A Strange Weekend

This weekend we are in southwestern Michigan and it is strange - not southwestern Michigan but rather our plans this weekend.
It started with a Friday night going away event for our friends Scott and Jenn Miedema.  It seems to strange to say this but Scott and I met over 20 years ago.  We were in each other's weddings and while we don't see each other very much he has been a blessing to me.  So when we heard they were heading back to the Dominican Republic, we wanted to see them.

After deciding to do this I connected with a possible ministry opportunity out here.  So we coordinated an informal visit and then a week ago we heard about another possibility out here.  To clarify, we are visiting these two churches as visitors with no commitments or candida ting.

Here is what I want to take the rest of the time to write about.
During this transitional time from our ministry at Emmanuel Baptist Church, it is very strange, good but strange, being here meeting with people from our past ministry while thinking about and considering future ministry opportunities.

God has worked in so many

As I think back on my first Sunday in the Dominican Republic, I tried to find where the rest of the school teachers were meeting for an English service.  I got so lost using public transportation in a Spanish speaking country.  Eventually I decided to go back to my apartment where I cried the whole morning wondering what in the world I was doing in that place.  Over time I made many great friends, met my wife and lived there 8 years.

Fast-forward to tomorrow, Krista and I, along with Joel, Josiah and Jadyn, are visiting two churches as we begin the next phase of our journey with God guiding us.  
I am praying that I don't get lost.
I am thankful I understand the language.
I am not planning to go back to a lonely apartment to cry.

I recently came across a book called Detours by Tony Evans.  I read it in a day and I know God provided it as an encouragement for me personally even though I picked it up as a resource for my Camp Patmos messages.

Here is the link to the Detours website with quotes and a video

Throughout this weekend,
Throughout this past year,
Throughout my life, 
God has provided so many different things in so many different ways.

I will post more about this crazy weekend tomorrow, if we have electricity.
But that is a story for tomorrow.

Some prayer requests:
Pray for good church visits tomorrow.
Pray for discernment as we begin to focus in on some specific ministry opportunities.  If it is the Lord's will we would really like to begin settling on one ministry before the start of the school for the kids' sake. 
Pray for Emmanuel baptist Church.  I have been working with other pastors on transition stuff.  
Pray for Krista.  She has ear surgery on Thursday to fix a hole in her eardrum.


Camp Patmos 2017

Looking forward to speaking at Camp Patmos the week of July 17 through 22.
Here is some of the great truths I will be speaking on.

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, 
leading you to fall away from the living God.   
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” 
that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  
For we have come to share in Christ, 
if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.  
As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, 
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 
Hebrews 3:12-15 (ESV)

BIG IDEA:  God is faithful to keep his promises.  
God makes, honors, and fulfills His promised and we need to be reminded of His faithfulness.
God is the BOSS.
Hebrews 1:1, 2

BIG IDEA:  God rescues and delivers.  
God rescues His people for His glory and our good in His way in His timing.
God is the RESCUER.
Hebrews 2:14, 15

BIG IDEA:  God provides.  
God provides what we really need and sometimes blesses us with even more.
God is the PROVIDER.
Hebrews 2:17, 18

BIG IDEA:  God desires obedience.  
God desires obedience even when His commands might not make sense and even if the task seems impossible.
God is the LIFE CHANGER.
Hebrews 13:5, 6

BIG IDEA:  God gives hope.  
God gives hope to His people and we know He will fulfill His promises.
God is the HOPE GIVER.
Hebrews 9:12


Why does the church meet together?

I want to offer what I believe is the biggest reason the church meets together and
why those who follow Jesus Christ should make it a habit to regularly meet with a local church gathering.

My personal and family devotional time this morning helped remind of this reason.

This month we are starting The New City Catechism with our family.  

So this morning I asked each person on their own to 
  • read the passage, Romans 14:7, 8, that is connected with the first question/answer (Q: "What is our only hope in life and death?"  A: "That we are not our own but belong to God.")
  • think about how this verse connects with going to a church service.  
Here is the passage.

Now I gave this assignment to my family before reading July 2nd's New Morning Mercies.  Here are two quotes from this devotional.
Corporate worship is designed to turn your heart from the shadow glories of creation to the one glory that will satisfy it.
Life is only ever found in what all those earth-bound glories point to - a God of awesome glory who is the source and giver of life; life that satisfies and remains forever. 
After doing my assignment, giving it to my family and then reading New Morning Mercies, I wrote the following in my journal (Just to let you know, when almost all of my journal entries are written as prayers to God).   

God, In reading Romans 14:7, 8 and today's New Morning Mercies, I am reminded that my life, church and corporate worship are not about me and my wants and my comforts.  
It is first and foremost about YOUR GLORY.  Help me remember that.  
Then I was reminded of this song that declares this truth.

As many of you know our family is in the midst of a big transition.
I am thankful for God's reminder that my life and my ministry are not about me!

So my closing questions for you are not...
Did you enjoy church this morning?

Did you have fun this morning?  (You know this is the question many parents asked their kids this morning)

But rather...
Did you glorify God this morning?
How were you challenged to be more Christ-like?