Monday, December 17, 2018

From the VCC Newsletter on 12/17: The Faithfulness of God- Something to Celebrate

Have you ever considered that Christmas is more about the birth of world missions and less about the birth of a child?The God who gave us his Son did so because he loved the world and wanted that no one would perish but have everlasting life. The first coming of Jesus (Advent) was not just a sweet story about pregnant Mary and her fiancĂ© traveling to Bethlehem, to avoid judgement by the neighbors or even to pay taxes to Cesar. It is the fantastic account of God’s faithfulness to humanity, keeping his word from Genesis 3, and his multiple promises to the people of Israel, the Kings, and the Prophets. It is a story of redemption, not just for a lucky few nor a cover up, but an important chapter in the very long story of redemption, forgiveness, and love.  In one week from today we will be celebrating that God took this mission so personal that he sent no one less than his own Son.

At this time of year I am often asked if celebrating Christmas is something we should do in light of the many non-Christian winter festivities that have become part of Christmas tradition. Actually, I think that is one of the best reasons to celebrate Christmas. Jesus took the extraordinary step of becoming fully man while retaining all of what it meant to be fully God. His incarnation becomes the message itself. The very heart of missions is that we engage the world with the gospel by becoming all things to all men, so that we might save some. And our God takes sinful humanity and makes us Saints. He takes all of our failings and turns them into the message of reconciliation. So then he who redeems all things, redeems our winter festivities,  traditions, and our cold hearts and makes them new. If I can believe in the redemption of the humanity and creation (Revelation 21.1-5) then can anything be too hard for God to make new?

In the spirit of missions, redemption, and Christmas, I hope you will invite your friends, family, and neighbors to hear the Good News on Christmas Eve at one of our two services (4:00 or 6:00 pm).

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2018

From the VCC Newsletter on 12/10: Reaching the Unreached

A people group is considered unreached when less than 2% of a population has been evangelized.  In the Matthew 24:14 we read, And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. I have often noted that the word we translate as nations in English is actually the Greek word ethnos, from which we derive our English word, ethnic or ethnicity but the old translation of nations still persists giving us sometimes the wrong impression about global missions.

Consider that there are only 195 nations in the world but there are 6,500 people groups (ethnos) in the world of which 2,500 of those ethnos have no church –Nor is there any work being to establish one. When I worked in northern Mexico we had 13 of these unreached people groups who did not speak Spanish and did not have any church that spoke their language. Working in Juarez Mexico it was ironic to me that on one of the mountains in the city of Juarez were the words: La biblia es la verde., Leela. (the Bible is the truth. Read it.) Sadly, on that mountain top lived a group of Tarahumara indians that did not read or speak Spanish. Every year Christians passed these folks on their way to paint a sign in Spanish, but did not learn to speak the language of the people living under the words. Mexico is considered a Christian nation, but the Tarahumara people are unreached (less than 2% Christian, with no viable church).  Although we made considerable effort on the mountain we were unable to any significant inroads in that community, but I have not forgotten the people. This is why it is important for us to pray differently, for the sake of the mission, to reach every ethnos with the gospel of Jesus Christ, not just every nation.
After a great deal of prayer I feel the Lord has put it on my heart for us to change our nation of the month prayer format to praying for unreached people groups by the nations where they reside. Specifically, that we pray for those people groups to be reached and to have a church of their own. I hope you will join me as we focus our global mission attention in both prayer and giving to focus our attention on the unreached people groups. Our goal being to send missionaries to begin a church for every unreached people group, so that the gospel of the Kingdom would be proclaimed to every ethnos under heaven and hasten the return of our Lord Jesus Christ to rule and reign over the new heavens and new earth.

I hope you are as excited as I am to see what God is going to do in reaching these ethnos through our prayers and missions.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

From the VCC Newsletter on 12/3: Christmas Giving

Our church mission statement is a simple one: Love God, Love People, and Pass It On. Yet fulfilling that mission is no small task. Everyday we are faced with decisions about how we treat people, how we interact with God and men, and how we steward our resources (time, money, relationships, and stuff). As we move from Thanksgiving to Christmas, most of us are busy shopping and focusing on showing our loved ones how much they mean to us, as well we should. I don’t want to discourage the spirit of generosity. Instead I would like to add-on and ask you to pray about the very mission of Christmas. Jesus came into our world in the most disarming way, as a helpless baby, for one of the most demanding missions ever: to save the world. No pressure! In doing so he left the comfort of heaven to walk among a people who would later curse and crucify him. The very spirit of Christmas is one of making ourselves available and vulnerable to those who need the good news desperately but are not grateful we came. They don’t see our gospel as good news, and often reject us just because of who we are. To that world God gave his Son, and to that world God has called us to minister in the most inconvenient ways, sometimes to an ungrateful, disrespectful, and ever-suspicious world. One that is divided politically, racially, and theologically. To that same kind of world we have been called to continue the mission.

Over the last year we have been through numerous transitions, including a big change in staff. Meanwhile we have expanded our ministry and made several improvements to make our building more functional. We made numerous improvements to the community center (far exceeding the special donations given for that building) and expanded our community outreach . Currently we are wrapping up the new lobby entrance and ramping-up for the Christmas season and all of its related outreaches. Each step we have walked by faith, being diligent to manage every dime. As we look toward to the New Year, we are full of vision and we have some exciting plans. But as you can imagine, just like all of you, we have increased expenses at the end of the year, and in the new year. However, unlike retail, there is no Black Friday to help us; in fact, it is easy for expenses to exceed income during this time of year. So I am asking you to consider your giving in this season of generosity to include the mission and vision of VCC. Thank you for all of your support and confidence in the ministry of VCC. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!