Philippines Relief Efforts

In the weeks following Typhoon Haiayn, a super typhoon that killed thousands and has left hundreds of thousands displaced, Foursquare has been assisting in the relief effort with boots on the ground. There are 1900 Foursquare churches in the Philippines with 45 in the island of Tacloban, the hardest-hit area.

On December 1, we shared the below video from Foursquare about some of the efforts they’re helping with.  If you would like to donate towards Foursquare’s relief efforts, please visit: foursquaredisasterrelief.org

On Mother’s Day…

At the age of sixteen, my mother lost her mother. For that reason (and because I had a bad view of God back then) I also feared losing my mother when I was sixteen. Mercifully, God blessed me with 37 years beyond sixteen to enjoy life with my Mom. I had many more birthdays and Mother’s Days to tell her how much I loved her.

In reflecting on her life, I realize how my mother’s trust in God enabled her to “handle life.” Perhaps losing her own mother helped her grasp how short life really is and how important it is to live every moment as if it is your last. And she did.

A lot of us seem to be losing parents these days, and it is not easy. In (1 Corinthians 15:50-58) the Apostle Paul describes the pain as “the sting of death.” Just as the pain of a sting is genuine (whether bee sting, jelly fish or hypodermic needle) the sting of death is genuine. But for the one whose trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ, this sting will not be forever because Jesus has been resurrected. With Jesus, we have the same promise of resurrection one day. Though I miss my mother dearly, I am confident I will see her again.

In the meantime I am challenged by her example. I want to trust God better as I “handle life.” I want to pass “My mom’s trust in God” on to the next generation in the same way she passed her mother’s trust in God on to me. But we don’t have to be mothers to do that. All of us who name Jesus Christ as Lord are challenged to pass it on to the next generation, bearing spiritual children!

-Beth Jones

What’s in the Pastor’s Office Now?

If you ever walk through my office at church you are likely to notice an interesting assortment of objects on my bookcase. For example, you wouldn’t expect to find a Warren Buffett bobblehead, now would you? A recent addition is an old glass insulator from a telephone pole. Most of the objects have some kind of meaning to me and I enjoy them.

This week I remembered to place a very special figurine for the Christmas season. Someone gave it to me two years ago, but I forgot to get it out last year. This year I remembered! It is a figurine of Santa Claus kneeling at the manger. You have probably seen such before.

I have always liked depictions of Santa kneeling before the manger, because I am not inherently opposed to various Christmas traditions, whatever they might be. However, wherever they are, whether it is a little fun with Santa or exchanging gifts, I always want to remember and want to teach our children that first and foremost, Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior! All of our Christmas traditions MUST bow before Him. He must be central in our thoughts and in our family celebrations! May you have a Christ-filled Christmas season!

–Pastor Jones

Jesus on a Jet Ski?

Our family has just returned from a very fine vacation to the east coast. Our farthest destination was Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. One of the most fun things we did was jet ski! We rented two jet skis and all but one of us enjoyed an hour of doing wide circles at 50 mph in the causeway.

As we sped around the causeway, I found myself wondering if Jesus would jet ski? If He had come today instead of 2,000 years ago, would He jet ski? Bungee jump? Sky dive? Would He take time for shear human fun? Would He laugh and shout and make plans to do it again next week?

I really can’t tell you if He would be like any other guy when it comes to sports and fun. Some of us would say that Jesus was much too serious and had Kingdom work to do and would never take time for frivolous fun. Others of us would say, “Of course Jesus would have fun—He’d be the ring leader!”

My purpose in raising this (besides recuperating from a vacation!) is twofold: Firstly, to remind us that Jesus, besides being True God is also True Man. He was fully human so He would experience much of what we experience. (He would love a good steak, but no doubt prefer tilapia.) Secondly, to make us ask ourselves where we get our concepts of what God is like? Jesus came to show us the Father, and while here on earth, Jesus’ divine attributes were on display for all to see. We can know all about God’s wonderful character!

Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Motherhood & Margaritas!

Maybe you read the story out of Texas this week of the young mother who was jailed after allegedly leaving her 2-year-old in a hot car while she was inside a restaurant drinking chilled margaritas. Jessica Christian was charged with child abandonment after police say she left her young son in the car with the engine off and the car windows cracked for about forty minutes. The outside temperature was 83 and the windows were cracked, but still the temperature inside the car could have reached stifling levels.

While there are the stories about mothers who seem to find their children “too much trouble,” the majority of mothers are loving and nurturing and unselfish. These are certainly the traits I think of when I remember my own mother who has been with the Lord since 1995.

Godly mothers go through nine months of discomfort and then endure “hard labor”! They change thousands of diapers and clean up endless messes. They lose sleep over a child with a fever. As their children grow up, it changes some, but there is always the concern, the shoulder to cry on, the carrying of burdens, and the readiness to offer help. Even a mother with adult children, is always a mother and always has to be willing to give of herself. Motherhood, once it begins, never ends until death!

Naturally, fathers are necessary and often do more than their share to provide for and nurture their offspring. But today is Mother’s Day, so we wish to honor the mothers in our midst—not just with a greeting or card, but by giving them the honor they deserve!

–Pastor George P. Jones

Character Assassination of God

We are accustomed to character assassination. The media loves to jump on a rising star (particularly a conservative who aspires to public office) and find serious flaws in their character or life.

In this world, there is NO ONE who has their character assassinated more than God. He is accused of delighting in causing suffering of every kind, as though He delights in human suffering. How often have you heard someone blame God for tragedy? How often have you been tempted to blame God when something bad happens to you?

If you believe the Word as I do, then you know that God is good, ALL THE TIME. He loves His children and does not wish or will suffering upon them. Certainly suffering comes, but it is from “the world, the flesh and the devil,” not from our loving Heavenly Father.

Take a look at this description of God: “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them” (Ps 145:16-19 NIV).

–Beth Jones

In Fearful Times, God is Still Faithful

Today we remember a terrorist attack ten years ago, on U.S. soil, which culminated in the death of 2,996 persons. Though the sights and sounds and emotions are still vivid in our memory, these are not so different from the memories of countless generations before us.

Eighty years ago this week, a baby girl was born in the Philippines. It was only two days later that Japan invaded Manchuria, China (marking the start of World War II to many). By the time this little girl was ten, Germany was trying to overtake the world and Japan had not only attacked the U.S. at Pearl Harbor but had also overtaken her beloved homeland – The Philippine Islands.

We know this girl as Nanay Lorenza Ofong, mother and grandmother to the Rosales family — the little lady in our church whose lips are always filled with “praise for God’s faithfulness.” Nanay has an unshakeable confidence in God because she has seen His faithfulness through the storms, even when her whole world was in turmoil. Though she has lived through fearful times, she knows God’s supernatural protection and intervention in her life.

We are wise to learn from her. When we put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ it opens the door to discovering who God really is and what He’s like. Then — no memory of the past or fear for the future will be able to hinder us. No matter how fearful the times may be, our lips will only be filled with praise for God’s faithfulness!

–Beth Jones

Six Thousand and Thirteen Fallen

SIX THOUSAND THIRTEEN FALLEN
(as of 5/26/11)

These are not just numbers but individuals who had families and friends; individuals who had bodies that were healthy and strong and brave.   These are souls who Jesus died for, and who are now in eternity.   These are our American military casualties of the past ten years, from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom — the newest ones whom we remember this Memorial Day.

May we never take their sacrifice (or all those who have gone before them) for granted.   May we, also, remember to appreciate “the living” — who now serve or once served in our military.

“Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.   Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”  (1 Peter 2:16-17 NIV)

“Mothers”

Finally {mothers} “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.”  (Philippians 4:8-9 NIV)

The Apostle Paul wrote this (not just to “mothers” but to all the church) at Philippi.  Paul understood the challenge of living a Godly life in an ungodly culture.  He is saying that “what we think about” matters because it reveals what is in our hearts.  Out of the abundance of our hearts come our words, our actions, and the influence (for good or not so good) we have upon others.

Is it time you used this Philippians 4:8-9 Thought-Analyzer?  Plug in a thought then ask God what it reveals about your heart.  “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, My Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14 NIV).

Rethinking our Cell Phones

Are you old enough to remember the days before cell phones?  Contrary to popular belief, life was survivable.  I’ve had to remind myself of this the past month, since Waukegan instituted its Cell Phone Ban for Drivers.  I’m certainly re-thinking, before I flip open my phone while driving, lest I be ticketed and fined.  Maybe it’s time we all did some “re-thinking” about our cell phones.

I wonder… what if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?  … If we never left home without it?  … If we flipped through it to check for messages several times a day? … If we grabbed it first, in an emergency? … If we went back to get it, when we left it behind?  … If we used it to  send encouraging texts? … If we gave it as a gift to our kids?  … If we made sure each family member always carried theirs?  … If we utilized all the plan benefits to the fullest.

If we lost our Bible (or had it taken away) would all our vital information be gone, or would it be backed up on the memory of our hearts?