May 4 - [A]Part of HIStory

Posted by Cory Puuri on OP12er @ 12:53 PM

I am really excited to tell you we will begin the study of an Old Testament book this Sunday. The book of Esther recounts the story of the Jewish people near the end of their exile, while facing the threat of extermination. Esther is the Persian name for the Jewish woman Hadassah (we have a granddaughter named Hadassah). Esther is one of only two books in the Bible where the Name of God is not mentioned, yet God’s sovereignty and providence are incredibly woven through it.

The nine-week series is [A]Part of HIStorySunday’s message is Everyone Likes A Good Story, followed by guest speaker Jill Briscoe on May 14.

I encourage you to read the book of Esther as we study it together. So much to mine from it – can’t wait to dig in with you!

See you Sunday,

Pastor Bill

PS  Celebrate with me the 35 people who were baptized during services last Sunday. What a glorious time it was!  The next baptism is mid-August outside in the pond.

April 15 - Easter Devotional

Posted by Cory Puuri on OP1er @ 1:37 PM

Easter is the celebration of the most significant event in world history: the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Easter represents HOPE for every person.

When God created mankind, He created us as eternal beings. We were never meant to die. The first man and woman were without flaw, and had a perfect relationship with God and each other in the Garden of Eden. There was no sickness or disease, and no physical, emotional, mental or relational flaws. It is difficult for us to imagine how incredible it was.

God clearly instructed Adam and Eve to enjoy all He had created and freely eat from any tree except one, the tree of knowledge – if they ate from that tree, they would truly die. When Adam and Eve disobeyed and ate from the forbidden tree, sin entered the world, causing an immediate spiritual death, and inevitable physical death. Hebrews 9:27 tells us it is appointed unto man once to die. We all have an appointment with death – but that was never part of the original plan! It is the result of sin.

1 Corinthians 15:26 says the last enemy to be abolished is death. Jesus conquered death for all of us through His own death and resurrection – that is the HOPE we have in Him, and the HOPE of Easter. 1 Corinthians 15:27 says Jesus has put all things in subjection under his feet. All things, including sin and death, are subject to him and because that’s true, we can have life. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 tells us But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable and the mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your victory? O death where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to GOD who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul also wrote If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:19). Yes, we hope in Christ in this life. But our ultimate hope is an eternal one. Because Jesus defeated sin and death through the cross and his resurrection, we can have the assurance of eternal life if we put our trust in Him. We can be confident that the last enemy has been defeated! When we pass from this life, we will live forever in heaven with him, in a place where everything is exactly as it was mean to be from the beginning.

If you have not yet put your trust in the Lord Jesus, I pray you will do that soon. If you already have, then I pray that Easter will be a reminder of what He did to conquer death and grant us the gift of eternal life. We of all people have reason to rejoice and celebrate!

For reflection:

  • When is the first time in your life that you understood that something was not as it should be in this world, or the first time your life was touched by grief or death? How did you cope with that knowledge?
  • Wherever you are in your spiritual life, how does the idea of Jesus’ defeating death affect you? Take some time to talk to him or ask him questions about that.
  • Does the idea of Jesus defeating death on our behalf sound too good to be true sometimes, or too easy (for us)? Take some time to pray about what it means to have a God who is so loving, so merciful – who would go through suffering and death because of his love for you.

-- Written by Senior Pastor Bill Lenz.

 

Come celebrate His resurrection on Easter Sunday, April 16 at 8:00 am, 9:30 am and 11:00 am. (Interpretation for the Deaf and hard of hearing at 8:00 am. At 9:30 am and 11:00 am, there will be Son Harbor for children ages infants – 5th grade.)

April 13 - Good Friday Meditation

Posted by Cory Puuri on OA6er @ 6:12 AM


Find a place to be alone and undistracted. Allow yourself 20-30 minutes with God.

The fact that Jesus of Nazareth was executed on a cross is pretty much the one thing that everybody who has heard of him knows about his life. It's the one part of his life that almost all historians agree on. And his death on a Roman cross is what we commemorate on Good Friday. This historical event has special meaning to us as disciples. His death goes deeper than merely the end of the life of the one whom we consider to be the most important person in history. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth was more than just a great preacher with good and true teachings; He was the only Son of God. And He was not just the only Son of God, but God Himself. We believe that God is the impossibly transcendent source of all that exists, seen and unseen. God is so transcendent that he cannot even be said to "exist" in the common sense, the way you and I exist — rather, God IS the very nature of being itself, and sustains all existence. We believe that this impossibly transcendent God died. He suffered horribly and was killed by some unnamed Roman soldiers. It makes absolutely no sense. How could the giver and sustainer of all life and existence experience death? Even though we don’t fully understand this, we Christians believe this. So how do we explain the inherent contradiction?

Tim Keller states:

Every other world religion was founded by a man who said, "Follow me, and you can find God"; Christianity is the only religion that was founded by a man who said, "I'm God, come to find you."

Because the very nature of God is to love, He is compelled by His nature to come find us, His own creatures who became lost. According to God's seemingly-bizarre, otherworldly logic, the way to "come find us” was to embrace and experience what is most bitter about human experience: suffering, agony, loss, death. The cross became a Christian symbol in part because of bravado. The worst punishment of the Roman Empire was the cross, and the Christians held it up to their tormenters, essentially saying: "We're not afraid of you." But mostly, the cross is the symbol for Christians because it represents this unique conception of God: a God who is not just the source of everything, but a God who loves his creatures so much that he is willing to do anything to save them.

For additional contemplation on the death of Jesus, read through Luke 22 and 23.

For reflection:

Go back and re-read Luke 23: 33-49 as if you are a character in this story, perhaps one of the thieves or an acquaintance of Jesus observing from a short distance, or maybe a relative. Pay attention to the sights and sounds; what do you hear, see and feel?

After re-reading Luke 23: 33-49 a time or two, talk to Jesus on the cross. What do you want to say to Him?

 

Written by Pastor and Elder Al Rockman. Al left this earth for heaven on March 28, and submitted this piece that afternoon.

 

Join us for Good Friday service at 6:00 pm on April 14. We will remember Jesus’ death and share communion together.

Come celebrate His resurrection on Easter Sunday, April 16 at 8:00 am, 9:30 am and 11:00 am. (Interpretation for the Deaf and hard of hearing at 8:00 am. At 9:30 am and 11:00 am, there will be Son Harbor for children ages infants – 5th grade.)

April 10 - Easter Week Devotional: Remaining Steadfast

Posted by Cory Puuri on OP11er @ 11:01 PM

Have you ever looked back on an event in your life -- either a happy event or a tragic event -- and wondered, “What would I have done differently if I had known what was coming?” Most of us can think of things we wish we had been brave enough to try, or regrets over words left unsaid. If only we could know the outcome ahead of time.

But Jesus did know the outcome of the days leading up to Good Friday. He knew that the cheering Palm Sunday crowd would become the mob jeering and demanding his death. Jesus knew that he would be betrayed by some of his most intimate friends. And Jesus knew that an agonizing death awaited him.

That’s what makes the days between Palm Sunday and Good Friday so remarkable: most of us will take risks in the hope of a good outcome. But Jesus steadfastly continued his mission on earth, even when he knew the outcome would be bitterly painful.

A brief look at the events of that week show us Jesus’ boldness as he rebuked corrupt money changers in the temple (Luke 19:46) and called out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees as they tried to lay a trap for him with their words (Matthew 23:24-33). Then we see the heart of a shepherd, as Jesus took his disciples out to the Mount of Olives to continue teaching them during the time he had left. Meanwhile, on that same day, one of those disciples made a deal with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16).

On Thursday, Jesus shares the Passover meal with his betrayer, and with friends who will abandon and deny him hours later. He spends precious hours with his disciples, and the Son of God humbly washes their feet and tries to explain the events that are fast approaching. He keeps loving the very people who will betray him, right up to the last night of his life.

What an example of selfless love for all who call ourselves followers of Christ.

As we approach Good Friday, take time to read one or more passages about Jesus’ last days:

  • Matthew 21:12 through 26:56
  • Mark 11:15 through 14:52
  • Luke 19:45 through 22:53
  • John 12:20 through 18:12

For reflection:

  • What is one area of your life right now that requires you to love selflessly?
  • Take time to pray and ask God to help you follow Jesus’ example of being faithful and steadfast in the midst of that challenging situation.
  • Now take some time to ponder Romans 5:8. Reflect on how much Jesus loves us – how much he loves you. Re-read this verse with your name at the end. 

Written by Nancy Leschke

 

Join us for Good Friday service at 6:00 pm on April 14.

Celebrate His resurrection on Easter Sunday, April 16 at 8:00 am, 9:30 am and 11:00 am. (Interpretation for the Deaf and hard of hearing at 8:00 am; Son Harbor for children infants-5th grade at 9:30 & 11:00 am.)

From Me to We

Posted by Cory Puuri on OA6er @ 6:01 AM

I am highly anticipating our five-week series From Me to WeThis Sunday we’ll look at the journey and what it means to travel together. We’ll see how Jesus took individual followers, poured into them and taught them how to love each other. After His resurrection and ascension, He sent His Spirit and the Church was birthed.

Throughout the series we will learn about the early Church around the topics of being in community and living out the purposes of God together. I encourage you to come to the entire series, as the messages build on each other.  We’ll cover From Consumerism to Community, From Fear to Faith, From Self-Sufficient to Surrendered and From Comfortable to Committed.

As usual we will have great worship through music and some powerful testimonies of how God is working in the lives of people in our own Church family.

I believe God will do some major shifting in our hearts through this series!

See you Sunday,

Pastor Bill

January 26 - Who is Next?

Posted by Cory Puuri on OA5er @ 5:11 AM

We already looked at how Peter followed Jesus passionately…and Mary Magdalene, who followed Jesus against all odds. Who is next? This week the message is Follow: Even Religious People? We'll learn about someone who knew Scripture well and was a good, religious man, but realized there was so much more when Jesus made it clear how to gain eternal life.

February 5 will be Follow: Or Not?, looking at a man who Jesus invited to follow Him, but did not because of things in his life he deemed more important. Then on February 12, the message is Follow: THE LEADER when we'll look at a key leader with a lot of power and authority who was willing to humble himself and come under the authority and leadership of Jesus. This man then lived out his faith and followed Jesus in daily life.

January 21 - Winter Festival

Posted by Cory Puuri on OA5er @ 5:06 AM

Thank you to everyone who came to the Winter Festival and Fireside Cafe grand opening -- about 2,000 people attended! You made it a fantastic event!

We also thank Festive Balloons, AJ the Animated Illusionist, Da Lemma the Clown, Reptile Roadshow & Rescue, the Fireside Cafe, Mr. Ken the Juggler, and our amazing volunteer crew for sharing their talents today!

December 28 - Year-end Message

Posted by Cory Puuri on OP12er @ 12:57 PM
https://vimeo.com/197294476

Check out this year-end message from Pastor Bill!

Warm Greetings Church Family,

I thought I'd send my personal greetings by video. Please take 2 minutes to watch it. 

See you soon!

Pastor Bill 

PS: This Sunday, January 1 is Kickoff Sunday. What better way to start a New Year than to gather together and worship our King and hear a great message from our guest speaker Nick Hall. Nick is a key voice to this generation and leads a ministry called Pulse. His message will be called "Reset" There will also be pizza and other activities in the lobby after services. There will not be the Packer game on the big screens as the game was moved from noon to 7:30 pm. Invite others to come with you.

November 17 - Wrapping Up and Going Forward

Posted by Cory Puuri on OP10er @ 10:04 PM

Only two messages remain in the Thy/My Kingdom Come series. This Sunday we will look deeper at the reality that our kingdom is in constant conflict with His Kingdom with the message Kingdoms In Conflict.  It is a battle.  The war is real.  We’ll explore how to stay engaged in the battle and grow in coming under His rule and reign and not our own.  Part of the message addresses how a person enters the Kingdom.  Please invite others you know who may not yet be “in” the Kingdom!

Jill Briscoe joins us on November 27 on the topic of Royal Citizens.  She will help us understand the changes and transitions that take place when you leave one kingdom to enter another. As someone who grew up in England and then became a U.S. citizen, she knows how different one country can be from another. The Kingdom Of God is radically different from the kingdom of this world. 

December brings a four-week series called The King.  Each week we’ll dig into what the King of the Kingdom of God is like.

I look forward to journeying with you and learning together!

See you Sunday,

Pastor Bill

 P.S.     Due to uncontrollable construction delays, the December 3 open house is rescheduled to January.  Will let you know the date when it is confirmed.  The King is Born: A Night of Worship will still take place from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on December 3.  Great opportunity to invite others! 

 

October 20 - What Could Be Better Than This?

Posted by Cory Puuri on OP1er @ 1:27 PM

A new series begins Sunday called Thy/My Kingdom Come.  Did you know the central theme of Jesus’ teaching and earthly ministry was about The Kingdom?  It is believed as many as eleven parables Jesus told were about The Kingdom.  Because it is so important to Jesus, we want to better understand what it looks like to live our daily lives as citizens of that Kingdom.  Learning about it is much better than any Packer game….I promise!

Here is a forecast:

October 23                        The Kingdom Revealed

October 30                        What’s It Like?  The Sower, Seed and Soil

November 6                      What’s It Like? Humility & Forgiveness

November 13                    What’s It Like? The Culture of Kingdom Living

November 20                    Kingdoms in Conflict

November 27                    Royal Citizens (guest speaker Jill Briscoe)

This is a great opportunity to invite friends to help them understand the greatness of God’s Kingdom.  Another opportunity to invite friends is Freud’s Last Session, a play presented by GoFish Productions from Milwaukee and hosted by Christ The Rock the first two weekends in November.  For tickets or more information visit http://www.freudtickets.com/index.html .

See you Sunday – be sure to come early – ready to worship and learn!

Pastor Bill

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