Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Beginnings

We started this church 29 years ago this Monday. Our first service was 7/26/81, and the adventure from that day until now has been incredible in many ways. We have seen the Lord move in many ways over these many years, and the trip has been well worth it.
We have had great joy, and have experienced great loss. Along the way we have picked up many who have traveled with us for years, and others who stayed for but a short time. I have seen children grow up in our church to adulthood, and have married them and dedicated their children. I performed a marriage for a young man and a year later, officiated his funeral. I led my dad to Christ, and then buried my father when he went home to be with Jesus. I was 30 years old when the church was planted, and have grown old with the church and have seen my grandchildren born and raised here, in this church.
I have seen many who have loved us and our church, and others who do not have a good word to say about us or to us. Thousands have come, and thousands have left. Such is church life.
As I think on these things, I cannot help but believe that through it all, the Lord has in many ways shown Himself to be good to us, no matter what we have gone through. He is and remains the center of all that we are, and on the eve of our anniversary, I just want to praise Him for all His is and all He has been to us.
As you know, this Sunday we reduce our services from three to two. It isn't because we are losing anything but it is so we can gain something: the opportunity of enjoying the Lord and one another in a deeper way. I look forward to this change of times, and believe strongly that the Lord will meet us in a special way as we take this step.
We will also celebrate in the evening with a baptism, so if you haven't been baptized you might want to come to the evening service!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


In the 1860's David Livingstone returned to Great Britain on his first vacation after 16 years of traveling in the interior of darkest Africa. Livingstone was asked to speak at the University of Glasgow, but perhaps he would have declined if he knew what was in store for him. It was the custom of undergraduates those days to heckle the speakers who came, and they were well prepared for this preacher. They had peashooters and trumpets and rattles and noisemakers of every description. David Livingstone walked out on to the platform. Here stood the man who had walked 11,000 miles all over Africa. His left arm hung limply at his side having been almost ripped from his body by a huge lion. His face was dark and leathery brown from 16 years in the African sun. His face was furrowed with deep lines from African fever that racked his emaciated body. Savages, as well as Turks who hunted Africans to sell as slaves had attacked him. Livingstone was half-deaf from rheumatic fever and half blind from a branch that had slapped him in the eyes in the jungle. The students stared and they knew that here was a man that was literally being burned out for God. Not a rattle moved, not a foot shuffled and a hush crept over the vast auditorium as they listened in total silence as David Livingstone told about his journeys and the tremendous needs of this vast African population. "Shall I tell you," he said "what sustained me in the midst of all those toils, hardships, and incredible loneliness? It was a promise. The promise of the Lord that "I am with you always even to the end of the world." It was this promise that Christ would be with me personally right next to me every hour of each day that gave me the courage to continue day after day," Livingstone said.

For David Livingstone Jesus Christ was with him, and Livingstone lived as if Jesus Christ was right next to him each moment. In Livingstone's diary we find his tremendous prayer, "Lord send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me; sever any ties but the tie that binds me to Your service and to Your heart." And Jesus said "David, I am with you always". Livingstone's wife Mary finally came to meet him in Africa, and for months she sailed on the ocean and then she cruised up the steamy mosquito swarming rivers. Soon after she greeted her husband she contracted African fever. Night after night, day after day David sat up with her and wiped her fevered brow. And slowly she worsened and finally took her last breath. Mary was dead. David Livingstone buried her under a huge tree and then he fell on that mound of dirt and wept. The Lord reminded Livingstone of his prayer. Sever any ties but the tie that binds me to Your service and to Your heart. His body was broken, his loved ones were gone, and he seemed alone and discouraged. He was overcome. How did he deal with sorrow and grief? This is what he wrote in his diary. "My Jesus, my King, my Life, my all. I again consecrate my life to you. I shall place no value on anything I possess, on anything I may do except in relation to the Kingdom of Christ." When he arrived back home he found that natives had stolen his food and worst of all they had stolen his medicine chest with the quinine and other medicines to alleviate the pain of those terrible African fevers. For Livingstone the loss of these essential things was a death sentence and he cried out to God. "Oh, God you promised to be with me." Then he heard the sound and he looked up from his prayer. For five years he had not seen the face of a white man, and now, in the midst of the interior of Africa he looked up and he saw a white face walking toward him. Behind this white man was a whole caravan and above them flying in the wind the American flag. It was Henry Stanley who uttered those unforgettable words, "Dr. Livingstone I presume". For four months Stanley lived in the same hut with Livingstone. He nursed Livingstone back to health. Stanley had been an atheist but after those four months living with Livingstone Stanley became a Christian. Livingstone refused to return to civilization with Stanley. Instead Livingstone plunged deeper into Africa. For Livingstone the end was approaching. His diary said, "Lord help me to finish thy work this year to thine honor." And so he did. He came to a place where his strength was completely spent; his feet were lacerated and ulcerated with boils. He had nothing to eat but hard maize (dried corn) for months. Gradually all his teeth became loosened and fell out. He was deserted by everyone with the exception of three of his followers who tried to carry his very sick body back to England. Livingstone could not walk, he couldn't stand, and he couldn't go another step. His response was simple: Livingstone commanded his friends to put him on a stretcher and carry him onward. "I will not swerve one hairs breadth while I still have life." Deeper and deeper he plunged into Africa on a stretcher. Propped up, he proclaimed the riches of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all with whom he came into contact. And then there came a day when Livingstone couldn't even be moved. It was pouring rain. A small temporary hut was quickly made. Livingstone was lying on his cot in the middle of the night when the servant boy who lay across the doorway to keep out wild beasts heard Livingstone stir. The servant boy got up and saw Livingstone agonizingly roll out of his cot and on to his knees and with his hands folded in prayer. After a while the boy went back to sleep but in the morning when he looked on Livingstone he saw him still in prayer. Several people came asking for Livingstone but the boy told them that Livingstone was still in prayer not to disturb him. Finally the boy became concerned and said to Livingstone softly "Sir", no answer. "Sir" still silence. He crept closer to him and touched his cold cheek. Livingstone died on his knees in prayer.

Livingstone had lived his life in the presence of Christ and he left this life in the presence of Christ. Jesus said, "I am with you always" and He had kept His promise.

Livingstone's life consisted of 39 years, traveling 29,000 miles across Africa bringing light to darkness. Two million Africans were brought to the Gospel and the light he brought continues to shine to this day. For every mile Livingstone walked or was carried, he was strengthened by Jesus' promise: "I am with you always".

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lu 5:39 And no one having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says The old is better.

We moved onto these grounds almost 18 years ago, and from the beginning had three morning services.Over the years, we have gotten used to having three services, and it has pretty much simply been a habit.

For me, it has been a "We have always had three services" kind of thing.

For many years I have wanted to bring the church closer together, to become more like the church that we see in the Book of Acts. A church that was committed to God's Word, prayer, the breaking of bread, and fellowship.

As I have been looking at the church, I have found that we are able to reduce from three to two services, and after much prayer and much time looking at the practical ramifications as well as the logistics of such a move, I have been led to believe we not only can do this, but that we should do this.

I find myself concerned for people who may not be able to make the change, or may simply not want to. Some may even feel so strongly about it that they may choose to go somewhere else. I would hope that would not be the case, but honestly understand and respect anybody's reason to choose to do so.

For me, the blessings seem to outweigh any initial inconveniences and adjustments that we will need to make.

We have opened up more parking on the North lot by tearing down fences, removing trees, and eliminating a structurally deficient workshop. We are grading the dirt, adding crushed gravel, and opening up a new driveway for easier exiting. Initially that area MAY be designated parking for those who have come early to serve in the various ministries for each service, but will also be used for regular parking. We also are creating specified spaces for our bikers, which will help to keep other parking spaces available.

We will continue having the overflow services in the chapel, for latecomers (but be on time!)
Service times will be at 8:30, and 10:30 and we will change the evening service to 5 pm and we are looking at the best time for our Spanish language Sunday morning study but it will more than likely meet at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday night times will remain the same.

These changes will take place on July 25th: please mark your calendar if you plan on being with us.

One other thing: I am considering returning to the Sunday night teaching, and if I do, I will simply teach the same message I gave in the morning, which will be like having a third service.
Please keep all of this in prayer. I do not take this lightly, but do believe it is something I am being led by the Spirit to do and expect the Lord to bless abundantly.