Love From Your Pastor

Hello FBC!

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. 5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward. (Isaiah 50:4-5 ESV)

This week I attended a 4-day seminar at Corban University called: “The Spiritual Life of the Leader: How Leaders are Transformed.”  It’s been an amazing experience, for which I am extremely grateful.  In my devotional Bible reading this morning, one of the verses I wrote in my journal was the above passage from Isaiah 50.  And this afternoon, one of our sessions was about how Bible reading facilitates spiritual transformation.  During the discussion, one of the relevant passages talked about was this one from Isaiah 50.  As we were talking about it, I thought it sure sounded familiar.  I looked in my journal, and there it was from this morning!
Anyway, these verses were discussed as we talked about one way Bible reading facilitates spiritual transformation is when it is done reflectively.  That is, when we 1) Seek to be mastered by the Word rather than mastering it, 2) Listen deeply for a personal word from God, and 3) Explore personal thoughts and feelings evoked by the Word.  The Isaiah passage from today was relevant to the idea of listening deeply for a personal word from God.  Notice what Isaiah says: “Morning by morning He awakens… my ear to hear…”  “The Lord GOD has opened my ear…”  Other passages that deal with listening to the Word include Psalm 119:124-125; Psalm 81:8; and Ecclesiastes 5:1.
When you read your Bible, are you reading it reflectively?  Are you reflecting on it?  Meditating on it?  Listening closely to what the Lord is saying to you through it?  May we be those “who have ears to hear” what He is saying to us as we read, study, chew on, meditate on, memorize, and listen to His Word!

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Love From Your Pastor

Hello FBC,

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19)
In difficult times it can be a challenge to remember the above truth.  But it is precisely when we think things seems to be out of control that we need to remember this!  God is on His throne.  He is ruling over all.  He is sovereign.  We can take comfort in that.  When everything doesn’t seem to be good in life, we can at the very least know that He is good.  And sometimes that’s all we need to know.
Thank you for the many of you who have been praying for Alan & Zsuzsa Blake.  In case you hadn’t heard about this yet, they are members of our church family that we sent off on a short-term mission trip to Ukraine, close to the border with Hungary.  Yesterday we received a call from Zsuzsa informing us that Alan had what she thinks to be a severe stroke.  I asked many of you to pray for them.  This morning we had a good group of people gather at the church to pray together for the Blakes.  Before we met I got another call from Zsuzsa.  At that time they were making plans to transport Alan to a hospital in Budapest, Hungary.  It is a 3-hour ambulance ride.  Zsuzsa and Zach were going to have to make other arrangements to get to Budapest.  I have not yet received another update from Zsuzsa, but she told me this morning that Alan had a stroke on the left side of his brain.  His right side is currently paralyzed, and he is unable to speak.  He does however understand what is being said to him, and Zsuzsa was even able to make him smile at one point.  This continues to be a very dangerous time for Alan, though as of this morning the swelling on his brain had not increased, which is good news.  Please continue to pray fervently for Alan’s safety and recovery, for strength, comfort, and wisdom for Zsuzsa, and for Zach and their other sons.  Be watching your email for updates as I hope to fill you in as I hear from Zsuzsa.  Pray for God’s glory to be made known in and through this situation!  Thank you!
This Sunday I will be speaking on Revelation 13:11-18, “The Beast from the Earth”.  I want to encourage you to prayerfully read that ahead of time, and come Sunday prepared to hear from the Lord.  As we consider this future False Prophet, it’s important for us to be discerning even today, and to be aware of the many false prophets currently deceiving people and preventing the worship of the One True God and His Son Jesus Christ.
Also Sunday, from 4-6pm, is a BBQ and celebration of Lisl Ruckert’s graduation from Biola University, at the Ruckert home .  You are invited!  Let’s thank the Lord for His work in Lisl’s life!
Thank you for loving one another and for praying for each other during times of trial.  Please especially continue to uphold the Blakes in prayer.  Remember, the Lord is on His throne!
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael


Love From Your Pastor

Hello FBC Friends & Family!

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)
There are times when I’m out coaching baseball, that I see the dark, gloomy clouds overhead, and start looking for shelter!  There are also times when the bright, hot sun is beating down on me that I start looking for a shadow, or shade, for relief!  Good ol’ Oregon weather – if you don’t like it, wait 5 minutes and it’ll change, right?  We often have much more serious things that we are concerned about than getting rained on or a little overheated in the sun.  And no matter what is concerning us, we have a shelter – the Most High.  I love that.  There is no one higher; there is no one above God.  He is The Most High, and we can dwell in His shelter.  When we do, we abide (or dwell) in the shadow of the Almighty.  I love that too!  Remember when Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will bear much fruit”?  To abide is to dwell with in an intimate relationship.  We have the unspeakable privilege of abiding in Him – abiding in the shadow of the Almighty, the most Holy, the most powerful, the most loving, the awesome God!
Tomorrow (Friday) morning, Alan, Zsuzsa, and Zach Blake will be heading off to serve in Ukraine for a month!  Please, please, please, be in much prayer for them.  May the Lord use them mightily in His service, work powerfully in their hearts as they serve, and bring them back to us safely so we can rejoice together in what God has done there.  Thank you.
This Sunday we will be blessed to have Jessica Taskinen sharing with the adult Sunday School classes and in the worship service.  Please be sure to be here and listen to and encourage one of our own as she shares about her life and ministry.
During the worship service, I will be preaching on Revelation 13:1-10, “The Beast from the Sea”.  Not a pretty picture – but one we need to understand.  Please read that ahead of time with a prayer that God will speak to us powerfully through His Word.

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Love From Your Pastor

The elder (Pastor) to the elect lady & her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us & will be with us forever: Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father & from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth & love. (see 2 John 1-3)

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.  (3 John 4)
What powerful statements from the apostle John to those whom he considered his spiritual “children”!  As he wrote to them (though he desired much more to see them face to face), he expressed his love for them, as well as the vital importance of walking in the truth!  As a pastor, I feel the same thing.  I long for us to be a family of believers who represent Jesus Christ well, who came into the world “full of grace and truth.”  And I desire for us to live out Paul’s admonition about “speaking the truth in love.”  When I see or hear of our people walking in the truth, there really is no greater joy than that!  I also have similar thoughts as a parent.  We all want to see our kids be “successful” in whatever they do, but far more important to me is that they love the Lord & walk with Him!  There is no greater joy in my life than seeing and hearing evidence that my children are walking in the truth!
Last week I asked you to say a prayer for Caleb, as he turned 14 (!).  Well today, I would like to ask a similar thing on behalf of Micah, who is turning 12 (!) in five days.  Our desire for Caleb from day 1 of his life has been that he would live up to his biblical namesake in being a man of faith & courage.  Our desire for Micah has been that he would also live up to the meaning of his biblical name: “who is like the Lord.”  Someone replied to my email last week with a powerfully written prayer on behalf of Caleb – and it brought tears of joy!  Thank you for loving my family and praying for us!
HALLELUJAH!  Praise the Lord for answered prayers regarding our two special projects we were raising funds for!  We had a goal of raising $6,000 by July 1 for the purchase of a diesel powered welding machine for the Kibuye Hope Hospital in Burundi, and as I write this we have received $8,175!!!  Thank you for your generosity!  Also, we were raising funds for Thurman Falk’s summer mission with Cru (Campus Crusade) to East Asia.  His goal was $5,100, and that goal has been met!!!  Thanking the Lord for a generous church family!
FBC has also been know to have people who generous with their time and muscle.  This Saturday Rich & Mary Snead are having a moving party at their house from about 8am to Noon.  If you can make it, they live at 33964 Powell Hills Loop in Shedd.  Contact one of our trustees for more info on this Saturday.
Another thing to Praise the Lord for: Congratulations to Nick & Erika on the birth of Luke!  He was born May 26 at 4:41pm, weighing 7 lbs., 2 oz and was 19 inches long.  Thank you for praying for this young and growing family!
This Sunday’s message will come from Revelation 12, “A Great Woman & a Great Dragon.”  Please read that passage and be in prayer about this Sunday!  The evil one does not want people talking about his impending downfall!  But that’s what we plan to do this Sunday.  There is an intense spiritual battle going on, so please pray, pray, pray!!
As we walk together in the truth, I have no greater joy!
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael


Love From Your Pastor

Hi FBC!

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!  But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.  (2 Peter 3:11-13)
This is a great reminder today from Peter that as we near the end of the age, and the coming Day of the Lord, we are to commit ourselves to lives of holiness and godliness.  We have the tremendous hope, as believers in Christ, the He will keep His promise.  We are waiting for new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells – this current earth is not our home!  Let’s live with our eyes, minds, and hearts focused on our eternal destiny.
This Sunday I will be preaching on the 7th Trumpet from Revelation 11:15-19.  This is a powerful testimony about our God’s dominion over the earth, and it’s also a sobering reminder of the wrath that will be experienced by those who turn their backs on the offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Please prayerfully read the passage and come Sunday prepared to hear from Him.
This coming weekend is of course Memorial Day weekend.  Let’s take time to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.  How thankful we are for men and women who have served and are serving our country!  Jesus said “Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends.”  Christ is the ultimate example of sacrificing for our freedom.  Let’s remember to give Him thanks!
On a personal note, it’s hard for me to believe that today is our son Caleb’s 14th birthday!  We are so grateful to God for this young man.  He loves the Lord and His Word, and is growing in his faith.  If you would, please say a prayer for him today, that he will continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Waiting for the new heavens and the new earth…
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael


Love From Your Pastor

In this you rejoice though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

Notice some key thoughts that come from this statement (which is very similar to James’s thoughts in ch. 1 of his letter).  First of all, “in this your rejoice.”  Huh?  Both Peter and James express that the trials we go through in life are to result in joy for us.  Only faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can produce such a result!  No other religion or faith system can accomplish that.  Joy is a major component of our Christian lives.  It is part of the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but Believer, if you are experiencing trials, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice!”
Secondly, “for a little while.”  Our faith also teaches us that whatever trials we are experiencing now are only temporary.  Hope is another major component of our faith in Jesus Christ.  We know this world is not our home.  We are just passing through.  The hardships we face are nothing compared to the glory that awaits us in the future!
“If necessary.”  We sometimes don’t understand why we experience hard things.  But God is sovereign.  He knows that sometimes trials are absolutely necessary for the strengthening of our faith.  We might not like it or understand it, but we can trust Him!
“The tested genuineness of your faith.”  Is your faith genuine?  Sometimes the Lord puts us to the test to reveal what’s really going on in our hearts.  Our response to trials goes a long way in demonstrating whether our faith is the real deal or not!
“More precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire.”  Gold is used in the Bible to describe something that is of utmost value.  It is extremey precious and costly.  It becomes more pure and valuable by going through fire.  Peter relates that to our faith.  The trials we go through burn off the dross and purify our faith.  If gold were personified, it would probably scream out when it was going through fire!  But when the process is complete, it is able to “pass the test.”  The same is true of our faith in the Lord.  The process may not be enjoyable at first glance, but God has a glorious purpose in mind.
“May be found to result in praise and glory and honor.”  Isn’t that we want to be the end result of our lives?  Praise to Him!  Glory to Him!  Honor to Him!  There are lots of ways that we think we can bring those three things to His great name.  But what we often don’t think about is what Peter is saying here.  Our faith being refined by fiery trials accomplishes this ultimate purpose!  You’ve heard that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  Well, remember, one of the major ways we accomplish that chief end is to experience a purified faith in Christ as a result of passing through the fire.
“At the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  Someone has said a key to being a successful person is to “begin with the end in mind.”  We have a tendency to get too caught up in our present circumstances, without thinking about the end goal.  When Jesus is revealed, when He returns in all His glory, He will receive praise, glory, and honor from all of His people who have a purified faith!  And that’s ultimately what we all want, right?
So, my beloved, no matter what difficulties we may be temporarily experiencing today, “in this you rejoice!”
We have some key events this weekend:

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Love From Your Pastor

Hi FBC Friends!

Let brotherly love continue. (Hebrews 13:1 ESV)
I read many incredible, convicting, challenging, and encouraging things in the past couple days.  But this 4-word verse stood out.  “Let brotherly love continue.”  If we don’t do this, nothing else we do as a church family matters.  I looked up a number of cross references to Heb. 13:1, which remind us of the priority of love within the family of God.  Here are some:
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10 ESV)

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, (1 Thessalonians 4:9 ESV)

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, (1 Peter 1:22 ESV)

and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Peter 1:7 ESV)

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:17 ESV)

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Peter 3:8 ESV)

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10 ESV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7 ESV)

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:20-21 ESV)

Brothers and sisters, let’s look for ways in the days ahead to live out these commands in practical ways.  Let’s be a powerful testimony to a watching world of the the way the love of God transforms the hearts of people and allows us to love one another, and to love people outside of the church who need to experience His love.
This Sunday:  It’s MOTHER’S DAY!  I hope you will have the chance to honor your mother this weekend, and/or your wife, if that’s possible.  I will be preaching from Isaiah 9:1-7.  I know, I know, that’s usually a Christmas passage, and it’s May!  But just as I believe we should celebrate Christ’s resurrection all year long and not just at Easter, I think it’s appropriate to celebrate His incarnation all year and not just at Christmas.  Isaiah 9 promises the birth of a child, the gift of a Son.  Isaiah 9:6 includes some of the most important names given to the Messiah, and embodied by the Lord Jesus Christ.  I hope all of us will be encouraged this Sunday.  Especially mothers of course, but also all of us!
Don’t forget the Mother’s Day brunch from 8:30 — 10am on Sunday (no Sunday School)!
There are many other important reminders in your bulletin this Sunday of special events and activities coming up.  So make sure and read your bulletin!
I am certainly thankful for an incredible and loving mother.  And I’m so blessed that our four children have a fantastic mother.  These women deserve to be honored, not just this weekend, but all the time!
I love the special ladies in my life!  And I love you!
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael


Love From Your Pastor

Hi FBC!

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2)
What are you thirsty for?  We all probably know what it is to be thirsty for water.  Recently, while standing out in the sun on the baseball field, chewing on salty sunflower seeds for a couple hours, I found myself longing for a nice, big, cold drink (of water or light lemonade of course!).  But far more important than that is the thirst of my soul for the living God.  Are you thirsty for Him today?
Along those same lines, what are you hungering for?  I recently did part of a day of fasting and prayer, and simply could not wait for “break-fast” as my stomach rudely growled at me!  But again, far more important is my hunger for God.  In tomorrow’s message we will look at a case where John was told to eat a scroll.  It is a reminder that we are invited by God to eat of His Word!  Are you hungry for the Bible?  I’ve never met a growing Christian who did not have a major appetite for God’s Word.  Please read Revelation 10 before tomorrow and consider the result of what John ate.  Why was it sweet?  Why was it also bitter?  How does that relate to our experience of partaking in God’s Word?
We will also have the opportunity to eat the symbol of the Word of God, the Lord Jesus, as we partake of communion together.  I trust you will come with heart examined and in a prayerful and thankful spirit.
Thank you for your continued prayers for me as I prepare to preach His Word.  I’m reminded on a daily basis of my desperate need for your prayers!
Thirsting for God… Hungering for His Word…
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael


Love From Your Pastor

Hello FBC!

The LORD redeems the life of His servants; none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.  (Psalm 34:22)
What a precious promise from our Lord!  Whom are you taking refuge in today?  Have you been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb?  Then there is no condemnation for you and for all who are in Christ Jesus!
There are only four club nights left for our Awana program this school year.  Thank you for praying for our continued impact on the lives of children and their parents!  This Saturday eight of our kids will be heading to Salem for the State Bible Quizzing.  Please pray for them as they hide God’s Word in their hearts!
This Sunday I will be continuing in Revelation with a message from 9:12-21 about the Sixth Trumpet.  Please read it ahead of time, and join us Sunday morning!  Most remarkable to me, after seeing all the carnage from the judgments, is the response of the remaining people on the earth in verses 20-21.  Why do you think they don’t respond as we would expect?  Or is the way they respond what we should expect?
In this week’s bulletin you will see notes about two missions projects we are raising funds for.  Please pray about, and consider a generous gift toward one or both of these:
1. Thurman Falk is going with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) to East Asia for five weeks this summer.  Let’s generously and prayerfully support him!
2. John Joiner returned from Burundi with a burden to help supply a diesel-powered welding machine for the hospital/medical school there.  We’d like to have the money raised by July 1 so it can get put on a shipping container heading there Aug. 1.
Thank you for your support!
Redeemed, and taking refuge in the LORD…
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael


Love From Your Pastor

Hello FBC Friends!

Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 20:7)
To be “consectrated” means to be set apart, or to be “made holy”.  One Bible Dictionary defines “Consecration” this way: “It is the act of setting apart any person or thing to the worship or service of God.  In Leviticus, Moses was deliniating the Law of God and telling the people of Israel to be consecrated by obeying the law.  We know from the New Testament that the only way to truly be made holy is by the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Only God’s grace can save us and sanctify us.  As His “holy nation” and “royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9), we as Christians are to be consecrated, set apart for His service.  We serve and worship a holy God!  And He calls us to be holy as He is.  It is His grace that empowers us to become holy like Him.
In case you missed it last Sunday, Thurman Falk shared with us about his East Asia Summer Mission (many of you will receive letters in the mail about it as well).  His trip is June 14 — July 22.  The cost of the trip is $5,100.  He will be working with Campus Crusade for Christ (now called “Cru”) at a university in East Asia to share the gospel and train in evangelism and discipleship.  I’d like to encourage all of us at FBC to support Thurman generously.  He is “one of our own,” having grown up here at FBC Brownsville.  This is an exciting opportunity for Thurman, and for us as we partner with him.  Please make checks payable to “Cru”, or give at www.give.cru.org/0743833.  You can call Thurman at 541-760-6812 for more info.
MEN – This Saturday at 7am is our monthly Men’s Breakfast!  Please come join us for a great time together.  Our missionary to Brazil, Bruce Tissell, will be here to speak to us.  Invite a friend, bring your sons, and come!
Saturday at 1:00pm is the memorial service here at FBC for our sister Betty Keen.  Thank you for praying for the family and for a clear gospel message to be shared.
On Sunday, I will be speaking from Revelation 8:13 — 9:11.  This is a description of the Fifth Trumpet judgment, which is also the “First Woe”.  Prayerfully read ahead and consider how this future demonic warfare relates even to our current spiritual warfare we face today.
Following the worship service Sunday, we will be having our Quarterly Business Meeting.  Everyone who considers FBC your home is welcome to stay and join us.  Along with the “business” reports that will be shared, I plan to share an update on the current situation regarding additional pastoral staff, and the intentions of the elders and I for the near future.  You could consider this a kind of follow-up to the two Vision/Info meetings we had in March.  We are considering showing a video about our desire to “Grow Together” as people who represent multiple generations.  I think you’ll want to be with us!  We will try to not keep you too long!
Thankful for our holy God, and for the transforming grace of God that is making us holy too…
Love From Your Pastor,
Michael



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