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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Celebrating the Past, Anticipating the Future!

In the book of Nehemiah, the Israelites who had been living in exile under the evil Babylonians, have been freed by God and have returned to Jerusalem. Nehemiah leads them in rebuilding the once-devastated city. As they rebuild the city, they find the scriptures and discover that God commanded His people to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles every year. They were to have a huge party remembering the exodus of their ancestors by erecting tabernacles (or tents) and living in them for a week. It was only appropriate to celebrate this festival as they themselves had just returned from an exile in Babylon. God had, once again, redeemed His people from their oppressors.

Fast forward to the New Testament. Jesus has come to lead another exodus, to free God's people from another exile: the exile of sin. All of us are born into the bondage of sin. We are slaves under Satan's regime by nature. But our Jesus has come and redeemed us from that slavery! He has purchased us with His blood and led us into His kingdom. No longer is this kingdom bound to Jerusalem, but God's kingdom is wherever His Word is proclaimed. The kingdom comes to us now through the proclamation of God's Word. The kingdom members are not just Jews, but all people who have faith in the King of this kingdom!

For the last 25 years, one small part of that kingdom has been meeting together under the name Faith Lutheran Church of Moorpark. Here, in our congregation, God's reign has been present in the preaching of God's Word. His Word of condemnation towards sin and His Word of redemption through Christ for sinners has been announced and the faithful have gathered to hear the words of their King for a quarter of a century here.

The life of the church here has been typical of all of God's churches: full of joy and pain, happiness and sorrow, life and death, baptisms and burials, frustrations and celebrations, worship and lament. But, the one constant has been Christ's presence! The life of this church, through its ups and downs, has been grounded in Christ, our Rock! Just like our personal faith, Faith the church has had highs and lows, but Jesus has remained faithful to us throughout. And so, it is time for us, like the Israelites, to look back upon what God has done for us and celebrate!

This October 31st, Reformation Sunday, we will be celebrating our 25th anniversary as a congregation. We will have one service at 9:30 AM full of praises to our Jesus who has done such wonderful things for our church by giving us His Word and sacraments for 25 years. We will remember where we have been and pray about where we are going. After our service of celebration, we will have a great Oktoberfest meal where we will share stories about God's work among us. Please join us for this wonderful celebration as we rejoice in the life of our church, but more importantly, the redemption that Christ has won for us and His Spirit who brings us the fruits of that redemption every Sunday!

Pastor Bob

Hispanic Ministry Update - October 2010

Our SEAN (Seminario por Extension A las Naciones) Lay Leader Training Program is conducting a class on Paul: La Vida de Pablo. Twenty five students are enrolled and studying how the Holy Spirit worked in the life of Paul and how He continues to work in our lives every day.

Please continue to pray for the leaders of Centro Cristiano Oxnard who are working hard together to bring the Good News to Hispanic families in Oxnard. Pray for Pastor Marco and his wife, Francisca, as they seek healing for her from liver disease.

The members of Centro Cristiano Emanuel, Santa Paula rejoice in the installation of their new Pastor, Pastor Marcelino Velasco, and look forward to ministering in even greater ways to the needs of those hurting and needing the love of Christ in their community.

The ministries of Centro Cristiano Moorpark will highlight their new English as a Second Language (ESL) class beginning in September. New people have joined the class over the summer and participate in the Bible Study and Music Classes afterwards. Please pray for the park outreach coming up on September 19 that the Lord will bring many new families to know Him better through this ministry.

Praise the Lord that the Home Bible Study group in Moorpark has completed the Panoramo Biblico course and plans to move onto SEAN Book Number One soon. The members are hungry for the Word of the Lord! We continue to build upon the new relationships that the Lord gave us at our joint summer Vacation Bible School program. Some people who attended the VBS are coming to our ESL class.

For more information about these ministries or to send financial support, please contact:
Pastor Dennis Bradshaw
Centro Cristiano Hispano
1200 Maria Way
Oxnard, CA 93030
(805) 660-3377
pastordennis at centro cristiano hispano dot com


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pastor's Column - Sept 2010

It is that time of year again: time to get back to school! The halls of education will be packed with fresh, young minds ready to be shaped and molded so that they can be prepared to work and serve in the world one day! Learning the various subjects equips students with the tools they will need to function properly in the real world. Teaching and learning are necessary for growth and maturity.

Well, this is true of our life in the church as well. Because of our sinful nature, we need to have our minds reformed and reshaped by the Word of God. In his letter to the Roman church, St. Paul, in view of God's mercies, urges us to "offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship." (Romans 12:1) Typically, we would think of such exhortations as referring to what we do with our hands in acts of service towards others, or our feet in delivering good news about Jesus to people. But Paul is not just thinking of our hands and feet here, but specifically our minds! "Do not conform any longer to the patter of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test what God's will is-- his good, pleasing, and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

Such a renewal takes place when we study God's Word together with His church. The language Paul uses here is interesting. He doesn't say, "Make sure you transform your way of thinking," rather, "be transformed." Now, here is a grammar lesson! This is a passive phrase. That means the verb happens to the subject. Or, the subject is passive. That means the transforming is not something we actively do but something that happens to us. We are passive while our minds are transformed!

Bored yet? Well, stick with me! What we need to ask ourselves then is this, "If I can't transform my own mind, who is the agent here, who is doing the transforming?" Well, God of course! The Holy Spirit by means of the scriptures, in the company of fellow believers, forms and shapes our minds. He transforms them from being minds that are immersed in the sinful mire of this world into minds that are focused on Christ. Growth and maturity come when the Holy Spirit guides us through the study of Scripture.

But this is not an effort we should go through alone! As I have alluded to before, this is something that takes place within the body of Christ. As soon as Paul exhorts his readers to be transformed with renewed minds, he reminds us that we are a body of believers who work together and not separately. "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." (Romans 12:4-5) As a body, we grow together. We need to be renewed together. The Spirit works on us together. Some of us are gifted to teach, some of us are gifted to serve, some of us are gifted to encourage, and so on. (Romans 12:6-8) And we all need each other as we live in this world and grow in our faith.

All of this is to say, join us here in a Bible study this Fall! We have confirmation for 7th-8th graders, youth group, Crossways on Wednesdays at 10:00 AM or 7:00 PM, and Bible Study on Sunday morning. We need you here at one of these studies. You need us at one of these studies, so that, as one body, our minds will be renewed by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit through the study of God's Word! Please consider joining us this Fall! May God bless our church, really, His church, as we learn and grow together as one body!

Pastor Bob

Cures & Connections

As you know, at our last voter's meeting we voted to collaborate in a ministry effort called Cures and Connections with the Pacific Southwest District and a number of other churches in the area. Part of this process will consist of our congregation taking what is called the Natural Church Development survey. Many of you have been through this process before and so you are aware of what this all entails. However, many of us are new to this so I thought a word of explanation would be helpful.

The purpose of this survey is to help our congregation define our strengths and weaknesses. Such an analysis will benefit us as we consider where our efforts as a congregation ought to be focused. The folks who lead the survey have asked us to select 30 people from within in the congregation to take the survey. Some of you will receive an invitation to take the survey and participate in discussion concerning the results. This will be a great opportunity for us to discuss the mission and purpose of our church and how we can work together to be more effective in our community!

Once the survey is completed and we have spelled out our strengths as a congregation, a small group of representatives from our church will join the other congregations who are participating in Cures and Connections to see how we might be able to team up and support one another in our ministries. It is our prayer that as we are united in this effort we will be strengthened as the body of Christ in this area to more effectively reach out with the Gospel.

I am asking that you would all please pray for this effort. Everyone in our church is critical to the process, whether you take the survey or not. Your prayers, words of encouragement, and critical thoughts are all incredibly important as we set out to see where God is leading our congregation. So, as you remember our congregation in your prayers, please pray that the Lord would use Cures and Connections to guide our congregation in mission.

Pastor Bob

Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email