Jesus said – By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another…John 13:35….

            Today (Wednesday is when I’m writing this) – is unique in that it is a) Valentine’s Day, but it is also b) Ash Wednesday…..both are significant in the area of LOVE —- the former is when we do that which indicates our heartfelt desire for our Valentine….the latter is when we understand the depths of love God would go to save our soul… we are now on the path to Easter Sunday…..

            Few would argue that everyone needs to feel & know they are loved.  Love is powerful – so powerful in fact that Jesus summarized the entire Ten Commandments using only LOVE…

Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31 – love God with all you heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love others as yourself…..

In John Jesus said – I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. John 13;34. 

Now, when it comes to loving those closest to us, we should, of course, tell those people that we love them—and often. However, in reality, doing so requires very little faith on our part because chances are our love will be returned to us in equal measure. (Read Luke 6:32–33)

Once we’ve experienced the true nature of God’s unending, unconditional love, the only reasonable response is to share that love with others who have not yet experienced it.

But this is where Jesus asks us to lean on our faith. He gave another commandment that often seems illogical and at times, impossible. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27).” We are called to love the unlovable.

This selfless love He’s describing can only be expressed with the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit. When we put aside our emotions and trust the healing power of the Holy Spirit to help us and work through us for the benefit of those on the receiving end, we become a witness of God’s transforming love and power.

Today is unique in that not since 1945 has Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fallen on the same day……May we understand the depth of how much God loves us – and seek to love our family, our friends, and our enemies the way God loved us. 

·      Please – oh, please lift up the families of the 17 victims of the High School shooting in Florida yesterday — also pray for the shooter & his family – oh, how sad – oh, how sick the mind of this young man must be…..this is a time when only God can speak…

·      Pray for our D-Group ministry that it will grow in number and faith….if you are not actively meeting with a group on a weekly basis – please consider that this is one way you can grow in faith – knowledge – friendship – and Godliness.

·      Jerry Noble – please lift up Jerry and Mary as they will be making a major decision regarding Jerry’s health

·      Caleb Yoder – down with the flu

·      Saleh Owen – down with strep throat (our granddaughter in Texas)

·      The men’s group I attend meets at a restaurant downtown on Wednesday.  This morning we heard that the financial partner of the restaurant died of the flu last Friday….please keep that family and the families of the restaurant workers in prayer

·      Our grandson in Texas (Joey) is sad. His public school teacher resigned today after being caught with drugs – he is taking it much better than his parents expected – but sad he didn’t get to say goodbye. 

·      Since our last worship service – (2 weeks ago) – a couple unspoken requests have come in.  God knows who they are – so please lift these 2 up to Him…..

·      Pray one for another that we will take advantage of the opportunities God gives us to witness – inviting – praying for the lost to come to faith

Good News — Bad News — The good news is that people are taking advantage of our Blessing box like we could never imagine…..The bad news is – we have no more food in the building to fill up the box.  As you read these lines – I’m sure you will bring a small sack full of non-perishable items to be placed in the Blessing Box next week.

            As reported earlier – we have used the YELLOWS DUCK – as monies that go for mission work.  At the last meeting of the Core Team – it was suggested and approved that all monies that go into the yellow duck – will not be used to purchase food for the Blessing Box.  So we can support the Box in 2 ways — a) bringing food – or b) giving money to the duck….Of course if you want to use the MEMO line on your check, you also have that option to give to the blessing box – knowing it will go in with other monies supporting our domestic mission work.

            I sent an email to Emily Spain of KOMU who has done a story on our Blessing Box – asking if she would give me a head’s up when she plans to run the story on her program….when that occurs – I’ll quickly inform you by email so you can turn in.

Your picture of God determines how you perceive yourself and others. Many of us have a picture of God other than the merciful Father who“demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8.

A God of wrath and vengeance

Some picture a God of wrath and vengeance who demands “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”  How radically different was the love that Jesus showed the woman caught in the act of adultery when the men of her village were ready to commit the same murderous act. Jesus intervened, saying, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7)

Jesus reveals God as a loving father who comes into the world not to condemn but to save sinners!

A tribal God

The current rabid division in U.S. politics, as well as in much of the Christian church, can result from a picture of a God who is tribal, a god who is “for us and against the people we are against.” As author Anne Lamott says, “You can safely assume that you created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you hate.”

Why Jesus?

As we follow Jesus’ life and teaching, we experience God’s true identity. In Jesus, we experience God who values human relationships over legalistic doctrines and people over ideologies. The Bible is authoritative and inspired for faith and life practice. But, we must never idolize the Scriptures (written word) over Jesus’ authority (Living Word).

The totality of God’s revelation cannot be limited to the 1,113 pages in my Bible but can be fully discovered in the miraculous transforming love of God revealed in Jesus.

 The Sunday evening Prayer gathering will be this Sunday starting at 5:00 PM – as advertised – it is a drop in service…if you can pray with us the full hour – wonderful – if only part of the hour that would be so

Because the weatherman has been less than gracious this year – some have been unable to attend and on occasion, we cancelled church – I would like to encourage everyone to please catch up with giving unto the Lord.  Remember it takes about $2,000.00 per week to meet our financial obligations.