NEWSLETTER: January 2017

"This New Year . . ."

From the Pastor
By Pastor Steve Dow

The Christian New Year began with the First Sunday of Advent (this year November 27th). The Jewish New Year known as Rosh Hashanah began on October 2nd, and ended on the 4th. The Islamic New Year called Al Hijra was celebrated on October 1st -2nd. The Sikh religion will celebrate their NewYear called Vaisakhi on April 13th. Other religions have various dates they consider the beginning of their calendar year and as all of us know, our secu-lar calendar declares January 1st, as New Year’s Day. Each religious New Year has some significant historical con-nection to its date and time of celebration. Obviously, our Christian calendar year begins with our celebration of the Advent of Jesus Christ, his life and ministry mark our spiritual calendars.

Our secular calendar year has closed and a new year has begun. In those final days of 2016, people mourned the loss of so many ‘stars’ during the year. Tributes have sprung up all over the internet and TV media counting the number of celebrities who have passed away this past year. In a related story, the oldest Baby Boomers turned 70 in 2016 and as we (I am one, too) age out, there will be an uptick in the construction market for senior living and care services, as well as other age related issues.

The year 2016 has proven to be a year of losses within the world of celebrity status, but did you know that during this same year more Christians died for their faith than any other single religious group in the world? Research done by the Center for Studies on New Religions cited that around 90,000 Christians lost their lives due to tribal conflicts in Africa, terrorist attacks, and persecution in Islamic controlled states. These nameless brothers and sister (at least to us they are nameless) suffered and paid the ultimate sacrifice for their beliefs, while our media gushes over lost celebrities and says virtually nothing about these atrocities.

Years come and go. Regimes come and go. Presidents and Prime Ministers come and go. You and I will come and someday we’ll go, too. What do you want to achieve this year? What do you want to do before you be-come a statistic? What do you want to become before your time runs out? If you are like most people you probably do not think about the limited amount of time you actually have here on earth. We can easily waste much of our lives on trivial matters and largely ignore the weightier ones. Isn’t this a good time to reflect upon your life and ask yourself the question, “Why am I here?” Can we use the New Year as a “jumping off point” toward new life goals and dreams? I think so. Do you?

Here’s to a New Year and a new you.
Make a Difference…Share Jesus
Pastor Steve

"The Role of a Team""

I Wonder . . ~pt.2~
By Brandon Borst

In last month’s article I outlined a writing project I was going to have my third graders complete focusing on their wonders and curiosities. I detailed how they were going to brainstorm, research, and create an infor-mational pamphlet to communicate their findings. My goal was to have it completed in three weeks. Well, that was overly ambitious! I knew it was going to be especially so with all of the holiday activities, but I had some hope. We will be finishing the project over the next three weeks just in time for the new semester to start. However, what I do have are some “I wonder…” statements to share from some of the kids.

I wonder how American flags are made.
I wonder why there was a war.
I wonder if plants sneeze.
I wonder if dragons are real.
I wonder who invented words.
I wonder how money is made.
I wonder why soda makes you hyper.
I wonder how the stars are made.
I wonder how Earth was made.
I wonder when Earth was made.
I wonder how the Lord was made.

My students were asked to pick one of their statements they could research pretty quickly with factual statements. The list above doesn’t reflect actual choices, but highlights the various degrees of curiosity stu-dents had. Thanks to technological innovations and some lessons on internet safety and reliable sources from me, students had the ability to quickly search for and identify appropriate websites which would give them the research they needed at a close enough level they could understand. For some of these state-ments, the absolute factual answers are yet to be confirmed. The Bible backs this up in Deuteronomy 29:29 saying, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law”.

Even with a lack of technology when the human life first began, the act of curiosity was rampant in the lives of people from the Bible. God told Eve she could eat the fruit off of every tree in the Garden of Eden except for one. Eventually, with the aid of her curiosity and help from the evil serpent, she picked a fruit off the tree, ate it, and reaped the consequences of making that bad decision. Matthew tells the story of wise men who “saw His star in the East” and went to worship Him (Matthew 2). They were curious about the birth of Jesus and wondered where he was. The men asked King Herod and they were off to Bethlehem to present gifts they had brought with them.

Philippians 4:8-9, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Being curious good thing. It’s the catalyst that drives many, many people today and spurs the inno-vations we take for granted in our daily lives. Are there bad things to be curious about and research? AB-SOLUTELY!!! However, what we have to do it monitor ourselves, our conscience, and our beliefs to evalu-ate what curiosities are appropriate to research and seek.

As 2017 begins, how will your faith improve over the next year? I have already set some personal goals for me and my family. How many of them will be achieved? I have no idea. However, if I’m curious enough to research possible answers and set a course for change or improvement, that’s one positive step I can take.

Notes and Ramblings from Toni's Desk:

By Lay-Pastor Toni Drager

As I begin to think of the New Year, I think of the new life of we are given when we accept Christ Jesus. The new beginning , that do over, that please forgive me, as I wipe off my knees get to my feet with the help of the Lord, to try again.

What a great time for each of us to ask the Lord where he wants us to change personally, in our lives, for a better relationship with Him. What He wants us to do/stand for and how He wants us to do it. How he wants us to come alongside others to bless them and be a light to this world.

Take time with the Lord to seek His will for your life in 2017!

‘Thank You’ to all of you who worked for months preparing for the Live Nativity! I enjoyed working with and watching the joy on your faces as we came together for a project that was bigger than any one of us could tackle alone. It was quite disappointing that we had to cancel due to weather but we must consider safety first. When the weather breaks for a couple days I will send a message out so we can meet to tear the set down. Mark your calendars for December 15-17-2017!

‘Thank You’ for the Christmas Gift. It was so kind of you to remember me. I will spend it on something for me.

Looking forward to continuing to serve alongside you in 2017!
Hugs and Prayers,
Pastor Toni
Lay Pastor of Care and Outreach

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