newsletter october 2004

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BesideStillWaters Vol. 1  Issue 2

 

 

 

 

 

surely goodness and mercy will follow...

 

Hello Everyone,

 

We've been looking back over the past month, and we are a bit shocked at everything that has been going on since our last newsletter.  Fasten your seatbelts...

We have begun the Manna Ministry and have established Still Waters as a Church.  We are holding church services at our home, and have begun another church with new friends at their home in the borough. This new church is comprised of seeking people we have met through the Manna Ministry.  They are people who want to grow close to God, through growing close to each other.  It is very simple and raw.

Our Monday evening members are very active in recruiting new folks to join in “what we have found.”  This might come across as "bean counting," or "marketing" church growth (please believe me, we do not want to come across this way), but it is totally exciting to see broken and hurting people happy as they discover an honest faith; and a community belonging to Jesus, where they don’t need to watch their language, they are free to smoke, and do not need to be ashamed of past beliefs and problems.

This Monday night church was birthed out of folks we know and love from the Manna Ministry.  They host the church in their apartment, inviting friends to join.  The folks who took them up on this offer are so excited about finding a church, free from their perception of the haughtiness of the mainstream, that they have begun the work of real ministry.  They are inviting people into our community of faith, and are looking for the homeless in order to try and meet their material and spiritual needs – a desire to give them hope.  These people have very little themselves, but none the less are sacrificing what little they do have for those in greater need.

Next week this church will embrace ex-members of the church of Satan, a spiritist, felons, the homeless, and hurting folks.  (Yes, this chokes me up!)  People, how simple is Jesus’ message and work.  How much have we missed the point of the community of faith – the forest, for the programs of the trees – our buildings, politics, and programs within the church, which cannot fulfill the simple gospel of the kingdom of God – His country - His family - in the work of inconveniently losing ourselves in His mission of reconciling all people to Himself.

This group is not for the timid.  We have had our first meeting, and discussed everything from; “the garden,” the imperfection and selfishness of mankind (the fall); antiquity; ancient culture; the historical church, and how it has become what it has become.  These people feel like outcasts and for good reason.  They have been told by churches not to come unless they are “cleaned up.”  We also discussed in this meeting, the reasoning and vivid support of the resurrection of Christ, and the hope that we have.  All of this was just to explain the context of the Church in Acts Chapter 2, and how we are deciding to live and “BE” the Church together.  This has lead to questions about life after death, suicide, spiritism, Satan, talking to animals, the end of the age, and worship.  Wheeew!

I love this group, and for the first time in years, I feel true to my understanding of the gospel of Christ!

We had told you in the last newsletter, that we are “sharing our vision, of being church in a new way, with many people,” and how our vision sparks quite a bit of curiosity about our approach.  This is some of the fruit of these conversations.  There are more people that we have met through the Manna Ministry that are anxious to begin being involved in hosting church through the week.

Remembering this stuff brings me to the point tears.  It is hard to not be emotional as I type because I am reminded of the evidence of people who just want to know God, but feel freezed-out by how, and what we project from our modern church.  People, how many would flood the church if they thought that we would love them in spite of cultural differences; how many would come if we would get past our theology of personal religion? How many would want to know God if we would stop marketing church?  How many would embrace us if we were vulnerable? How many would love God if we went to them instead of inviting them to us?

I believe that, at this point, I might need to explain how we view church – just what we are trying to accomplish.

I personally have a desire to recapture what Christianity was in the first century AD; God’s original intent; what I believe church was meant to be.  I believe that, in many ways, we have become efficient – and in some ways, more lawful in our modern way of being church.  As I read over the life of Christ, as he walked the earth; and as I read over, and discover historically, the context of the Biblical narrative, I am more convinced that the early church was much more than what we experience today in western culture.

In all too many ways, we have become independent, to the exclusion of how we are truly wired to know God, and our ability to approach him as a community – belonging to each other.  Blasť Pascal once wrote, “One Christian is no Christian at all.”  We are wired to ‘NEED’ each other.  I cannot know God apart from his people, and those who he identifies himself with; the Jews, his church, the poor, his creation, the arts, etc., in no particular order.  We, as modern, western folks, have analyzed the scripture, but in many ways have forsaken the story.

For instance we can glean a lot of information from the story of Jacob and Esau, unfolding “principles” to live by, but completely loose the human story, and the poetry that we in any context, should be able to identify with.  As Jacob (the scheming man that he was) approached his brother through a series of manipulative, placating actions, out of fear that he was about to get what he deserved, why did he say to his brother Esau, “I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God?”  Somehow the undeserved goodness that Esau extended to Jacob was a symbol, or manifestation of God’s goodness as Jacob received mercy from someone he wronged – his brother.  (Please read this amazing story.  You’ll see yourself in it if you are honest. Genesis Chapters 27 through 33)

Many of you who are close to me, are no doubt sick of hearing me say that God is accessible through His people, and somehow, we being image bearers of Him, God; His Church; His Body; His family, shows the world (and each one of us) a true picture of Him, in and through His redemptive work.  Doing something for the “least” is doing it to Jesus.  So, as we follow Jesus, forsaking our personal rightness and selfish relationship with Him, we look to deny ourselves – our comfort and convenience – our rightness – our haughty Christianity for the narrow road of. . .

“. . .all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.  So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”  (Acts Chapter 2, verses 44 through 47)

Isn’t this who we are to be??  Isn’t this the Church?  This is our work. This is our story.  I am such a selfish, incapable person, but striving to live as Jesus; to forsake my selfishness and press into His way; to know Him and follow Him is the only life worth living.

Please feel free to join in this work. We hope to bless you and God as we continue on.

The Manna Ministry: We have lost a good friend

 

As you all know, there are some very special people that have become our friends on the streets in Pottstown. 

Jerry was a man that had been coming out on Wednesday evenings to eat with us.  He was a tired guy who had been through a lot.

 

He had been told by different churches, that he was not good enough for God.  Jerry kind of gave up on church and himself.  He told me he was trying to do the best he can and he just existed, since getting out of jail a couple of weeks ago.  We had numerous conversations.

 

Jerry died on Friday, October 8th and I’m missing him.  He was a good friend whom I love.

 

But his death (because of his new life and change of heart) has had the most profound impact on me, this neighborhood, and beyond.  I cannot tell you how many people I have heard from, that either knew Jerry and are now changed (or changing) because of him, and those who have only heard his story, and how God is awakening them to a different perspective.

Click here to read about his journey

 

We have wonderfully qualified IT Professionals affiliated with Still Waters and the Manna Ministry.

Click here to read about the Computer Certificate Program

 

Some things are just worth remembering...

Here are some of the things that affect me as I walk with Jesus.

 

"The criteria for missionary service and spirituality are not in the magnificent and romantic accomplishments, but in the ordinary daily existence. So Paul opposes the impressive arsenal of his opponents with down-to-earth weapons: patience, truth, love, weakness, service, modesty, and respect. Under no circumstances should people be bulldozed with the gospel, for it ceases to be the gospel when foisted upon people. It is possible to be unagressive and missionary at the same time. It is indeed, the only way of being truly missionary." - David Bosch, "A Spirituality for the Road" Page 33

 

Click here to read "Thoughts on the Journey"

 

 

If you have an interest in providing selfless ministry within your giftedness, here in the Greater Pottstown Area, please let us know.

Click here to read "Do You Have The Time?"

 

Please Pray For. . .

The start of the Home Churches. The people we are meeting are interest in doing church afresh. We are just discovering who we will be in God's work, and we could use your thoughts, advice, encouragement...and yes, your critique.

Those who were close to Jerry, and the affects of his friendship in drawing people to Christ.

We want to do something for Thanksgiving and Christmas with regard to the Manna Ministry and Still Waters churches.  Ideas and/or help would be very welcome and appreciated.  We are compiling a needs list, and possibly buy Christmas presents for some folks in need.

I will be leaving my corporate job and the safety of that income for a far less stable future. We are nervous about this, but we are sure that God will provide. I would like to leave Exelon Energy well. Please pray for my ability to do that.

We are looking for a place to hold 2 different vertical worship services in 2004; one in the fall, and a Christmas Eve service. We are looking for a place to hold both, and possibly where we might meet ongoing. There is not a lot of budget for this.

Pray that we would be humble enough for God to use - that Jesus, and His message will be evident in all that we do.

A friend from the street (Rob) has had some problems with vertigo (dizziness).  Because of this, he has been released from his job – for safety reasons – until the doctor gives him a letter stating that he is okay to go back to work.  Unfortunately, his appointment is not until October 22, and provided he is able to return after the appointment, he and his family of 4 will be behind approximately a month in rent and household bills until his next pay.  Rob grew up poor.  In fact, he was one of the children who were with us week after week, when we were feeding at Washington & Chestnut over ten years ago.  He is afraid of not being able to take care of his family.  We would like to help.

Please consider giving to his need as they go through a difficult time.   Mark your contribution with “For Rob and his Family.”

 Click here to help Rob

Thank you so much!

You can contribute financially to help Still Waters Online. We are pleased to be of service to the people of Pottstown, and should you desire to help with this work financially please click below.

Click here for online donations

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Still Waters is a Grace Brethren Church located in Pottstown PA. We are a different and re-imagined way of being Church. Church is not a building, but God's loving people serving his creation.

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