I appreciated the latest Torch Magazine, a publication of Cedarville University. It handles issues of sexuality from a biblical perspective very well, and features the story of Rusty King, Elvin and Joyce’s son. His battles and ultimate victory with homosexual temptation are known to many who have been here a long time, but for those who would find encouragement or help in this story, you can go here to read it online, or go to the free subscription site and start getting the magazine. You could probably pick one up on campus, too.
We had a Q & A session in our evening service last night, and only managed to deal with questions on church discipline, how people are dismissed from membership, my view on “particular redemption”, and whether Sunday is the preferred NT day of worship. There were many more, but time was up. I’ll be getting to those, but have to finish writing on my doctoral project first! Please be patient, and I hope to deal with all the issues raised soon.
A number of concerned supporters of missions just noticed that beginning with this year’s budget we changed our support structure–specifically moving monies from home office general funds to either the “new support” line or missionaries supported by those agencies. We announced this last year, and the new budget was designed this way, but for whatever reason it apparently was not understood by all. The question, of course, is “why?”
The short answer is one of priorities. Missionary support is a higher priority for us than agency support. We do give to a number of agencies whose work is as an agency (Shepherds, Baptist Childrens Home, etc.). Limited resources force us to make uncomfortable decisions. Current missionaries are still undersupported and our ability to take on new missionaries is very limited, even though new ones are on the horizon. Home offices of all missionaries we support require their personnel to raise a percentage of support to be given to the home office, so some of our missionary support does go to them. We also have responded to home office special needs during this year.
This, however, is not something we are happy about. We had to decide where to free up money that could go to new missionaries who were doing work in line with our newly minted strategy, and could help missionaries facing significant deficits.
This temporary situation will continue until we are able to increase our missions budget to the 20% of budget that was targeted many years ago as the ideal for our church. We also will not automatically restore all agencies, but will choose to support those that are in line with our vision and committed to true partnership with local churches in sending missionaries. Some agencies say they are committed to partnership, but in their practices they exclude local churches from any significant role in making decisions. Just as we evaluate missionaries and fields, we will evaluate agencies.
So, please be patient, and know that generous giving makes a difference in lots of ways, including how much becomes available for missions and missions agencies.
Well, I am back from California and the wedding of our daughter, Rebekah, to Sean Adachi. It was a beautiful occasion in so many ways, and you played a major part in helping it be beautiful for us. First of all, so many of you have expressed your love and support to us in so many ways as we were preparing for this. We had more offers of help than we could possibly take advantage of, and your prayers for us all while we were gone were felt and appreciated.
We were especially blessed by those who came to be an encouragement to our family by your presence. John and Ginny Potter have been so close to our family for so long that it was a special blessing that they could come. But imagine our surprise to have Bill and Judy Moser, Betsy Brock, Sandy Sheridan, and Darrin Frey all come as your representatives! The love we felt was just amazing to us, and gave us a chance to brag on all of you to our California friends as well as our families who were there.
And then there were all the cards and gifts sent by so many to the bride and groom, and some of you sending us special notes and gifts just to say you care. Seldom have we ever felt so loved and appreciated. It was as overwhelming as it was humbling.
We were welcomed by friends there, and our family members who came, too. Kathy had a week to spend with Rebekah and Sean during final preparations, and Christine arrived Wednesday evening. But Nathan and I had to wait until Saturday to get there, so for me at least, it was a whirlwind right up to the ceremony.
Did I make it through? Yes, the Lord gave me gladness manifested in smiles of joy without tears of joy–I was able to talk without choking up! It was not a long ceremony, as the two of them had chosen a simple service to go along with a beautiful and simple outdoor setting. The bride was beautiful, the groom handsome and smiling broadly, the wedding party including an absolutely gorgeous sister of the bride, and a mother of the bride looking radiantly beautiful and escorted down the aisle by her handsome son! The reception was at the home of some of our oldest (not in age, but in duration) friends from Santa Clarita, and gave us a chance to rejoice, celebrate, catch up with many, and send the bride and groom on their way.
I’ll tell one story: 90 minutes before takeoff, we opened the boxes with the bouquets of lilies to find them–dead. Dead lilies are not what you want to see the ladies carrying. Kathy, Christine and I dashed to a nearby florist, which was closed, then to an Alberstons (a grocery store) with a floral department. We asked the lady there for HELP! Rebekah said if there were no lilies to go with deep red roses. No lilies were present, so for the next 30 minutes the lady behind the counter created a bridal bouquet and two bridesmaid’s bouquets from red roses, baby’s breath, selected greenery, and ribbon. I had taken the girls back for pictures and other preliminaries, so had to offer opinions when asked on what looked good. Fortunately I had some good marching orders, and showed up 28 minutes before the ceremony with three new, lovely bouquets. It was another first for me as a pastor, let alone father of the bride!
Kathy and I don’t know how to say thank you to all of you, but we do want you to know how much we appreciate your care. In our case at least, the feeling of experiencing being loved by this body of believers is STRONG. We love you, too, and hope to be able to show it in tangible ways in days ahead. How blessed we are!
This blog is dedicated to the people of my congregation, and others who may want to follow my thoughts, clarifications, ramblings, etc. There are times when sermons need just a bit of clarification or correction, and times when matters come up that I’d like to let everyone know about but just don’t have the time in services to do so. Sometimes I want to let people know about decisions we are considering within the staff, deacons, or both (matters that need input as well as prayer–no confidential stuff, though). So, here goes! And if you got here but didn’t come by way of our church site, just follow this link to discover all the other wonderful material there.