Monthly Archives: November 2013

Opportunities and influence

We had some great opportunities for international travel and influence several years ago when Rich was invited to Cambodia and to Kenya to teach pastors.

The trip to Kenya was initiated by our friend and professor who is a native Kenyan. As we seek to practice partnership, Rich was accompanied by Ryan. After a LONG plane ride, they arrived in Africa. Their final destination was a remote region where some warring tribes were still fighting with spears, bows and arrows. Though primitive, their weapons were deadly nonetheless. People turned out in droves for Sunday services in which singing alone could go on for many hours. Here we encountered a deep reverence for God and His Spirit, and an abiding seriousness about the faith. At the same time, profound joy and gladness accompanied their worship. It was a privilege, not merely an obligation which brought God’s people together. In the same spirit, the 35 or so pastors who gathered under Rich’s teaching undertook their Bible study with earnest zeal.

Rich and Ryan experienced the Lord’s hospitality and welcome and made many lifelong friends. One of the many contrasts with life here in America was the gratitude for educational opportunities, both with and without a Christian emphasis.

A big adjustment for Rich was the climate; it was frequently remarked that they were in a “cool” season, but Rich eventually found that he had to sleep on a mattress outside in order to achieve even a modicum of comfort! In spite of some culture shock, we continue to celebrate the opportunity to see our God at work in a world utterly remote from our own and to have a small part in the ongoing work of the Kingdom there.

Cambodia presented its own joys and its own challenges. What a great privilege to be invited to partner with our friend and professor who has been involved in church planting in Cambodia for many years. Rich and Ryan, our intrepid travelers, found at least one important similarity with their African experience: the seriousness and commitment with which the Cambodians approached their Christian faith. In this case, a couple hundred pastors came to hear Rich’s teaching. They were most eager to learn, and to extend Christian hospitality and respect to their honored guests. A special treat of “baloot” was offered, which is an unhatched embryonic duckling still inside the shell, apparently considered a delicacy. Ryan boldly partook, but Rich, being faint of heart, had to decline!
What was amazing to discover in Cambodia was the robust faith, and the New Testament model of forgiveness and reconciliation. Former Khmer Rouge officers were now in fellowship with former enemies. Those who had killed and persecuted their fellow Cambodians were received with God’s astonishing grace and forgiveness. Murderers sat alongside victim’s families. Such a thing could only happen because of our Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf. Brought to life once again is the Scripture: “..that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end.”( Eph. 2: 15-16) Praise His mighty name!

Celebrations

This seems like the ideal time to start writing a bit about our church celebrations throughout the year. Taking a page from our Roman Catholic brethren, we attempted to create something of a liturgical calendar. Many years ago we saw the need for Christians to create traditions more aligned with faith and practice. Consequently, we developed Celebration of the Faithful, Celebration of Life Together, Turn and Become Like Children, Celebration of the Children, and Celebration of Grace and Thanksgiving.

I will address this last item first as we are in the midst of it right now. Giving thanks is a necessary component of the Christian faith. Scripture abounds with references to thanks and thanksgiving. Many of King David’s Psalms are songs of thanksgiving, for example: “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all thy wonderful deeds.” (Ps 9:1) To choose but one of the many New Testament examples, Romans 7:25 says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Accordingly, we set aside this week to focus on gratitude in speech, prayer, and action. We began with a Gathered Worship emphasizing words of thanks. Sunday morning found us gathered with one of our sister congregations where we were treated to some wonderful singing, sax playing, and reflections upon God’s “Amazing Grace.” How sweet the sound indeed.

Wednesday night we will be together preparing for our feast. Working together is another form of worship, one which we hope He will find acceptable.Thursday about 50 of us will gather for our glorious repast at the church building where we will turn our attention on our honored guests: shut-ins, nursing home residents, the lonely and the hungry. We share stories, food for the soul, and, of course, lots of food for our bodies!

Friday will find us re-enjoying our banquet, gathering to give thanks, and then joining in on our traditional dance of the leftovers. This year we will be decked out in 80’s regalia as we dance the night away. Then some of us will head over to the bowling alley for midnight bowling. Whew! We hope that this whirlwind helps to put us in the thankful frame of mind that God wants to see in His children.

G.K. Chesterton reminds us: …” that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” More on other celebrations later, but for now and always may we be abounding in thanksgiving!

National and Int’l connnections

To elaborate a bit on our national connections: our pastors are returning today from a visit to Oregon/Washington. On their whirlwind tour they visited an Orthodox monk and Abbot on Vashon Island, and a couple of Christian brothers for the purpose of mutual edification and encouragement.
In Oregon they attended a championship college soccer tournament, taught several Bible study sessions, met with various leadership in the area, had individual pastoring meetings, ate lots of delicious food, and maybe even rested a little bit! We also celebrate and enjoy friendships with congregations in Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Kentucky to name a few. When the body of Christ is built up, the Kingdom of God benefits!
When we speak globally, we refer to friends in Kenya, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, and Jordan. It is good to be reminded of God’s work all over the world and to have some small part in the work of the Spirit in the larger arena…
Speaking of which, last night we welcomed two visitors from Concordia University where our youngest member attends. One of the girls is from South Africa and the other from France; they will be staying with us for the entire Thanksgiving week. We rejoice to see the continuing expansion of Kingdom contacts and relationships. The last two summers we have enjoyed brief visits from five French high school students from various areas of France. We have found these encounters to be both challenging and exciting. The more recent group treated us to delicious homemade crepes during their summer sojourn. Enough for now. Thanks for your interest in our story.

Partnership updates

At Church of the Servant-King we are blessed to enjoy partnerships locally, nationally, and even globally. Through the years our contacts have grown, and we are especially glad to connect others so that the ripple effect goes far beyond us.

Here in the Los Angeles South Bay area we are connected to several congregations that we regularly visit as part of an encouragement ministry. Just last Sunday we paid a visit to one of our sister congregations, Christian Force  MBC. It is great to be able to “drop in” and be received with open arms, and to know that our presence can and does make a difference.

Next weekend we will be visiting another local friend, New Mount Calvary MBC. Our friendship goes way back to the weekend of the L.A. riots, but that is a whole story in itself for another time. Through the years we have been graciously received there and our friendship continues to grow… As part of our banquet ministry we will be serving another outpost in El Segundo known as Casa de Renovacion. This will be the first, but hopefully not the last time to serve and encourage our brethren there.

Several pastors across various denominational lines gather regularly to discuss issues, share burdens, and build up one another. We think the Lord is pleased when we are able to see beyond ourselves and encourage the Body of Christ in a larger context! We hope this might motivate others to do the same, and to find ways that we can build on the many things we have in common. We are, after all, family not because we agree on everything, but because we have the same Father!

~Regan (regan@servant-king.org)

Our beginnings

vinesWe began in 1974 in an attempt to be an authentic Christian witness. We began an “agenda,” the bare bones of essential ingredients to being the church. Through the years we attempted to flesh out that agenda in our life together. Some items on that document were leadership, growth, and living close (within a 10 minute drive of one another). A group of seekers decided to “throw in their lots” with one another for a year to see what the Lord would do with us.

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