LOOKING AHEAD

August 3, 2022

I know, I know, it’s hot outside! But autumn is on its way. One of the sure fire indicators that fall is on its way is school enrollment. After writing this, I’ll be dropping Cherie off to perform her duties as school nurse at the first day of enrollment. Yesterday I was strolling up and down the school supply aisle with my son, Klayton, as he was prepping for his first day student teaching. The school year is quickly approaching. 


I remember recess in grade school. On different occasions a few of us would skip the touch football game or session of “wall ball” to enter the exciting, fictional world of the A-team. We would reenact the latest televised adventure of these do-gooding, wrongly accused vigilantes from the world of television. One of our little crew would assume the role of “Face Man” another “Murdoch” someone else would be the wise yet risk taking leader “Hannibal” and still another the Mohawk wearing “B.A. Barracuss.” There were several things that were satisfying about being a part of that little A-team. First everyone had a role to play. It didn’t matter if you were the “brains” behind the plan or if you were pretending to be the muscle. Your role was important and necessary to the success of that day’s adventure. Secondly, it was an adventure! While we would usually begin with the premise of the night before’s television show, we were only limited to our imaginations (and 15 minute recess period). Finally, the plan always came together! Just like on the TV show the bad guys were defeated and the victims rescued by the heroes!


This month Wallula Christian Church will launch our fall small groups. Just like recess back in the eighties there will be a role for everyone, an adventure to enjoy and mostly the plan will come together. These groups provide a space for your relationship with God to grow and be strengthened as you study God’s Word with others. In the process you’ll develop meaningful friendships with other believers that will help you navigate the ups and downs of everyday life.


You will have the chance to meet small group leaders and discover the many different options at our Small Group Fall Fest on August 14. On this Sunday morning you’ll be introduced to the many different group options and have the opportunity to sign up for the one that is best for you and your family. I’m looking forward to this small group season. I love it when a plan comes together!


- Lance


 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 

- Acts 2:42


July 6, 2022

When I was a kid one of my favorite things to do was to sort baseball cards. I would group the cards into “teams” and then I would turn them over and add up the collective home runs, RBI, runs scored and batting averages of the players on each team. Next I would pit team against team to see who would win the pennant. For a baseball loving twelve year old it was a great time, even if that baseball lover was no mathematician! The stats made sense. It was easy to figure a player’s batting average by taking the number of hits they had in a season and dividing them by the number of at bats that player had. I feel bad for kids today. They are forced to deal with advanced metrics like “wRC+” or weighted runs created. The definition of this new fangled stat is:


“This one measures all phases of production at the plate and adjusts them for ballpark and league environments. The higher the wRC+, the better the hitter was. wRC+ is scaled so that a mark of 100 reflects a league-average hitter. wRC+ is like OPS+ (see above) in that regard, but it's an improvement over OPS+ because it takes into account baserunning, double plays, and so forth.”


Huh? I don’t have any idea what that means or how to figure out a player’s wRC+… Something that was meant to clarify only muddies the waters for this baseball fan. Sometimes when I read the book of Revelation I feel the same way. One scholar said, “The Revelation of John is one of the most often read, but least understood books of the Bible.” The word revelation comes from the greek word “apakalypsis” which literally means “to remove the veil or covering.” The book of Revelation is intended to bring clarity to the lives of believers and yet sometimes we struggle to uncover the truth that is present.


This Sunday we are beginning a new preaching series called, “Prepare for Impact.” In this series we will study the first five chapters of Revelation. Several more series will follow as we work our way through the last book in the New Testament. We have a couple of resources you can take advantage of as we study Revelation together.


  1. Revelation Scripture Journal. Many of you picked up your complimentary Revelations Scripture Journal on Sunday. If you haven’t please grab one this Sunday. You can utilize it in service to take notes on the message and read through it and jot down questions and observations in your personal time of study. I would encourage you to find some time and read through the entire book of Revelation in one sitting (I was reprimanded in staff meeting for underestimating the amount of time it takes to read through Revelation at once, but I promise it is a very doable endeavor).


  1. Small Talk Podcast. While many of our small groups are on hiatus for the summer, discussion questions are still being produced for each message. You can access these questions on the church center app as well as on the message page at Wallula.org. While most of our groups are taking a break, Klayton, Craig, Zach and Lance will choose a few of these discussion questions and talk about them on a new podcast we are calling, “Small Talk.” You can access the weekly episodes on Apple podcasts, Spotify and Wallula’s Youtube page. The first episode should drop on July 13.


  1. Sermon Based Small Groups. Our small groups will resume for the fall on August 28. Several of these groups will be sermon based and will work through the message and passage from the previous Sunday. These groups are always a great way to seek further clarification of the text we studied together on the weekend as well as providing us a chance to grow relationships with other believers! If you are interested in leading one of these groups please let Lance (lance@wallula.org) or Laurie (laurie@wallula.org) know.



Because of Him,


Lance


“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.”


              - Revelation 1:3


June 1, 2022

Weddings are a good thing. They are filled with happiness, hope and love. Very recently I attended a wedding of a young man who grew up in Wallula Christian Church’s family. Many of you were there as well because his family have been long time members of Wallula. Our Youth Pastor, Zach, officiated the nuptials and a few other young men and women from the congregation were a part of the wedding party including my son, Klayton. It was a beautiful and worship filled ceremony and all should feel honored to have participated. Anyone who has ever been involved in a wedding knows how much work is involved in pulling off this ceremony/worship service/party.


A few hours before the ceremony Klayton called his mom asking if we had an iron and ironing board (evidently he has never seen and/or used these devices in our home or anywhere else). He was asking because some of the groomsmen’s shirts did not meet the mark (Klayton said his was ok because his mom had ironed his ahead of time - way to go Cherie!). We lent them the required tools so everyone’s garments could look just right for ceremony and pictures. This last minute preparation was the final step in a months long lead up to these young men being properly attired. They had received instructions months in advance about what kind of shirt, socks, shoes etc. they should wear. Everyone had ample time to make sure their outfit was in ship shop shape before that day arrived, still some needed a little more help.


This wedding reminded me of a story that Jesus told about a wedding ceremony in Matthew 22. In this parable a King is throwing a wedding feast for his son and invited all the “right” people to the celebration. To his dismay everyone refused the King’s invitation some returning to their farms or other businesses and a few even seizing the King’s servants delivering the invitations. In response the King sent his soldiers to destroy the invitee’s cities. Next the King sent his servants to the common folks and invited anyone and everyone to the feast. This time the wedding hall was filled with guests but still there was a problem. Verse 11-12 says, “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’” Everyone was invited to the wedding and had a responsibility to be prepared for the feast. What does this mean for you and me?


  1. According to Revelation 19 we are invited to participate in the wedding of the Lamb! When we say yes to Jesus (the Lamb) we are made a part of the glorious party in all of eternity. We are welcomed into His presence! Revelation 19:9 says, “Then the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" And he added, "These are the true words of God.”
  2. We are to respond to this invitation by being properly attired. First we do this by acknowledging that we need help. Klayton didn’t try to get ready on his own, he sought the help of his Mom to make sure his outfit was up to par. Jesus provides us with clean white garments appropriate for the feast when we say yes to Him as Lord and Savior. His blood covers our sin and makes us white as snow. Revelation 19:8 says, “Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God's holy people.)” Our righteousness begins with a relationship with Jesus but also requires us to respond with obedience to His word and right living on our part. I was dismayed by a recent report coming from the Southern Baptist Convention concerning sexual abuse by so many “Pastors” in the different Baptist churches over the years. It is heartbreaking to think about so many leaders pretending to be a part of the family of God when in reality they were not dressed in wedding attire at all! Let’s make sure that we are ready for the feast! Revelation 19:7 says, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”
  3. Jesus is returning to judge those pretenders. Revelation 19 goes on to describe a rider on a white horse yielding a sword and judging those who have ignored the invitation to the feast and have selfishly served themselves. Revelation 19:20-21 paint this ugly picture, “But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.” 
  4. We should get busy preparing for this great feast! If you haven’t yet submitted yourself to Him, say yes to Jesus in baptism. Maybe you have questions about what it looks like to follow Jesus or why baptism is so important. If you do a great place to have those questions answered is in our Closer Look class. The next Closer Look is this Sunday, June 5th at 5:30 pm. You can register online at Wallula.org. We also need to make sure we are staying close to Him, abiding in Him. One of the best ways to do this is by meeting one on one with Him daily through a time of study and worship in His word. This summer, starting June 6th, we’ll be reading through some of the prophets in the Old Testament. This study will give you some much needed background as we study through the book of Revelation on Sunday mornings. More importantly it provides you the chance to continue developing the habit of meeting with Jesus daily! Finally let’s look for ways to love others this summer. Every ministry here at Wallula from the tech team running slides, sound and light on a Sunday morning to Children’s Ministry needing small group leaders for VBS to the Shelter of Hope facilitating a safe place for the homeless to sleep on Monday nights to people greeting folks coming to worship on Sunday mornings… Well you get the point every ministry needs extra help in the summer as people travel and summer schedules get busy. You can join one of those ministries and help us love others well. Get busy and prepare for the feast!


Because of Him,


Lance


“Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”


- Matthew 22:13-14



May 30, 2022



One of the saddest stories in scripture is found in 2 Samuel 12:15-23. King David has had an affair with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba. David does his best to cover up his sin even going as far as to arrange for the death of Uriah in battle. God, though, sends his prophet Nathan to confront the King. The affair results in the birth of David’s son who dies a week after he was born. David’s life is a mess. His sin has brought pain and suffering onto so many different people including himself. The most difficult part of God’s judgement for us to understand is when we learn, “the LORD afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David and he became sick.” David responded by seeking God on the child’s behalf. He prayed and fasted, he prayed and fasted and still the child died. What David did next is remarkable. He got up from the ground where he was praying, he cleaned himself up, “and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped.” And then David got back to work. He went home. He ate. He returned to his duties as King.


Yesterday we all heard the grim reports coming from Uvalde, Texas. 21 people, 19 kids and two teachers have been reported dead. A single gunman (really just a child himself) barricaded himself inside a classroom as the students, anxious for the end of the school year were celebrating with a “footloose and fancy” themed spirit day. An official with the Texas Department of Public Safety said, “The killer ‘barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom,’ he said. ‘It just shows you the complete evil of the shooter.’” What are we supposed to do in the face of such evil? I wish I was smarter and had some unique profound wisdom to share that would fix everything but I don’t. I do think we can learn a few things from that sad story in 2 Samuel.


  1. Pray, fast, worship and repeat. While David’s newborn son was sick he prayed and fasted. He pleaded with God to save his son. His son died anyway, God’s judgement came anyway. Sin destroyed in a way only sin can destroy anyway. In the next few days you will hear many people saying “thoughts and prayers” are meaningless. Don’t listen! Do not stop praying! Continue to pray and fast for our schools, our kids, our teachers and administrators. Pray for our leaders on our school boards, in our state legislature and in our nation’s capital. And now, even though, evil has reared its ugly head once again, let us gather to seek God together. Let us worship Him and remember His promise that we will be reunited with those we’ve lost in His presence some day!


  1. Return to serving others. When my kids were little their school had a program called “Watch Dogs” (I think). The idea was for Dad’s to volunteer at the school for the day. Their responsibilities included walking the perimeter of the building periodically, serving in the cafeteria and perhaps lending a hand in a classroom on occasion. If your kids’ school has a program like this volunteer, if it doesn’t start one. Work with the organizations at your kids school to encourage those who work there. Remind them that you are on their side by the way you treat each of them.


  1. Stop fighting with each other! There will be plenty of finger pointing and arguing about who is to blame for this tragedy. It is interesting to me that as you continue to read in 2 Samuel the chapters that follow that sad story in chapter 12 depict the dissent of Israel into a country divided - their fall into  two kingdoms. Believers you can disagree about what policies or laws should be changed or not changed, but you must be united in your love for God and others! Our world should be overwhelmed by the love of God’s people for each other and our community.


  1. Talk about Jesus. Our world is in desperate need of a savior! Peace that passes understanding, life to the full, love that sacrificially puts others first are only possible when we are made new from the inside out. The world needs to hear about Him! Invite someone this week to worship with you. Let others know the hope Jesus offers!


Because of Him,


Lance