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    January 2019

    I sometimes think New Year’s Day comes at the wrong time of year. I’m usually facing a bunch of tasks left over from the old year, like taking down the Christmas tree and putting away all the decorations, writing thank-you notes and dealing with decisions about what to do with the stack of Christmas cards. Throw them away? Save the ones with pictures? Check the addresses? Then there’s the thought of trying to catch up with all the work I put off during the holidays. I’m behind before the New Year even starts.


    “Who can think about new beginnings or inspirational goals in the midst of old concerns?” I asked my lawyer-husband Lynn as he came in the door after a quick trip to the office to complete a couple of year-end responsibilities.


    “Let me show you a gift I just received,” he said, pulling an attractively wrapped package out of his briefcase. On it was a card: “To Lynn. May this gift encourage you in the coming year.” It was signed by a friend in his Bible study group.


    Lynn tore off the paper and lifted out a beautifully framed message, penned by a professional calligrapher. The message read:

             Lynn,

            Trust Me. I have everything under control.

            Jesus

    He set the frame down amidst the clutter on the kitchen counter so I could see that simple message as I went about my tasks. Slowly those words began to change my frame of mind. If I needed something to help me carry my old concerns into the New Year, I’d just found it … the determination to face each day’s concerns, trusting in the words of this promise from the Source of all comfort and strength.


    Father, each day in this new year, please help me remember that You are in control of everything.


    From Guideposts - Written by Carol Kuykendall

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      December 14, 2018
      Shepherd

      And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. — Luke 2:8


      It may seem like a stretch of the imagination, but try it anyway: If you were God and could announce the arrival of the Savior of humanity, would you send your messengers to some shepherds out in the fields as they whiled away their nighttime watch? Why not send angels to an assembly of the religious council in Jerusalem instead? Why not send them to the megalomaniac King Herod? Or how about Caesar? Wouldn’t that be a night of work—blowing open the doorways of society and changing everything with a few simple words?

      Yet God chose the shepherds. Rough characters at that time, shepherds were laborers who performed the tedious tasks that many others were unwilling to do. They appeared ragged, smelled of the flocks, and were used to sleeping on the cold, hard ground.

      Often the Bible tells us about extraordinary shepherds. A millennia earlier, David, the “shepherd king” of Israel, had cared for his people just as he’d cared for the sheep when he was a boy shepherd in the fields outside of Bethlehem. David could write the incredible words of Psalm 23 because he knew what it meant to be a good shepherd, and he knew that God was his good shepherd.

      David tells us, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” (vv. 1-2). And that’s not all. The Lord guides (v. 3). He protects with his rod and staff (v. 4).

      Jesus, the descendant of David, came to earth to be the good shepherd. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said he knows us as his sheep, and we are to know him (10:14-15). He promised to defend us from wolves and not run away. But most importantly, he said the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.

      So consider this: On the night that Jesus’ life began in this world, an inexorable process was set in motion—leading to the day when he would lay down his life for the world. All of this in the fashion of a truly good shepherd. So an angelic visitation to shepherds in Bethlehem—men who understood feeding and guiding and saving—was the best way for chapter one to begin.


      Prayer for today: The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23)



      Lawrenz, Mel. Christmas Joy: A Devotional (p. 31-34). WordWay. Kindle Edition. 

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        December 2018
        Worship Time Change and Sunday School

        With the start of December, we have decided to go back to having our church service begin at 10:30 AM. Sunday Morning Blessings will continue - beginning at 10:00. Starting January 6, Sunday School will be back - beginning at 9:30. Plan now to change your alarms - although, you won't be late, you may be really early! See you Sunday at 10:30!

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          November 14, 2018
          God Uses All Things for Good

          "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20


          It's easy - effortless, even - to have a grateful heart during the happy times, when you're overcome with God's goodness. When you're offered your dream job, repair a broken relationship, or see a loved one healed, rejoicing comes easily. Bad news brings a different reaction. You feel discouraged, fearful, angry, sad, and a threshold of other challenging emotions. You might feel, as the psalmist says in Psalm 119:28, your "soul is weary with sorrow." How can you be grateful in trying times? Is it even possible?


          We don't have easy answers; we may not understand until we are with the Lord. But we know and cling to this truth: our pain will not be wasted. Romans 8:28 reminds us, "God causes all things to work together for good." Not just some things, but all things - the good and the bad. You can be comforted, you can even give thanks and rejoice, because the pain will cease. God has already written the end of the story. And it all works together for good.


          Adapted from 100 Days of Thanks.

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            November 7, 2018
            Cultivating a Habit of Gratitude

            "It is good to praise the Lord....proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night." Psalm 92: 1-2


            We develop some habits at such a young age that we barely notice them today. Brushing teeth, combing hair, and washing hands are taught repeatedly to children until they're well-established habits. Throughout life, we develop more habits, both good and bad. Daily exercise, emotional eating, addiction, saving money, spending money recklessly, saying please and thank you, avoiding conflict - these habits are all formed over time.


            We form cognitive habits, too, like gratitude. Imagine the difference this could make in your daily life. If instead of being frustrated that a meeting ran late, you were thankful for the innovative ideas that were shared. If you soaked in the tenderness of comforting a crying baby at 2:00 a.m. without despairing over lost sleep. Gratitude can change your outlook - and actions - in life-changing ways. It takes practice and some failures; habits don't develop overnight. But by choosing gratitude moment by moment, you'll see it become second nature.


            Adapted from 100 Days of Thanks.

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              November 2018

              Welcome Pastor DeMoss! We are so excited to begin our adventure with you. Pastor DeMoss and his wife Jane will be here on Friday and he will be preaching on Sunday for us. We will be having potluck after church to spend time with Pastor DeMoss and Jane so they can meet us. Plan now to attend!


              Again - thank you isn't enough for the long hours that were put in at the parsonage in preparation for the new minister. Many thanks to everyone who donated financially, physically, or with items. We greatly appreciate it!!

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                October 24, 2018
                A Message from the Board:

                We have received notice that Pastor DeMoss will be joining us on Friday, November 2. Please continue to pray for Pastor DeMoss and his wife, Jane, as they prepare to head to St. Francis.


                Words cannot express how thankful we are for those of you who have donated time, money, furniture, and talents to getting the parsonage prepared for their arrival. We still have a few things that need to be completed, but, the home is pretty much ready for them to move in. Again, thank you all for your help!!

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                  October 17, 2018
                  A Message from the Board:

                  We have received notice that Pastor DeMoss will be joining us on November 4. Please continue to pray for Pastor DeMoss and his wife, Jane, as they prepare to head to St. Francis.


                  Thanks again for all of the assistance from everyone at the parsonage. Some exterior painting has been completed, the door to garage is on, the light fixture in the kitchen is bright, the sink is replaced, and the fireplace is almost completed. Everything is coming along nicely, and we will hopefully find some time tonight (Thursday) to get everything completed. Plan now to attend (7:00).


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                    October 10, 2018
                    A Message from the Board:

                    At the October board meeting on Monday, the board voted to enter into a contract with IPM to begin the process of bringing Pastor Larry DeMoss to join us. We are hoping Pastor DeMoss will be joining us the beginning of November, allowing us the needed time to complete the updates to the parsonage. Please continue to pray for Pastor DeMoss and our congregation as we continue making these changes.


                    Finally, many thanks go out to those members who have taken part in painting, cleaning, and updating the parsonage over the last couple of weeks. The board greatly appreciates the efforts put in by many to give the home a needed facelift. Thank you to CWF for the carpet cleaning of the home and the Fellowship Hall, and to Esther Circle for the makeover of the kitchen cabinets. Rodney and Sondra Bracelin also donated a new door by the garage. If you would like to know what you can do to help (either financially or physically), please ask Tim Raile or Jessica Matthies. Over the next week or so, we will be asking for furniture donations for the home while the DeMoss's are staying there.

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                      ReadPrayer Update for Leisha

                      Leisha is currently in surgery. She is having her gallbladder removed, which apparently is what caused all of the symptoms that appeared to be heart-related. After her successful surgery, she should be returning home tonight. Please continue to be in prayer for her and her family.