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No, nothing about the election, though I am glad it’s over today.  “And there was much rejoicing…”

I want to talk about the church universal.I guess that sounds spacey to my non believer readers.  But it’s true.  The church, Christ’s followers here on earth, is everywhere.  That person sitting next to you on the plane.  That person in line ahead of you at Safeway.  It’s the person you just gave the bird to on the highway.  Yep.

I mean this in the simplest definition possible:  A believer is someone who let Jesus be their boss in every area of their life.  They acknowledged they have no idea how to do this thing called life and have surrendered, warts and all.  They’ve repented as much as they know how at this point in the story. They’ve decided to live not for themselves but for Jesus. And it’s an ongoing surrender.

The church is beautiful.  It’s made up of people of every race and language.  It spreads over the whole globe.  It is, according to Revelation, Jesus’ precious Bride.  He will come back for us and we will be with Him forever.  I don’t know if it will be pre-Tribulation, mid-Tribulation or post-Tribulation.  That’s for theologians to decide.  Well, okay, and God.  But He’s returning for us.

In the meantime, our mission is  to preach the gospel so any who desire to can come and fellowship with God.  It looks different for each of us.  We don’t all look the same or talk the same or walk the same. Our lives are our greatest testimony. In addition, we are to love people.  This can look different too, as we learn to speak the truth in love and encourage others to be all they are meant to be.

But now, I want to talk about my local church.  I am privileged to be a  member of a great church.  Our pastors are exemplary people with a heart for this town. Our church is a family, and I use that word in the best sense of the word.  Sure, we argue sometimes.  We don’t agree on everything.  But we stick together.  We love each other. When guests show up on a Sunday or a Wednesday, we introduce them.  On Sundays they get a treat to eat, too.  When someone has a baby or an operation (or both), we schedule meals to deliver to them, made by our folks,  for as long as they need them.  I’ve even heard of gals cleaning other gals’ houses or watching their kids for them so they could recover and rest.  Now that is love!

We have a childcare that takes care of the little ones and teaches them about Jesus. They recently held a clothing drive for their families.  Our leaders visit those in the hospital and  the jails. We have a modest food pantry for anyone who doesn’t have enough food. The staff in the church office know where to send people in the community who need clothing, a place to stay, or money for utilities. We host a weekly Recovery group for those suffering with addictions. We have a prayer group that meets regularly to lift up the needs of our church, state, nation and folks around the world. On a more personal note, when we moved into our house, people we barely knew helped us move – in the rain! I got introduced to our local MOPS group and met some wonderful women who are still my friends today. What a blessing.

And other churches have Christmas tree drives, with free cocoa or cider.  In the summer, they have free Vacation Bible Schools, complete with meals.  Some churches host community meetings, again free of charge, in their overflow rooms. Together, the churches in our community provide a network of services to meet the needs here.

I want to send out a personal thank you to the churches we’ve attended in Portland, Aloha, Hillsboro, Coos Bay, Creswell, and now Shelton.  I’ve learned so much about grace, excellence, forgiveness and fellowship – real, intimate friendship with other believers. Some of you have loved me through dark places; you know who you are.  Thanks for sharing yourself with me and trusting me with your truest self. I am grateful for you.

I know it probably seems at times that I’m knocking the church. Lord knows, we’re not perfect.  We’ve made, and will continue to make mistakes. Thank the Lord for His forgiveness we can extend freely to others and ourselves! We’re ordinary people with Christ living in us, and at times, our old nature is rises up. We work it out here on earth, becoming that “pure, spotless Bride” He will return for. But for any faults it may have, the love of Jesus still drives the church’s people to care and to serve.  That really is good newsl.

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