Saturday, September 30, 2006

Where should we go to church?

Things have been going extremely well at Willow Community Church! We have seen God move in very real and effective ways (or is that affective? Bekk, let me know) over the last two months. You can look back through the last few posts on this blog and what people are doing for God and His Kingdom. You can even check out the Brothers of Willow blog and see even more about people listening to God and acting out His will in their lives and His Kingdom.

But... unfortunately, Willow is not for everybody. Just recently I have had conversations with people who think that we should include, change, or be more like what they think a church should be. I listen, but that's about all I do. Willow is a wonderful place to meet other believers and worship the Creator and maybe even learn about Biblical principles that just might enhance someone's life, but to think that we can meet every person's image of what a "good church" should be is entirely impossible. I've heard everything from "I'll give you money if you put in a library," to "I think you need to trash this program or that program because I've seen it work better at such and such a place." I listen, but that's about all I do, actually, that's about all I can do. I truly embrace a free exchange of ideas and thoughts and want as much input as is shared, but we can only be who God wants us to be.

We do the best we can given the volunteer base and financial feasibility of our programming. I will always listen to new ideas, especially concerning outreach to our community. I also understand that we can always do better in just about every area of our influence, but I'm surprised when people want us to change our theological stance or question our written statement of faith given to us from the Wesleyan Church. You see, Willow Community Church is a Wesleyan Church and we adhere to doctrine laid out by our denomination. I am not at all ashamed of that. In fact, I embrace it! I don't think all the "rules and regulations" are necessary, but the theology is solid. That's why I align my personal views with this denomination. I have been on a life journey of discovery and so for me, the Wesleyan Church is the closest to my views and Biblical interpretation than any other denomination or church I have experienced. That's why I'm here. There are a lot of other churches and denominations that adhere to all sorts of doctrine and dogma that I don't think is accurate or that I just don't understand, and that is why I don't go to any of them. I also know that there are many, many churches and denominations that are solid in what they believe and teach, but interpret the Bible differently than I do.

That is why we are free in Christ Jesus our Lord to choose those places of worship that reflect our own sense of doctrine and interpretation. Not many churches are going to emphatically state that they have an absolute understanding of the Bible and God's Word, that is why we must diligently seek the Holy Spirit's guidance and have some idea of our own personal response to the Bible when looking for a church home. Keith Drury, a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University wrote a wonderful article on this whole topic I hope you will take the time to read it. He says that we must look at our individual view of Scripture, the local church view of Scripture, the denominations view of scripture, the entirety of the current Christian movement and the early church father's traditional view of Scripture in order to define what the church is, but I think you could use his thoughts to determine where God wants you to go to church. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Little Boys

This had been an incredibly hard week. This last Saturday we received an e-mail from the West Michigan District of the Wesleyan Church with news that the youth Pastor's wife at Burnips Wesleyan Church, near Grand Rapids, had been in an horrible accident that claimed the life of their 15 month old little boy. I have developed an accountability relationship with the Senior Pastor at Burnips and knowing how he must be hurting is very overwhelming. This last Sunday we discovered that little Hawk, a 4 year old little boy who attended Faith Church, lost the battle with leukemia. I have had the opportunity to hang out with Hawk's father and knowing how badly he must be feeling is again, overwhelming.

Needless to say, my heart is woefully sorrowful. But... As we discovered this last Sunday at Willow Community Church, "in land that is plentiful.. in the way marked with suffering.. Blessed Be Your Name!!" Believe it or not, I am beginning to understand that. I love Jesus and I completely trust Him in the plans that He has for those who love Him, even if I don't understand what those plans are or why they seem difficult.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sunday Morning Worship!

Willow Community Church is an awesome place to experience God! He has revealed Himself in ways we just haven't seen before. I think one of the biggest factors is that Pastor Dave has stepped into the role of Lead Worshipper and is doing a genuine and authentic job of leading our congregation to the very throne of God where He then draws us to Himself. I love that! I truly feel like I have worshipped the Creator when we are being led by Pastor Dave. He is an open book for God to write His will in and seeing Dave respond to that is just amazing! Dave is a very gifted speaker and preacher of the truth and has developed a love of pulpit ministry, so his new position as Lead Worshipper is new. Please pray for Dave that he will continue to follow God's plan for His life as a vital member of Willow Community Church and the Kingdom of God! As a side note, Pastor Dave is going to be ordained as a Reverend in the Wesleyan Church this coming Sunday @6:00pm at Holland Central Wesleyan Church.

There has also been an awesome sense of God's presence in the spoken portions of our Sunday Morning Worship experience. God has used Kimy, Pastor Dave and me in ways that we can only attribute to His Spirit's guiding. I encourage all of you to check out the Willow Community Church website and download any of the sermons and discover for yourself what God is doing. By overwhelming requests, I have included in this blog an awesome list of names given to Jesus in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and you can hear this list recited in this message.

Please visit us if you do not already have church that call home. We are not far from the Lansing Mall in Lansing, Michigan go to the website for service times, phone numbers and a map of our location!.

He Is
By Aaron Jeffrey

In Genesis, He's the breath of life
In Exodus, the Passover Lamb
In Leviticus, He's our High Priest
Numbers, The fire by night
Deuteronomy, He's Moses' voice
In Joshua, He is salvation's choice
Judges, law giver
In Ruth, the kinsmen-redeemer
First and second Samuel, our trusted prophet
In Kings and Chronicles, He's sovereign

Ezra, true and faithful scribe
Nehemiah, He's the rebuilder of broken walls and lives
In Esther, He's Mordecai's courage
In Job, the timeless redeemer
In Psalms, He is our morning song

In Proverbs, wisdom's cry
Ecclesiastes, the time and season
In the Song of Solomon, He is the lover's dream

He is, He is, HE IS!

In Isaiah, He's Prince of Peace
Jeremiah, the weeping prophet
In Lamentations, the cry for Israel
Ezekiel, He's the call from sin
In Daniel, the stranger in the fire

In Hosea, He is forever faithful
In Joel, He's the Spirits power
In Amos, the arms that carry us
In Obadiah, He's the Lord our Savior
In Jonah, He's the great missionary

In Micah, the promise of peace
In Nahum, He is our strength and our shield
In Habakkuk and Zephaniah, He's pleading for revival
In Haggai, He restores a lost heritage
In Zechariah, our fountain

In Malachi, He is the son of righteousness rising with healing in His wings

He is, He is, HE IS!

In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, He is God, Man, Messiah
In the book of Acts, He is fire from heaven
In Romans, He's the grace of God
In Corinthians, the power of love
In Galatians, He is freedom from the curse of sin

Ephesians, our glorious treasure
Philippians, the servants heart
In Colossians, He's the Godhead Trinity
Thessalonians, our coming King
In Timothy, Titus, Philemon He's our mediator and our faithful Pastor

In Hebrews, the everlasting covenant
In James, the one who heals the sick.
In First and Second Peter, he is our Shepherd
In John and in Jude, He is the lover coming for His bride
In the Revelation, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords

He is, He is, HE IS!

The prince of peace
The Son of man
The Lamb of God
The great I AM

He's the alpha and omega
Our God and our Savior
He is Jesus Christ the Lord
and when time is no more
He is, HE IS!

Tumult!

Tumult:

Function: noun
1 a : disorderly agitation or milling about of a crowd usually with
uproar and confusion of voices, b : a turbulent uprising
2 a : violent agitation of mind or feelings, b : a violent outburst

OK... We're in the new house!! All of my e-mail & Internet connectivity is all hooked up and I even think I'm going to have some time to keep up with my e-mail responses and this blog!

Things have definitely been in an uproar over the last two weeks. I have really enjoyed a lot of interaction with a lot of people! I love that! Getting to work side by side with other lovers of Jesus Christ is such a wonderful and growing experience! I have had the opportunity to get to know people who stepped up in our time of need just because they care about us and wanted to show us love and support. I have, however, found myself a wee bit overwhelmed. When there is so much going on in my life, I begin to forget things that I normally never have a problem remembering. I'm not talking about trying to find my socks buried in a box the first Sunday after we moved; I'm talking about appointments and commitments that I had made before we decided to pack-up and move in just 7 days. If you are a victim of my forgetfulness or inconsideration (is that a word?), please forgive me.
I would like to throw out a couple of thanks-yous. There have been so many people who have pitched in and helped us in one of the major transitions of life, but there is no way I'm going to remember all of them. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it's a start:
First, let me thank the Lord my God; with out Him, Kimy and I would have never gone from totally unpacked to moved-in in only 7 days! Dave and Annie Kallenbach have been awesome in this time of change. They purchased a home and moved out of the church owned house which enabled Kimy, the Girls and I to move in the first place. With out their support and help we couldn't have done any of this (you guys rock!). Jack Kann installed a new counter, sink, dishwasher and painted the entire kitchen in only three days (I still haven't found the lost roller?!)! Did I mention that Jack is a paintin' maniac? Jack had help from Steve Weatherby who, in his own right, is a jack of all trades (the 5.1 Surround sounds awesome!). Sheree Ritchie spent a lot of time painting Cassie's room, the living room , and she also "cut-in" a couple of rooms that yours-truly just couldn't do right (you are truly an wonderful friend to our family!) Did I mention the Sheree is a paintin' maniacette? Kyle and Heather Glasshouer painted Bailey's room in one day which gave us the joy of hangin' out with little baby Emma! Needless to say, Cass and B didn't help with much of anything that day! And last but far, far from least, I want to thank my parents Bill and Saundra Lawson. They have chipped right in and done those little things that just need to be done (you guys are the best role model a kid could ever have!). You are all very special to us and saying thank-you just doesn't seem to be enough.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

It's Moving Day!

Hey everybody!

Tomorrow is Moving Day! I have been so busy with things at the church (averaging around 80 every Sunday now!) and packing to move into our new home just off of West Willow in Lansing. We are actually moving into the church owned home adjacent to the churches parking lot.

Some of you might know that Dave and Annie bought a home just a few miles south of the church and moved out of the church home into their new home last Saturday. Actually, the home they bought was owned by a couple from Faith church that recently had to move to Ohio.

I'll try to upload some pics of the house and the interior work we have had done soon.

We have had all kinds of trouble with the church's e-mail and Internet access and now I'm about to shut down my home PC to get it packed So if you respond by commenting or e-mail in the next few days, it could be while before you hear from me.