God’s Grace in the Storms of Life
The summer season is often seen as a time for fun, rest, vacation and recreation. While I hope all readers of this newsletter have a wonderful summer, I know that some of our plans for a memorial day at the beach are interrupted by storms, literally and figuratively.
The hardest storms in life are the ones we do not expect. It could be a sudden death or an unexpected loss of job. We may have great plans for the summer and nothing seems to go right. Know that whatever you face, God is not surprised and God is with you in the storm.
An encouraging passage can be found in Isaiah 43:1-5, which says,
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior . . . Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you . . . Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
If you are facing a tough situation or painful season in life, here are some thoughts form this passage of Scripture.
First, we are not called to live in fear. It is true that bad things happen to people all the time, but we don’t fully live if we worry about what could happen to us. We also shrink our world when we live in fear.
There are people who have a real fear of crossing bridges. A person like that can eat, sleep, visit a friend and maybe even keep a job, but they can never enjoy life beyond the bridge up the road.
Most importantly, fear says that God cannot be trusted to be with us in times of trial. Fear works against our faith. Our passage begins and ends with fear. A growing faith in God will keep us from fear.
A second lesson from the Isaiah passage is that God has promised to be with us in the storms of life. As a younger minister I use to often pray for God to take away the pain or struggles people face. Our Scripture says that we often need to pass through the river or walk through the fire. The promise is that God will be with us as we go through the painful season.
Hardships in life have a way of strengthening our character and building our faith. The person who has never grieved has little to offer a world with much loss and pain. A few years ago a writer used the phrase ‘broken healers’ to describe the people God uses. Our hurt and pain prepare us to support another who is also suffering.
A final thought is that storms in life do not diminish God’s love for us. Some wrongly assume that a loving God will keep us from pain and loss. The Father allowed Jesus to go through the greatest suffering of all time, death on the cross. This did not mean that God did not love His Son. God loves us, even when our summer plans are interrupted by the unexpected storms of life.
My prayer for us this summer is that God would bless us with a joyful season. If a storm ruins your day, rest in God’s love for you.
Vacation Bible School: August 19—23
Plans are underway for our Annual Vacation Bible School during the mornings of August 19-23, 2019. We continue this tradition in teaching children, as our church has done for many years.
The history of Fort Lee Gospel Church includes Vacation Bible Schools in the 1950s and 60s where at times 60 or 70 children from the community would attend. The ‘modern’ version of VBS started in 1992 and has continued almost every year since then.
Our program includes crafts, music, skits, Bible stories, Bible studies and games. It combines fun, learning and activities. A key part of a successful VBS is that many in our church invite family members or neighbors. Over the years VBS has been a first step for a number of families becoming a part of our church.
As you prepare you summer schedule, consider joining us for our VBS which takes place from 9:30 AM until Noon for this one week. We welcome youth and adult leaders to sign up at this time to be leaders in this ministry. VBS is for children ages 3 through grade 6. Prayerfully consider who you will invite this year.
The theme for 2019 will be “The Incredible Race.” Our first meeting will be Saturday, July 6th at 10:30 AM where all are invited for a time of prayer.
Scripture Union Missions Trip
This month we are recruiting teen and adult leaders to serve at a Scripture Union SuperKids camp in Sharon, Connecticut. This ministry will take place Monday through Friday, August 5th through 9th. The plan is to set up for the camp, leaving Sunday, August 4th.
The host church in Sharon has offered to provide housing in member’s homes for the week. Likely afternoon activities will include service projects and an outing on a lake.
The youth ministry has had a history of going on trips to lead SuperKids camps (or VBS) in Plattsburg, NY, Haverhill, MA (twice) and Jamaica, West Indies. While this summer ministry will include the purpose of developing teen leadership, adults are welcome to be a part of the team.
Now is a time to bring together the team and plan for the trip. Please speak with Sonia Dobson of Scripture Union or Pastor Rick for more information on this ministry.
Church Picnic: July 27
We are planning a church picnic at Shepherd’s Lake on Saturday, July 27th, weather permitting. In case of inclement weather, the event will be on Aug 3rd.
This will be a fun day for swimming, hiking or fishing. The entire church is invited to join us. If you would like to join with others for the ride, we will leave the church at 9:00 AM. We ask that you bring some lunch or money to purchase food. We will set up a barbeque so you can bring uncooked meats.
Shepherd’s Lake is in Ringwood, NJ, about 30 miles form Fort Lee. It is a beautiful setting with fish in the lake, a swimming area and boat rentals. There is a $10 parking fee.
Flyers with directions to the event will be available in the weeks leading up to the event.
July Events at Fort Lee Gospel Church
11:00 AM Worship Service Our weekly service including worship through singing, prayer, preaching and fellowship. Nursery and three children’s classes are available.
9:00 AM Chinese Worship Service The Chinese worship service is led by Pastor Sandy Xie and she can be reached at 917-593-0420.
1:30 PM Korean Worship Service Contact Pastor Jaedoo Lee for further details at 646-464-2448.
5:30 PM Spanish Worship Service Contact Rev. Esteban Canales at 973-510-8834 for more details. 1:30 PM, July 14 & 28 NYC Nursing Home Ministry A group leads a service twice a month at a nursing home in NYC.
1:15 PM, July 21 Seniors Ministry A group leads a service at an assisted living facility in Teaneck.
7:00 PM, July 21 Evening Service Our Sunday evening service usually meets on the first and third Sunday of the month, but will only meet once this month.
12:30 PM, Tuesdays Men’s Lunch & Bible Study We meet for a meal before we study the Bible and pray together.
7:30 PM, Tuesdays Bible Study The group is studying foundations of the faith..
6:00 AM, Wednesdays Morning Prayer Morning prayer meeting on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
6:00 AM Morning Prayer Morning prayer meeting combining personal and group prayer meets every Saturday.
6:00 PM, Saturdays Youth Group For those in 6th grade through their teens.
10:30 AM, July 6 VBS Prayer Meeting A focus of prayer for the coming Vacation Bible School.
9:00 AM, July 27 Shepherd’s Lake Picnic See Page 2 for details.
Spiritual Roots of the C&MA
The last half of the nineteenth century produced an unparalleled religious ferment in the United States. The same could be said of Great Britain and Europe. This dynamic period of history saw the birth of modern technology and its attendant social changes. The revival of 1859 poured vitality into the churches and thousands were won to Christ. Five trans-denominational movements were born during that period. The first was a breakthrough in mass evangelism. The second was a widespread movement to promote Scriptural holiness. The third movement, closely related to the holiness movement, restored the Biblical practice of anointing with oil for physical healing. The fourth movement advocated the personal, immanent premillennial coming of Christ. The fifth movement recalled the church to its Christ-given task of world evangelism.
Something of all of these movements seemed to converge in the new-born Christian and Missionary Alliance. Dr. George Pardington opened his account of the first quarter century of Alliance history with this comment, “The Christian and Missionary Alliance is not an isolated movement. It has spiritual kinships and historic origins.” The Alliance was not a split from another denomination nor the product of a leadership conflict. The Christian and Missionary Alliance was brought into being by the “new wine” of revival blessing. It is the combination of the renewal of the deeper life with sacrifice, self-denial and service in preaching the gospel to the whole world. These are the principals of our heritage that must be carried into the second century of Alliance history.
– from the 1987 Centennial remembrance
July 4: Independence, Dependence & Interdependence
July 4th is celebrated in America as Independence Day. The day marks the birth of our nation and its independence from British rule in 1776. In many ways Independence is a great thing.
When children grow up, they grow from Dependence to Independence. A two-year-old needs to be constantly watched. A ten year old is given some Independence. An 18-year-old often leaves home to attend college. Parents hope that before their child is 30 they can support themselves and be capable of living on their own. That is the process of growing from Dependence to Independence.
The American Ideal of Independence has contributed to the greatness of our nation. Generally speaking, we are not a people who expect the government to take care of us. American ingenuity has lead to innovative companies that lead the world in fields like technology, medical science, education, entertainment, etc. Independence, on the other hand, has contributed to our high divorce rate, drug use, a cowboy spirit, and broken families. Our Independent spirit also contributes to church splits and conflict.
Our faith in Christ calls us to hold in tension Dependence, Independence and Interdependence.
Dependence is when we put our trust in the Lord and lean on His guiding and wisdom (see Prov 3:5-6). Without dependence upon God, there can be no authentic faith.
Independence is lived out in the truth that “it’s more blessed to give than receive.” Maturity in life and in faith is when we can feed ourselves and help others.
Interdependence calls us to community and loving one another. I Cor 12 says that we are the body of Christ, each with unique gifts to contribute.
Let us take the good in the idea of Independence, not forgetting Dependence upon God and Interdependence within the family of God. Have a blessed 4th of July!