Posts Tagged 'ministry'

Beyond Coffee as “fellowship”

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Thoughts on 1 Peter 1:8-16

8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

13Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

I read an article today that *really* caught my attention about starting a coffee shop. Let me share the major points from that article with you, but with an eye to sharing the Gospel, not just a great cup of coffee. “Today, I wanted to… [share] three tips for anyone mulling over the idea of starting a coffee shop, preparing to open one, and maybe even those who already run one.

1. Carefully Navigate the Trends

“…chances are your eye will catch what’s new, cool, hip and trendy. Be wary.”

2. Be the Coffee Person

“There is, however, an opportunity for true quality coffee shops out there that deliver on the promise of what’s preached.”

3. Build a Culture of Taking Care of People

“But at the core it’s about everyone being there to take care of people. We need to start from a point of honoring the space that coffee occupies in people’s lives.”

  • Verses 8-9: “we are receiving the goal of our faith” – We dare not get caught up in the the latest Christian trends for the sake of the trends themselves. Let us remind one another that it is salvation that matters.

  • Verses 10-12: “searched intently and with the greatest care” – Just as the article pointed out the need to keep the main thing the main thing, how much more do we, who are living in the Kingdom?

  • Verses 13-16: “set your hope fully on the grace to be given you” – We care for others as we live holy lives, worshiping Jesus through our every day choices and interactions.

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And now, the news…

I find myself in the odd position of needing to write my final “goodbye” newsletter article for one church, and my initial “hello” article for another. I have been thinking a lot about finishing well at Snohomish, and starting well at Warden. In doing so, I’ve been spending a lot of time in 2 Timothy. Paul’s words to his disciple are filled with instructions and warnings; remembrances of past wisdom, and hopeful words for the future.

I want to have words like that for Snohomish Presbyterian and for Warden Community. So, I take as my pattern the words from 2 Timothy. I’ve been sharing with the Snohomish youth group insights from the first two chapters of this book, and my closing sermon will be from 2 Timothy 4. In this article, I’d like to draw your attention to chapter 3. I believe there are some concepts that both churches need to hear, and I’d like to share them.

Paul writes that some people “will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them!”

Whenever we find others (or indeed, ourselves) focusing more on outward forms of entertainment and pleasure instead of the inward work of the Holy Spirit, we need to be very careful. This shows us the first concept to remember:

Watch Out for those who love pleasure over God.

Paul warns that those people (pleasure-lovers) won’t make much progress in God’s Kingdom… and I don’t know about you, but life is too short to waste it on things that won’t matter in the long run.

Paul then tells us about the difficulties he has had in following Christ: “Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and suffering the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured!” This brings to light the second concept we must remember:

Suffering is a part of the Godly life.

If anyone tells you that following God entitles you to a life free from pain, they are lying. A wise theologian once said, “Life is pain; anyone who says different is selling something.” (Actually, that’s from The Princess Bride by William Goldman, but it’s a wise statement, nonetheless.)

In spite of how difficult life can be as we live out God’s Kingdom, Paul encourages Timothy (and us) to keep going: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed….” This shows us Paul’s heart for Timothy, and my heart for you all:

Continue in the Truth of God’s Word

I’d like to draw your attention to the New Living Translation of 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

Let God speak to you through the Word of the Lord. Don’t just read the Word – let the Word read YOU, and continue to change you into what God desires for your life. It’s a long term process, and God who began that work will be faithful to complete it. To my church family in Snohomish, I say that I am blessed to have been a part of that process in your lives. To my church family in Warden, I say that I am honored that I will partner with you in seeing this process happen.

Until that day when we all stand in the presence of Christ…

Keep Following Jesus.

Pastor Ed Backell

A New Chapter Begins…

Dear Church Family,

It is with mixed emotions that I submit my resignation as your Director of Youth and Children’s Ministries. God has led me to an opportunity to serve as the Senior Pastor of Warden Community Church in Warden, Washington. My last Sunday with you all will be the last Sunday in April, and my last day in the church office will be April 30. I will be ordained on the 15th of May at the Warden church, and begin my ministry there on May 16th.

Words are hard to come by to fully describe the joy, pleasure and blessing that serving with this wonderful church family has been for me and my family. It has been an incredible joy to help lead the Youth and Children’s Ministries here at First Presbyterian Church of Snohomish. I will truly miss the children, the teens and their families as I leave behind the challenges and joys of being a youth pastor and move into new challenges as a senior pastor.

First Presbyterian Church has been an incredible blessing to me and my family. God has used this church in our lives, and I feel especially encouraged after hearing so many of your comments to me personally whenever I preach.

I can’t begin to thank Pastors Ann and Charlie enough for their collegial spirit, leadership, love and guidance over the last four years. First Presbyterian Church is truly blessed to have them as Pastors – I pray that you will never take them for granted and will continue to lift up them both in prayer daily. In addition to our pastors, Snohomish is blessed with a wonderful group of servants who serve in so many capacities. It has been my pleasure to serve with them, to be challenged by them and to rejoice with them.

I simply cannot say “thank you” enough to you all for your love, prayers, support, encouragement and willingness to follow where God led us over the last four years. I have no doubt that God will continue to do incredible things in the lives of our children and youth. I look forward to hearing of how these students will continue to live as grace-filled people as a part of the Body of Christ.

We will continue to pray for our Snohomish church family and ask that you continue to pray for us as we all seek to honor the Lord with our lives.

In His Service,
Ed Backell

(This was the resignation letter I have just submitted to the church in Snohomish. Special thanks to Jeff Wells, whose resignation letter served as a template when I could not find the words.)

Pastor Ed Backell

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