life with the flock. It is able to return to vitality and fulfill the life giving purpose for which they were made.

Applying the concept of being downcast to people, a downcast person is filled with melancholy and despondency ; "downcast after his defeat"; "feeling discouraged and downhearted” How many tired, discouraged, downhearted downcast people are in our church or used to be? Downcast people are not vital in ministry and they will likely soon separate if they are not set right. How do people get downcast and separated from the flock? They simply try to carry loads that are too big for them over uneven ground. It may not look like it on the surface but aren’t we all downcast in some way at least some times? Where we are downcast we find ourselves alone, isolated, separated from fellowship. We have tried again and again to get up on our own but the floundering as made us exhausted.

  1. Christians who follow the good shepherd we need to be very concerned about what can be done for downcast hearts, downcast people. One thing is sure, they cannot just be left to die. Jesus the good shepherd does not let leave his heavily burdened downcast sheep to die. He comes to save them and out them upright. A great example of how the Lord sets the downcast upright and revitalizes their ministry happens on the Road to Emmaus.

 

Luke 24:13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast.

 

The disciples on the road to emmaus were downcast from the stressful and heavy burdens they carried. The one in whom they had placed so much hope was violently taken from them. There seemed to be no point in staying with the other disciples, Instead of staying in Jerusalem with the others they walked to Emmaus, leaving behind the death of Jesus, the sealed tomb, the devastation of his loss. What was the purpose, the meaning of life now? What is the point of living at all?

  1. disciples had no ability to answer such questions for themselves, their faith in Christ was dead and needed to be resurrected. ir lives were downcast and perhaps even close to ending. Only the shepherd could save the. He came to them, joined on their walk with them, listened to them, preached to them and finally broke bread with them. Because of Christ and his presence their lives were reinvigorated, revitalized. In response to the Lord’s love and ministry, they returned to Jerusalem to reinvigorated the faith of the other disciples.
  2. and author and chancellor of Denver Seminary Gordon MacDonald wrote about the concept of the ministry of presence: “Presence describes the kind of engagement in which two or more human beings reach a level of heart-to-heart connection (koinonia, knowing and being known) that doesn't happen casually. It is a connection deep enough that each person is conscious that God is in our midst participating in the conversation. the Lord promised, "Where two or three come together, I am there in the midst of them."“I imagine a mother clutching her child to the breast. The child feels safe, at peace, nurtured, loved. This is presence, and the mother has made it happen. I visualize a shepherd tending his sheep. Because he is in the midst of them, the sheep feel calmed, protected in dangerous places, treated tenderly when there is disease or injury. This is also presence and it happens thanks to the shepherd. I think of a family physician with a patient. As he/she conducts an examination, the patient experiences a lowering of anxiety, a lessening of pain, the assurance of a healing process, a sense of hope that tomorrow will be better. This too is presence, and it is the manner of the doctor that makes it possible. Presence accomplishes things that usually do not happen through preaching or managing programs.
  1. have only recently been exposed to Chancellor MacDonald’s writing, but discovering him was a God thing because MacDonald succinctly states a lesson God has been teaching me for the last 10 years. The Lord has brought me into one on one relationships with people that met on the road of my life. They were lonely isolated, downcast and so was . But by the power of Spirit the Lord brought us together, taught us to listen to each others joy and pain. The Spirit teaches us both the power of the gospel as we seek to apply the good news to day to day life together. Through His ministry of presence we are becoming more vital and more able to engage in the ministry of presence with others.

On the road to Emmaus Jesus used the ministry of presence to turn downcast disciples who whose faith had all but died, into excited and vital ministers of the gospel. In the places our souls are downcast we are unable to participate in vital ministry, because we are tired, lonely and close to death. In order to return to vitality, we need to be heard, we need to hear the word of God and to connect in fellowship and others so that we can be set right. My prayer is that we as a congregation would become active practitioners of the ministry of presence so that new vitality will flow into our lives and ministries at home, at church, and at work.




August 3, 2019, 3:27 PM

August Letter from the Pastor


Do you consider yourself resilient? Do you take a licking and keep on ticking, like the old watch commercial? Or when stressed do you lose your joy, get angry, and even quit? When stressed do you stop caring about others in order to focus on solving your problems? When the problem is solved, when the work is done do you ever have to apologize to those around you for hurtful words or behaviors? Do you find yourself lonelier than you would like to be? If so then you need more resilience.

What is resilience? One definition is “when a person’s health and development tips toward positive outcomes — even when a heavy load of factors is stacked on the negative outcome side.” Everyone experiences mess, brokenness, pain, stress. Resilient people still find the strength and resolve to continue hope and work for positive outcomes.

According to Psychology today “Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make a person resilient, such as a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback.” Resilient people do not minimize their faults and failures, they may be acutely aware of them, but they are patient with themselves and others as they work to address their faults and failures. Resilient people stay together in the midst of stress, they work as a team carrying each other’s burdens. Resilient people take the long term view. They demonstrate resolve, patience, hope, optimism which are all very constructive traits that help a person overcome adverse circumstances.

Jesus was resilient. at Gethsemane Jesus received courage to go to the extreme agony of cross by relying on God. Jesus was so resilient He was transformed from a man sweating blood to resolutely facing captors and his fate, all because of His faith in His Heavenly Father.

As Christians we are to be resilient for the same reason Jesus was resilient: because trust God who made paradise from dark chaos, who makes faithful people out of an old worn out idolaters, who makes fruitful disciples out of sinners.

In contrast to a resilient person, A non resilient person might see the glass half empty and would be very afraid of losing what they have. Fear drains hope and brings discouragement. The stresses of life persuade non resilient people to react in anger and even become destructive and murderous because things are so hard for them.

A non resilient person separates from others. They see others as the cause of their problems or at least contributing to them. Non resilient people separate from others and are therefore lonely. In Scripture, who was not resilient? Judas, the Pharisees and Jews that killed Jesus and the Apostle Paul before his conversion.

How can a person become resilient? Resilience like faith, like any relationship, has to be developed. Resilience gets deeper and multi dimensional as it grows, which means that resilience is maintained even in the face of stresses from many and different sources. A Harvard study says the single most common factor for resilience in children is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, friend, or other caregiver.

Development of resilience is also crucial for adults. We all need the support of the Holy Spirit as well as supportive parents, friends, loved ones and communities give us support in order to become can be resilient.

  1. relationships with people are vital to resilience, but deep eternal resilience does not come from human power because human resources are finite. The only one who can offer perfect and eternal support is the one true God. God is the ultimate source of resilience. God is constantly working to create life from nothing, to save sinners and give them new life. Who is more committed to you than the Creator who sent his son to save you and the Holy Spirit to encourage you?
  1. you and I are under stress our hearts demand tangible, visible reasons to have hope. We compare the size our tangible assets to the size of our problems, if the assets are greater than the problem then it’s a relatively easy day. Even a non resilient person can have hope in that case. But when the site of our problems are bigger than our resources or even about the same size, any claim to resilience goes away. But we profess faith in a God who brings blessing out of what is not seen, not tangible.

Heb. 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ……3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

When you trust this God, you have resilience because you know God is sovereign, all powerful; and loved you so much that he sent his son to die for your sins. He is Immanuel, God with us…there is no more stable and committed relationship than the one the eternal God has established through the work of Christ.

 




July 2, 2019, 10:34 AM

Pastor's Letter for July 2019


The world is broken, full of trouble. In the face of the challenges of this dark broken world, we are encouraged work and work, try harder and harder to solve problems. If we work really hard and well we are promised that we can overcome the darkness and the brokenness.

  1. hard work sometimes creates flashes of the light hope. Why does it seem that the light we generate by our work is so short lived. light is soon overcome by the darkness again. You have as many ways that money can buy to dull the pain of the darkness, the loneliness. We buy electricity and lights so that we can see in the dark. Most if not all the things we buy are bought to fight darkness and loneliness some how. But your effort and no human effort can overcome the darkness for very long. temporary efforts only serve to demonstrate how deep powerful and resilient darkness really is. When we try to generate light ourselves we live in bondage to the darkness.
  1. is the pattern of life for all humanity…You, me, and everyone else struggles constantly to overcome the darkness, brokenness and pain of life but we can never over come it very long. There is only one power that overcomes darkness permanently and can eternally set us free.

 

Gen. 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

 

  1. overcame and overcomes darkness through the combined power of of father son and Holy Spirit. The father send the holy Spirit of love to hover over that is surround the darkness and then he spoke the truth of His word into it. The first result was light which made life possible. ’s light is eternal light makes eternal life possible. God’s light and life is not temporary, the darkness cannot overcome it.

 

John 1:5 and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it.

 

The light of love and truth shines in the darkness. When God’s light dawns connections happen, loneliness is overcome and life abounds. the pain of loneliness is overcome by the joy of relationship. Gods love and truth a vital building blocks of life giving relationships.

  1. practical lesson is that it takes the power of God’s love and truth to penetrate the loneliness. Relationship with Father, son and holy spirit creates light in the darkness and even makes dust live. In the garden of Eden there was light, life and healthy relationship between mankind and God, man and woman and even between mankind and the rest of creation. re was no shame and no loneliness. Love and truth characterized their relationship, there was no loneliness, no separation from one another and no separation from God. This is how life was meant to be, and is meant to be and will be in heaven.

The reality is that darkness and loneliness are still real. The darkness creates separation, it separates God from mankind and mankind from each other. The darkness and Loneliness enter the picture when people don’t trust God, they don’t love each other and don’t tell each other the truth.

In the garden it was true that the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was pleasing to the eye and all the rest. The problem was that outside of a love relationship with God the fruit was also deadly. The serpent invited Eve to believe that the fruit of creation was more beautiful than God, his love or his truth.

  1. received a death sentence when she allowed the fruit to separate her from God. Darkness overcame Adam and and dominated their lives. God cursed Adam with estrangement from the land, God cursed with estrangement from her husband and placed enmity between the serpent and mankind.

I may be hared to see how original sin connects to us. The reality is whenever the human heart turns way from the light of God darkness of isolation seems overcome the light. Every time you turn away from God and others it seems like the darkness wins. In reality the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.

  1. the Holy Spirit power came upon the disciples they shined the light of God’s love and truth and proclaimed the wonders of God to the Jews that killed him. In community empowered by the Holy Spirit, the darkness of loneliness and separation is replaced the the light of love and truth. The people are together again and they have no shame. They rejoice together, loved God with each other and are inspired by the truth of God’s word together. The life in the fellowship of the Spirit is wonderful. This is the way You were meant to live in the light of God’s love. The hard reality is that life like this is not possible in your own power. Life this good does not come from creation or anything in creation. Life this good only comes through fellowship with God by the power of the spirit of love and the word of truth.

 

Two hundred and forty three years ago this nation declared its independence from the king and the nation of Britain.

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

  1. founders of this country proclaimed that light of life, liberty and happiness comes from God, not from kings, money, technology or any created source. Apart from God, life in creation is dominated by darkness of sin and death.

The battle between light and darkness is waged first in your heart and mind. The Spirit of God’s love is in you, his word of truth is in you and all around you. There is another word at work in and around you too, the word of the world and all its ways. The world says you don’t need God, you can and should be able to be good enough on your own, alone.

  1. can you carry the weight all the world puts on you and do it alone? When you are young it seems as if you can carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, but to try is to try to find your way alone in the darkness. God loves you, He wants to carry the burdens of life with you and he wants you to carry the burdens of life with others as he leads. He will not leave you alone.

 

1Pet. 2:9 ….you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

 

  1. you walk in his light, you will never be lonely again. No matter what happens in life we will exercise our right to life liberty and pursuit of happiness by turning to and walking with the creator in His wonderful light. Enjoy Your Independence!

 

Jon




June 6, 2019, 10:46 AM

Pastor's Letter for May 2019


I write to bear witness to the depth of Lord’s love for you. God cannot love you any more and cannot love you any less. He loves you as much as the father loves the son and the son loves the father. Let the love of God wash over you and let Him touch you and bring you into closer walk with Him.

needs new life. Yahweh, the heavenly father is the creator sustainer and the savior of life. To have life, that is eternal life is to know and love God. New life to comes whenever a person is touched by God. God touches people he loves both forcefully and gently in combinations that are all his own. Jesus died as the took upon Himself the sins of the world. Even in agony on the cross, however Jesus never turned away from the father. Forsaking the Father brings inevitable death, but seeking the father leads to new life.

As Jesus received new life he immediately set about to resurrect the lives and hopes of His disciples just as his life and hope had been resurrected. Invigorated with new life, His disciples were given the great commission to go and make disciples, to resurrect the lives and hopes of others as they had been resurrected.

Jesus met two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus who had left the company of the others, left the scene of Jesus death went away. Why? They were seeking life from somewhere, anywhere. Jerusalem was where they had experienced deep pain and tragedy. They were loaded down with grief, loneliness, shame. They had hoped Jesus was the one to redeem Israel, to set them free from bondage, to be the king that would liberate them from the oppression of Rome and who would give them respected again as a people. Jesus death seemed kill away this great hope.

Anyone who loses a spouse, a dream or has their sense of security deeply damaged knows what the disciples were likely feeling….What is the point of living, what quality of life is possible for someone who has experienced such a deep wound. Jesus came to them and comes to us in this place of great pain and disappointment. Remember this is the God of whom David wrote, that even through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil. Jesus the good shepherd came to find these wayward sheep.

entered into their loneliness, he asked them to tell him why they are so downcast….he heard them and then used the word of God to explain what had happened. Through these things eases their burden as indicated by the fact that the disciples invited him to stay with them when it looked like he was about to move on. Even at that point they did not recognize him….which means their grief had not been touched sufficiently by the one who could and would heal them.

he broke bread with them their grief turned to joy and they received new life….their dead faith, their dead hope was resurrected to new life and new hope and new joy. The one who was resurrected from the tomb, now gave them new life. With new hope the disciples did not press on to Emmaus, they went back to help resurrect the hope of the others.

We are all on a road to Emmaus. Perhaps not just one road. By that I mean we may have many reasons to despair many dreams unfulfilled many reasons to have our hearts broken by despair and shame, many reasons to feel lonely. The Lord is the only one who can resurrect our lives and our hopes. We need him and we need to seek him in every one of those places. The good news is that He is with you there, he is instructing you there. When the time is right he will reveal himself there. When he does you will experience new life and new hope and you will want to tell others what he has done for you.

Christians have been touched by the Lord and given new life at least once. Therefore you all have a story to tell, a reason for the hope that is in you that others who are in despair need to hear. Jesus is the answer to every question, every problem. He is the healing of every source of despair. He is walking with you so that you can join him in giving new life and hope to others in despair.

As you look around the see others who are on their own road to Emmaus…with eyes downcast because they have lost their reasons to hope. They like you need to be touched by the Lord. You have a role in their healing…an active role or a passive role….what exactly does the Lord expect you to do? These are hard questions that are impossible to answer by human reason. The only way to answer that is by turning to the one who saved you and trust him. You can trust him to teach you and show you as you walk with him in his easy yoke.

Jesus gives us a powerful example of how to minister new life to one another;

Join hurting people on the road of their lives.

Hear their stories.

Share God’s word of love.

Break bread with them.

life comes through a process, a walk. Ministering life to others is a long process of doing such things. The first and most vital step is to seek the resurrected Lord of life and take every step with him.

May the Lord find you this Spring on your road to Emmaus and use you to spread His love to others.

Jon


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