Saturday, February 28, 2009

Study Retreat

Well, I'm in Greensboro, NC this morning heading back to Ohio after spending a great week getting away to do some studying. I am both exhausted and refreshed... and I am very much looking forward to tomorrow.

Let me say a giant thank you to my wife and girls for allowing me to be away from the family for seven days. This wasn't the easiest week for them for me to be gone. They are so supportive of me, though. I've got the greatest family in the world.

Also a big thanks to Pastor Wally, Pastor Shawn, and Pastor Troy for holding down the fort while I was away. Either everything went great while I was gone or they've done a good job of keeping anyone from calling me and telling me what went wrong. Either way is good. Thanks for all of your extra work.

I am thankful for a church that allows me to take a pause in my schedule like this and spend a week focused on the ministry of prayer and the Word.

Let me share with you what I was able to get done in a week's time...

I was able to have six extended, uninterrupted, unhurried devotional times of Bible reading and prayer. That was very refreshing!

I was able to read four books... One on writing (called "On Writing"), one on time management, one on how to better study and prepare, and one on apologetics. The last one I would recommend to you. It is called "The Reason for God" by Timothy Keller. Keller is a pastor of a very large church in New York City. He spends a lot of time ministering to a crowd of people who have many intellectual and cultural objections to believing in Jesus Christ. In this book he shares how our faith can best be taught and defended in a modern culture.

I was also able to write 65 pages on a project that will form the basis for a sermon series in the Fall. As a church we will use this both as a sermon series and also in new member training. More to come...

This has been my most productive study week ever.


I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Four big events have got my motor running...

First, I will be preaching a message in the morning service on having margin in our lives and in our marriages. I have been looking forward to preaching this message for six weeks.

Second, we will be worshiping through the Lord's Supper in a very different way tomorrow. I've never done this before so I don't know for sure how it will go, but I am excited. During all of my time tomorrow when I'm not preaching (we will be having three worship services tomorrow, more on that in a moment), I will be leading in worship through the Lord's Supper in my study. I will meet with the church body, one family at a time, every seven minutes, for prayer and worship. I think the deacons have a great system worked out to make this a very special time for our church. Carla told me this week that so far we've got people signed up for every seven minutes until sometime past 9:00 p.m. It will be a long day, but I am looking forward to it. There are still slots available if your family hasn't signed up yet, but they are all after 9:00. We may do this again the following week to accommodate those we couldn't fit in this week, but I'm not sure. I'm trying to move some things around on my schedule to make it work.

Third, we will have a 'members only' preview of our new 'Sunday Extra Worship.' Beginning next week we will be re-doing our Sunday morning worship service on Sunday evenings after our regular Sunday evening service. I know that sounds complicated, you'll have to hear more as we talk about it at church tomorrow if you don't already know how it works. Our prayer is that this new service will do two things... First that it will help relieve the overcrowding in the morning service, and secondly that it will allow us to reach people we could never have reached before. We will be doing something special in the 'preview' tomorrow.

The fourth special thing tomorrow is a special announcement we will be making. I have been working with the leaders of our church for a few months on a special project that I think is going to be the key to our church reaching a new level in its outreach and its ministry. We have worked and prayed very hard to get this put together. Tomorrow we will be able to share the good news...

Well, I need to get on the road so I can see my family...

Pastor Noel

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quick Update & Surprise

I just heard from our Mission team in Kenya... all is going well...

Interesting thing happened today...

I am going to be at a conference in Washington D.C. in May, so today I called the offices of Congressman Tiberi, Congressman Space, Senator Brown, and Senator Voinovich and asked if, as a representative of our church, I could have a brief time to sit with each legislator in his office to pray with him and for him. All four said, "Yes".

I am surprised and excited!

Pastor Noel

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kenya Team Update

I received this email from our team in Kenya about 10:00 this morning...

We have arrived safe and sound. We did have some interesting experiences along the way which we will explain later.

Pass this message on to Fritz and the kids.

Pastor Fredrick, John and Sandy, Toni, Greg and Lisa say Hi! It's in the mid 90's here and very dry.

We will correspond as soon as we get situated.

In Christ,
The team

I hope you will keep the team in your prayers. I will post updates as I get them.


I am really looking forward to tomorrow. I am preaching on a subject I've preached on many times, but I believe the Lord has given me a new insight and a new understanding to share tomorrow.


As some of you may know, Dave Smith, a very active member of our church died on Friday morning. Please keep his wife Linda in your prayers. It has been a very difficult week for her and the family.

Pastor Noel

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sunday Extra Worship

We are still a month away from kicking off our new 'Sunday Extra Worship', but plans are in high gear...

Here is the most recent publicity piece we finished today...

The front and back of the card...



Here is a little of the room set-up. We are just running through some of the options so we will be prepared on 3/8. We still have some sound and video issues to solve.


Here is a mock up of a banner we are using (actually I think this is an early draft of the banner)...

Keep this in your prayers!

Pastor Noel

Monday, February 9, 2009


What a great night we had showing the movie FireProof! I don't have the final numbers yet this morning but I know we had well over 500 people come out for our little community cinema. Everyone I spoke with enjoyed the movie and many couples took advantage of the extended childcare to go out on a mini date following the movie. Donna and I went to Leghorns after the show and I recognized several of the couples there as people I had seen at the movie.

I heard so many good comments from people in our community. People were very thankful that our church did this and especially that we provided the extended childcare to allow those couples to spend some time discussing the movie after it was over.

Many people worked hard to make this happen, and I am thankful for them all... but two I want to mention... Mark Kifer was in charge of publicity, set-up, bookstore, and all of the logistics. We couldn't have done it without Mark.

Pastor Wally was in charge of the extended childcare. That was a challenge. We didn't know if we were going to have ten kids or one hundred kids. That isn't easy to plan for, especially when the childcare lasts four hours. When I picked up my kids, someone told me we had 114 kids in the family life center. I don't think that included the number of kids we had in the preschool area. Wow! Great job, Pastor Wally.

Very, very busy week upcoming. This would be a good week to put your pastor on the top of your prayer list.

Quick note about what the Lord taught me in my devotion time this morning...

I am in the middle of the book of Exodus in my reading right now. Exodus 25-28 is tedious to read. God is giving Moses very detailed instructions on how to build the tabernacle of worship, the furniture for the tabernacle, and the clothing for those serving in the tabernacle. For me it is very hard to read and stay focused. The detail seems meaningless to me and my personal life today. Here is a sampling...

"Make heavy sheets of cloth from goat hair to cover the Tabernacle. There must be eleven of these sheets, each forty-five feet long and six feet wide. All eleven of these sheets must be exactly the same size. Join five of these together into one set, and join the other six into a second set. The sixth sheet of the second set is to be doubled over at the entrance of the sacred tent. Put fifty loops along the edge of the last sheet in each set, and fasten them together with fifty bronze clasps. In this way, the two sets will become a single unit. An extra half sheet of this roof covering will be left to hang over the back of the Tabernacle, and the covering will hang down an extra eighteen inches on each side. -- Exodus 26:7-13 NLT

Why do I need to read all of this detail? And then it hit me... I need to see how carefully the Israelites prepared the tabernacle of old because it teaches me how carefully I should prepare my heart to be the tabernacle of God today. I need to be careful to remove sin from my life... I need to be carefully to be obedient to Scripture in my life...

Just as God was honored when the Israelites took special care to in the construction of the Tabernacle in their day, so He is honored when we do the same with our lives...

Or don't you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. -- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT

Pastor Noel