Thursday, September 29, 2011

"LOOKING BACK AND WONDERING WHAT'S AHEAD!"

What an incredible time to be a part of this community! It's been a long journey from the old 'storefront days' downtown with our white plastic chairs and when we supported one 'Gospel for Asia' missionary at the rate of 30 dollars a month! We have had a great time just in the journey to get here, but we are determined not to sit back and bask in the glory of days gone by. Rather we are always looking ahead of us, as Philippians 3:13 says...we are "focusing all (our)energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead..."

The Lord continues to see fit to use our 'rag-tag' fellowship in incredible ways...allowing us 'on-to-the-field' with the majors even though we are at best part of the 'pee-wee league.' We read in 1Corithians 1:26-27  For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.

Our year thus far has been a blessed run; A very successful Yeshuapolooza, the church campout and baptism, the summer missions trips, ...all behind us now, and all of the fellowship group retreats are almost completed for the year. We have spent alot of effort and alot of R & R time out at the church campground this year...what a future that holds for us! New faces amongst us and new commitments by others have brought new and larger groups to the School of Believers and School of Discipleship, and the School of Ministry has 7 new students this year! Ministry members are now looking to the future for where God would have them 'serve out their mission', and no doubt that will lead some to long term overseas assignments with JFB and perhaps permanently for the first time in our church history.

We have plans to expand our ministry to the correctional community here in Dunn County, and continue to invest in the kingdoms "uttermost parts" in developing nations abroad. As we are finishing off the year and moving into 2012, we are embracing a SOM team trip to Europe and the tribal areas of the 10/40 window, as well as 21 community members preparing for 3 back-to-back Philippines trips next spring, where we will be breaking ground on a new school building expansion, ministering in our 3rd youth camp (last year's camp we had to turn kids away for lack of room!), and teaching in our ever expanding school and multi-media ministries of TV and radio. We recently purchased our second 'school bus' jeepney...just like the first one, in anticipation of continued growth in attendance as this year was. We need more room!

Certainly we continue to have our share of trials. Every ministry like ours will have such battles. Even Paul related such in 1 Corinthians 16 saying "...a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." God was opening the door of awesome and successful ministry to Paul, but there were...and there still are, those who would come against us. Such attacks often come from those who believe themselves to part of the kingdom, but are driven by jealousy and bitterness to undermine those who are busy with the kingdom pursuits. Paul understood this, as must we! The more we step out to be like Jesus, the more we will be attacked by those who don't love Him enough to serve Him. It comes with the territory!

We have strived to establish a Christian Community here as well as a church. Some have moved on because that kind of commitment to Christ was not their desire. This is a natural attrition that comes with being the church we are, while operating in the world of 2011!

In John, Jesus had just preached a 'difficult' message. One that was not received by the masses that wanted a little religion, but wanted the world too. At the end of it, the passage tells us that "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more." But so many of you at JFB are in Peter's shoes...when Jesus followed up that departure by saying to the disciples "Do you also want to go away?"  And Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

Ahh! The heart of a true disciple!

Because of all the "unseen forces" that come against the faithful believer, we know we must be a praying and maturing community. Often we have been having group prayer and communion after wednesday services for those who desire to serve Jesus in a big way, to get together as a body of believers. We also have prayer before both Sunday and Wednesday services for those who want to "scout into the front" before the troops arrive! You are invited! It is a great way to be a part of the community, even if you are new.

This year at the Blind Munchies Coffeehouse, events are planned every Friday, as well as other evenings of ministry events. The place sure looks great these days! Concerts, vintage movie/TV nights (new projector! Yea!), and "Friday Night B.S." ...(thats BIBLE STUDY!) which is our small group open format discussion studies taught by ministerial staff here at JFB. We look forward to the upcoming Halloween bash at the church communal house, our traditional New Years gathering in the Munchies, the children's Christmas program (there is getting to be a lot of them!), the School of Ministry retreat in February(?)...and so much more. All the while we know we must continue to grow up as well as out, so we will continue to teach and learn...and gather and serve! I have never seen the members of this church body so active in evangelism and community...each taking his or her 'heart call' from God and reaching out...

Thanks for letting me be your undershepherd. I am so blessed, and love being a part of all of you!

PS! Please be in prayer for the families of new babies that are soon to arrive in our midst. A blessing and a challenge for all of them, and we can help in prayer and in physical support. Help carry your brother's baby...er, I mean burden...

COMING SOON: "What do I need to do and be to get on a missions team to travel abroad?"