Why Should I Care?

I’m pretty sure that most of you reading this don’t know Allen Henderson.

You never experienced his LARGER THAN LIFE presence.

You never heard his (in)famous pig call ringing through the sky.

Probably never got a big bear hug from him, listened to one of his sermons, sat through one of his children’s chapel talks, or sat down and had a beer and meal with him.

So, why would you care that on October 2nd in the late afternoon in front of his church, responding to a call, he was beaten to death? Why should you care that he was within weeks of retiring from full-time ministry? Why should you care that he leaves behind 7 grandchildren and his dear wife, Kris? Why should you care that he served as chaplain for the Ft. Dodge Police department? Why should you care about Ft. Dodge, Iowa? Why should you care that the new pastor is coming next month and has some pretty big shoes to fill?

You don’t know him. Your lives didn’t intersect.

So, why should you care?

———————

The news ABOUT people bombards us. The stories ABOUT peoples’ plights and losses, and life-experiences wash over us…frequently leaving us numb to their reality. The stories lack a certain human element. We’re removed. Not close to it. Because we don’t know them, their stories don’t impact us.

Why should I care?

 

And, the frequency and depth of the stories, on TV, Radio, Facebook, Instagram, leave us numb. We have heard it all so many times. Nothing is surprising anymore. Their stories don’t impact us.

 

Why should I care?

 

The volume of hurt and need in our world is so overwhelming that we despair. We couldn’t possibly put a dent in the pain. Too deep. Too much. So, we choose to remain distant. If we were to care about all of it, we wouldn’t be able to handle it. We can only take so much. I have enough hurt and need in my own circle of influence to occupy my heart, to fill my calendar.

 

Why should I care?

———————

Isn’t it true that unless the need strikes close to home, we are inclined to not care…that much.

———————

Within that reality, there is a truth that calls us. It goes something like this:

  • God so loved the world that He gave… (John 3:16)
  • As the Father has sent me, even so, I am sending you! (John 20:21)

God cares! So much so that He offered up His only Son and sent Him NEAR!

He compels us to care enough to come NEAR!

So, at the beginning of a new month, and a new quarter of planning…the final push to the end of another calendar year, I’ve been thinking…

  • Let’s not allow Elsa and Karen and her small team of servants be the only ones who care about feeding hungry families.
  • Let’s not allow Emily and her amazing team of servants and parents to love and care about our youth.
  • Let’s not allow our professional preschool staff to be the only ones who care for the families in our community.
  • Let’s not allow a few to care about 1:1 discipling and encouraging others in their walk with Jesus.
  • Let’s not allow someone else to share the Gospel of Hope in Jesus with someone who is not yet a follower of Jesus.
  • Let’s not allow our amazing team of caregivers who visit the sick and shut-ins be the only ones who care.
  • Let’s not allow organizations like DAIS, and individuals like Alex Gee be the only ones who care about the societal epidemics that are killing us.
  • Let’s not allow 20 families be the only ones who care about our AM2FM campaign enough to give sacrificially to eliminate our mortgage and secure our future for vibrant ministry to this community and this county.
  • Let’s not allow someone else to support the church financially so we can have all we need to connect people to life in Jesus.

Let’s not sit back and assume that someone else will care.

Let’s not only care about our own interests and let “others” care.

Let’s not allow overwhelm to leave us numb to the hurts and pains we see.

Let’s not allow the assumption that “it will never change” leave us inactive and unresponsive.

Let’s not be deceived that “feeling sorry” for someone’s predicament is actually caring.

My invitation this month is to open your heart to Jesus. Watch Him as we ask the question “Why Should I Care?” Watch, listen, learn, and then…follow Him!

 

Pastor Jeff

 

 

Why Work?

“Mike.”

“MikeMikeMikeMikeMike.”

“Guess what day it is, Mike?”

 

It’s Wednesday, aka “hump day”, as I am writing this.  Sometimes the work week can feel like a hill (or mountain) to climb up and down over and over again.  At the end of Wednesday, for Monday-Friday jobs, we’re over the hump, over halfway done. It’s all downhill from here.

Why is work so hard?  Why do we even do something we describe as such drudgery?

 

Pastor Mike did a great job opening our September series, including reminding us that practically, we work to provide for our lives.  We work for some things we need, and we trade work for other things we need and want, usually with money as a convenient way of trading value.  

Pastor Mike also drew us back to the creation story, where we are reminded that God created us to work, to govern and care for His creation. He created us to “cultivate the soil” (Gen 2:5), to “tend and watch over” (2:15) the garden.  Mankind was created to care for creation. We are part of the ecosystem of God’s creation, and we have been entrusted with the position of governing it.  

We work for the good of all of God’s creation, because that is what He created us for.

Only after the sin of Adam and Eve does this work become such a struggle (Gen 3:17).

So now we struggle for the good of all creation.  Our work is a blessing to the Earth, and all those around us.

 

You are a blessing sent by God to His creation, including people.

 

And even though we rebelled, and continue to fall short, He saved us and continues to send us out to do the work He designed us for. We don’t work to earn salvation, we work as a love response to God who already saved us.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:8-10

 

Unique in all of creation, He formed mankind by hand.  God hand made you for work.  

 

As we look closely at work, this month, we’ll explore:

  • The gift of being able to create, through our work, and how it is a labor of love.

  • The motivation for work, God already saved you, and He invites you to be a co-creator with Him!

  • The purpose we were designed for, to work, to be active as God is active.

  • The role we are entrusted with, the managers of God’s creation.

  • The praise to God that our work can pour forth, testifying to the Who we belong to.

 

Remember, you are God’s handiwork!   And you bless creation as you work.

 

Let me know how your perspective on work is challenged this month.  Send stories and questions to mwipperman@livelifetogether.com

 
 

Thursday Reflections - Milwaukee Mission Trip 2019

Hi Church! This is Sam (adult leader) along with Regina (freshman), Brianna (junior) and Christian Smith (junior). We’re here to tell you about our day today – Thursday, July 25th.

This year we are spending the week serving in Milwaukee. Next Step Ministries organizes the mission trip (www.nextstepministries.com), setting up our work projects, housing, food, and worship experiences.

How have you seen God work?

(Sam) I have seen God through the comradery in our team. Our group is made up of people from very different backgrounds. Since the very first day on site we have been getting along nicely, from rocking out to the radio to playing games while working.

(Regina) I saw God today through the friendships made in our group. I also saw God through all of the work we completed today. Everyone in our group seemed very comfortable with each other and I think God helped us with that as well.

(Brianna) I have seen God in many different ways this week. I saw God in my Next Step leader, Mike, the girls on this trip, Regina, Ashley, Liberty, and Alissa, and lastly I have seen God in my friend Noah. Mike is just filled with God. Mike is compassionate, caring, supportive, helpful, funny, and always willing to answer any questions that someone has, construction, God, or anything else.

(Christian) I have seen God in many things this week. First off, I saw him in the work our team has done. We were able to get so much work done as a team, in so little time. That alone is a work of God. I have also seen God work through a leader named Cody. He would show up at our work site, and bring us things we needed, or new materials to work on our project. I also saw God in putting our location of work in an area that was close to a source of water and a bathroom. These are just a few of the ways I saw God this week.

What has been the hardest thing about this mission trip?

(Sam) The hardest part about the mission trip so far has been the getting enough sleep to make it through the day. Sleeping in a room with 30+ other guys, some of whom are middle schoolers has its challenges. But through the grace of God and a little coffee I have been able to push through.

(Regina) The hardest thing for me has been the construction because I don’t have any experience. It’s also been hard to participate in certain things because I don’t always feel 100% comfortable.

(Brianna) The hardest part of the mission trip for me has been that I didn’t want to come. The thing is, it hasn’t been all that bad. I have enjoyed many things, but I wanted to be at home and relax. I wanted to work at my summer intern job and I didn’t know if my faith was “good enough” for the trip this year. The thing is I realized I don’t have to be good enough for other people; I am on this trip for God and I am good enough for Him.

(Christian) I didn’t have a hard part on this mission trip, due to all of the experiences I have had on my previous Next Step mission trips. But if there was any challenging part, it would be getting enough sleep.

What have you enjoyed the most?

(Sam) I have enjoyed many things about this trip. The music, the people and the experience have all been good and very eye opening.

(Regina) I have enjoyed dancing to music in the car, eating, going to bed, showering, laughing with friends, making new friendships, and bonding with people. There is also this game called “9 square in the air” that I really enjoy.

(Brianna) I enjoyed spending my time with my amazing leaders, especially EMILY!

(Christian) I have enjoyed making new friends, and hanging out with them the most. We have been able to play soccer, 9 square, and Mafia; and I only have God to thank for the chance to do so.

What is God teaching you?

(Sam) God has taught me patience and humility throughout this trip. Leading has really tested me in both departments and I feel that since the beginning I have constantly been growing as a leader and a Christian.

(Brianna) As I stated before, God is teaching me that I don’t have to be good enough for anyone because I am good enough for Him and He chose me when Jesus died.

(Regina) I think God is teaching me to try new things and be more open to friendships. I have done a lot of work and made a lot of great friends during this week.

(Christian) I have been taught that I need to start accepting help for my struggles in life, and that I have got to give love as Christ Jess has done, and is doing, for me. I also realized that I do not deserve what Christ has done for me, but it doesn’t matter because He loves me, as I should love others.

 

Each night of the mission trip, Emily is going to ask a few other people from the mission trip team to share some reflections. Stop back to hear how God is continuing to teach us and shape us this week. Also, you can check out the Church’s facebook page for pictures and other updates. You can also leave your questions and comments for the mission trip team here.

 

 

Wednesday Reflections - Milwaukee Mission Trip 2019

Hi Church! This is Quinn (Freshman), Adelyne (Senior) and Colin (adult leader) here. We’re here to tell you about our day today – Wednesday, July 24th.

This year we are spending the week serving in Milwaukee. Next Step Ministries organizes the mission trip (www.nextstepministries.com), setting up our work projects, housing, food, and worship experiences.

What surprised you?

(Quinn) Probably what surprised me was how occasional the work is - for example we have some times when everyone is working while sometimes two people are and the rest are just talking and hanging out.

(Adelyne) I think it’s the way this group has gotten to grow and get along so well in only three days.  I was a little curious about this group because we aren’t all old friends but we’ve all bonded and broken down walls which is really, really cool to see.

(Colin) I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to Milwaukee in my life, but both times I’ve come on mission, there has been a noticeable connection I’ve felt to people and places here.  Personally, I’ve always been much more of a country person, but after visiting again, I would not be surprised if God calls me to live in Milwaukee at some point down the road.

What did you enjoy?

(Quinn) Well, I got to pet a dog today – it was a pit-bull.  Petting a corgi is better than petting a pit-bull, but it’s still a dog.

(Adelyne) Overall I’ve been really enjoying this trip.  The group, the leaders, the Next Step staff, the work…  So much!  God’s been showing up a ton in the people and my own attitude; it’s been an absolutely amazing trip.

(Colin) I have really been brought a lot of joy by hanging out with my small group and getting to know the Next Step crew member leading our site.  Going into the trip, I had never met two of the students in my group, and only knew the other two on a surface level.  But I’ve formed several strong connections over the past few days that feel like they’ve been around much longer.  This is also the first NextStep trip I’ve been on where I was able to really connect with our site leader and form a friendship.  

Where did you see God?

(Quinn) Yesterday, me and the boys were talking about our favorite words and my first word was “corridor” but then I remembered the coveted word “aperture”, which is my favorite of all time.  So I said aperture is my favorite word.  Then, the next day at the worksite, I got to make an aperture as part of the deck building project, and I was like “Yay, God.”

(Adelyne) I see and saw God in worship.  This worship team is SPECIAL, they are talented and enthusiastic and anointed.  The energy they bring and the praise they bring is truly an experience only God could ordain.  I’ve been on a few Next Step trips with awesome worship teams but THIS one is truly beautiful and that’s where I’ve seen God.

(Colin) I have been blessed to see God continue to guide me as get ready to start college this fall.  Between several conversations and experiences I’ve had so far, I’ve felt His reassurance that my next step (no pun intended) is exactly where He wants me to be, and that He truly does works all things together for His glory.

 

Each night of the mission trip, Emily is going to ask a few other people from the mission trip team to share some reflections. Stop back to hear how God is continuing to teach us and shape us this week. Also, you can check out the Church’s facebook page for pictures and other updates. You can also leave your questions and comments for the mission trip team here.

 

 

Tuesday Reflections - Milwaukee Mission Trip 2019

Hi Church! This is Christian (Junior), Aden (Junior) and Brian (adult leader) here. We’re here to tell you about our day today – Tuesday, July 23rd.

This year we are spending the week serving in Milwaukee. Next Step Ministries organizes the mission trip (www.nextstepministries.com), setting up our work projects, housing, food, and worship experiences.

What surprised you?

(Christian) We’re working on re-doing a garage, and have been installing a door, putting up siding and painting. I’ve been surprised by how long it takes to put up the siding. The siding boards are super hard to nail through and it takes a long time to attach each board to the garage side. Also, the weather has been perfect – it hasn’t been hot or rainy or humid – really great for working outside!

(Aden) I’ve been surprised by how close we are working to the other group from our church, just a few houses down they are rebuilding a back porch. It’s been nice to see them during the day. Also, it was surprising how quickly our group painted 3 sides of the garage.

(Brian) The passion of the Bridge Builders group that we are partnering with here has been so amazing, and it’s exciting to see how much they love their community and want to make it a better place to live.

What did you enjoy?

(Christian) I’ve enjoyed our lunch time, when we get to take a break, eat, and share a group devotion along the theme of the week, which is “Beyond the Shadows”.

(Aden) I’ve enjoyed seeing the progress on our garage project, seeing how nice it looks with fresh paint and new siding.

(Brian) I enjoyed today’s lunch, in which got all the guys together (all the girls met together in a different place) and shared scripture and thoughts around Jesus’ revolutionary love. Great to sit on the grass in the shade on a nice day, eat, talk about Jesus and swap ideas.

Where did you see God?

(Christian) Bridge Builders has a “hub house” in the neighborhood where they have their offices and this is also where we go to use the bathroom (we don’t have one at our site). They’ve been very kind and helpful, happy to let us use their house – today we cleaned up really messy paint brushes in their basement sink.

(Aden) The next-door neighbor of the house we are working at, Wally, is very nice, great to talk to, and lets us use his electricity for our job site. And he has a great garden! He loves his neighborhood and is very proud of it.

(Brian) Mike is the Next Step staff member who is leading our construction project. Mike is from Rwanda, came to the US to go to school and recently graduated (Texas) with a degree in Construction Management. Mike has fascinating stories to tell about his country’s history (you recall the 1994 civil war genocide) and how beautiful of a country it is today. He’s great with the students, great with Emily and I, and a real pleasure to be around all day. He loves Jesus and loves to share his faith with us. And he’s really good at teasing the kids, actually quite funny (in a loving way!)

 

Each night of the mission trip, Emily is going to ask a few other people from the mission trip team to share some reflections. Stop back to hear how God is continuing to teach us and shape us this week. Also, you can check out the Church’s facebook page for pictures and other updates. You can also leave your questions and comments for the mission trip team here.