Rest

ox picture
Photo Credit: http://images.wisegeek.com/standing-ox.jpg

By: Hickory Smith, Board Member

Yes!! Our 7 month old daughter has turned a corner (we think) and is actually sleeping at night. I am finishing my Master of Divinity this spring and can see the end in sight. I received a promotion through the military and I have some fun training ahead of me this summer. Additionally, I was offered chaplain residency positions at two separate hospitals starting in the fall. Praise the Lord for these incredible opportunities. I am wonderfully blessed.

I have to admit something though…I am tired. Not just lack of sleep tired, I am exhausted. With a myriad of things to do, my mind is always going, I’m always ON. Sometimes it takes all I can muster to accomplish the next thing on my endless list. How good and how long can I fake it? The road has been good but I’m weary nonetheless.

Staying busy and getting a lot done is good, right? In a life where most people have numerous things calling for their time and energy, am I different from anybody else, am I special? Can I complain that I have it any harder than anybody else? Often, I’m the one that gets myself all stressed out and tired anyway. I have a problem with saying “Yes” to too many things, thinking that I can handle more than I really can. Rather than saying “no” or asking for help I just keep plodding away like a beast of burden, even adding things to my load showing my pride in how much I can bear.

God has something to say about this.

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember. I have heard and read these verses from Matthew so many times I can nearly quote them. But, do I truly believe them? Do I do what they say? Do I really cash in on this wonderful promise of Jesus? Unfortunately, NO, I don’t do it often enough.

When I finally do come to Jesus about my weariness and burdens, too often I just keep my own yoke on. In my stubborn-as-an-ox mentality, I don’t trade for Jesus’ yoke or even take the time to learn from Him like he says. Ironically, my own pride gets in the way from really finding rest in the one who is gentle and humble in heart.

It seems antithetical, Jesus, in all his power is the gentle and humble one. He is the one who can handle the greatest load and yet His yoke is easy and his burden is light, so easy and light that he tells us to take it. Maybe I should actually take that yoke and do a little learning from Him. That rest for my soul sounds pretty good.

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When Will the Healing Come?

Waiting for Healing

By: Amber Harder, Communications Specialist

We’ve been sick at our house for too long now. Never before in our family’s history have we been this sick for this long. The days pass by slowly as we wait for the healing to come.

I’ve had a lot of time to think as I’ve been laying in bed or resting on the couch, or sitting rocking one of my sick children over the last week and a half. In those times, I’d remember Biblical accounts of Jesus healing people and long for that same healing.

I recalled the woman who was afflicted with bleeding for 12 years who was in the crowd when Jesus passed by (Matthew 9:20-22). She reached out to touch his cloak, believing that she would be healed and Jesus told her that her faith had healed her. Well, I haven’t been sick for 12 years, but it’s been long enough to make me desperate to touch Jesus’ cloak and receive healing! I wish he would pass by my house and I could reach out and be healed in an instant.

Even more difficult than being sick myself has been seeing my kids sick. My active 4-year-old has been laying on the couch, day after day, with no energy or spark in her. Watching her, I recalled the Biblical account of a group of friends who cut a hole in the roof of a home where Jesus was preaching so they could lower their friend in to be healed (Mark 2:1-12). You better believe that if Jesus was preaching near here, I would carry my little girl to the location, cut a hole in the roof, and lower her in to be healed. I’d do anything to remove this awful sickness from her and see her well again.

And in this Holy Week when our thoughts turn to the cross, I imagine the turmoil that surrounded Jesus and his friends in those last days. It must have seemed like everything was coming unraveled. He rode into Jerusalem like a King, but as each day passed things went further and further downhill. I bet the disciples longed for the restoration to come, to see Jesus rise above the persecution and claim his throne.

But he did not immediately do so.

The healing did not come in the ways they expected, and the healing didn’t come immediately.

Instead, Jesus was crucified on the cross and the world sat in mournful silence for three days.

I have to believe those were long days. Long days of tears and questions and sitting staring blankly ahead. I bet the healing felt so far away for them too.

Thankfully, we know the story doesn’t end there. We have the celebration and hope of the resurrection. We know that restoration came and it was greater than anything they could have imagined.

And in this season of sickness as I wait for healing for me and my family, I have hope that we will be healthy again. I have faith that God will heal these bodies and restore us.

Rest in Peace, Loneliness

 

Sunshine Cross

By: Kevin Thomas, Lead Pastor

There are lots of things I don’t like much. Repeatedly watching laundry pile up, reminding my offspring to finish their homework, ensuring our vehicles get regular oil changes, and, of course, preparing tax returns immediately come to mind.

Far beyond these seemingly unstoppable annoyances, what do I loath more than any other human experience? Loneliness. My greatest fear is being abandoned by God and by those I love. When I sense that God isn’t listening and others don’t really care, life quickly becomes dark and hollow.

As we navigate towards Easter, we’re reminded of Jesus’ intense suffering on the cross. His physical pain was certainly excruciating (Jesus faced execution just as the Roman world “perfected” their uniquely heinous brand of criminal torture).  Yet it’s Jesus’ agonized cry “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” that most grips my soul. (Matthew 27:46). His friends had fled, his spiteful rivals continued to hurl abuse, and now his eternal relationship with his Heavenly Father was severed. He was utterly abandoned in a very dark and hollow universe.

Yet Jesus’ defeat brings us our greatest victory. He battled through the excruciating pain of absolute loneliness . . . and won. He was fully abandoned by God so I can confidently know it’ll never have to happen to me.

Yes, there continue to be times when I’m lonely. It’s a painful reality of real life. However—just because I feel it, doesn’t mean it’s true. No matter my mood, my thoughts, my experiences or my behaviors, Jesus promises to never leave or forsake us. (Matthew 28:20) Every time loneliness grips my soul, Jesus’ victory on the cross reminds me that I’m never truly alone.

It’s quite likely that laundry, homework, car maintenance, and taxes won’t go away any time soon. Yet the overwhelmingly good news is that Jesus killed off the soul-stifling loneliness about 2,000 years ago. This is a truth worth celebrating—and a reality worth sharing.

I hope you’ll make every effort to join in on Sundays, in your Connect Group and especially on Good Friday evening and Easter morning. Let’s also invite others to experience God’s personal companionship with us. As God’s Spirit continues working though our church, we have the undeniable joy of being lonely together.

Sneak Peek at Sunday Mornings

By: Deron Vaupel, Ministry Administrator

When my other ideas for this blog post didn’t quite pan out, it was suggested that I pull back the curtain on what happens Sunday mornings at enCompass. That made a lot of sense, given how often I get asked about different aspects of Sundays. So without further ado, a brief glimpse into the logistical side of enCompass…

Preparations for any given Sunday get started at the latest on Tuesday at our weekly staff meeting. Along with taking time in prayer and study, Kevin, Darcy, and I work through details about announcements, printing, miscellaneous needs for the sermon, and logistics of any additional events that are happening throughout the week. These meetings usually lead to a flurry of e-mails and texts as we line up people to give announcements, get all the appropriate information together for the Loop, and confirm that we weren’t way off base in whatever else was discussed during the meeting. It may sound weird, but I really look forward to this time each week. Kevin and Darcy are great people to spend Tuesday mornings with. We have a lot of fun together, despite our ‘occasional’ distractions and rabbit trails.

The week then lulls a bit until the scramble that is Friday afternoon. Printing, more e-mails, confirming any last-minute details for the service and Connect, and frequently processing through sermon illustrations and details with Kevin. It’s quite a hodgepodge, but the variety of responsibilities that can come about on Fridays keeps things rather exciting.

When Sunday morning rolls around, we are on cruise control. Depending on the specifics of the morning, staff show up between 6:45am and 7:30am. My first responsibilities are to get the building unlocked, check for anything unexpected, and then start rolling (literally).

Cables and cords

Loading in

Most of our equipment is stored in a classroom in the children’s ministry area, so over the course of approximately 12 trips, everything that’s needed for the lobby and auditorium is moved into place for set-up.
Welcome tablecloth

Welcome table

Evan and donut
From there, it’s just a matter of running cables, setting up stands, moving tables, and making sure everything’s working like it’s supposed to. The same thing is happening down the hall in the children’s ministry area…moving desks, unrolling rugs, getting out toys, and doing final organization of curriculum. It’s all become a rather smooth process over the years. In under 45 minutes, everything is set up and I shift into floater mode (which usually means tech support and donut tester). Some Sundays, there’s even time to talk with people.Jess unrolling rug

Children's ministry cart

Once the service is over, there’s a quick time of tear down, sometimes some final donut clean-up, and then a bit of time on Sunday afternoons to post the sermon to the website and pass along any prayer requests to those who are committed to being in prayer each week. Then it’s time to start looking ahead to the next week and all that needs to happen in preparation for the next Sunday. All in all, a pretty smooth process that makes it easy to roll with anything unexpected.

Having been in my role as Ministry Administrator now for 6 months, I think I’ve found a good routine. As I reflect on all that happens in my week-to-week, there are 3 things that stand out:

1) It is such a blessing to be meeting at Concordia Academy. Yes, there are (sometimes chilly) hiccups along the way, but to have the meeting spaces we do, along with the storage and office space, simplifies our processes so much. Their gracious hosting allows us to spend more time focusing on ministry. So if you happen to see any faculty or staff from Concordia around, give them a big thanks.

2) The people of enCompass are a huge blessing. We are a congregation of doers, and it’s been a huge benefit to our church over the past 10 years. There are always people ready to move tables, give announcements, or step into any number of other areas of service. For that, I thank you.Judd coffee

Setting connect room

3) I love this job. It’s such a privilege to serve with the rest of the staff and all the congregation as we play our parts in God’s calling to build each other up and share his love & grace with those around us.

So there you have it…a brief glimpse into my life as a staff member at enCompass. It’s not always glamorous or thrilling, but I know that God’s prepared me to step further into this role and thrive, as I do what I’ve been made to do for his Kingdom’s sake.