Monday, March 14, 2011

The Splendor of Work

Northern Lights over Galena Bible Church

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily,as for the Lord and not for men.

     Life in Galena can be described in seasons. Right now it is wood cutting season. Every man at church yesterday could be heard saying, "mumble mumble mumble fire wood. Mumble mumble need to get out to the wood lot. Mumble mumble just got a new chainsaw. etc"  I myself am in that group now. The church parsonage does not have a wood stove, but the plan is to put one in this summer so that I can help cut the heating cost of the parsonage for next winter. Right now the parsonage costs about $11,000 a year to heat. So I'm cutting firewood for next year. It's a strange thing to be waist deep in snow, and be warm enough to be wearing a long sleeve t-shirt while logging trees. It is work.
     Many times I think that we grumble about work, because we equate it with the Fall. (By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread). But the truth is, there was work before the Fall. Adam and Eve were charged to tend the Garden. Anyone who's tended a garden before knows that it is work. The consequence of the Fall was that the work would now be hard. Now we have to pour much more labor into our work before we see fruit, and thus the frustration that we have with our labor is that we see no fruit immediately. So it is with ministry. Our heart's desire is to see Acts 2 kinds of conversions, people beating down the doors of our church buildings to be saved. However, the Lord has different plans about how He chooses to work in and through us. I am so thankful that it is always God who gives the increase to our labor! Jesus told the Disciples, "Follow me...", that was His command to them. Work at following me. Then Jesus' part would be, "and I will make you fishers of men." We can lose track of the order of all that. We want to be "soul winners" when what Christ wants us to be is "Christ followers". That is work! It's arbitrary a lot of the time! You get to the end of your labor and ask "What did I just do?" We look for the immediate results ...kind of like cutting fire wood. 
     I cut down trees, and then I have a jumbled mess. I limb the trees, cut them into 9' sections and stack them into piles. Then I have an ordered mess. Then we load them onto a sled and pull them out of the woods 5 miles to our home. Now we have a moved mess. Then we stack them there. We now have an ordered moved mess. Then we cut them into 18" sections. We're back to having a big mess. Then we split them so they can dry over the summer. Still...a big mess. Then we stack them in an orderly fashion so that we can pull from the pile. Now we have a HUGE pile of wood that has TONS of work poured into it...that we don't do anything with for 6 months! We finish all this in May. We don't see the USE (or fruit if you will) until late October. But when October comes we thank God for the ability to have done the work! May we as the Church always look forward to when the 'season of October' comes in the work of following Christ! Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary (Galatians 6:9).

Praises & Things you can pray for: 
  • God has been answering prayer for the staff positions that are opening up at the schools here in Galena. A Christian couple has accepted the aviation position at GILA and we look forward to getting to know them. There are several college students who are praying about coming to serve on staff at the dorms. Please pray that God gives them clarity.
  • Continue to pray for safety for all the men of Galena Bible Church who are cutting wood over the coming weeks. 
  • Pray for our Church as we seek to raise financial support to repair our septic system, and add a second bathroom and kitchenette to our building. 
  • Pray for the people of Galena, that they would know how much Christ loves them, by the love they receive from the Galena Bible Church.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Images of the Church

Dear Friends,

I  thought it might be good for me to share some of what we are learning as a church through our Sunday services. We just completed a three sermon series called "The Church".  We looked at Acts 2 and worked toward getting a picture of the church as something other than a building with an address. The first week we looked at Acts 2:36-40 and discovered how the church acts as a "MASH" unit:

  • God is the great physician. (Vs 36)
  • Our brothers and sisters in Christ are the nurses (laborers of the Gospel).  (Vs. 37)
  • We serve both wounded warriors (believers who are spent in obedience to Christ in everyday life), and enemy combatants (those who do not know Christ, but need to experience Christ's love through us). (Vs 38-40)
  • We talked about our need to understand what Peter meant when he said to "repent" and "be saved".

The second Sunday we looked at the Church as a family Acts 2:41-47
  • We learned how we become a family through adoption. (Vs 41)
  • We receive grace from knowing God more deeply when we delight in Bible study, fellowship, worship, and prayer. (Vs 42)
  • We continue in devotion through awe at what God has done. (Vs 43)
  • Finally, we learned that we do life together as a family. (Vs 44-47)  What a radical call this is to our modern church that focuses so much on individualism!  (Read Acts 2:40-47 and ask "Do I live this way? Does my church live this way? Very convicting for me.)
  • If you are looking for an excellent book on the subject, Dr. Joe Hellerman's book "When the Church was a family" is an amazing resource.

Yesterday we concluded this series by looking at the Church as a Body, focusing on Acts 2:47. What does a body that is functioning normally do? It grows. We looked at 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.

  •  We are different in form. The eye looks different than the hand, and so does each member of our church. Under this point we talked about the need to have open handed and closed handed issues. There are some doctrinal issues that we must hold with a closed hand. Jesus as the only way to eternal life, the Bible as our source of revelation about Jesus and God. etc. There are other things that we hold loosely (ie order of service, style of dress, etc) 
  • We are different in function. The eye does something different than the hand. God did not equip us all in the same way. When we are brought into the family of faith, we are charged to use our unique gifting to accomplish the purposes that God has for us to do. Your function in your church is NOT to hold a chair down on Sunday. God has bigger things for you.
  • We are together in connection. Christ is our head. All leadership comes from his command. Are we waiting on him?
  • We are together in purpose. When you got out of bed this morning your eye did something totally different than your foot, but they were still working to do the same thing: get you out of bed! John 1:18 says "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him." Jesus showed us God. 1John 4:12 says "No one has seen God at any time (I think I've heard this before); if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us." We now show the world God through our love for one another!!
We've seen some really cool things happening in the past couple of weeks as the church continues to learn how to do life and ministry together, and we eagerly await to see what God continues to teach us.

Praises and Prayer requests:

- This past Tuesday the Native Band "Broken Walls" held a concert at the Galena Bible Church. 15 Teens came forward during an invitation time. We praise God for His Spirit moving. Please pray that students who made a decision to follow Christ will get connected with the student ministry so that they can be discipled.

- Pray that God will provide Godly staff and teachers to work at the dorms and teach in the schools for this coming school year.

- Pray for safety for the men of the Galena Bible Church who are doing the annual task of cutting fire wood. Most need to cut 9 chords of wood to make it through a winter. (a chord of wood is 4'x4'x8').

- Praise: My root canal in Fairbanks went well this past week. Praise God for dentists and Ibuprofen!

Thank you so much for your faithfulness to pray for us. May God bless you and keep you.