Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We Thank You

The purpose of our congregational appreciation night, beyond great chili and ice cream, is to show appreciation for our congregation. We had our annual dinner Sunday night.

Sometimes in leadership we get in a habit of constantly asking. We ask for more funds, we ask for more volunteers, we ask for help with youth programs, to bring in candy for Trunk or Treat, to invite your friends and family. But the evening we met was not about asking anything of our congregation, but to thank them. The following is the short list of thanks that we offer to the congregation of Berean.

Thank you for your generosity. The Apostle Paul often thanked the churches that supported him and we need to thank you: Paul said, “Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:17-18). We thank you for your generosity. You have always met every need.

Thank you for serving. This is one “thank you” that gets lost in the “we need more volunteers” pleas. What you do is important and makes an eternal difference. From greeters to the guys in the sound booth, Berean Connect teachers to nursery, BASH to Kingdom Kids, coffee brewers on Sunday morning and communion preparers to 39 & Holding organizers, singers and musician, lawn mowing to outreach and to those that volunteered for janitorial duty. We thank you all for serving and we could not have church without you. As it says in Peter “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  1 Peter 4:10 Thanks for using your gifts to serve.

Thank you for tolerating our teaching and preaching. As leaders we all wish we could take back things said or change the tone, improve what we say and how we say it. But regardless you have tolerated us and encouraged us all. We are not perfect so we thank you for the grace you have given us.

Thank you for sticking with the church through thick and thin. The easy thing to do is walk away. Your feathers get ruffled and it is easy to move down the road to the new church or just stop coming altogether. Because you have chosen to stay, serve, give, and support through the valleys, we need to say, thank you. The tough times have made us stronger together. You are our teammates and our brothers and sisters. It is an honor to be on your team.

Thank you for inviting your friends and family. The church grows primarily by word of mouth. Changed people are contagious. When you tell your family and friends how Jesus changed you, the Gospel goes out. We love hearing on Sunday morning, “I started coming to this church when my friend invited me.” We thank you for inviting people and spreading God’s Word.

Thank you for being an encouragement to us and each other. When we get down or discouraged you pick us up with a kind word or hug. You are our family and you are there for us and you are there for each other. 

Thank you for allowing us to be us. You have several personalities in the leadership of Berean and we all function best when we are allowed to be us. That means the rough edges, the things that rub you the wrong way. We try our best to be genuine and you accept us as we are. Thank you for the understanding.

Overall these thanks only touch the surface. You will never know how much you mean to us! You are appreciated! 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Pulling Back the Curtain on Miracles

At Berean we had a great Sunday. A wonderful word from brother Troy and singing praises. But in addition we heard testimony of two baptisms, a father and daughter that were immersed into Christ. We had our traditional prayer circle for the duo where fellow Christians spoke into their lives and prayed for them. There were no dry eyes when the full story was told and words of encouragement were shared.  Like I said, "great Sunday". But we also had a communion meditation lead by brother Dan about miracles that needs special mentioning.

Dan was able to see with his own eyes how God responds to prayer through a miracle birth of his granddaughter and safety for his daughter. According to doctors, both mother and daughter were in jeopardy and were to be rushed, post birth, to St. Louis for special care. But once the child was born, neither had to go anywhere. Prayers were answered. This led to two other testimonies of  unexplained healing in the past. One man was on his way to surgery for a brain aneurysm when it was revealed the aneurysm simply disappeared and the other was the testimony of God keeping him safe after a heart attack.

I do not doubt the miracles as claimed. They were made by men of standing and trust that are level headed and not carried away by emotion unjustly. Their word is golden.

That leaves me with the question, "Why them?"

Why were these men given a miracle when millions of prayers for similar circumstances go unanswered. The bottom line answer is that it is up to God when he will pull back the curtain and reveal himself through the miraculous. We can ask, beg, plead and wear holes in our jeans coming before him, but we do not control God. Also, despite what you may have heard from poor preaching, there is no special formula for forcing God's hand into a blessing. There is no check list we can do to guarantee our prayer will always be in the affirmative. God is bigger than that. He sees everything we need and comfort from the physical is not always the most important thing for us. Ask Paul, he suffered from some possible physical or spiritual issue that he wanted God to help him with and the answer was no (2 Corinthians 12:7).      

So why are there miracles at all? First, Jesus performed miracles to show compassion and to help those in need around him. In the book of Mark, Jesus comes in contact with a man with leprosy. Mark 1:41 says, “Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.” In this case, the miracle was not necessarily planned or plotted out, Jesus was filled with compassion.

Second, in Mark 3, we see that Jesus used his miracles to teach. When he ran across a man with a shriveled hand Jesus used the experience to instruct:  

4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.
5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, Jesus performed miracles was to affirm his true identity as the Son of God. The Bible hints that the miracles themselves were not the point. The miracles actually served as “signs” pointing to a greater reality. Acts 2:22 declares that “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God by miracles, wonders and signs.” The miracles substantiated the claims of Jesus to be the Son of God.

So why do some receive miracles and why do some not? That is a question that needs a deeper look into the purpose God has and it may never be known while here on Earth. One thing I can tell you, there is a reason for each and every miracle. So, when God pulls back the curtain and lets you see His glory through the miracles appreciate it, examine it and respond to it.

See you next Sunday at Berean, you never know what will happen.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Value of Trophies

My son came out to the house the other day and while there, I mentioned taking the dark green military style footlocker sitting out on our front porch home with him when he left. We use it to put things on or used it as an extra seat when needed. It has been sitting there, in the same spot since 2009 when Scott graduated from college. He asked what was in it and I said generally, “Some stuff from college, but it has been a while since I looked inside.”

As hinges creaked, he slowly opened the lid and to his surprise and to mine as well, it was chalked full of awards and trophies he had acquired over his college career.

Scott was a baseball player and not just any baseball player at that. He was one of the best in the area while in high school and moved on to garner All-Conference accolades while at Blackburn College. Not only that, but he amassed four all-time records for the Battling Beavers that still stand today.

In the history of Blackburn he holds the record for most strikeouts (153) as a pitcher lifetime.  He also holds the record for lowest ERA during a season (2.41), saves for a season (4) and saves lifetime (8). Keep in mind that this includes pitching against all competition as the number one hurler in the rotation. He faced the most difficult pitchers other teams could throw at him. He pitched against teams in the Big Ten and other major conferences and never gave up an earned run against any in Division 1. Also, when the Blackburn Beaver’s other catchers went down for the season, Scott volunteered to catch, often pitching and catching in the same day. One more point of bragging, as far as I know Scott is the only pitcher to have one win and two saves in one weekend of play. This is just a small sample of his impressive accomplishments.

So, why write this? To make Scott blush? He would be embarrassed by this article for sure, but the reason is far more important. When I witnessed the box full of trophies the first verse and refrain of the Old Rugged Cross ran through my mind.

On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross
The emblem of suff'ring and shame
And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain
So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown

After rooting around the old mementos and a couple dusty ball hats, he picked up a long lost wristwatch from the footlocker, put everything else back in and closed the lid. Turns out after all the accolades, all the on field heroics and all the memories and mementos, the stuff just wasn’t that important.

Please keep this in mind dads when you are helping your young man or lady determine what sports and activities they will be involved in. Because after it is all said and done, the trophies mean nothing compared to an eternity with God at His side.  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Berean Prays for First Responders

Photo from the City of Murphysboro website. 
This month as an ongoing effort to pray for our community, Berean Christian Church is praying for our first responders, EMTs and firemen. More often than not, the closest most of us will come to first responders or firemen in our community is at the Apple Festival Parade. The firemen lead the way with the colors and it is followed by every manner of firetruck, ambulance and emergency vehicle. But for many the day will come when they are in an emergency and it is good to know that we have a great team of professionals that are out there ready to come to our aid.  

This is why it is so important to keep these great community members in your prayers. Pray for their strength, thank God for them choosing such an important career and pray that they are confident and make great decisions when under the stress of the moment.   

Not only will we be praying for the first responders that attend Berean, but emergency personnel in the whole community and area. 

How can you get involved?

  1. First of all regardless of your church, please join us in May praying for our First responders, EMTs and firemen.   
  2. Let us know if you have a friend or family member that needs to be added to our prayer list in these professions. Just click here to fill out the prayer request. 
  3. Let local emergency personnel know how important they are and that we are praying for them. 
  4. Show your support by lettin them know how importnat they are to the Murphysboro area.    
  5. Join us each Sunday at 10AM at Berean or in prayer. 
We have wonderful community and a tremendous bunch of dedicated people that look out for us. Let's return the favor and lift them up in prayer. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Big Ask - Big Give for Emily Wingo

Mark, Kelley and Emily Wingo were and still are in many ways a big part of our lives at Berean Christian Church and the community of Murphysboro.  They ministered here, impacted lives here and were there for us while at Berean. Now we have the chance to give back in a couple ways. 
Emily is now a junior in high school and has recently been diagnosed with a genetic kidney disease that requires her to have dialysis. However doctors have recommended a transplant as soon as possible. The result and bottom line is that she needs our prayers but, also she needs you to consider being a living kidney donor.  This is not something that should be undertaken lightly, but with prayer and compassion please give this every consideration. 
The details are in the flier below. Click on the link, read over the request and pray for Emily, Mark and Kelley. If you are led to be a donor follow the instructions in the flier. Click for Emily

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Berean Prays for Local Businesses

This month as an ongoing effort to pray for our community, Berean Christian Church is praying for our local businesses. At Berean our goal is to connect with God, connect with each other and connect with our community. We have done this by praying for those in the medical field in February and city leadership in March. Now in April we turn our prayers and attention to the businesses in Murphysboro and surrounding area. 

Businesses are the backbone of the economy in our community employing us, providing goods and services and making purchases themselves. This economic engine of Murphysboro needs our prayers of support. We know that running a business is tough so we will focus not only on continued growth, but also peace and understanding through the difficult decisions that many businesses and business owners must face.

Not only will we be praying for business leaders that attend Berean but businesses in the whole community and area. 

How can you get involved?

  1. First of all regardless of your church, please join us in April praying for our business community.  
  2. Let us know if you have a friend or family member that needs to be added to our prayer list for their business. Just click here to fill out the prayer request. 
  3. Let local businesses know how important they are and that we are praying for them. 
  4. Show your support by shopping locally.   
  5. Join us each Sunday at 10AM at Berean or in prayer. 
We have wonderful community and great businesses that would appreciate our prayers and patronage! Join us in prayer for them all this month!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Praying for City Officials at Berean

At Berean Christian Church our goal is to connect with God, connect with each other and connect with our community. We know that through prayer we can connect with God, but connecting with community can sometimes be difficult. Yes, we attend various civic events and sponsor the school supply giveaway and other events, but how do we incorporate a more spiritual connection?

Pastor Troy, through some prayer of his own, has come up with a great idea that the whole church has embraced. We will be praying for a different segment of our community every month for 2017.  It started last month when we prayed for all those in our community that were in the medical profession. Now we are focusing our prayers throughout the month of March on all of our community leaders. Mayor Stevens, aldermen and city officials will each be the focus in March. Also, each Sunday we will place the needs of the city officials before God at our worship service on Sunday at 10AM!

How can you get involved?

  1. First of all regardless of your church, please join us in March praying for our friends at city hall.  
  2. Let us know if you have a friend or family member in any capacity in the city government that you would want us to pray for. Just click here to fill out the prayer request. 
  3. Let city officials know how important they are and the we are praying for them. 
  4. Join us each Sunday at 10AM. 
We have wonderful city led by people that need our prayers! Join us in prayer for them all this month!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Berean Prays for Medical Community

At Berean Christian Church our goal is to connect with God, connect with each other and connect with our community. We know that through prayer we can connect with God, but connecting with community can sometimes be difficult. Yes, we attend various civic events and sponsor the school supply giveaway and other events, but how do we incorporate a more spiritual connection?

Pastor Troy, through some prayer of his own, has come up with a great idea that the whole church has embraced. We are praying for a different segment of our community every month of 2017. For the month of February each and every day members of our church will be praying for the medical community in and around Murphysboro. What a great place to start! We will be in prayer for doctors, nurses, x-ray technicians, staff and anyone else that works hard keeping our community healthy. Also, each Sunday we will place the needs of doctors, nurses and staff members of care facilities before God at our worship service on Sunday at 10AM!

How can you get involved?

  1. First of all regardless of your church, please join us in February praying for our friends in the medical community. 
  2. Let us know if you have a friend or family member in the medical profession you would like us to pray for. Just click here to fill out the prayer request. 
  3. Let someone in the medical field know they are important and that you are praying for them!
  4. Join us each Sunday at 10AM. 
We have wonderful medical personnel in our community that work in hospitals, doctor's offices and all sorts of medical facilities throughout our region. We need to be in prayer for them join us in prayer all this month!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Roughin' It a Guys Guide - New Bible Study

Every month we have a Men’s Bible study at Berean. It is a time that just we guys get together and discuss how we can be better men and more effective leaders in the church.  We have been using Mansfields Book of Manly Men as a discussion starter and guide. It looks at the lives of historically significant men and what propelled them to greatness.  It was very informative and instructional.

However that study is coming to a close and a new one is beginning so now would be the perfect time to jump in as a New Year’s resolution.  The book we will be using this year is Wise Guys:  Unlocking Hidden Wisdom from the Men Around You.

It shows that for guys, more than ever, its a confusing world.
Your GPS doesn't offer any maps showing how to get to the point of wisdom -- and who likes asking for directions anyway? But, there are ways to get that guidance you need. The book argues that answers may be all around you, in the form of guys you already know. Wise guys. More experienced guys. Better-traveled guys.

The question it asks is “Could there be ways to tap Into their invaluable knowledge without enduring dull lectures or taking pages of notes? The answer is yes and it tells you how.

The author, Kent Evans has surrounded himself with these wise guys his whole life and they have shown him all the back roads on the way to wisdom. With a great deal of humor and an endless supply of stories, he wants to show you how to gather life-enriching truth from the guys in your own circle.

The Bible study is open to any man of any age that has a desire to fellowship with other Christian men and to try to grow in His word and strength.  This does not have to be relegated to only Berean Christian Church members, so feel free to invite other guys as a way to introduce them to our church or for inter-church camaraderie.

We hope that you will take advantage of the study and attend the last Sunday of every month at 6:00PM in the fellowship area near the classrooms. Yet to be announced, but it looks like the official kick off for the new study will be on Saturdays for breakfast once a month starting in March. We will let you know.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Elder's Perspective - New Year New Commitment

Berean Christian Church welcomes every new year with a congregational meeting that gives an accounting of the previous year. It goes over the books, talks about the numbers and the various ministry teams, goes over their accomplishments of the previous year. Those are fine things to do and we need to look back in some respects. It is good to see the positive to get encouragement and look closely at what we need to fix for the future.

However, if we dwell too much on past success we may miss the bigger point about being Christians at Berean or Christians anywhere. We are to look to the future, not just the past.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” - Psalm 23:6.

I think one of the implications of the verse is expressed in the word “follow”. It implies that we are not to be static in our Christian walks, but instead we should be in motion, ever moving, ever progressing. In other words, if we were expected to stay in one spot spiritually and physically, why would goodness and mercy have to follow us? Wouldn’t it just rest on us? This philosophy is not just relegated to the Old Testament either. There are around 60 verses in the New Testament that are about following Jesus.

In Matthew 4: 18 - 20 we see this played out in real terms when Jesus called a couple of simple fishermen to become Disciples. “Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”

We sometimes think that Christianity is motionless, but we see here that Jesus commands the brothers who would become Disciples to follow him. Could Jesus have given Peter and Andrew everything they needed while they pulled in their nets, sitting in a gently rocking boat? Of course he could, but actions were needed to fulfill God’s plan. Jesus spoke and they took immediate action.

So this year at the congregational meeting let’s relive some of the past successes and challenges we faced. But, let’s not dwell on them as we are tempted to do. Instead let’s look to the future and vow to follow immediately the leading of Jesus.

This may mean doing things completely different than what we normally have. It may mean failing and then learning from our shortcomings. But, it should also inspire us and give us new excitement for the possibilities.

So if you are a ministry team leader, try to include in your report what you and your team is hoping to accomplish in 2017. What success are you wanting to see and how you can accomplish great things for the Kingdom. Be bold, take chances and follow Him, knowing that he is following your every move with grace and mercy.

If you are a congregational member come to the meeting, but not just in the capacity of raising your hand and saying “aye” when prompted by Jim Siefert (he will be running the meeting). But, instead think of your role and how you can plug into a great and bright future at Berean.

The Annual Congregational Meeting is January 25, 2017 at 6:30 PM in the auditorium. Everyone is welcome and input appreciated.