Thoughts From Toby

Diving into the Word “The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home.” - Augustine of Hippo

“Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.” -
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

I love both of these quotes, as they both say something of the importance of diving into God’s Word. The Word of God reflects the heart of God, and there’s something to be said for poring over every word as we would a letter from a loved one. There’s also a sense in which this is a continual process, a lifelong endeavor… not because it takes that long to read, but because we discover more depth and breadth as we approach the Bible in different stages of life. I’m learning that there is still more to discover, no matter where we are in life, particularly as we come to know more of the God who loves us so dearly.

If you’re free on Tuesday afternoons from 1:30 to 2:30 pm (I know not everyone is!), I’d like to invite you to study the Bible with me and other brothers and sisters. We’ll begin with our first study this coming Tuesday, October 22nd in Room 109 at the Church Building. Of course, there are other opportunities to study the Bible with fellow Christians, and we’d love to have you be a part of those too… whether that’s a Sunday morning Bible Class, a LIFE Group, or just other opportunities, communal or individual.
May God’s Word guide and shape us as we learn to follow the Savior who is revealed by it.

Thoughts From Toby

Serenity Prayer

Perhaps you’ve heard of the “Serenity Prayer.” It is a brief prayer asking God to give us serenity, courage, and wisdom. It is often associated with AA, as it has been adopted and used in recovery programs. The original author of the prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr, actually wrote more than what is often quoted, and the whole prayer is a beautiful, powerful address to God. Here it is in its entirety:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so
that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.

Thoughts From Toby

Listening Well

“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.” --David Augsburger

Part of the call for the church today is to help bear one another’s burdens (see Galatians 6:2), and I believe that part of bearing one another’s burdens is learning the art of listening well. James reminds us that we are to be “quick to listen” (James 1:19). But this takes work. Have you ever been in conversation with another person, and while they are speaking, you are formulating your response in your head? This can cause a breakdown in communication because it can cause us to miss what they are actually saying. In all actuality, we do this all the time because we think faster than people speak. In a brief article I read this past week on marriage, the author asserted that healthy couples adopt the motto: “When you’re hurt, the world stops and I listen.” What if we, as Christians, adopted this motto with each other? How might that impact our relationships with one another? What if we truly sought to understand each other by actually listening to what the other is saying? May we come to learn that listening well is one of the best ways we can show our love for each other.

Thoughts From Toby

Growing Up Together

Who did you grow up with? Maybe you’re thinking of a sibling, or a cousin, or a best friend from childhood. I’m sure that whoever you’re thinking of has some pretty funny (perhaps even embarrassing) stories to tell about you, and probably vice versa. Growing up and maturing alongside another person - or group of people - is a vital part of life. Growth and maturity do not happen overnight, but failure to do so can be detrimental (Have you ever met a childish adult… it ain't pretty!).

Consider the words of the Apostle Paul, who encouraged the Christians in Ephesus by telling them: “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). Part of what we are called to do, as the church, is to “grow up together,” to mature alongside each other. Growth and maturity are not optional for Christians, and are, in fact, a lifelong pursuit. We continually grow in our Christlikeness, and we do so in community. There will be bumps along the way. There will be embarrassing stories that we wish we could change. But we grow up together, challenging one another to grow in faith, hope, and love. May we seek to encourage one another as we grow up together in Christ.

Thoughts From Toby

Just As I Am

“True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world.”
- Brene Brown

I remember sitting in a ministry class some years ago, and a question was posed about how change occurs in people. My professor said something that has always stuck with me, which has informed my own philosophy of ministry, and how I relate to others. He simply said, “Let people be people.” The encouragement here was that it is not our role to change other people; that is God’s role. It reminds me of the quote from Billy Graham, who famously said, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” There is deep wisdom found in this simple, yet profound, idea. God is the one who brings about change in the lives of others. We are called to love people, as imperfect as they are.

There is also something to be said about coming to terms with our own selves, and allowing God to work in us to bring about change in our own lives. We live in a world where it is easier than ever to put on a facade of perfection to those around us. There is no shortage of highly staged, filtered, brushed up Instagram photos out there. The truth is that sometimes we try to pull one over on God (and others), seeking to hide our imperfections. Yet it’s when we present our authentic selves, with all our imperfections, to God that true transformation can begin to take place. In the words of the old hymn, “Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me…” That’s where true belonging is to be found.

Thoughts From Toby

The Impact of the Church

“The failure of Christianity is a modern myth, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of telling the proper story of church history, which of course has plenty of muddle and wickedness, but also far more than we normally imagine of love and creativity and beauty and justice and healing and education and hope. To imagine a world without the gospel of Jesus is to imagine a pretty bleak place.”
—NT Wright

What good is the church? It is, after all, filled with hypocrites and legalists and sinners. Perhaps you have heard such reasoning in our world today. Perhaps you yourself have made such claims. And there is a bit of truth to that, isn’t there? We should never stop challenging each other to grow in our Christlikeness, seeking to more adequately reflect the love of God to those around us. And yet, as scholar NT Wright reminds us in the quote above, the church is also responsible for ushering in many of the positive values we strive for in our human societies today. The gospel is truly revolutionary, and has made, and continues to make, an immeasurable impact on the world. As we walk together in this journey of faith, may we
continue to discover who God is calling us to be in our community. May we seek to be a church that upholds the gospel, the good news of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. And may we seek to participate in what God is up to in the world and in our community by practicing mercy, forgiveness, and love. Such a pursuit leaves us in a position to make a lasting impact in the world.

Thoughts From Toby

Living Incarnationally

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, The Message).

Throughout history, one of the foundational beliefs upheld by the Church is that God became flesh in the person of Jesus. This is often referred to as the doctrine of the incarnation. God came near, living within our bounds of time and space as a human being. In John 1:14, the apostle John states that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (NIV). The word that gets translated as “made his dwelling” is drawing on the Old Testament concept of the Tabernacle, which represented God’s presence with the people of God, as a vital part of the community. I love Eugene Peterson’s translation in The Message, which states that he “moved into the neighborhood.” Incarnation. God with us.

The Church, referred to in Scripture as the “body of Christ,” comprises all those who have come to a saving faith in Jesus, both now and throughout the centuries. In a very real way, the Church is called to live incarnationally in this world until the return of Christ. As God dwells in and among us by his Spirit, we are called to “move into the neighborhood” and be the body of Christ in our surroundings. In a world where it’s easier than ever to “escape” to greener grasses, it is more vital than ever for us to ponder what it means to be the body of Christ here, in this place. How can we, the Hanford Church of Christ, live incarnationally here in our neighborhood?

As we contemplate that question together, I would like to extend an invitation to you to join in. Our Sunday morning adult Bible Class for this quarter is studying the “one another” passages in the New Testament, which directly relate to this idea of living as the body of Christ. Starting next Sunday, we will begin an extended sermon series called “Identity,” in which we will be exploring who we are and where we are headed. We are also launching our LIFE Groups this week, which, besides being a very practical way to live incarnationally together, will be taking a deeper dive into the topic of “Identity,” both God’s and ours. Certainly these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a discussion of living incarnationally, but I hope you will join us as we seek to be the Church here in Hanford.

Thoughts From Toby

The Church is a Salad

In a culture that is so divided about any number of ideologies, I believe that one of the highest calls for the Church - both universal and local - is to exude unity. Unity, however, does not mean uniformity. Rather, unity in the church is best exemplified when we all come together with our differences to love and serve God and one another.

In his book, A Fellowship of Differents, New Testament scholar Scot McKnight compares the church to a salad. McKnight states that there are three ways to eat a salad… One is to combine all the ingredients in a bowl and smother them with dressing. This way makes everything taste like Ranch (or whatever your preferred dressing is). Another way is to separate all the ingredients on a plate and eat them individually (I guess some people eat salad this way?). The third way, what McKnight refers to as the “right way,” is to chop and slice all your ingredients, mix them together, and then drizzle a little bit of olive oil over it, which somehow brings the taste of each item to its fullest. This way brings out the flavor of all the ingredients, which all make up one delicious salad. “Surely,” says McKnight, “this is what God intended when he created ‘mixed salad.’’’

I believe the church is at her best when we all contribute to the conversation. When we all recognize that we have something to bring to the table. This is when the difficult task of unity comes to the forefront, and we are able to be the sort of example we are called to be to the world. “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ… Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27).

***L.I.F.E. Groups (Tues. & Wed.) will resume on September 10th & 11th.

Thoughts From Toby

September is almost here, which means that we are gearing up to launch our LIFE Groups for this next year. This is a great opportunity to spend some time together during the week in a small group, growing in our love for God and for one another. I remember, years ago, learning the meaning of the “LIFE” acronym, which I think sums up what we are trying to accomplish with these groups. L-I-F-E stands for Love-Involvement-Fellowship-Evangelism, and those are the key attributes that we seek to incorporate in and glean from these groups. LIFE Groups are another opportunity for us to “do life” together, as a family.

I hope that you will consider joining one of the groups, not only for what you can get out of it, but also for what you can bring to the table. The truth is, we need each other. We can sometimes forget that, but it’s true. Being a member of the family of God entails not only being able to lean on others in our times of need, but being there for others to lean on in their times of need. LIFE Groups are the perfect place for that relationship of mutuality to grow.

I would encourage you to take a look at the sign-up sheets in the lobby, pick one of the groups, sign up to attend, and prioritize that time during the week. There are a few groups meeting in homes around town, along with one meeting at the church building, on Wednesday evenings which will spend time each week sharing burdens and triumphs, praying together, and taking a deeper dive into the topic presented in the sermon from the previous Sunday morning. There is also a group that will be meeting on Tuesday evenings which will be reading and discussing a book that is aimed at spiritual formation. In addition to these, there is a Young Adult group that meets each Wednesday evening, discussing topics that are chosen by the group. I know that any of these groups would be a blessing to you, and I know that any of them would be blessed by your presence. Join us as we grow together in groups!

September 4th. - L.I.F.E. Group Kickoff & Potluck at the Church Building at 6:00 pm.
September 10th. - Tuesday L.I.F.E. Group begins.
September 11th. - Wednesday L.I.F.E. Groups begin.

Thoughts From Toby

What’s Your Ethos?

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him” (Luke 22:39). New school years bring times of transition for many, as they seek to get into a new routine. While the concept of “routine” can get some bad press nowadays (e.g., “Don’t be predictable!”), it can actually be quite empowering. I read a parenting article recently that said that creating routines and rituals is one of the most respectful things we can do for babies, because routines and rituals help bring dependability and predictability. And while, in some respects, we grow out of our need for such predictability, there is a sense in which routines help us bring some semblance of normalcy to our chaotic and hectic lives.

I’m challenged by the verse above, where Luke tells us that Jesus went out, as usual, to the Mount of Olives. Other versions say, “as was his custom.” The Greek word that is being translated is ethos, a word that we use in English to describe the character or characteristic spirit of a person or culture. I’m particularly challenged by the fact that this occurrence in the life of Jesus takes place in between the Last Supper and his arrest. In the midst of the chaos that he was facing, Jesus did something predictable. This was his ethos, his custom, his routine. Not to mention that what he does at the Mount of Olives is pray… also his ethos.

So… what’s your ethos? What do you do “as usual” in the midst of the hectic-ness of life? I love that we, as a church family, gather weekly, as usual, and study God’s Word together. I love that we take the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, as is our custom. I love that we pray together routinely. These things become our ethos. They are tangible reminders of the Father’s great love for us, of Jesus’ sacrifice and defeat of death, and of the Spirit’s continued presence among us. May our routines and rituals remind us of these things, and bring a sense of peace in our oft-chaotic world.

Thoughts From Toby

I had an interesting encounter at the gas station a couple weeks ago. I got out of my pickup and, as I was walking up, noticed a couple of guys sitting at a table somewhat near the entrance, their bikes with some (maybe all?) of their belongings parked nearby. I made eye contact with one of them, smiled, and said, “Good morning.” The man’s eyes lit up, and he started saying something fairly softly. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, so I replied with, “What’s that?” What he said next struck me. He said, “I’ve been here all morning and you’re the first person who has acknowledged me, and I just wanted to say that I appreciate it.” I don’t remember my exact reply to that, but I think I said something like, “Oh, of course, man!” As I left the store, I made it a point to look at both men and say, “Have a good day,” which was met with a smile and a nod.

A couple of thoughts stirred in my mind and heart as I reflected on this brief encounter. For one, I am certain that I have been guilty of walking by people, maybe even these very guys, without acknowledging them. It’s just so easy to focus on our own stuff, even the simple act of getting gas, without noticing the people around us. And yet I’m challenged by the way that Jesus, whose mission was of utmost importance, took time to notice and acknowledge people. People are Jesus’ priority, and I am constantly being challenged to be more like him. Another thing that struck me was the guy’s humble expression of gratitude. I don’t think I “made his day” or anything like that, but his words spoke deeply to my soul. We all have an innate desire to be noticed, to be seen by others. As I contemplate the way that God sees, notices, loves, and desires to be in relationship with each and every one of his beloved children, I am struck by the fact that every human being is worthy of being seen, noticed, and loved. This brief, sincere encounter with a guy at a gas station has caused me to consider the power that is in the simple act of acknowledging people. I don’t know about you, but I’m challenged by that.

Thoughts From Toby

The Keeper of Peace

We are in full YBC-prep mode, leading up to our camp which begins next weekend. As such, I have been giving a lot of thought to the lesson that I will be presenting for one of the evening chapel times. I’m really looking forward to hearing from all of the speakers, but I’m especially excited about my lesson topic, which has to do with seeking the peace of God in a world full of chaos. This topic is deeply meaningful to me, and I hope to convey the importance of such a pursuit during my talk. Since the weeks leading up to camp can get a bit chaotic with prep work, it’s been a good reminder to me that God is a God of peace.

As I’ve been preparing for my lesson, I’ve had a song stirring around in my mind, and wanted to share a few lines from it. The song is called “PEACE” by the worship group Hillsong Young & Free. Musical artists can have a way of poetically putting into words powerful thoughts. This is one of those instances for me. May you be blessed by these words, whatever chaos you are facing.

“I’ve found peace far beyond all understanding

Let it flow when my mind’s under siege

All anxiety bows in the presence

Of Jesus the keeper of peace

And peace is a promise he keeps”

Thoughts From Toby

Upholding Love

Over the last several weeks, our Wednesday evening gathering has been a time of reflection on the book of Proverbs. If you haven’t attended, what we do is read three chapters of Proverbs together, and then spend some time discussing what stood out to us, or how God spoke to us through those particular chapters. We just passed the halfway point, so there is still time to join in!

In this past week’s reading, one verse that really stuck out to me was Proverbs 15:17, which says, “Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.” Now, it’s kind of a funny saying just because of the contrast between eating peas and carrots and eating prime rib, but there’s also a profound truth in it. Better to have something small, seemingly insignificant, invaluable, but to have it with love, than to have something of great value, but to have it with hatred. And I think you can read that verse in a couple of different ways. One on hand, it’s better to have something, and to have it with love in your heart, than to have something much more valuable, but to have it with hatred in your heart. But I think you can also read it as saying that it’s better to receive something in love than in hatred, and it’s also better to give something in love than in hatred, no matter what the item being given or received is. Here’s my takeaway from all of that: Love is better! I don’t know about you, but I’m challenged by that. It’s so easy to let love slip to the backburner and to be motivated by any number of things that are not love. But love is better. And if we can grasp that concept, then no matter the situation, we can respond by upholding the great love of God.

Thoughts From Toby

An Unexpected Display of Gratitude

I watched an Inside Edition segment recently which told the story of a woman in her 30’s who was abandoned in a Burger King bathroom back in 1986. The whole segment was on abandoned babies, which was so terribly heart-wrenching to watch, but they paid special attention to this young lady because she experienced some sort of resolution. Not too long ago, she put a photo and message up on social media with the hopes that her biological mother would see it. She explained the circumstances and location of her abandonment, and her message was shared across social media. Surprisingly, her biological mother saw the post and came forward. The two were reunited, where the mother explained the circumstances that led her to do such a thing, stating that she knew someone would find her in that bathroom and get her some help. The most amazing part of the whole encounter, to me, was that the daughter turned to her mom and said, “Thank you for not throwing me away.” I could not believe it… there were so many other things I was expecting to hear from the mouth of the daughter, but for her to thank her mother for not throwing her away, that hit me. And I thought, what sort of perspective on life must you have to respond with such gratitude? And why am I often so ungrateful? May we all come to recognize just how much we have to be thankful for. Perhaps we can start with just being thankful for life itself.

Thoughts From Toby

Incremental Growth

Can you believe that 2019 is already half over? It’s amazing how quickly time goes by. Since we’re halfway through the year, let me remind you of something that is probably ancient history by now… Did you make a New Year Resolution six months ago? If so, how are you doing with it? If you are still following through with your resolution, you’re one of the rare few! The truth is that many of us have grand ambitions around the turn of the calendar year, but we rarely take the steps to follow through. Part of this is how lofty our resolutions can be. We often bite off more than we can chew, so to speak, and then give up on our resolutions when we realize how hard it is actually going to be. That’s a pretty typical human experience. But here’s the thing… Change and growth and transformation are generally much more incremental than we think. Which is both a good thing and a bad thing. On the negative side, when we don’t see immediate results, the ‘stick-to-itiveness’ necessary for real change to occur usually goes by the wayside. But on the positive side, making small changes today can add up to big transformation over time. So… whether you’ve grown leaps and bounds in the past six months, or whether your goals and ambitions quickly fizzled back in January, I would challenge each of us to look for those small changes that we can put into practice today that will incrementally lead to growth over time. As Paul tells Timothy, “Train yourself to be godly” (1 Tim 4:7).

Thoughts From Toby

The last several Thursdays, my family and I have been spending time at the Thursday Night Market downtown. We love sampling the fresh produce, purchasing some to take home, and sitting in the grass at the Civic Center Park and enjoying a popsicle together. It’s pretty cool to see how well supported the event is by the community. One of things that I’ve noticed, the past couple of weeks, is that when the band takes a break, there’s an emcee who gets up and makes a few announcements over the loudspeakers. He usually talks about some of the vendors that are present that week, but then he goes on to spend a good amount of time talking about his love of downtown Hanford. You can tell that this guy really loves this city, and I, for one, feel that his joy is contagious. In those moments, I have reflected on Jesus’ call for his disciples to be salt and light to the world around us (Matthew 5:13-16), and how this is truly a call to show love to our community. I have thought about how the statement that “God so loved the world…” (John 3:16) also means that “God so loved Hanford,” and how this is an invitation to join God in loving this community in which we live. And, ultimately, I have considered the impact that such a love for our city could have. Author Greg Boyle states, “There is no force in the world better able to alter anything from its course than love,” and I think this is precisely where the church has the potential to exert such a force. To be so full of the love of God that it spills out in our interactions with others. To love the people around us with the same relentless, selfless, sacrificial love that God has for each of us. To be so moved by God’s love for us that we can’t help but love our neighbors. Just think of the outbreak that might occur if that sort of love caught on, because it has, after all, been known to be quite contagious.

Thoughts From Toby

What is a Dad?

Author Unknown

A dad is a person who is loving and kind

And often he knows what you have on your mind

He’s someone who listens, suggests, and defends

A dad can be one of your very best friends

He’s proud of your triumphs, but when things go wrong

A dad can be patient and helpful and strong

In all that you do, a dad’s love plays a part

There’s always a place for him deep in your heart

And each year that passes, you’re even more glad

More grateful and proud, just to call him your dad

Thank you, dad, for listening and caring

For giving and sharing

But especially, for just being you


Thoughts From Toby

An Attitude of Gratitude

"Do everything without grumbling or arguing." -Philippians 2: 14

I don't know about you, but I have disobeyed that verse a time or two in my life. Okay, I've probably disobeyed it a time or two just today. It's just so easy to grumble and argue about what we're doing, whether to one another, or just in our own mind. In fact, we read those words as having implication for the things we say to one another, and they certainly do, but both words carry the connotation of murmuring to one's own self. If we don't allow the grumbling and arguing to occur in our own minds, we stand a better chance of not grumbling and arguing with one another.

What is the solution to grumbling and arguing? What is the remedy to a mind filled with complaining? Gratitude! When we approach life, not with a sense of entitlement, but with a sense of being grateful for all the blessings we have, grumbling and arguing fall away from our minds and tongues. What caused the Israelites to grumble and complain in the wilderness? They had lost the sense of gratitude for the many provisions God had given them, so they grumbled. May we not be so short sighted!

Take some time this week and reflect on what you do have in this life. How does that change the way you think about what you don't have? Seek to let an attitude of gratitude influence your reaction to life's circumstances, and let that attitude help you as you seek to "do everything without grumbling or arguing."

Wednesday Evening Study: Proverbs 2-4

Thoughts From Toby

I saw one of those “You Might Be A 90’s Kid If You Remember These TV Shows” videos recently, and it definitely left me a bit nostalgic. One show in particular that left me reminiscing was “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” Each episode began with a group of kids gathered around a campfire and then launched into a “scary” story. I distinctly remember feeling a strange mix of fear and excitement as those stories unfolded.

Fear is something that we all deal with, to some degree or other. Often, our fears revolve around what might happen in the future. The “fear of the unknown” can be debilitating. And yet, in the Bible, God is constantly calling his people to “fear not.” I’ve heard it said that “do not be afraid” is found 365 times in the Bible - one for each day - which isn’t true (don’t believe everything you read on the internet!), but it is found frequently. The truth is that God reminds us that he is always with us, and that truth has the potential to squelch fear indefinitely.

So what does this mean for you? How does it impact us, as a church? Whatever fear you are facing, you can lean into the promise that God will be with you through it. Whatever “unknown” we face together, as a church, we can be sure that God is with us, every step of the way, and step out in faith.

But now, this is what the Lord says… “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

Isaiah 43:1-3,5

Thoughts From Toby

With June upon us, I wanted to use this space to discuss a few upcoming events and provide some information about new classes and teaching series’.

Tomorrow, May 27th, is the annual YBC Memorial Day Barbeque up at YBC. If you’re looking for something to do, head on up to YBC and enjoy some fellowship and a good meal. The program starts at 10:00 AM, with lunch to follow.

Everyone is invited to attend a church trip to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo on Saturday, June 22nd. The zoo opens at 8:30 AM, so we’ll plan to arrive then and stay until sometime after lunch (before it gets too hot!). Prices are as follows: $12.95 for adults; $7.95 for children 2-11; $7.95 for seniors 62+. We’ll purchase tickets there. Parking, food, and souvenirs will be extra. We’ll meet at the church building at 7:30 AM to carpool/caravan, or just meet there. Sign up on the bulletin board in the lobby so we know you’re planning to attend!

This Wednesday, May 29th at 7:00 PM, will be our 5th Wednesday Singing. Join us as we praise God together in an extended period of singing. Also, starting Wednesday, June 5th, with our LIFE Groups on break for the Summer, we will be meeting together each Wednesday at 7:00 PM in the Auditorium through August. This Midweek Gathering will be a time of sharing together from the Book of Proverbs.

Starting next Sunday morning, our Adult Bible Class in the Auditorium will be studying the Book of Jeremiah. This study will be June through August. We will be reflecting on the life of Jeremiah and what we can learn from his example. We will also be beginning a new Sermon Series during morning worship next Sunday entitled “A Living Faith,” which will explore the Book of James. In addition to these, we will also be beginning a Sunday Evening Study on “Engaging the Culture,” in which we will explore the state of faith in our current cultural context and how we can go about proclaiming the gospel effectively today.