Well, we've come to the "official" end of another tremendous summer. Happy Labor Day to each of you. I hope that you have truly enjoyed a terrific summer with family and friends. I am always amazed by how quickly the summer season comes and goes. I also love to think about how creative our God is in that each of the seasons of our year are so vastly different. Can you imagine life without summer sun on your face and sand between your toes? How weird would it be to miss out on the beauty and serenity of a snow-covered winter? Isn't it so cool how even our weather points to the supreme beauty and creative genius of our God?
We are steamrolling straight into a busy fall at New Beginnings. But, before we completely turn the page, I'd like to take a few moments to share with you some of my summer reflections from another incredible season in the life of our church. It has been unbelievable to see God's hand working in our midst. God alone deserves the glory for all that is happening around us. The glory of God and Christ is our purpose and pleasure. It is the Lord Who is enabling us to "make disciples who make a difference for the glory of God".
This summer we lost a huge piece of our heart at New Beginnings when one of our founding elders, Danny Offenbacker, went to be with the Lord after a three-year battle with cancer. Danny was a man of unquenchable passion for God and tremendous zeal for carrying the name of Christ to his community. It hasn't been easy moving forward without Danny. God glorified Himself through Danny's affliction and his eventual homegoing. Danny and his wife Sara held a "Thank You Bash" where an estimated 275 people came to their home in June so that Danny could thank others for their love while also having one last chance to share the gospel with them. Danny passed into the arms of Christ on Sunday, June 27th. The following Saturday, July 3rd, over 550 people came to pay their respects and celebrate the life of this amazing man. Danny is missed, however by no means will he be forgotten.
June and July were really incredible months. As I look back on them all I can do is thank God for giving me the strength and grace to carry on. Here's a quick look at some of the highlights:
- Tim Radcliff, our summer church planting intern, was on the ground for all of June and most of July. He was a HUGE help and a blessing in so many ways.
- Over three consecutive weekends in June and July I had two weddings and a memorial service. For me, that was a such a challenging time (especially when you consider that our "office staff" consists of one person...yours truly...at NBBFC). Yet, God's grace was sufficient and He accomplished great things.
- For the third consecutive year I was invited to give the baccalaureate address to the graduating seniors at the local public high school (Gateway). It has been so neat to establish a new relationship with this important community context and see God open so many doors for ministry over the past few years.
- We hosted a TFE (Teams for Evangelism) group from Bethel BFC (Emmaus, PA) at the end of June. These precious young people helped to make a significant impact in our community through a three-day backyard Bible club and several other local outreaches.
- Our men's group held its first prayer breakfast in July. We hosted nearly 40 men for this great time of fellowship and encouragement in the Word.
- We held our VBS the last week of July. We saw 64 different children and had just a tremendous week of ministry.
- In early August we held our 3rd annual "Friends and Family Picnic". We had a terrific turnout of nealry 140 people. It was a super opportunity to reach out to friends and family building relationships for the glory of God.
- On Sundays this summer we explored the book of Acts. I think it was a good series. It was so incredible to see the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the early church. We considered many immense implications for life in today's church from the book.
The reality for me is that these are just a few of the highlights from one amazing summer. Not mentioned were the numerous opportunities to comfort the hurting in hospitals and nursing homes. The number of counseling and mentoring appointments has boomed for me. Leadership is one of my key responsibilities and there have been plenty of contexts for this as we seek to find additional space for our fellowship. And then there are all the "routine" things that happen each week.
It has been a full summer. Two years ago when Laurie and I came to New Beginnings, we had a core group of about 30 people. Today, by the grace of God, we have a community of about 130 people. I am so excited about the future and the present direction of New Beginnings. I thank God for allowing me to be a part of this amazing church.
What is your best memory from this summer?