Helping Folks Flourish After Florence

Good morning,

Well, the remnants of Hurricane Florence have come and gone.  Thankfully, the feared predictions of heavy rains did not happen in Lancaster County.  I was even able to mow the lawn Tuesday night!

However, there has been a lot of damage in the Carolinas from the storm.  The cleanup has started as the waters have begun to recede.  This Sunday we will take a special offering to help those affected by the storm.  Any gifts received will be given to Mennonite Disaster Services, which is headquartered here in Lancaster.  We have given to MDS before, and while there are many good relief organizations out there, MDS is one of the absolute best in my opinion. 

There is also the possibility of one or two of our fellow E.C. churches sending a work team to the Carolinas in the next couple of months.  If that happens, we will provide an opportunity to support that work as well.

As always, if at all possible please write a separate check or place your gift in a separate envelope marked “MDS.”  It is much easier for the offering counters when you do that, and we want to make sure that MDS gets all the given funds.

Here’s what’s happening:

1.     Sunday, 10/7 is a Communion Sunday.

2.     Harvest Fest prep work will be on Thursday night’s from 6:30-8pm beginning on 10/4.  The big event is on 10/25.

3.     On Sunday, October 7 there will be a light lunch served in the fellowship hall for all who are new to Ebenezer and would like to learn more about our church, our denomination, and our vision for the future!  If you are thinking about connecting at Ebenezer at a deeper level, this lunch is for YOU!  Please let me know if you are coming so we can have plenty of food.  We will be done by 12:45.

4.     Choir Practice for the Christmas Cantata starts up on Monday, October 1st at 7pm.

5.     Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services has two openings – a ministry coordinator position at their Lebanon office and an administrative assistant position at the Columbia location.  If you or someone you know might be interested…go to www.svps.org.

 This week we will be looking at Nehemiah 3.  If you are doing one of those “read through the Bible in a year” plans, this is one of those chapters that many folks sort of gloss over.  It’s a list of all the people who helped lead the rebuilding of the walls.   It’s full of a lot of hard to pronounce names, and on the surface there would seem to be little we can learn from it.  If we dig a bit deeper, however, I think there is actually a whole lot for us in chapter 3!  If you know of someone who is struggling with guilt over past sins, I would encourage you to invite them to join you on Sunday!

Scott

Keys to the Kingdom

Good morning,

A somewhat significant change is in the works in regard to the security of our church building.  At the last Ministry Council meeting we discussed and approved having the locks to the outside doors of the church building be “rekeyed” and in some cases upgraded.  Thankfully, it appears that we will not have to modify the older wooden doors to do this. 

So why are we doing this?  There are a few reasons.  Currently there are 3 different keys to the outside doors of the church.  Rekeying will allow us to have 1 key for all the doors, which will eliminate some hassle.  But the main reason we are doing it is because of building security.  Like in many churches, keys to the church have been given out to whoever needed one at the time.  Some of those folks still attend Ebenezer, but others have moved on to other churches and may or have may not turned their keys back in.  Additionally, we have had other groups and churches use our building regularly, and keys have been made for those groups.  Some (not all, but some) of those groups made additional copies of the keys for their folks.

All of this is concerning in that we have no way of knowing exactly who has a key to the church.  It’s unfortunate, but in 2018 this is an issue.  I wish it wasn’t the case.  When I was growing up Memorial UMC was never locked.  But that changed after some teenagers snuck in and ransacked the downstairs (thankfully they didn’t touch the sanctuary).

So, here’s the plan.  Once the locks have been rekeyed (the date hasn’t been set yet), we’ll distribute a new key to the active church members who need one.   When we do that we are going to mark down the key # on a list so we have a record of who has one.  That way, if there ever is an issue, we know who has a key.

I hope there is never an issue where we need to check the “key list,” but we do want to be good stewards of the building that God has blessed us with.  If anyone has a question or concern about this feel free to see me.

Here’s what’s happening:

1.     Please be in prayer for the Bible Adventure program that starts up this tomorrow (Thursday).  We are expecting another huge group of kids this year!

2.     There will be a brief meeting after church THIS SUNDAY, 9/16 in the annex to introduce our new visitation ministry “Ebenezer At Home.”  This meeting is for anyone who might be interested in being a part of the ministry and visiting our at-home church members.  Coming to the meeting DOES NOT mean that you are committing to the ministry, it is just for informational purposes!  We will be done by about 11:45.

3.     On Sunday, October 7 there will be a light lunch served in the fellowship hall for all who are new to Ebenezer and would like to learn more about our church, our denomination, and our vision for the future!  If you are thinking about connecting at Ebenezer at a deeper level, this lunch is for YOU!  Please let me know if you are coming so we can have plenty of food.  We will be done by 12:45.

4.     Choir Practice for the Christmas Cantata starts up on Monday, October 1st at 7pm.

5.     To be put on your calendars – Harvest Fest this year is on October 25.

 This week we will be looking at Nehemiah 2 and how he starts the monumental rebuilding project that God calls him to lead.  If you have someone in your life that is facing a rebuild in life and doesn’t know how to get started, this would be a great week to invite them to join you at Ebenezer.  If you missed last week’s sermon, I would encourage you to get caught up by listening to it from our website.

Scott

Nehemiah - The Man with a Plan

Good afternoon,

Thanks to everyone who gave diapers, baby wipes, and all the other baby essentials for Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services.  They were beyond thrilled when I dropped everything off this morning!  What a tremendous blessing to be able to partner with SVPS as they share the love of Christ to single moms.

This Sunday we begin our fall (even though we are in the middle of a heat wave) sermon series on the book of Nehemiah and our focus for this Sunday will be the idea of having a purpose in life.  I have found that the lack of purpose is the cause for a lot of discontentment and strife in the world today.  Many people, especially young people, just don’t seem to have a reason to get out of bed in the morning and just sort of go through the motions of life.  This lack of purpose can lead to all sort of dangerous paths.

But here’s the deal – it’s not just the young people that struggle with the lack of purpose!  In fact, one of the stages of life that the struggle is the most real is right after a person retires!  If you know of someone who is struggling with finding their purpose in life, this Sunday would be a great opportunity to invite them to worship with us at Ebenezer.

Here’s what’s happening:

1.     We now have a TV and DVD player in the nursery to use when it is time for the little ones to take a break (or for the workers to have a break!).  We could use some DVD’s to keep in the nursery. 

2.     Bible Adventure (formerly Released Time) starts back on Thursday, September 13.

3.     There will be a brief meeting after church on Sunday, 9/16 in the annex to introduce our new visitation ministry “Ebenezer At Home.”  This meeting is for anyone who might be interested in being a part of the ministry and visiting our at-home church members.  Coming to the meeting DOES NOT mean that you are committing to the ministry, it is just for informational purposes!  We will be done by about 11:45.

4.     On Sunday, October 7 there will be a light lunch served in the fellowship hall for all who are new to Ebenezer and would like to learn more about our church, our denomination, and our vision for the future!  If you are thinking about connecting at Ebenezer at a deeper level, this lunch is for YOU!  Please let me know if you are coming so we can have plenty of food.  We will be done by 12:45.

5.     To be put on your calendars – Harvest Fest this year is on October 25.

6.     We found 3 rings downstairs in kitchen this week.  If they are yours and you can identify the country of origin of the stones in them, please see me.

Looking forward to cooler temperatures,

Scott

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Good afternoon,

As you have undoubtedly noticed, this summer has brought a tremendous amount of rain and humidity to Lancaster County, and it has caused some real issues for people.  There has been lots of flooding and property damage.  Sinkholes have opened up all over, including a major one at Tanger Outlets.  The most recent ramifications of all this moisture has been the discovery of mold at Smoketown Elementary and, as of last night (Monday), mold at Brownstown Elementary as well.

This is not the start of the school year that anyone at Conestoga Valley would have wanted, as both elementary schools are now delayed in starting the school year.  The presence of mold in these schools is causing massive disruptions to lives of the teachers, administrators and support staff, and has caused a lot of headaches for parents as well.

I want to let you know that I have reached out to Dr. Graybill (Principal at Brownstown) to offer our support and prayers and asked him to let me know if there is something that Ebenezer can do to support the school during chaotic time.  If there is a need, I will certainly pass it along.

Last week I asked you to join me in praying for our schools and our students…this week I’m going to ask for continued prayers!

Here’s what’s happening:

1.      Ministry Council Meeting this Monday, August 27 at 6:30pm at the church.

2.      Congregational Life Committee Meeting this Wednesday, August 29 at 6:30pm at the church.

3.      Bible Adventure (formerly Released Time) starts back on Thursday, September 13.

4.      Adult SS Classes resume on Sunday, 9/9.

5.      We are collecting diapers, wipes, and other baby items through Labor Day weekend in support of Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services.  Thanks to everyone who had already donated, the table in the sanctuary is quite full! 

I invite you to read 2 John this week in preparation for Sunday morning.  Last week I advised wearing steel-tipped shoes to the service, but this week your best pair of “walking” shoes will do just fine!!

Scott

 

 

Back to School

Good morning,

Two weeks of Rawlinsville Camp Meeting have come and gone.  Thanks again to everyone for being so understanding of my need to be there so much this year.  Without going into too much detail, God allowed for Camp Meeting to be full of leadership challenges but also moved in a mighty way.  21 children and 5 youth accepted Jesus as their Savior at Rawlinsville and many adults were encouraged and strengthened in their faith!

This coming Tuesday morning the “big yellow fellow” will once again come down Jarvis Road and Mary & I will send three children off to school.  This moment will be repeated throughout Conestoga Valley and numerous other school districts and private schools. Home schoolers will also be resuming their studies. 

The beginning of the school year always triggers an emotional response from me, because each year marks another year of my kids’ growing up.  Greg is a Junior at CVHS this year (HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE??), which means that this is the second-to-last “First Day of School” that we have with him.

Like many parents, I worry about my kids when they are at school.  Not about their education (CV is great school district), but about their hearts.  As many of you know, school can be a place where tender hearts are wounded, scarred, and even crushed.  Our kids and grandkids deal with things in schools today that we couldn’t have fathomed a generation ago.

And yet, our schools are simply a reflection of our culture.  If we are going to help our kids and grandkids to be “in the world but not of the world” (as we studied a few weeks ago), then we need to come alongside them and help them be the young men and women that God wants them to be.  We also need to be in constant prayer for them!

I’ll be spending some time in prayer for our schools on Tuesday.  I hope that you will join me.

Here’s what’s happening:

1.      Thanks to Elaine Quigley for cleaning and reorganizing the kitchen pantry downstairs.  It was a needed job and it looks great!

2.      This week is “Back to School” Sunday.  We will be having a special time of prayer for all those returning to school (teachers, support staff, students, etc…). 

3.      Back to school also means that the return of Released Time is also approaching.  Released Time has been given a new name – Bible Adventure Club.  If anyone is interested in helping please see me, we are always looking for more volunteers.  Last year we had over 90 kids come each week!  Bible Adventure meets weekly on Thursdays.  For volunteers the time commitment is from about 1:30 – 3:30 pm.

4.      Thanks to everyone to helped us have another successful summer lunch program! 

I invite you to read 1 John 5:1-5 this week in preparation for Sunday morning.  Although I hope to deliver the morning message with grace and compassion, you might want to wear your steel-tipped shoes.  Trust me, I’ll be stepping on my own toes more than anyone else’s!

Scott

Back In the Saddle

Good morning,
I am back in the saddle this week after a wonderful family trip to Acadia National Park in Maine.  Thanks to Neil Deibler for speaking on 7/8 and to Charlie Szasz and Ed Strausser for the “running the show” while I was away!
Our time in Maine was a reminder of God’s amazing creation.  We saw whales, seals, porpoises, deer, about a million small red squirrels and so many different birds and sea creatures that I couldn’t possibly remember the names to them all.  We saw the sun rise from the top of a mountain and returned at night to see more stars than I have ever seen before.  We saw the tide rise and fall 12-14 feet each day.  We walked across temporary land bridges.  We saw many spots were God told the sea “that’s as far as you go.”
While in Maine I thought of the passage found in Job 38-39 where God reminds Job that He and He alone is the Creator of all things.  What an amazing God we serve!
Two other passages also came to mind during our time in Maine:
Psalm 96:11-12 “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”
Psalm 104:24-25 “How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.”
Here’s what’s happening:
We are in our annual “summer lull” here are Ebenezer.  I trust that everyone is able to recharge their ministry batteries over the next few weeks:
1.    We have new sidewalks!  The company that we contracted with to replace our new sidewalks wasn’t scheduled to come until the fall, but they decided to bump up our project in their schedule.  Thanks to Dave Ressler for coordinating the work.
2.    The Summer Lunch program continues here at Ebenezer on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 11:30am – 12:30pm.  Free lunches are served to all children who come!
3.    Camp Meeting Season is quickly approaching.  Rosedale Camp Grove begins on Sunday, July 29 at 6:30pm with their opening service and continues each day through Friday, August 3rd.  Rawlinsville Camp Meeting begins Monday, July 30th at 7:30 pm and continues each day through Sunday, August 12th. 

This Sunday we begin our summer sermon series on the Letters of John.  These 3 small books found in the back of the New Testament are often overlooked, but they were critical to the protection and growth of the fledgling early church.  I’ve titled this series “Authentic Christianity.”  I’m afraid it isn’t a very original title, pastors often use it when preaching a sermon series from one of the New Testament Epistles because they all contain instructions for genuine Christian living.

I invite you to read 1 John 1:1-10 this week.  John and his brother James were famously given the nickname “Sons of Thunder” by Jesus and we’ll see why within the first few verses of this letter!

Scott
 

Christians as Citizens

Good morning,

I cannot recall a time in my life when there was as much anger and vitriol in our society as there is today.  Now, I was born in 1974, so perhaps some of you may think otherwise about that, but I think we can all agree that “we the people” are angry.  And yet no one seems to be able to agree as to what to do about it.

So, we see violent protests and demonstrations.  We see property being damaged indiscriminately.  We see our supposed leaders shouting at one another and over one another and resorting to name calling, labelling, demonizing their opponents, and casting blame everywhere else.  I’m certainly not blaming any one group or individual person, because it is EVERYWHERE, including those who would proclaim Jesus Christ as their Savior.

I loathe politics. Aside from encouraging people to vote (but never how they should vote), I very rarely talk political things on a Sunday morning, because I believe the focus of our worship service should always be on praising God and celebrating our victory in Jesus.  Yet I also feel compelled as your pastor to provide some guidance on how I believe God wants Christians to behave publicly as citizens.  So, this Sunday during the Sunday School hour we will be looking at Paul’s instructions to Titus about this very topic (found in Titus 3).  Titus was trying to minister on the island of Crete, in a culture that has some striking similarities to ours.  I believe this short passage has much to teach us!

If the Sunday School hour isn’t a typical part of your Sunday morning at Ebenezer, I would invite you to make an exception on Sunday and join us.

Here’s what’s happening:

1.       We will be celebrating Holy Communion together this Sunday.  We will also be dedicating a new pulpit in honor and memory of Barry Zimmerman.

2.      Weekly announcement emails will once again be a bit more sporadic over the next few of weeks, as my family enjoys our summer vacation and Rawlinsville Camp Meeting.

3.      Speaking of vacationing, I will be out of the office from 7/5- 7/15 as we pack up the minivan and head out for a week in Maine.  If there is a pastoral emergency while I am away, please contact a member of our PRC (Ed Strausser, Charlie Szasz, & Cathy Ressler).  Pastor Joel Kime from Faith E.C. Church is available in such a situation.

4.      Upcoming Guest Speakers:  Neil Deibler on 7/8 and Marysue Ruth from Susquehanna Valley Pregnancy Services on 7/15.

5.      Camp Meeting Season is quickly approaching.  Rosedale Camp Grove begins on Sunday, July 29 at 6:30pm with their opening service and continues each day through Friday, August 3rd.  Rawlinsville Camp Meeting begins Monday, July 30th at 7:30 pm and continues each day through Sunday, August 12th.

This Sunday we conclude our sermon series on Esther.  I trust you’ve enjoyed our journey through one of the wildest stories in the Bible!  Appropriately enough, our focus on Sunday will be celebrating.  What should we be celebrating?  Why should we be celebrating? How should we be celebrating?  How often should we be celebrating?  We will be answering those questions and more!  It’s going to be a wonderful morning, I hope to see you!

Scott

Recapping VBS

Good morning,

Instead of trying to recap all that happened last week, here is:

VBS by the Numbers

52 – The total number of kids who came to at least one night of VBS this year.

21 – The number of kids who came all five nights of VBS.

40 – The number of kids who do not regularly attend Ebenezer.  What a tremendous outreach!

40+ - The number of volunteers during VBS week.  Thank you!  We couldn’t do it without you!

897 – The number of dollars given for our VBS Missions project.  Thank you!  Randy and Chris Amberman greatly appreciate your gifts!

1 – The number of nights Pastor Scott lost his voice during the opening.  I’m glad VBS is only one week!

4 – The number of awesome murals that were painted by the kids during craft time.

1 – The number of nights the tech wasn’t working.  Thanks for scrambling and getting it going again Lloyd!

5 – The number of nights of beautiful weather during VBS.  THANK YOU LORD!

80+ - The approximate number of “people hours” that it took to create and hang all the church decorations for VBS.  Thank you to everyone who helped!

3 – The number of confused children who actually thought we were going to have chow chow pizza on Friday night.  I mean, we are in PA Dutch country, I guess it’s a possibility!

Immeasurable – Both the kingdom impact and blessings that come from a great week of VBS.

Here’s what’s happening:

1.       Ministry Council Meeting this Tuesday at 6:30 pm at the church.

2.      Sunday 7/1 is a Communion Sunday.

3.      We collected $947 at the auction during the church picnic.  Thank you!  We will be using those funds for sidewalk repair.

4.      Ladies – If you would like an official “Ebenezer” pen, please let me know.  I had no idea how popular they were going to be!

This Sunday, as we are looking at the events of the first half of Esther chapter 9.  Passages with violence in them like this one can be uncomfortable for some and can even keep people from trusting in Jesus.   If you of someone who feels like this, please invite them to join you on Sunday.  I’m going to (try to) address those concerns and give a strong invitation to receive Jesus as Lord!

Scott

Happy (Complicated) Holidays!

Good morning,

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make our church picnic a success this year…and let’s pray that we will be able to be back in the park next year!

You’ve probably noticed that we’ve celebrated holidays at Ebenezer a little differently than we have in the past.  With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts on holidays and worship services. 

Let me begin by saying that there isn’t a “right” and “wrong” way for churches to celebrate our national holidays like Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, and so on.  Every church and every pastor plans services a little differently, and that’s OK!

What I have found in my time in ministry is that almost every holiday evokes some different reactions from people.  Some folks, for example, love to celebrate Mother’s Day, while others just try to get through the day.  Almost everyone has a holiday or two that are just…complicated.  I do too! 

Because of this reality, some churches have stopped celebrating holidays altogether (except for Easter and Christmas, of course).  While I understand their reasoning, I think its’ better to have balance be the goal – keeping the focus of the worship service on God and celebrating “Victory in Jesus,” while also acknowledging whatever occasion it happens to be.  Finding that balance is not easy, and I imagine that we’ll continue to find our way. 

So if Father’s Day is a complicated day for you…I want you to join us on Sunday.  We’ll have a special prayer for fathers and a couple of other fun ways to honor the men in our lives, but the focus of our time together will be on worshiping our Heavenly Father.

Here’s what’s happening:

1.       VBS Week is in full swing!  We have about 42 kids coming to the church each night!  I encourage you to swing by the church during the evening this week to check out all the action!  We could use a few extra “support” folks on Thursday and Friday nights!  I can’t stop using exclamation points!

2.      Our VBS Missions project this year is support Randy and Chris Amberman, who are missionaries to the Navajo people out in New Mexico.  We are collecting money throughout the week to help pay for some new playground equipment at their ministry center.  If you would like to contribute, please place your gift in the offering plate this week and mark it “Amberman.”  As always, please use a separate envelope or check if at all possible.

3.      Thanks to everyone who checked their directory information on Sunday.  We are off to a great start in updating it!   If you didn’t get a chance to do so, please check it this week to make sure we have the correct information for you.

4.      We will be “de-decorating” the church on Monday night from 6:30 – 8 pm.  We could really use some extra hands to do so.

I hope that you can join us this Sunday, as we are looking at the events of Esther 8 and discussing what it looks like to wait upon the Lord.  If you know of someone who is really struggling with being patient in the midst of a trial, please invite them to join you on Sunday.  I think that they will find our time to be very encouraging!

Scott

Recapping National Conference

Good morning,

Last week Cathy Ressler (our lay delegate) and I attended the 2018 National Conference for the E.C. Church.  What exactly happens at a National Conference?  Glad you asked!

The National Conference is an annual gathering of all the pastors and church leaders of E.C., which is the denomination that Ebenezer is a part of.  It is a time of worship services, business meetings, elections, and vision casting.  New pastor candidates are approved and stationed, and elections are held to fill positions within the larger E.C. body.  For example, this year Rev. Ted Rathman was elected to oversee E.C. Global Missions.

The highlight of the National Conference for me is the annual Episcopal Address, which is a fancy term for our Bishop giving a State of the Union-type speech.  Our Bishop, Rev. Bruce Hill, gave what I felt was a very direct, bold, and challenging report as to the challenges the E.C. faces as a denomination as well as what “victories” we can celebrate.  Copies of this address will be placed at our typical “information” spots in the sanctuary. 

I appreciated Bishop Hill’s frankness about where things stand within our denomination and look forward to hearing more and more about his vision for the future of the E.C.  I strongly believe we have the right man for the job in place!  BUT plotting a course for the future is not just the work of the Bishop!  We all have a role to play in making sure that our church continues to have Kingdom impact for generations to come.

I encourage you to grab a copy of the Episcopal Address and read it.  To pique your interest, I’ll end with this quote from Bishop Hill:

“People wonder how we have time to “do church” when we consider all the other things we have to do? But that question is coming from a mistaken perspective. It’s not about how we “do church.” The question is whether or not I am committed to “be church” every day and everywhere; not just on Sunday in a building with a steeple on it.”

Here’s what’s happening:

  1. It is VBS registration time.  The registration portal is open and active on the website.  It’s easy to fill out. PLEASE encourage your grandkids, neighbors, nieces, nephews, etc…to preregister!
  2. VBS Decorating on Thursday and Friday this week from 6:30 – 8 pm.
  3. Church Picnic Items:

1.       Sunday, June 10 at 10 am at West Earl Community Park (please note the earlier start time).

2.      Sign up board to bring food is posted in the sanctuary.

3.      We will be having the silent auction once again.  Please see Kristi Berry if you have something you would like to donate to the auction.  Auction items should be brought to the church by Thursday this week.  You can put them in my office for safe keeping.

4.      We are hoping to update the church directory this summer.  Bob Spade will be taking pictures for it at the church picnic if you would like an updated one to be in it.  We will also be asking everyone to check their directory information and make any corrections at the picnic.

5.      Back by popular demand, we will once again be playing “Trash to Treasure” Bingo this year.

5.  We are still in need of a choir director for the fall.  Please see me or Deb Frey if you are interested.

Enjoy the week, I hope to see everyone on Sunday at our 1o am Church Picnic that starts at 10 am!  Just a reminder, we are starting earlier than usual – at 10 am!

Scott

P.S. – 10 am!

Quick Notes

Good morning,

A brief email this week as I have the E.C. National Conference starting tomorrow through Friday.  On Sunday we will be studying Esther 7.  I encourage you to read that chapter in anticipation of our time together.  Our focus on Sunday will be on how God wants us to deal with enemies.  If you know of someone who has a family member, neighbor, coworker, etc… who seems to seek out conflict with them and make life difficult for them this Sunday would be a great week to have them join us.

Here’s what’s happening:

  1. It is VBS registration time.  The registration portal is open and active on the website.  It’s easy to fill out. PLEASE encourage your grandkids, neighbors, nieces, nephews, etc…to preregister!
  2. VBS Decorating on Thursday from 6:30 – 8 pm.  It continues each Thursday night until VBS on June 11-15.
  3. Sunday School will begin the summer schedule THIS SUNDAY.  There will be one adult class meeting in the annex.  This summer’s study is based the book “Anxious for Nothing” by Max Lucado.
  4. Church Picnic Items:

          1. Sunday, June 10 at 10 am at West Earl Community Park.

          2. Sign up board to bring food is posted in the sanctuary.

          3. We will be having the silent auction once again.  Please see Kristi Berry if you have something you would like to donate to the auction.  Auction items should be brought to the church this week if at all possible.  You can put them in my office for safe keeping.

          4. We are hoping to update the church directory this summer.  Bob Spade will be taking pictures for it at the church picnic if you would like an updated one to be in it.  We will also be asking everyone to check their directory information and make any corrections at the picnic.

      5.  We are still in need of a choir director for the fall.  Please see me or Deb Frey if you are interested.

Enjoy the week, I hope to see everyone on Sunday!

Scott

Announcement Overload

Good morning,

I can’t believe that Memorial Day is upon us.  May seems to go by quicker and quicker each year.  I hope that you are able to celebrate and enjoy the good weather that seems to be on tap for the weekend.  Take a few moments as well to remember the brave men and women who gave their lives in service of our country.  There is A LOT happening over the next few weeks, please take some time to read over everything below!

Here’s what’s happening:

  1. It is VBS registration time.  The registration portal is open and active on the website.  It’s easy to fill out. PLEASE encourage your grandkids, neighbors, nieces, nephews, etc…to preregister!
  2. It is “Child Clearance Update” time once again.  Everyone who has had clearances done in the past is still good to go.  However, if you haven’t had them done, please see me ASAP.
  3. VBS Decorating tomorrow from 6:30 – 8 pm.  It continues each Thursday night until VBS on June 11-15.
  4. Sunday School will begin the summer schedule on June 3rd.  There will be one adult class meeting in the annex.  This summer’s study is based the book “Anxious for Nothing” by Max Lucado.
  5. Church Picnic Items:

1.       Sunday, June 10 at 10 am at West Earl Community Park (please note the earlier start time).

2.      Sign up board to bring food is posted in the sanctuary.

3.      We will be having the silent auction once again.  Please see Kristi Berry if you have something you would like to donate to the auction.

4.      We are hoping to update the church directory this summer.  Bob Spade will be taking pictures for it at the church picnic if you would like an updated one to be in it.  We will also be asking everyone to check their directory information and make any corrections at the picnic.

  1. The E.C. National Conference is May 30th – June 1st.  I will not be in the office on those days.
  2. We are still in need of a choir director for the fall.  Please see me or Deb Frey if you are interested.
  3. St. David's EC Church of Dover is sponsoring a bus trip to the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC on Friday, July 13, 2018. They are looking for some folks who might be interested to go along. The bus will leave from St. David's parking lot at 8:00 AM and return around 6:00 PM. The total cost is $65.00 and covers the cost of transportation and admission to the museum. Meals are on your own.  Make your reservations by calling the church office at 717-764-0033.
  4. CVCCS has put out a plea for more volunteer help over the summer months.  Volunteers are needed to serve during daytime hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at CVCCS. If interested, please go to www.cvccs.org to fill out a volunteer application.
  5. The upstairs ladies bathroom is getting a makeover.  Thanks to the 9:15 class for heading up the renovations.  Special thanks to Ed Strausser and Fred Quigley for the many man-hours they are putting in this week.

This Sunday finds us in Esther 6, as the downfall of Haman begins.  Do you know of someone who is feeling discouraged in life, perhaps because it feels like nothing they do is ever rewarded?  If so, I would encourage you to invite them to join us on Sunday!  My hope and prayer is that all of us will leave the worship service on Sunday feeling equipped and encouraged!

Scott

Something Old, Something New

Good morning,

You may have noticed that there is a certain “pattern” to my sermon series.  I strive to get us into both the Old and New Testaments each year.  In the past year we’ve had series on the O.T. prophets, the parables of Jesus, O.T. prophecies about the birth of Jesus, the Gospel of Mark, and now we are in the middle of a series on Esther.  Spoiler Alert – we are going to be in the letters of John in July and August and then in Nehemiah in the fall!

Now, every pastor sets up their preaching calendar a little differently.  Some like to “jump around” in the Bible and not really use a series at all.  Others will spend much of an entire year on one book of the Bible.  Some will preach much more from the New Testament than the Old Testament.

Recently a minor “kerfuffle” arose in the pastor “world” when popular pastor and writer Andy Stanley preached that the time had come for Christians to “unhitch” themselves from the Old Testament.  He supported his argument by suggesting that Peter, James, and Paul had done so.  Many prominent Christians have questioned Stanley’s comments on social media, and he has since sought to publicly clarify what he meant and reaffirmed his commitment to the Old Testament. 

So why should we study the Old Testament when we are living under the New Covenant?  Glad you asked!

The Old Testament lays the foundation for the teachings and events in the New Testament.  It shows us why we need a Savior.  It contains countless lessons for us to apply to our lives today.  It helps us understand prophecy.  It contains wonderful poetry that inspires and encourages.  But most importantly – it is inspired by God!  Jesus refers to passages in the Old Testament throughout the Gospels, and the other New Testament writes do as well.  In fact, when Paul writes to Timothy that all scripture is God-breathed, it’s the books of the Old Testament that he is referring to!

Here at Ebenezer, we believe that all Scripture is God-breathed.  The Bible…the whole Bible…is the inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Word of God.  So, we will continue to preach and teach from both the New and Old Testaments, and I encourage you to include both in your personal devotions.  AND, if you do come across a troubling passage in the Old Testament, feel free to ask me about it.  I can’t promise that I’ll have an answer, but I can promise that we’ll look for one together!

Here’s what’s happening:

  1. We really need some more volunteers for the Junior Worship ministry.  Each Sunday morning the Junior Worship time consists of a Bible Story and then some sort of activity (craft/game/etc..).  Our hope is to “pair” people up who are gifted in different areas.  If you would be willing to lead a short Bible lesson or lead the group in an activity about 1 Sunday a month please see me or Beth Ressler.
  2. It is VBS registration time.  The registration portal is open and active on the website.  It’s easy to fill out. PLEASE encourage your grandkids, neighbors, nieces, nephews, etc…to preregister!
  3. It is “Child Clearance Update” time once again.  Everyone who has had clearances done in the past is still good to go.  However, if you haven’t had them done, please see me ASAP.
  4. VBS Decorating tomorrow from 6:30 – 8 pm.  It continues each Thursday night until VBS on June 11-15.
  5. The annual church picnic at West Earl Community Park is Sunday, June 10 at 10 am.  Sign up board to bring food is posted in the sanctuary.
  6. The E.C. National Conference is May 30th – June 1st.  I will not be in the office on those days.

This Sunday the action really picks up in our series on Esther as we look at the events of Esther 5 and discuss one of those “respectable sins” – the sin of pride.  As always, I encourage you to invite someone to join you at Ebenezer this Sunday!

Scott

Helping Moms

Good morning,

About 10 years ago our family underwent a major transition.  Through a series of events and opportunities I found myself becoming a stay-at-home dad.  Around the same time, the country music group Lonestar’s song “Mr. Mom” was a big hit.  You might remember the lyrics:

Lost my job, came home mad, Got a hug and kiss and that's too bad.
She said “I can go to work until you find another job.”
I thought “I like the sound of that! Watch TV and take long naps!”
Go from a hand working dad to being Mr. Mom

I have to admit, I sort of thought that is what it would be like to!  What a fool!!!!  It wasn’t long (about 2 ½ minutes) until I realized that I had not had a clue as to what Mary’s life was like when I was working and she was at home.  I had assumed it was one thing, and it turned out to something entirely different.

One of things that men can do that drives their wives absolutely nuts is to act like we know what it is like to walk in their shoes.  Guys, trust me on this – we don’t.  It is important that we understand (and communicate that we understand) how important the work of our wives is to us and to our family.  When we turn to Ephesians 5 we are reminded that we men are to love our wives, and one of the most powerful ways that we can do that is to show her that we appreciate her and are deeply grateful for all that she does each day.

How can we do that?  Here are a few suggestions:

-          Ask her how her day was BEFORE talking about your day.  Ask if she has had any downtime, and if not, make sure she gets some.

-          Take the kids for a walk/bike ride/playground trip etc…

-          Do the dishes and clear the dining table.

-          Give her a chance to go out for lunch or dinner with a couple of friends

-          Plan a date night.  Take care of ALL of the details (babysitting, reservations, etc…)

Of course, one the best ways to show that we appreciate the jobs that our wives to is to actually do it ourselves once in a while!  Encourage your wife to get away for an overnight or a weekend and then run the home like she does.  No cheating by sending the kids to grandma’s or ordering out for each meal!

The comedian Jeff Foxworthy (I know I am on a country theme here, bear with me) once said something to the effect that women do 99% of the housework and men do 1%.  “But see, women are not as proud of their 99% as men are of our one!” 

Guys, lets make sure that statement isn’t true of us, and let’s make sure our wives know how proud we are of the work they do.  “A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies” – Proverbs 31:10

Here’s what’s happening:

  1. We really need some more volunteers for the Junior Worship ministry.  Each Sunday morning the Junior Worship time consists of a Bible Story and then some sort of activity (craft/game/etc..).  Our hope is to “pair” people up who are gifted in different areas.  If you would be willing to lead a short Bible lesson or lead the group in an activity about 1 Sunday a month please see me or Beth Ressler.
  2. If you would like to be a part of our prayer chains (either via email or phone) please let me know this week, as we will be updating our lists.
  3. It is “Child Clearance Update” time once again.  Everyone who has had clearances done in the past is still good to go.  However, if you haven’t had them done, please see me ASAP.
  4. VBS Decorating will start up tomorrow from 6:30 – 8 pm and continue each Thursday night until VBS on June 11-15.
  5. The annual church picnic at West Earl Community Park is Sunday, June 10 at 10 am.  Sign up board to bring food is posted in the sanctuary.
  6. The E.C. National Conference is May 30th – June 1st.  I will not be in the office on those days.
  7. The Hispanic Church that meets here is hosting a Chicken BBQ at the church on Saturday from 10 am- 1pm.

I look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday!  We will be celebrating Mother’s Day in a couple of different ways and will be looking at Esther’s brave decision to serve God.  I encourage you to read Esther 4 this week.  Mother’s Day is always a great Sunday to invite friends to join you in worship!

Vision Update

Good morning,
Three months ago, we had a congregational meeting to discuss where God might be leading us as a church family.  A big part of that meeting was laying out a series of ministry goals that we wanted to start to implement.  Then I visited with each of the Sunday School classes for a time of discussion.
So, what we been working on since then?  Plenty!  However, just like our current sermon series of Esther, a lot of what we have been doing has been “behind the scenes.”


We held a very meaningful prayer vigil during Holy Week.  We have begun to update and create job descriptions for our volunteer positions.  We purchased new microphones for the worship services and also purchased a second earpiece microphone.  We put together welcome bags for visitors on Easter Morning.  A meeting has been scheduled to discuss Junior Worship.  The 9:15 class purchased Bibles for us to give to others in honor of Barry Zimmerman.

I’ll continue to give some periodic updates as to what is happening “behind the scenes” at Ebenezer.  We look forward to seeing more and more visible works of an invisible God happening in our midst!

Here’s what’s happening:
1.    Evangelical Theology Seminary turns 65 in 2018.  They have requested that all E.C. churches consider giving a “gift” in celebration.  We will be taking a love offering on Sunday, May 6th in support of the seminary.  If you would like to contribute, please note your contribution for “Evangelical Seminary” in a separate envelope or using a separate check.
2.    There will be a VBS Meeting on Tuesday, May 8 at 6:30 pm at the church.  This meeting is for ALL who are planning to help with VBS this year.  Registration for VBS is now LIVE on the church website.
3.    There will be a meeting for all the folks involved in the Junior Worship ministry on Sunday, May 6th during the Sunday School hour.  We will be discussing the ministry to determine if any “tweaks” are needed and also planning the summer schedule.  WE COULD USE A FEW MORE VOLUNTEERS!  If you at all interested please come to the meeting to learn more about this important ministry.
4.    If you would like to be a part of our prayer chains (either via email or phone) please let me know in the next week or so, as we will be updating our lists.
5.    It is “Child Clearance Update” time once again.  Everyone that has had clearances done in the past is still good to go!  However, if you haven’t had them done before, please see me ASAP.
6.    Making decorations for VBS will start up on next Thursday, May 10 at from 6:30 – 8pm at the church and continue each Thursday night leading up to VBS.

Every epic story has a nasty villain and on Sunday we meet Mordecai and Esther’s nemesis, a wicked man named Haman.  I encourage you to read Esther 3 in preparation for Sunday!
 

Prayer Vigil Feedback

During Holy Week we held a 24-hour prayer vigil.  Here are is a sample of the feedback that I received:

During the prayer time I was able to be honest with God and tell Him I felt I had a sore spot between He and I, as if He had let us down in this area...sort of like a good friend that hurts your feelings. By the end of the prayer time I did not have any answers, but a more peaceful feeling that I had been honest with Him and He had accepted that.

I spent much of the time singing through some of my favorite hymns, a few of which I hadn’t song in quite a while.  It was a wonderful time that left me feeling greatly encouraged and in a much better frame of mind.

I prayed before heading to work for the day and I found that I arrive at the office in a much, much better mood than usual!

Initially it was hard, and I wasn’t sure I could pray for the whole 3o minutes.  However, I found that just being still asking for God to speak to me was a very reassuring experience.  I should probably do that more often.

I didn’t sign up right away because I wasn’t sure about doing it.  Then God cleared my schedule and I participated.  I am glad that I did.

I couldn’t believe how fast the 3o minutes went by! (I heard this from several people)

The prayer guide really helped, and I played some praise music softly in the background.  It felt more like a personal time of worship more than anything else.

It was really stretching for me personally.

Thanks again to everyone for participating and for those who provided some feedback.  I have no doubt that God was pleased!  A few folks cautioned against doing a prayer vigil like this too often, and I agree.  We will do it again, but perhaps only once or twice a year.

HOWEVER, we should never stop praying!  I encourage all of us to continue to seek the Lord through prayer everyday!

Here’s what’s happening:

  1. We could use some folks to help out as greeters before Sunday school.  If you are willing to help please see Dave Weimer.
  2. We are still in need of volunteers to serve in the nursery during the worship services.  Please see Shirley Echternach.
  3. CVCCS is having their annual “Walk & Ride from Hunger” fundraising event this Sunday afternoon, 4/29 at the Conestoga Valley High School.  This involves participating in either a 2 mile or 3.1 mile walk or a motorcycle ride through Lancaster County.  Check it out at http://cvccs.org/walk-ride-from-hunger
  4. Evangelical Theology Seminary turns 65 in 2018.  They have requested that all E.C. churches consider giving a “gift” in celebration.  We will be taking a love offering on this coming Sunday, April 29, and again on Sunday, May 6th in support of the seminary.  If you would like to contribute, please note your contribution for “Evangelical Seminary” in a separate envelope or using a separate check.
  5. There will be a VBS Meeting on Tuesday, May 8 at 6:30 pm at the church.  This meeting is for ALL who are planning to help with VBS this year.  Registration for VBS is now LIVE on the church website.
  6. Twin Pines Camp is holding their annual “Summer Celebration” on June 9th.
  7. There will be a meeting for all the folks involved in the Junior Worship ministry on Sunday, May 6th during the Sunday School hour.  We will be discussing the ministry to determine if any “tweaks” are needed and also planning the summer schedule.  WE COULD USE A FEW MORE VOLUNTEERS!  If you at all interested please come to the meeting to learn more about this important ministry.
  8. Ministry Council meets this Tuesday, May 1 at 6:30 pm at the church.

This Sunday we will focusing our time on the second half of Esther chapter 2 and discussing what God expects from us when it comes to doing the right thing.

Lost in Translation(s) Part 2

Last week we discussed the different types of Bible translations, and looked at the history of the very popular NIV translation.  This week I am going to tackle the English Standard Version (ESV) and discuss which translations Christians should use.

The ESV was first printed in 2001.  It was a revision of the old Revised Standard Version (RSV).  I remember when Memorial Church took the RSV out of the pews and replaced them with the NIV, perhaps some of you have similar memories!  To avoid confusion the publishers gave the new version a different name.

The ESV is a more literal translation of the original manuscripts of the Bible when compared to the NIV, but it isn’t quite as readable.  The ESV also doesn’t strive to be gender-neutral like the modern NIV.  It has become popular in churches who wish to use a modern but more conservative and literal translation.  Crossway Bibles (the publisher of the ESV) had a few nationally-known pastors, theologians, and Christian speakers endorse the ESV, which helped its popularity immensely.

So which translation of the Bible should a Christian read?  It’s really a matter of personal choice.  All translations have their advocates and critics.  The more literal ones are typically best for studying the Scriptures, while the more readable ones are great for personal devotions.  I tend to prefer more literal translations like the ESV, but during my sermon prep I typically read the passage from 2 or 3 different translations (sometimes more).  Here is a link that gives a good overview of the spectrum: http://www.biblereviewer.com/bible-translation-comparison

As I alluded to, many churches end up preaching and teaching from one translation, if for no other reason than so folks can read along from the same one.  That’s how you end up with KJV churches, NIV churches, ESV churches, and so on. 

So which one will I use from the pulpit moving forward?  Whichever one I think is the best fit for the message that morning!  What I can say is that when I use the NIV it will be the NIV84 version, not the modern one.  We may also experiment with putting the text on the screen so everyone can be reading the same text.  BUT that doesn’t mean that you should stop bringing your Bibles!  NOTHING can replace have God’s Word in your hands, where you can circle, underline, highlight and mark verses and passages that are meaningful to you!

Here’s what’s happening:

  1. We could use some folks to help out as greeters before Sunday school.  If you are willing to help please see Dave Weimer.
  2. We are still in need of volunteers to serve in the nursery during the worship services.  Please see Shirley Echternach.
  3. CVCCS is having their annual “Walk & Ride from Hunger” fundraising event on Sunday afternoon, 4/29 at the Conestoga Valley High School.  This involves participating in either a 2 mile or 3.1 mile walk or a motorcycle ride through Lancaster County.  Check it out at http://cvccs.org/walk-ride-from-hunger
  4. Evangelical Theology Seminary turns 65 in 2018.  They have requested that all E.C. churches consider giving a “gift” in celebration.  We will be taking a love offering on Sunday, April 29, and again on Sunday, May 6th in support of the seminary.  If you would like to contribute, please note your contribution for “Evangelical Seminary” in a separate envelope or using a separate check.
  5. There will be a VBS Meeting on Tuesday, May 8 at 6:30 pm at the church.  This meeting is for ALL who are planning to help with VBS this year.  Registration for VBS is now LIVE on the church website.
  6. Twin Pines Camp is holding their annual “Summer Celebration” on June 9th.

 

This Sunday we will be looking at Esther’s rise to the throne in Persia.  I encourage you to read Esther 2 this week!

Lost in Translation(s) Part 1

Good Morning,

This week begins our spring sermon series on the book of Esther, and I will be preaching using my NIV Bible.  Back on Easter we wrapped up our series on the Gospel of Mark, and for that series I preached using my ESV Bible.  So why have I switched backed and forth, and is one translation better than the other?  Glad you asked!  I’m going to share my thoughts about it over the next couple of weeks.

First, it’s important to note that no translation is perfect. Translating the Scriptures from the original texts is very difficult work because our modern English language and the ancient languages of the Bible don’t align very well.  A straight word-for-word translation would not be very readable in English.  So translators have choices to make in how they present the text.  The goal, of course, is to be faithful to the original meaning of the authors of the Bible.  Some translations (ESV, NAS, KJV) lean more toward a word-for-word translation, while others (NIV, NLT) use a more thought-for thought translation method, which is a more readable but less literal translation.  Still others (Good News, The Message) are considering paraphrases.  A paraphrase is a retelling of the Bible in someone’s own words.  It’s what the author thinks the Bible says, not necessarily what it says.

I grew up reading the New International Version (NIV) translation of the Bible.  The NIV was first published in 1978 and was revised in 1984.  It is a more easily-read translation of the Bible, but it also stays true to the original text.  Through the 80’s and into the 90’s the NIV became the “standard” translation in many churches, meaning that it’s what the pastor preached from and the version that was placed in the pews. 

In 2005 the publisher of the NIV, a company named Zondervan, produced an updated version that strived to be gender-inclusive and called it “Today’s NIV”.  Zondervan was hoping that everyone would run out and by a new Bible.  That didn’t happen because there was a lot of scholarly criticism of it and people kept right on buying the old 1984 translation.  Zondervan stopped publishing it in 2009.

Then, in 2011, Zondervan began to print another revised version of the NIV, still with gender-neutral changes. For example:

Mark 7:15 (NIV 84) – “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.’”

Mark 7:15 (NIV) – “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

The 2011 also includes some changes to certain verses that critics felt were not faithful to the original text.  The catch was that this time Zondervan stopped printing the old 1984 version.  Anyone who has bought an NIV Bible that was printed since 2011 has bought the new version.  So pastors of “NIV Churches” now had to make a choice – adopt the new NIV, stick with the old NIV (knowing that their people would no longer be able to buy it), or adopt a new translation.

Next week – We’ll look at the ESV and discuss which translation a Christian should use.  That’s right…it’s a cliffhanger!

Here’s what’s happening:

1.        We are still in need of helpers in the nursery.  Please consider serving and contact Shirley Echternach.

2.       This Saturday, 4/14 – Spring Clean Up Day from 8am until whenever the work gets done (probably by 11am).  We can use as many hands as possible!

3.       I am looking for folks who participated in the 24 hour prayer vigil to give me some feedback on their experiences.  What went well?  What was a struggle?  How did God speak to you?  Would you do it again or even recommend it someone else?  Send me an email or connect with me at church with your thoughts!

4.       CVCCS is having their annual “Walk & Ride from Hunger” fundraising event on Sunday afternoon, 4/29 at the Conestoga Valley High School.  This involves participating in either a 2 mile or 3.1 mile walk or a motorcycle ride through Lancaster County.  Check it out at http://cvccs.org/walk-ride-from-hunger

I am so excited to share Esther with you over the next few weeks.  It is an awesome story of the providence of God!  I encourage you to invite a friend to join us on Sunday.

Summer Dreaming

Good Morning,

One of the main points of the message this past Sunday was that Jesus is still using ordinary people who can do ordinary things in order to show His extraordinary love to others.  On Monday I received an email with just such an opportunity!

Once again CVCCS is sponsoring a summer lunch program for kids.  CVCCS prepares and delivers hot lunches 3 days a week during June, July and the first half of August.  These meals are free to all children!  Our church is a host site.  Here’s what we need as far as volunteers:

3 people to help serve lunches.  You would be responsible for only one day a week and would need to be at the church from around 11:30 -1:30.  Serving lunches involves receiving the food from the CVCCS delivery person, passing them out to the kids, and then more light clean up afterwards.  There is also a little paperwork involved to track how many lunches we serve each day.

1  person to serve at site supervisor.  This person serves as the contact person for CVCCS and makes sure that someone is available to serve a lunch each day. 

Please consider helping if your schedule allows.  This ministry is a true blessing for the kids, some of whom would not get lunch otherwise.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

We are also in need of a choir director.  This person selects the Christmas and Easter Cantata each year and then leads in the choir in about 8-9 practices, dress rehearsal, and, of course, the Sunday morning service.  There is a small stipend in the budget for the choir director.  If you would be interested in leading the choir, please see me.

Here’s what’s happening:

1.       This Sunday, April 8,  Jesse North from Intervarsity Christian Fellowship will be returning to Ebenezer and will be giving the morning message.

2.      The elevator, which was giving us trouble Sunday, is working once again.

3.      We are still in need of helpers in the nursery.  Please consider serving and contact Shirley Echternach.

4.      Saturday, 4/14 – Spring Clean Up Day from 8am until whenever the work gets done (probably by 11am).

5.       I am looking for folks who participated in the 24 hour prayer vigil to give me some feedback on their experiences.  What went well?  What was a struggle?  How did God speak to you?  Would you do it again or even recommend it someone else?  Send me an email or connect with me at church with your thoughts!

See you on Sunday,

Scott

Pruning...it's not just for peach trees

Good Morning,

Our home that we purchased last August came with a very overgrown peach tree.  Having zero experience in dealing with fruit trees, I talked to my brother about it.  His first question was, “Well, do you want it to bear fruit?”  It seemed like a silly question, of course we wanted it to bear fruit!  Peaches are very healthy, especially when you bake them in a pie or add them to milkshakes!  

"Well,” my brother continued, “the first thing we will have to do is prune it back.”  A couple of weeks ago Ryan came over and showed me what fruit-tree pruning looks like.  He pruned the branches back HARD.  When he was finished he told me some other things we will have to do throughout the growing season, and then he cautioned me that we might not get a bumper crop this year.  Apparently the first year after a hard pruning isn’t always bountiful, but then after continued care the tree should be overloaded with peaches for years to come.

So why do I tell you all this?  Well, I think the lessons Ryan taught me about fruit-trees apply to our spiritual lives as well.  Do we want to be fruitful as individuals and as a church?  The easy answer is “YES,” but being fruitful may mean that we are in for some pruning, especially if we’ve ignored our spiritual life for a while.

When God prunes us, He starts to clip away all unnecessary and “dead” things in our lives.  Sometimes it means asking us to give up things we enjoy, but don’t have lasting value.  Sometimes it means losing our “free” time so that He can redirect us.  And sometimes, let’s face it, it means clipping away undesired character traits like pride, envy, selfishness, and anger. 

Going through a season of pruning isn’t fun, but it is necessary if we are to remain fruitful.  John 15:2 says that “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  Did you catch the end of that verse?  God prunes us because it will help us bear more fruit!  Here’s the deal…like my peach tree, abundant fruit may not appear in our lives right away.  But don’t give up.  Be patient and allow God to continue to work in your life.  Given time, you will begin to bear more fruit than you ever thought possible!

Here’s what’s happening:
1.    We are still in need of helpers in the nursery.  Please consider serving and contact Shirley Echternach.
2.    Saturday, 4/14 – Spring Clean Up Day from 8am until whenever the work gets done (probably by 11am).
3.    Holy Week 2018 at Ebenezer:
       Wednesday 7 pm to Thursday 7 pm – 24 Hour Prayer Vigil
       Maundy Thursday Service – 7 pm.  “Breads and Spreads” Fellowship time afterwards.  Bring your favorite bread (homemade or from your favorite bakery) and/or your favorite spread (jelly/jam/cream spreads/etc…) to share!
       Community Good Friday Service at Metzler’s Mennonite Church at 7pm.
       Easter Morning Sunrise Service at Carpenters Community Church at 6:30am.
       Easter Morning – Celebration Service at 10:15
4.    On Sunday, April 8,  Jesse North from Intervarsity Christian Fellowship will be returning to Ebenezer and will be giving the morning message.
5.    Sunday April 15 – We will begin our spring sermon series on the book the Esther, titled “God is Now Here.”

I am looking forward to Sunday morning as we look at the ladies discovering the empty tomb (Mark 16:1-8).  The message on Sunday will include both a challenge for believers about being fruitful and a strong invitation to receive Christ as Lord and Savior.  Please invite someone to join you in worshipping with us!

See you on Sunday,

Scott