THURSDAY’S THOUGHTS @ New Life– “RE-turn, RE-ward, RE-formation & Other RE-words”

THURSDAY’S THOUGHTS @ NEW LIFE..

          …inspiration & direction for 21st Century Jesus followers…

Dear Thoughtful Ones,

Here’s a portion from the end of  the story of Joshua…chapter 24… and after much grumbling in the wilderness and battle after battle the Israelites have RE-turned to the land God promised their anscesters…and yet there remains a certain kind of ambivalent spirit among the people…  so here’s what Joshua says…

14 “So now: Love and respect God. Worship him in total commitment. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped on the far side of The River (the Euphrates) and in Egypt. You, worship God. 15 “If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve – and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.” 16 The people answered, “We’d never forsake God! Never! We’d never leave God to worship other gods. 17 “God is our God! He brought up our ancestors from Egypt and from slave conditions. He did all those great signs while we watched. He has kept his eye on us all along the roads we’ve traveled and among the nations we’ve passed through. 18 Just for us he drove out all the nations, Amorites and all, who lived in the land. “Count us in: We too are going to worship God. He’s our God.”

You may have noticed that this blog site has a different look… AND a different title… Good and thanks for noticing… so this will be the official LAST POST from my sabbatical time and will be used to transition the blog site to accomplish some new things…

And as a reminder…let’s go back to my initial list of RE-words as I have a few more now to add… with some thoughts about road that lies ahead for us… the RE-words…

 REST.       RE-LAX.      RE-TREAT.      READ.      RE-FLECT.     RE-NEW.    RE-ENERGIZE.   RE-FOCUS.    RE-VIEW.    RE-LIVE.    RE-WIND.    RE-CENTER.  RE-CONNECT.    RE-VISIT.     RE-LEARN.    RE-MEMBER.    RE-STORE.  RE-THINK.      RE-SPOND.     RE-CALL.    RE-FER.     RE-TURN.

Ahhhh.. RE-turn!  I come back RE-freshed, RE-newed, RE-stored to RE-visit and with a sense of RE-ward and RE-sponsibility… humbled is ‘NOT’ a RE-word…but you can add it to the list along with great-FUL and hope-FUL…and RE-ady to get back to “the work of ministry with you and all those who have care and concern for New Life Church!

A QUICK LOOK BACK  @ LIFE AWAY FROM NEW LIFE

  • Thank you.  We did this on a ‘shoe-string’ budget.  Thank you! 
  • You took seriously the ‘need to plan’ and your work produced great dividends.   This IS God’s economy!
  • I was able to do things that I would not normally be able to do had the time away not been planned in this fashion.  You can’t imagine what this means to me! I hope it shows.
  • I have valued  & cherished the relationships of my life for all my life and while away I was able to re-connect with many…
  • I heard good preaching.  I heard not so good preaching.  I saw many different kinds of ‘church’ …some that were familiar and others that were not.  Some I sensed the Spirit of God…others were mechanical or consumer driven.  Some did not pass the “smell” test question…”is this what Jesus had in mind?”
  • My experiences with men’s ministry venues will have practical value for 5-10 years to come
  • I did not read either book on “Celtic Evangelism.” They are still in my European shoulder bag.  I will get to them ASAP… promise!
  • I missed saying, “This is God’s House…and we are God’s people…”
  • I missed hearing…”Dear God, we thank you for our families who love us so much…” which are words that came from our children and have been part of New Life from the very first day…
  • Of the 10 churches I attended from AUG 1 to OCT 3 back at New Life…our church is the ONLY church that does not have a projector and large screen.  We will need to talk about what this means for us as 21st century church…
  • The HOUSE BAND needs to ‘cut a CD!”  Soon and very soon!
  • Lastly, again, ‘thank you.”  I have a plan for my life.  Jesus is at the center of that plan.  I want you to have a plan for yours and as I am able, I am willing to help you map out yours…

WHAT I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO AS I RE-ENTER...

  • Seeing members and friends of New Life and checking in with people one by one, two by two, household by household.  So far this has been a prayer-filled and joyous time;
  • RE-connecting with our staff, Church Council and leaders and making a list of people who have immdiate and grave concerns of life and faith.  This is a high priority!
  • The New Life Ministry Survey results continue to come in! Our Church Council and other New Life leaders will use this information to forge out a ministry path for the next 3 years.  This is a very important project…thank you for submitting your thoughts about New Life!  Deadline is THIS Sunday! Here’s the link…takes about 10 minutes…  http://www.newlifelutheran.com/validateE.html
  • The emerging of Stephen Ministry!  I’m so thankful to have people in this congregation like Diane Campbell, Bubba Flowers, Kerry Morgan.  They have a great presentation planned for Sunday NOV 7 after each worship service.  As you sense God’s Spirit calling you to this ministry please speak with them or me…as I was trained as a Stephen Leader in 1990!  More leaders will come but for right now we are recruiting those who desire to be CARE-givers!
  • SMALL GROUP MINISTRY…. Making an important attempt in forming or re-forming some “small groups” for ongoing ministry.  This is SO HARD to do in established churches and yet we have been able to do this a bit in the first 5 years of New Life ( remember ’40 Days of Community’ and ‘The Prodigal God’ projects?).  Studies show that churches in America are growing when these two things (there are 4 or 5 others,ok?) are taking place—A) an intentional ministry to and with men and B) development and nurturing of small groups for encouragement and service!  Duh.  So, in the NOV LifeLine there is one page about what that might look like for us as we prepare for Christmastime
  •  The last 1/5 of the year…the last 10 weeks of 2010 began last Sunday, October 24 and here’s a list that demonstrates we remain a church committed to the Great Commandment (“to love God, self & others!”) and the Great Commission (“Go, make disciples!”)

Keep your hearts and minds connected to the coming weeks…

                    * OCT 24 –  Town Hall Meeting—Council election update + call to
                                        ‘protect your church’                   
                    * OCT 30 – Memorial service for Jewell Robinson  SAT @ 2:30 PM
                    * OCT 31 – Reformation Sunday–WEAR RED to celebrate!
                    * NOV 1 – Men in Mission party —Texans vs. Colts  7:30 @ BJ’s
                                        Brewhouse in Pearland Towne Center
                    * NOV 7 – All Saints Sunday — New Members welcomed 
                    * NOV 14 – Confirmation Sunday
                    * NOV 21 – Christ the King Sunday +WELCA Thankoffering liturgy
                    * NOV 28 – Advent 1 
                    * DEC  5 – Advent 2  + Liliana Olivares baptism
                    * DEC 11 – Laura O’Banion + Jarrett Wallace wedding
                    * DEC 12 – Advent 3   (Children’s Christmas Program)
                    * DEC 19 – Advent 4
                    * DEC 24 – Christmas Eve  is a FRI !!!!      4 PM + 7 PM + 11 PM
                    * DEC 26 – LAST Sunday of the Year…  Christmas Party 
                                         and also St. Stephen Day…

 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR US?

Allow me to paint a picture here… just like the Israelites…we have a choice to go back…to the way it was…or at least the way we think it was… but reality says that cannot be the case… and so what is so exciting is that I find myself in a new time and new place with new friends and new tasks…because frankly, we are all a little bit different than we were in July comared to how we are now in October…AND I see this as gift from Jesus and I want to call this gift ‘new life’…

There is a sense of urgency here. We need God and we need one another and the world needs what we have to share…simply said!

So, as we ready ourselves to gather on this Sunday…a day our church calls….RE-formation Day…the birthday of Lutheranism,  the occasion where Luther’s 95 statements nailed to the Wittenberg Church door and community bulletin board changed history for all time and in most places… we all have a choice to make to RE-turn or as the Bible RE-minds us..to RE-pent and turn away from the things that are evil and destructive to us and others and RE-turn to the things of God which bring us joy, and peace and contentment.  Simpler said, it is a call to practice our faith so that we have a faith to use when the world comes crashing down around us AND a faith to celebrate when life is full of joy, surprise and wonder…

We all made promises when we joined this church. We promised to be at worship weekly, hear the Word of God, be present at the Lord’s table, to do the work of ministry in this local setting and to strive for justice in all the world…near and far…and follow the example of Jesus… and because we all knew this would be a challenge…we asked God to help and guide us… and God promises to keep promises…

So, let this be a day to RE-turn to a faithful worship life… if you have been away from the Word or the table.  Let this Sunday provide you a time to RE-pent and be RE-stored in your RE-lationship with Jesus and his church…let RE-formation Day be just that…a time to be RE-freshed and RE-newed so that our partnership at New Life is RE-ignited and the power of God via the Holy Spirit binds our hearts and minds together to RE-new the world around us in Jesus’ name…

I’m for that and I have challenged myself for these last 10 weeks and I invite you to take part. It’s a simple way of saying…”I’m in!”

If you are well and able…be at worship…if you are not well and I don’t know that…please let me know.  I want to be a good pastor for you and I need you to tell me what you need so that I can do that.  If you are not well and I know it…I plan to come and see you and I might even bring someone along with me…

Joshua challenged God’s people to make a choice…” choose this day…”  God has made his choice and he chose Jesus to die for you and Jesus has chosen you to tell the world of the ONE GREAT GOD and father of us all… so I’m now asking you to do the same…”choose God!”  Choose life!  Choose to embrace the fullness of your NEW LIFE…

These are the days and circumstances God has placed before us… so, may we enjoy God’s RE-ward which is eternal…born in us at baptism and a gift that we draw up daily…See you Sunday!

New Life. Now!

        Brian

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About briangigee

Loves life; lives love! Bud and Doris' eldest son. Descendant of 'refiners' and 'reformers.' Husband to Margo. Father of 5. Grandfather to 2. Brother, uncle, friend and colleague. Working parish pastor. Became a naturalized Texan in February 2013.
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