Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.
I am writing this edition of HELLO FRIENDS on November 8th…yes…Election Day. I do not yet know who will be elected, but I do know this: I ALREADY LOVE OUR NEXT PRESIDENT.
As Christians, we are to be known by our love for one another, and that doesn’t mean that we just love those that love us, those that we like, or those that are like us. That means that we love everyone, including our next president, regardless of whom that may now be. Please join me in authentically displaying the love of Jesus (and that includes your Facebook page), as well as continuing to pray for our country and it’s leadership.
But, as you’re reading this, we have indeed wrapped up a long and tiring election cycle (whew!), so now we are able to focus on the upcoming holiday season: Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year. This is a special time on the calendar when our hearts are drawn to family, caring for the less fortunate, and to cheerful giving. With that in mind I want to draw your attention to Nehemiah 5. I encourage you to grab it now, read it and follow along with me. I have three specific points of encouragement to share with you today.
We won’t give any extended time to this particular chapter during our “Nehemiah: One Brick At A Time” weekend teaching series, because I want to highlight it in this special written communication, as well as in a video message from me that is available NOW on all our social networking platforms and at the end of this post. I encourage you to watch it.
Nehemiah 5 highlights a particular point of internal tension that existed within the ranks of the Jewish people after returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall and gates of the city. In the midst of all the work to be done, the people struggled to provide enough for their families to eat. Here is what was said:
“We have such large families. We need more food to survive.” (vs. 2)
“We have mortgaged our fields, vineyards, and homes to get food during the famine.” (vs. 3)
“We have had to borrow money on our fields and vineyards to pay our taxes.” (vs. 4)
Much of the previous opposition had come from external sources and were violent in nature (i.e.: Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem), but now the challenges were internal and financial in nature. Simply put: the people were struggling to do the work because of not having enough for their families to eat.
Nehemiah was grieved but then immediately jumped into action. Then he called others to action. Now, I, as your pastor, want to call YOU to action in light of the Scripture. Here’s what I’m taking about…
1. GIVE MORE (vs. 6-13)
The leaders of Israel promised to freely lend money and grain and not charge any interest. This was a massive gesture of compassion. I wonder if our church, West Salem Foursquare, could “promise to give” in the next few months. Could we commit ourselves to be RADICAL GIVERS? Here are some specific ways:
• Visit the lobby display and bring in non-perishable food items for the Union Gospel Mission. This local ministry is doing great work in Salem/Keizer, and our congregation can help them immensely.
• Purchase your Christmas Tree voucher from our Alive Youth Church so that students are able to attend camps and retreats in order to Encounter Jesus in unique and powerful ways.
• Go to wsfc.org and click on the Outreach page in order to support one of our local partners or global missionaries around the world. Specifically you may want to click on our Africa missionaries and consider “Sponsoring a Child” in Kenya.
• Lastly, and, I believe, most importantly: Would you prayerful and intentionally increase your personal giving to West Salem Foursquare Church. In particular, if you are not regularly tithing or have not been in a habit of faithful giving, then start with $30 a month. If every person that calls WSFC their church home would simply increase their giving by $30 we would be able to minister to so many more people in our community and around the world. I encourage you to take this step now, during the holidays, and throughout 2017. It’s a step in the right direction that will bless your life, and the lives of others. Imagine the possibilities in terms of souls saved, marriages restored, addictions broken, young people reached, and disciples made. Wow!
2. LIVE MORE WITH LESS (vs. 14-16)
I love how Nehemiah, when he was the governor of Judah, chose to not eat all the food that was allotted to him, like the governors that had preceded him. He lived with LESS. I think we can do that TOO! Here are some example of how:
• Give up a few espressos or lattes per week.
• Drop Netflix or Hulu (or both).
• Ease up on the spontaneous purchases.
• Eat out a little bit less, or share menu items with a family member.
These are all ways to live with LESS so that you and I are able to give MORE.
Therefore we could help with practical needs of:
• Victims of domestic and sexual violence through the Sable House...http://wsfc.org/ministries/outreach/sablehouse/
• Women being counseled regarding sexuality, pregnancy, parenting and adoption at Hope Pregnancy Clinic…http://wsfc.org/ministries/outreach/hopepregnancyclinic/
• Special needs children at Love Reins Ranch (equine therapy)…http://wsfc.org/ministries/outreach/love-reins-ranch/
Imagine all we could do if we chose to live with less. Let’s do it…together!
3. MAKE MORE ROOM AT YOUR TABLE (vs. 17-19)
Finally, Nehemiah 5 shows how each day over 150 people were invited to eat at Nehemiah’s table. Now, you and I may not be able to host that may folks in our homes (my awesome wife would probably kill me!), but we can open our homes and tables to one or two. During this holiday season, consider some specific ways:
• Invite a lonely college student over for a meal.
• Host a single mom and her children for the holidays.
• Keep an eye open for the elderly, widows, homeless and marginalized.
There are so many opportunities to be a blessing! Thank you for taking the time to read this important email, but more importantly, thank you for being a church that is active.
Remember the words of popular author Bob Goff: Love DOES!