Pastor Dan will be hosting two zoom meetings / gatherings during the month of June. Each meeting will be 20min’s long and will include a scripture focus to lift us up and an opportunity to give mention to prayer needs.
I’m calling this ZOOM 20/20 and am committed to keep our time together thoughtful, intentional, and timely (20min’s). Our first meeting will be held this Tuesday June 2nd @ 7:00 PM. I will email out the meeting invitation link, ID, and password on Tuesday during the day.
I sincerely do miss seeing you and would love for you to join us this Tuesday.
As you well know, each week I reach out to the church over video and posted announcement. This serves two primary goals: 1.) to connect with all of you and let you know where I’m at this week; 2.) to bring us all up to speed on a few things I’d like you to be mindful of or prayerful about during these days. Clearly, I am well behind in getting this out. I apologize. This week has held some difficult challenges for me. That said, here are a few things I’d like to get before you this evening.
Pastor(s) Doug and Jennifer continue to team-teach through the book of Philippians during our Wednesday evening service. What they share about “focusing on Christ the source” is crucial during this time. If you did not get a chance to catch their teaching, I encourage you to revisit last night’s service. You can find our Wednesday evening service posted up on Evergreen Foursquare Church YouTube.
In the way of update, I spoke with our dear brother in Christ, Jorge Rios-Brennan, this evening. As I am sure most of you know, Jorge has been severely burdened for many weeks now with a herniated disc in his back with incredible associated pain working down his left side/ left leg. How he’s been able to manage is a miracle and a horrendous trial at the same time. Today, Jorge and Shana met with a surgeon to talk about a schedule for surgery, benefits and relief, complications and followups — a path moving forward and a possible timeline. Additionally, Shana, has been in contact with a number of you personally and has been diligent in updating the church via Facebook. All this to say, please continue to pray, support, and love our dear friends Jorge, Shana, Wyoming and Natsu.
Also in the way of update, praise God for you who have been asking about and praying for my dad. My dad was diagnosed with advanced stage 4 cancer back in February. From February till now, he has been undergoing bi-weekly treatment and continues to be monitored. After 8 weeks, Dad did receive incredibly encouraging news today; his current treatment path is showing positive trends. Moms says that he is not experiencing nearly the pain in his core; his energy level has increased some; his fatigue level has improved. Our family is taking this as a huge win! Thank you for your prayers.
Lastly, please note that our Sunday morning service streams on YouTube and Facebook at 10 A.M. Our Wednesday evening service streams on YouTube and Facebook at 7 P.M. Be sure to check out Evergreen Foursquare Church YouTube channel to find a previous service you might’ve missed or some of the other devotional content posted there.
I thank my God every time I remember you. In every prayer for all of you, I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart. For in my chains, and in my defense and confirmation of the gospel, you are all partners in grace with me. God is my witness how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to test and prove what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:3-11
These verses here illustrate what compassion the apostle Paul for the church, the people of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. The language is incredibly endearing, and as Paul himself says “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” If you did not see/hear our Wednesday evening service, Pastor Doug reads aloud the entire book of Philippians. He does not preach the word. He does not add additional commentary to the word. He simply reads the word aloud and invites us to read along with him. This exercise alone is an incredibly powerful opportunity to hear God speak in a fresh way. The word of God is active!
Here are a few announcements for the coming week, including what I have already mentioned above. If you were not able to see/hear our Wednesday evening service (5/13), Pastor Doug reads aloud the entire book of Philippians. And again, an incredibly powerful and practical exercise for us to engage. You can view Wednesday evening’s service up on our Evergreen Foursquare Church YouTube Channel as well as check out other content posted there, including a wonderful testimony and admonition from Jacqueline Bursch about learning to be content in these difficult times.
Speaking of our online services, in advance of this weekend’s Sunday morning service, Dr Christine Bozich has given us an assignment to help stir our hearts and minds for what the Lord might be saying in us and through us as a church. The assignment includes: 1.) get yourself some kind of a notebook or journal or tablet, something you can write on; and 2.) write down one thing that God has shown you about love. Again, get yourself some kind of notebook or journal and then write down one thing God has shown you about love.
In the way of love for one another, I’d like each of us to continue to be mindful and prayerful of our entire church family. Continue to pray for protection from this prolonged pandemic, protection over our own families, our church family, those who are working long hours in difficult and complicated settings. Continue to pray for provision for any number of needs during difficult, confusing days—practical provisions, financial means, physical stamina, emotional and spiritual strength, as well as unspoken needs.
Again, you know our Sunday morning service streams on YouTube and Facebook at 10 A.M. Our Wednesday evening service streams on YouTube and Facebook at 7 P.M. Be sure to check out Evergreen Foursquare Church YouTube channel to find a previous service you might’ve missed or some of the other devotional content posted there.
Lastly, I leave you with some more of Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things. Whatever you have learned or received, or heard from me or seen in me, put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Below are a few announcements for the coming week along with other news and notes for the days ahead. Before I get to that, I want to say again just how grateful I am for each of you. I mean that. Many of you have connected with me either through email, text, over the phone, through Facebook, on YouTube chat line, etc. and I am grateful for that point of contact. I trust you are as well.
For us as a church, we continue to pray for protection from this pandemic, protection over our own families, our church family, those who are working long hours in difficult and complicated settings. We continue to pray for provision for any number of needs during difficult, confusing days—practical provisions, financial means, physical stamina, emotional and spiritual strength, and countless unspoken I’m sure.
Here again, I want to extend an open invitation to you. If you are at all feeling “sunk” under some kind of financial hardship during these days, please email me at email@example.com or contact me at (253) 245-9350. I don’t know what can be done about it, but I do want to know and I do want to talk with you. I know it can be a big step to reach out like this, but I want to serve you even if that’s simply to hear what you’re up against.
In the way of announcements for the coming week, you all know that this Sunday, May 10th is Mother’s Day. And how we honor Mother’s Day in our church is we celebrate all women on Mother’s Day—whether you are a mother, a daughter, a sister, a grandmother, an aunt, a niece (think that covers all women), we honor and celebrate how much God has blessed all of us through your life. With that, we have a fun assignment for both kids and adults. Kids are encouraged to send in a picture or a thoughtful text that shows/honors an important woman in their life (adults are invited to do the same). Send Mother’s Day pictures/texts to (360) 818-4513 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will share some of these this Sunday, May 10th Mother’s Day during the service and on Facebook.
In the way of reminder, our Sunday morning service streams on YouTube and Facebook at 10 A.M. Our Wednesday evening service streams on YouTube and Facebook at 7 P.M. Be sure to check out Evergreen Foursquare Church YouTube channel to find a previous service you might’ve missed and some other devotional content shared by Dr Christine Bozich (so good!)
Lastly, in John 10 Jesus speaks of an open door. Not a bright orange door like the hideous orange door in my backyard (for this whole thing about the hideous orange door in my backyard, watch last Sunday’s service). No, in John 10 Jesus says “I am the door or the gate. Whoever enters through Me (the open door or gate) will be saved. He or She will go in and out and find pasture.” I want you to picture the image or the idea of an open door. When you arrive, the door is already open. It doesn’t open once you arrive. The door is already open when you arrive. It’s been open. Its open to you and has been open for you. Jesus has been setting things in order just for you. All things have been prepared by him. The peace and safety of God is ready for you. You are welcome to enter. When you do, you’ll know that you’re safe. The peace of God is for you, and the door to peace is open!
Hey everyone, I just want to check in with you early this week and offer you of a couple kind encouragements. First, Easter Sunday is over but Easter season is never over. Every day is resurrection life and hope for the Christian. Today is opportunity for renewed hope and joy, the prospect of love and forgiveness. Each of us has an enduring need along these lines that only Christ himself can satisfy. My prayer for you is that you allow the Spirit of God to assure you that such needs are his highest concern—he will not abandon you; hang in there. Second, below is an essay I wrote a year ago this week. I include it here as I believe it still has something to say.
Much love to you.
Dan Behrens, Co Pastor EFC
The real miracle of the resurrection
“Indeed, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first of those who have fallen asleep. Since death itself came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man; and that man is Jesus Christ. In Adam all men die, yet in Christ all men will be made alive. Each in his turn: first Christ; then when he comes, those who belong to him. After which, the end will be when he hands over to God his kingdom after he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power. For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet—the last being death itself.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-26)
The real miracle of the resurrection of Jesus is the release of the church into the world. The church—the bride of Christ, who he himself loves as one loves his own body—is released into the world, bearing a most peculiar testimony. More than a story. More than mere history. An incredible testimony. A real miracle. Jesus’ closest friends really had witnessed something the world had never known. They had seen a man who claimed to be God executed by torture at the demand of religious Jews under the governorship of Rome’s Pontius Pilate. They had seen this man buried in the ground (like all men are buried in the ground), then suddenly come to life again and walk among them as a living conqueror over death, a just champion over sin. The church witnessed this, and thus continues to defend (for over 2000 years now) against every anti-God spirit that Jesus Christ is LORD of all Lords. Such defense is rooted in an unshakable confidence that only by confessing this name Jesus is there salvation from sin and justification for righteousness. There is a peculiar power in bearing witness of this Jesus. For the name Jesus is our witness.
The name Jesus is our witness
“Let this be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God has raised from the dead—by him this man is standing here before you well. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we can be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12)
The name Jesus is our witness. The power of this witness is what the church immediately sees and hears in her new life of spirit-born allegiance. It is what the world around her sees and hears as this spirit-born allegiance leads to daily radical obedience in the face of injustice. The name Jesus is more than mere story or history, it is the only real miracle of our life. And in that sense is beyond natural; it is supernatural, born of God. For his is the name we have taken as our own, the only name for which we are pledged. The church belongs to Jesus; he belongs us. We are one in him as a bride and groom are one in marriage. We are one in him as the whole of a man’s body is one being. Wherever we are we witness Jesus, seeing in everything else his miraculous provision, yet bearing in ourselves his living presence. “Thus it is written that you might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in Him you might have life in his name.” (Jn 20)
Our witness of Jesus are the acts of the Holy Spirit
“God has raised this Jesus to life, and we all are witnesses of it. Even now, exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” (Acts 2:32-33)
Our witness of Jesus are the acts of the Holy Spirit. The visible actions and vibrant activity of the Spirit pulsing through the people of God testify that this Jesus who was crucified is very much alive. For Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11). He is the restoration, regeneration, and renewal of all things; in whom all things are brought forth and hold together. We see this in his birth—Jesus is Spirit-formed in the womb of Mary. We see this in his ministry—Jesus is Spirit-led among the people of Palestine. We certainly see this in Jesus’ death—one wholly surrendered to the Spirit of obedience. Our earliest accounts of the new testament church describe miracles and wonders at the hands of the apostles, the defining testimony of the resurrection of Jesus and the fulfillment of the scriptures. Repentance and forgiveness preached; present healing and enduring hope offered; the enduring obedience thrust forward through Spirit-filled martyrs readied for heaven. Still, these things are not so much a history of the acts of the apostles as they are a witness of Christ through the acts of Spirit. The Spirit of God comes alive in us as he first came to life in Christ himself who surrendered all unto death. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you” Paul says, “then he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Rom 8)
We are witnesses of these things
“This Jesus, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, even now sits at the right hand of the Father as both LORD and God, having poured out the Holy Spirit on the church. We all are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:8, 2:32, 3:15, 4:20, 5:32, 10:39-41, 13:31) [paraphrased].
“But the righteousness of faith says this: the word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith that was preached to you), that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation. And there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord is LORD over all and gracious to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:6-13) [paraphrased].
We are witnesses of these things. The church is witness of something the world has never known—a real resurrection, a miracle of life over death. That which was truly dead is now alive, and we along with him. By way of faith (that is, by way of belief substantiated by demonstration) we are the visible, viable testimony that Jesus is risen, Lord of all, and able to reconcile us to God. Now here comes a snag. The resurrection of Jesus is only made real if Christ has indeed risen in our hearts; really come to life in us. If he has not, than Jesus coming up from the grave is only one more fantastic story in a world plagued by fantasy. Is Christ alive in you? Has Jesus arisen in your heart? Do you bear in yourself his peculiar witness in the world? Every sane person is looking for honest testimony, reliable evidence, unalterable facts. Your neighbor, your boss, your landlord, your in-law, all these are looking for something much deeper than peace-of-mind; they are looking for real life, true life. Do you have life? If so, that what you yourself have freely received, freely give. Your witness makes all difference in the world!