A word of encouragement 05.19.2020

Today’s word of encouragement is from Covenant Partner Linda Hangen. Linda came across this wonderful video of The Hallelujah Chorus and thought it would brighten your day. 
 

 
Enjoy and be blessed! 
Linda Hangen


A word of encouragement 05.14.2020

There is a passage in Isaiah I love. It comes from Isaiah 43 and says the following:
 
Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
    the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
  the people I formed for myself
    that they may proclaim my praise.

 
Sounds great doesn’t it? Drop the past and look toward the future.  But here’s the challenge: so much of what we do, and how we do it, so much of what we think, feel and expect comes out of what has been. For example, we may be heading into summer but think about Christmas. How much of what we do at Christmas is ‘tradition’? I mean, my kids are grown and finished with college, yet Mary Ann still insists on buying pajamas and underwear for them every year! (Yes, I have pointed they may be a little old for this and consistently get the “it’s a tradition and I like it” look). We LIKE tradition. We feel SAFE with tradition. We KNOW WHAT WE ARE SUPPOSED TO DO in tradition. Now, to be fair, (and to make sure I don’t have to sleep in the car) I don’t think God is particularly concerned with a pajama-underwear tradition at Christmas. God’s not concerned with it because it isn’t hobbling our view of the future. That’s the real problem, limiting the goodness, power, creativity and ability of God by measuring the present by the past. 

Right now, with so many cancelations and postponements it is easy to be disappointed. Based on what we have done in the past, the present isn’t measuring up. We are missing events and people we love. We are missing our usual patterns. We’ve missed birthdays or weddings. We’ve been stymied in honoring a loved one’s life or retirement. Graduation isn’t happening the way it is ‘supposed’ to happen, even things as simple as enjoying our friends at our favorite restaurant is on hold. Add to that furloughs and pay cuts. The disappointment is real. The cancelations and changes feel like a loss. But remember, God says…I am doing something new…can you see it?
 
When we get twisted up in the old, when our expectations and patterns (dare I say habits) are based on what has been, allowing the new to emerge is difficult. We might even fight against it. And so, when you put this in the context of a global pandemic, it is hard to see the new things coming out of it as good and positive. Still, it is undeniable that God is doing a new thing, creating a divine reshuffling and reordering in the middle of this.    

I wonder if you’ve felt it or seen “perceived” God doing something new in your own life. Have you noticed God working on a spot in your life or your faith which feels lonely, lost, desolate or without hope? Is there a
“dry place”; an area of life which you stopped visiting long ago because you decided it was never going to change? Is it family or work? Is it the routine of the everyday? Where is it you stopped expecting, anticipating and hoping? And: have you felt God moving your heart back in that direction?

Maybe you have felt isolated and alone but now you’re more connected with your family than you have been in a long time. Grown kids are home or at least calling a lot more; closed relationships beginning to open; parents and little ones more able to share life with working from home and the close of school. It might not be easy and it may point out areas which need work but it is new and it is good. Or maybe your job has been boring or hard. Maybe you’re career had gotten very dry, your passion disappeared or and you were just going through the motions for the paycheck. But now, somehow, working from home has changed your perspective. What was annoying has now become life giving. What was boring has taken on new importance.  Or maybe your desolation was just doing the same things over and over; life without variation or change. But now we’ve been reminded of the value of grocery shopping, a visit to the neighbors, or a walk around the block. It’s like God is pouring out water on the dry areas of our existence and bringing them back to life.  Just as Isaiah said,  God is doing a new thing; water in the desert, restoration in desolation.  

Many years ago, Mary Ann and I went to visit a friend from seminary who was serving a tiny church in a tiny town on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, about two hours from Seattle. Having never been out there, we learned how on the west side of the Cascades things are green and wet but on the East side they are brown and dry. Tumbleweed dry. Still, every now and then, we’d drive past a bright green area, a place where water had been directed and out of which burst forth life.  

I know things are hard right now. I know we are all tired of this pandemic “game”. But I also know God is doing a new thing right now. He is bringing life-filled green into the desert brown of our lives and maybe even into the world. And for me, I just have to stop struggling to get back to the old. What was, was but it is over. What will be, will be and it is coming created and directed by our good God. Oh, I am praying for revival to come on us in heart, mind, spirit and action. I am praying for a greening up, not just of “our” church but of all the church.  I am praying isolation highlighted the healing rain of our families, jobs, friendships and everyday life. I pray we come back deeper, gentler and more grateful. I am praying, as we walk into the next season, that we hold onto the old less tightly than we did before and that we enter it with a renewed sense of awe and wonder. 

I can’t end without asking you to go back and read that Isaiah passage one more time, slowly. Do you see it?  The new thing God is doing has a purpose: to give drink to his people, his chosen ones. Isn’t it crazy how God never stops thinking about us or acting for us? But that is who God is. He is the one who says, I am doing something new and I’m doing it for your good. When you see that, or at least when I do, I am moved to prayer and praise. Sure, I sometimes grieve the loss of what was and I am disappointed at what will never be but when I filter those feelings in the light of having a God who is bringing the new for our good, I am overcome with thanks and peace. May it be the same for you.   

 
Blessings and peace to you all.
Pastor Don Feuerbach


A word of encouragement 04.30.2020

Since Covid-19 has happened, it has become a normal thing to stay inside and repeat the same routine everyday. We see news about unemployment rates increasing and Covid-19 cases increasing. At some moments, the current times seem hopeless.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Although we do not know what the future holds, stay faithful and keep a positive outlook. Keep faith in God’s plan and enjoy friends and family. Being stuck in a house with your family for a couple of months may not seem like a blessing from God, but that’s where faith comes into play. 

 
In His service, 
Josh Gibson 


A word of encouragement 04.28.2020

During this time of job losses, illnesses and financial instability, I have to dig deep to rely on God’s counsel instead of trying to problem solve on my own. One verse that helps me refocus is John 14:27. “I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be troubled or afraid.”
As we navigate uncharted waters, let’s continue to pray for wisdom, guidance and strength in order to safely move forward with a peaceful mind and heart. 
 
May God continue to bless our church family and community.
Bob Drakes 
 


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On Wednesday, April 29 at 6 pm join Pastor Don on our Evergreen Church Facebook page for a time of prayer. He will be showing up live to pray over our church, community, and nation, He will also be taking specific prayer requests. To submit a prayer request, click here.


A word of encouragement 04.27.2020

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Exodus 14:14. It’s short; only a dozen words but it’s awesome.  Here’s what it says, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

The context of the verse is important:  The tenth plague has caused Pharaoh to beg the Hebrew slaves to leave and so they pack up and start making their way out of Egypt. Shortly after, Pharaoh, realizes the free labor he is losing and changes his mind. So, Pharaoh sends the world’s most powerful army after this group of women, children, men and animals. At this point, the Hebrews are backed up against the Red Sea. Off in the distance the dust of 600 chariots starts rising into the sky. These former slaves know what this means, and they immediately blame Moses. “Didn’t we tell you to leave us alone? Didn’t we say we’d serve the Egyptians? It would be better for us to be slaves than die in the desert!” Moses answers them, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see in the distance you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” What a promise and what a request! 

It is amazing how quickly we forget the power of God is on our side. Just a short time ago, these powerless slaves watched God force the hand of the most powerful nation in the world. Plague after plague set on the Egyptians making clear the focus of God’s favor and provision has been on them. Yet the second things get hard, they forget everything. They forget how the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is fighting for them.  They forget the power of the plagues. They forget God passing over their homes and striking the first born of the Egyptians. They can’t translate God’s love and faithfulness toward them in the past into God’s faithfulness and love for them in the present.  

That is the promise though, isn’t it?  What God did in the past we can count on God to do in the present and the future.  We aren’t asked to simply guess or cross our fingers and “hope” God will do what he says.  Instead, God’s backs his promise with evidence: account after account, both Biblically and in the present, witness after witness, of God’s faithfulness and love. 

But. Still.

The promise is one thing. The request is another: stand still and let me fight for you. Do you have as much trouble with that part as I do? Believing the promise is one thing. Standing back and watching chariots bear down on my family and me is another. Trusting God in theory is one thing, trusting God as a threat narrows the gap, that’s the hard part. No wonder the people say, uh, shouldn’t we have a plan Moses? Surrender sounds good.

It is easy to surrender to fear and hopelessness; to give into uncertainty and things being ‘unprecedented’, especially right now. No, we don’t know what’s going to happen as we reopen and begin to expose ourselves to each other again. No, we don’t know what’s coming financially. But we do know this: The Lord is fighting for us. He always has and he always will. For goodness sakes, he sent his Son to die for the sins of the world!  He’s bringing a new kingdom!  He isn’t about to abandon what he started! 

Now is not the time to shrink back and surrender to a spirit of slavery. Now is not the time to surrender. Now is the time to look at what God has done in the past, take heart, stand back and let his plan work itself out.
No one could have predicted God would part the waters of the Red Sea. God didn’t lay the plan out to anyone before he did it. But when those waters parted, they created both a path to freedom for his people and a path of destruction for the Egyptians.

So let’s wait and see. Let’s see how the Lord decides to fight for us. Let’s see what sea God will part for us this time…but we’re going to have to stand still, with our eyes open, our hearts confident of his saving power and let him fight for us. And when he moves, when the ground is dry…let’s be ready to go.

 


A word of encouragement 04.24.2020

A few weeks ago, before most offices shut down, I got into my car to go to a necessary appointment. It had rained the night before and the windows were covered with dew. It wasn’t raining, but everything was wet. It was impossible to see through the windshield. So, I turned on the windshield wipers and immediately there was perfect clarity. I pulled down the driveway and slowly the windshield clouded up again. So again, I turned on the wipers. CLARITY. This process went on for the entire drive—the slow clouding and the wiping away.

God was teaching me something much more profound about this moment in time. We are living in foggy, misty time. There is little certainty. If we sit too long contemplating this reality, our thinking and our hoping will get completely clouded. We need something like those windshield wipers to give us clear vision to see the road ahead of us. And we need it again and again.

As I watched the miraculous transpire before my eyes—glass going from opaque to transparent, I realized that is what sitting in God’s Word and God’s presence is able to do for us in this and all moments of time.

While many parts of our daily routine look different these days, one thing that has remained the same has been the rhythm of waking up before the kids for time with coffee and Jesus. I will admit, sometimes it is hard to listen to that alarm when we know there is no bus coming and timing really can be much more flexible than ever before. But, I also know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am a different person at 30 days into this whole mess than I would be had I not fought this fight.

You see, for me, and I believe for you too, spending time with God; reading His promises, remembering His Truth, crying out to Him, instead of just complaining to others, is like that windshield wiper clearing away the dew. It grounds me in a hope that is unchanging and unfailing. Even though it is still foggy around me, I can again see the few car lengths in front of me. And maybe that is what God wants to teach me.

In Psalm 119:105, God promises that His Word will be a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path. This image is clearly meant to put us in the darkness of the woods at night. At times, God gives us the sun and we can see the whole landscape. At other times, like these times, God gives us the lantern. He is the source of both. While many of us, myself included, would prefer to walk in the clarity of the day, there is something about walking deliberately at night that causes us to truly see what is in front of us, each step, and to trust and to value that lantern more than we ever thought possible.

We are living in a foggy time; in a dark time. The only way to be able to drive, to see, to walk is by constantly coming back to the God who is the lantern, who is the wiper. We need to turn to Him in His Word, we need to sit with Him in meditation and talk to Him in prayer. And we need to do it often. The fog WILL return. The darkness WILL threaten to overwhelm us. But when we come to Jesus again, and again, and again; each morning, each afternoon, each evening, we will have eyes to see.  

 
Joyfully yours,
Allie Brisbois
 


A word of encouragement 04.21.2020

Good morning Evergreen Church,

My name is Alan Bowers and I am a college student back home for the time being as all my classes are now online. My parents and I recently watched the movie Greater, based on true events. The inspiring message of courage and perseverance moved me to share an encouraging word with you. The movie features and follows the life of Brandon Burlsworth, an overweight, little middle schooler who eventually becomes an All-American Offensive Lineman at the University of Arkansas. He is later drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. 

One of the opening scenes involves Brandon getting baptized in the river beside his church. A few scenes later, Brandon decides that he is going to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks and he joins the middle school football team and becomes a bench warmer. One day he gets the chance to play and makes his way to the quarterback to tackle him. He never knocks him down, he just holds onto his leg while the quarterback throws a touchdown pass. The middle school football coach pulls him from the game and chews him out, but the high school football coach was there and comes over to talk with Brandon. The high school football coach gives Brandon inspiring motivation by telling him to be the first one at football and the last one to leave. Brandon takes this to heart and slowly starts to improve and continues this practice throughout high school. Mixing this discipline with Christian fundamentals he had been receiving from church, he earns a full ride scholarship to a smaller school, but it was not Arkansas. He decides to walk on at Arkansas and he continues to be the first to show up and the last to leave despite all the ridicule he faces from being mainly overwieght instead of muscle like the other lineman. Overtime, with the help from his coach, he transforms himself into one of the best linemen that Arkansas has ever seen and earns another full ride scholarship for his last three years of college. 
 
At one point in the movie, he was talking to his other lineman and he says “it is our job to just see inches in front of our face and block for the quarterback. The coaches job is to oversee and call the play.”  This relates to our current situation the world is facing.  We can only see what is presented to us through the different news outlets and even the news outlets can only report what they are seeing. Ultimately, God has a great plan in store for all of us, but we can not see his game plan. The only part we know, is the individual part we play in the game. We can find hope knowing that God has the ultimate game plan marked out for each one of us and in order to complete the play successfully we need to do our part. God’s got this, and we just have to have complete trust in him that all things will unfold just as he wants.

 

Remember God has this. All you have to do is choose to trust.

Alan Bowers

 


A word of encouragement 04.20.2020

Let Me introduce Myself
My name is Debbie Cooper and I am a member of Evergreen Church. The book of Acts has been my companion since last summer. The Lord has called me to draw it for all those visual learners out there. I am still working on it and am currently contemplating chapter 25. My doodles are simple and not intimidating to anyone. They represent what God has taught me through these passages. I do not claim to be any scholar. I just pray & listen, then act.

I would like to share with you Acts 22 and say a little about Jesus introducing Himself to Paul. Jesus introduced Himself in this manner, “I am Jesus, the Nazarene.” That does not sound like a grand statement until one digs into it’s meaning. The word Nazarene means scion, branch, descendant. It implies the title of heir of a powerful victorious family. Therefore, how Jesus introduced Himself to Paul was really, “I am Jesus, the Victorious.” Wow, that means He’s won the fight, He has overcome, winner winner chicken dinner!

Do you know Jesus as victorious? Paul took this attribute of our Savior to heart. Jesus told Paul that he would preach to the Gentiles and go to Rome. Paul rechanneled his passion and utterly believed in The Victorious One. He believed that Jesus was a Promise keeper, that what He said was what would happen. How else could he endure being flogged, imprisoned, and stoned? How else did he endure shipwrecks, rejection, and a venomous snake bite?

Believers today endure sheltering in place, loss of a job, loss of finances, worry about running out of toilet paper, social distancing, fear of infection and death from the coronavirus. Those are our imprisonments and snake bites. Your faith in Jesus being victorious will give you hope. Hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best, a person or thing in which expectations are centered. Choose to have hope in The Victorious One!

My acronym for the book of Acts: Apostles Clamoring The Savior! The eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ did not let anything or anyone stop them from sharing the good news. Church, you have an unstoppable God! Church you have hope that victory is sure! After all, you are vaccinated with eternal life by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“But the hope of God’s kingdom kept spreading and multiplying everywhere!” Acts 12:24 TPT

Jesus has introduced Himself to you. Now you can introduce Jesus to others by spreading hope and the Good News!

 
Love and blessings, 
Debbie Cooper


A word of encouragement 04.18.2020

When Life Needs Sticky Notes
Isn’t it satisfying to cross an item off a to-do list?  It’s even more fun to complete a task on a sticky note and toss it.  But some sticky notes are worth keeping, especially those with messages that remind us of what’s truly important in our lives. As this pandemic turns our world upside down and adversely impacts our lives and our businesses, we can choose to live with an attitude of abundance or scarcity. I choose abundance and have posted the following sticky notes throughout my home.

Be grateful.  Every day is a gift which is why it’s called “the present.”

Count your blessings. You’ve got a roof over your head and a family that loves you.  Chances are you’re healthy and have adequate food and resources.

Choose your attitude.  Be miserable or be happy.  It’s your choice.

Savor life’s beauty.  It’s springtime!  Take in the sights of azaleas and dogwood trees in full bloom and listen to the songbirds greet us each morning.

Eliminate your “stinkin’ thinkin’.”  The sun will come up tomorrow.

Be kind.  Share a smile and lift another’s spirits.  Common courtesy is always appropriate and never goes out of style. Look after each other, especially those in need.

Embrace family. Celebrate this time together. Throw a picnic or tea party in the back yard. Break out the deck of cards or those favorite family board games. Have a movie night with popcorn and ice cream. Grill some hot dogs. Share old family stories. Appreciate that you are together.

Keep your chin up and be well. 
Oh, and post a sticky note or two!

Fred Dunkelburger