How to Pray for your Family

Colossians 1:1-14

There is no one more important in the world to us than our family. And one of the greatest ways to love our families is to pray for them. Here’s how:

  • PRAY PASSIONATELY Colossians 1:3-3, 4:2 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you…

    The church at Colossae was made up of Paul’s spiritual children. He loved them and experienced hardship on their behalf. Paul shows us that one of the greatest ways we show love for others is through prayer. Why would we not plug into the greatest power source this world has ever known? May we understand that prayer is the power switch to unleash God’s power on our family’s behalf.

  • PRAY POINTEDLY  Colossians 1:4-8 …because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel  that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.  You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

    Am I praying specifically for my family? Paul mentions several characteristics in the lives of his spiritual children that he commends and celebrates. I believe these are excellent spiritual traits that we need to pray into our kids, grandkids, and others around us.

    Make a list and pray for the development of specific character qualities. Pray pointedly for specific character qualities/traits to be developed in your kids and grandkids. Here are five Paul mentions:

    • Faith
    • Love
    • Hope
    • Fruitfulness
    • Learning
  • PRAY PERSISTENTLY  Colossians 1:9 — For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives…

    Am I praying persistently for my family? Start early and never stop praying for your kids, grandkids and family. Pray for your family in seven ways:

    • Mentally—to have the mind of Christ, to be clear minded, to think like Jesus.
    • Physically—health, protection, strength.
    • Spiritually—to know Christ, live for Christ, grow in Jesus Christ.
    • Emotionally—break free from emotional chains.
    • Relationally—be protected from the wrong people and connected with the right people.
    • Sexually—moral and sexual purity
    • Financially— manage money God’s way: save, give, avoid debt traps and materialism.
  • PRAY PURPOSEFULLY  Colossians 1:10-14 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

    When praying for our children and grandchildren use Paul’s “checklist:”

    • Pray they live a life worthy of the Lord.
    • Pray they live their life to please Him in every way.
    • Pray their life becomes fruitful and full of good and godly works.
    • Pray they grow in the knowledge of God.
    • Pray they are strengthened in His power.
    • Pray they experience great endurance and that they persevere through challenges.
    • Pray they grow in patience, trusting God in all things.
    • Pray they experience the joy of the Lord and keep encouraged.
    • Pray they live life with gratitude and thankfulness for all God has done.
    • Pray they live life to gain Heaven.

You need to plan prayer – so create a plan and then be sure to work your plan. Paul shows us how to pray for our family by starting early and never quitting!

Others Depend On Your Prayers

One of my favorite prayers in the Bible doesn’t even feature any words. It simply communicates action. In Ex 17:8-16, Moses prays on the mountain while Joshua fights in the valley. As long as Moses has his hands up in prayer, Joshua is winning on the battle field. Whenever Moses’ hands come down, Joshua is losing. What a powerful message to me about the importance of prayer. God has stated that He wants us to pray and intercede for others. When we do, it moves the hand of God in a powerful way on behalf of those for whom we pray. When we don’t pray some things do not happen for good on others’ behalf. This is God’s plan. He has invited us to participate in advancing His will and blessing. We don’t manipulate God when we pray, we participate in accomplishing His ends.

There are seven prayer factors in this story that we can relate to:

  1. Opposition (vs. 8) The Amalekites were in Moses’ and Joshua’s way. God has called them to advance His mission and inhabit the Promised Land. The Amalekites stood in their way. We all have opposition in life of one kind or another. In times of opposition, adversity and hardship, we need to pray for strength, guidance, faith and for God’s help. Moses did. What obstacles do you need to overcome? Give them to God and trust in Him. 
  2. Fight (vs. 9) Notice that Moses and Joshua did not retreat, give up, or cave in when opposition came their way. Moses says to Joshua, “get some guys and go fight; I’m heading to the mountain.” Just ponder the imagery here and apply this to your personal life. One of the ways to fight is on our knees or more specifically in prayer. Both Moses’ and Joshua’s roles were indispensable – and both were critical. Many of us are in a fight of one kind for another. What fight are you in? How do you plan to approach the fight? May I suggest the Moses/Joshua plan? Simply move forward in prayer. Have faith in God and step forward as you pray. God is with you. God is for you.
  3. Team (vs. 10, 12) This leads me to the third prayer factor that jumps out to me. Joshua and Moses teamed up, but the partnership here goes beyond just the two of them. Notice their larger team includes Aaron and Hur and of course the warriors in the field. Question: Who’s on your team and whose team are you on? Who have you invited to pray for you and who are you praying for? Don’t do life alone. Face opposition and move forward in faith with a team of folks praying for you. Build a prayer team or join one of the many LifeGroups here at BCA (which is an instant prayer team, btw). Let’s do life together by praying for one another.
  4. Belief (vs. 10) Moses and Joshua believed in the power of God and in the power of prayer. We need to do the same. Have faith in God and His mighty power and believe in the power of prayer. Barna says the average Christian spends less than 59 seconds a day in prayer and most don’t have a prayer plan. As we begin this new year, develop a prayer plan and a daily devotional plan to grow and strengthen your spiritual life. I’ve included a couple of practical ideas below that you might consider.

  1. Power (vs. 11) When Moses lifted his hands it was a symbolic appeal to God for help and enablement. He believed in God, God’s power, His need for God, and in the power of prayer to move the hand of God. What do you believe about God? What do you believe about His power? What do you believe about prayer? We can believe in the God of Moses and Joshua, the God of Scripture. Trust Him. Entrust your burdens and needs and family and challenges to Him. Allow Him to strengthen you and grow you and help you and guide you. He is a powerful God worthy of our worship and obedience and trust.
  2. Victory (vs. 13) “So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” So did Joshua win the battle? Or was it Moses on the mountain that was the key to victory? Or both? Ultimately it was God who won but they both had a part to play. Herein lies a powerful application for you and me. In God’s Kingdom and in His wisdom, He has allowed us and invited us to be active participants in advancing His Will. It is very clear in this story that Joshua and Moses both had a role to play (as did Aaron and Hur and the warriors in the field of battle). God has a role for you and me, too, and part of it includes us praying for others. Others depend on our prayers. Pray for your kids, spouse, family, extended family, friends, church, and more. Where do you need to see victory in your life? Where do others near and dear to you need to see victory in their lives? Pray about it and ask God to also reveal what additional role He may want you to play.
  3. Gratitude (14-16) Moses built an altar to commemorate the mighty victory. “The Lord is my banner, protector and deliverer,” Moses said for all to hear and remember. God was there for Moses and Joshua and Israel and He will be there for you and me. Stop for a moment and thank Him for all He has already done for you. Have an attitude of gratitude and allow His faithfulness in the past to build your faith in His provision and grace for the future. As you move forward in this young new year, be grateful for His goodness in years gone by. Be thankful, remember and never forget.

 

Never underestimate the power of prayer and the need others have for us to be in their corner…through prayer. Ask God to help you step up your prayer focus in 2019.

Gratitude & Anticipation

I Chronicles 16:34—“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

 

2018 is behind us and as 2019 unfolds, we are each presented with a new book, the pages and chapters each waiting to be written. How will you choose to write 2019?

One principle that I have found important to practice in my life is the regular and ongoing dance between gratitude and anticipation. I need to be grateful for all God has done in my life, my family, my church, and more. But I also need to remember that He is not finished with me – or any of us – yet. And therefore, I need to live with a renewed hope and anticipation that the days ahead are brimming with possibilities and opportunities to love God and others and to fulfill His purposes.

Take a moment today and reflect once again on the many blessings God has placed in your life. Then stop and pray, “God use me and make me useable. May I be faithful to advance your purposes and obey your Word and Your will with greater zeal in 2019. Amen.”

Wonder: The Unimaginable Becomes Imaginable

Christmas is a time of great imagination, especially for kids. Just imagine a child taking a beautifully wrapped gift in hand, shaking it, imagining what’s in it, listening for a puppy inside. Thinking “What could it be?” as they run through all the awesome possibilities in their mind. Hoping, dreaming, and imagining how unimaginably cool it is going to be if they get their most desired gift.

For the shepherds, the unimaginable became imaginable (Luke 2:8-20). It was unimaginable that:

  • Shepherds would be the ones to receive the angelic announcement.
  • The Messiah had finally come.
  • Good News of eternal salvation had come in Jesus Christ.
  • Fear could be replaced by hope.
  • The most ordinary and humble of all would be the first to see the promised one.
  • A common night of good shepherding would result in meeting the one Good Shepherd.
  • An ordinary stable and manger and parents and cows and hay and shepherds and angels witnessed the birth of an extraordinary baby.

Jesus represents the unimaginable becoming imaginable!

God wants to do something new in you. I’m not sure what it is for you. I have some ideas of what it is in me. What I do know for sure is that we need to make room in our hearts and lives for God to work in us. Remember the Christmas story: there was no room in the Inn. Likewise, there is often no room for God in our “Inn” to work in us.

So how do we make room for God?

  • Surrender our all (James 4:7-10). This passage of scripture in James lists 10 things we need to do to humble ourselves before God. The first is to submit, surrender or devote our lives to God. I’m inspired by the lowly shepherds. When they heard the angelic proclamation, there was nothing more important to them than the Christ child.Would you pray this prayer with me? “Jesus, may I live every day as if it was the first day I heard about the coming of the Messiah. May it not get old, may I not get stuck in a rut, may I not put my faith on auto pilot, may I live each day surrendered and submitted to you, may I sincerely glorify and praise you with my life each day.”

    As we do this, we will make room for God to do something new in us. It starts by living a surrendered lives, Jesus-first lives, making Him the center of all we do and all we are.

    Making room starts with surrendering. For God to do something new in you and me, for Him to transform me into the image of His Son, for the unimaginable (to be more like Jesus) to become imaginable we need to give God the gift of total surrender this Christmas. Give this some prayer and thought over this next week, and begin the New Year with a renewed commitment.

  • Serve others (Mark 10:45). Shepherds were humble, lowly, servants.The spiritual discipline of serving others does something profound – it gets my thoughts off of me and on others, and that is exactly how Jesus lived. When we serve others it creates space in our hearts, minds and schedules and allows us to be about what God is about.

    In my mind, there is a key descriptor word that goes with serving, and that is sacrifice. Jesus came to serve and He did so by sacrificing His life. What am I sacrificing for others? What are you sacrificing for others?  As we desire to be more like Jesus, sacrifice needs to be in our crosshairs. What can we sacrifice to bless others? This is the true idea of service. It is the Jesus example. The whole idea of transformation is to become more like Jesus and that implies sacrificed service. Consider ways you can sacrifice your time, energy, and money to serve God and others in greater ways this Christmas and in the New Year.

  • Shun sin (Acts 2:38 and 1 Peter 1:14-16). Sin and compromise crowd out God and leave no room in our “Inn.” But prayer and repentance make room for God and give Him room to have our attention and change us and grow us to be more like Jesus. If I were to hand you two glasses of water, one that was contaminated and discolored and the other was crystal clear which one would you drink from? Apply this illustration to your spiritual life. What are the contaminants (sin) that we allow to flourish in our lives that crowds out God? What do we need to flush out so God can flourish?We are all sinners. Whether we are on the bottom of the social ladder like the shepherds or the top of the heap like royalty of Jesus’ day, all of us are sinners who need a savior. We all need to accept Jesus as Savior and then ask God to give us strength to forsake sin so we can become more like the Savior.
  • Spread the Good News (Luke 2:17 and Mark 4:19). Really, this is why Jesus came and it is what He asks all of His followers to do. The shepherds spread the word, they told the story, they shared the Good News. Tell someone your story and tell someone THE Story. Don’t feel like you need to convince, win, persuade or debate. Remember, it’s the Good News! Do your part and share it, then trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.This Christmas and this upcoming New Year make space in your heart and mind for Jesus to use you to reach others. As you do, He will make a new you in you.

Wonder: The Impossible Becomes Possible

This month I found myself thinking about the heroism of WWII. December 16 marked the 74th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. There were many battles in WWII but according to Alex Kershaw in his book, The Longest Winter, the greatest battle in U.S. history was the Battle of the Bulge.

Hitler’s last great attempt was to move through the Ardennes and take Bastogne on his way to securing the port city of Antwerp, and, in so doing, strengthen his grip on the war. Overwhelmed and against all odds, a small contingent held their ground until Patton and his 3rd Army could arrive and provide support. According to the U.S. DOD, American forces suffered 89,500 casualties at the Battle of Bastogne (Battle of the Bulge), including 19,000 killed, 47,500 wounded, and 23,000 captured or missing. Today I reflect with gratitude on the sacrifice of those soldiers who stood tall against great odds and resisted Hitler and Nazi Germany.

There is an enemy greater than Hitler and a disease greater than Nazism – and that is Satan and the disease of sin. Facing these seemingly insurmountable foes, mankind too was overwhelmed, outgunned, and had no prospect of a 3rd Army to rescue us. Only God could save us. And he sent Jesus to liberate our sin-controlled souls and defeat Satan.

You want to talk about commitment? Sacrifice? Suffering and service? That’s Jesus! He made a way where there was no way. He defeated the enemy of our souls and the sin that judged us. He turned the impossible into possible.

Think for a moment about the realities of our salvation:

  1. MAN’S CONDITION
    One of the great Christmas narratives is found in Luke 1:26-38. Here we see Mary talking with the angel Gabriel expressing how overwhelmed and confused she was with all that was going on. Humanly speaking it was impossible for her to have a child as a virgin. It was impossible for Jesus to be fully God and fully man. And man was in an impossible situation with no hope. The Bible states that man is a sinner (Romans 3:23), man cannot save himself (Romans 6:23) and man is guilty and must pay for his sins (Ezekiel 18:20). Hopeless and impossible…that was man’s condition. Man’s condition was more impossible than the odds at the Battle of the Bulge and more devastating than being continuously shelled or even being captured and tortured. Separated from God, from heaven and from forgiveness because of our sin.
  2. GOD’S SOLUTION
    God saw our condition and He sent His solution, the Savior of the world, Jesus. Jesus came to save us and He was – and is – the ONLY solution (Acts 4:12). I think of the Battle of Bulge; Ike did his thing, so did Monty and Bradley, but it was Patton who got there first to bring the reinforcements that were desperately needed to push back the enemy. Now I think about Jesus; when Jesus came, He did not represent reinforcements. No, He was the ONLY ONE who could rescue us. Only Jesus could defeat our enemy and solve our dilemma with Satan, sin and eternal judgement. Man’s Condition = sin, guilt, judgment
    God’s Solution = Jesus, Savior, salvationI think of the many people who need to find salvation all around the world. Pray with me that they find the solution to eternal life and forgiveness: Jesus, God’s solution, our Savior.
  3. OUR DECISION
    Man’s condition was hopeless and impossible but God made a way by offering His solution, Jesus Christ, to be the Savior of the world. Jesus came and made it possible for everyone to come to faith through Him. But you must decide. No one can choose to become a Christian for you. Only you can decide for you. Look again at Luke 1 where Mary made a decision. She had worked through and processed everything and said I’m all in. She wanted to be an active participant in God’s plan. That’s the same decision we need to make. We need to say “God, I’m all in with your plan for me!”We need to become an active participant in our own rescue. We don’t save ourselves, the Bible is clear on that. Ephesians 2:8,9 says, “For by grace we are saved through faith….” We must choose to accept or reject the gift of Jesus’ salvation. If we don’t choose God we are in effect rejecting Him.Choose to give your life to Jesus. Join His family and receive His salvation. God could have “forced us” to follow Him but He knew that would not be sincere or heartfelt. He gave us a choice. God chose us and He invites us to choose Him. He will not force you to follow Him, only you can choose.

Because of Jesus, our hopeless and impossible condition has been made hopeful and possible through God’s solution, Jesus Christ. Receive Him and believe in Him. What a way to celebrate this beautiful season.

Wonder: The Invisible Becomes Visible

John 1:1-18

It was amazing to follow the NASA InSight landing on Mars, which was sent to explore the planet’s unchartered interior. Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, stated, “We’ve studied Mars from orbit and from the surface since 1965, learning about its weather, atmosphere, geology and surface chemistry. Now we finally will explore inside Mars and deepen our understanding of our terrestrial neighbor as NASA prepares to send human explorers deeper into the solar system.” As amazing as it is to think about man landing on Mars, the greatest miracle was when God landed on earth.

I recently returned from a missions trip to Albania where we set up a new Global Church Partnership. The Albanian people are precious and were so happy we came and begged us to come again. In Albania 99.6% of Albanians do not know Jesus, and most in the Balkans have never heard the message of Christ. I’m reminded this Christmas that the greatest missions trip that ever was conducted was when Jesus came to save the world. He came to save you and me and the entire world.

Don’t forget what Christmas is all about. It is not ultimately about the presents on the tree, it is about the presence of God who died on a tree. Jesus became man so He could eventually die on the cross for our sins. It’s the greatest rescue mission in the history of the world. Keep making sure there is room in your heart, mind, schedule, calendar, wallet and life.  Don’t build Jesus around your life… build your life around Jesus.

John 1:1-18 shows us three reasons WHY Jesus came:

  1. He came to SHOW us. He came to show us God: the way to Him, how to live for Him, how to show His love and grace and who He is. Had Jesus not come, we would be spiritually lost with no hope of finding our way. We would be in complete darkness with no way of seeing or understanding His truth. Have you ever been lost? Have you ever been in complete darkness? Jesus came to show us the way and be the light so we could find our way to eternal life and spiritual truth (see John 1:1-9).While visiting the Bible school in Albania a couple weeks ago, we were blessed to meet a young lady whose eye surgery BCA had paid for when Kurt, the local missionary we’re working with, reached out to us several months ago. This young lady is a student in the Bible school and was in need of an important surgery to prevent her from losing her sight and going completely blind. She was fearful of the darkness and of not being able to see. We unexpectedly had the chance to meet her when we were touring the bible school and tears and gratitude flowed heavily on both sides. She was so thankful, and so were we, that we could care for her and give her hope and show her the love of Jesus. This is what Jesus did for you, me and the entire world – we were blind and living in darkness but God sent Jesus to SHOW us His light.
  2. He came to SAVE us. He was born in order that He might one day die.  Easter is awesome – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the lynchpin of the Christian faith, but there would be no Easter without Christmas. Jesus was born to die and He came to earth knowing He would die.  He came to save us by giving His life for us – He came to rescue us from our sins.

    Only God could save the sins of the world but He had to become man (while not giving up his divinity) so He could die for our sins as a fellow human, taking the penalty we deserved for our sins. This was God’s plan. Only God could pay for the sins of the world but only God becoming man could redeem a fallen humanity; fully God/fully man, one person/two natures. In essence, “God in a bod.” (See John 1:10-13)

    John 1:12 is one of the most important verses in the whole Bible; it tells us to receive and believe. Where do you stand in your faith? If you have not committed your life to Him, go all in and give Him your heart – because He gave you His life. Many do the opposite and reject God instead of receiving him. Don’t ignore Him, believe!

    Jesus came to save us, He came to save all Albania and He came to save the world. He doesn’t want anyone to perish; He wants everyone to come to repentance. He chooses everyone and invites everyone. Everyone – including YOU!!! Jesus chose you. Jesus came to save you. He came to save the world. Receive and Believe.

  3. He came to SURROUND us. He came to us, to be with us, and to surround us with His love.

    The other day I received a note from a dear friend in our church. She shared a powerful reminder of how Christmas is truly magical for most people but it is also very painful for those who are missing loved ones. She reminded me that there are those whose loved ones have passed away and of families who are experiencing hurt and dysfunction or those who have painful childhood memories. She wrote that “old wounds become fresh again” at Christmas (for some). Maybe that’s you.  Maybe Christmas this year is going to be a bit less magical or more fragile.

    John 1:14-18 reminds us that Jesus came to us. He chose us. He dwelt among us. He came to reveal himself and His power and love to us. He offered us His grace and peace and strength. He has surrounded us with his presence. He has wrapped His arms around us. We are never alone. We are not forgotten. We are loved.

    Personalize it. He came for you, He came to you, He came to free you, and He came to prove His love for you.  He came to surround you…and strengthen you…and comfort YOU.

    I think I speak for most people when I say that I feel special when I know someone loves me, when someone gives me something deeply meaningful and when someone makes extraordinary plans for me. That is what God has done for you in Jesus (read John 3:16).

    One of the most encouraging scriptures in all the Bible comes to us in the Christmas story: Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us.”). Immanuel, “God with us.” He is always near and present with us, surrounding us with His grace, love and peace. He cares, cast your cares on Him.

Why did Jesus come?

  • He came to show us.
  • He came to save us.
  • He came to surround us.

Take time this Christmas to thank Jesus for caring for us and for coming to us.

2018 Year-End Letter from Pastor Rob

Dear BCA Family:

Merry Christmas!! The fun, excitement, and busyness of the Christmas season is upon us. Plan now to join us for one of our many Christmas Eve services this year. Christmas Eve at BCA is one of my very favorite services of the entire year. May the Lord bless you and yours in a special way this Christmas.

Each year I write a year-end letter to update you on giving opportunities and needs, to say thank you, and to highlight some other important items. There is always so much happening in our church, in the lives of our people, and in the many ministries of BCA that it is good to focus in a bit as we near year’s end.

We have certainly experienced the blessings of the Lord at BCA again this year. Your faithful giving, serving, praying, inviting, sharing, and worshipping has been inspiring. Our attendance and giving this year has been very strong and that is a testimony to your faithfulness and devotion to our Lord and His work!! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. God is using us as we work together.

BIGGEST NEEDS BEFORE DEC 31, 2018

This year I want to invite you to give a special gift—above and beyond your tithe—to the General Fund of BCA. The GF carries the major burden for funding staff, facilities, and all BCA ministries (over 100 strong). General giving of tithes and offerings make up our general fund and is overseen by our board of deacons and finance committee, both of whom do an excellent job. While giving has been strong in 2018, the needs of our church continue to grow. We need a strong final month to reach our budget expectations. So, would you consider doing two things as we approach the end of 2018?

1: Evaluate your tithe record and catch up if needed.

God calls upon us to give the first 10% of our income to our local church and He will stretch the remaining 90% to meet our needs. Our church has many faithful tithers. I’m praying that every family will step up and honor God in this way. This is His plan. Obedience in this area opens us up to receive God’s blessings. I encourage you to trust God and put Him first in this area of your life. You will be glad you did. You will be blessed and God’s Work will be blessed.

2: Give a Special Christmas Offering—above and beyond your tithe.

If everyone (that can) could give a special sacrificial Christmas offering, over and above your tithe, the work of BCA will move forward with great impact. As I pray about our church finances, I know they are in the Lord’s hands. And yet as your pastor, I want to challenge you to prayerfully join me in closing out 2018 in a very strong and FAITH-FILLED way. Would you join Lisa and me in giving a special Christmas offering to BCA’s General Fund? Thank you for prayerfully considering and doing what you are able to do. It makes a world of difference, literally.

LET’S CELEBRATE!

We celebrate the many ministries and outreaches of BCA, including our work with over 80 missionaries and our 5 Global Church Partnerships. We celebrate our 25 outreach ministries to our local community through Bethany Compassion Ministries and our developing Bethany Compassion Center. We celebrate the many new people who have come to our church. We celebrate the many Christ-honoring servants of BCA. We celebrate new life as every week people of all ages are making commitments to follow the Savior. We celebrate Jesus Christ our Lord and King!

May God richly bless you and your family. Know that you are loved and appreciated. You are a blessing to our church family and to me. It is a joy to serve, give, and worship together with you. We are making a difference!! Thank you for making BCA your church family and for keeping our collective work in your prayers.

In His mighty name,

Lead Pastor

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More and more of our people are giving online these days. For many, this has been a helpful way to schedule automatic giving and be more consistent. As a result, we have seen our aggregate giving numbers increase.
I encourage you to set up regular online scheduled giving through BCA Connect and on our website at bcachurch.com/give.

Year-End Compassion Giving & Goals

$100,000 for COMPASSION MINISTRIES BY 12/31/18

As a downtown church we feel God has planted BCA here for a reason. One of those reasons is to show God’s love in practical ways through compassion ministries. We’ve all heard it said many times (because it’s true): “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We feel God has called us to reach out through the 25+ compassion ministries BCA facilitates on an ongoing basis to show God’s love to the people in our community. God is using us to bring encouragement to many people… many of whom don’t yet know Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Would you kindly take a moment to pray for each of these outreaches right now?

  • Everett Gospel Mission: Sunday Chapel Service
  • Everett Gospel Mission: Sunday Meals
  • Everett Gospel Mission: Women’s Shelter Adopt-a-Room Project
  • Celebrate Recovery
  • Kid’s Club at Hawthorne
  • Back to School Shoe Drive
  • Back to School Supplies Drive
  • Pregnancy Resource Center Diaper Drive
  • Thanksgiving Food Baskets
  • Christmas Food Baskets
  • Christmas Giving Tree
  • Christmas Coat Drive
  • Christmas Gift-a-Card for Wounded Warriors
  • Compassion Everett Counseling Center
  • Evergreen Recovery Center Baby Showers
  • Evergreen Recovery Center Birthday Baskets
  • Hawthorne Weekend Backpack Program
  • Food Pantry
  • Jail Ministry
  • The Widow’s Project Partnership
  • Foster & Adoption Support Group
  • Care Classes: Grief Share
  • Care Classes: Divorce Care
  • BCC Fundraising/Grant-Writing Teams
  • Emergency Financial Assistance

As most of you know, we are actively searching for an additional building to expand our reach and to house our growing compassion ministries. The Bethany Compassion Center will be a hub of compassion and outreach ministries in our community. Our hope and our goal is to make our BCC facility purchase in early 2019 so we can fully realize our dream to work with area churches and agencies to the meet human need in Everett and the surrounding communities. In order to prepare for the expansion of BCA Compassion Ministries, we need to do two things:

  1. Continue to grow our ministry leadership and teams. This is happening week by week.
  2. Continue to raise resources for the new BCC facility. My prayer is that we can raise an additional $100,000 by the end of 2018. This would put us close to our overall goal of $250,000.

Would you pray with me for the Bethany Compassion Center and consider giving a generous year-end gift by 12/31/18? Together we can make this happen and expand our reach to more and more precious people who need a “hand up” and to have someone in their corner who truly cares. We want to be that someone to more and more people — adults, families, homeless teens, single moms, the elderly, orphans, widows, underprivileged children, and more. Thank you for praying with me and for caring!

Matthew 25:40: “…whatever you did for one of the least of these…you did for me.”

I Thank God For You…

Dear BCA Family,

Philippians 1:3-6 says, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

With Thanksgiving this week, it gives me another opportunity to tell you how thankful I am for you. Like Paul, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Thank you for “your partnership in the gospel.” BCA is a great church because of Jesus — but it is also an amazing church because of you, the many who give, serve, pray, work, encourage, minister, lead groups, work with youth and kids, welcome and care for people, and generally show God’s love in so many ways. I am confident that our Lord who has begun a good work in you and in our church family will continue it as we continue to put Him first in our lives.

Thank you, BCA Family, for loving Jesus and for all you do to build BCA and to bless others.

With love, appreciation, and thanksgiving,

LEADERSHIP: The Call to Influence and Servanthood

Genesis 37-50

It’s hard to believe that we wrapped up our ELEVATE series this past weekend. I hope you’ve been both challenged and encouraged by this study of the life of Joseph, one of the great heroes of the faith. Evaluating how he handled such real-life issues as VISION, INTEGRITY, FAITH, MONEY, GODLINESS, RELATIONSHIPS and COURAGE has encouraged me and I hope looking deeper into these areas has encouraged you as well. Let’s look at one final trait from the life of Joseph together today: LEADERSHIP. I don’t consider myself an expert of anything, but I am a student of many things and one of those areas is leadership. I study it, I teach it, and I try to live it and get better at it every day. I’ve read many books on the topic and listened to many people speak about it, and, by far, my favorite source for studying leadership is the Bible itself.

I have two favorite definitions for leadership:

1.  Leadership is INFLUENCE. John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” God is wanting you to use your influence to impact the people around you.

It seems to me that there is a vacuum of strong leadership in our world today; a vacuum of virtue and character. We usually think of a leader as the person in charge of some large organization: a school principal, the CEO of a major corporation, the coach of a football team, a military general. But there are many other vitally important, so-called smaller, leadership roles: the teacher of a third grade class, a doctor or a head nurse, a class officer, the captain of a football team, a policeman, fire chief, foreman, pilot, mayor, supervisor, etc. I believe that everyone is a leader. Everyone has influence. The question is, are you using your influence for good or for evil? How are you at influencing others in a positive and godly way?

How about those especially vital leadership roles: a parent – is there really anything more important, if you are a parent, than leading your children into a relationship with the Lord? How about your role as a grandparent, an older sibling, an influential aunt or uncle, a close family friend or a neighbor? How are you doing at influencing those around you, particularly in the area of spiritual leadership? I would challenge you to seize every opportunity to influence those around you toward a closer relationship with the Lord.

Perhaps the most important role of leadership – and the least talked about – is self-leadership. If you don’t lead yourself well your influence will be limited at best and poor at worst. The role of self-leadership will impact all of the most important relationships in your life: your marriage, your parent/child relationships, your relationships with your work associates, extended family, your testimony to others, etc. Leadership is influence, so use your influence for good. Use it to help bring the people within your sphere of influence into a deeper relationship with the Lord.

2.  My second favorite definition for leadership is SERVANTHOOD. Stephen Covey says, “People are supposed to serve. Life is a mission, not a career.” And Jesus said, “If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, be servant of all.” (Matthew 20:26)

Today, principle-based leadership and value-driven leadership can been seen in some circles, but this is very different from what many espouse in corporate America or what we often see in politics. Instead of a dog-eat-dog, manipulative, succeed at any cost, use and/or step on people mentality, servanthood is about serving others and validating them, it’s about investing in people, listening, caring, respecting and valuing those within your sphere of influence. Servant leadership is the type of leadership taught throughout the Bible and is certainly seen in the life Joseph (Genesis 37-50), and, of course, Jesus (Philippians 2:1-11).

Servant leadership, when embodied and embraced, builds strong marriages, strong families, strong teams, strong working environments, strong communities, and strong churches. So today, as we wrap up our ELEVATE series, I want to take a look at LEADERSHIP. Let’s compare our approach to life and leadership, applying it to our past, present and future, and see how we stack up. How do we compare to Joseph? To Jesus? And what course corrections do we need to make to be the kind of leader God intends for us to be?

It has been said that everything rises and falls on leadership. The point is not “Are you a leader?” as much as it is “What kind of leader are you?” and this goes to the core of what kind of person are you? The Bible has much to say about leadership, and it can be largely summarized in the acrostic SERVANT:

S: SELFLESS

  • A great leader is selfless. Whether you are the president of a major corporation, the leader of a missions organization, a teacher or a parent, strong leaders are sincere servants.
  • Antietam, the Private Soldier Monument at the National Battlefield in Maryland, is, to me, such a powerful symbol of selfless service. It was dedicated on September 17, 1880 and on its base is the inscription, “Not for themselves but for their country.” Antietam was part of the Maryland Campaign in September of 1862 in the early months of the Civil War. It stands as the bloodiest day in US History with a combined loss of 22,717 lives. Since the Confederates withdrew, it was considered a Union strategic victory which gave Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation. The countless men and women who give their lives in the service of their country exemplify servant leadership to a degree few others ever will.
  • In his book, Good to Great (and in sequels like How the Mighty Fall), Jim Collins studies major sustaining and successful companies and notes they are run by self-effacing leaders who are more concerned about the success of others and their companies than any personal glory or notoriety. It is about the mission, it is about the people. These successful leaders lack arrogance. They are selfless.
  • Joseph gives us many examples of selfless leadership through our key text of Genesis 37-50. Joseph served his father, his brothers, even his slave-owner,  Potiphar. He served his prison guards, the baker and cupbearer. When he was released from prison, Joseph served Pharaoh, the Egyptians, the Israelites and, ultimately, God Himself. You do not see Joseph using people to get ahead, there is no manipulation of power, no disrespecting others. You see servanthood – and that is why he is seen as a picture of Christ.
  • Jesus said, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.(Philippians 2:3)
    • Can you imagine the impact those 4 things would have on your marriage, family, team, company, community, church, etc.?
      • No self-ambition — Instead, “How can I bless you?”
      • No vain conceit — Vanity and conceit are polar opposites to the life of Joseph and Jesus.
      • Rather, in humility — Bow your heart to God. Say, Lord, there is only one great and that is you. May I be your instrument of blessing in this world. May I leave every conversation, encounter and assignment better than I found it. May I love God and love people. May I be Your hands and feet and mouth piece.
      • Value others above yourselves — This is an impressive and all-consuming value statement. Think about this next time you’re angry at someone, the next time you’re tempted to have road rage or you’re arguing with your spouse. Think about this on the job. Putting others first is not a weakness; it is a strength. It is what great people, like Joseph and Jesus, do.
  • How can you elevate the level of selflessness in your life?
    • Locally: The holidays are a great season of outreach
    • Globally: You can give to our new Global Church Partnership in Albania, or any of the other 80+ missionaries and missions projects we support worldwide.
    • Giving: You can give a special year-end gift and end the year on a note of generosity.
  • Laurie Beth Jones says, “The principle of service is what separates true leaders from glory seekers.”

E: ENCOURAGEMENT

  • Great leaders are servants and servants are big-hearted. They value, validate, and encourage people.
    • Joseph: Even in prison, he served the guards, the baker and cupbearer. He served the people of Egypt. He served his brothers and father, despite what they had done to him.
    • Jesus: He encouraged, and ultimately saved the life of, the woman caught in adultery, the blind man and countless others. He was constantly encouraging and lifting people up.
  • Take a look at Philippians 2:1-2 and notice what flows from being united with Christ. “Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
    • This is what we have received from Christ and it is what must flow from our lives. We must share this with others. We must be big hearted, not narrow. Go out of your way to include, not exclude, and to encourage, not discourage.
  • It is easy to discourage, to be negative, but these are not the traits of a good leader.
    • What negative people have failed to understand is that influence and leadership flow from encouragement, not from berating, beating down, or belittling. Sarcasm, demeaning, minimizing… these are all opposite of encouragement. Remember, “To belittle is to be-little.”
  • The powerful leader, parent, teacher, supervisor, husband or wife is able to bring encouragement to the table, even when there are difficult and challenging things that need to be addressed. Sometimes people need to change or bad behavior needs to stop. The biblical pattern of leadership is lifting people up and helping them climb, or elevate, to a new level. Anyone can shoot someone down verbally. Spiritual maturity and vitality is about encouragement.
  • Characteristics of an encourager:
    • Encouragers build others up.  I Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”
    • Encouragers comfort.  2 Corinthians 1:4 “…who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
    • Encouragers foster unity and oneness.  Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
    • Encouragers are tenderhearted and kind2 Peter 1:5-7 “…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge self-control; and to self-control, perseverance, and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.”
    • Encouragers show compassion.  Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
  • Sam Walton said, “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”

R: RESPECT

  • Philippians 2:4 says, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others.” This is a great verse that speaks to the idea of mutual respect.
  • Any great relationship, whether it be a marriage, parent/child, friendship or even employment relationship, requires two people willing to respect each other and see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Someone once said, “You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat someone who can do nothing for them.” How do you treat people? If you say, “Well I’m just blunt and not good at relationship stuff” you probably suffer from a lack of respect. And truthfully, a lack of respect for others is a sign of your lack of respect for God. The Bible says to “…show proper respect to everyone.” (I Peter 2:17) so if you respected God you’d obey Him by respecting others.
  • Joseph modeled respect, loving-kindness and compassion to Potiphar and Potiphar’s wife, to his fellow prisoners and even to his brothers.
  • Jesus modeled loved like no one else. He offered healing and compassion, and died for all mankind. He even showed love to the soldiers who nailed Him to the cross.
  • Adam Grant wrote, “You never know where somebody is going to end up. It’s not just about building your reputation; it really is about being there for other people.”

V: VISION

  • Vision is “the picture of a preferred future.” It is the first self-assessment we looked at week 1. A man or woman of vision knows who they are and knows where they’re going.
  • God had a great vision for Joseph’s life. (Genesis 50:20) and He has a great vision for your life and mine.
  • Jesus understood the big picture for His life. Philippians 2:9-11 says “…Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
  • Do you see the big picture for your life? God wants you to! Matthew 22:37-39 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” In short: love God and love others!
  • God wants you to honor him and to lead others to do the same.
  • Helen Keller said, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

A: ATTITUDE

  • Joseph had a great attitude; a positive one. You don’t read of him grumbling and complaining – although he certainly had much he could have complained about!
  • Philippians 2:5-8 says, “…in your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” There are 2 things to unpack here and Joseph and Jesus had both:
    • Humility: there was a decrease of self and an increase of God (v. 7).
    • Passion: there was a desire to be obedient and a willingness to die to accomplish it (v.8)
  • Humility: Momento Mori.
    • Momento Mori is a Latin phrase translated “Remember your mortality; remember you will die.”  The phrase originated in ancient Rome with a tradition that as a general was parading through the streets during a victory triumph, a slave walked behind him, tasked with reminding the general that, although at his peak today, tomorrow he could fall, be brought down, and die. The servant conveyed this by repeating the words, “Momento Mori.”
  • Live with passion. Have no regrets.
    • William Borden, the heir to the Borden family fortune, was given the graduation present at age 16 of a worldwide tour by himself. It was during this trip that he was called to be a missionary, even thought he was in line to take over the family business. When he came home and announced his calling to his family, they were somewhat distraught. He enrolled at Yale University at the age of 17 and during his first year there, he started a Bible study. By his senior year, over 1,000 students (out of 1,300 total students in the school) were involved in Bible studies every morning that he led. At the age of 25 he felt called to the Katsu, a Muslim people group in China. On his way there, he stopped in Egypt for Arabic language training. While in Egypt William Borden contracted spinal meningitis and, after only a few days, passed away at the age of 25. When they shipped his body back and his possessions back to America, his family read his last journal entry, written knowing he would soon die. The simple words on the page were, “NO RESERVES…. NO RETREATS… and NO REGRETS.”

N: NEEDS

  • Strong leaders are great servants. Their lives revolve around the needs of others, not around their personal needs.
  • Look at Philippians 2:5-8 again and notice verse 8: “…and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross.” Jesus was focused on the needs of others!
  • Joseph was not into self-preservation. His life revolved around others and, in the end, he saved the people of Egypt and Israel.
  • A 6-year-old boy was sitting in church with his mother when he leaned over and whispered to his mother, “Who are the people in the colorful windows up there?” “Saints,” she replied simply. The next day during a discussion at school his teacher asked the students, “What is a saint?” to which the boy replied, “They are colorful and transparent, and the sun shines through them.” May we be colorful and transparent, and may the light of the SON shine through us.
  • In this season of giving, consider the needs of others with great care and compassion
    • Bethany Compassion Ministries/Bethany Compassion Center.
    • Our 5 Global Church Partnerships
    • Helping a student go to youth camp.
    • Sign up to serve in a weekly ministry, like children’s ministries, first impressions, etc.
  • Jesus, as always, is our example. See the story in John 13 where He washed the feet of His disciples.
  • Helen Keller gave us an excellent exhortation: “Earn your leadership everyday.”

T: TRUST

  • Joseph was trustworthy. There is no record of him not keeping the trust of those in his sphere of influence.
  • Jesus is trustworthy, as we read in Philippians 2:6-7: “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his advantage, rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
  • Can others trust you? Like Joseph, and of course Jesus, determine ahead of time to be trustworthy.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
  • Determine ahead of time to be trustworthy and to be a man/woman of character, even when life goes sideways.

I have so enjoyed this journey through the life of Joseph. I hope you will come back to these topics often, as you evaluate, seek to emulate and ultimately elevate your level of living to the life God desires for you.