Starting October 5 – RECONCILE

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You are invited to join in a 30-day exploration of the life-transforming, world-changing truth about reconciliation. Starting October 5 thousands of people from dozens of countries will join Elmbrook Church in this daily learning experience and conversation.

“To ‘reconcile’ or bring about ‘reconciliation’ is to restore harmony or friendship between two entities formerly divided” (Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible).

There is no debate about this: our world is broken.

Relationships in families and friendships are strained. The nations never get past conflict and war. Society is divided. Racial tensions stubbornly hang on. The human psyche itself is fractured. And our connection with God is at risk.

That is why God did what only God could do. In Jesus the Christ God made forgiveness and restoration possible. This is God’s great work of reconciliation. His way of gracing us with harmony again.

This, then, is the mission and the ministry of those who follow Jesus. To be reconciled with God, and then seek reconciliation with each other, and between groups of people. It is challenging and difficult. But it is the will of God and the mandate for the church.


Reconcile: this is what Christ has done; it is what we must do.

This 30-day devotional going from Genesis to Revelation unpacks the way real reconciliation is possible. It also includes real-life stories, prayers, song lyrics, and other features that will help us mediate deeply on the truth of reconciliation. The truth of reconciliation takes us down many paths: forgiveness, male-female relationships, racial antipathy, social tensions, church unity, just to name a few. It takes courage and faith to be people of reconciliation, but it is possible because God began the work, and has called us to this ministry and mission.
Get the 30-day devotional in your inbox by signing up HERE. (If you attend Elmbrook Church, pick up your free paperback copy at worship this weekend.)

“And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:19-20).

Please consider inviting your friends to sign up by using the SHARE links at the top.

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Important Subjects to Come

So far, in 23 different readings in “How to Understand the Bible,” through Bible Gateway we’ve covered three main areas: 1) approaching the Bible; 2) understanding the Old Testament; and 3) understanding the New Testament.

(If you missed any of this, or want to review any of this, you can go HERE, or you can get all the content of “How to Understand the Bible” in the paperback book HERE.)

Bible Gateway’s signup page is HERE.

Now we come to the fourth and final section, seven readings on “Interpreting the Bible.”

Though the Earth Give Way – Earthquake in Nepal

The words of Psalm 46 may come to mind as we think of the many who suffer in earthquake-stricken Nepal.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

One of the certainties of life is that life is full of uncertainty. No one knows when he or she might fall sick, or have an auto accident, or witness a natural catastrophe—be it fire, flood, or earthquake. Such was the case in Nepal when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck at 11:56 AM a few days ago.

From Suffering Nepal

[On the ground report from Christian leader in Kathmandu, Nepal]

Greetings from suffering Nepal!

I am glad that you all are praying for us and by God’s grace we are fine and  our missionaries are quite fine.

The disastrous Earthquake with an 7.8 of magnitude has struck the country of Nepal killing more than 5000 people. UN Reports that 8 million people have been affected and many have become homeless, parents less and widows. My heart cry when I see people desperate, watch the news and see the television report. There is a shortage of food, water and tents to sleep. Almost 90% people of Kathmandu valley are sleeping on the street and open space, but very few have got the tents.

How Should We Understand the Teachings of Jesus?

If someone asked you who your favorite teacher was when you were growing up, chances are someone specific would come to mind. And chances are you still respect that person today not because he or she was a fantastic lecturer, or had a superior knowledge of the subject matter, or had a memorable voice. Our favorite teachers—the ones who influenced not just our thinking, but our lives—are usually those people who taught us about life. And it wasn’t just with their words. Their own lives were distinctive.

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Jesus is widely considered the greatest teacher of all time. But we will only understand him in this capacity if we consider setting and context. Jesus was not a college lecturer or a mystical philosopher. Those who were under the teaching of Jesus were following him on foot, from one village to the next.

The Story of Christianity in Ethiopia

TheStoryofChristianityEthiopia

This Sunday morning, March 15…

Mel Lawrenz, Elmbrook Minister at Large and former Senior Pastor has recently spent time in Ethiopia where there is a remarkable story of faith that goes back 3,000 years.
In the valleys, plateaus, and mountains of sunny Ethiopia in the horn of Africa a dramatic movement of God has been afoot which reached dramatic proportions just in the past few decades. The country is known for many things: the origin of the coffee bean, the only African nation never to be colonized by a foreign power, an ancient connection with the Old Testament (the Queen of Sheba), and the New Testament (the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch via Philip the Evangelist in Acts 8), the site of ancient human remains, National Geographic photos of Stone Age tribes.

Mel will share lessons for us to learn from his two recent trips there, and the many years of influence Elmbrook Church has had through our supported missionaries.

Invite your friends to hear this fascinating story. This Sunday, March 15, 9:30am in the Elmbrook Church Chapel.

(AND, you may be the lucky person to go home with a bag of Ethiopian coffee beans Mel hand-carried back!)

CoffeeBeans

The Risks of Going Viral

We have this expression these days: “going viral.” It means when something on the internet attracts an enormous amount of attention such that thousands or even millions of people click in to watch. Babies or puppies or kittens are likely subjects. Or a compelling speech like the post-game interview with high school football player Apollos Hester. But when some things “go viral”—like an actual virus—there is nothing entertaining about it.

StreetPeopleSun

In West Africa today there are 6,000 confirmed cases of the monster virus Ebola, 3,000 people having already died.

John Stott’s Final Public Address

[I have given copies of this to many leaders, and have had leadership groups listen to the audio in groups. This is a seminal address. Every Christian leader should read this!]

John Stott Address at Keswick
Dr. John Stott – ‘The model – becoming more like Christ.’ Sermon delivered at the Keswick Convention July 17th 2007.

I remember very vividly, some years ago, that the question which perplexed me as a younger Christian (and some of my friends as well) was this: what is God’s purpose for His people?

Christmas Greeting to All of Humanity

On December 24, 1968, three astronauts gave a Christmas greeting to more people on earth who had ever listened to a broadcast in history, as they orbited the moon. Here are their exact words:

Bill Anders
“We are now approaching lunar sunrise and, for all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

Africa for Norway

Here is a great tongue-in-cheek video (explanation below)…

 

From Radi-Aid website:

Imagine if every person in Africa saw the “Africa for Norway” video and this was the only information they ever got about Norway. What would they think about Norway?

If we say Africa, what do you think about? Hunger, poverty, crime or AIDS? No wonder, because in fundraising campaigns and media that’s mainly what you hear about.

The pictures we usually see in fundraisers are of poor African children. Hunger and poverty is ugly, and it calls for action. But while these images can engage people in the short term, we are concerned that many people simply give up because it seems like nothing is getting better. Africa should not just be something that people either give to, or give up on.

The truth is that there are many positive developments in African countries, and we want these to become known. We need to change the simplistic explanations of problems in Africa. We need to educate ourselves on the complex issues and get more focus on how western countries have a negative impact on Africa’s development. If we want to address the problems the world is facing we need to do it based on knowledge and respect.

 

Rivers of Living Water

Several countries in Southeast Asia celebrate the regional new year with a water festival. Traditionally, people sprinkle each other with water as a sign of respect and blessing, but many people intensify it with wild, joyful, boisterous dousing of anybody and everybody with water. Walk or drive down the streets during those days and you might be accosted with garden hoses, water cannons, water pistols, or even bowls and cups filled with water. It is raucous. It is fun. It is vivid. Everyone knows it is out with the old, in with the new.

Expand your world…

 

**********  TONIGHT! **********

Expand your world… by hearing from our special guests for this year’s International Center session in a special open forum, Wednesday, October 17 from 6:30 to 8:15 in the Chapel.

Join Mel Lawrenz who will draw out the stories of our guests from Malaysia, Nepal, India, Rwanda, Cuba, Paraguay, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Brazil, Belize, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

WHAT: International Center Open Forum (free and open to the public–hear compelling stories from around the world)!
WHEN: Wednesday, October 17, 6:30 to 8:15pm
WHERE: The Chapel at Elmbrook Church, 777 South Barker Rd., Brookfield
WHO: Mel Lawrenz moderating panel of guests from around the world
WHY: When your world gets bigger, your heart gets bigger! Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from these special people!

Please use the SHARE links below to let others know.

Is It Naive to Be Optimistic?

A while back a colleague put me on the spot in a group by asking me: “why don’t you tell the folks how it is that you stay optimistic even in the face of great difficulties.” I instantly felt unusually self-conscious. My first instinct was to say, “because the alternative is unthinkable.” But then I thought, that is merely wishful thinking, and I hope I have something more substantial to go on in life. Wishful thinking is pitiful. It has a short shelf life. It’s not much better than buying a lottery ticket.

 

As a young adult my optimism may have been based on wishful thinking. Not that I hadn’t been through difficulties, like the death of my father when I was four. But most of the time things seemed to work out in life. That is how a lot of people stay upbeat–their trials have not been bone-crushing. Yet.