I hope you are all having a great week and getting out to enjoy the sunshine! I want to dive right in and talk about an exciting announcement that was made last Sunday in service. Jon and I, together with our Board of Trustees and church leadership have been meeting over the last few months to discuss some of the challenges we are currently facing as a church family. Some of those challenges are great, such as parking concerns due to too many cars (Hooray – that means MORE PEOPLE TO LOVE!), starting up a nursery program and revitalizing our current children’s’ program. We’re actively working on those, but some of our significant challenges come from our beautiful, but chronologically challenged building. As many of you know, we have been working hard over the last year to give our space a facelift and take care of some of the more pressing issues in the building. Well, we’ve gotten to the place where we need to address a few substantial safety issues that will greatly affect our space – the most significant of which is the replacement of the beautiful windows in our sanctuary.
And so this last weekend, our own Kevin Groder announced the launch of Rock Church Amesbury’s first capital campaign to fund this project – SEE THE LIGHT! The estimate for the windows and a few other minor projects is right around $25,000 and so we’re launching a 6-month campaign to fund this. The incredible news is that before this was even announced, we already had pledges from our leadership covering over 1/3 of that total. With the pledges that have already come through from Sunday, I can safely say that at least 40% of the project is now funded through pledges. How incredible is that?! If you weren’t able to be with us this Sunday, or if you haven’t completed your pledge card yet, I’d encourage you to prayerfully consider how you can contribute. Pledges may be for a one time gift, or for a gift over time. Maybe you can commit to buying a whole window at once ($1,600). If so, that’s awesome! Or maybe you can just do $10 a week, but over 6-months, that’s a big deal too! So this week, please take some time in prayer and consider how you can contribute. Pledge cards will be available on Sunday morning, and contributions may always be made either by check in the offering or online at www.rockgiving.org by indicating “Amesbury Restoration Fund.” Thank you all for your faithfulness in prayerful giving to this project!
There are some other exciting things happening in the upcoming weeks that I want to lift up:
BAPTISM: You may have heard that on Pentecost Sunday, June 4th we will be offering the first “in-church” immersion baptism service right at our campus in Amesbury during service. Baptisms are one of my favorite things to do as a pastor – to see someone emerge from beneath the water symbolizing the washing away of all of our sins, through the gift of God’s grace and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross – it is truly a holy moment. I can’t overemphasize how impactful the experience of baptism can be in our faith journey. If you are interested in baptism, please connect with me to discuss baptism or, if you’ve made the decision that you’re ready, email with Debra Haggstrom (firstname.lastname@example.org) or you can always just write “YES, I’m ready to get baptized!” on your connection card on Sunday.
MEMBERSHIP: Have you ever wondered what it means to be a member of Rock Church Ministries? I believe that this is another incredibly important step in our walk together as a church family. To find out more, there will be a gather for those who are interested in learning about what it means to take the step to become a member of our church body on May 21st at our Plaistow campus at 2:00pm. If you are interested in learning more about membership, but are unable to attend on May 21st, please contact me (email@example.com) or P.Jon (firstname.lastname@example.org) or make a note on your connection card. We’d love to talk further about this important step. All new members will be welcomed in at Sunday morning service on Pentecost Sunday, June 4th.
BLESSING OF THE BIKES: The last thing I want to make sure you’re aware of is our Blessing of the Bikes this Saturday, May 20th. If you ride, or are just interested in blessing those who do, we’ll be hosting a breakfast at St. Matt’s, the Sandown, NH campus of Rock Church Ministries, from 9-10am, followed by a time of prayer over all of those present who ride and their bikes at 10am. Following the blessing, all the bikers will head off on a group ride and will regather at St. Matts for a BBQ lunch at 12:30. I’ve heard it should be great weather on Saturday so come on out and pray protection and blessing over our biker friends for the start of the motorcycle season!
May you all be blessed in the knowledge the God is near to you this week as we continue to grow together as the family of God in 1❤️&Mind
Hi church family!
Well all that rain is finally paying off. You can see the fruit all around in the form of green grass, beautiful flowers and budding trees. Can you remember back to last year when rain was scarce and we were in drought conditions? Brown lawns, dying plants and dry wells were the norm then. Although I am not a big fan of the rain, we are now able to enjoy the beauty that it is yielding, and it all seems worthwhile.
I feel like we are in the same season in our church right now. Although we may have weathered some storms over the past few years, the sun is now on our faces and God’s beauty is being revealed all around us in amazing ways. One clear evidence of this fruit is all of our new family members. The way God is multiplying is incredible! Beyond simply numbers, the way that the right people have continually come into our fold at the right time leaves me in awe time after time. And as if that isn’t enough, there is an unmistakable spirit of unity and love that is evident not only to those active and engaged in our ministry, but also to those who have just walked in the door. Just today I received a lovely email from recent visitors passing through Amesbury thanking us for the service. They said, “[w]e could see that God is at work through your ministry and outreach…[a]s we worshipped with you we felt a part of the family of God.” Hallelujah!
As the fruit of the past few years continues to take root, we will be continuing to learn about how to grow deeper in our relationship with God and one another in our 1❤️&Mind sermon series. A couple of upcoming events relative to that to keep in mind.
MEMBERSHIP: There will be a gather for those who are interested in learning about what it means to take the step to become a member of our church body on May 21st at our Plaistow campus at 2:00pm. If you are interested in attending this gathering, please make a note on your connection card or contact Lynette Archibald (email@example.com). If you are interested, but are unable to attend on May 21st, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or P.Jon (email@example.com) or make a note on your connection card, and we’ll be happy to talk further about this important step in the life of the church body. All new members will be welcomed in at Sunday morning service on Pentecost Sunday, June 4th.
BAPTISM: Speaking about important steps of faith, also on June 4th we will be offering the first “in-church” immersion baptism service for Rock Church Ministries right at our campus in Amesbury during service. I am super-excited about this (I know I’m always super-excited, but I’m REALLY super-excited) about sharing this opportunity with anyone who is feeling led by the spirit to be baptized. If you are interested in baptism, please connect with Debra Haggstrom (firstname.lastname@example.org) or you can always just write “YES, I’m getting washed by the Holy Spirit!” on your connection card on Sunday. We’ll know what you mean.
In this new season, P.Jon and I have had the opportunity to meet, reflect and dream with our Rock Church Amesbury leadership team and it is clear that God has some sensational things on the horizon for us! We are going to announce the launch of one of those dreams this weekend in worship and so we hope you’ll all be there to join us for this exciting announcement.
P. Rachel (m) 603-819-8181 (e) Rachel@rock-church.org
Hi church family,
I used to run a lot, about 20-30 miles a week when I was training seriously. Somewhere along the way, time became scarce and I just wasn’t able or motivated to keep up with being able to commit that much time. Well, I’ve started running again, and guess what? It’s hard. Really, really hard. Sometimes I think it is even harder than when I originally started running, because now I remember back to what I used to be capable of, and I’m just not there anymore. I’m a little bit heavier, a little bit slower (okay, a LOT slower) and a little bit older and creakier. But still, I run - slow and steady.
I think this is what the author of Hebrews was talking about in Chapter 12 when he wrote:
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Now granted he was not talking literally about running, but pursuing our faith can be much the same. Sometimes we get into a rut, time seems scarce and we find ourselves out of “spiritual shape” and unable to find motivation to get back into it. Whether that may be regular worship attendance, regular bible study, our prayer lives or maybe engaging with a LifeGroup or other small group with whom we can do life and be encouraged. The good news is, just as I am a long distance runner not a sprinter, life is not a sprint either. We are called to run with perseverance – to keep going – no matter where we currently are in our “training” with our eyes steadfastly fixed on Jesus. And there is no better time than now to up our game.
I believe that our new series - 1❤️&Mind – is a great way to continue “training” for this race. Learning how to live together as the family of God, united by our common belief in Jesus and and by our common mission to reach and disciple people for Christ! As we talked about in last week’s sermon is that one great way to begin reaching people is by invitation and special events are a great entry point to invite those who may not yet be part of the family of God. One such event coming up this weekend are our Spring Concerts with our worship leading choir. These concerts are always inviting, fun and impactful so invite a friend or two and join us on either Saturday, May 6th at 7pm or Sunday, May 7th at 5pm, both at our Plaistow campus.
Another great event this weekend for us gals to gather and invite friends to is Motion and Devotion. On Saturday, May 6th at 9am in Amesbury we’ll be gathering together for Christ-centered yoga led by Joni Boggiatto. All skill levels are welcome. So grab a yoga mat or towel, your girlfriends and a water bottle and come on down on Saturday morning!
However you decide to “exercise” your faith this week, may you run the race marked out for you with perseverance, fixing your eyes firmly on Jesus! Until we come together again as the family of God, may God’s every blessing be upon you.
Greetings Rock Church Amesbury family! I am writing this in the airport in Orlando as Julia and I prepare to come home from a short, but great time away with Bella and Elijah. During this time we had the chance to visit and play in 2 Disney parks, see Bella and the rest of her school orchestra perform at Disney Springs, watch Elijah carry the bass drum as his school marching band came right down Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom and share countless laughs over big and small things. Those are the kinds of moments that life is made up of. BUT as much fun has we had during our time away, I am really excited to get back home and see all of you. I sure missed being with you on Sunday! Jon shared with me that you all had a great kick off to our new sermon series, 1❤️&Mind, talking about what it means to live as the family of God. In fact, we had just about 80 in worship, even though we were missing many of our regular family members, myself included! After service, Jon and Paul met with a great group for Lunch with the Pastors and talked about how God is leading us to move in Newburyport. The initial concept is that Newburyport will start as a Thursday evening LifeGroup that Paul will lead, with the focus on building relationships, having fun and growing deeper with God. Sunday (or another day) for large group worship is anticipated to follow once a good core of folks is developed. I just have to say that I believe that we are really experiencing an incredible time right now. God’s movement in our church is so evident and I really feel it couldn’t be a better time for us to be starting this new series and planning for how to continue to grow in relationship with Him and with one another!
As I mentioned, Julia and I were away with Bella and Elijah, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give a quick update on our other daughter, Lily. As many of you know, Lily is currently nearing the end of a 9-month time of missionary service where she has served in 5 different countries in varying living conditions. This past week on Friday, in fact the day I flew out for Florida) she was hospitalized with a high fever and other unpleasant symptoms in Bacolod City, Philippines. She is supposed to be released on Wednesday morning, so hopefully by the time you read this she will be out. She was extremely sick and has been diagnosed with a parasite/amoeba that the doctors suspect has remained in her system since she was in Africa in December. She is feeling, in her words “a million percent better” now, but we continue to humbly ask that you please keep her lifted up in prayer for this last month of her mission.
This week, I also want to lift up the upcoming Spring Concerts on May 6th and 7th at our Plaistow campus featuring the Rock Church Ministries’ Worship Leading Choir. If you haven’t been to one of our choir concerts before, they are always uplifting and powerful events that you don’t want to miss. These concerts are also great events to invite a friend to, so grab some invitation cards this Sunday and pass them out to friends or leave them in a local coffee shop or eatery. You never know what impact an invitation may have on someone’s life!
I’ve heard we have some warmer weather heading and rain heading our way, so as the mild temperatures and renewing rains of spring cover us, let’s look forward to gathering together on Sunday to continue to be renewed by the God who makes all things new. I can’t wait to be back together with you all this weekend. Have a miraculous week!
Happy Wednesday (or whatever day you happen to be reading this). I hope you are enjoying your week, and well if you’re not, Sunday’s coming! I have to be honest that Jon and I are still recovering from Holy Week – egg hunts, multiple services, preparing for Easter dinner with our family – it was a busy week! BUT, even with all of that said, I am still in awe of what an incredible week it was! If you were with us on Good Friday or Easter Sunday, or both, you know what I mean. The power of the events of that week just came to life before us, and on Easter – MAN Y’ALL CAME TO WORSHIP!!
I can’t say that I recall having had worship experiences quite as meaningful as those last week. Most of the credit for that belongs to the presence of the Holy Spirit in our midst, but it also goes to each one of you for allowing the Spirit to speak resurrection into your hearts and minds and to permeate through our church family. I also don’t want to forget to thank so many of you who worked tirelessly preparing for and serving at both the Good Friday and Easter services. It was your efforts that allowed the powerful movement of God’s Holy Spirit and made those experiences even more powerful, knowing we were firing on all cylinders as a church family with the collective goal of making sure that the name of Jesus was proclaimed in Amesbury last week! And just so you know, your efforts were not in vain, as we had lives committed or recommitted to Christ at both services. WAHOO and PRAISE GOD - our God is a God of resurrection!
This seems to be the perfect time to introduce our next sermon series, 1❤️&Mind. The title for this series comes from some of my favorite passages of scripture found in the Book of Acts 4:32-35:
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And Godʼs grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostlesʼ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
In this series, just as Acts 4 talks about, we’ll continue to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus by studying what it truly means to live together as the family of God - the good, the bad and maybe even the funny. After such an incredible week last week, the bar is certainly set pretty high, but I’m confident that God is going to continue to our resurrection in mighty ways through this new series!
But before we get to Sunday, I want to make sure to share about a great program called Empowered Parenting this Saturday, April 22nd with our own Chrissy Rupp at the Plaistow campus from 9 - 11:45am. Whether you’re a parent, a grandparent or you just happen to know a child, this is a program for everyone! Learning about how to raise our next generation from God’s example seems like it should come naturally, but sometimes in our desire to care for them we don’t follow that example well. I’ve had the opportunity to experience this program with Chrissy and it is extremely eye-opening and valuable. So I hope you’ll take this opportunity to learn about God’s plan for raising up our next generation. Free registration for this great program can be completed at http://www.rock-church.org/register-1/.
Until we come together again to worship the God of resurrection, may He bless and keep you all as he continues to transform us through the renewing of our minds!
Have a blessed week,
Hi Amesbury friends,
WHAT A GLORIOUS WEEK! Whether you take that to refer to the sun shining brightly outside or the Son to whom this week is dedicated, doesn’t much matter. It is a great week! This is Holy Week, the most sacred time of the year for Christ-followers. This is the week that we have the opportunity to follow the journey of Jesus during the last week of His life on earth. From His triumphal entry into the holy ancient city of Jerusalem, to the unleashing of His righteous anger overturning tables at the temple, His time in fervent prayer with His Father in the garden, His final meal with the disciples, His betrayal, “trial”, torture and eventual death on the cross. Doesn’t sound all that glorious so far, does it? Ah, but then - the resurrection. What comes next defies human understanding as Jesus denies the grave and defeats death once and for all - hallelujah! What a glorious week! But, I am getting ahead of myself. Before we can get to Easter, we must first walk through the days that preceded Jesus’ death.
One Holy week, very early on in my Christian walk, God allowed me to experience this week - I mean really live it out - though the eyes of the disciples. I experienced the events and felt the emotions in such a real way:
the weight of Judas’ betrayal
the heartbreak and helplessness of Good Friday
the sorrow and hopelessness of Holy Saturday
and the confusion and joyful revelation of the resurrection on Easter Sunday.
It completely changed my understanding of Holy Week and the way I have experienced it in the dozen or so years that have passed since then. I believe we miss the fullness of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross if we do not intentionally walk through the difficult, but necessary events that preceded and followed Jesus’ death on the cross before celebrating His resurrection on Easter Sunday. It is for this reason that we offer multiple services throughout Holy Week and we hope you’ll join us not just for Sunday morning, but also for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday so we may continue the journey to the cross together.
Another great way to experience this Holy Week is to take the opportunity to see some very impactful movies at the Seacoast Christian Film Festival. The Film Festival runs Wednesday, April 12th through Easter Sunday, April 16th at VisionMax Cinema in Salisbury, MA and includes some great movies such as God’s Not Dead 2 and I am not Ashamed (the true story of Rachel Scott, one of the shooting victims at Columbine High School). Rock Church Ministries has partnered with the Film Festival for the second year to spread the good news of Jesus to a hurting world, so we hope you’ll take thisoccasion to support this important work while getting out to enjoy some great movies! All info on the Seacoast Christian Film Festival, including show times and directions to the theater, is available at www.christianfilmproductions.org/movies.html.
On Saturday, I hope you’ll join us for a special community outreach at the church for a pancake breakfast ($5 Teens & Adults/ $3 Kids & Seniors) and Egg Hunt running continuously from 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM. The Egg Hunt & activities are for kids ages 2 - 12 years and they are free. In order to bless our community, all proceeds from the breakfast are going to the Amesbury PTO! And if you don’t have a little person to bringto the Egg Hunt, we’d love to have your help since there are so many activities to coordinate. If you are interested in helping contact Pastor Jon (email@example.com)and he’ll help you figure out where to plug in!
Lastly, don’t forget that we are piloting our new parking shuttle program for services on Good Friday (April 14th) and Easter Sunday (April 16th). As we are hoping to have many guests at both services, I’d encourage anyone who is able to either take the shuttle or park on the street or in public lots (behind the Library and Town Hall). The shuttle on Good Friday will run from Amesbury Middle School starting at 6:30 and on Easter Sunday it will run from the lot behind Morning Buzz starting at 9:30. Return shuttle service will run for a half an hour following both services. At both locations, there will be a sign where the shuttle will stop. Thanks so much for doing what you can to show the love of Christ and make our guests feel welcome!
Blessings on your week as we journey through the life, death and resurrection of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
LOVE. GROW. SERVE. with Pastor Rachel 4.5.17
Hi friends! So to start out, just let me say that I’m not even going to mention the weather. Instead, I’m just believing that good things are a comin’! Like Palm Sunday, that’s coming right up this week. Palm Sunday is the day that we celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. Maybe that doesn’t sound all that exciting to you, but it really was a raucous event of celebration and joy!
They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
Imagine that scene – Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey with the crowds shouting “Hosanna!” and laying down their cloaks as a path for the donkey to walk upon. The people were stirred and they asked the same question that we continue to seek after to this day, thousands of years later. Who is this Jesus? Who is this man that He stirs such feelings in people?
Well, we will have the opportunity to continue to work on answering this question AND to stir the crowds of Amesbury this week when we participate in the traditional Amesbury procession of churches to commemorate Palm Sunday. If you’d like to join us, P.Jon and I will gather with the other church clergy and members at 9:00am down in the Millyard (right outside of Flatbread) for the short walk up to our church and past each of the other churches along the way. It really is a very festive time (and Rock Church generally is the most boisterous group among the crowd!). Sunday’s forecast is currently for sunshine and warmer temps, so we’d love to have a great showing of how celebratory and joyful we are at Rock Church Amesbury and how excited we are to tell others about WHO THIS JESUS IS!
As I mentioned, last Sunday was the final message in the “Real World” study of the Book of James. What a dose of truth James dished out in that book about how we as Christ-followers should be living, huh? I’m interested in hearing about your “takeaways” from this series. How have you done with taming your tongue? (I’m still working on that.) Or being more patient? (I’m still working on that.) Or not making plans ahead of God’s will? (I’m still working on that.) Or counting your trials as joy? (I’m still working on that.) I suppose we are all works in progress! But I really am interested in hearing about how the truths in James’ book has made you think or change your actions. Feel free to comment on this blog post, or on the FB post or just email me and let me know what made you stop and think about what areas of your life the Spirit may be leading you to work on.
Also I wanted to give a quick reminder that we are piloting our new parking shuttle program for services on Palm Sunday (April 9th), Good Friday (April 14th) and Easter Sunday (April 16th). In order to save plenty of room in our parking lot for guests or those who are unable to walk long distances or over uneven surfaces, I’d encourage all those who are able to either park on the street, in public lots (behind the Library and Town Hall) or to take the shuttle. The shuttle on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday will run from 9:45am to 10:05am from the parking lot behind the Morning Buzz. On Good Friday the shuttle will run from Amesbury Middle School starting at 6:30. Return shuttle service will run for a half an hour following all services. At both locations, there will be a sign for Rock Church Shuttle where the shuttle will stop. Thanks so much for doing what you can to show the love of Christ and make our guests feel welcome at our church.
I hope to see many of you at the Millyard at 9:00am this Sunday. There will still be breakfast and adult and kids’ LifeGroups after the procession, followed by our Palm Sunday service at 10:10am.
Looking forward to celebrating with you all this week.
Greetings Rock Church Amesbury friends! Well we have all awoken once again to a rainy, cool, grey day. While tomorrow looks like we may get some warmer temps and sunshine, Friday and Saturday are looking a little ominous. I try not to be a Debbie Downer, I do have to admit that weather is one of those things that can affect my demeanor that can leave me getting up with a bounce in my step or dragging myself out of bed bleary-eyed and grumbling. I know, I know, “from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” (Psalm 113:3). So I’m praising, but is it too much to ask that we actually be able to see the sun when it rises and sets? JBut you know what, this weather too will pass and change, and God remains faithful and good.
Speaking of His goodness, have you seen how He is working in our midst? Last week we on Sunday morning in Amesbury we had at least 7 new friends with us in service (I say at least 7 because I lost count at one point!). That is so exciting! He is doing great things in and through our church family. In fact, we are anticipating that this will just build and build over the next couple of weeks leading up to Holy Week and Easter Sunday. As I mentioned last week, for this reason, we will be piloting a parking shuttle program for services on Palm Sunday (April 9th), Good Friday (April 14th) and Easter Sunday (April 16th). In order to save plenty of room for guests or those who are unable to walk long distances or over uneven surfaces, I’d encourage all those who are able to either park on the street, in public lots (behind the Library and Town Hall) or to take the shuttle. We have a few faithful volunteers to drive the shuttle, but in order to make sure no one person is overburdened, it would be great if we could have one or two more licensed drivers to volunteer for a before or after service shift for any one of those three services. Remember our third core conviction, EVERYONE IS GIFTED TO SERVE. If you are interested in volunteering to serve in this way, please contact Debra Haggstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lou Stuart at (978)729-3752. The shuttle on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday will run from the parking lot behind the Morning Buzz and there will be a sign for Rock Church Shuttle where the shuttle will stop. We are still working on Good Friday so stay tuned for more information about shuttle times and parking location for Good Friday!
As God continues to work in our church and draw new people into our family, we will continue to face more and more challenges like this. That’s good news! But that also means that we need to be thinking ahead and planning to accommodate all that He has in store for us. As James reminded us a couple of weeks ago, that planning should not be random, but it must be done in accordance with God’s purpose and will (James 4:13-15). As many of you may have noticed downstairs this week, there is a wall with large sticky notes on it labeled “Plan A”, “Plan B”, “Plan C” and “Plan D”. Jon and I have entered into a purposeful planning process with our Trustees to identify those challenges that we are facing and to intentionally and prayerfully seek God’s will for the future for our church family and how to best use the resources that God has entrusted to us. I know everyone will be interested and eager to hear about our planning process, and most of us will have our own opinions to share. We do so value all input and ask that each one of you would take this time to engage with us in an intentional time of prayer and seeking God’s will to ensure that we can carry out our part in building His kingdom and fulfilling our first core conviction, that EVERYONE NEEDS JESUS. I anticipate we’ll be ready to gather as a church body and discuss these plans sometime in the weeks following Easter. I am confident that if we all engage in this intentional time of prayerful consideration that when we do come together to discuss, our hearts and minds will have already been prepared and united through His Spirit. That is the beautiful picture of Christ’s church as we see in Acts 4:32-33 “32 All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. 33 The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.” In the meantime, and in the weeks leading up to Easter Sunday, may we continue to testify powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with the knowledge that God’s blessing is upon us!
Finally, can you believe that this week is our final sermon on the Book of James? I hope you’ve learned as much and been as blessed as I have by this series. James certainly isn’t an easy read, but then again we don’t generally grow in the easy things, do we? Remember our second core conviction, EVERYONE IS MEANT TO GROW! I hope we’ll have the chance to grow together this weekend at Rock Church Amesbury at 10:10am, and don’t forget breakfast and LifeGroup beforehand at 9:00am.
Giving thanks for each one of you today!
Hey y’all! How is your week going so far? Or maybe I should say, how is it with your soul this week? As for me, my body is still very tired, adjusting back from traveling over many, many time zones from the Philippines, but my soul is joyful at all the incredible things God is doing in our midst! This last Sunday through our study of the Book of James, we focused on seeking God’s will in our lives. I’d like to ask you to just take a minute and stop everything you’re doing. I know that isn’t easy, but I promise this will only take a minute to two. Now close your eyes and think about what makes you happy. What activity/place/people bring you true moments of contentment in this life? Go ahead and do that, I can wait….Got it? Good, now I want you to think about where your mind took you. I’m asking us to do this because I strongly believe God has made each one us in a very precise way, with specific giftings, passions, and penchants.
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. (Psalm 139:13-15)
When I was younger, travel to different places fascinated me. At one time, in fact, I wanted to be a travel agent (before Expedia, Travelocity etc. when you actually used to talk with a person to plan a trip!). I loved airports, planes, hotels, everything about it – and I still do! It wasn’t until I started being involved in foreign missions that I realized that this sentiment is not universal. That many people hate travel, airports, planes, and hotels – all things I absolutely love! Back then when people would regularly thank me for going on missions I thought, “How strange. Who wouldn’t want to go?” But the fact is, plenty of people don’t want to go, and that is exactly what God intends. He gifts us individually, with particular passions, for specific purposes and roles in His kingdom.
“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).
Those things that delight our souls - that bring us the greatest contentment and happiness in this world - are often an indication of how God intends us to serve Him. I have met with many people who struggle to understand God’s will for their lives. I don’t mean to suggest that discernment of His will for your life is an easy process. In fact if we’re doing it right, I think it is a process that lasts our entire lifetime! But sometimes we miss the simplest of signs and perhaps in some ways it is easier than we make it out to be. By reflecting on what we love, what makes us happy, what inspires us, it is my hope that we can get a head start to discerning where God is leading us.
“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5).
Speaking of missions, by now you may have heard that our Honduras mission is cranking up and we are preparing for our next trip. We have set tentative dates of July 18-28 and will be confirming those within the next week. I continue to be amazed at how God is constantly working ahead of us bringing things together. Just this week I received an email asking our team if we’d be interested/willing to assist in building a new church in a small town outside of San Pedro Sula during the dates we are planning to be there in July. Incredible - God is so very good! Whether you’re interested in a general mission update, would like to know how you can support our Honduras mission here on the ground, or are being called to “GO!”, we hope you’ll join us for the information session on Sunday, March 26th after the second service at our Plaistow campus (gathering around 12:45 with a hard start at 1:00).
We have a couple of needs I’d like to let everyone know about, one for service the other for donations. If you regularly attend at our Amesbury campus, you may have noticed that our parking is getting a little bit squished. This is a GREAT problem to have because it means we’re growing! As a result, we are going to test out a shuttle program on Palm Sunday (April 9th) and Easter Sunday (April 16th) where we’ll use the church van to shuttle people from the large parking lot up by The Morning Buzz down to the church and back. As we don’t want any one person to have to bear the entire burden, we are looking for licensed drivers and parking attendants to help out either before or after either of these services. If you’re interested in serving in this important ministry, please contact Deb Haggstrom at email@example.com or Lou Stuart at (978)729-3752.
The other need I want to mention is our upcoming Pancake Breakfast/Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 15th. In Amesbury we will be offering a continuous pancake breakfast (with proceeds to support the Amesbury PTO), Easter activities and egg hunt which will run from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. We are in need MANY volunteers, donations of plastic eggs and Easter candy to make this successful. If you are interested in volunteering Deb Haggstrom is going to have a brief meeting after service this Sunday (March 26th) or, if you can’t make it, drop Deb an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let her know you can help out. All donations may be dropped off at the church.
I want to close by saying a big “thank you!” to everyone who came out for our very first Lunch with the Pastors this past Sunday afternoon at the Market Square Bakehouse. It was a great time of gathering to get to know one another better and talk about our church, theology and a whole bunch of other “stuff.” I love being out in the community like that, openly and honestly having conversations about life, about Jesus, and being able to laugh and just “do life” with one another. What a great witness in our community! We’ll be doing this monthly in different downtown venues with the hope that over the course of the next few months Jon and I will be able to share lunch, coffee, etc. with each person in our church family. Keep an eye out for April’s date and place TBA in the coming weeks. Maybe by then we will be able to take a nice spring walk to downtown!
I look forward to continuing our study through the Book of James together this weekend at Rock Church Amesbury at 10:10am, and don’t forget breakfast and LifeGroup beforehand at 9:00am.
Blessings on your week!
LOVE. GROW. SERVE. with Pastor Rachel
Hi Church Family! As I am writing this I'm very aware that a huge snowstorm continues to bear down on our New England friends and family. This seems strange to me because I'm currently sitting by the pool in 90° weather on the other side of the globe in Manila, Philippines. See unfortunately/fortunately our flights home were all cancelled due to the storm and so we are unable to get back to New England until late Thursday night. On one hand, this is great because the weather is beautiful and sunny here. On the other, however, it is also very hard because we miss and are concerned for all of you and for our other kids left at home who now must weather this storm without us.
But this trip to the Philippines has been so much more than a vacation. As many of you may already know, it was also a visit with our daughter, Lily, who has been on the mission field for the last six months with World Race, a program run by an organization called Adventures in Missions. Our trip to the Philippines is what World Race calls the Parent Vision Trip (PVT). In addition to reconnecting with our kids, the purpose for the PVT is to allow parents to be on mission alongside their kids and to experience a little bit of what racers experience during their time in the field. For this PVT we were partnered with an exceptional organization called Wipe Every Tear (www.WipeEveryTear.org). Founder, Kenny Sacht, and the wonderful staff of Wipe Every Tear shared their hearts while they patiently taught and trained us, answering every question we had, so that racers and their parents could then spend two nights talking with bar girls and ladyboys in Angeles City, a large sex tourism destination in the Philippines. Now I know what you may be thinking, "I tuned in for a nice blog entry Pastor Rachel. Sex tourism and ladyboys are not really what I had in mind." Believe me, I understand.
Here's the thing - if we truly believe our first core conviction, that Everyone Needs Jesus, we must be willing to be painfully uncomfortable in our mission. This may mean being compelled to go into the darkest places. Places that seem to be devoid of all good, where evil appears to have overtaken anything pure and holy. As I walked the streets of the city during the day, passing older white men coupled together with very young Filipina girls, that is truly what I thought. But those nights when we entered the bars something miraculous happened. God showed us clearly that was already there. As husbands, together with their wives and children, entered places the enemy never counted on us being bold enough to go, God's presence was evident and hope was restored to these precious girls stuck in the sex trade. I'll be happy to share more in person for those who are interested, but the victory is that altogether 18 girls and 4 ladyboys made a courageous first step to freedom by coming to visit the Wipe Every Tear safe houses. There are no final decisions yet, but there is a very good chance that many of them will make the choice to leave that life behind and come to live at the safe houses, allowing each of them to pursue a college education. See the full update from Wipe Every Tear founder, Kenny Sacht, here (and look for us waving on the right side of the crowd!). We may never know in fact how many lives are changed through the seeds that were planted during our time on the streets of Angeles City, but God will be there to rejoice over each and every one of them.
It is true that the Philippines is not our home, but this is where we've been placed right now and so until we can get home we must make the best of it. In the same way, the Bible tells us that this world is not our home. “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Hebrews 13:14 NLT. The fact that this earth is a broken place and not our ultimate home has never been more evident than this week; however, we also saw God’s kingdom come alive here on earth. In the same way, it is also evident to me that, perhaps now more than ever, especially in these darkest places, EVERYONE NEEDS JESUS. So I'd like to ask you this week to take a moment every day and pray for each of these girls, that they may take this opportunity and make the decision that will change their lives and their eternity. I'd also like to encourage you this week to make the intentional decision to do something to make a difference in someone else's life. Whether you change their eternity or their tire, you may never know the impact of even a small, single act of kindness. But God will be there and He will rejoice.
By now you've probably heard that this Sunday, March 19th, after service Jon and I will be doing our first Lunch With the Pastors at the Market Street Bakehouse in downtown Amesbury. We invite anyone who would like to come to pick up their own lunch or coffee and join us to share some time together. Jon and I look forward to discussing more about our mission here in the Philippines, as well as to answer any questions or talk about anything you may have on your mind.
Until Sunday, stay safe my friends and we appreciate your prayers for our safe return Thursday evening.
LOVE. GROW. SERVE. with Pastor Rachel
Greetings all! WOW. JUST WOW. I have to start off this weeks blog like that. If you were able to be with us at Rock Church Amesbury on Sunday, you may know what I mean. If you weren't able to be with us, let me tell you what I'm talking about. We switched our worship order around a bit this Sunday morning. See the very end of our message had recently been getting cut off for those joining us via livestream, as it automatically switches over to our Plaistow campus at 11:15. So in order to make sure all of our message got to our livestream friends, we decided to move the celebration of communion to immediately after the message rather than before the message as it typically had been. This went off smoothly and then after everyone had come forward to receive Communion, I was worshiping along with our worship team (who sounded AMAZING playing "O Come To The Altar"), when I suddenly realized that the altar rails were completely filled with people deep in prayer. Not only that, but there were others standing behind those at the rails praying because there was no more room. Then I turned back to face the congregation and saw God's people, worshiping in spirit and in truth, hands raised high and hearts poured out before our God. Hallelujah! It was truly one of those holy moments, those few times that we get the opportunity to experience God's kingdom on here on earth and we get to see a very small glimpse of what heaven will look like. I continue to be humbled and amazed at the work that God is doing in our midst. If you were there on Sunday, I hope you took a moment to look around and see the wonder of all He is doing in and through our congregation. If you weren't able to be with us, come in anticipation that the Spirit will move in the same way this week!
Speaking of not being able to be with us, I mentioned our livestream. Although it is always our hope that you are able to come and share time with us in person at one of our services, I do want to lift up the opportunity to join our online congregation when that is not possible. Each of our campuses are livestreamed every Sunday morning, St. Matts at 8:45, Rock Church Amesbury at 10:10 and Rock Church Plaistow at 11:15. Pastor Lee cares for our online campus and is always waiting to interact and pray with livestream participants. So the next time you're down with a cold or the snowy weather keeps you from coming out (sshhhh, we're done with that, right?) you can still stay connected via livestream located at www.rockchurchair.tv or our Facebook page at https://m.facebook.com/achurch4all. Alternatively, if you'd like that in-person worship experience, but just can't make it out on a Sunday morning, consider attending one of our evening services. "Rock@6" meets on Sunday evenings at Rock Church Plaistow at (as you may guess) 6pm OR Celebrate Recovery at Rock Church Amesbury includes a full worship service every Tuesday evening at 6:30.
Well, I hope you'll forgive me for cutting this blog a bit short this week, but I've written it on my iPhone across 4 airports, 3 countries and too many time zones for my brain to compute, as Jon and I just landed in the Philippines on our adventure. Tomorrow we'll be visiting our daughter, Lily, who has been out serving full-time in the mission field for the past 6 months. But our visit isn't simply a vacation. While here we will also be on mission as well working with an organization called Wipe Every Tear (www.wipeeverytear.org), which focuses on helping young ladies and men out of human sex trafficking in the Philippines. I am certain we will see and experience things, that thankfully, to us are completely very foreign. But nevertheless, by God's grace may He use us to bring the light of Christ into the darkest places.
I'm sure we will share more on that next week. Until then, please know we'll be praying for all of you and missing our time together and please know how much we appreciate your prayers for our time with Lily, our time in ministry here in the Philippines and our children we've left to take on this mission.
Have a blessed week everyone!
Hello friends! How are you all this week? Have you ever noticed that often when that question is asked, it is common for the "asker" to not even wait for a response from the "askee", indicating that perhaps the answer doesn't really matter. Well, I want you to know that your answer DOES matter to us. So today I ask you - caring deeply about the answer - how are you? In fact, a better way perhaps to ask that we've often used in our morning LifeGroup meetings may be - how is it with your soul today? I sincerely love to hear what is going well in your lives, what may be challenging right now, and sometimes on Sunday mornings it isn't so easy to fit all that in. So feel free to comment below, email me or drop me a PM on Facebook and let's talk about how it is with your soul.
In fact, today is a great time to ask that question because, as I mentioned during the message on Sunday, today is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is the 40-day period (not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter. These 40 days are typically set aside as a time for self-examination and self-reflection. In fact, this 40-day period is intended to represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring temptations from the enemy and preparation for His ministry. What a great time to be studying the Book of James? These writings are certainly meant to lead us all to some serious introspection and self-examination as we've seen over the past 5 weeks!
During the time James wrote his book, in the early church, Lent was a time to prepare new converts for baptism. This leads me to an exciting thought about how we could be thinking in the same way. In the recent past, we haven't typically offered an opportunity for baptism outside of our annual summer church BBQ. But this year we'd like to change that. If you have never had the opportunity or taken the step to be baptized, or if you are unsure if you were baptized as an infant and you'd like an opportunity to reaffirm your baptism, that's important to us and we want to know.
Baptism is an incredibly moving opportunity for Christ-followers to express an outward commitment to the inward transformation that knowing Jesus personally has made. Emerging from below that water, knowing that Jesus washed our sins away, is a powerful representation of the redemption story that I don't think I can adequately express in words. We hope that you'll consider taking that step with us. If you are interested in being a part of our baptism service, please either contact our Ministry Assistant, Debra Haggstrom at email@example.com to let her know, or you can write me a note on the back of your connection card on Sunday morning. We are excited about the prospect of celebrating this momentous event together!
Now I started out this blog today by asking the question of how you all are today. Well I'm excited to tell you that we are creating a new opportunity for us to meet on a more intimate level to answer that question. I hope you all know that we have breakfast and LifeGroup every Sunday morning at 9am downstairs before service where a smaller group of us meet and talk about our victories and our challenges over the last week. But we understand that time doesn't work for everyone. And so we'd like to announce another opportunity to gather together to get to know each other, draw closer in relationship and for Jon and I to answer any questions you may have about Rock Church Ministries or our faith in general. Each month we'll be announcing a date when we will be having lunch following our service at a local downtown Amesbury location. We invite anyone who would like to come to pick up their own lunch or coffee and join us to share some time together. Our first gathering will be after service on Sunday, March 19th at the Market Street Bakehouse. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact Debra or me in advance. I hope to see many of you there!
Looking forward to gathering together on Sunday morning as we continue our study through the Book of James. To God be all the glory!
Hi Amesbury friends! I hope this blog finds you all well this week. I don’t know about you, but right around this time I am finding that the doldrums of winter have begun to set in for me. I’m ready for spring (of course I’m always ready for spring), but it’s just not quite time yet. If I’m not careful I find myself a little bit lackluster, craving the longer, warmer days of spring and summer. Then this morning I began thinking of Ecclesiastes chapter 3, where God reminds us that:
1There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.
What a great reminder that everything happens in God’s timing, which we at this point may not fully understand. And although we may not understand it, there is something we can do - trust that he has made everything beautiful in its time, be happy and do good!
Well what a perfect time to talk about all the good that has been being done. Last weekend was awesome! On Saturday, a group of us put into action what we’ve been talking about in our Real World sermon series on the Book of James. First, we started out bright and early giving out free coffee and donut holes in front of the methadone clinic on the Haverhill/Plaistow line. It was a great time of showing the love and blessing others. Unfortunately, our time was cut short (funny story, ask me about it sometime), but it worked out great because it allowed us to go over to Amesbury and help out at the trustee’s work party. The other great thing was that so many other people were there working too!
If you haven’t been downstairs to see how great that is coming along, or in our newly reorganized and cleaned nursery, you’ve got to see all of these things in person! A HUGE thank you to all the volunteers who showed up, and a reminder that if you weren’t able to make it, there is another trustee’s work party this weekend on Saturday, Feb. 25th and plenty more to do. If you have any questions on projects, timing or what tools to bring, feel free to give Mike Haggstrom a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After we worked for a while at the work party, a small group of us went around downtown Amesbury to spread some more love by giving away care packages lovingly baked and packaged by Debra Haggstrom and her Friday morning women’s group (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU LADIES!). It was an opportunity to meet people just walking around, visit the APD and AFD and to engage with shop owners and others in our community. I think many people felt blessed after getting their care packages, I certainly know we were!
Another exciting thing that is coming out of this outreach is that our ministry will be working with a few of the local shops to provide what you may hear referred to as “suspended coffee”. How it works is that members of our congregation can go in to Ovedia or The Market Street Bakehouse to buy coffee, and then pay for and “suspend” an extra cup of coffee (or two) until someone who needs it comes in. Think about it - a homeless person on a cold day - or a single mom who forgot her wallet– or that person who the counterperson can see is just having a really crummy day – could all have their coffee taken care of by us. What a blessing that could be in someone’s day! We are still working out the details of “The Coffee Pot” with our downtown stores, but the hope is to eventually extend it to beyond our congregation to other members of the community for suspending coffee, bottled water, pizza slices and other food items for homeless and other members of our community. Stay tuned for additional details and drop me an email, text or call if you are interested in helping with The Coffee Pot outreach effort.
MISSION UPDATE: My last item today is a brief mission update. First, we want to keep our Texas Mission Team lifted up in prayer as the advance teams begin to leave today and the full team follows behind on Saturday. Keep them in your prayers for good health, decent weather and opportunities to build new relationship while they are serving down in Texas.
Second, we will be preparing for our next Honduras mission trip, which will take place later in the summer, most likely sometime in July. I am waiting for airfare quotes to finalize details, but we will be having an information session on Sunday, March 26th after the second service in Plaistow (so around 12:45) to talk about our last trip and see who may be interested in joining the team in the future. I’ll send out a reminder as this draws closer, but if you are interested in hearing what God is doing through us in Honduras, please mark your calendars because we would love to see you there!
Finally, I want to let you all know that Jon and I will be leaving for the Philippines to visit Lily on March 6th. We will only have 5 short days of visiting and doing ministry with her, but we are so excited! We would LOVE to take any letters or notes of encouragement for her that you would like to send with us. She still has over 3 months out in the field after our visit so we’d love to bring some extra encouragement from all of you to her when we go. We will need letters and notes no later than SUNDAY MARCH 5TH.
I hope you are not falling into a winter funk like I was, but if you are look around at all the good being done and get out there and do some good as well. Remember as Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians chapter 6, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
I look forward to continuing our study through the Book of James together this weekend at Rock Church Amesbury at 10:10am, and don’t forget breakfast and LifeGroup beforehand at 9:00am.
Blessings on your week!
Greetings Rock Church Amesbury peeps! I’m coming to you a day early this week to bring a special Valentine's Day focused blog. I know some of you may now be sighing heavily, or getting ready to hit the “delete” button, but unlike most of what you'll see around Valentine's Day, this message isn't fueled by Hallmark cards, chocolates or cute little stuffed animals. However, I do want to talk about LOVE, but perhaps not in the way we generally do on Valentine’s Day.
The stories of St. Valentine's life are inconsistent, but most agree on some basic facts. He was a Roman priest during a time when the church was under persecution. St. Valentine was arrested and imprisoned multiple times for sharing the truth of Jesus Christ and trying to convert people to Christianity. In fact, he even wrote letters from prison to spread this message and encourage others to follow Jesus. Some accounts tell that St. Valentine was last imprisoned for performing Christian marriages for couples, which was illegal at the time. This is how St. Valentine became associated with lovebirds. And interestingly, the day we celebrate Valentine’s Day was the day St. Valentine was martyered - February 14th. Seems a little ironic, huh?
Please don’t think I’m a “Valentine’s Day Grinch.” I don't think there is anything wrong with celebrating Valentine’s Day. Finding the one for whom your heart was purposed by God is certainly something to celebrate! But I believe that St. Valentine was about something so far beyond the love that one person can have for another, that we miss the whole point of Valentine's Day when we reduce it to just that. St. Valentine was passionate about spreading word of the unconditional, unapologetic love God has for each one of us that, in turn, allows us to be capable of love for one another.
According to Colossians 3:14, it is this love that is able to bind us together in unity. Unity - what a beautiful concept in a world and a time when being a people of one mind, one heart, bound together by love is a very rare find. So this year as you celebrate Valentine's Day, with or without a sweetheart by your side, let us remember to celebrate the love of Christ which is capable of binding us together like nothing else - for His glory and our good!
Continuing on our Valentine’s Day theme, we are planning a Valentine’s outreach this Saturday. Our current plan is to give out some homemade treats in the afternoon in and around Amesbury to passers-by, people working at the downtown shops, APD and AFD, etc. We may also try to get over to Haverhill around the GAR park area and hand out treats, hats, gloves, etc. This works out perfectly, because you can come for our work party ahead of time, and just stick around and hang out downtown with us, spreading the love! If you’re interested in coming with us on Saturday, or baking and packaging some homemade treats for us to give out, please text, email, call or PM me on Facebook to let me know. Let’s get out and start a LOVE REVOLUTION in Amesbury and beyond! (Did you ever notice that the word “revolution” contains the word LOVE backwards?)
As I mentioned before, the trustees will also be holding another work party this Saturday starting at 8am to continue to work on projects throughout the building. It would be great to have everyone in the morning to get started early, but this is an open time so you are welcome to show up whenever you are able. We are hoping to have all projects wrapping up by early afternoon when we kick off our outreach activities so the more hands, the lighter the work! If you have any questions about the trustee’s work party, please contact Mike Haggstrom at email@example.com.
As I do every week, I am looking forward to seeing you all on Sunday and sharing the love of Christ IN UNITY. I’m sure as we continue to study the Book of James this week, God will have something special in store for us. These are indeed exciting times!
Blessings on your Valentine’s Day and throughout your entire week!
In His love,
LOVE. GROW. SERVE. with Pastor Rachel
Hi Amesbury friends, I missed you all in service last week, but heard that the Spirit was moving at Rock Church Amesbury - Hallelujah! The weather outside may be frightful this time of year, but being part of a God-led, Spirit-filled church family is most certainly delightful!
Speaking of delightful, how about that Patriots Super Bowl win! Thanks to Rick Russell, I watched it on what felt like a 1,000,000,000-inch HD screen with some from our church family over at Rock Church Plaistow. Although the first half of the game was rough, some of us die-hards stayed until the very end and were rewarded by being able to celebrate an incredible victory together!
The way the Patriots played in the fourth quarter reminds me what we talked about in the first week of our Real World Series where James called us to persevere through all kinds of trials. Sometimes perseverance is hard, but we as Christ-followers are called to live by a higher standard. In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul wrote, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” This is how the Patriots played football last Sunday. When asked at a press conference the following morning when he would take time to celebrate and enjoy the win, Bill Belichick’s response was that because of their extended 2016 season, the Patriots were already 5 weeks behind in the 2017 season! There are times in my ministry when I feel this sort of urgency with our work, the work of building God’s kingdom. But in the same way, I so look forward to celebrating the most incredible victory together when our work is done! It is my prayer for us this week that we may all run our race for God in the same way the Patriots played that game, holding ourselves to a higher standard, running the race with perseverance, with the goal of ultimately gaining that crown of life. #NoDaysOff (the chant Belichick began at the victory parade on Tuesday )
On Sunday, in our continued study of the Book of James, he challenged us not to read the Bible for information, but rather for transformation. James emphasized that our goal shouldn’t just be to “know” God’s word, but to allow it to change us in a way that we are moved to action. Along those lines, I wanted to share a short snippet from a devotional I’ve been reading by Max Lucado called God is With You Every Day. Yesterday’s devo talked about how hard it can be for us to experience human suffering, but how Jesus calls us to stop and “see” one another and to respond with compassion (Luke 7:44-48). Max Lucado wrote, “This word compassion is one of the oddest in Scripture. The New Testament Greek lexicon says this word means ‘to be moved as to one’s bowel’... (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity).” Compassion, then, is a movement deep within - a kick in the gut.” That’s powerful. What if just by taking a moment, stopping to see the hurt of others around us, and experiencing that kind of compassion, we can be moved to go and to do?
Last year on Valentine’s Day, a group of us baked cookies and took to the streets in Amesbury and Haverhill to give them out along with hats and gloves to anyone who may need them. We gave them to passers-by, people working in the downtown Amesbury shops, the Amesbury Police and Fire, at the shelters and on the streets of Haverhill, etc. We haven’t planned our date for this year yet, but if you’re interested in baking some treats and going out with us, shoot me a text, email or PM me on FaceBook and I’ll let you know when we’re planning to go. And even if you can’t make it with our group, how about find another way to see, feel and get out there to show Christ’s love to those who are in need or hurting. You could make all the difference in someone’s world.
Looking ahead to next Saturday, February 11th, we have another great opportunity to gather together, have some fun and help our youth get to Soulfest this year at The Red Party. The Red Party is a night of dinner, dancing to music by our very own DJ, photo booth fun, silent action, prizes for things like most red worn, etc! So join Pastor Jon and I Saturday evening to raise money for Soulfest scholarships and to have a great night of fun and fellowship! Tickets are $20 each. Please contact Mike Hills at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
I hope to see you Sunday as we continue our Real World series studying the Book of James.
February 1, 2017
LOVE. GROW. SERVE. with Pastor Rachel
Greetings Rock Church Amesbury family! I hope this email finds you all well on this mid-winter day. This past week we started our new sermon series on the Book of James that we are calling “Real World”. To me this is just a perfect title because James' words are real, raw and just as relative today as they were when he wrote them. Last week we covered James 1:1-18, starting out with who James was (Jesus' brother) and who he was writing to at the time (the persecuted Jewish Christ-followers). Then things got real fast when James drops the truth bomb that we should "consider it pure joy" when we face trials of any kind (v. 2) and to persevere through those trials so that, “having stood the test, we may receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him" (v. 12). We talked about this concept of "testing," not in the sense of being quizzed on knowledge or ability, but rather as in being refined or tested as the silversmith tests silver. In this process, the silversmith patiently applies just the right amount of heat to the silver until the impurities or the "dross" rises to the top. Time after time, he heats and reheats the silver, each time skimming and removing those impurities, until he finally knows that it is pure when he can see his reflection in the silver as though looking in a mirror. Wow. What a perfect picture of what God desires to do for us through the trials and hardships of life, skimming away the impurities and making us more in more into the image of Jesus. Simply awesome.
As God continues His work in us, making each one of us into something beautiful, we persevere in our work to do the same in our building. Sometimes it is easy to look around and get distracted or discouraged by everything that needs to be done (believe me I have been there). Maybe some of you remember before the lobby wall was rebuilt? Or before we had windows in our front doors to look out into the world around us? Or just a short time ago when we couldn’t use the stairwell down to the women’s bathroom? When I think about how far we've come I realize "Wow, God is so very good!" To keep this good work going the building trustees will be holding work parties over three Saturdays on Feb. 4th, 18th and 25th. Work is set to begin around 8:30am and finish up by mid-afternoon (or earlier if it goes quickly). Understanding that not everyone can join in every week, all are welcome to drop-in as you are able. Any questions about work parties should go to Mike Haggstrom at email@example.com
The last thing I want to talk about today is Celebrate Recovery or “CR” as we call it. I know we all have so much going on in our lives that it is difficult to fit everything in, but CR is such a time of worshipful attendance to truly seeking healing from the hurts of this world that I don’t want anyone to miss out on the experience! If you haven’t had an opportunity to join us on a Tuesday evening, I want to extend that invitation to everyone right now. CR is an open experience so you can come every Tuesday evening or just drop in when you are able, for the entire evening or just the parts you can fit in. We start by sharing a meal together @ 5:30pm for a requested donation of $5.00 (can’t beat that!), followed by large group worship @ 6:30 and finishing off with small group sharing @ 7:30. I really hope each one of you will consider dropping by on your next open Tuesday to see how God can heal us of all hurts, habits and hang-ups that keep us from living the abundant life Jesus promised.
Looking forward to continuing through the Book of James together this Sunday as we seek God’s will for us in the Real World!
LOVE. GROW. SERVE. with Pastor Rachel
Hello friends! My apologies for the late email this week, but the Honduras Mission Team traveled all day yesterday and didn’t touch down back in Boston until well after midnight last night. It was an incredible
trip for our leadership team and we are home and excited about the connections we made and the work that we have before us! I’m sure you’ll hear all about it soon enough, but I just want to share a couple of highlights with you. The kids at Little Lambs are doing great and getting so big! Because there are a handful of kids who are quickly approaching 18, it has become obvious that there is an immediate need to build separate housing for them on the property so that they will start to gain some independence, but still be in close proximity to their Little Lambs family. This will also open up some room to take additional younger children into the Little Lambs family. We hope to assist with this both financially and by providing labor to build the housing over the next few months. As I had mentioned last week, we are targeting another trip around July, but would like to perhaps send some smaller skilled teams over the next few months as well to do some work on this project. If you are interested in being a part of the July team or a smaller skilled team, drop me an email so we can talk further about timing and what is needed. More info to come on the next full team trip and we plan to host some information nights over the next couple of months.
Another incredible experience that our leadership team was able to participate in was to meet with the pastors at a local Compassion International center in San Pedro Sula in an area of the city called Rio Blanco. This is a very poor slum where the living conditions are unimaginable to most of us here in the States, but where we found the people to be warm and welcoming. Our ministry was able to provide rice, beans, cooking oil, dental supplies and bibles for 50 families there and our team personally visited and prayed with several families during our short time there. It was difficult and beautiful and amazing to see God at work, both in these families’ lives and in our team members, even in the midst of the trash heaps. But isn’t that just what our God specializes in? Meeting us where we are, often in the most unlikely of places, and making something beautiful out of that which may initially have seemed dirty, disgusting and hopeless. That perfectly describes what He has done with my life and it is my most sincere prayer that you’ve seen Him work similarly in yours.
Although my mind and my heart have been turned toward Honduras this week, I am very excited about being back together with you all on Sunday as we start our new sermon series studying the Book of James. This Sunday we are also looking forward to once again hosting our Rock Church Ministries Choir, so please try to use on-street parking on Main Street and Nayson Court and the public parking lot behind the library if you are able to ensure parking is available for our guests.
I can't wait to share more of the details of our latest visit to the Honduras when we see you and to start our new sermon series this week in worship at 10:10am and wrapping up our discussion of Reboot! at LifeGroup beforehand downstairs at 9am.
Looking forward to seeing you all Sunday!
LOVE. GROW. SERVE. with Pastor Rachel
Hola Amesbury amigos! I'm greeting you en Español this week because by the time you read this Pastor Jon and I, along with other members of our Honduras mission leadership will be on a plane to visit with our friends at My Little Lambs orphanage just outside of Siguatepeque, Honduras. When we began this mission over two years ago, we could not possibly have imagined how God would use it to build relationships and transform lives. Whether your support for these children has come in the form of prayer, donations or words of encouragement to those who have been called to “Go!” we sincerely thank you and feel as though we take you all with us. We will be planning another full team trip to Honduras sometime around July so keep your eyes out for additional details on that as winter begins to wind down.
Speaking of winter, I just want to give a huge shout out to our Trustees, Hilary & Bub, and everyone else who has helped out tremendously this winter to make sure that our parking lot and all entryways are clear of snow and ice on Sunday mornings and throughout the week. I still remember one snowy morning a few years ago when a handful of us were out braving the elements with whatever shovels and gear we could find to tackle clearing the driveway only an hour or so before service was set to start. How richly God has blessed us since then, and I just want to be sure to thank those who are part of that blessing!
I also want to celebrate a great time at the volunteer/leadership lunch after service this past week. I so appreciated gathering together, growing in relationship with one another and dreaming about what is to come for each of our ministries and our campus as a whole. As you’ve most likely heard me say many times, I am amazed by what God has done in our campus over the last year and I have no doubt that he has greater things than we could ever imagine ahead of us. I hope this process of gathering together and being intentional about seeking His will in preparation for the future has equipped us to boldly approach the incredible plans He has for us as the church. If you have additional thoughts after our lunch or if you were not able to be with us and have some thoughts, feel free to give me or P. Jon a holler after the 25th when we return from Honduras.
Before I sign off for another week, I wanted to let you know about a great opportunity we’ll be sad to miss this weekend at our Plaistow campus. This Saturday evening, Epic Season, an amazingly talented Christian band from right here in New England, will be in concert at our Plaistow campus as they debut songs from their new album. This band is always great at Soulfest and one of our youth group’s favs, but I can say that no matter what age you are you’ll have a great time. Tickets for the Epic Season concert are $10 and can be purchased at the door. As if that wasn’t enough, on Sunday we have Christian artist Paul Coleman hosting our Sunday evening service at 6:00pm in Plaistow. If you haven’t met Paul or heard him play, you won’t want to miss it!
I can't wait to come home and fill you in on the details of our latest visit to the kids at My Little Lambs in Honduras. We will certainly be praying for you all as you join together in worship this Sunday at 10:10am to finish up our Reboot! sermon series, and don't forget there's always breakfast and LifeGroup beforehand downstairs at 9am.
Hasta la proxima vez (Until next time)!
Hi Amesbury friends! I hope you are enjoying some relief from this cold, snowy weather we've been having. Despite the frigid temperatures, I find myself feeling grateful this week, particularly for all of you. I'm especially grateful for the times when we are able to come together and truly be "the church" in the way that God intended so that we can fulfill our first core conviction, that EVERYONE NEEDS JESUS. Some of my favorite verses in the Bible come from chapter 2 of the Book of Acts where the early church is described so beautifully:
"They devoted themselves to the apostlesʼ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Last week in my email I also mentioned our second core conviction, that EVERYONE IS GIFTED TO SERVE. This past snowy, cold Saturday a group from Rock Church gathered and put these words from the Book of Acts and these first two core convictions into action by hitting the streets in downtown Haverhill and giving out hats, gloves, scarves, socks and, yes, even underwear. When we couldn't find people to give them to, we tagged and bagged them for those who may need them later. Our bags clipped to the big tree downtown in front of the bus station even made it onto the "You Know You're From Haverhill When" FaceBook page! It was super cold, but we had an incredible time meeting great people and praying over our community.
Another place where our church is able to really come alive is in LifeGroups and I am especially grateful for the time I've been able to share recently in our Amesbury 9am breakfast LifeGroup. LifeGroups are a place where we can put our third core conviction, that EVERYONE IS MEANT TO GROW to work. When you have a group of people around you who are honest, real and ready to support you no matter where you're been or what you're going through, it can be absolutely life-changing. If you've never had the opportunity to join us downstairs on Sunday mornings, you really should try it out! The only qualification is that you are ready to experience a great breakfast with great people. Beyond that, there's the opportunity to really be a part of a more intimate time of doing life together in the way God intended us to in the church. If 9am just seems too stinkin' early for you, I totally get it and you can join us at 10:10 upstairs for service. But we have plenty of other LifeGroups for you to join in. Take a look at the list at http://www.rock-church.org/lifegroups-1 and make a fresh start this year by getting involved!
Also, I just want to remind everyone that our Amesbury ministry leaders and volunteers thank you lunch will be held after service this Sunday, January 15th in our newly renovated downstairs space. If you have not yet received an invite from your ministry leader, or are not yet involved but interested in volunteering or learning more about our church, consider yourself invited! Please reply to the email you received, or just drop our ministry assistant Debra a quick email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and give us a shout that you're planning to come so we can get an idea of how best to set up. It's sure to be a great time of gathering, eating and dreaming of what is to come in 2017.
If you weren't able to be with us last week, I hope you'll join us this coming Sunday at LifeGroup at 9:00 or for service at 10:10 to discover how we can Reboot!
Until then, may all God's blessings go with you.