Welcome to a New Year!
2022 is upon us, and now is the time when many people make resolutions—to make a fresh start, meet a certain goal, conquer a certain vice. What if churches had new year’s resolutions? What should those resolutions be? The classic personal resolution is weight-loss: we set a goal of reaching a certain number of pounds by the end of the year (I made this kind of resolution last year, and I hit it! …But now I have to make the same resolution again…). For churches, the classic resolution would probably be number-based too: a certain number of people in the seats on Sunday morning, a certain number of baptisms, a certain number of dollars in the offering.
Numbers can be the most tempting resolutions because they are the easiest to measure and track. I have a Bluetooth scale that sends my weight directly to my phone so I can see and track my progress—super easy! And yet, I’m not convinced that those are always the best resolutions. After all, just because you hit your target weight doesn’t mean you have become the kind of person God called you to be. Fulfilling your purpose involves a lot more than your weight (in fact, I’m not sure it includes your weight at all!)
Now, don’t get me wrong—I believe that every church should be sharing the Gospel with the lost and baptizing them into Christ. But last month I listened to a podcast about a big church that fell apart almost overnight because of deep problems with their senior minister, and this phrase kept coming up. Whenever anyone pointed out the problems with the pastor, people would say, “Yeah, but look at the fruit!”—meaning, “the problems are worth it because of all the people he’s baptizing!” That kind of thinking is tempting: should we be willing to do whatever it takes to make our churches successful?
The problem is that I think we’re using the wrong definition of success—to put it another way, we’re looking for the wrong kind of fruit. The Bible tells us that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV) These are the fruit that God values. These are the kinds of results God wants to see in His church.
So what if we based our New Year’s Resolutions around the fruit of the Spirit? What if we resolved to be a congregation full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? What if we focused on being like Jesus, regardless of how big or influential we might be? Of course, being like Jesus means we would have a passion for reaching lost people in our community, and we would want to see the nations baptized into Christ. In the end, however, revival is never up to us—revival is a movement of the Spirit. What is up to us is how we pursue Godly character in our own lives and our own congregation—and I am excited to pursue that kind of resolution with all of you this year. God bless!
I was thinking about the new year and got a bit curious; “How do other cultures around the world celebrate the new year?” It was interesting to discover how and when some different cultures celebrate the new year.
In China, they celebrate in early February with a multi-day festival where traditional clothing is worn, large celebrations are held, and people often congregate with family. In Thailand, they celebrate with a water fight. It had different origins than a water fight, but somehow it came down to celebrating with water guns. One thing in common though, is that many people of different cultures are celebrating and looking forward to new beginnings. Much like where I am at. I too, am looking forward to new possibilities, especially when the previous year has been difficult.
I figure many of us can look back on 2021 and see good things. I am also sure that, for many of us, 2021 was difficult in some way, shape, or form. There seems to be a bit of hope that lies within the new year. As I thought about that, I remembered how we reflected on the hope Jesus brought in the advent season. Hope can be hard to see. Hope can be hard to find. Hope can be hard to feel. Hope doesn’t cure hard times. I don’t think hope has ever claimed to do that. Hard times are still hard times, but hope provides us something to hold on to when all seems lost.
To say Christians should always be happy, upbeat, or whatever other word you want to use is unrealistic. We read in the Psalms that believers weren’t always happy, and they faced some tough, tough times. But we also should never forget Jesus and the hope we have in him. Also in the Psalms, we see believers writing and reminding themselves of what God had done. This leads them into hope for the future. This doesn’t hide the fact that they were in exile, facing violent enemies, or facing other hardships… but it allowed them to hold on to something, or even more importantly, someone, in the tough times.
Christians need hope. It motivates us to move forward because life can be a constant flow of hardships and trials. When we have hope, it helps us navigate those turbulent waters without despair. We can have joy and peace despite our circumstances because we know we have a God that works all things for our good.
In 2022, remember Jesus and the hope that comes through Him. At the same time, acknowledge the good and tough things that happened in 2021. I’d argue that Jesus is the best thing to hold on to in the hardest of times.
Psalm 71 reflects on several different types of assailants to the life of a follower of God. The author reflects on his reliance on God from birth to their old age. He also acknowledges so much of what is hard and hurts and what he needs God for… but in verse 14 the author reflects…
“As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.” (NIV)
. . . About Myself!
I’m housesitting right now in a cute community in South Salem. I love walking the hilly neighborhood, wandering through the park, and just generally exploring. I was walking the other night around an old gorgeous church and I remembered that I like myself. I like that I find joy in exploring, adventuring and discovering. I had been forgetting to like myself recently.
But I really do like myself. I like my strange, loud laugh. I like the way I hold space for others, and the way I make intergenerational friendships. I like that I like long walks and getting to know new people. I like that I live my life open and honest.
Sometimes as believers we hold ourselves, and others, to such a high standard that we forget to enjoy and appreciate. How our heavenly father must delight when we smile and thank him for the rain on our face, the flowers in bloom, the joy of a warm cup of coffee. How our heavenly father must delight when we look at ourselves, who he’s created us to be, and delight in that.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." 1 Timothy 6:17
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 4:18
Friends, as we enter this new year, let us take time to truly delight in the gifts that our Father gives us. Let us enjoy the fun things of who he has made us to be, let’s enjoy the little delights he gives us each day, rejoicing in the God who sees us and loves us and delights in us. Let us celebrate that he loves us, but he also doesn’t leave us where we’re at. He keeps changing us. And as I cultivate gratitude, I can be grateful that I will be different 12 months from now. There will be more about me to like, because God is slowly transforming me.
So maybe take a slow walk today, tilt your face up to feel some raindrops, and say, “Thank you,” to God for the sheer joy of it.
Christians Living in a Non-Christian World
Led by Gary Tiffin
This class will review how Christians from the first century to 2022 have responded to their secular environments in the light of The Plan that Matt is overviewing in his year long series of sermons. Selected events, persons, periods of time, major changes and difficult challenges will be discussed as a means of evaluating our current challenges and response to the world in which we now live.
The Book of Esther
Led by Jack Holvey
Life can be hard. Difficult times happen, and pain cannot be avoided. When life doesn’t make sense, do you turn to God or away from Him? The book of Esther encourages us to trust that God is always present. Trust and obey, as Esther did. And watch God silently weave all events for His glory . . . and for our good.
Adult Sermon-Based Study Group
Led by Jerry Carter
This group uses the small group questions Pastor Matt provides with his weekly sermons as a basis for discussion and further exploration of the Bible Story featured the previous Sunday. Sermon notes, with small group questions are available in weekly bulletins and on the TCC website.
Led by Kris Jakubowski
This group is using the video series, Take Courage, by Jennifer Rothschild, a study on the Book of Haggai, learn to walk confidently in your calling, stay motivated despite opposition, and courageously invest your life in God’s purposes, trusting Him for results you may never see in this lifetime.
An Event for Everyone!
Compete in some mini-golf, drink cider and hot cocoa, or try your hand at one of other games. A great event for families, or to invite a friend to!
Bob Warrick passed away and went home to the Lord on November 5, 2021. A Memorial Service will be held at Turner Christian Church on Wednesday, January 5, 2022 at 2:00 pm.
Friday, January 7, 2022
Please join us for a fun evening of fellowship and prayer. We'll start at 6:30 pm, watch the movie, “Clue.” Clue is a 1985 American film based on the popular board game. Inspired by the nature of the board game, the film's initial release featured various different endings, with one of three possibilities sent to movie theaters at the time. Home media releases include all three endings!
We will observe COVID guidelines for social distancing and ask everyone to wear a mask. Invite a friend! Please bring your own snack and beverage.
A Note From Marcia Carter
Thank you to all who attended my “Retirement Party,” for all the kind words, the cards, flowers and the gift card. Thank you also for the opportunity to publicly thank all those who made the day possible; the one with the vision for a preschool, all those who have served as director, teaching assistant, teacher’s aide, substitute or as a member of the Board. Thank you, Rachel White for putting the day together. I feel good leaving the preschool in your capable hands. I will miss It, as I have loved working with the Preschool over these past 19 years, but I look forward to seeing it grow and prosper in the years ahead. Thank you all again.
All church leaders and the church budget
for 2022 were approved by the congregation
by ballot on December 5, 2021.
Chair of the Congregation: Debbie Loyd
Secretary of the Congregation: Casey Holmes
Financial Secretary: Hailiane Sorensen
Assistant Financial Secretary: Kris Jakubowski
Mike O’Dell (2022)
Don Campbell 2023)
Bill Penhollow (2024)
David Moore (2022)
Frank Loyd (2023)
Dave Stoker (2023)
Ray Telfer (2023)
Mike O’Dell (2024)
Jon Remy (2024)
Rhonda Hunter (Library Service Team)
Kris Jakubowski (Hospitality Service Team)
Frank Loyd (Missions Service Team)
Shane Miller (Facilities Service Team)
Virginia Musgrave (Senior Service Team)
Gary Tiffin (Finance Service Team)
Thank you for supporting and contributing to Angel Tree again this year. Your contributions enabled Prison Fellowship to deliver a gift, the Gospel message, and a personal message of love on behalf of their mom or dad behind bars.
Many thanks to the Food Bank (directed by Dennis Losie) for their weekly ministry of providing food to our community. Over 40 families were also provided with special Thanksgiving or Christmas baskets.
Evangelism + Discipleship = Multiplication
Once a Shoebox arrives in its receiving country, trained volunteers from local churches present the Gospel message to the children as they are gifted with their Shoebox. These volunteers are equipped with resources that aid them in telling the Bible story of God and His love for each child. At the distribution party, each Shoebox is given with a booklet entitled The Greatest Gift, which the child can take home to share with family and friends.
Children are then invited to participate in a discipleship course entitled The Greatest Journey. The twelve lessons are taught by trained volunteers from local churches. These lessons take the children on a more in-depth journey into the story of God's redeeming plan for His children. The children also learn how to present the Gospel story and God's plan of salvation to their family and friends. They are presented with a New Testament of their own upon graduating from this discipleship course.
Through these Evangelism and Discipleship opportunities, each Shoebox has a ripple effect on the community where it is distributed. It is not only the life of the child that could be changed forever, but also their parents, siblings, and other family members. Their friends will be impacted. Churches will be built, start up, and/or grow. God's kingdom will multiply.
So that is what's happening with each of the Shoeboxes that filtered through TCC last year. Wow! It's always so mind blowing and overwhelming to think of how this simple little Shoebox full of love, prayer, school supplies, personal hygiene items, and a few toys can unlock an opportunity for Kingdom growth.
We're so excited as we begin a new year focused on Shoeboxes and their resulting Multiplication. Please keep the donations coming in! We'll be asking for a lot of personal hygiene items and school supplies to add to the Greater Salem Area Community Packing Party. These seem to be the items that TCC members have strongly supported in recent years, so if you just keep on doing what you've been doing, we'll come through for the unified efforts of our community. We'd also love to see the continuing donations of your handmade items.
And, as always, if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you are welcome to designate an offering anytime you'd like to our Operation Christmas Child fund. Thank you for your support and may God bless and multiply our efforts.