Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back From Harvest University

The beginning of this week Dave and I were at Harvest University in Chicago. This is a time of training and fellowship in the Harvest system of church leaders and pastors.  I went to the track for senior pastor's wives and learned several very valuable things, but that's not why I'm writing this afternoon.

You see, these conferences are great - you get to see a lot of people that you've met over the years, hear how they are doing, pray with them and share what God is doing in your life - all good things.  You get time away with your husband - a GREAT thing!  You get to eat out - another good thing, if done in moderation.  And you are encouraged through the teaching of the Word and awesome worship times - hard to even put into words how soothing it is.

But my heart was in Spring Lake this week.  I was a bit distracted and I don't think I experienced the full intended effect of the conference because my mind was on my church.

I hated missing Chris' worship set.  Calvin told us that it was the best EVER!  (Don't you love when you miss something and find out it was the best EVER!)  I am confident it had very little to do with what was happening on stage and more about what is happening in the hearts of our people...

I hated missing Cal on Sunday...Dave and I listened to his message on the way home and were rocked to the core by his challenge.  I loved the lottery ticket illustration - you know what, friends?  We DO have the winning ticket! Praise the Lord!

I missed my Bible study gals.

I missed my pre-service prayer buddies.

I missed the foyer of friendly faces.

I missed the children's wing filled with high-pitched, excited voices!

I missed the marginal coffee in the nice big cups! (We're still working on that coffee, folks! Don't give up on us...)

Bottom line...I love my church.

And that's exactly the way it should be.

God has brought our body together and through His Son, has placed a love for the brethren in our hearts, so that when we are away, we miss each other.  Yes, I missed my children and grand children - that's a given.  But I was surprised how much I missed our church.  Hearing stories about everyone's church and what was going on there, just made me want to get back to our church even quicker.  Dave and I were like proud parents, boasting on our people and sharing the joy that comes from shepherding an awesome flock!

Now, I think we may still be in the honeymoon phase, because I've been in churches long enough to know that everything is not always going to be roses and lollipops, but I've got to say, friends, I think the body at Harvest Spring Lake totally rocks and I love you all!

Okay, enough love...I promise to get back to Bible pounding soon, but after a week of missing you all so much, I just had to let you know!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Christ Follower

The gospel is very simple - Jesus in my place:
  • He lived the perfect life I couldn't
  • He took the wrath of God for me
  • He fulfilled the law of God and traded identities with me
  • His righteousness is now my righteousness
  • The only thing that's good in me is Jesus
So understanding the gospel is necessary for salvation, but what about after salvation? Do we move on and it remains behind for the lost? No, the gospel is what empowers us - the gospel starts our day at the foot of the cross in humble thanksgiving, and tells us that because of Jesus' love, He has now called us out of darkness and into the light. We can have victory over sin because of the gospel, we can live a life that pleases God because of the gospel, we can shine and draw men to the Lord because of the gospel and we can mature in our spiritual understanding which evidences itself in our fleshly existence because of the gospel.

The gospel is our power source.

Therefore, I am a Christ follower.

Now don't get me wrong - Jesus is my Savior and not my religion, but just because He was able to do what I cannot do, does not mean I don't want to be like Him. I don't follow Him because I want to save myself. I don't follow Him because I want to earn a bit of my cost. I follow Him because I love Him, trust Him, understand that He lived life so that I could walk in His footsteps, know that I have not only been called to a life of holiness, but also have been equipped to be holy and understand that the greatest way I can show my gratitude for the gospel is to give Him my whole life.

So, here is my question for you today: As a Christ follower, what in your life do you specifically do to be like Jesus?

I was thinking I would write this great blog, telling you how following Jesus has made such a difference in my life, but then I decided to let you tell have at it! Hit the comment button and tell me PRACTICALLY, how do you follow Jesus?


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Neglected Thank You...

Yes, I am a bad friend. I got too carried away today at study and I neglected to thank those who have served quietly behind the scenes! Shame on now I want to try to make it right. I know I have too many words and not enough time, but please let give me a few minutes to thank my dear friends who have made Ladies Bible study possible this year.

First off, I need to thank Beth Tarnow. She has been my prayer/memory verse gal for several years and this year was by far the best! Each year I see her grow - she is more confident in front of the women, her passion is more evident, her ability to inspire is more natural (as seen in the wonderful response to the Bible memory this year) and her creativity in mixing up the women and stretching them in prayer time was off the charts this year! I don't know if you gals know what goes into that first half hour, but from finding Puritan prayers to picking out appropriate music, to separating colored candies and printing copies - she has put many hours into making our prayer time special. Thank you, Beth for teaming with me and encouraging me!

Next year Beth is going to venture into the world of teaching...actually, she is a teacher already, but she is expanding her audience to the women of Harvest. She will be teaching in January a six week series, so please keep her in your prayers as she takes on the study and preparation commitment for this. I am confident that she will be a powerful and effective teacher - she loves the Lord deeply and is growing in the Lord. She has a passion for His Word and a heart for obedience - she is a good communicator and I know we will all be blessed through her teaching.

Next I want to thank Crystal Miracle, which means that her husband Lee gets a shout out, as well. I've known Crystal a long time and to see what God is doing in her life has been a great source of joy for me. She is too old to be my daughter and too young to be my sister - but you will see we have a relationship that goes deeper than age. She is my sister in Christ and I am so thankful for her servant's heart.

Crystal makes sure you all are fed each week - making coffee, setting it out, cleaning it up, making sign-ups for treats, contacting you when you're on, supplying food when no one signs up, getting plates and napkins...the list goes on and on. Lee helps as well - he has covered the sound booth a few times to make sure everything goes smoothly (remember the worship service we had for the crucifixion lesson?). Plus, you know those wonderful frittatas from this morning? Lee.

Thanks Crystal and Lee for your faithful service to the body at Harvest. To see that God is using you as small group leaders and even more specific, as counselors, does Momma Wisen's heart good!

Next is my daughter-in-law, sweet Mary. She has manned the sound booth this year. Moving our study into the sanctuary was one issue this fall, but choosing to video cast the lessons was a whole new ball game! She scurried around in the back, flipping on mics, monitoring the cameras and manning the power point here and there - all without a sound or a complaint! I tend to pace and somehow, she was able to keep up with me! Thank you, Mary, for your competency (she was a valedictorian, after all) and your precious servant's heart - your willingness to serve continues to humble me.

Mary did have some help here and there - Chris and Carolyn Moeller often found themselves behind the sound booth controls, as well. And my daughter, Katherine, makes sure that the video casts and podcasts are online each week. Katherine also designed our lesson cover and the fun little timeline each week - thanks, Chris, Carolyn and Katherine for your kind service of the women. It takes many hands to make this go smoothly and we have a great team!

Finally, I want to thank our children's workers. I have two faithful high schoolers who have sat with the children for years! Daniel and Becky Bollweg are dependable and faithful servants - who always have a good attitude and are never late. I don't even need to check in with them anymore because they have everything under control! They added some of their friends this year, so that each week our babies, toddlers and homeschoolers were cared for and watched. Thank you so much for your service and...what are you doing next fall???

Last but certainly not least, are the three gals who ran our children's program. Lindsey Lindberg, Beth Lile and Tami Swart set the bar high with the children's lessons, making everything from their treats to their crafts child-friendly. I was told today that there were tears from some of the children when they heard it was the last week. One little boy said, "I don't need to go to school - I can just come to church every day!" That speaks of the love and care these gals put into every lesson. Thank you so much, ladies, for your ministry this year.

I have one gal committed to running the program next year and I need two more to come alongside and help. Yes, it is a huge undertaking - but the blessings are immeasurable. Please prayerfully consider serving the children this coming year - you will be surprised at what the Lord teaches you through this experience. With the ability to watch the study online, it is my prayer that a few more of you will be willing to serve in this manner.

Thanks all for a great year! God's love and faithfulness to His bride was evident in your service.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Notes for Lesson 23

Lesson 23 – Future things

Daniel 9, Matthew 24, Revelation 1-8

I. Introduction to John

II. Daniel’s vision – Daniel 9

III. Jesus’ teaching – Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13

· v. 4-14 – Jesus lists out what would happen before His return:

o False ___Christs____

o __Wars____, rumors of war

o ___Famines____ and ____Earthquakes______

o ___Tribulation_____

o ____Martyr_______

o _____Betrayal_________

o ___Gospel______ preached to all nations

· v. 15-31 – Jesus gets more specific:

o ___Great___ tribulation

o No life spared unless the time is __cut short_____

o False christs and prophets doing great wonders to _mislead____

o People trying to pull believers out of ____hiding___

o Lightning _flashing_______

o Sun, Moon and Stars go ____dark_____

o Jesus’ sign will appear (lightning) and the world ____mourns___

o The angels will gather the ___elect____

· v. 32-35 – fig tree warning

· v. 36-41 – God is in control of the timing – Noah knew the judgment was coming, the world was clueless

· v. 42-51- general warning about being responsible and prepared

IV. Revelation 1-6

· Revelation 1 – general introduction to the book

· Revelation 2,3 – 7 letters to 7 churches

· Revelation 4,5 – heavenly scene

· Revelation 6 – six seals

o Seal 1 – white horse – ____conquering__ and to conquer

o Seal 2 – red horse – ___war____

o Seal 3 – black horse – ____famine_____

o Seal 4 – ashen or pale horse – ____death____

o Seal 5 – ____martyrdom_______

o Seal 6 – sun, moon and stars lose their ____light_

· Revelation 7 – 2 events

· Revelation 8:1-6 – the trumpets are ready to sound

V. The Day of the Lord – God’s wrath

· Old Testament concept of pending judgment

· Joel 2:1-13 – notice the sun, moon and stars are referenced

VI. Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians

· I Thess. 4:13-18 – classic rapture passage

· I Thessalonians 5 – connection between the rapture and Day of the Lord

· II Thessalonians 2:1-12 – more insight to the events of those days

VII. Conclusion – Back to Daniel

· Three lessons we can learn from the book of Daniel as to how to prepare for the final days:

1. Determine not to ____defile____ yourself – Daniel 1:8

2. Have ___either-way____ faith – Daniel 3:17,18

3. You cannot have success in the crisis, until you have success in the ____process_____ - Daniel 6:10

Notes for Lesson 22

Lesson 22 – Paul and the Missionary Journeys

Acts 9-28

I. Saul’s Salvation – Acts 9

· Who was Saul?

o Born in ___Tarsus____, which is in Turkey, making him a Roman citizen

o His lineage was from the tribe of ____Benjamin_______

o Saul means _____asked for___ or ___prayed for____

o He was raised in __Jerusalem___, sitting under the rabbi “Gamaliel”

o His family were _tent makers_____ and he learned this trade

o He was a brilliant __mind____

o He had a ___lawyer's__ mind – he was an expert at the Jewish law (Talmud)

o Was the apostle Paul married?

· Saul’s conversion

· Acts 9:10-19 - _Ananias__ is sent by the Lord to speak with Saul

· v.20-23 – after a few days, Saul is __boldly proclaiming___ Jesus as Lord

· v.24-31 – Why did Saul’s presence in Jerusalem scare the church?

· Paul was eventually sent back to ____Tarsus____

II. The Missionary Journeys – Missions begins! Acts 13-28

· A few important facts:

o Saul’s name change

o Barnabas’ role in getting Paul involved in missions

o The journey span from A.D. 44 until A.D. 58, when Paul is arrested in Caesarea

o On the second journey, Paul meets ___Timothy___

o What was so unusual about the Berean church?

o On the third journey, Paul spends ___three__ years in Ephesus

o Tradition says he died in the mid A.D. 60’s

III. An overview of Paul’s letters to the churches

· Romans – Sin ____separates___, Jesus ___saves_____

· I and II Corinthians – struggling church

· Galatians – salvation by ____grace___ through ____faith__

· Ephesians - ___Unity_____ in Christ

· Philippians – Joy in the face of ___suffering____

· Colossians – confronts false doctrine and then teaches practical Christian __living_____

· I and II Thessalonians – church under great __persecution__ - encouraged to have ___endurance______

· I and II Timothy – general ___pastoral___ encouragement

· Titus – another young pastor – pastoral __duties_____ and warns of ___ungodliness____ in the church

· Philemon – personal letter to a friend – asks for ____mercy__ for a runaway slave named Onesimus

IV. An overview of the remaining letters

· Hebrews – authorship unknown – possibly either _Paul_____ or ___Apollos_____ - powerful treatise on the fulfillment of the _____Law____ in Jesus Christ

· James – written by Jesus’ half-brother – faith without ___works_____ is __dead___

· I and II Peter – written to the Gentile Church – the purpose of ____suffering___ and urges faithfulness in the light of the coming ____judgment_______

· I, II and III John – initially sent to the church in _____Ephesus____ - promotes __love________ and ____unity_____ in the church

· Jude – most likely written by another half-brother of Jesus – prophetic warning of __falling away__ from the truth