Winnie-the-Pooh & The Great Commission - Pastor Lisa Roberson - August 14, 2018

Winnie-the-Pooh, beloved childhood friend or dispenser of wisdom?  You be the judge.  Many people poo-poo Pooh as just another piece of childhood.  The 100 Acre Wood is simply a place to travel through on your away to adulthood, and yet I wonder if there isn’t more to the story if we are open to really hearing the ramblings of a willy, nilly, silly old stuffed with fluff bear. 
Some of my favorite Pooh-isms are:  
Piglet: “How do you spell ‘love’?”  Pooh: “You don’t spell it…you feel it.”
“You’re braver than you believe and stronger and smarter than you think.”
“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”
          One of the best Pooh-isms is when he paraphrases Jesus and the Great Commission, “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”  Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”  Matthew 28:19a.  Pooh is echoing Jesus and the call to “go out”.  But going out is risky.  It is safer behind our walls, we know what to expect…we know who to expect.  Inside our walls we are not stretched or uncomfortable, we have adapted to our surroundings and are content.  Jesus, with the Great Commission is calling us out of the forest, to seek others, to share with them the Good News.  What does it look like to “Therefore go…”?  I can’t answer that for you, but I know how you can find out and it begins with prayer, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Asking the Holy One to show us our communication strengths and how best to use them for the Kingdom.  We begin with an open heart, to be receptive to those God would chose to put in our path.  We begin with the understanding Jesus came to seek and save the lost.  There is a meme floating around face book, it provides balance between ‘a reminder’ and ‘a conviction’, it reads, “you will never look into the eyes of someone Jesus doesn’t love.”
          This week I encourage you to begin coming out of your ‘forest’ and lean into the Great Commission.  Begin earnestly asking in prayer where do we go as a church body and where do I go as an individual to be outside the church walls and outside our/my comfort zones.  How can we, how can I, share the Good News.          

Adapt or Die - Pastor Jerry Carter - August 8, 2018

Being the follow up to Janine Metcalf’s ministry and then Bob Luhn’s interim period has been both humbling and challenging. So many great ministries and programs were started by folks like Janine and Bob, and others before them, but the challenge now before us is what to keep when God might want to do a new thing.
New things don’t necessarily mean dumping old things. They became old things because they worked long enough to get old. The real issue is determining which aspects of the old programs still work and which parts need to go? In other words, the message must remain unchanged while our methods need constant updates to keep up with a rapidly changing mission field, church personnel, and tools at our disposal.
When something new is introduced, like say, a new pastor, everything else must adjust to the new reality. Jesus said that to put new wine (a new pastor) into old wineskins (this is the way we’ve always done it or we tried that and it didn’t work) would result in losing both the wineskins and the wine when the old skins inevitably burst open. (Matt 9:17, Mk 2:22).
The painful part in all this, is that different people will come to different conclusions as to what is essential and what is negotiable. And, as we make adjustments and changes, people will leave upset and hurt. Organizationally speaking, this is inevitable and not, necessarily or exclusively, a bad thing. People leaving and programs ending or changing make room for new ideas and new people.
At this point, we have two choices.
We can do again, what we have always done before. We can go into our bag of tricks and bring out our best programs of the past. We can hope and pray this time it will work.
Andy Stanley summed up the results of this choice; “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.” Albert Einstein was even more blunt; “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing again and again and expect different results.”
Or, we can start a new adventure.
Your answer lies with this question: Are you at that point in which the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of change. If so, are you prepared to purchase new wine skins by sacrificing your favorite ministry or program (old wine skins) for an unknown future adventure? Let me know the next time you see me.

Plug-In - Pastor Lisa Roberson - July 31, 2018

         Sunday morning Ed and I were in the hotel room getting ready for church in Okanogan.  When I plugged the hairdryer into the wall it wasn’t a snug fit and the dryer kept disconnecting from the outlet power source.  It would run well for a moment and then I would have to stop and push the plug back in to secure more power.  Right now some of you are asking, “Why didn’t she try a different plug?”  I have a two word answer, pre-coffee happening.

          Driving through the middle of nowhere I realized my hair drying debacle and attending church have a lot in common.  When we don’t attend church we don’t connect.  The power of our relationships, with each other and with the Father, are lessened when we don’t ‘plug in’ regularly.  It’s not like Ed and I have been totally gone, I’m working in my office like any other typical week and we have attended our usual church events and yet we both feel disconnected from our church family.  I’m finding there is something different, something special about us all coming together on a Sunday morning with the intent to worship our King and Savior. 

          All of this gives me a clearer understanding of how easy it is to drift away from church, one Sunday at a time.  The further away we get from connection the harder it becomes to re-connect, to the point connection may be lost for good.  Hebrew 10:25 says, “25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  So I encourage you, in this last month of summer as wild adventures unfold before you, remember to plug into the church family who loves you and plug into the only One who can provide you the power necessary to navigate this life. 

Pastor Lisa

While I am loving the opportunity to grow in my preaching skill we miss your faces very much and are looking forward to reconnecting and rejoining the fold. 

Home - Pastor Bri Hickman - July 18th, 2018

HOME. What does this mean to you? When you hear the word “home” where does your mind automatically take you? Is home a person, a place, or maybe even a feeling? Think about it for a little…

“Home is important. It's where we live and refresh before going back out into the world. Home is our comfort zone. Home represents a place of safety and intimacy where you can relax and be yourself. However, for some, home doesn't offer these things. For some it isn't respite from the turmoil of life. “ – Lindsey Clifford

For me, home is A LOT of things. Home is where Andrew is. Home is the cozy little house that Andrew and I live in. Home is where my parents are. Home is a feeling of where I belong.

On Sunday night, while meeting with our teen girls small group, our devotional was about “home” and how God desires for us to feel at “home” with Him. I was intrigued by this statement and wanted to dig deeper.

The Bible speaks of multiple instances where, after a significant event, the people went back HOME.

·         Matthew 9:7 – The paralyzed man got us and went home after Jesus healed him.

·         John 7:53 – Everyone went home after the Jewish leaders argued over Jesus’ authority

·         Joshua 22:6 – Joshua blessed soldiers and they went to their tents.

This shows that home has always been an important piece of someone’s life. Home is where we are to always turn back to and GO. As the girls and I discussed this, we came to the conclusion that sometimes it’s not so easy to think of Jesus as our home. It’s not so easy to want to turn to him for comfort, rest, or peace. BUT… this is what God desires for us. He desires for us to turn to Him as our home. He desires for us to rest in Him, to find peace through Him, and to find comfort in Him.

Home should be a place to find peace and comfort; but, making Jesus at home in your heart and building on your relationship with him is the only way to really know lasting peace. Our spiritual home with Jesus is where we are truly safe.

How do you view home? Is it easy for you to turn to Him for comfort, rest, and peace when you need it? Did you think about Jesus as your home when I asked you the first few questions of today’s blog? My prayer is for us all to understand how Jesus is our HOME.

Confidence In Your Leaders - Pastor Lisa Roberson - July 10th, 2018

First and foremost thank-you for your prayers, I’m grateful and joy filled to be part of a church family who deeply believes in the power of prayer!  Last week I “got to” experience my first, and hopefully last occurrence of vertigo.  I don’t think I have ever laid that still for that long.  Ed and I decided Sunday night it was best to see a doctor to rule out any infection.  The very kind Doctor confirmed it was benign vertigo and made some suggestions about the best way to treat the dizziness.  Take Claritin~ no problem, do the head tilt exercises~ no problem, stay hydrated~ no problem, no driving for a few days~ ummmm we are starting to have a problem, cut down on coffee intake~ now we have a problem.  Cut down on coffee?  The thing which keeps my heart beating?  The perfect comfort food?  A source of warmth in the hard cold world?  Cut down on coffee?  I began to doubt the doctor’s credibility and skill set.

          Fast forward to Monday morning, while brushing my hair I had a momentary “tilt-a-whirl experience.”  A tight grasp on the sink kept me from tumbling into the tub.  As the ride stopped I had the brilliant thought, “I should listen to the doctor.”  Which led to another thought. “How often do we poo-poo the words of our leaders, how often do we fail to listen to those in authority?”  Hebrews 13:17a says, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account...”

          “Have confidence in your leaders..,” in this day and age with so many fallen leaders and those who seem to be without good character or sound judgement this can be a difficult task.  And yet God has placed them in this position of leadership.  Their leadership and how we choose to follow is being woven into the whole story of God.  We may not agree with the choices leaders make, we may even become angry with leadership choices, but in the end how we follow is just as important as how they lead.

          So what do we do when we disagree with the choices or actions of a leader?  First we pray.  Second, we examine our own hearts~ where might we have failed to follow well?  Third~ we talk with the leader (notice I said talk ‘with’ not talk ‘to’) in an honest effort to understand and hear the calling of their hearts.  Fourth~ we realize, like us, all leaders are failed humans who at times fall short and simply need forgiveness.  Leading is hard, following is harder but neither are impossible in relationships based in grace. 

CHANGE... the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly - Pastor Andrew Hickman - July 3rd, 2018

Change, it’s a nasty word for most of us, and can bring about some of the hardest times in our lives. After Sunday’s message from Pastor Bri of changing our hearts and attitudes and allowing God to change our hearts to live a life of love, I have been thinking a lot more about change in my own life. I tend to be pretty adaptable when change comes around the corner in my life, however, there are times where I struggle with the littlest of changes. For instance, last night my wife asked me if we could sleep outside in our newly acquired tent. I was up for the task because I have always loved camping and I knew it would be fun. So we set up camp in our backyard and sat around a fire talking and enjoying each other’s company, and then decide to head to bed. As we crawl into our tent and get situated on the air mattress (I know I would suffer if I slept on the ground). At this point I start to think to myself, “Why on earth am I sleeping on an air mattress in my backyard when I could be perfectly comfortable on my bed inside the house.” I came to the realization that I struggle to get comfortable on a bed that is not mine at home. It seems kind of trivial, but for me it brought things in my life into perspective such as a part of the reason why I struggle sleeping on trips and vacations sometimes because I’m not in my own bed. More importantly, it allowed God to show me in a different way that He wants to change our hearts and lives to be reflections of Jesus Christ. A life of following Christ is a life that is changed from being self-focused and self-centered to being Christ-centered and Others-focused. In 2 Corinthians 5 the Apostle Paul writes of this change in verses 11-21,

“11 Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12 Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. 13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. 16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

The change comes from God, and we have to be willing to give up our selfish desires to allow Him to change us into the new creation that He wants us to be. Being a Christ follower (CHRISTIAN) is not about ME, it is about bringing all of the glory, honor, and praise to God by being His “AMBASSADORS” and sharing His message of reconciliation with the world through LOVE, GRACE, and COMPASSION. Change is not always easy or comfortable; more often than not change is hard and very uncomfortable, but when God is desiring for a heart change the outcome we know will be well worth it in the end. I am guilty of getting in the way of God when He’s asking me to change MY ways, and I have often had to ask myself this question, “Why am I trying to stop something that God is starting?”

Prayer for Awakening - Pastor Bob Luhn - June 26th, 2018

Prayer for Awakening

          Lord, I come to You once again asking for a Spiritual Awakening here in the Pacific Northwest.  I thank You for the beauty and abundance of our land.  Soaring mountains, fertile soil, abundant water, clean air, sweeping views – all this and more is Your creation.  And I acknowledge that every person, institution and natural wonder belongs to You by right of creation and right of redemption.  Further, I know that You are not willing that even one person perish, but that all come to repentance.  (II Peter 3:9)

          So I pray in agreement with Your heart that a spirit of brokenness, humility and repentance will fall upon this land. (Zephaniah 2:3) May millions of people awaken to this need for a Savior and for the availability of Your kingdom.

(Mark 1:15) May the 3 great cities of Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver be the “bow” from which You start an arrow of Awakening across the land.

          Please, Lord, do what we cannot do.  Bond the strong man of the Pacific Northwest that His “house” may be plundered. (Mark 3:27) Tear down strongholds, restrain principalities, and powers (Ephesians 6:12) and do everything with Your loving influence to woo people to Yourself. (John 6:44)  Awaken, awaken those who are dead in their trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:3, 5:14) Awaken them so they have the opportunity to confess their sins and be forgiven. (John 1:9)  Awaken them so they can bow the knee and confess with their tongue that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)  I bow before You, Lord, and I acknowledge that You, Jesus, are Lord.

          Along with the Awakening, would You renew, rebuild, restore and revive Your church. (Isaiah 61:4) May Your bride (Ephesians 5:27) fall deeply and passionately in love with You again.  We confess that we have lost our first love, so we repent and beg for Your renewal of our love. (Revelation 2:4) May we become so passionately in love with You that we gossip about You every chance we get.  May we also look forward to every opportunity of worship, serve, and fellowship with brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

          Also Lord, grant to Your servants strategically scattered across the Northwest a holy boldness and a radical optimism so that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when we lift up Your name, You will stretch forth Your hand to save, heal and deliver and signs and wonders are performed in Your holy name. (Acts 4:29-30)

          And now by the authority that You have given us seated at Your right hand in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:19-23, 2:6) I speak to the North. (South, East and West) “North, in the strong and mighty name of Jesus I command You to give them and let them go. Do not hold back the sons and daughters of God any longer.  They don’t belong to you, but to Him who created them and formed them for Himself and whom Jesus Christ died to redeem for Himself. (Isaiah 43:5-7)  So give them up and let them go in the name of Jesus.”

          Lord, as You revive Your bride and awaken the world then we will know that Your kingdom is coming and Your will is being done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10

          In the strong and might name of Jesus. Amen!

Building Kingdom Relationships - Pastor Bri Hickman - June 19th, 2018

Building Kingdom Relationships
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

This past week with the Stalcup Family moving to Arkansas and transition, I haven’t been able to get the phrase “build loving relationships” out of my head. The Stalcup family quickly invited Andrew and I over to family meals during holidays, asked us to spend time with them, invited us with them to lunch after church on Sundays, etc. In a little over a year, those invites quickly turned into friendships that then turned into family. I am so thankful for their friendship and the way they loved us unconditionally like family! There is no doubt in my mind that they would lay down their lives for us, and we would lay ours down for them. This is a love that we are to have with those around us. As John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This means that with the relationships and friendships we build, we should aim to have a love for them that would do ANYTHING for them. Kingdom Relationships. Aim to love them like Jesus would and to walk through life with them.

This has me thinking… how am I making friendships that are based on love? How am I building relationships with others? Who would I lay down my life for? How are the relationships and friendships I have working for the kingdom and building kingdom relationships?

I challenge you as I am trying to figure this out, that you would join me! Are we building relationships that are loving in our ministries we are a part of? Are we building relationships that are working towards the kingdom? Are we trying to build NEW friendships with people we may not know very well? Are we sitting in our comfort zone of friends and don’t want to reach out and make new ones? Who are we walking through life with? Can we bring anyone else along?

My prayer is that God would be in EVERY relationship and friendship we build as we journey through building KINGDOM & LOVING relationships!

Never Alone - Pastor Lisa Roberson - June 12th, 2018

Have you ever spent time on the beach digging around looking for agates, sea glass or a special shell?  It is a treasure hunt.  For a while there is just sand, sand and more sand.  Suddenly, without warning, a treasure.  At first we gently cradled in the palm of our hand followed by drawing it to our eyes for closer inspection.  Then we hold it up to the sunlight for a different view.  With much excitement we call out to our friends, “look what I found!”  They hear the excitement in our voice and come quickly come to see.  The friends respond accordingly.  “Ah, the beauty.” “What a great find.”

          The initial joy is in “the finding,” but true joy is sharing with friends.  We can go it alone, and many have, many times but, oh how much better it is when the experience is shared!  To revel in the joys of life with a friend makes the experience all the richer.  Ecclesiastic 4:9 tells us “two are better than one…”.

          And what about when we face despair?  When we have dragons needing to be slayed, when hurt and hardship come our way?  The burden is easier to bare when a friend is walking alongside, sometimes carrying us through the pain.  Ecclesiastic 4:10 tells us, “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” 

          I think there are times the enemy wants us to believe we are all alone, no one cares, we should never rely on another for they will always let us down.  When we hold these thoughts up to the sun for closer inspection, just like the treasure in the sand, we can see the reality of the lies the enemy wants us to believe and we can throw those lies back into the depths of the ocean where they belong.

          Ecclesiastics 9:12, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”  I pray this week there are reminders from God that you are never alone, I pray this week you are contacted by a friend with loving reminders the two of you are on this journey together.  I pray this week you will be the friend who reaches out letting others know they are not alone.

A Living, Personal Presence - Pastor Bob Luhn - June 5th, 2018

I read 2 Corinthians 3:16 Monday morning. After describing the “veil” that remained over the spiritual eyes of people who do not turn to God, Paul then shares the good news of those who do turn to Him. In the Message version he writes, “They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone.”  God is a Person and like all personal relationships sometimes I feel closer to Him and other times very far away. It is natural to have ebbs and flows in any relationship. I love those times when the Lord seems so close that I just want to linger in His presence. That happened for me last Sunday during worship. I really lost awareness of the congregation and was caught up in a sense of His very near presence. I could have basked in that loving warmth all day. Of course there are those other times when I agree with Mother Teresa who often called Jesus, “The Absent One.” Whether He is near or far, whether it is light or dark, God is. He’s a real person and we can talk to Him like any other person, though hearing Him speak back to us is a little more difficult. But He does speak, through His Word, through creation, through the hug of a friend, through a kind word, through a song. God wants to talk with us and make Himself known. He is not a chiseled stone! He is a “living, personal presence” and I for one, seek His presence more than anything else.

Pastor Bob Luhn