Monday, June 30, 2014

How might we pray in JULY? - Saturday 8-12 prayer time

Let us know your prayer requests.

And join us anytime on Saturday 8-noon to pray.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

PRAYERS: Tower Thanksgiving (Treatable, Curable) ... plus others

Thank you for your continued prayers for Steve Tower and family.

The Good News: The pathology just came back – “treatable and curable”!

And by the way: They’re loving the SOJ care meals. They’re fatting Steve up for chemo!


Others …

·         Kenaizh Shoemaker – still hospitalized at CMC Main with ongoing complications from her disability

·         Jessi Nielsen – in internal surgery right now to alleviate some chronic pain. (She really doesn’t like surgery, so if you’re reading this at about noon. Pray right now.)

·         Bob Wilbur and Jan Birchall – both in rehab centers for knee and broken ankle (respectively)

·         Bob Smith – getting stronger and stronger at home and regaining feeling in his feet!

·         Paula Aulisi and Mike Skrutowski (brother and sister) – grieve the loss of a sister yesterday after a long illness.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

PRAY: Tower Family Cancer ... and K. Kelleher's Dad's Death

Continue to pray for …


Steve Tower (father of Mike, Nick, and Taylor and son-in-law of Barbara Sims) who was diagnosed with Colon Cancer this week.


It is very, very serious … but not hopeless. In fact, after huge fears initially, more recent news is more encouraging. (In fact, he’s going home from the hospital today!)


After two emergency surgeries, plus biopsies, etc., this week, they’ve found that …

·         the tumor is large and wrapped around his colon, meaning much of his colon may need to be removed to remove the tumor.

·         nevertheless, the tumor is not as an aggressive form as they initially feared!

·         a combination of chemo or radiation should start soon.


Please pray for Lisa, Mike, Nick, Taylor … and of course, Steve.


Please also pray for …


The Kelleher’s at the death of Keith’s Father.

His health had been failing; nevertheless, the end came unexpectedly. Keith, Rebekah, and family are in Buffalo with Keith’s mom.


And for the Fixing-it-for-Jesus work projects.

Including our painting at the home of our old friends: Joe, Marilyn, and Lesley Kisiah.

Thanks to Scott Farb and his crew.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

PRAISE REPORT - from Rhonda's Mom -- and MORE PRAYER

Rhonda Mauney, our Director of Music, has been in Illinios with her mom who had emergency surgery to insert a pacemaker. It went well. Her mom is coming home today!


Continued prayers: In the same hospital on the same weekend Rhonda’s Aunt Mabel also had emergency surgery – obstructed bowel. Her health was fragile to begin with. But she made it through! Now pray that they get good reports from the biopsy.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

THIS SATURDAY - PLEASE Make This a CHURCH NIGHT - Support Youth! Support PN!



Pastor Nate is getting Ordained: 5:30pm


It’s Critical that Each of Us Support our Youth:

PLEASE be there for the Youth Praise Concert: 8:00pm

This is going to be fun. They’ve been working hard!


Potluck: 6:45pm – extra guests so bring a little extra food.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

DEVO: June 6 - How to begin to grow (and maybe grow again)

[God, the Father, the Vinedresser]

removes every branch … that bears no fruit.

Every branch that bears [some] fruit he prunes

to make it bear more fruit.

John 15:2


Yesterday we asked … where are on this progression from “no fruit” … to “[some] fruit” … to more fruit … to, as it says in verse 5, “much fruit.”


Now, even if you think you’re pretty far along (and some are), it’s important to pay close attention to every stage.


Why? Because even healthy branches can suddenly be confronted by problems (think a sudden infestation of bugs) and suddenly be right back at “no fruit.” (In fact, it’s usually when I think I’m coasting along and doing my best that pridefulness swells, inattentiveness rises, and problems come. In fact the enemy, the nastiest bug in the garden of life, likes to invade precisely when we’re inattentive because we seem to be doing our best.)   


Today, we want to examine that first stage … growing from “no fruit” to “some fruit.”


In Secrets of the Vine, Pastor Bruce Wilkinson has a chart in which he shows the difference between pruning and disciplining. (It’s at the bottom of this email.) Disciplining is what he does to us in those seasons when our fruit has been utterly compromised.


·         Why is there “no fruit”? Because of sin.

·         What is God’s response to “no fruit”? Read the verse. Ouch!

·         But let’s not don’t rush to God’s final response to “no fruit”! (Indeed, the removal of the waste is surely not God’s goal!)

·         Remember, instead, the story from two days ago. As in the story of prodigal son, God’s greatest desires it to lift up the fallen branch, clean it up, and train it to grow along the trellis.


Train it! Focus on those words.


Another word for training is disciplining. Just as a vinedresser has the goal of producing life by discipline the branch to crawl productively along the trellis, God’s goal is to produce life in you by disciplining you to follow his life-giving ways.


Generally, we don’t like the word discipline, but look at the logic of heaven’s encouragement – Hebrews 12:5-6 – Have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his children? He said, "My child, don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children."


Whenever you fall into a season without much fruit …


·         The first place to start is with faith. Do you believe that God loves you enough to life you up, clean you off, and discipline, shape, direct, and train you until your fruitfulness is a testimony to his grace.


·         The second step is confession. If you’re bearing no fruit – read the chart – it’s because of sin. You are indeed doing something wrong. Confess!


·         And a better word than confess is “Repent.” Do you know the difference? Confession is acknowledging that you have a problem. Repentance is turning from that sin (and turning instead to God).


Think of one of our culture’s most pervasive sins – pornography. It’s one thing to confess that you dabble with it. But it’s a healing thing to quit doing it! And that’s where the “turning to God” comes in.


Most of our sins are a little addictive. Mostly, we want to get away from them – indeed, that’s why “guilt” is on Pastor Wilkinson’s chart. So why do we keep doing them? It’s because – even for a moment – there’s something about this sin and the way it feels that we like. We can’t escape these guilty (and crushing) “pleasures” on our own. And that’s why we turn to God.


That’s our step for today. What are the sins that keep drawing you back in? I know for me, that when I’m tired or lonely or frustrated that I’m the most vulnerable. How about you?


God loves you. He’s aching to forgive you – to lift you up, clean you off, and train and discipline you to bear much fruit. Do you trust him enough to give you’re greatest barrier(s) to him?


In Christ’s Love,

A guy who’s glad he had

people who loved him enough

to discipline him

(and a guy who’s thankful

he’s had enough painful situations in life

that he experienced God’s correction

as incredibly life-giving)







Wednesday, June 4, 2014

DEVO: June 5 - How much fruit are you really producing?

[God, the Father, the Vinedresser]

removes every branch … that bears no fruit.

Every branch that bears [some] fruit he prunes

to make it bear more fruit.

John 15:2


Take a close look at today’s verse. Do you see the progression of fruit?


Jesus tells us that fruitfulness in life grows from “no fruit” … to “[some] fruit”  … to more fruit. In fact, if we look forward to verse 5, we’ll see the final goal of “much fruit.”


My goal this week is to help you go more and more and more fruit. And there are some steps we are each invited to take.


We introduced step one yesterday. It’s realizing that God’s greatest desire is to lift you up, clean you off, forgive your sins, and set you on the road to greater joy and fruitfulness.


This is the step of faith.


And here’s your first question on that road to fruitfulness:


·         Do you believe, really believe, that God’s greatest desire is to lift you up and make your life fruitful? A glorious testimony to his grace!

·         Do you believe, really believe, that loves you – indeed, loves you enough to forgive you of your greatest sins.

·         Do you believe, really believe, that God is patient enough to work with you, step-by-step, until the best blossoms within you?


That’s step one.


Step two is being honest with ourselves. It requires determining how much fruit you really and truly bear.


Now it’s critical to understand that this has nothing to do with the world’s standards of success! Kingdom fruit is determined …


·         By selflessness and service.

·         By worship and devotion.

·         By humbleness and integrity.

·         By forgiveness and love.


If you’ve taken the first step of faith, then this is today’s practical application. In kingdom terms, how fruitful are you?


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who at different times has

produced various levels of fruit

(through Christ, of course)

but wants to do what it takes

to be ever more fruitful




Tuesday, June 3, 2014

DEVO: June 4 - The Heart of the Father

"I am the true vine, and

my Father is the vinedresser.”

John 15:1


When a sun-bronzed farmer approached Pastor Bruce Wilkinson, he shared one of the first Secrets of the Vine.


As in every other part of the world, gravity rules in a vineyard. Therefore, when a vine’s new branches sprout out, they bend downward. Crawling along the ground, they get dusty. When it rains, this dust turns to mud. Soon the branches (and its first attempts at fruit) mildew.


No fruit.


“What do you do with the branch,” said the citified pastor, “cut it off?”


Explaining that a branch is much too valuable to cut off, old farmers explain that vinedressers always bring a bucket of water into the vineyard. When they find a branch trying to crawl along the ground, they lift up the branch. Clean it up. And attach it to the trellis, where it is trained to grow upward and outward.


Jesus says, “I am the vine and my Father is the vinedresser.” In other words, isn’t that the goal of God for our lives – to lift us up, clean us off, and train us to grow upward and outward?!


Look no further than the parable of the prodigal son. A runaway child crawled along the ground and through the gutter. But when the Father encountered him again, he lift him back up (dressed in fine robes), washed him clean (a metaphor for forgiveness), and restored to him a future (in which to grow upward in relationship to his father and outward in a renewed sense of purpose in the world).


In Christ’s Love,

a branch who’s occasionally

crawled upon the ground

(Thanks be to God for the rescue!!!)



PRAY: How can we pray for you and your family in June?

Monthly Prayer Time

Come any time – This Saturday, 8am to noon

How can we pray for you in June?

Monday, June 2, 2014

DEVO: June 3 - DO YOU WANT A BOOK? Last Chance to Order

Last Chance to Order Bruce Wilkinson’s

Secrets of the Vine: Breaking through to Abundance

Email me back the word “Yes”; it’s roughly $6 a book


I am the vine,

you are the branches.

Those who abide in me and

I in them bear much fruit

John 15:5


·         Are you tired of muddling through life?

·         Are you ready to break through to abundance?!!


Those are the questions we asked on Sunday.


We pointed to a book by Pastor Bruce Wilkinson who tells the story about having a sun-bronzed man come up to him while he was speaking at a conference. He said, “Do you understand John 15?” “Somewhat,” said Pastor Wilkinson. The bronzed farmer said, “Well I own a vineyard, and I think I’ve figured it out.” Bruce Wilkinson says, “I offered to buy him coffee on the spot.”


Now before I tell you the story that this farmer told, I promised to be very practical in detailing how to practice Sabbath, experience Jubilee, and discover more freedom and rest in your life. These next few days of devotions will be very practical.


But most practical step is to buy the book. Spurred on by a story from this old farmer, Pastor Wilkinson noticed a progression in Jesus’ parable that talks about no fruit and some fruit … then more fruit and much fruit.


Jesus, says this pastor, wants to take you on a journey from little fruit to abundant joy. And our Lord has clear steps to draw us along each step of this journey toward greater fruitfulness. And the first step is to buy the book! (I’ll give you a few* hints in the next few day’s emails. The book will give you details … and the best part is that it’s short, sweet, clear, and yet profound.)


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who’s looking forward

to telling you the farmer’s story

… tomorrow!

Today … pray for God to give you

the hunger to truly grow








Sunday, June 1, 2014

DEVO: June 2 - No Fruit?

[The Father, the Vinedresser] removes

every branch … that bears no fruit.

John 15:2a


Yesterday, I introduced you to a favorite book, Bruce Wilkinson’s “The Secrets of the Vine.” In explaining this parable, this analogy, Pastor Wilkinson invites us to imagine four baskets.


·         One has “no fruit.” (Do you see that in our verse for today.)

·         Another has “[some] fruit” (cited later in verse 2).

·         Still another has “more fruit” (also later in verse 2).

·         And the final basket has “much fruit” (verse 5ff).


What does verse 2 say that is coming for people, Christians, who bear no fruit? Clippers!


And what percentage of these fruitless branches will be clipped, pruned, and removed? “Every” one. 100%. Ouch!


Now, a little theological precision: We are saved by faith … not by our works or our fruits. Nevertheless, as it says in James 2:17, “faith without works is dead” or to put that another way, “faith without fruit isn’t really faith.” Or in other words, if genuine faith always manifests some degree of fruitfulness, then no fruit means no faith and no faith means no life.


·         Jesus’ greatest desire is to graft us onto his vine – for as the vine, he is the source of life.

·         Grafting is Jesus’ design, desire, and invitation. For example, Jesus preached to crowds, inviting them to accept his message and be grafted in.

·         Some did accept his message and were grafted in! (And some still accept his message and are grafted in.)

·         Others refused his message, and cut themselves off. (Sadly, others still do this today too.)


I firmly believe that any permanent detaching is done by us as individuals. The invitation is there. Will we accept it and be grafted in … or will we reject it and cut ourselves off?


From all of my scriptural reading, that’s how I believe it works … but let’s not forget the role of the vinedresser!


Scripture does not say that we attach, detach, or “remove” ourselves. It says that “[God, the Father, the Vinedresser is the actor who] removes every branch … that bears no fruit.” It’s His action. It’s His gracious action.


Scripture tells us – 2 Peter 3:9 – that “the Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.” God’s patience is grace. And so is the pruning in our verse for today. Just as a stubborn child might not admit to needing a coat until they’re thrown out in the snow, sometimes God prunes people from the branch, hoping that they’ll ultimately realize their coldness, lifelessness, and need for him. (God also prunes the faithless, so that their false witness won’t choke the vine and prevent other branches from thriving … but that’s a story for a different time.)


So let’s settle on God’s gracious, patient, life-giving desire. Like Jesus preaching to the crowds, he offers everyone life from the vine. Some will accept it and will be grafted in. Others will rebel and God will prune them. But this discipline is not for the purpose of punishment. It’s for the purpose of life! He wants them to recognize their emptiness so that they may turn to him and live.


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who’s been pruned

and discovered deeper life

(Thanks be to God!)