Pastor Ron Swor
Happy New Year 2018! Annette and I hope your Christmas season was full of His peace and joy.
The beginning of every year brings with it those New Year resolutions. In fact, the New Year has become synonymous with new resolutions.
To be honest, I don’t remember my resolutions from last year, not that they weren’t important to me at the time, it’s just that my resolutions seem to come and go with each passing year. Do you remember the resolutions you made last year? Or the year before? I don’t!
If I can’t remember or count on my past resolutions, what resolutions can I count on? How about the one the Apostle Paul gives us with absolute certainty. Romans 8:38-39:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
As we head into a new year, we need something from someone that is absolutely resolute about our care and future. God’s resolution is rock solid and that’s His eternal love for you and me.
Not even our greatest enemy, death, can separate us from the love of Jesus. We are more than conquerors because our King has led the way. More than that, He has made the way. Remember that there was no way through death until He burst death open from the inside. Our King has gone before us and He has made a way for us. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate you from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord. Now that’s a New Year resolution!
Pastor René Bogue
The holidays can evoke joyful anticipation, happy memories, and childlike wonder.
They can also evoke dread. And amplified loneliness, and unhappy memories, and a fear of unmet expectations.
Because of its rep as “The Most Wonderful Time…”, the holiday season raises the bar on us emotionally. What we say, do, give, and create all take on an enhanced importance, in our own eyes, and sometimes in the eyes of others. Likewise, the time and attention we receive from others is more keenly felt from mid-November through January 1.
Be gentle on yourselves.
In your expectations of yourself, be gentle. Your desire to see eyes light up at the sight of your fabulous turkey, or the perfect gift, is admirable. But, please know that your presence at those tables and tree-sides is what matters most to your loved ones.
In your expectations of the season, be gentle. In my line of work, I sit with families in the fresh aftermath of loss on a regular basis. And I have been on the other side of that table recently. The absence of a loved one during the holiday season is a fresh and tender wound, sometimes even years later. Whether this absence is from death or life’s path, it is keenly felt. With the constant reminders everywhere you look, it just doesn’t work to “treat it like any other day.” But, do treat yourself gently as you pass through. Understand you are not alone.
Above all, please know you are loved. My prayer for all who struggle through this season is just that. That you will know, to the depths of your soul, that the Lord loves you deeply, and is as near as your next breath. May you feel that presence all the way through to the New Year, and may that knowledge permeate enough to make these days, truly, wonderful.
One of life’s greatest challenges is figuring out how we fit in. What is our role? What is our purpose? Without that clarity, we flounder around either doing other jobs that aren’t ours to do, or we do too little and aren’t productive. God has a specific role for us in groups and situations He places us in. The challenge is to seek His wisdom in what that is, stick to that role, and let others do their role.
When I first started working at the church, I faced this challenge. What is my role – the one God gave me, not my job description? As I prayed and pondered, I found that I struggled with seeing things that, in my opinion, were wrong and wanting to jump in and fix them or change them. Then God gave me a clear vision for my role as an administrator.
He showed me the Israelites who returned from exile and started rebuilding the cities. As they did so, they faced attacks from the enemy. So they put watchmen on the walls. Their job was to see danger and sound the alarm. How the leaders and soldiers responded wasn’t their job. Neither was it their job to jump down and fight. Their job was simply to watch and raise awareness of what they perceived to be danger.
God showed me that that is my role as a church and college administrator. Do my job, keep an eye out for “danger”, and raise the alarm. That’s it. I need to trust God with the rest and accept whatever happens from there. No making myself crazy trying to take care of everything and everyone. Just stay on the wall, keep watch, sound the alarm, and trust God enough to let it go.
Many of you may be struggling to find your place and where you fit. Take some time to seek God’s wisdom, and perhaps stop trying to do it all. We all have a part to do, but it is only a part. You don’t have to do it all. Trust God to take care of the rest.
I sometimes worship at home along with YouTube videos. Last night, I was entering the throne room of heaven along with the Bethel worship team, and they do something called “spontaneous worship”. If you were at our church worship night in August, you’ve been part of this. Spontaneous worship is simply you singing to God whatever you want to say to Him. Anything that is on your heart, instead of praying a silent prayer, you can sing as a declaration. It’s a personal act of worship with no script, just your spirit communing with God’s.
Last night, the worship leader was singing, “No more separation, You have closed the distance between earth and heaven.” What came up in my heart and mind as she was singing was not praise, it was fear.
Jesus has a plan for our world, and He has called me to be part of it. When she sang, “no more separation,” what I heard was, “you’re being watched.” As I brought this feeling to the Lord, He immediately poured grace over my troubled soul.
God showed me that how He does ministry is very different than how I always have. My strategy is to listen, isolate the biggest needs, and get to work on solving them. Then I find the next need, and solve that one. Jesus’ ministry was always to be present with people. When He listens to you, you know that He’s tuned in. Because He lives in the present, not stressing about future things, He is able to hear the still, small voice of the Father telling Him how to proceed.
I don’t remember the last time I did that. I don’t remember the last time I slowed down enough to listen without trying to fix. To listen with faith enough to let go of the control I think I have, and trust God to lead His people without me helping Him. I’m slowly learning to live in the present moment, and that brings me peace.
Pastor Rene' Bogue
Ecclesiastes 3:1 and 4
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…
…a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance…
It is difficult to describe the soul-touching beauty of the Columbia Gorge. Many of us feel it – particularly when trying to describe Multnomah Falls, the Bridge of the Gods, Oneonta Gorge, and the surrounding areas. As we watched the Eagle Creek fire (I can’t bring myself to capitalize “fire”) take hold and grow, threatening and marring this wonderland, so many in the area described their heartbreak. This is, for many, the heartland of the Northwest.
Some logisticians and scientists among us saw the opportunity for regrowth. One ironic comment reminded us that in just a few hundred years, it would all look like it did…four days ago. There is truth even in this irony. But. All I could think of was Ecclesiastes 3:4, “…a time to mourn…” There is beauty in the mourning, too. There is a cycle of life therein as well. Just as the fires make way for new growth, so the fires of our lives have a purpose, even in the pain. It’s ok to cry over Multnomah Falls. In weeping, or heart rending, we often find our deepest prayers.
The second lesson I take with me from this fire is one that other tragedies have underscored. Just as there is a time to mourn, there is a time to dance, and a time to laugh. So many have posted pictures of their recent trips to the area, all echoing the same sentiment: “I’m so glad I went.” History does not support the fear that all the places we love will burn. But history does support the fact that time will pass. Take the hike, seize the day, use the good china. God delights in our delight, and it pleases Him when we revel in the blessings He’s given us.
He is there in the fire, and He is there in the healing. My prayer for all of us is that we hear and see the blessings He has for us today, and embrace them to the fullest.
Pastor Ron Swor
Dear Church Family,
One of the most exciting aspects of this season is the opportunity to assist people in the act of Water Baptism. It is such an important part of our walk of faith in Jesus. Here’s why:
1. Water baptism is a public declaration of our faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior and Lord of our lives. It is one of the first steps of faith and obedience we should take in our Christian life. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus commanded us to . . .
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
2. Water baptism is also a dramatic demonstration of the Gospel. When we receive Christ as our personal Savior, the Bible teaches us that we are united with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. This means that our old life has ended, and our new life as a child of God and disciple of Jesus Christ has begun. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
3. This is why we baptize by immersion. When I lower a Christian into the water, this represents their union with Christ in His death. When I raise them out of the water, this demonstrates their union with Christ in His resurrection to live a new life with Him. As Romans 6:3-4 says:
“All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
I can’t overstate it. If you haven’t yet been baptized in water, I strongly encourage you to take that step right away. We will be baptizing in water at each of our Easter Services Click here to sign up, then one of our pastors will contact you. Thank you for having the courage and commitment to take that next step in obedience to Jesus Christ.
He is risen!
Pastor Ron Swor
What is God asking you to do? Here’s what the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:14-16: Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Whatever your assignment might be Paul says, “Do it in love.” That’s our Christ-like character at work in us – and that “each part does its work,” that’s your call, God’s assignment for you.
Here is a report from one of our church plants:
I want to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude for Canby New Life’s prayers and support in 2015. Through the giving of your resources, we have seen Jesus work in an amazing way in our church plant over the past year. We spent seven months in our home building the foundation of our initial church plant community and core team. After we established a solid core, in June, we prayed and heard the Holy Spirit calling us to move into the village of East Aurora. Amazingly, God granted us the opportunity to rent a space located in the heart of East Aurora called the Roycroft campus. Known for being a spiritually dark place and welcoming to the occult, the Lord prevailed by giving us favor with the administration and brought Jesus’ light into a large upper hall on the campus were we meet. Although we share this building with mediums, ghost tours, and pagan ritual meetings, the Lord has given us a heart to love these people and reach the lost.
After the move, we went from a core team of twelve people to a consistent 25 and we are continuing to see growth and new families. As part of our first baptism ceremony, we baptized 12 people who dedicated their life to Christ in the month of August. We also dedicated 4 babies and have seen new believers experience breakthroughs in their faith. We are very excited about what 2016 will bring!!!
Again, thank for all your support to make this possible!!!
Pastor Oliver Newkirk, Chelsey Newkirk and the Guiding Light Foursquare Church Family.
Be bold and build and remember, your service to others may be the answer to someone else’s problem.