Happy Wednesday, FCC! I just want to start out by saying thank you to you all for your prayers and your participation with Vacation Bible School. Last week was a great week. God was glorified, prayers were answered, and people invested so much energy and grace. Keep praying that the gospel would bear fruit in many, many lives!
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6.37
Sometimes doubts creep into our hearts. Years ago, as I was studying Scripture, I was shocked by how often the Bible talked about God choosing who would come to Jesus. This left me wondering whether or not God chose me. How could I know if God chose me? This led to all kinds of spinning thoughts in my head. For example, I would get stuck thinking, “If God didn't choose me, and yet I gave my life to Jesus, would I be rejected by God?” Over the years, I have read others who have had similar experiences as mine. I have also talked to many others who have wrestled in a similar way. I don't know if you have wrestled with this or if you will, but John 6.37 gave me a way out of my spinning and fitful thoughts and doubts.
The first part of verse 37 emphasizes the choosing aspect of the Father. But the second part of Jesus’ teaching is what helped me out of my spinning. Jesus says, “…whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” It is here that I started to find rest. Jesus simply and clearly said, “and all you come to me, I will never cast out.” Jesus didn't say, “Try to figure out if you are chosen by God.” Instead, he said “…come to me, and I will never cast you out.” Here my heart rested, because I didn't have to figure out if the Father had chosen me, rather I just needed to come to Jesus, whole-heartedly trusting that he would never cast me out.
Maybe you'll never fight this doubt or wrestle in the same way I, and others have; that's a great gift! But you may wrestle with whether you will be accepted by God, even though you have repeated sins in your life or because you have failed in a big way, or you may doubt because of difficulties in your life that make you feel like you have been abandoned by God. Jesus' words are the same, “come to me, and I will never cast you out.” Come to Jesus. Come with your whole heart. Come to him, and he will never cast you out.
I've been working on the next sermon series, which will be on the Old Testament books of Ruth and Esther and will start in September. Please be praying for my preparation, as you are able. I have been so grateful for others, who are willing to come in and preach as I prepare for the next series. This Sunday, Pastor Steve Holsteen will be preaching on an important theme in Proverbs, which is God's plans and our plans. The sermon is called” God's Purpose in My Plans.” This will be really good, and I can't wait to learn from Steve!
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:
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.
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.
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!