An Important Update from Pastor Jeff

Brothers and Sisters of the Church and friends in our Dane County Community,

 

"Fear not, for I am with you always.  Be not dismayed, I am your God.  I will help you, strengthen you and uphold you with My righteous right hand!" Isaiah 41:10

 

With God, the entreaty to “fear not” is always followed with a promise! So, with confidence in our God, we trust in Him to be with us during all times and all circumstances.  That means that during this uncertain time with the coronavirus, we put our trust in God, as well as being prudent in making decisions.

 

Fear is a natural human emotion. Faith is a gift from God given to His people. Both exist in us. So, we are trusting, praying, confident, unwavering, AND cautious, serving, leading for the sake of our community.

 

The coronavirus pandemic has given us an unprecedented challenge AND opportunity.

 

After much prayer, consultation, and, at the recommendation of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, we have decided to suspend all gatherings at the Church at least through March 29th. We will re-evaluate and share our decision for what we will do after March 29th by March 27th.  

 

Among the dozens of articles and posts I have been reading since this past Tuesday from religious leaders, business leaders, and government officials, I have been reminded of the importance of balanced, thoughtful, and collaborative decision making in unprecedented moments. Here is one paragraph that really captured my imagination and heart.

 

Higher brain thinking is all about solutions, being open to new ways of doing things, and keeping your neuropathways in a position where you can think. In all crisis situations, people naturally go into the lower brain. Fight the temptation and stay focused on all of the good that’s in place. Although canceling sporting events, conferences and school is disruptive and disappointing, it’s likely lives will be saved because of those actions.”

 

Read more from Laura Gallagher, President of the Creative Company… https://thecreativecompany.com/weve-been-grounded/

 

You are loved by the God of the universe. Jesus proves it. He wins, every time, and in every situation. The victory over this intruder is already secure. We make this decision upon this foundation.

 

We believe that God is at work in our world right now. He is not surprised. He is not caught off guard. He knows. He loves. He lives. We have been given a very special, (once-in-a-lifetime perhaps) opportunity to share the Good News. And, right now, because of COVID-19, in new ways. let us take the lead for the sake of our community.

 

Here are some of the particulars we want you to be aware of:

  • No gatherings at the Church through at least March 29th
  • No preschool through March 29th
  • Announcement concerning what will happen after the 29th by at least March 27th
  • Worship will be live-streamed at 9 a.m. on Sunday mornings through March 29th

https://www.facebook.com/livelifetogether/

 

AND

 

The feed will be live at 9 a.m under the middle “POSTS” column on the home page of our website. https://www.livelifetogether.com/

 

Here’s what we are asking YOU TO DO:

  • Keep checking our website and your email for up-to-date information.
  • Feel free to share anything we share with you with neighbors, friends and family members. We are working on creative ways to stay connected with you throughout this fluid situation.
  • Pray for God’s reign to be seen in our church and through us and others in our community in such a profound way that many would come to know Jesus' love in new, and dynamic ways.
  • Continue to pray for your leaders for wisdom, courage, and creativity.
  • Continue to support your preschool and church with your financial gifts so we can remain a strong presence in this community. You can give online here during this time: https://www.livelifetogether.com/give

 

May God use us to share peace, love, and compassion as we are given the opportunity. May I ask you to pray fervently for those opportunities, AND for courage and grace to follow through.

  

Also, as always, the staff at the Church desires to serve you.  If you have a need to connect with us, you can reach Pastor Matt at (608) 444-5660 or Pastor Jeff at (608) 332-0580.  Feel free to text us if you prefer.

 

God’s Peace and Love to all!

Pastor Jeff

 

 

Livestreaming of service:  https://www.facebook.com/livelifetogether/ OR  https://www.livelifetogether.com/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/livelifetogether/

Giving Online: https://www.livelifetogether.com/give

 

Good Enough

I am a good _____________________ when I ________________________________.

How do you fill in that statement? What unconscious thoughts like that run through your head during the day? What expectations are you using to define your worth?

Our world is filled with “good enough” expectations. Books, media, videos, magazines – they constantly bombard us with how to be better, how to be more, the best ways to parent/eat/work/relate/and on and on. Often, without knowing it, we take these expectations upon ourselves and begin to define our worth based on them.

And then we fail. We can’t live up to those expectations.

We begin to adopt a value system for ourselves based on those unmet expectations. When we are successful, we are worthy. When we fail, we are unworthy.  Sadly, this value system then works its way into our relationships. We base others’ value and worth on the expectations we have set. Our patience, love, and compassion for others begins to be based on whether or not they have earned it. It is a cycle that just doesn’t work. It is not how God designed us to live.

God’s desire is for us to live in a way that embraces His definition of who we are. When we clothe ourselves in who God says we are, we no longer ride the roller coaster of emotions and expectations that come from the world’s value system.

His labels for us are permanent.

There is nothing that can strip away the identity that God has given to you. You don’t have to work harder to be more valuable to God. Your value is defined by the blood of Jesus and that was HIS choice to give to you, not based on who you are or what you do. And that is true of each and every other person as well.

So how do we move from the roller coaster of personal and worldly expectations to living out God’s identity for us?

  • Acknowledge. Start by identifying and acknowledging the expectations you place upon yourself, the ones you adopt from the world, and the ones you place on others. Use the statement at the top and write them down. Ask God to reveal them. I am a good husband when my family is financially secure. I am a good employee when I meet every deadline. I am a good Christian when I read my Bible every day. I am a good parent when my kids are well behaved. Spend time reflecting on your responses to various situations and the “good enough” expectations that are prompting those responses.
  • Start with God. When we use our own expectations to define our worth, our statements begin with “I” – I am worthy because I got a promotion. I am not good enough because I yelled at my kids too much. Those value statements put ourselves at the center. However, when we start our value statements with “God”, our identity is shifted. God has redeemed me. I am valuable in spite of my failures. God has gifted me. My talent is a reflection of God’s creativity.
  • End with God. Being given a permanent identity in Christ doesn’t mean the tasks of the world disappear. And it doesn’t mean we should go about our lives half-heartedly or choosing sin. Instead, our identity in Christ drives how we live out our daily lives. I work hard at my job as a way to give glory to God. I care for my children as an act of worship to God. I can choose a holy life through the power and victory given to me in Jesus.
  • Embrace God’s Expectations. God’s desire is for you to know him, love Him and to let your life be a reflection of that love. He wants you to live in the freedom that comes from knowing that you are beloved, chosen, redeemed, and victorious. Hosea 6:6 says,

“I want you to show love,
    not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
    more than I want burnt offerings.”

As we begin to reshape our understanding of who God says we are, and where our worth really comes from, we then begin to see others in the same way. As you release yourself from those expectations, you can release others from them as well. And then you can experience the freedom that comes from knowing that God has made you “good enough”.

 

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.