Happy Wednesday, FCC! We're half way through VBS week and a lot of good things are happening! Please pause right now and pray for the leaders and volunteers—for energy, strength and joy in serving. Pray as well for God's Spirit to move in the hearts of students, that many would be drawn to Jesus.
One goal we have for our strategic plan and the development of a culture of discipleship is to extend the kingdom of Jesus cross-culturally through living out and passing on biblical discipleship principles. An example of this is Vision for the Valley and teaming up with the St. Croix Valley Lead Team. Please read below about Vision for the Valley Part 2. Please pray for God to lead and to provide! Please consider how you can give and be involved.
“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades..."
Some have said that there are few things as certain as death and taxes. It is true that the mortality rate is 100%. But there is something even more certain than death. What is more certain than death? Resurrection.
Because Jesus lived the life that we were supposed to live, and died the death we deserve to die, Jesus was raised to life by the Spirit of God. By resurrection from the dead, Jesus overcame the power of death and sin. Jesus now holds the keys to Death and Hades, which means that he can open the doors of death. Death could not hold Jesus down, and all who belong to Jesus will be let loose from the grip of death, when Jesus returns.
Now, I don't know how much you are aware of your mortality, but awareness of mortality always brings with it fear. We're not made to die. We are made to live. What Jesus has done speaks deeply into the core of our hearts. He gives us courage in the face of our mortality. With Jesus, we can look at the certainty of our mortality and filter it through the certainty of our resurrection. Because Jesus is the living one, who is alive forevermore, our fears can be put to rest.
I am taking a few weeks off from preaching, so I can work on our upcoming series in Ruth and Esther. That series will be about courage and loyalty, when God seems hidden or distant. This Sunday, Steve Cable will be preaching on Acts 9, and Paul's conversion to Jesus. Steve Cable is a missionary to Thailand, and we have had a strategic partnership with him for a few decades. He is here with us this week, because he brought a team of people with him from Thailand to work with our VBS mission. One of the ways Steve seeks the welfare of the Thai people is through teaching English. He has brought with him students, who have learned English and who know Jesus. Through this experience, they are increasing their ability to use the English language and learning about the American culture. Being a part of VBS this week also offers them opportunities to serve and lead in a local church in the states. You can learn more about the ministry Steve leads in Thailand at fcchudson.com.
In the current sermon series, Proverbs: Seeking Extraordinary Wisdom, we’re talking about wisdom: what it is, how we can get it and what it looks like to live a wise life in the world today. We have a couple of resources available in the café area to go along with the sermon series:
Last week I wrote about one of the three initiatives outlined in Vision for the Valley: our desire to see a Spanish-speaking church led by a culturally relevant Spanish-speaking pastor planted in St. Croix County for the 2,500 people in the area for whom Spanish is their primary language. (You can read more about this initiative below in “Worth Repeating.”)
Today, I’m discussing another initiative: continuing to train pastors and church planters in Uganda. Twenty-six churches have been planted in the first three years of this commitment to helping establish the church in northern Uganda! We want to build upon what has taken place in recent years and the good gains that have been realized. In the next phase of partnership, we will be developing indigenous (local) leaders, who at the conclusion of this process, will take over the work of strengthening the existing church to plant new churches, while also seeking to reach unreached people groups that are making their way to northern Uganda. The door is open for fruitful ministry!
The estimated total cost of all three components of Vision for the Valley is $270,000. Would you please pray about how you may contribute to this vision? If all of our current givers from all of our churches in the St. Croix Valley Lead Team gave $325 between now and September 30, we could reach this goal. Think about all the good that can be accomplished here and around the world for just $325! Please make checks out to FCC and put Vision for the Valley or VFV in the memo section. You may also give online at fcchudson.com. You can learn much more of what has occurred and what we hope will take place through the Vision for the Valley insert, that is part of the summer edition of “Faith Hudson” magazine. Thank you!
Baptism is an act commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ as an expression of faith and a symbol of our union with Christ, especially in his death and resurrection. We are planning for baptisms in the services on Sunday, August 26. Pick up a “Believer’s Baptism” brochure at the Info Center for more info or contact Becki at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715.386.4070 by noon on Monday, August 20, if you are interested in being baptized.
One of the initiatives from our strategic plan is to multiply disciples of Jesus through extension. Our goal with this initiative is local and cross-cultural church planting based on discipleship principles and practices. And, on June 24 at Vision for the Valley 2018, not only did we seek to celebrate God's goodness in planting churches since our last Vision for the Valley, we also looked ahead at opportunities God was giving us. We introduced three areas that we desire to fund and work toward through our partnership with the five other St. Croix Valley LEAD Team Churches. Today, I’m going to outline one of the areas: we desire to see a Spanish-speaking church led by a culturally relevant Spanish-speaking pastor planted in St. Croix County for the 2,500 people in the area for whom Spanish is their primary language. This is different from our previous church plants, in which all efforts led to the launch of a church worship service as a way to attract and engage people with the gospel. In this new model, we are aligning what we have learned about missional community and discipleship with a population in need of the gospel. Also, because they are spread geographically, this requires a different approach. This is an example of “church birthing,” that we outlined with our five-year strategic plan. We have identified a potential pastor to lead these efforts and Vision for the Valley can help us put him in place, working cooperative with the leadership of The Village in Baldwin and The Bridge in Somerset.