Go Farther Together
By Pastor Manny
One my all time favorite movie trilogies is The Lord of the Rings. In the first installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo Baggins and 8 other companions journey to save Middle Earth from the grips of the enemy, Sauron. On this quest they learn the importance of going together. Even as they split into various groups throughout the course of the story, they all depend on one another and each one’s fate is tied to the next.
This story reveals more about life to us than we probably even realize. As we journey through life, doing our best to live the kind of life God desires for us, we need each other. God created us for community, we know this to be true because God created us in His image and He is community; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God had perfect and complete fellowship within Himself before creation was even on the radar. And, while we realize our need for one another, there are times where we just don’t know what that looks like or how to engage in community, which causes us to wander and to become lonely and lost.
After just returning from Iowa Yearly Meeting Ministry Conference this year, and having seen first hand the importance of community as we “did life” with others from around Iowa, I want to encourage you that community is vital, that we need one another in this journey of life, and that if we are to release the enemy’s grip on our world, it must be done together. With that said, here are 4 ways to increase our awareness of and involvement in community.
1. Pray Together
Prayer is one of the greatest gifts outside of eternal life that God ever gave us. We have the ability to hold an audience with the Creator of the Universe! That should be enough for us to want to be in His presence as often as we can be. Prayer, however, has taken a back seat to our own efforts, ideas, and desires. We have taken this wonderful gift of being able to hear first hand from the God of the Universe and turned it into a life raft and a last resort. If we are to seek God’s will and vision for His church we need look no further than the Holy of Holies. When God’s people take time to seek unity within community, powerful things can begin to take place. If you want proof of that reality, just read the book of Acts.
2. Practice Together
A friend of mine once told me that we shouldn’t be asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” but a better question to ask is, “How did Jesus train?” We cannot simply act like Jesus did without putting in the time to be truly changed from the inside out. The idea of spiritual formation tends to lean toward the private side of our lives, but approaching formation from a corporate mentality can reveal hidden and new ways that God may be growing us that we were previously unaware of. Studying scripture, serving others, extended retreats, prayer, and spiritual direction are a few ways to do this, but the ways to “practice” together are as enumerable as the people involved. Anything that puts your community in the presence of God can be life giving and life changing.
3. Play Together
It is spiritually and physically healthy to have fun. Yes, I said have fun. That means sometimes we need to get together with the only focus being enjoying each other’s company in God’s presence. Jesus spent a lot of time with his followers when he wasn’t teaching, healing, or serving. What else can we assume he was doing other than simply enjoying being with them? If you’d like some biblical support of that, read the story of Mary and Martha; Jesus tells Martha to stop worrying so much and simply enjoy being together. This can look different to different communities, but the focus is the same, enjoy each other, laugh a lot, and go home feeling full and energized.
4. Worship Together
This seems like a given, but I’ve been troubled by the number of people who claim their belief in God is enough. “The church”, they say, “is full of hypocrites so I’ll just sit here and believe in God in the comfort of my own home.” Let me be clear, I’m not saying to go to a brick and mortar building and sit in a pew. While this is the way many choose to worship in community, any gathering of God’s people with the intent of offering our sacrifice of praise to Him is worship. So a house church, a group meeting in the park, a service at a nursing home or a prison, a group gathering at a coffee shop or someone’s backyard can all be forms of corporate worship. The key isn’t where we meet; it’s simply that we meet on purpose with purpose.
Of course this is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great start. I’m not sure where Tim Hadley got this quote so I’ll just give him credit for it, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We need each other in this journey of life. We have a responsibility to one another, and like the 9 members of the Fellowship of the Ring, our fates and the fate of the Church are interconnected and interdependent.
HOC Meal Report
On July 31, 13 were involved in preparing, serving and cleanup for 80 guests. The menu expanded to ham, tuna or grilled cheese sandwiches or BBQ hotdogs, tostado chips & salsa, pasta and potato salad, fresh tomatoes, peppers, radishes, carrots; mixed fruit cup, cookie bars or cupcakes and drinks. The ham and potato salad was given to us by Lisa, Billy and Royal.
Thanks to our volunteers: Diane R., Bill & Rosalee, Darlene & Mark, Bob & Veronica and other anonymous donors who gave food or funds; and Vi, Diane, Darla, Ray, & Tom who helped at the House. Several guests gave us a hand as well. Join the fun at our next meal on August 28.
Library Ledge - Thank You!
I would like to thank the many friends who have donated books and DVD’s over the past year! With these donations, we are able to keep costs down.
Check out our CD’s and DVD’s this month. The Cross and the Towers is a documentary about hope in the midst of devastation. On Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the World Trade Center towers fell, a cavern was found underneath the wreckage, and inside stood, four crosses of steel. The crosses were discovered by rescuers searching for survivors. One of the first responders commented on the book, "It's the story about the cross, and how the cross ministered to many workers and heroes who were involved in the days and months following 9/11.”
The Climb is a story of two rock climbers who are brought together when they perform a daring rescue. The man they save is the son of a retail mogul who rewards them by sponsoring a trip to their dream climb at Mount Chicanagua. The two climbers approach the sport very differently. One is safety-conscious driven by the beauty of creation. His goal is to reach the summit, and take whatever precautions necessary. The other man is a flamboyant self-promoter bent by anger. He is a risk taker and will reach his dream at any cost. A clash of pride, styles, and character put both of their lives on the line.
Other DVD’s: Time Changer, The Ride, Fireproof, Hidden Secrets, Just Desserts, Hometown Legend, and C. S. Lewis’ Beyond Narnia.
We also have several “new to us” CD’s including David Phelps, Jars of Clay, 4HIM, and Point of Grace.
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”
August Mission Emphasis
Our 3rd Sunday mission offering on August 17th is going to support the Agape Ames Ministry. For those of you that don’t know Agape Ames is a new ministry of Bangor Liberty Friends Church that will be based in Ames, Iowa. The desire and passion of Agape Ames is to: “Meet people where they are, Love them as Christ does, help them Grow in their relationship with Him, and Release them to do the same in the lives of others around them.”
18-22 year olds are making decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives, with no church family in Ames to support them with those choices. These kids really have two options - either they find a different church to go to or they just stop going to church. Neither of these options leads to IAYM having a strong group of young adults to be the future leaders of the church. A large number of church-going kids go off to college, stop attending church and then never go back.
Not only does a ministry in Ames give the IAYM students in Ames a support system to help them make decisions and help connect like-minded students to each other but it is also a ministry project real close to home. Every year there are new students coming to Ames who have not heard the word of God and many that come from non-Christian homes that will get the first opportunity in their lives to make their own decisions regarding religion. A ministry in Ames gives us a great opportunity to reach out to those kids.
The great thing about a college ministry is that every year students leave Ames and head out into the world. What a great way to follow Matthew 28:19 “Go out and make disciples of all nations.”
Currently we are asking not only for financial support to get this ministry started but also prayers for guidance and direction, and volunteers to help during “move in week” when we will be helping students move into their dorms. If that sounds like something you would like to help with, please contact Larry Juncker.
Remember in Prayer
~All children who attended our VBS - may they
remember how much Jesus loves them.
~Agape Ames & direction of that ministry
~Our local schools, staff & students
beginning a new school year soon.
~College students as they return to campus
or start their college experience.
~Providential Homes, Arlen Daleske’s
ministry of providing homes to families
~Nathan & Brianna Martin & sons who will
return to Cambodia in September.
~Our new fall Sunday School classes &
DEEPER Program beginning early Sept.
~James Johnson has returned home - we
praise God for his healing.
Andrea Siebring Goodrich and husband Paul will be sharing a typical Lebanon meal with us on Wednesday, August 13 at 6:15 pm. Andrea grew up
at BLFC and looks forward to reconnecting with those who knew her and meeting new Ffriends. A video presentation of their ministry to Muslims will follow the meal and an offering will be collected for their work. A nursery will be available for preschoolers.
Ladies will meet Tuesday, August 19th at Peggy Martin’s, 9:30 am, for a workday to make pillowcases for servicemen. All ladies are welcome.
Quakerdale’s Entertaining Evening of Inspiration
Comedian Ken Davis returns to Riverview Conference Center on Tuesday, August 12th at 7 p.m. with his side-splitting humor and inspiration to delight audiences of all ages. Tickets cost $25; available at-
Riverview Conference Center 319-268-0787
Wiley’s Christian Bookstore, Cedar Falls
Family Christian Store, Waterloo
Online at iTickets.com
Ken is a great speaker and Christian comedian. He will provide an excellent night of entertainment that is appropriate for all ages and all types of people. This is a fundraiser for Quakerdale and it is designed to provide families with a good night of entertainment for all.
Arlen Daleske has shared news that this local ministry has gotten another home recently in Eldora, located at 1902 15th St., that will be repaired and reconditioned for a new family home. He reported that this home would not be as much work as the last one, but the basement is a mess. If you have some time to spare he could use an extra pair or two of helping hands. He also asked that we remember this ministry in our prayers.
Kick Off - Everyone Invited!
Our Christian Education Committee is planning a Kick Off for fall Sunday School and our DEEPER Wednesday Night Program, on Saturday night, September 6th with a Hot Dog Roast and Outdoor Movie Night at the church. Everyone is welcome to attend. Tentative time is scheduled for beginning at 6:15 pm. New Sunday School classes will begin September 7th and DEEPER studies begin on September 10th.
Save the Date!
“Living Our Heritage in Service to our World”
West Branch Friends Church invites you to a seminar on Quaker values, and how to share them in our communities and our world. Colin Saxton, General Secretary of Friends United Meeting will be the speaker. This event takes place Saturday, October 18, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Join them for worship with Colin on Sunday at 10:30, 116 Downey St, West Branch, IA 52358. More details coming soon.
Ups and Downs
In the last few weeks we have experienced some ups and downs in our lives. First of all, we found out that we are expecting our fifth child. That was an awesome thing we found out and an answer to prayer. We just felt that God was calling us to have a larger family and we didn’t really have peace about being through with our family. As we were praying about it, God gave us our answer! Such a blessing!
Since my car is out of commission, we are down to one vehicle again and we found out some bad news about our van. I went to start it after work, and it wouldn’t start. The ignition went out. So that had to be replaced, and we’ve been without our van for a few days. But we haven’t been without a car because the people in this church have been so very gracious in allowing us to borrow vehicles and taking care of us. Also, we were suffering in our house the last few days because the electrical ignition board went out so our AC has not been working.
In our ups and downs, we know that God is in control. The things in our lives are just material. They can be fixed or replaced. God has a plan for our lives and when our lives seem to be out of control, we find comfort in knowing that God is in control.
Even though this verse may be “standard” in some aspects, it speaks volumes of truth. Jeremiah 29:11 says (paraphrased) “I’ve got good things in store for you. Good things and not bad.”
In our lives, we may experience some ups and downs, but as Christians, we know that God has great plans.
Kris Smitherman, Youth Pastor
Weird Animals VBS Wrap-up
We had a busy week as 55 kids come through our doors for at least 1 night to hear that no matter what “Jesus loves you”. Average attendance was 45. We gave out 8 Bibles and 3 Bible storybooks to kids who needed them. School supplies were collected for the HOC give-away and the kids and staff donated $77 for Education for Esther. Thanks to all who prayed, gave funds, food or loaned items and all who volunteered their time! Continue to pray that the Bible lessons stay with the kids. Ask them about their favorite activity, song, skit or Bible Adventure. They will be excited to share with you!