Crossing Out Dragons


     Okay, I’ll just come right out and confess it: I am addicted to maps. I’m not sure what they call that addiction (cartoholism?), but whatever it is, I have it and I don’t really want to be cured. 

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That Beautiful 'Crack'


*Every Liberty Bell should be cracked! 

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"The Gates Shall Not Prevail"


      The distance between Taipei and Southern California is only a quarter of the way around the globe, but on one particular day, I felt like I'd fallen off the edge of it. I think it goes down as the loneliest, strangest moment I've ever experienced.  

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Da Vinci's 'Roadblock'


 

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Your Lifeboat! Get In!


I've read shocking things about the sinking of the Titanic; I wonder if you have as well. When the celebrated "Unsinkable" suddenly went down—"Why, not even God Himself could sink this ship"  was how one employee of the White Star Line had put it; did you know?—but when it went down into the icy waters of the Atlantic, it took 1,527 people along with it.

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Who Rescued Jessica Lynch?


      Back in 2003, we were all deeply moved by the details of the heroic rescue of Jessica Lynch. The US Army Private First Class was injured and captured during an ambush of her convoy while crossing the Euphrates near the town of Nasiriyah, during the invasion of Iraq. 

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No Time To Waste




     

      Last Sunday was awesome! I'm so glad we did this. It was so good to be together again and it was a very important start! Of course, it wasn't what we are all accustomed to, but we'll try to return to full normalcy just as soon as we possibly can.  

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Prepare to Reopen!


 

Sunday, May 17 is only a few days away, and we are excited to worship our God with all of you in person! Our staff has been extremely busy with preparations, and now I ask that you would help us with these preparations.

 

First, and most importantly, let us endeavor to keep our unity! Our church has always shared such a wonderful koinonia (fellowship, love, unity), and we want to guard it. The current trials we are enduring have created divisiveness in our culture and the church in America. Many of us have differing views about our current politics, wearing masks, not wearing masks, COVID-19, Stay at Home, Open Now, etc. In preparation for your coming to fellowship this Sunday, prepare your heart and minds that you will keep Christ and His church the most important and essential focus. 

 

There is a beautiful exhortation Paul writes to the Ephesian churches that I believe is more applicable than ever for us. In context, Paul has just finished declaring the power of God to do abundantly more than we ask or think. He continues in the letter with the following, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1–3 NKJV).

 

Believers are to “walk worthy”. The word “worthy” is “axios” literally meaning equal weight as balanced scales. The believer is to have an equal balance between his/her confession and his/her conduct. In modern-day slang, we would say this kind of person is the “the real deal” or “not only talks the talk, but they also walk the walk.” Every Christian’s desire should be “to walk worthy”! 

 

So, how does a genuine believer act? How do we balance our confession and our conduct? Paul gives a wonderful list for us to consider. The genuine believer in the Lord is humble and gentle with others. The genuine believer bears other’s burdens and endures hardships for others. As we make these sacrifices for others, we make them unto Christ. Our lives become a wonderful act of worship that proves our confession true! The more you meditate on this list the more you will see Jesus enduring the cross for us! The genuine believer takes up his cross and follows his savior! 

 

The result of all this sacrifice is unity and peace. Paul writes, “…endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit…” The church in Ephesus is not trying to obtain unity in the Spirit, they already have it! The exhortation is to keep it! When we are born again, we experience unity and peace in the family of God almost immediately. We begin to lose it as we make our comfort the priority over our calling in Christ. The Church of Jesus was never intended to be comfortable; it was meant to be contagious! It is in our discomfort that we see God’s power on display! 

 

King David writes “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psa. 133:1 NKJV) The unity of our fellowship is so good and pleasing to the Lord. Guard our unity against any divisive attitude. In his book, “The Treasury of David” Charles Spurgeon writes, “We can dispense with uniformity if we possess unity: oneness of life, truth, and way; oneness in Christ Jesus; oneness of object and spirit—these we must have, or our assemblies will be synagogues of contention rather than churches of Christ.”

 

Our church services will be different this Sunday. The services will be uncomfortable. They will be shortened to one hour for young families and sanitation time. The bathrooms will have limited use. We will sit in different seats than normal. We will wear masks. BUT, we will joyfully make ourselves uncomfortable for others. 

 

Every time in my life that I have made myself uncomfortable I have experienced the Lord in the most powerful and tremendous ways! Prepare to see God’s power poured out on our fellowship this Sunday!

 

God Bless you all!

Dave Johnson

 

FAQ About Church Reopen

Will you still live stream services?

Yes, we will Livestream all our services on Facebook and Youtube. We understand that some are not ready to attend services in person, and we will keep our streaming services available. 

 

Why do we need to RSVP for church?

You do not need to, but it will be very helpful. We have no idea how many people to expect per service, and we need to prepare for social distancing.

 

Do I need to RSVP every week?

No, just once is fine. 

 

Am I not obedient to God if I do not attend services in person?

Whether you choose to attend in person or not is between you and the Lord, and we support you. We encourage you to pray and check the CDC guidelines.

 

Are we opening church as a protest?

No. We are reopening our church to worship our God and have fellowship with one another. We believe that we can operate Sunday services safer than Costco, Home Depot, Stater Brothers, Walmart, and the like. Our worship has always been essential to us, and it is time to reopen.

These Doors Will Open


 

 

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His Image...in You!


 

      I read the most wonderful story about a devout follower of the horrible Peter Singer. Perhaps you've heard the name. He is the so-called 'scholar' at Princeton University who teaches all his students not only that abortion is perfectly fine, but that infanticide should be legal as well if ever a child is 'unfit' for normal everyday living, or even just an 'inconvenience' to the parents. 

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Singing Through the Uproar, Winging Through the Turns

don't suppose I fit the stereotype of a 'birdwatcher'—and I'm not one, really. I'm a hundred pounds too heavy, not that easy to conceal and way too impatient. That's always been my impression of bird-watching anyway. But that day in the Rockies, when I came across that Water Ouzel, I must admit I was enthused! 

I'd read about this amazing bird from one of John Muir's books—he devotes an entire chap-ter to it in The Mountains of California. And—just like a new vocabulary word that, once you've learned it, confronts you everywhere you look—not long after I had read about the Water Ouzel, I saw one!

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Apocalyptic?

few weeks ago, as life trudged on under the shadow of the "V", one troubled soul came up to me and sadly asked: "Do you think we are in the end times, Pastor? The news keeps using the word 'apocalyptic'".  

Oh, now why am I not surprised at that? This from the same group that used the word 'Carmageddon', a few years ago, to describe congested freeways in LA.

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No 'Titans' Needed

Speaking of this marvelous, courageous missionary—Darlene Deibler Rose—(I did last Sunday. Did you miss it? Check out the asterisk * below), there is a delightful moment, right at the very beginning of her incredible journey, that reveals how graciously our God works in our lives. Yes, in spite of our weaknesses and limitations. Or, rather, let's say using our weaknesses and limitations. Oh, yes! In fact, He delights in doing so. Can you remember that dear Christian, when you find yourself feeling weak and ineffective?

She was 21 years old and just one into her marriage with Russell when they arrived on the mission field. It was 1938. In fact, they stepped off the ship at Java on their first anniversary. A few days later it was on to Macassar, where Darlene remained at the mission's headquarters, studying the native languages of New Guinea (can you imagine?). Russell plunged into the jungles to explore the numberless unreached tribes and villages that dotted the rivers below Wissell Lake. It was just too dangerous for her to go in with him. It would be a seven month separation. 

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Message from Pastor Dave

Local newspaper headlines have become tally counts of those infected with the corona virus in the last week. On Drudge Report this morning one of the major headlines was “April Canceled”! Weddings have been postponed (sorry Jenna and Jacob) and baby showers canceled. We are all fighting the temptation to not allow our fear to take hold of us as we live our lives day to day. I am sure many of you parents have experienced a new level of stress as you work from home and home school your children. Sadly, many have found themselves jobless and are praying for it all to end in hopes that your their jobs may become available again. The worst part may very well be the isolation and separation from friends and family. This virus has left the majority of society afraid, anxious, isolated, alone, and wondering if anyone has missed them. 

I want to remind you dear church family that you have a rich heritage of worshiping our Lord and serving others through the worst of situations. It is quite miraculous when you consider what the church has survived throughout its history! The church has never been extinguished through persecution, plagues, sieges, wars, or anything else the enemy would try to destroy her with! During the Bubonic plague, despite the pleading of his parishioners, Martin Luther refused to leave Wittenburg so that he could care and minister to the sick! The choice cost him his daughter's life, but his resolve was unwavering. Luther said, “We (Christians) die at our post! The plague does not dissolve our duties: It turns them to crosses, on which we must be prepared to die.” Oh what a wonderful and heroic family tree we have! 

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The Top of the Trail

All this talk about—well, the "v"-word; I'm not gonna say it; I'm sure you don't want me to and my mom taught me not to—has got me thinking about that Gore Creek Trail. Oh, there's no risk of "v" up there! 

Of all the wonders of Colorado, that beautiful Gore Creek tops the list, in my estimation. I once counted 56 different wildflowers, each blooming like crazy in the middle of August, and I wasn't even halfway to the top.  

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The Latest (I Think)...

Well! I'd like to keep you up to date but, for the life of me, I don't know what that means any more. Do you? And as I write this, it will change anyway. But here goes. Please read carefully because because there are a lot of changes here. God willing, they will be very temporary. We will have to cancel our in-person Sunday Worship time and other gatherings for the present. It grieves me deeply to do so, but I want to be a good steward of the Lord's protection upon our congregation and our entire community. I want to observe the President's call (and Mr. Pence's) to avoid gatherings of ten or more. As I write this, Orange County is just reporting its 22nd case of the virus and the County Board is discussing a ban "on all gatherings". It hasn't passed yet, but I'm sure it will; we will have to comply with it. So here is what we have come up with: Our Sunday morning and evening worship services will not take place in person. At 8:45, 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM they will be streamed on YouTube for you and your family and a small group of friends to worship at home. We hope and pray that will suffice for the time being. In fact, I hope it will be a time of growth and encouragement for you as you share the opportunity with close friends and family. You know? We're very close to starting a series on the wonderful Book of Acts, where the Gospel exploded around the world from people who had gathered in housechurches. We'll have our own experience as a backdrop. Here is another important option dear ones: I want you to know that this House of God will always be open to you. Our sanctuary has always been open 9-5 Monday through Friday, and that is not going to change. But now it will be open to you at anytime on Sundays from 9:00AM to 6:30 PM You are welcome to come at any time on Sunday to pray, worship and encourage a few others. This is the Lord's House, and if you belong to Him, it is your House too. Please use it! Be blessed when you do. No one is going to be turned away from the House of the Lord. We simply ask that you observe our President's—and the CDC's—guidelines by keeping each group to less than ten. There are four corners of our sanctuary, an entryway and other rooms that we can use. We will have an Elder, a Deacon or Deaconess present just to watch over our Sanctuary and keep it open if no one is present at the time. Now, we're closing up in the evening, just to keep our facility and equipment safe, but—you know?—if you are a member of our church, you can have a key and come anytime you want! I'm serious. Like I said: this is His House, and for you who are His, that makes it yours! Every Sunday, if it is used in this manner, our sanctuary will be stringently sanitized at 10 AM, 12:00 PM, 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM. Our beautiful FightNight will be effected the same way (like I said: I'm grievin'!). We will have to practice the same "open church" approach: there will be no dinner and no official gathering. Our Sunday and Wednesday children's programs are closed for the time being but will be available through digital Sunday School lessons. Last Sunday was so awesome! So many of you came and it was such a sweet time of worship. I went home so blessed, assuming that we could do that forever. My how things change! You know, back in 1918, when the socalled Spanish Influenza struck with such force, Americans everywhere were forced to endure the very same shutdowns and restrictions in a desperate effort to stem the contagion. Churches had to shut down then too. The virus raged for over a year, claiming 600,000 lives. Do you know what is happening in the wake of all this? Americans are learning: they are not in control. We are not the "masters of our fate"; we are not the "captains of our souls". We are also learning how utterly fragile and precarious is the sense of well-being we have enjoyed all these years. And may Americans, everywhere, learn one more thing from all this: to fall on our knees before God and repent of our personal and national sins. It is certainly time we did! Love you dear OT. RAS

Hold on to That Key!

"Come!" says the Master in one of Jesus' wonderful parables, "Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world!" Mt 25: 34  

What a marvelous promise this is to us all. Yes, to you too, dear faithful believer!—this promise includes you! God has prepared a Kingdom for you, from the very "foundation of the world." And your faith in Him now is the key to it all! 

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The Butterfly Effect

 An interesting thing happened in the lab of a well-known MIT meteorologist, way back in the 60's. It has resounded throughout the scientific community ever since. 

It was 1961, to be precise, when quite by accident, Edward Lorenz made an incredible discovery. He was working on a computer model that would generate predictive weather patterns. In this particular case, he had already run the numbers once, and the computer had given him it's predictive scenario; but of course, he was supposed to double-check the work so he ran the numbers a second time.  

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Right-Side-Up At Last!

The story of Liz Curtis Higgs is an amazing one, and it drives home what we are dealing with here, dear faithful OT, whenever we proclaim this matchless Savior! 

Liz Curtis Higgs was one of the best-known disc jockeys in America at one time, but perhaps I should call her  "one of the most notorious". Liz was known for her wild, ungodly, profane presence behind the mic. In fact, on several of her stations, Liz' show followed Howard Stern's show every morning and one day, during the switch between shows—you know how they kind of 'hand-off' to one another—Howard Stern jokingly said: "You know Liz, you really do need to clean up your act."   Now, when Howard Stern lectures you to clean up your act, you're in serious trouble! 

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He Turns it Into a Rescue

There was a brief period, during our ministry days among the Hakka, in Taiwan, that I now look back upon as a kind of 'dark ages'. Not that the work wasn't always a challenge. But at one point, a sad conflict erupted within our team and—oh!—the more I tried to solve it, the worse it got. Our prowling Enemy hated what we had started in that town, and he was working overtime to rip our little church apart. 

We tried our very best to conceal it from the boys, but I'm sure they could sense it. For Sharilyn and I, it was a dark time, as one thing after another just conspired to plunge us into despair. 

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