A few days after arriving home from Fallon, it was time for Carey and I to travel to Clearwater, FL to fill in again --- this time for Pastor Pat at Clearwater First Nazarene as he was on sabbatical. Clearwater is another of our favorite places – not only because we love the climate and beaches there (which we did not have time to go to!), but because we love this church and wonderful people. We were so warmly received as always, and the power of the Holy Spirit was evident in this Sunday service as we preached on Jesus’ desperate dependency upon the Father and how He invites us to be that dependent upon Him. As always, we so enjoyed our fellowship with Sam and Joy Burch as we get to stay with them in our far southern home away from home.
The end of February brought our annual trip to the Pacific Northwest to be with our dear brother Mark Miller, who is now the pastor of the Community Church of Issaquah. This was our first time with CCI after many years at Mountain Creek Christian Fellowship, where Mark was the pastor for many years. We thoroughly enjoyed being with Mark and Beth and the people in this new assignment. The church is quite strategically located in a shopping area near downtown Issaquah. This small congregation was one of the most loving groups of people we have ever experienced, and I am encouraged that they have so much of the love of Jesus to offer in this extremely needy area. Of course, our time with Mark and Beth is also one of our highlights, and Carey was able to receive his annual tutoring in marksmanship along with many other fun things. It reminds me continuously of the treasures of long term relationships in Christ.
March afforded me the opportunity to fill in twice at Encounter Church in Lebanon, TN as Mark Strickland was involved with a trip to Africa. It has been our privilege to be at Encounter several times --- the church that meets in the movie theatre. It is another place we are always warmly received and I was able to preach some of our newest messages from John 17, and I felt that Jesus brought the truth in a special way in these times. Our other opportunity in March was to travel to Heber Springs, AR, where our friends Marvin and Beverly Frederick are now pastoring. This was my first time back in this part of Arkansas since 2001, when I was pastoring a church in this area myself. We saw some dear old friends who came to the service. I was particularly impressed by the seeking attitude at this church. The people were free to respond to the truth of the Word by praying around the altar at the end of nearly every service, beginning with the opening night.
I believe this has much to do with the example of prayer that is set by their dear pastor and his wife. Another evidence of the seeking attitude of this church seemed to be the number of books that were taken from our table during this week. This would certainly be one of the highest proportional weeks we have ever had in regard to books being taken home. This reinforced to me again the importance of the books as a part of our ministry and the opportunity to leave the message with people after a meeting or between events. Jesus continues to affirm that our call is to not only preach the Word, but to help in discipling people.
I am thankful again for every way He provides for us to do this as we continue,
Running together in Christ,