“I AM EXCITED”
Looking ahead to a new year, I find myself excited about many things, new things. Jesus makes things new. What “new” will you embrace and run with this year? I am excited about new people coming to Lakeview. In Acts 5:14 it says that more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. Growth is important. This is a sign that God is surely leading us. I am ready to love and welcome the new people that God is sending us in 2022. I am excited about a new and stronger focus on God’s Word in my life. This year the media will have a “field day” writing about a possible split in the UMC. (Satan just loves division!) In Acts 5 :28-29, The Apostles were made to stand trial before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the High Priest. We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name (Jesus’ name). I don’t see them back away from the moment! If anything, the tension strengthens their resolve. In fact, here was their reply in that moment that they were facing not just tension but possibly death: We must obey God rather than men. So, I will focus on His Word. I am really not all that concerned about how people translate. What does it say? His word will guide me. Psalm 119:105 I am excited about us encouraging one another. Heck let’s just stay in Acts 5. When the Apostles were released, they rejoiced together. (Vs 41) Church they were encouraged by each other and pressed forward. At the end of the fifth chapter, it says that they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ! Encourage each other. I will do my best to better encourage those around me this year. Smile because wonderful things are coming! Lastly, I love my family. I am excited for them and for my church family this year. My oldest daughter will graduate from Auburn and will begin a new life. My youngest is training right now to run well next year for Auburn of Montgomery. Now for my church family, you come together with real love for one another. A first-time visitor told me last week that five people greeted them and that he would definitely be back. I also noticed how many people gathered after the service last Sunday to simply talk and care about each other. At the Christmas Candlelight service, our people greeted one another before they came in to see me. It was a big part of a very special night here. It was one of the most beautiful sights my eyes have seen. I was standing on the stage and saw love way out by the glass doors. I am excited for how you want the very best for each other. “Love Lifted Me” was a song that I grew up singing in church. It was written in 1912 by James Rowe. I am excited for our church family here because this is what is happening. Jesus’ love is lifting us!
Jesus makes all things new. This year, 2022 is our time.
Here is a story that I once heard to help us get to where God led me.
A water bearer in India had two large pots, both hung on the ends of pole that was slung across his neck. One of the pots was perfect and always delivered a full part of water. The other was cracked. At the end of a long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot always arrived half full.
The broken pot was embarrassed and miserable. One day, while the water bearer was filling up at the stream, the pot spoke: “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. I have only been able to deliver half of what you give me because of this crack in my side. I leak all the way back to the house, making extra work for you.”
The water bearer smiled. “Haven’t you noticed the flowers that are growing in the garden? They are only growing on your side of the path. You gave extra water to your side of the garden. You were used to bring water to them, good water, and you did it every day.”
You don’t need to be perfect to be used by God here at Lakeview or anywhere for that matter. You see, it’s our hurts and flaws that make more space in us for God to shine through us.
Read 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10
His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses, our cracks have purpose.
For Unto our CRACKS a child is born! I am so grateful.
“DOING WELL TOGETHER”
Our church is doing well. THIS IS A FACT. We are the church of Jesus, we are supposed to do well. I have read the Book and we win. I thought about somethings that I have seen in our folks at Lakeview. I have been here long enough to spot the bigger picture, you know the traits here. These things are on full display, and I think they make us… well… us. They are certainly what makes us healthy as a church. Here is a truth, what I have seen is nourishing to both the longtime member and the new comer. Maybe show this list to that person who you have invited.
So here goes:
- Fellowship– You guys love your friends on a high level and you gather, you smile, and you welcome others. This is such a gift to us all! God sees how you gather and is pleased.
- Thankful– You know that it’s our duty and calling to be a thankful people here. Why do we see it that way? BECAUSE of what the Lord has done. “The Lord is great. He is worthy of our praise. No one can understand how great he is.” Psalm 145:3
- Real– You are real. You know the importance of being real. As one new member said this year, “This is not a “keep up with the Jones” church. AMEN! You are YOU here.
- Loving– Lakeview, you love others well and it’s not just loving others, but you and I love to BE LOVED. You know that we are in this together.
- Thinking Big– You and your leadership are determined to think big. In 2022, there will be kids running in the field by the church, they will be loved and will hear the Word of God. Thinking big as a church is us being brave for Jesus. There are many reasons not to try new things, but Jesus and His message are too important to us. God will honor the risk taking church.
- You keep moving forward– You are deliberate in your study time here and you don’t sit and soak, you continuously move your faith to action. James called that out with “faith without works is dead.” (James 2)
I have a front row seat. I get those phone calls from you, I see many of the ways you serve others. I received a call this week from someone who said, “I see the good work happening at Lakeview, I want to help.”
- HAVING FUN. You have encouraged each other and me to simply have fun. Jesus went to parties, He laughed, and like so many of you, He cut up.
Life is short, continue to have fun.
THIS IS US.
Until the nets are full,
Read Luke 14:16-24
Over this meal Jesus wants to talk about a larger meal, a feast. It’s important to understand that in the Bible, a banquet is more than just a meal. It’s often a metaphor for how God addressed the deepest needs of his people. Jesus speaks often of feasts because a feast is such a vivid and enticing image for his listeners. You have the marriage supper of the Lamb in the book of Revelation and the last supper in the upper room are two feasts which come to my mind. So here in Luke, Jesus is telling an amazing story of a great banquet. A man sends out invitations for a feast. (That’s what I’m talking about!) When the table is set and the stove is hot, he sends out a servant to simply say, “Dinner is served.” But no one really wants to go. One of the invited guests has a field to inspect. A second has just bought oxen, and he needs to work with them. “Sorry,” says a third. “Just got hitched.” For Lakeview to continue to rise, we must make sure our priority is on church attendance. I have always taught that everything spins off worship. I really believe that. Years ago, Ashley and I wanted to raise our family in the church. We decided to first make the worship of God a priority and then we went to Sunday school and Bible study. Many Sundays were a battle with two small kids. We went, regardless. We are all so busy now it seems. You have many other things to do with your time, but I want to remind you that there is a party going on here at Lakeview. A feast really is happening every Sunday morning. God is the host, and He is honored and praised every week when we gather. So, make it a priority to dine well here. Notice in our story that those who are invited but don’t come, don’t even get a taste. Is your attendance pleasing to God? He is having a banquet here and your invitation is ongoing.
We will feast well as we grow, but we must come and come hungry!
Until the nets are full,
Contact Glenna Bridges for more info. Glenna.Bridges@gmail.com