April 2019

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:4-5 I want to add an exclamation point to every one of those statements by Paul. They are words that ring true for us as Christians, and often serve as a guide. The All Stars Class has been studying Philippians for the past two months, and it’s a great portion of scripture to focus on. Paul goes on later in the chapter to encourage that we concentrate on the blessings and good things that God is doing, as we also focus on how we can participate and engage proactively in our discipleship. Many times Julie and I have made a clear decision that instead of dwelling on what is going wrong, we choose to join together to celebrate the ways God is blessing us, and how we have so much to be thankful for. We make a list, and see how strong our blessings are. Together it empowers us to see what resources God is providing, and how we can make the most of them. We’ve been doing this a lot in the last two years. It has inspired our giving and sharing, and kept us focused on the better priorities. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable….if there is anything worthy of praise, think (or dwell) on these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard…”4:8-9 It also challenges us to do our best, to live by our convictions, to make the most of what has been entrusted to us, resources as well as friendships. Paul’s words do not call us to ignore the realities of life; they empower our responses. Christianity is not an escape, or living in a dream or fantasy world. Quite the contrary, we seek to mature in our love by faith in Christ. The Cross keeps us aware of the sacrifices that have been made, and the ones that may be required. I am prayerful about the days, weeks, and months and year ahead for all of us, and for our fellowship at all levels. I am working to trust in God in new ways in new chapters in our lives. I am hopeful that the hard work of our hearts through the years will not be lost. There are so many reasons to be fearful of the future. And yet there are also many great reasons to be hopeful, especially when we see how God is empowering us to thrive and grow in faith. I pray that whatever the fears or concerns that may be filling your hearts and minds, that all of us can see, respond, and live in the understanding that God’s love is stronger than anything we are afraid of. God’s blessings as we move forward this year. – Tim