Articles reflecting current events, musings, thoughts, and spiritual insights.

Supernatural Living – Pastor Bill Lewis

Welcome to 2015. What will it hold for you? These are all questions we have and the answers are held in the future. Circumstances can change rapidly and the best laid plans can be changed in a moment. Goals may be fulfilled or delayed. But we need to plan, to set goals, to expect good things.
So it is, that I face and we face the potentials of 2015. Goals, yes we have some. Plans, yes we have good ones and more to come. During our elders meeting this week, we were all of one mind for the future. The heart of each man is for the will of God to be done and for the Holy Spirit to have room and influence.
Even as a result of last Sunday’s message and prayer time, I was able to identify some of what God wants us to do in this coming year. We are a New Testament church and as such, we are responsible to be a people of the Word and the Spirit. We are going to focus on the things of the Spirit in ways that will re-kindle the fire of God in you and your gifts. We will be encouraging people to come into the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and learn what their gifting may be and help release the exercise of those gifts in daily life.
Starting with the seminar with Ralph Howe, Supernatural Living, we will begin this journey and once again be a resource for those who are seeking the presence of God and His abiding anointing. The Seminar is this month of the 23rd and 24th. We will begin registrations next Sunday. The cost is a minimal $15 to cover materials and the luncheon on Saturday.
Following the seminar, the elders have been lead to continue the Supernatural Living with monthly meetings to primarily focus on worship, testimony, laying on of hands for various anointings, the prophetic, and word teaching emphasizing the supernatural nature of our God and how to participate in His nature.
Our particular call and anointing has been to bring folks from all around into the things of the Spirit. Churches in our area are blessed because of people who were trained here, filled with the Spirit here, found their gifting here, and began their ministry here. We believe we are poised to serve the Lord in that capacity once again, spread our wings and soar again.
With that in mind, we must bury the negative and press for the high calling we have been given. It is time to speak life, speak positive, live life, and live supernaturally.

Another Year – Pastor Bill Lewis

Here we are standing on the edge of another year finishing and a new one beginning. Even though these are fairly artificial, they do provide a watershed moment. One day ends and another begins. December 31st slide into January 1st effortlessly, and if it were not for the calendar, it would just be another day passing.

Yet, we need these markers, these monuments of transition. Somehow it gives us a place of closure and a new beginning of sorts.

We even depict the change with images of Father time and Baby new year. For many, we breathe a sigh of relief as the year ends and say things like, “I do not want to go through one of those years again,” or, “This was one of the best years of my life.”

Each year I look to the hope of a better day, a better experience. I am not necessarily a negative person, but my makeup is to constantly evaluate and seek to improve. Often, as we seek to improve; things get worse first. The resolutions to improve health, fitness, the mind, or any business goal starts with worse first. If it is health, the changes in diet are tough to take. Can you remain on the program? If it is fitness, the soreness of exercise is the first experience before there is improvement. Want to improve the mind, it means reading and study. At first it is hard to be disciplined. Spiritual improvement are the same. The regimen of practiced discipline is not easy. Reading the Bible regularly, praying regularly, attending church consistently, all take time and effort. Not every Bible passage is going to be life changing in the moment. Not every prayer is going to feel like it is answered immediately or at all. Not every service is going to send you home thrilled and inspired. But it is the discipline of regularity that yields long term results. Laying one brick on the wall does not build the house, but consistent building of brick after brick finishes the house.

As a church we have been diligently building. Line on line, precept on precept. One step at a time, disciplined and consistent. It has not been easy, but we continue to build, one brick at a time. Sometimes it seems so slow, but the house is being built.

  • We now are beginning to see some young folks come into the church. We now here the cry of babies from time to time in the church.
  • Discipleship continues in the form of “Elevate.”
  • We sent 17 kid to Church Camp.
  • Roy Levingston became an Elder
  • Had a successful outreach with the “God is not Dead” movie and series.
  • We had the Outreach in the Park for the Summer with free ice cream for the kids, sponsored by Joy Wagon.
  • Brought Josiah on as full time youth pastor and worship leader
  • Hospitality Team hosted several successful events.
  • The church ministered to families in crisis on several occasions.
  • Ralph Howe held great seminar.
  • Paid off over $25,000 in mortgage debt. Down to $15000 from the starting point of over $100,000 in just 3 years. Projected to be debt free by July.
  • Celebrated our 50th Wedding anniversary
  • Matthew and Robin got married.
  • Matthew and Dani got married
  • Bryan and Robin got married
  • Cole and Kate had a baby
  • Josiah and Whitney had a baby
  • Miranda was baptized as were several others through the year.
    Really, there were a lot of good events.

So, it is with hope and expectation that we face 2015. What will it bring? That is the mystery. We must continue to follow hard after God and see what He gives us. There probably will be hardships and great victories. There will joy and sadness. There will be giving and taking in marriage. Life will go on with all its messiness, but the Lord will be faithful!

Remembering Christmas – Pastor Bill Lewis

 

When I was 11 or so, my dad and I sold Christmas trees out of the front yard of our house. It was big business for me, I loved it. We went to a tree farm and cut down the trees and hauled them home. I remember dragging them through snow and wet grass to the truck to haul them to the house. The smells of fresh pine as well as the tar stick with you and fill your memories. The smell of fresh pine still causes waves of nostalgia of Christmas’s past.

Then as I got older and the arguments of Christmas raged in Christian circles, it kind of lost its shine, its glow, its mystic. The arguments of pagan rituals, secular parties, hidden meanings all clouded the joy of childhood. I even went through a phase of having no tree which my wife and children delivered me from after a year or two of complaint and reality. For all the “truth” I had become somewhat of a religious Scrooge.

When I was a kid, I did not even think of such things. It was about mangers, pageants, wise men in bathrobes, kids dressed as sheep, angels with halos drooping, and lines forgotten and the fun of it all. Christmas was opening a present from Grandma I knew she could not afford. It was making gifts that were only useful for setting on the shelf as a memorial of a kid trying to be artistic. It was not a ton of gifts, but one gift that you had hoped for and maybe a couple of other gifts that were practical, like socks. It was running the electric train around the tree, having dinner with family and enjoying the day. It was the lights and festivities. These are the precious moments that are too lightly taken at the moment, but somehow build a palace of memories. Candlelight service at church was quiet and reverent. You could feel the awe of the new born savior.

Later, Christmas became more about the children as our family grew. Instead of me being the one to ask mom and dad to get up; it was I who was being jumped on early Christmas morning as the kids were full of excitement.

Christmas continues to change as the years pass. Now, it is just my wife and I on Christmas morning. No one wakes us. We enjoy our time together and then celebrate Christmas with the family on another day. We decided years ago that we would not make the holidays a battle for our children with divided allegiances with in-laws. We said that it was being together that counted, not the exact day.

So, now our memories are made on a day sometime following Christmas day. But there is still the joy of having family together, there is still the sharing of gifts, and there is gratefulness of the gift God gave to us in his Son.

Oh, the arguments are still out there. Sure, Jesus was probably born in the month of March, and yes, the tree had history in Norse traditions. Do I want to give up Christmas? No.

This is the opportunity to celebrate the virgin birth, this is the opportunity to marvel at the miracles surrounding his advent. This is a time when people are kinder, softer, and a little more open to hear the love of God expressed in the child who would die for them.

So, my wife has the tree up already. It is lit with several hundred lights. She loves Christmas. The decorations will slowly come out over the next few weeks and will slowly return to storage after Christmas and not be totally put away until, probably March.

We decided to do an Advent calendar again this year. In the midst and push of the holidays with Black Fridays and sales galore, I thought it might be nice to add a devotional side to things and keep things a little more simple.

So, I am all for Christmas. I think we should build every fond memory we can. I think we should embrace our children and grandchildren. I think we should honor our parents and indelibly write memories of these Christmas’s in our hearts.

Even though the season has gifts, our primary concern should be focused in the people we love and the savior who loved us beyond our greatest comprehension.

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Heat, No Light – Pastor Bill Lewis

Search the web and you find about any opinion that you want. Some of the Christian postings are vehemently attacked by atheists in the comment sections. Follow a few of these down the column and you find atheists and Christians going back and forth with argument and hot comment. This means there is a lot of heat, but really no light produced.

Sadly, this type of approach applies to argument in the Christian community as well. Take any sensitive subject and you will find the heat rising.

One of these hot button topics is tithing, giving, and benevolence. The real sticking point is usually tithing. Tithing is setting aside a tenth of increase to the Kingdom of God. The French use the term “dime,” meaning the dime or tenth. Most Christians believe in giving something, but the idea of a tenth requires re-organizing priorities and budgets.

The opponents of tithing make a severe separation of the Old and New Covenants. Their primary argument says that there is no such command in the New Testament; although Jesus says to the Pharisees that they should tithe, but not neglect weightier matters of the law like justice and mercy. Paul speaks of special offerings for the poor. However, little was said of tithing since the church was based in former Jews who would have been practicing tithing as a way of life from birth.

If we follow the logic of the anti-tithe argument, there would be an increase of income to the Kingdom of God, not a decline. The New Covenant principle was always a greater response, not a lesser response. So, if we were to follow the principle espoused by Jesus then the anti-tithe group would be the largest donors to the work of God.

Following those who hold to the tithe, the preponderance of the scriptural support comes from the Old Testament. There the principles and instruction for the tithe are outlined. The Old Testament says the tithe is to be used to support those who minister such as the Levites and the High Priest. Offerings were used to support the temple and of course, the alms were set aside for helping the poor.

Our eldership team holds to the Biblical pattern of tithes, offerings, and alms, We have categories and accounts for each. Our tithes support four staff members and is the primary way of financing all activities of the church. We tithe from the tithe to missions; so 10% of all our tithe goes to missions. All the offerings go to support the general fund. Designated offerings are applied to the desire of the donor. Alms are given regularly by a few that is used to help, mostly our members in special need.

Primarily the load of the ministry financing is carried by those who tithe regularly. Historically and experientially, those who tithe have invoked the blessing of the promises in Scripture. Famous people through the years have been tithers. Many of those who believe in tithing have made it their goal to exceed the tithe pushing to give greater percentages. Some of these who believed in tithing were not even known as Christians i.e. J.D. Rockefeller.

Giving is really a matter of one’s heart. The axiom of where your treasure is that is where your heart is, or it can be stated, where your heart is there your treasure will be. If your heart is convinced of the work of God, you will be investing. Laying up treasures in heaven is not your money, but where you invest your money now.                                                                                                                  

A Dose of Perspective – Pastor Bill Lewis

The survival of Christianity is one of the greatest testimonies to the existence of God that I know of. We continue to try to kill it, deaden it, mortify it, and desecrate it. Individual churches come and go. Doors close, new ones open. Great cathedrals are empty and storefronts can be full. Standard denominations are losing members and high school auditoriums are full with fledgling churches beginning. Drive through the country and you see clapboard buildings that used to be centers of revival now empty and rotting. Some churches are held together by endowments where a handful of aged meet. Yet, there are bars serving as Sunday meeting places for churches and coffee houses with an evangelistic message.
Worship has changed. Luther was a radical for introducing “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” which were Christian words put to a German beer drinking song. Scandal. Tame are the songs that rocked the church in the 1960’s. Modern themes and tunes were shocking. The introduction of guitars was earth shaking and adding drums was sacrilege. Pianos and pipe organs were orthodox.
When the first hippie walked through the door of a church, people spread rumors scandalous and scathing. How dare they! Pastors who allowed such rabble in the church were brought before boards and fired. But scandal and gossip were a part of the Bible story too. What did Jewish Christians do as the first gentiles entered the church? Well, of course, they must become Jewish. The tendency of man is to always want things to stay the same. It is comfortable. The next logical step is to make comfortable a doctrine and liturgy. So, we can legitimize comfortable by making it holy.
Obviously God does not buy into that line of reasoning. Because comfortable becomes dead, quickly. And God does not do dead. He is alive and ever present to call His own to himself. The Holy Spirit is not put in a box of tidiness, but ever lives to reach the souls of men and lead those who come to God.
The stain glass windows of the great cathedrals were once like tracts. They told a story pictorially to an illiterate people. They could not read, but they could see the story as told in the alcoves of the cathedrals. Some one could teach using the window as an illustration. The Bible would not be available to the masses until the printing press of Gutenberg. While now we see those windows as representative of dead religion, they were once alive and vibrant for reaching an illiterate people.
When the Bible came and people began to increase in literacy, the word became paramount. Home meetings, Bible studies, Holy Clubs were formed around the Bible. The Methodist Church was founded on a method of studying the Bible. Small churches dotted the landscape and itinerate preachers visited and taught on a circuit schedule. People moved and industry affected the movement. Empty buildings were found because change happened.
The church did not die. The Holy Spirit continues to raise up new movements and church plants. Where one closes, another opens. Man makes mistakes, but God keeps reaching people.
Today, there is a current of a movement that we must engage. Will this movement last? Historically, no. But it is where we are now. It is what God is doing now. It will change. The message will remain, Jesus is still the savior, God is still on the throne, the end is still going to come as recorded, but how it looks, we do not know. It would be freaky to see a move that went back to Puritan dress, but maybe. Following the Lord is following the pillar of fire, it is following the cloud. Same God, different place, different look. Hang on, this is good

Who are the Lost? – Pastor Bill Lewis

The Lost, who are they? The church speaks of the lost, the Bible speaks of the lost. What are they lost from?
The answers to those questions are important. There is an attitude in Christian circles regarding the lost. Often they are spoken of as the rabble of the earth, the down and out, the addicts, the surly, nasty people. They are the homeless, the criminal, the abuser, the foul mouthed, the unwanted. Yes, I am sure that comprises some of the lost. But there are lost out there that are financially successful, top of their profession, good moral character people, salt of the earth people, kind people, librarians and church goers.
The lost cover every strata of life. The lost come in all colors of humanity and they live in every nation. They are humans that are struggling to put food on the table and live an existence of some sort of meaning. They love and they hate. They are kind and they are mean.
The state of lostness may not be a down and out existence. It may be the high life. Lostness has nothing to do with social status or position.
First of all, what have they lost or what constitutes this condition? The Bible declares that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. ALL mean ALL. Universal. No Exception. So, the state of being lost includes everyone to start with.
Humanity is lost from the original intention of God for his creation, including the individual purpose of each human being who ever lives. Vast is the purposes of God to be able to bring intention and purpose to everyone who breaks from the womb and breathes.
The lost condition is from the sin, rebellion, and huge loss to man that took place in the Garden of Eden. Man’s huge potential for learning, comprehension, spiritual capacities was completely retarded, stumped, and nearly destroyed. The ability to fellowship with God was cut off. The communication with God became solely based on His initiative. Man had not stance any longer with God; yet the love of God still reached out to the creation that forsook him, chose another path, believed a lie, and decided to lean on his own understanding rather than God’s. Since then man lapsed in worships of fantasy, idols, creatures, and self. Modern man particularly worships himself and the creation while denying a creator. Lostness primarily is a condition of ignoring the creator, concocting some philosophy that dismisses God, and choosing to use the worship capacity of the soul in some offensive manner to the creator, proclaiming to be wise they continue to be fools.
But the lost do not like to be called fools since so much of the lost state has to do with human intelligence. So, reaching for the lost is a tricky business. While we know they are lost, we must identify with our own lost condition prior to knowing Jesus. You remember well that religion and Bible thumpers were to be avoided and ridiculed. But then one day you met someone who challenged you without condemning you. You also noticed something in them that was appealing; yet undefinable. However, you knew there was something and you wanted it.
The Holy Spirit is always working to bring the lost to Jesus. He works at it patiently and sometimes for years before the person sees their poverty and cries for help. The lost need a friend who knows what it was like to be lost and found the path to life. The lost need friends that are Holy Spirit patient and Holy Spirit persevering. Because, “once I was lost, but now I am found!”

Marathon Man September – Pastor Bill Lewis

Cathy and I have always enjoyed the Olympics. Every four years athletes compete on a world stage pitting the best of the best against one another. National pride is often at stake. These athletes have trained for their events for years. Jesse Owens was quoted as saying “a lifetime of training for 10 seconds.”
These athletes have endured hours of training and criticism from coaches. For some sports it comes down to one hundredth of a second between gold and silver. Sometimes the spread between the top winner and the bottom loser is a matter of a second. Getting the little extra can be the difference between winning and losing.
Some sports however, are endurance based. They are not the fast out the blocks and full out for a matter of seconds. These sports take pacing and endurance. Often the athlete will hold a reserve of second wind to give a final kick, or push to the finish. I remember the scene from the movie Hildago, the horses are lined up for a long race of days. The starter gives the sign for the start of the race and all the horse riders charge their horses at full speed off the line only to bring them to a walk or slow trot over the first hill. It was an endurance race.
The apostle Paul uses this metaphor to describe the Christian life. The race. We are exhorted throughout the word that this is an endurance race not a sprint. It is “he who endures to the end” that receives the prize. We are also exhorted to not lose hope, to not give up, to press on.
What does this mean? Well in any endurance race there is the temptation to quit because it is too hard. I have watched marathon races and triathlon races where the contestant makes it to the finish line and collapses, having used every reserve in the body to make it.
The Christian faith requires endurance. The reason is we live a life with many complexities. There is no cruise control on life. We face the joys and sorrows of living. There are tragedies that blind side us and throw us into a turmoil of faith and life. We struggle with existence and our current meaning. We bring everything into question. Our faith is challenged to its core. The existence of God, even though we have been born again, is questioned. We ponder his purposes and we search for a cause and a point of blame. Some things in life are an accumulation of small errors and other times there is no reason or blame to be had. Sometimes the troubles are of our own making and other times it is a compilation of hurts perpetrated on each other, such as in marriage, or family issues.
But, out of the trials, hurts, and unforeseen tragedies, we have to hold fast to our faith.
The busyness of life can be another factor that begins to cause us to lose the momentum of our faith. Jobs, school, children and their schedules, all lend themselves to diminishing relationship with the Lord. Our endurance begins to wane and we want to sit on the sidelines rather than be in the game. It happens to almost all of us at some time.
But, at the moments when we are being tempted to stop, slow way down, or bail out, is the very moment we need to ask God for a second wind, or a third wind. In those moments we may not be leading the race, but we need to stay in the race.
We really want to be as the apostle and proclaim we have run the race and finished well. I really want to hear some day, “well done, good and faithful servant.”
Endurance and faithfulness go hand in hand. Where are you today? What is testing your faithfulness? What is impeding your endurance? It is a Marathon!

I am Awake at Night…- Pastor Bill Lewis

In the wee hours of the morning, when sleep escapes, and the thoughts come up like a computer booting up, the weight of the day takes hold and the concerns for souls, the existence of a vision, and the proper way to accomplish things holds deep care in the heart.
As thoughts roll and scenarios play out, the individuals who are living like there is no end to life and the pursuit of pleasure is all there is, seem to deepen the concern. Lost is the acute awareness of life and death. Even though tragedies are reported every day and some of them come close to us; it is usually covered over with platitudes of empty words and meaningless gestures. It is as though “our thoughts are with you,” or “we are thinking good thoughts toward you,” some how means something. Wake up, your thoughts are useless to the eternal destiny of the victim of the tragedy or the death by some disease. Praying for the dead is an exercise in futility. All it does is salve the conscience of the one who has promised to pray.
Life is taken so lightly and funerals are conducted like everyone is okay with God. They are not. This is not an attempt to be judgmental, but to be factual. The door to eternity is opened and closed quickly. There is a last breath and the door opens and then closes just as rapidly. The person is ushered into eternity and no great eulogy will change that destiny. It can be the lonely graveside of a derelict or the lavish state funeral, but the outcome was determined long before and it was sealed with the last breath.
The piles of flowers, the candles, the pictures are all nice to pay homage and respect, but it is done. The soul has departed and has entered their eternal state.
Lost is the burden in the saints for those who are on the road to perdition. We are not sending them to perdition; they are choosing it. How we present the gospel may seem like that when we are rude and judgmental. But, the truth is the truth and it can be presented in a way that is a plea, a hope, a light, an answer.
However, as long as we sit in church, or live separate from the world, we will never do our duty to the Lord. There is that fine balance of being in the world, but not of it. Too often we have taken it to mean, “do not be in the world.” Sadly, we have succumbed to separatism and lost the ability to impact a dying world. A good example of separatism is played out in our area daily. The Amish community grows by childbirth, not conversion. Good people, but an oddity that has become an industry of tourism. Christians are doing the same thing. We have lost the zeal for conversion of the lost and now are worrying primarily about protection.
While we want to protect our children and families, the sad result is that the children revolt against the protection and seek their own way. Now, rather than having faced the world and been a light in the world, they now, as did the prodigal son, run to explore an unknown world and taste everything that was forbidden. Of course, we know the outcome, but that does not stop the years lost to hedonism.
The faith was meant to be infectious. It was not to be rigid and sterile. It requires not an agreement on facts, but an encounter with the person Jesus. We all talk about relationship, but all too often it is works.
I think about these things. I worry about the young and their lack of commitment, and I worry about the older generation and their “I am done,” approach. No one is done until the door opens into eternity and then closes. Does this really concern us enough?