Man, 2017 seems a bit confused. Insanely cold, fairly warm, snow, fog, rain... the weather in Peoria doesn’t know whether it wants to be Fairbanks, London, or Seattle. Then again, I suppose that’s classic Peoria weather...
Well, the weather was fine once you got into the building this week, and that’s what matters. We had a really sweet-hearted morning that set the tone for the New Year very well. Melinda Merz shared about her new ministry with Youth With a Mission in England -- which also looks like it will be opening up some possibilities for her to work with them in mainland Europe as well. And that’s in addition to her having the chance to work in the Middle East, too. So she’s going to be a busy missionary this year.
Hopefully, we’ll have a bunch of busy FCCer missionaries this year. Paul Larson’s apologetics ministry is in an important, formative stage -- so please keep both Paul and Credible Faith in your prayers. And also keep those who are going to Haiti in May in your prayers as well. This is the first missions trip that we’ve taken as a church family in a long, long time, and we pray that it not only goes smoothly, but also that we can genuinely do some good where we’re going. Keep your ears open as well for our upcoming fundraising events -- and keep your eyes open for “rummage sale” items in your home that you can bring in to help with our upcoming Neighborhood Garage Sale fundraiser later on in the early Spring. I already had one person in town express interest today in coming over to visit for that...
Speaking of keeping busy, we started a new sermon series for 2017, going through the Gospel of Mark -- or, as I like to think of it, the “action Gospel.” Mark is the shortest of all of the four Gospels, but it also has the most number of things going on in it. If you do the math on that, you can see that Jesus is pretty much always on the move in Mark’s Gospel -- it’s always “immediately, Jesus went here,” and “suddenly, Jesus did that,” etc. The book is simply not a sedentary narrative.
But then again, none of the Gospels are particularly slow-moving, and none of them call us to just sit there and ponder God’s ponderables. Over and over again, Jesus calls us to live out correct doctrine -- to learn and to understand correct doctrine, but then to consciously live it out in what we do on a daily basis. Too many of us tend to either run off half-cocked (trying to do good without ever really planning or thinking very hard about it) or just plop onto our pews and think Christian-y thoughts (trying to be quietly right without ever really letting the rubber hit the road in terms of making a solid difference for Christ in the world). Jesus called us to be right in heart and righteous in action at the same time.
So even in that first chapter of Mark, characters didn’t just say things -- they showed them by their actions. God showed right doctrine about Christ; Jesus showed that He had authority from God; the disciples showed that they believed in Him (even the demons showed that they believed in Him), etc.
How can you live out an “action Gospel” where you are this week?