Wednesday, May 29, 2013

From China To Findlay

From Findlay to China 

The Lord has entrusted our church with an opportunity to impact China. The Nazarene Church does not have a district in China at the present time. But through the events of a faithful missionary named Hilbert Miller, we have two individuals training for ministry who are from China. Hilbert is a retired Nazarene missionary from Africa who currently lives in Pennsylvania. His wife was in a nursing home where he met a couple from China and has been influential in their lives ever since.

In just a few weeks we will be meeting this young couple from China and welcoming them to our church as new staff members. Huang Ronglan will come and be mentored as she attends Winebrenner Seminary to study for a Doctorate of Ministry degree. She just graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Asia Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary. Rao Yi is her husband and he graduated from Asia Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary with a Certificate in Christian Ministry. Rao Yana is their 2 ½ year old little girl. They come to us from mainland China and will be arriving on June 13.

In Romans 10:13-15 says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!' ”

This passage reminds me of all the pieces that need to be in place for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be spread. The Lord doesn’t need us to further His Kingdom, He has chosen to minister through us. We are to be His hands and feet. Just think, God has chosen our church to impact China. As Rao, Ronglan, and Yana attend Winebrenner and our church and are trained for ministry, they will take that back to China and put it all into practice and spread the Word of God. How humbling it is to think that the Lord wants to use our church for global impact. Everyone in our church will have a part to play as we prepare Rao and Ronglan to go back to China and minister in Jesus’ name. They will be learning many things about church as they watch all that goes on in our body life. We would be better as a church if we would learn all that God has for us in this process as well.

There are many things to put into place as we prepare for the arrival of Rao and Ronglan. We have acquired a toddler bed and now we are assessing the other things we will need in the next few weeks as we work to prepare the apartment for their arrival. I would like to form a task force to help assess the items we will need. If you would like to be a part of this journey then please contact the church office and we will be in contact with you within a week.

I want to remind you to sign up for a Backyard Bible Adventure starting on Monday, June 3. You can sign your kids up and also volunteer at one the of the four locations. You can also volunteer even if you don’t have kids. It’s going to be a great time! Invite someone and attend!

This Sunday will be graduation Sunday. There are 5 high school and 6 University graduates. Come and encourage them as they embark on a new chapter in their life. I will continue my series on “Moses: Going Deeper.” I’m looking forward to a great day in the Lord.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tornado Response in Oklahoma

Tornado Response in Oklahoma

Please read the article below from the Nazarene Headquarters in Lenexa, Kansas, concerning the relief effort in Oklahoma following the recent massive tornado:
            Children and families held each other close today in thankfulness after yesterday’s massively destructive tornado ravaged Moore, Oklahoma. Though many of Moore’s 56,000 residents have lost most of their worldly possessions, people are expressing joy as they reunite with family members and learn that over 100 have been pulled from the rubble so far. Still, there are 24 confirmed deaths as a result of the tornado, including nine children, with a chance that the number will increase as rescue and recovery efforts continue.
                Yesterday afternoon, the Church of the Nazarene started mobilizing relief efforts. Oklahoma City Trinity Church of the Nazarene has been designated the relief resource center for both the Southwest Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Districts. In addition to Moore, which is on the Southwest Oklahoma District, several towns on the Oklahoma District were also touched by tornadoes. Trinity initially opened its doors as an emergency shelter but now is receiving donations for efforts beyond its walls as it coordinates relief services through local Nazarene congregations and collaborates with organizations such as the American Red Cross and Heart to Heart International. They will also be coordinating volunteers to do cleanup as the days progress.
                General Superintendent Stan Toler, former pastor of Trinity Church of the Nazarene, traveled to Moore today visiting the destruction zone as well as Nazarenes there. The pastor of the Moore Church of the Nazarene has been located and is safe, but the church structure has suffered significant damage: the steeple blown off, roof damage, and debris all over the churchyard.
                At neighboring Norman Community Church of the Nazarene, three parishioners lost their homes. According to Pastor Brent Hardesty, the church is ready to respond to surround these families.
                “We will be working with these three families but also want to be involved in the overall response,” Hardesty said.
                This is the heart of many inside and outside the affected region. Churches in Arizona have sent over 800 crisis care kits to the scene. Closer to home, the Oklahoma District, West Texas District, and Oklahoma City First Church of the Nazarene have donated 135 cases of crisis care kits. Nazarenes around the world have donated money to tornado relief, and others have started to make plans to volunteer as a part of the clean up efforts.
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I think the beginning of Paul’s second letter to Corinth is appropriate for this situation. Paul says, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

We need to be a people of hope that offers hope to those who have been impacted by this storm. We will be gathering crisis care kits for the next three Sundays to send to Oklahoma for their relief efforts. If you want to give toward this ministry then we will be taking a special offering at the church for the next two Sundays. Continue to pray for the families who have lost loved ones and have lost their homes. Those interested in volunteering in cleanup efforts should register at Register under Oklahoma Tornado Relief and await further instruction as teams are allowed in.

This Sunday we will honor those who have served our Country and also remember members of our church who have gone home to be with the Lord this past Church year. I will also start a new series of messages called “Going Deeper.” It is a study of the life of Moses.

Looking forward to worshipping the Lord with you….
Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Open Our Eyes, Lord

Open Our Eyes, Lord

I have always loved the story in 2 Kings 6:8-23. It is the story of the king of Aram pursuing the prophet Elisha. They weren’t looking for Elisha to encourage him. They were mad. They found out that Elisha was in Dothan so they sent an army there to capture him. They surrounded the city and was about to capture him. Now look at what happens:
“When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?’ the servant asked. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:15-17

The enemy is still trying to blind people of faith and have them retreat in fear when they are the true victors. In the long run, fear will defeat the strongest Christian.

There’s more to the story. When Elisha prayed, he did not pray for the Lord to kill his enemy. He prayed for the Lord to blind them and not recognize who he was. Elisha then sent them looking for him in Samaria. They then would have their eyes opened to see that they were not in pursuit of Elisha but rather in the middle of their enemy. They could have been toast. But God had a bigger plan – feed them and send them on their way. The army who had ill will planned for Elisha is now being fed a feast. It doesn’t quite make sense. After they ate and drank they were sent on their way with no warning or anything.

If I were a part of that army I think I would have either lost my appetite or ate so much that it made me sick. The thought of this being their last meal was not far from many of their minds.

After being released to go home free from harm, I can only imagine the things they were thinking. “They could have killed us. We were like clay in their hands. They didn’t even warn us. I don’t know what to think of that.” This act of kindness only put fear in the army of Aram. It had a sense of the Samaritans being in control. Or should we say it was a reminder that God was in control.

Don’t forget that God is everywhere and He has a host of angels always on guard of those who call Him their Lord. It puts a whole new spin on Hebrews 12:1-2:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes of Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Do you know what Jesus is doing at the right hand of God? He is interceding for us right now. God is for us and He is more powerful than anything the enemy can bring at us.

When the army returned to Aram it says in 2 Kings 6:23b: “that the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.” Doing things God’s way has a lasting impression.

Be encouraged today and pray that you will see what God is doing all around you. Do not fear for God is with you.

This Sunday we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday. God is not only all around us but He is all through us. It will be good to come together and allow the Spirit of God to work in and through our relationships. Don’t forget that our second service will begin at 10:45 a.m. Use the time in between the two services to connect with new people and others you haven’t seen for a while.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Pull Out the Salt Shakers

Pull Out the Salt Shakers

As we go about our week, let me bring your attention to the book of Colossians.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”    Colossians 4:2-6

This past weekend, many from our church participated in the Backyard Mission Trip. There were over 135 homes impacted in Hancock County. Here is a comment from one of the homes we worked at:
“Thank you to all the volunteers who donated the time, labor, and money that it took to make the 2013 Backyard Mission Trip a great success. Two and a half years ago my husband had a major Stroke that left him unable to care for our home. So many projects were being neglected. Enter the First Church of The Nazarene, to our rescue! Thanks to Drew Aukerman for bringing a great group of workers to our home. In no time, from seniors to youth they accomplished all the tasks and more that I had requested. Special thanks to Lowes and Performance Construction. My burdens are much lighter because I live in a great Christian community. Thank you Judge Fry for spearheading this huge effort.”

Go to our facebook page and check out many pictures of the teams in action. This is where we are making the most of every opportunity and seasoning our community with salt. For that family and many others, the door for the message of Jesus Christ has been opened. It is out of the love God has given us that we are able to attract others to a life worth living in Jesus.

Tomorrow is National Day of Prayer. Many from our church are participating in the Bible reading and prayer at Dorney Plaza. From Sunday to Thursday we will have read through the whole Bible downtown by the courthouse. It is good to spend time with our brothers and sisters standing strong in the name of the Lord and devoting ourselves to prayer. The church sanctuary will be open from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. if you would like to come to a quiet place to pray. Join us for the prayer rally at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow at The Lighthouse (10055 SR 224 W).

Many great things are happening as we are rich toward God with our time, resources, and love. I look forward to reporting more God sightings in the weeks ahead as we are generous toward others.

May your conversation the rest of this week be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, and prepared to give an answer to the hope people are looking for.

Joy in Jesus!

Pastor Mike