Thursday, March 19, 2009

Counting the Blessings

(from Janet, Pastor Jim's co-church planting wife)

Being human, and in the "over 40" crowd, our feet hurt, our backs ache, and we are exhausted! Being also God's humble servants, our spirits soar, our gratitude is immense and we are praising God for enormous blessings!

The move-in was such a great day! Throughout the day about 16 of us vacuumed, washed windows, hauled and wiped down tables, chairs and platforms, and just enjoyed being in the new space. It looks soooo nice! Still many things to finish up, but after yesterday, and help from our son and his girlfriend with hanging the desk cabinet, the list we had made on Saturday is pretty much checked off. Blessings!

Also on Saturday, one of our launch team informed us all that she had found about 200 white coffee mugs that will be donated to New Day by one of the local restaurants! Blessings!

After worshipping and hanging the cabinet with Adam and Amanda yesterday, the remainder of the day was spent preparing for and attending the Metro West Builders event. We set up a display area similar to the one we had at the Expo and spent about 2 hours giving out planting kits and talking to people about New Day. Following this came the program and dinner, then Jim was able to give a short presentation to the whole crowd, which went VERY well! The group voted immediately afterward to make New Day the spring call!!! Blessings!

On top of all those blessings, before her benediction at the end of last evening's event, our former district superintendent (the one who had contacted Jim initially about this new church venture), asked those present to "throw something into the pot" to help supply some hospitality items for New Day's first preview service in April. Jim and I were so surprised by this totally unexpected gift, and so humbled by the response of over $500. WOW!!!!!!!! God continues to amaze us by the generosity and love pouring forth from so many sources. We are blessed, and more blessed, and MORE BLESSED!!

It's another busy week ahead! Prayers for stamina and wisdom would be great. Also, the next fellowship event is being mostly planned and implemented by one of the launch team members. Families will be invited to come to New Day and spend an hour or so, Sat. morning, March 28, planting seeds, singing songs and sharing fellowship. Please pray for Tammy and Bonnie (the organizers) and this event. Getting the word out is always one of the greatest challenges!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Starting From Scratch

In just over a week (on Saturday, March 14th), we will be moving into our new space. I have been joking with people that the move shouldn’t take too long, because we have nothing to move in! Being a brand new church plant, we are starting from scratch, of course. This was dramatically apparent when we started hosting our first community events last fall, and we didn’t have a table to set things upon, didn’t have pens for people to use to take surveys, and didn’t have the basics which used to be at our finger tips in an established church setting. The absence of ministry resources was surprising, but God provided.

I’m sure we’ll move in next weekend and again be surprised by the absence of a pastor’s desk, the lack of over-stuffed chairs and love seats in the Gathering Area, and (heaven forbid!) the nonexistence of a coffee-maker and mugs. No altar? No pulpit? No music stands even? None right now, but God will provide.

Aside from the absence of things, we started from scratch in terms of relationships as well. We came to Big Lake alone. We had no history here, no small group of mission-minded families to bring with us, and none who considered us their friend. And because we are reaching out to those who are disconnected from God and church, we also found ourselves starting from scratch with people in terms of church knowledge, devotion to the cause, and experience with spiritual stuff in general. No congregation at all?! No trust? No commitment? No prayer life? None right now, but God will provide.

What has been amazing is how much God has provided in just over a year: buyers for our home (in less than 45 days); a relatively quick response from the bank to buy a foreclosed home (in less than 45 days); 60 new chairs; 24 sets of curtains; 14 beautiful wooden tables; a desk set; copy machine; computer server; Inkjet (color) printer; a Wireless router; and more!

But more importantly, God has provided us with connections to the wonderful people up here. As a point of illustration, last weekend was the Chamber’s Business Expo. A year ago, the Expo was the first event we volunteered at in the community. We didn’t know a soul when we walked into the High School gymnasium to help set up last year. This year, we walked in to set up our own booth, and before we had three things in place, I probably gave away a dozen hugs and warm greetings to my Big Lake friends. My, how God provides!

Stuff like tables, chairs, trust, and commitment all take time when you start from scratch. At first, we feel the lacking when we notice what we don’t have. Then we feel the coveting when we see what others have. But if we can have eyes to see and ears to hear what God is providing, then lacking turns to abundance, and coveting turns to generosity. Everything and everyone become gifts of grace from God above! For it is written...

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Come Grow with Big Lake's Newest Church Plant!

(from the Pastor's wife, Janet)

Jim and I and two of our launch team handed out about 400 little planting kits yesterday at the Big Lake Expo! The best news is that about 170 registered for the drawings for the prizes and of those, 31 requested more information or were interested in keeping updated with New Day's progress!! Yeah!! This Expo is the first event that Jim and I volunteered at a year ago (when we didn't know anyone and were just getting started), and it was heartening to be back this year and recognize so many people.

The other really fun thing that happened last week was a call from a young couple (engaged) who we had met at one of the picnics last fall. They have been wanting to get connected, but just hadn't taken the time to contact us. They came to the class we held THAT NIGHT (Discovering Your Spirituality Type)!! I thought it was pretty brave of them to come to our home, entering a group of unknown people in a class that had already begun (this was the 2nd in a series of 6)!! The group is a mix of ages, but it warmed my heart to see the younger couples so open and excited to grow in their faith and connect with others on this journey. It reminded me so much of Jim and I in our early years and I pray that these folks will be blessed with experiences to build relationships like we had, that have sustained and nurtured us throughout our journey.

I have been pretty much totally focused on getting the website built this past week or more. What a job! Please visit and send your feedback: I am so grateful to niece Kristi for sending the proper format of the logo (3 times, since I couldn't make up my mind which version was best!!) and to son Scott for technical support via phone and helping improve the first draft IMMENSELY!! It is a work in progress - we'll be tweaking and changing things as time goes on, but for now at least we have something! Let me know especially how your computers handle the links, etc. - or if there are any problems you have getting into anything...

Please pray for our next community event to be held at the new church, Sat. March 28. It's a family planting time - families will plant flower seeds to take home, to share with the community and to decorate the gardens at the new church! Music and story-time included. It should be fun! Also, prayers for the 1st preview worship service -- an Easter Eve Vigil. You are all welcome to join us - Sat. April 11, 7:00pm. Jim will be starting to really focus on getting this together. May God's spirit guide all the preparations and our hearts...