What is Penzu?

In this new year, 2021, you will hear the term HOUSEHOLD WELL a lot. We want to equip, empower, and support every Jesus-following household to be a WELL!  Why a WELL? Because we live in a world where there are a lot of thirsty people.  They are thirsting for hope, for peace, to belong and be loved. They are thirsting for purpose, for identity, and for a solution to their problems. And as a Jesus-following household, you have the LIVING WATER to offer them.  

 

Each week in January we will be looking at one of the letters in the word WELL to be reminded about how we can live out our calling as a household WELL. 

 

WELL=  Welcomes In Jesus

                        Engages With Neighbors

              Listens For Insight

     Loves To Try 

 

As a way to encourage us to put our insights into action and be united on this journey we will be using a website called Penzu (or the app on your phone)  to share stories of our Household WELL’s. Penzu is an online journal where you can add written stories as well as photos to keep a record of what God is teaching you and how he is working.  We will have one account for the church, where all of our journals will be kept.  How exciting it will be to look back over those journals and be reminded of God’s faithfulness and the importance of our mission to connect people to life in Jesus - get the living water to those who are thirsty!  

 

You can write as many journal entries as you would like to. We will be sending out prompts to remind you, but you do not need to wait for the prompt. Be as creative as you want!  Let’s enjoy this journey. What a privilege it is to have the living water and share it with others! Adding these journals will surely inspire each one of us to join in the fun. 


If you have questions please don’t hesitate to ask: Amy @ ameyer@livelifetogether.com
 

How to Eliminate the Three Ds in our Christian Life

Check out this message from my brother in Christ, Dan Luck, from last Sunday morning's worship service.

 

If there’s anything we could have learned from our experiences this year, it must have been how to fight the overwhelming adversaries the world posed in our life — to put it more bluntly — how to eliminate the works of the devil in our Christian life.

 

Deception by the enemy; distraction from serving God; and division in our family, community, and even the nation, have been the theme of 2020. And for us as Christians, whose desire is to center our lives to God and His glorification, have we really eliminated these three Ds that hinder us from focusing on our walk with God and toward Christlikeness?

 

Deception

 

The waves of information we are getting from all forms of media have been immense these past few months that we often get lost and deceived by them. Deception works by making us think that truth is relative. That truth can be had from one source only to be torn apart by another. This process only offers confusion, and thus, makes people believe lies instead of objective truths. Even Luke was aware that even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following in Acts 20:30. The world indeed can be a deceptive place. Our only response to this, as Christians, is to focus on the genuine Truth —our way, truth, and life (John 14:6).

 

No form of deception can sway us and sow in us doubt and confusion if we intentionally devote our time and energy to reading, understanding, and following the Word of God.

 

Distraction

 

No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. Matthew 6:24

 

Matthew specifically pointed out that we cannot serve two masters. Either we serve God or we be enslaved by whatever it is that we put in our heart other than Christ. We need to approach distractions radically by seeing them as evils in themselves. Our time is only limited on earth and we cannot be consumed by other things that hinder us from fulfilling our calling to serve God. In this age and time where comfort and convenience are people’s number one priority, we need to turn to God to seek those and trust in Him completely that according to His will alone, those will be provided to us.

 

God wants us to live in His grace and mercy separate from any distractions. Good things will come if we prioritize Him and live according to His purpose. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

 

Division

 

Paul, in his letter to the Christian community in Corinth, appealed that by Christ’s authority, they should live in harmony with each other and let no divisions rise among them. He urged them to be of one mind and united in one thought and purpose for God’s glory. 1 Corinthians 1:10

 

This has never been more relevant to us right now. This current crisis doesn’t only cause the secular world to fume in anger and hatred over their warring ideologies and political beliefs, it also created a lot of anxiety and despair that ultimately affect everyone, even us Christians.

 

Again, our response to division —be it cultural or spiritual cleaving— is to focus our attention on Jesus. Unity among us is achieved when all our eyes are fixed on Christ. We must pay close attention to what God is telling us. We read His Word; we listen and pray to Him. We read in Mark 4:24 that if we pay close attention to what we hear, more understanding will be given to us. This is the same when we are attentive to Christ and His Word. His ways are set not for us to be scattered but for us to be united in one thought and one purpose.

 

As we flip the page to another age, let us ask ourselves, have we really learned to avoid any divide in our family or community? Have we learned to not let distractions get in the way of serving God? Have we intentionally sought God’s help in determining lies and deceptions? May the Prince of Peace be the sunlight that guides our transition to the following year.

 
 

There Is No Greater Source of Joy than Jesus

What does it really mean to have JOY in our life? The Christmas season and our many man-made traditions have given us different meanings of joy. It may be in the form of receiving gifts or seeing our loved ones in an annual reunion. But perhaps, we need to be reminded of the great joy we already obtained when Christ came to save us thousands of years ago. In fact, His advent isn’t just to be received with great joy, but that which needs to be recognized as the greatest source of our joy both on this earth and in eternity.


Why does joy matter

 

Joy matters because as we are waiting for Christ’s second coming, we will suffer despair, distress, and pain. The joy that He brings can lighten even the darkest moments of our life by giving us the strength that we need to press on. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! Nehemiah 8:10

 

Joy matters because it is essential to our life as Christians. The Bible does not complicate when it tells us to rejoice. (Philippians 4:4) The Scripture is also relentless in commanding us to be joyful because of God’s goodness. Our rejoicing echoes the never-ending goodness of the Father. It is also the rightful response as recipients of His loving mercy and grace.

 

Moses could not be clearer when he told the Israelites to go and celebrate because of all the good things the Lord your God has given to you. (Deuteronomy 26:11) Let’s respond to this call as well as the receivers of God’s goodness in these times of overwhelming sufferings and pains.


Profound joy only found in Christ

 

The joy found in Jesus goes beyond great depths. He doesn’t just give us the joy to overcome our fears, pains, and griefs, but He also offers us the kind of joy that trumps even our sinful nature which condemns us to be separated from Him. An angel of Lord assured us all of peace and joy in Luke 2:10, “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

 

These words from the book of Luke affirm that Jesus is the Joy Incarnate. Though he was despised, rejected, and acquainted with deepest grief, He suffered all these so we could be whole; so we could receive the most glorious joy from God. (Isaiah 53:3-6)

 

The greatest joy we have in Jesus is profound enough to be all-sustaining and everlasting. It gives us cheer when we grieve; it comforts us when we’re suffering; it strengthens us when we’re weak. But ultimately, it assures us of an everlasting delight in the loving arms of God to eternity. He made it clear to us when it was written in the book of John, “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.” (John 16:22)

 

This season, as we unwrap our Christmas gifts, may we be reminded that we are not just to receive ordinary joy from ordinary pleasures. Christ came and gave us the greatest joy that cannot be compared to anything. What an amazing gift it is to be with Him forever.

 
 

2020 in Re(ar)view

2020 Year in Re(ar)view    

 

Heading into 2020, your board and staff planned to have the church spend 2020 focussing on the life of Jesus and the Apostles as recorded in Luke and Acts (by Luke).

 

We wanted to get really clear on what Jesus did and what He sent the Apostles to do, and what God calls us to do.

 

In some ways, Clearly understanding the Gospel, our Identity, and our Motivation for sharing the Gospel as we are Connecting with Jesus, Our Church and Our Community is simply an indepth look at The Great Commission, in our context today.  

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:19-20 ESV

 

Then we set a goal to aim for, based on our theme.

GOAL: By the end of 2020, 100 people have clearly spoken the Gospel to someone not yet connected to Jesus and can name a place in the community where they are engaged in building relationships.

 

This was our aim in 2020.  

And then 2020 began to unfold.  

 

Take a look back with me for a minute, and as you remember any challenges, think about what you learned from that challenge, and also find something in it or as a result of it to thank God for, and write it down.  

 

January - Do you remember the 30 day devotional resource and answering the question “What’s my Identity?” just as there were some rumblings about a virus in China?

Feb-March - Do you remember L@ST Sunday pot lucks? How about choosing a book on Heaven and Hell and having a “book club” style discussion?

March-April - Maybe you remember going through the Gospel as an acronym in 2.22 to get a better handle on what it is, how to see it in our lives and how to talk about it.  Maybe you remember that at the end of March we had made the decision to try and support our first responders and medical professionals as well as to care for our neighbors by temporarily moving our in-person worship gatherings to online worship services. Do you remember the disruption to school, or work, or the feelings you had about having to go, or not being able to go somewhere?

May - Do you remember the death of George Floyd? Do you remember Giant Asian hornets and the announcement of the government stimulus package for COVID relief?  Maybe you were just trying to make it to the end of the school year?

June - I’m guessing you don’t remember a church-wide impact prayer wall, since that and many other things we had planned had to change.  Maybe you remember the continuing presidential Campaign, and thinking and hoping that the summer weather would kill off COVID.  

July - December What trips did you have to cancel or change?  Do you remember the ever changing planning for the beginning of the school year?  What about sports?  Do you remember our successful AM2FM campaign? The election is still relatively fresh in most people’s minds.  

There is way too much here, I can’t possibly do justice to any of it.  What do you remember? What stands out to you? 

 

Do you remember how long ago it was that we stopped using words like unprecedented?  

 

Do you also remember first trying on-line worship?  And our worship teams recording their music and making videos so we could sing together?  Do you remember 2.22  via Zoom or are you still enjoying Thursday evening Stronger Homes gatherings?  Maybe you engaged in Mom to Mom, Caregiver Support, or many other meetings that moved to an online platform. Maybe you figured out how to do Zoom Thanksgiving, or had smaller holiday celebrations.  Maybe you have been able to spend more time with the few people in your very close circle.  

 

Sometimes instead of deciding to get food before or after going to a movie, you can’t go anywhere, and there are no movies or restaurants to stop at.  But even in the midst of drastic changes, God is with you. 

“...And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

Even as we can’t wait to get back together, what have you learned about being part of a Church, part of a community, and a member of a household? What have you learned about connecting, and what do you understand more clearly now about how God has connected with us, How much He loves you, and why it’s so important to Him and to others that you spread the news and His love?  

 

What do you see in the rearview as you look back on 2020 that you don’t want to leave behind?

 

I would love to hear what you have learned.  If you’re willing to share as a comment, or if you want to talk about it, email me at mwipperman@livelifetogether.com

 

Teammates,

Matthew Wipperman

mwipperman@livelifetogether.com

Pastor and D.M.M.

the Church

 
 

An All-Encompassing Promise Already Fulfilled

If we are searching for a verifiable and objective track record of God keeping His promises, the coming of our Messiah has never been more glaring in handing this to us.

 

As we yearn for comfort, clarity, and control in this dying world, we cling to the promises offered to us by that very world. We are promised to be successful if we do this. We are promised to be prosperous if we do that. We’ve heard a lot of promises only to be disappointed either by their short-sightedness at best or lack of consummation at worst.

 

We often forget the one promise kept by God that we can hang onto even in the direst, darkest moments of life. God, who is already gracious with His loving mercy, delivered on His ultimate promise of salvation. This thought alone should give us hope and confidence to press on through every season of our life.

 

The power of God’s promise

When we think of God’s promises, we are reminded of the covenant He made with Abraham and his offsprings in Genesis 17:4; His promise to deliver the people of Israel from the Egyptian rule (Exodus 2:24-25); His guarantee to Joshua that He is with him and the people of Israel wherever they went (Joshua 1:9); or His promise in the book of Isaiah, that only if we trusted and waited on the Him, the Lord will renew our strength (Isaiah 40:31).

 

These are just some of the examples of God’s promises to His people. We read in Hebrews 6:13 that God is an ultimate authority of His promises. The certainty of His promises stood the test of time. For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself. We can rest knowing that when He makes a covenant to us, He will deliver with resounding assurance. This is the power of God’s promise.

 

The fulfillment of the promise

As we look through Luke’s account in the first chapter of his book, we can see the deliverance of God’s ultimate promise unfold in front of us. God sent His Son to save us, sinners. He demonstrated the conclusive evidence of His love toward us by allowing His only begotten Son to die on the cross at Calvary. Romans 5:8

 

Our response to God’s promise 

Standing on the platform of where we are right now, humbly gazing in the ravine of our deeply-flawed nature, we realize that we can do nothing to deserve the slightest grace, let alone the promise of God.

 

But still, He is welcoming us to His everlasting Kingdom. He offered us the Hope of salvation —a promise delivered through His Son. We can only think of an acceptable response. Philippians 1:27 Paul tells us that Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News.

 

While we are here on earth, God asks us to be His witness and bear ourselves to the standard of His Word. Let’s be mindful of the fact that we are saved by grace alone and are washed by the blood of Christ, therefore it is our call to strive for holiness that can be achieved from the strength that is only found in Him.