Five Oakers, I have TWELVE things I want to share with you:
#1 - Last weekend's message was again a very personal one for me as I talked about some of the happenings in our family over the last few months (and years) in light of Mary's song of praise during an uncertain time in her life. My sister-in-law's answer to prayer after 27 years of praying for her husband to come to Christ is incredible, but I know we don't always see answers like that in our lives. Ultimately we have to trust God no matter what (and he is trustworthy), even with the souls of our loved ones. And even if we don't SEE an answer, we never know what is happening in someones soul. Some comments on the service:
- "Pastor Henry, your message was exactly what my heart has needed to hear."
- "Thank you Henry for the sharing Russ’ story, it gives me hope for my brother."
- "Thank you for the message of hope as I continue to pray for my husband to come to faith in Jesus over 31 years, and for our children to come back to church with their families."
#2 - Justin did an incredible job leading the worship team on the weekend, especially considering the circumstances. Justin and his new wife Erinn were blessed to be home with Erinn's dad when he died this last week at the age of 55. They have an amazing story to tell that brings glory to God. Here's just one small part of it:
Errin's dad (Mark) was a firm believer and lead many to Christ, including his father.... He wanted us to celebrate what God is doing. So we did! It was a really amazing experience. On Sunday (the day he died), in the morning he said "Tonight, tonight, we will all worship Him." We knew that he meant that we will all worship Him but with Mark worshiping in heaven. All day waiting for that moment and then he passed at 8:13pm (his birthday 8-13-56). His last words were "We win, I'm free, I'm free."
#3 - We also received this comment last weekend: "Yesterday I told a co-worker that I go to Five Oaks and she said, 'People love that church!'" One of the area pastors I meet with recently told me, "You guys have a great reputation in the community." Really, this is all because of God and for God. And I'm so thankful for our congregation and for your impact in our community and beyond. I love you guys.
#4 - Justin and Dan are busy forming the worship team to lead SEVEN Christmas services. Yeah, that's not easy. Kari is busy filling dozens of slots for our First Impressions team. The Retreat will be offered for two of the services for kids with disabilities. Nursery and preschool classes will be offered for all services. Register for the service you will be attending here.
#5 - Our drummer for this last weekend is bummed that he has a concert with his band on the first night of our Christmas services because he wanted to play in them again...all seven...and he doesn't attend Five Oaks! Dan is a great guy who fills in quite often for us and we are very hopeful that one of these days we'll call him a brother in Christ. We're working on him and he knows it.
#6 - Can't wait for you to see our promo video for the Christmas services. I saw them filming a small part of it in my front yard while I was working on a message from my dining room table. I had no idea what they were doing until I saw the video yesterday. You'll like it!
#7 - We were hoping for a small start to our first One Starry Night event. Maybe a hundred fifty people. We would start small and build from there. All hope is gone. 700+ have signed up, oh my! As Kent O'Grady told me with a smile on his face, "It's all hands on deck." Pray for the team putting this on. (I'll be a rabbi, but I wish I was a tax collector because they get to harass people.) So get ready to enter first century Bethlehem circa the time of Christ's birth. It's going to be fun!
#8 - The Women's Ministry put on a great Christmas event on Monday. Lois invited some teachers from her workplace (Red Rock Elementary) and they all had a great time. Dan Lukas shot a funny little video (posted on our Facebook page) as the women were getting ready for the event that can be viewed here.
#9 - Kids Hope mentor training on Saturday! I'll be there. We're partnering with Woodbury Elementary to provide mentors for kids who need some encouragement.
#10 - Each week during our 5th-6th grade ministry (KidsROCK) the leaders do what they call a Grapple Dare that challenges the kids to bring God into their life in the week ahead. This week's had to do with having fun with friends. Here's one KidsROCKer's response: "I went bowling with my friends and family. I believe everyone had a great time. The kinds of things that happened that would make it fun for God were: People were kind and friendly to each other. There was no foul language and everyone enjoyed themselves."
#11 - Kids Choir this weekend. Come early to get a good seat. If possible, come to Saturday night.
#12 - I can't wait to share an insight I received as I prepared for this weekend's message in the Vintage Christmas series. It was one of those that come while I'm writing the message, heading in one direction, and it's like the Holy Spirit says, "No, I want you to talk about this," and Pow, the "this" is so cool. Love those moments!
I'll say it again, I love you guys.
Blessings to you, Pastor Henry