Hello friends! It has been a while since our last newsletter. I am trying to get us back onto a beginning of the month schedule, so this newsletter will serve for July and August. I appreciate all your prayers, support, and patience with our newsletters.
Summer has been busy for us so far, and we’re anticipating a very busy rest of the summer. In our busy schedule, though, we have some exciting news to share.
Speaking of “sharing,” our church has been loving our city in the name of Jesus. We shared last month (June) how we helped the city to plant some garden boxes along our main street downtown, Broadway. The flower boxes are watered by the city, and they still look beautiful. I’m glad we didn’t kill all the plants! Along similar lines, the city also contacted us about doing some garden and planter box maintenance in the parking lot behind our current meeting place, the Possibly Picasso pottery shop. So, last week we spent Friday morning weeding, cutting back bushes, and spreading new mulch. It is incredible what a little tender loving care can do for those planter boxes. During these planting events, we were able to interact with city workers, passers by, other volunteers, and nearby business owners. Please pray with us that the Lord would bless our efforts at blessing our city, and that we would grow in favor with people of our community and with our community leaders.
Upcoming, we have several outreach events, and several fellowship events, as well as the launch of our new small group ministry. In August, we’re planning to host a “block party” for our local family homeless shelter, the FAITH house. At this event, we hope to simply love these residents, to serve a BBQ meal, to host some games, and to invite those who attend to a follow on event. Our follow on event will be meal-planning and cooking classes, which we hope to host either at the FAITH house, or at another location with suitable kitchen facilities.
We are also planning a church camping trip to Island Park, ID. We have reserved a group camping spot for a Saturday night, and we’ll hold our regular worship service on Sunday morning at the camp site. This should be a great activity of getting our church outdoors, fellowship, worship, and delicious camping meals.
Another fellowship activity we have planned is to watch the recent movie, God’s Not Dead 2, once the movie is released on DVD in the middle of August. As many of you are well aware, the church has been repressed and persecuted at an alarming rate in North America in recent years. We are not far behind our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are currently persecuted to the point of death. I fear for the loss of religious liberty in the US, but I rejoice at the opportunity for the persecuted church to really be the church, a light in the darkness, to a lost and hurting world. Pray for the persecuted church both around the world, and in our own backyard in the US.
In September, we are planning a school outreach. We are hoping to partner with a local school, to ask administrators what some of their needs are (whether supplies, or story time readers, etc.) and to begin helping to fill those needs. We do not have a school in mind yet, but we are planning to do the event after the school year starts so that administrators may have a better idea of their needs. Please pray with us over this school outreach as we get closer to the start of the new school year.
One other thing we’re planning to do as a blessing to our city is another version of the “we love our first responders” day (sometime near 9/11). Last year we ordered, wrapped and delivered over 500 cookies to our city’s police, state police, sheriffs deputies, fire fighters, paramedics, some city workers at city hall, and dog biscuits to our K-9 officers. That event was a huge blessing to us as we were able to say “thank you” to these people who serve us every day, and we hope that it was a blessing to them as well. As a result of the “cookie event,” we have come to be known in some of these circles as, “the cookie church.” That is a name I am proud to affirm because it demonstrates our active love for our city and our city’s workers. This year, though, we are planning to visit many of these same people and to pray over and for them. With the rise in anti-police violence around the country, I believe that a proper response from the church is to lift these law enforcers up in prayer that they might faithfully perform their jobs in service to our city, but also that they might be protected in the more dangerous parts of their jobs. As the church, our job is to keep these people lifted up in prayer, and not to fan the flames of hate and intolerance perpetuated by these anti-cop movements nationwide. Would you join us in praying for our government officials, our local, state, and federal law enforcement officers, our fire-fighters and paramedics, and all the other civil servants in our cities?
This week, we have one more Sunday in Deuteronomy before we jump into a month long series on small group discipleship in anticipation of the launch of small groups at Emmaus in September. First, we are very excited to launch these relational-discipleship small-groups. Our leadership team recently took a trip to Post Falls in northern Idaho in order to learn from Real Life Ministries on how they do relational discipleship. Their model is biblical, simple, reproducible, and powerful. I believe that Jesus’ desire is that the church would raise up disciples who make more disciples. And we are hoping to invite the whole church into this process, taking one small step in our church to make that happen, by starting small groups in the fall. Please pray with us over this launch, that we would stay focused on the goal of making disciples, and that we would invest all our energies into relationships that make this goal a reality.
Our text for Sunday is Deuteronomy 18:9-22, where Moses encourages the Israelites to remain solely faithful to YHWH rather than the false gods of the other nations. Moses also encourages Israel that YHWH will not leave them without a leader (like Moses) who will speak God’s words to them. Finally, Moses warns the people that false prophets would attempt to lead them astray, so they must test the prophets, and discern whether the “authoritative” voice is really from God. This is a call that we all must consider, as we follow only Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We thank God for His provision of Jesus and the Holy Spirit to be with us at all times. And, we recognize that we, too, must test prophets by theprophecies they speak. Not all “authoritative” voices are from God, but our constant encouragement is that as Jesus’ sheep, we will hear His voice. May you all follow our Good Shepherd while you discern and challenge false voices and counterfeit authorities in the days ahead.