Tom’s Midweek Greeting
Dear Church Family —
I was blessed yesterday by the good wishes and gifts of so many of you as I celebrated another birthday! Thank you for thinking of me, and thank you for keeping me in your prayers! I am indebted to you for that! Following my morning at Nevada High School, Evan and I were able to hustle down to the Branson area for dinner with Samuel and Esther, and also my mom and my sister, Lori, at the Keeter Center on the campus of the College of the Ozarks. I’ll try to post some pictures on Facebook. We had a great time!
As I look back and look ahead, I see that I’m blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life — including all of you, as well as dear friends and members of my spiritual family in previous churches, both in Hermann and in France. Through Facebook and other means, I’ve been able to stay in touch with so many! God blesses both the good and challenging times we spend with each other … and it may not be until years later that we realize the importance of what we’ve lived through together in the present.
I have eight children, two sons-in-law, two daughters-in-law, and six grandchildren spread out, literally, from coast to coast! The most recent addition, as you know, is little Clara Ruth Harms, born last week to Emma and Jason, in Tampa, Florida. Each of these family units is going through its own set of joys and/or struggles, so it has been interesting to me that the cares of being a parent seem not to go away with age; rather, they just change. I’m looking forward to Betsy and her friend Dan coming to visit family in Missouri next month! It will be good to meet Dan, and it will be good to see Betsy again. Beyond that, I’m due to make a trip myself this summer and need to do some planning toward that end!
I’ve been asked to preach the Senior Sermon at Nevada High School next month, and I look forward to that. Connecting with young people at NHS has been a fruitful part of the ministry God has given me here. High school kids seem to absolutely soak up all the love a person is willing to offer them.
Being a single parent and a single pastor continues to be the most unusual thing I’ve ever experienced in my life! Here are some things I got used to about Diana over the course of 28 years. These are the things I find lacking in my life now: (1) She knew me better than anyone else did. (2) She knew my kids the same way I did. (3) She knew how to bring out the best in me (and I often need that!). (4) In many circumstances, she helped me carry the load of a conversation. (5) She shared, beginning many years ago, my heart for ministry and discipleship.
Yet, I’m reminded (Romans 9 and Jeremiah 18) that it’s the potter’s right to make of the clay whatever kind of vessel fits his purposes and pleases him. I was encouraged yesterday, by a sermon I listened to in the car, that God loves to re-make lives! “The vessel the potter was making of the clay was spoiled in his hand; so he remade it into another vessel” (Jeremiah 18:4). I trust that one of the benefits you’re experiencing while at Crossroads Church is that God is re-making your life in some way! I’d love to hear how God has been re-making your life! Thanks!
As always, I’m looking forward to this Sunday’s worship, and to the gift of receiving something from God’s Word. We’ll continue in Genesis, taking a much closer look this Sunday at the person/creature we find in Genesis 3 called the serpent, or the devil, or Satan. Who is he? Why was he in the Garden? What does Satan do today in people’s lives and in the world? The Bible says that our struggle in life is not against flesh and blood (important point there!), but against spiritual rulers and powers, against forces of darkness and wickedness in the world and in the “heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). So it’s important that we take time to understand this one who leads the forces of darkness that wage war against all that is good in our lives.
What is needed at Crossroads for numerical and spiritual growth in the future? A few things come to my mind. Perhaps this short list will prompt your thinking and praying as well.
- Regular, ongoing small-group ministry has always been, in my mind, essential for developing relationships and ministry, and for incorporating newcomers. We need regular, ongoing small-group ministry that includes the maximumnumber of people possible who make up the Crossroads family. These should be small groups led, not only by the pastor, but by other capable leaders too. I am looking forward this summer to re-running the “Momentum” video series on The Beatitudes. Let me know if you’d like to join that group. I hope to have a start date soon. In addition, I’m considering reviving the Monday Night Bible Study this summer for in-person or via-Facebook study and encouragement.
- God has blessed us with a number of wonderful children at Crossroads. Could we pray that God would add to our population of children and would give some in the church hearts committed in a special way to reaching children? Children bring life, laughs, energy, and a future to a church. We also have an awesome group of high school and college-age young people! How can we maximize our care for, love of, and inclusion of them in God’s work? How can we be to them more than just Sunday morning friends?
- Growth in ongoing, planned outreach to people in our community and all across the world is a vital part of why God has brought us together. Would you pray for God to inspire our leaders and our members to see how we can do that effectively as a church? While Jesus did say, “I will build My church,” it’s also true that God expects us to work hard alongside of him, using our natural gifts, our spiritual gifts, and our wisdom.
There are some important changes coming up at the Y which are going to impact our ability to use their facility. I’ll share more on Sunday, but in the meantime will you join me in praying for the Lord’s leading, and for our hearts to discern and receive his leadership? Our elders will be meeting this Sunday after worship, so please pray for them also!
As we’ll see in this Sunday’s sermon, the Christian life is not a playground but rather a spiritual battleground. We’re not just members of a church we like ; we’re soldiers in the army of the Lord. Let’s take up the call and heed the Lord’s voice in a commitment to bless others with some of what God has given us!
See you Sunday!
I’m grateful to Heather who puts together the bulletin each Sunday! Be sure to thank Heather for doing that! Don’t forget to take a look at the prayer insert she includes each Sunday! I’m also very grateful to those who set up, to the Worship Team, to greeters, to nursery workers, and to those who provide refreshments! Also to an unofficial team of people we might call the Tear-Down Team! Thank you! You do a great job!