As For Me and My Household…
By Pastor Manny
While over fifty percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only about eight percent actually succeed with them. Another statistic shows that about half of all resolutions are thrown out of the window entirely inside of the first month. With that in mind, I didn’t want to write the usual “New Year: New You” article that you might find in newspapers, magazines, and yes, even in church newsletters. What makes the minute from 11:59 pm on December 31st and 12:00 am on January 1st the threshold of possibility anyway? It’s all about fresh starts, new beginnings, and the idea that the past is gone and the future holds possibility. The truth is, we are always offered possibilities.
As I was reading in the book of Joshua earlier this week I came across one of my favorite verses, Joshua 24:15. This is a very popular verse, but many of us usually only know part of it; “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” What makes this verse so powerful, however, isn’t that Joshua has decided that his family is going to serve God; it’s the choice they have. The entire verse actually says, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Serving God is a choice. One that has to be made daily, even several
times throughout the day. You will
Maybe you’ve decided that in 2014 you are doing to “live for God” or “work on your relationship with Jesus”. These are wonderful things to resolve to do, and I’m sure these thoughts are filled with the best of intentions. You may have even read your Bible for this handful of days in 2014 so far.
But what is your motivation? Is it to fulfill some kind of cosmic obligation to God? Is it to be a better person? Is it to feel better about yourself?
See, many resolutions are about the people who make them, things that will then make you more money, look better, feel better, etc. Choosing to serve God is about God. It’s a sacrificial resolution. It’s about living like we believe the two greatest commandments (see Matthew 22:36-40) are vital to our relationship with God, because guess what? They are!
2014 is indeed full of possibilities. We can choose to serve God with our lives, instead of just our lips, and see wonderful, life-changing, eternity impacting things happen in His Kingdom. Or we can choose to continue talking about how much we love Him, how much we desire to know Him, how much better our lives would be if we could just get that devotional schedule in line, and change nothing. This leads to a horrible cycle of death. It’s like my friend Wil says, “When we accept that we are completely and irrevocably broken and can only be granted pardon but can not be expected to change we feel justified in continuing our sin. There is nothing more damaging to the life of a Christian than a bad theology that allows them to justify not giving their life fully to Christ.”
What does your life say about whom you serve? Is it centered on you, your family, your job, or something else? Serving God is about action, it’s about refocusing your life to point to and revolve around the God of the Universe. When we do this there isn’t a need to make resolutions every December 31st because you will already be fulfilling the reason you were created.
The bottom line is, you are free to choose the resolutions you find most important to you. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
January 3rd Sunday Mission Emphasis:
Morgan Martinez, Wellspring Living
Wellspring Living’s mission is to confront the issue of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation through awareness, training, and treatment programs for women and girls. It is a residential program for survivors of DMST (Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking) offering continued education, therapy, and life skills training to build independence.
Morgan is working with the Girls (12-18) Residential Program. She is a live in coach and education paraprofessional. She lives daily life with the girls, caring for them and helping them make good decisions. Morgan has also taken on the responsibility of teaching food safety, making menus, learning to inventory and stick to a budget. One prayer request is that more girls be sent to gain help through the program.
If you would like to send encouragement to Morgan in her new ministry you can write her at 1902 Memorial Dr. SE, Atlanta GA 30317 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org She would appreciate hearing from you and receiving your offering for Wellspring Living on January 19th.
Fifteen families provided gifts, funds and food for our shared families. When we delivered they were overwhelmed with all that was given. The mother with 4 children just started a new job at Swifts so was not home, but called later to express her gratitude. A thank you card from Marie & Jerry and a photo of Maribel’s children are on the bulletin board. Thanks for making their Christmas more special.
Four other church families adopted on their own this year as well as the Liberty USFW and our Junior Youth. Thanks for living out the love of Christ. In total at the House of Compassion, 312 families signed up, 199 families were adopted representing 787 people.
Join us for classes/studies at 7 pm each Wednesday night. There are classes or studies for all ages, and a nursery for the younger children and babies. Meals will be held at 6:15 prior to our studies on January 8th and 22nd this month.
Molded Bible Study
All adults are welcome to join the Bible Study that meets on the 2nd and 4th Monday evenings at 7 pm at the church. The group will resume meeting on January 13th.The group continues their study of the book of Matthew.
Young Adult Retreat
(for ages 18-35ish)
Middle River Friends Church
January 24-26 - Register on line
at Iowa Yearly Meeting’s
Our next meeting is on January 21st, 1:30 at Ann Nichols’ home in Marshalltown. Margaret will help with refreshments and Betty will provide our lesson. All ladies are welcome to join in the uplifting fellowship.
SOUPER Bowl Sunday, January 26
Combine the fun of the NFL Super Bowl with the Union Food Box by bringing canned soup the Sunday before the Super Bowl making it SOUPER Bowl Sunday.
Or consider one of the following options. 1. Tithe 10% of the amount you will spend on Super Bowl festivities to the Food Box. 2. Give in dollars the amount of your favorite NFL player’s number. Either way, let’s fill the box on January 26th!
Summer Job Opportunity
BLFC Trustees are looking for someone to mow the church lawn this summer. If you are interested please contact Joe Feltz for details.
On December 26, 19 from BLFC were involved in preparing, serving and cleanup for 43 hungry guests. The menu was vegetable beef soup, crackers, rolls & margarine, mixed fruit cups, apple dump cake with whipped topping or angel food cake with strawberries and drinks.
Thanks to those who made the meal possible: Brad & Marci, Loren & Jenessa, James & Sharon who provided food or funds; Vi, Loren, Payton who prepared, Darla, Vi, Charlene, Mike, Dan, Lydia, Tom, Jo, & Ann N. with grandkids Paige & Levi who served and cleaned up.
Our next meal responsibility is Thursday, January 30. Sign up to join the fun!
From our Youth Pastor
Another New Year is here. With a New Year comes our famous, “New Year’s resolutions.” How are you going to be different in 2014? Some of the most common ones are, losing weight and getting fit, eating better (which will lead to the first one. Knock out two with one!), better financial planning, find love, drink more coffee…etc. Okay, so I made that last one up. But the point is, a new year marks a new beginning for a lot of people.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so concerned about what we should do but be concerned about what God did for us. He sent His Son to this earth. Jesus lived a life that is perfect and sinless and showed us how to love. Jesus went to the cross to take on our sins and died for our salvation. Now I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to want to take off a few pounds, pinch a few more pennies, or buyout all the Starbucks Christmas blend (which I may do…but that would defeat the purpose of better financial planning), but we can’t focus on those things. If our relationship with the Creator of the Universe isn’t strong, those other things won’t matter. So now that we are a few days into 2014, my resolution is to love like Jesus. My resolution is to be a better father. My resolution is to be a better husband. My resolution is to refocus my mind onto Jesus and not worry about the things that don’t matter if my relationship with God is out of whack.
I pray that you have a wonderful new year, and encourage you to take a step back and evaluate where your priorities are.
I find great encouragement around the new year from Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! If you love like Jesus. If you refocus your priorities on the one who loves you unconditionally, you are a new person. Your old life is gone. Your new life has begun.
A new Wednesday night schedule for the Youth will be coming soon. I want to encourage all of the Jr. Youth to be thinking about attending Blizzard Blast that will be held March 7th and 8th in Marshalltown.
During Sunday School on January 12th the High School Class will begin a new video series entitled "Weird", about youth living out their faith at home, school and work. Parents, please encourage your youth to attend Sunday School so they can view this new video series. -Kris S.
Library Ledge - It’s a New Year!
A New Year, a new beginning, a fresh start – Whatever you call it, it is time for our New Year’s Resolutions. A good resolution to start the year is with reading the Bible in a year. This can be done in different ways. You can start at the beginning, or you can use a planned schedule. Whichever way you choose, it will be a rewarding and gratifying experience you will never forget.
There are also many devotional books that will help to encourage us, give us strength and draw us closer to God. When we have difficult circumstances arise over this next year, we will be ready to weather the storms as they come, as well as helping others to endure their storms, knowing that God is with us.
Between the Bible in a Year and the Devotions, we will be ready, no matter what comes. GOD IS WITH US!
Remember In Prayer
~Teachers and students returning to
school after the Christmas break
~Our college students returning to
campus for the winter semester
~Our January mission emphasis-Morgan
Martinez & Wellspring Living for Girls
~Our Youth program & Youth Pastor Kris
~Our Secret Prayer Partners
~Pray for a renewed spirit, a renewed
desire, and a fresh wind to invigorate
Becky Barber & family
~Nathan & Brianna Martin on furlough
from Cambodia for a year
~Quakerdale Wolfe Ranch, Marshalltown
~Mesquakie Friends Church and their
director, Deneen Ahumada & her
~All Friends missions & workers
Ideas to “Live Love” in January -
~Celebrate National Hot Tea Month in January by: asking a friend to de-stress by enjoying a cup with you, hosting a tea party at a retirement home, leaving your favorite tea bags at a cancer treatment center, or inviting a young teen to join you in testing new varieties and bridging the generation gap.
~Winter Warmth: Purchase hats, gloves and mittens at a discount store and keep them in your car. When you see someone who needs one of these items, stop and give them one. Smile and say “I’m just sharing God’s love in a practical way.”
~Coupon Clipping: Clip a coupon, then when you go to the store tape it to the product as a surprise treat for someone.
~National Compliment Day is Jan. 24:
Create a sheet like you see on bulletin boards when people have something to sell and list their phone number on tear off tags at the bottom. Title your sheet “Free Compliments - take one for yourself or to share”. Then write several across the bottom for people to take. Example: You should be so proud of yourself! You look great today! You make me smile. Your kindness overwhelms me. You made my day! Your courage inspires me. You are a faithful friend.
“Unexpected kindness is the most
powerful, least costly, and most
underrated agent of change.”
A New Year’s Benediction
“Grant us, O Lord:
· The hope to envision new dreams;
· The strength to rise above our
limitations, our fears and whatever
holds us down;
· The courage to stand on our own, to
stretch our imagination and to
experience being fully human, fully alive;
· The faith to live our lives in your image
· Guide us, O Lord, this New Year, every
way, every day. Amen