Dear Church family,
As I have been reflecting over the events of the past year and looking forward to the progress of the coming year, I am reminded of how precious you are to me. Without your faithfulness, our doors would have been closed long ago. Without your generosity in giving to missions, the lost would not hear the good news of Jesus. Without your labor of love and sacrificial giving, our renovation would have never happened. Without all our volunteers working on the building and grounds, our property would soon fall apart. Without your joyful voices singing together each Sunday morning, our worship would be dull and lifeless. Without our volunteers faithfully working with our children each week, the life of our church would be sucked dry. I could continue; but what I am trying to say is that without you, we would not have a church. I am most thankful for your commitment and faithfulness to the Lord and His church this year. It has been my highest honor and greatest joy to serve as your pastor this year. I know in many regards I am a lousy leader with much to learn. I thank you for your patience with me as I discover each day what it means to lead a church. I have a lot to learn and little time to learn it. My heart wants what will lead to your greatest good and God's highest glory. My commitment is to uncompromising faithfulness to the Word of God and the proclamation of His gospel throughout the Yakima valley. My goal is that every decision I make for the church would be perfectly in line with the will of God. I wish to live my life in such a way that the people of The Cross Church would prosper the most from my daily activities. If Christ thought you were worth shedding His blood for on the cross, then may I be so committed to do the same. If my Savior gave all His life for your good, then so will I.
As we look forward to the opportunities given to us in this New Year, I ask for your team support once again. The return of Christ, I believe, is coming soon. We have an opportunity in 2016 to prepare Yakima for the return of Christ. Pray with me like never before for the salvation of our community and the growth and revival of our church.
There are five things I would like to challenge our church to do faithfully in 2016:
I would like to invite all the men in our church to join me on Saturdays at 5:00 pm in my office as we seek the Lord together. Also, I would like to encourage the ladies in the church to pray on Tuesdays at 10:00 am in the auditorium. Make time in your daily schedule to pray like never before in your Christian life.
READ THE BIBLE
I am encouraging the whole church to read the whole Bible this year. For many of you this will be the first time you have ever read from Genesis to Revelation. It will be hard and will take time away from your normal schedule, but be faithful; I believe you can do it. This will change your life in more ways than you can imagine.
FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS
It would be impossible to overstate how important this crucial activity is for the local church. NEVER let a week go by without spending some time with your fellow brothers and sisters outside the walls of the church. We need each other more now than ever before. Invite someone you don't know over for dinner this week. When a new family starts coming to our church find ways to get together with them. Visit our shut-ins and let them know we love and miss them. On Sunday mornings, instead of doing your regular routine, look around the auditorium for someone you haven't talked to in a while and spend some time catching up. Pay attention to who has been missing services and give them a call that week. Let them know you missed them and that church just isn't the same without them. The bottom line is really all about loving each other the way Christ loved us. Look around at church this week and ask: “Who in this room needs me to love them?”
INVITE OTHERS TO FAITH IN CHRIST
The buffet of God’s grace will feed more than just us. To not share the goodness of God with others is the epitome of selfishness. Part of being a Christian includes a healthy natural care and concern for the needs of others. There is no greater need in our community than the need of salvation of men and women who will certainly go to hell without our gospel proclamation. What will you do to rescue the perishing and care for the dying? Will souls be saved from the fires of Hell this year because you did or said something to bring them to Christ? You are Gods' plan A to reach Yakima and He has no plan B. Start each day by asking God to reveal ways you could reach the lost. While you're praying to God for that remember to pray for your pastor as well. Witnessing to strangers is my greatest challenge. I should be leading by example but fear I have set a poor example this year. But I believe that if you would pray for me every day, God would give me victory over my fears. Know this: that I will be praying for you every day. Our city needs us too much not to be praying for each other's strength.
When you come to church on Sundays, give God your most passionate worship. Enjoy His exaltation like never before. Lift holy hands before His throne and bow humble hearts before His cross. Let us not just sing, but do as the Psalmist said and shout to the Lord a joyous sound. Let your hearts fill to over flowing with the never-ending truth that He has saved you! Let the reality of that truth consume your joy and lead you to tears and shouts of worship to the One who saved your soul. I pray that our time together on Sunday mornings would be filled with happy exuberance over the unimaginable grace that has been given us in Christ. I pray that we would stand before His throne as the most joyous creatures of His creation. May no one ever leave one of our services with the opinion that we have left our first love. Let the opposite be true. Let our visitors see that at The Cross Church Jesus is our first love and it is felt throughout the entire congregation.
If we faithfully commit ourselves to these five things throughout 2016, I believe God will bless our church in miraculous ways. Please do these things for the Lord since He has proven Himself worthy of our service in 2016!
Your pastor who loves you,