Keep your focus

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I enjoy being around children. I find them refreshing and yes sometimes a bit annoying with their open honesty. Joy and I have been around kids playing T-ball and softball and I am reminded again how important it is to keep an eye on the ball. The ball is pitched, here it comes, the child swings, yet keeps looking at the hand of the pitcher and so misses the ball. The T-ball batter sees the ball on the T and swings with all his might and misses the stationary object sometimes as he is looking not at the ball but at a teammate or the base he is to run to. The difference between hitting the ball and missing is a matter of an inch. The difference between a solid hit and a soft grounder is a fraction of an inch. The older the child the quicker the ball comes, the more difficult it becomes to keep focused on the ball. The whiff of a bat at 5 is usually met with encouragement. You can do this; keep your eye on the ball. Don’t quit. All statements met to cheer on the child. ENOCURAGEMENT is a must for a child and also necessary for adults. We must become people of encouragement.
Scripture teaches us to be encouragers. Woven throughout the word of God are instructions to keep us in the mindset of encouragement. I have found Hebrews 12:1-3 to be one of those passages. Hebrews 12: Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus,[a] the source and perfecter[b] of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him[c] endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. (HCSB) The KJV uses the words compassed about the Message uses the phrase “pioneers who blazed the trail.” Regardless of your preference for Bible translations each translation agrees that we are surrounded by witnesses past, present, and future. These witnesses cheer us on telling us not to give up on God. Share the message of Christ. Keep living the Christian life. Follow Christ. Don’t give up or grow weary and lose heart. Keep your eyes on Jesus. That is correct keep your focus on Jesus.
Life can be tiring at times and we want or need to rest. Jesus tells us to rest in Him. While we are resting keep our eyes on Him. When I keep my eyes on Jesus I won’t grow weary. In my personal walk with God when I keep my eye on Jesus I live with confidence and follow Christ. Fellow believers should be cheering me on, those who have gone to be with Jesus cheer me on as I reflect on how they lived their life. The future generations cheer me on to remain faithful so they will have a model for faith. Each of these generations is telling you and me to remain faithful. Don’t give up. Keep pressing on.
There are two questions kids may ask that make adults uncomfortable: How old are you and How much do you weigh? Perhaps a better question might be what weighs you down or distracts you? Daily schedule? Money? Worry about family and friends? Many many things pull our focus off Jesus onto ourselves.
Remember to keep your eye on Jesus. He will blaze your path, light your way, and keep you from discouragement.

TIme Is……………

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Time is measured in many ways: seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, and lifetimes. I am convinced that God looks at time the exact opposite that I do. I see my days crammed full of things to do, places to go, and people to see. Prayers and prep permeate the schedule. Yet there are times my time takes a sharp curve and God redirects me to a person or situation that he places me in. I find it easy to stay loose and see what God may be up to with me. Time is from the Lord. Use it wisely. In the movie Spiderman Peter’s uncle tells him with great power comes great responsibility. God tells me that my time is his once I become a believer. He tells you the same. We are on mission with God. Go with Him.

Worry

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Worry is an energy zapper. I have been very blest to not have a big dose of worry. I have had many people in my life which are worriers and the worry seems to rob their joy and zap their zest for life. I feel at times worrying can become habitual like the proverbial dog with a bone chewing, gnawing, and growling until it may devour the bone or it gives up and saves the bone for another day. Jesus shares with us in the Sermon on the Mount that worry is useless. Worry is a lack of faith and trust in God to care for us. Worry steals our joy and has no positive outcome. Peter tells us to cast our cares on the Lord because he cares for us. Wow. God cares for me and you so I don’t have to be consumed just give it Him. Unfortunately I tend to take my cares back from God. Casting them like a fishing line. I read that a fisherman caught a 65 pound bass on a rod and reel. He knew he had a big fish yet didn’t realize how big it was until he jumped in the water, hugged it and carried it to shore. Some are carrying huge amounts of worry around, hugging the worry. Stop it. Cast it to the Lord.

Building Walls of Witness

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Nehemiah led the residents of Jerusalem to begin rebuilding the walls of the City. The city walls held great significance in the way people of the area viewed God. When the walls of the city were in disrepair or broken those outside the city would say the God of the city was weak. The Lord Jehovah was not weak the people were. The people needed and earthly leader to lead them to repair the city. Nehemiah led them to rebuild the walls. More importantly the people returned to God. The return to God propelled the rekindling of the nation.
The Church Planting and Revitalization Team is building walls of witness with a church restart in Donnellson, IL at the community center. Over the next few weeks you are invited to join in two prayer times: May 19, 7pm at the Community Center in Donnellson. June 2 we will prayer walk in Donnellson at 7pm and distribute fliers for VBS which will be conducted June 8-10. Please come and spend an hour in Donnellson with other believers. The first prayer meeting we had over 20 people participate.
God is alive in our region. We are building spiritual walls of witness each time we leave the church and present Christ in some form in our community. Several of our churches prayer walked in and around school before school started. One church fed the teachers lunch before the beginning of school when all teachers were present. Several churches were instrumental in See You at the Pole last fall as students and teachers gathered for prayer. Many of our churches have revivals providing an opportunity for evangelism and renewal. Smithgrove Church had a Walk to the Cross before Easter providing a time of reflection and evangelism. Bethel has a Back to School Bash in the park sharing Christ at the beginning of the School year. I am positive I have left out many churches that do great things consistently. Pleasant Mound and Columbus have active youth and children’s programs sharing Christ and teaching the Bible. Bethel, Effingham, Altamont, Ramsey, Herrick, Celebration, Taylor Springs, Unity, and Smithgrove also have ongoing youth and children’s programs that build walls of witness. Why mention all these churches? Perhaps you would like to see something similar in your church. Give the pastor a call from one of these churches. There are churches of every size mentioned. Discover how they began and what they do that has allowed them to share with so many diverse people. Begin today to build your wall of witness.
Another way to build a wall of witness is to conduct VBS at your church. Many of our churches have VBS annually. Some have VBS for 2 or 3 days, some 5 consecutive Wednesday nights, some for 5 nights and then have a parent night on Sunday night. Don’t give in to the mindset we can’t but be a can do church. Need Help? Call Olen Evans and let him know. We will enlist some folks from the Association to come and help with your VBS.
Camp is approaching and it is another Wall of Witness in our Association. The churches of Rehoboth provide camp. Each church is needed in some way. Provide a meal, send a few workers, give money for supplies for Rec, the list goes on.

Building Walls of Worship

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I enjoy the challenge and intrigue of Nehemiah as I read it. Nehemiah hits the story hard from verse one and doesn’t mince words. He is a man of a God mission of rebuilding. God shakes Nehemiah out of his comfort zone as he learns the plight of his people left in Jerusalem. He learns of the disrepair of the city he longs to live in. it is now trashed and looked at as a ghetto of homeless helpless people. Lesson one from Nehemiah is to seek God first.
Nehemiah upon hearing the bad news spends time listening to God and hearing his voice. I suppose at some point he debates with God about being the leader of the renovation of the Temple and walls of Jerusalem. I can sense his humanness and hesitancy as he looks at the overwhelming task of leading to rebuild. I can sense his words to God as he asks the basic questions we produce fear and uncertainty. Here are a few of the questions I believe he asked the Lord:
1. Who will do the work of renovation?
2. Where will the money and materials come from?
3. How can I handle the opposition of people to the renovation?
4. God are you sure you want me to lead?
Nehemiah leaves his time of prayer and fasting and in Chapter 2 of Nehemiah takes the faith step of requesting help from the King he serves. This is a bold move asking a King to help the people he has conquered and forced many into exile. The king grants Nehemiah’s request and the great God sized adventure of rebuilding takes shape. Enemies and opposition come from within and without. I find it interesting that throughout scripture and today in life many would rather remain where and how we are rather than step out in faith. Nehemiah trusted God through all this. He started with God and walked with God through the renovation.
Renovations of Rehoboth Camp and Rehoboth Office are both underway. This is a God sized task for our association. It has been prayed over, talked about, and now embarked upon. Faith is stepping out. We the people of Rehoboth are stepping out in faith and walking together. Like Nehemiah we are leading for the present yet much more for the future. I am confident we are following the Lord in what we are doing. I would never put myself in Nehemiah’s class.
We need to work together with volunteer labor to get the cabins renovated by camp time. you can bring a group to work of cabins. There is framing, door and window installation, roofing and siding to be done. Materials are on hand. Instructions will be printed out on hand. Call Joe, Roger Bowman 217-663-0221, or Don Price 618-322-5046 to schedule your church to work.
We need your gifts. Olen Evans is heading up our capital needs campaign for the renovation projects. Simply stated if each family attending a Rehoboth Church will give $15 a week for 13 weeks the project will be paid for. Pledge cards are available through your church or the office. Each church was invited to a capital needs banquet where this info and materials were available. When you send your gift to the office clearly mark your designation for the building projects.
God is moving in many ways in our association. I pray for God’s blessing upon you and your church.