This week's UPDATE from Pastor Rusty
There was the “Feeding of the 5,000, then…”
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Matthew 14:22-31 (NLT2)
Famous story—Jesus walking on water. We know it. But what I want to remind you is that IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. This is a TRUE story. Of course you say, “Of course it’s true Rusty.”
We’ve experienced more bad news this past week. More deaths attributed to Covid-19 complications, extensions of stay-at-home orders, more financial fall-out in our economy, more fighting in Washington, DC over what is to be done, and then the most devastating news that hits so close to home. IMPD Officer Breann Leath was killed while responding to a call at the Wellington Village Apartments located so very close to our Old Bethel campus. A beautiful 24 year-old who wanted to be a police officer since she was a child. So needless. So senseless.
So much distressing news. And so, on some level we wonder, “Okay God, enough. Have you abandoned us? Don't you care what’s happening anymore?” Friends, it’s easy to doubt and question and maybe even get a little depressed with so much of the news being negative.
This feeling of the world being out-of-control is not new. Adam and Eve, Noah, Moses, the Hebrew slaves, Elisha, David, Mary Magdalene, Peter, Paul, every other disciple, the Irish during the Great Potatoes Famine, Jews in concentration camps, the Polish people in World War 1 AND 2, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Muslim Bosniak men during the Bosnian civil war, the Rohingya in Myanmar, Christians in Iraq, Syria, and China, and the list goes on. People have been wondering throughout history was the world simply alone and spinning out-of-control? It has not and is not.
Jesus understands and is with you. It’s okay to be sad at some current events, but we cannot and must not leave our focus there. Peter got distracted and lost his focus. He sank. Jesus didn’t scold him for it, He simply refocused him by asking the question: “Why did you doubt me?”
If you are distracted these days, let me offer two suggestions. First, turn off the news. Take a two-week “vacation” from all news and that includes not even reading (much less reacting to) ANYONE on your social networks who you do not know and actually like in the physical world. Just ask someone who loves you to “keep tabs” on the news and simply tell you when there is something you need to know. Second, remember that Jesus understands and will not let you sink.
God is still in control. Always has been. Always will be. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT2)
Sisters and Brothers, you are loved. Share that love of Christ and share the hope of Jesus with a world that needs to experience it more than ever.
To answer a question: We did not have a virtual service for Maundy Thursday or Good Friday because we simply did not have the technical capacity. Each worship experience represents at least thirty hours of technical work, and we simply could not do it this week.
Easter Sunday may feel odd, but we MUST celebrate that CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! So let’s worship together! Pray the prayers, sing the songs, follow along in the Message Notes (included in this message), and celebrate this Miracle of Miracles!
Engage together the rest of the week also. Here is the weekly schedule:
Sunday evenings a link to a “Chuck Knows Church” episode is posted on Facebook.
Mondays at 7pm Community Life Minister Arin Schellenberg hosts a Facebook Live discussion of the “Chuck Knows Church” episode.
Tuesdays by 10am Family Ministry Pastor Tonya Davis posts the Kids’ Church weekly Bible lesson and resources on Facebook.
Wednesdays at 10am Pastor Tonya leads a preschool Bible story lesson on Facebook.
Wednesdays at 12pm Pastor Tonya leads a Youth lesson on Facebook
Wednesday evenings by 7pm a scripture is posted for people to read in preparation for…
Thursdays at 7pm Facebook Live Bible study and discussion led by Pastor Tonya and Arin.
MESSAGE NOTES FOR THIS SUNDAY: April 12, 2020 (Easter)
“The Big ‘So What?’ of Easter”
Easter is Act __________ in a five-act story.
Act One: God _______ it _______!
First, God made it all to ________ what He’s _________ _______.
For everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by his power, and everything is for his glory. Romans 11:36
Second, God created it all to _________ His ________.
He is good to everyone, and his compassion [that’s love] is intertwined with everything he does. Psalms 145:9 (Living)
Third, God created it all so that He could have ___________.
In his goodness he chose to make us his own children by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his choice possession. James 1:18 (NLT)
Act Two: _________ and ______ messed it up.
Love is only love if you have ___ ___________.
When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone…” Romans 5:12a (NLT)
Act Three: _________ came to ______ it.
Jesus was given to die for our sins, and he was raised from the dead to make us right with God. Romans 4:25 (NCV)
God destroyed sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Romans 8:4 (NLT)
Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! Romans 5:18 (M)
When I open my life to Jesus Christ, I get a _______ life—that means forgiveness for the past. I get an ___________ life—that means a purpose for living. And I get __________ life—that means I get a home in Heaven.
Act Four: We have a ___________.
“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him!” -1 Kings 18:21a (NIV)
Every choice I make on this planet has eternal _______________!
Act Five: Jesus is __________ _________ for us.
[Jesus] died for us so that we can live with him forever, whether we are dead or alive at the time of his return. 1 Thessalonians 5:10 (NLT)
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever.” Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)