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WHERE: BLC Community Center
WHEN: September 1, 15, 22, 29, and October 6 9:45 am – 10:45 am
Leaders: Brad Loseke and Wayne Moses
Classroom Format: Video, group table discussion, deep dive Scriptural study, and presentation by leaders
What to bring to class: Bible, notepad if you wish, questions regarding anything you wanted to know about our natural consequence of sin which is death.
Expected Outcome: Participants will be able to…
Guest Speaker on October 6: Pastor Bruce Rumsch of Trinity-Hillsboro, Retired LC-MS pastor, U.S. Navy Chaplain, and Stephen Ministry trainer.
The story of those first Christian believers is amazing. Luke tells us that, after Peter’s sermon on Pentecost (Acts2), about three thousand people were baptized. That sort of thing doesn’t happen very often anymore, at least, not around here. But in those words from Acts, we do see how the church—the Body of Christ—grows: through the Word of God preached and studied.
One of the four goals of our mission focus that developed out of congregational self-study last year—and was celebrated during our 60th Anniversary service—was to re-build our congregational “infrastructure”. We want to rebuild our network of small groups. Just like county or state needs to keep the roads and bridges in good shape so people can be connected, so our “bridges” to one another need to be maintained. Bible studies are part of that small group emphasis. So, as the new school year rolls around, I wanted you to be aware of those small group Bible studies that are beginning or continuing.
I’d like to put them all under heading, LIFE+CONNECT; since in Christ, His life connects with us through the cross and the Word of the cross; and, our lives, connected to Him connect with one another through the cross and the Word of the cross. Here are those opportunities.
Monday Evening Men’s Study—led by Ron Hoffman and meeting in the Inn the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7pm. Ron’s group will be finishing a study of Philippians and beginning one on Colossians. Newcomers are always welcome.
Monday Evening Women’s Study—led by Sarah Hengel and meeting in her home at 7pm on the second and fourth Mondays of the month. Sarah’s group will be starting a study, “I AM,” by Lysa Terkeurst. Newcomers are always welcome.
Young Adults Bible Study (YABS)—led by Joel Hoffman meets every Monday evening at 6:30pm in the Youth Room at Bethlehem. All young people post-high school age through 29 years old are invited. They will be starting a new study on Philippians in September.
Wednesday Morning Adult Bible Study—led by Pastor Jeff Shearier meets nearly every Wednesday at 11am in the Inn, beginning September 18. We take a break for Advent, Lent and the once-a-monthly Senior Luncheons. We usually study the lessons for the upcoming Sunday.
Joel and Amy Hoffman will be starting a new home Bible study group for couples in September that will meet one Saturday evening each month. This group will study the Letter from James in the New Testament and is still gathering members. You can call Joel at Bethlehem for more information.
Ken and Yvonne Lindow are looking to start a home Bible study group for couples later this year. Details are still pending, but you could speak with Yvonne if you are interested.
Our Women’s Ministry Group is hoping to offer a topical Sunday morning Bible study beginning in January. You can give Mary Heck a call to find out more information at Bethlehem.
Also, our Discipleship Team is offering two opportunities for adults on Sunday mornings beginning September 1. Brad Loseke and Wayne Moses will be facilitating a group in the Community Center titled, “Death…Then, What?” Greg Long will be facilitating a study from the NOOMA series on questions people ask about living as a Christian when the world/life doesn’t’ make sense.
Consider taking advantage of one of these opportunities. If you have an idea for a study/group, please speak with me. As we grow in the Word and grow together as the family of God through relationship with Jesus Christ, may it be said of us: “The Lord added their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47)”
Joy in the journey,
Pastor Jeff Shearier
In Zechariah 4:6, the prophet is given a word to bring to God’s people. The people have returned from exile in Babylon and are rebuilding Jerusalem. There is some dismay as they take on the task because it seems so huge.. They thought everything depended on them and they were weary, overwhelmed and exhausted.
So the prophet is given a word to speak, “This is the word of the LORD…’Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.” Two things stand out in this passage that address the feelings of the people: The Spirit, who especially in the Old Testament, is the life-giving, “make-it-happen” member of the Trinity is called into action. The LORD also uses His name, “the LORD of hosts/armies.” He uses this name to assure us He has the resources to fight the battles and bring the victory for us. I love the story in 2 Kings 6:17-20, where Elisha prays for the LORD to open the eyes of his servant to see the angel hosts on the hillsides.
So, why talk about these episodes in the life of God’s people? These stories remind us that as we talk about “building the family of God” in our mission statement, we are counting on the Spirit and the LORD of hosts. In June, Bethlehem approved a capital campaign to reduce debt. The idea is—that if we pay down (or even, off) the mortgage debt—we would have more resources available to expand our ministries.
These stories remind us that as we talk about “building the family of God” in our mission statement, we are counting on the Spirit and the LORD of hosts.
Looking at the size of our mortgage, it’s easy to feel like those returning to Jerusalem—overwhelmed. Remembering that we had a campaign in the past to pay for the Community Center and wondering if we aren’t “paying for it twice” now can leave us feeling like those in Zechariah’s day—exhausted. That’s why I remember what God has already said: Not by might, not by power, but by
Dreaming about what we would do if we had more resources to expand our ministries takes us to the same word from our LORD. His Spirit leads us into the future, into our community—into ministry. What ministry could look like may depend upon how much of the mortgage we pay off. I understand that paying off $500,000 might fund a staff person dedicated to developing new ways to connect with our community—through our preschool, using our building to bring people into our midst—following Bethlehem’s “mission heart.”
What if we are able to pay off more than that? We’ll look around to see what God is already blessing, but maybe we could add staff that would focus on small groups and family ministry as well as mission trips and activities…maybe we could partner with agencies in our community to enhance their work or support/partner with sister congregations to expand the kingdom of God. The Spirit seems to be leading us to follow Jesus in not just building the family of God here at Bethlehem but helping to build the kingdom of God in our neighborhoods.
Capital campaigns often build buildings. This time, by God’s grace and the Spirit, we hope to not build a building, but the kingdom of God. In his book, Everybody Always, Bob Goff distinguishes between building castles and building the kingdom. Castles have walls and moats to keep people out, he suggests, while kingdoms build bridges and count everyone a citizen. This is especially true of the kingdom of God.
So, how can you help? You can keep the whole enterprise in your prayers. You can take stock of your time, talents and treasure—and determine if any of these can be dedicated to the campaign. There will be training for leaders during the week of August 17 that will provide more information. If you would like to participate, please speak with Jim Cullen or me. There are some important leadership and support team positions that need to be filled with people eager to help. We’ll be kicking things off at the send of September. Join the adventure to see where the LORD of hosts leads us!
Joy in the journey,
Join us Sundays in July and August at Bethlehem as we begin a new sermon series titled, “I Believe.” We’ll be taking a closer look at the Apostles’ Creed line by line, learning why each line was included in the creed and how it applies to us today. Services begin at 8:30 am (traditional) and 11:00 am (contemporary) every Sunday morning.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.