This summer our preaching series will be on the minor prophets. When we call these prophets from Hosea to Malachi minor prophets we do so only because their books are shorter than the likes of Isaiah Jeremiah and Ezekiel. These 12 books represent some of the least known books in the Bible. They range throughout the history of Israel before and after the captivity in Babylon. We struggle with them often because we do not understand their context and because we can become overwhelmed with the themes of judgment.
There are some significant highlights in these books which can encourage our hearts. I think of the faithfulness of God expressed in Hosea's marriage, God's patience with rebellious Jonah, Micah's call to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God, Haggai's call to rebuild the temple, Habakkuk's joy in the midst of suffering and Zechariah's reminder that it's not by might nor by power but by God's Spirit. Over these next few months we will look at significant passages in 10 of these 12 books. I hope you will join us each week or keep track online. I would also strongly encourage you to follow along with the Bible project videos that give excellent overviews of each of these books.
Recently I attended the Northwest ministry conference in Seattle and the keynote speaker, Carey Nieuwhof, spoke about the importance of strategy. He suggested that a lack of strategy can kill vision. We can have good ideas but do not know how to translate them into reality. As he spoke I felt good about the ministry plan that Emmanuel has developed recently. We have done the hard work of looking at both vision and strategy. When he described the strategy that he developed at his church I realized that Emmanuel has problem. We have done a good job of creating organizational strategies, plans that guide ministry leaders, but we have not done a good job of inspiring the average person. When our priorities include developing welcoming teams and being more creative in worship services this offers good guidance to pastors and leaders but the average person can feel like they have no part to play.
This coming Sunday I want to introduce some strategies for the average person. I've come up with four strategies that each person can adopt, four ways in which we can all work together for God's glory at Emmanuel.
1. Pray that God will work among us with power.
2. Meet with someone to practice your faith.
3. Take the initiative to welcome newcomers.
4. Invest in friendships outside the church.
These strategies correlate with our organizational priorities but use language that include every person in the work of the church. This is my first crack at strategy for everybody.
April 14, 10:30 am
Participate in the Passion Story told through the final seven sayings of Christ. Service will include choral music and communion.
April 16, 10:30 am
Join in the good news of Easter through singing, special music, baptism and flowering the cross. Sermon: “I am the resurrection and the life”
I recently returned to the book "Keeping the Sabbath Wholly" by Marva J Dawn. This insightful book offers many ideas to stimulate Sabbath keeping as a positive spiritual blessing. She recognizes four aspects, ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting. We must be disciplined to both refrain from some things and include others. She unpacks each of these four perspectives in multiple ways. For example ceasing includes putting aside not only productivity and accomplishment but also our worries and possessions. Resting can include physical spiritual and emotional and intellectual rest. Embracing and feasting include filling our lives with beauty, peace, friends and worship.
While I cannot give you a full sense of this book I leave you with this quote: "First of all, it is foundational to decide that you want to keep the Sabbath. You can add, modify, even delete certain practices as your customs develop, but the important beginning point is to be adamant about the day – that it will be set aside for ceasing, resting, embracing and feasting...We are adamant about setting aside the day because we have freely chosen to observe it in response to God's grace, not because we have to fulfil an onerous obligation.