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Archive for the ‘Missions’ Category

So you took that first step!  You put your feet in the water and experienced the power of God’s grace as He opened a way for you through an impossible situation.  You are in the promised land.  You are living the dream!

So, what is that fortified city doing in front of you?  Why is there a Jericho sitting right in the middle of your path?

Joshua chapter 6 tells us that even after crossing into their promised land the children of Israel still had enemies to fight.  But, the feet that got them across the flooding river would be the same feet that marched around the enemy and brought their city tumbling down.

From the battle of Jericho we learn an essential spiritual truth — the step we took at the river to cross the line for God was not our final step of faith, but the first step of a lifetime of steps taken in the marvelous adventure God has planned for our lives.

Every step is a step of faith, and in every step we find God faithful.

…the step we took at the river to cross the line for God was not our final step of faith, but the first step…

 

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Our Mission Team has landed in Guatemala, and they have hit the ground running!

Mindy sent me a text that she worshipped our Lord with 150 children this morning.  I’m not sure it was on the original schedule, but I know it was a tremendous joy!

Below you will find the general itinerary for the trip to help you know where they are and how to pray each day.  You can also check out their Facebook pages (Mindy, Deborah, & Jay) for additional details and photos from their adventure. 

GUATEMALA SCHEDULE:  JOY IN JESUS 2010

  • Tuesday, June 8 – Fly out of Midland, Arrive in Guatemala City
  • Wednesday, June 9 – Tour Gerizim School.
  • Thursday, June 10 – Ministry to Guatemalan Missionaries 
  • Friday, June 11 – Ministry to Guatemalan Missionaries
  • Saturday, June 12 – Ministry to Guatemalan Missionaries / Afternoon shopping adventure!
  • Sunday, June 13 – Worship with the Church in Chimaltenango
  • Monday, June 14 – Fly home!

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Yesterday was a special moment for our congregation.  Our attendance was at its highest level ever, and the presence of the Lord was strong and wonderful.  As we worshipped together and as I shared on learning to give and receive mending, I was aware that God was doing a great mending among us.  I believe He was mending the broken places in each of us individually and mending us together as a people of faith and love.

It is a great joy and privilege to pastor such a wonderful congregation in which the lost are being found and the broken healed.  May the mending continue both in and through each of you.

Today, in light of our message on mending, and in honor of a national hero, I invite you to pause and consider the life and ministry of one of the greatest menders in the history of our nation.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the thread that took the fragmented pieces of our nation and dramatically moved us in the direction of mending and healing.

Our Lord Jesus taught us:

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.  Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” — Matthew 9:16-17 (NIV)

The life and teachings of Dr. King sought to not only patch the glaring injustices of his day, but to renew the fabric of our culture, to renew the wineskin of America, so that the message God gave him to preach would not be poured on the ground and lost.

I invite you to pause today and consider the love and sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Consider the life of a man who had the courage to face the realities of his day, and the faith to change them. 

As you remember Dr. King today, I invite you to do so according to his own words:

“I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Podcast

Did you miss yesterday’s message?  Do you need to hear it one more time?  You can find Pastor Eric’s message, “Mend” on the church web site.  Click HERE to listen.

Links

Discover more about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at:

The King Center

MLK Online

On the Radar

Ladies, are you ready for a Girls’ Night?  If so, meet us in the EFC parking lot this Friday evening by 5:30 pm!  We will travel to Clyde, Texas, to hear special speaker Tammy Maltby speak on “The Miracle of Hospitality.”  This will be a great evening, so be prepared to be blessed!  If you are planning to attend, please email Mindy at mindychelle@aol.com to let her know so we can make sure we have a seat for you!

FountainGate Fellowship will host an evening of worship with Keith and Sanna Luker, Sunday, January 24, at 7:00 p.m.  If you need to spend an evening in worship and intercession, this will be a great venue to do so!

Log on to www.efcsweetwater.com for more info to make plans to connect with a Lifegroup this week.

Our youth will be attending the Julian Drive concert here in Sweetwater on Thursday, January 21st.  Log on to www.efcyouth.com for more info!

Revelation Bible study this Tuesday from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in my office.  Everyone is welcome to join in, just bring your Bible and a lunch box.  Keep up with the progress at The Watchman’s Gaze.

Our church will be helping the Ministerial Alliance serve the needy of our community during the month of February.  We will need a coordinator for this outreach, a driver who can pick up groceries in Abilene with a flatbed trailer, a team of volunteers to help sack groceries for two hours on Tuesday, February 16th, and a few more to help distribute the groceries to those in need on Thursday, February 18th.  If you are interested in being a part of this service project, please log on to the church website at www.efcsweetwater.com and click the SERVE icon.

Make plans to join in the after church Fellowship Meal Sunday, January 31.  It’ll be a great day of fun and family time.  More info (and even recipes!) at www.efcsweetwater.com. Click the FELLOWSHIP MEAL icon.

Thanks to Curtis Ward for sharing some information with us yesterday about the upcoming Encounter the Cross Retreat!  If you were interested in attending an Encounter, log on to the church website at www.efcsweetwater.com and click on the “encounter” link!

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring you children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Dancing Generation” by Matt Redmand
  2. “I’ve Found a Love” Jenn Johnson version
  3. “Dwelling Places” by Miriam Webster
  4. “You Won’t Relent” by Misty Edwards

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, January 24, 2010, we continue our Vision 2010 series with an exploration of what it means to be a church that “Trains.”

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The story is told of a French soldier returning to his home after the Napoleonic wars.  Weary and alone, he steadily traveled, passing through village after village seeking shelter and the hospitality of his countrymen.

He was saddened to find the devastation of war had broken the spirit of the villagers.  High taxes, poor crops, and uncertainty had stolen their sense of love, trust, and community.  And so our lonely soldier traveled, trying to make his way home, and trying to make these war torn villages more like home as he went.

His luggage was peculiar.  He didn’t carry the rifle that had helped him survive the hard fought battles he had seen.  He didn’t carry a knapsack full of clothing.  Not much could be found in his old wagon, but a large metal pot and a special box with something priceless inside.

One day, he wondered into a village in the region of Lyon and made his way to the town square which housed the local well.  His presence was met by the slamming of doors, the closing of shutters, and mothers calling their children in early from their playing.  The soldier simply whistled and walked on. 

Upon arriving at the well, he filled his metal pot with water, placed it on an old fire pit in the town square, and lit a nice fire underneath.

A miserly old man passed by and scoffed at the soldier.  “Don’t know why you’re stopping here,” he said, “And definitely no need for a cooking fire.  There ain’t a bite to eat in the whole region.  You’ll starve like the rest of us if you stay too long.”

“Oh, I’ve everything I need right here,” the soldier replied.  “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with the rest of you.”

With that, he opened the box and pulled out a velvet bag and from the bag he removed one small stone and plopped it in the water.  The soldier leaned over the pot, breathed in the aroma with a satisfactory groan, and gave the pot a stir.

Well, it didn’t take long for the entire village to hear word of a stranger cooking up something odd in the center of town.  Many of the villagers began to make their way toward the square, while many others began to peer out of now unshuttered windows.

As the soldier gave the broth a taste and licked his lips in anticipation of a scrumptious meal, hunger began to overtake the villager’s skepticism.

“Ah,” the soldier said to himself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup.  Of course, some flour would sure thicken up the broth.  It’s hard to beat a thick and rich stone soup.”

It wasn’t long before a villager returned with a cup of flour and offered it to be added to the pot.

“Excellent,” cried the soldier, “You know I once had stone soup with minced spices and a bit of garlic.  It was fit for a king.”

No sooner had he spoken the words than two housewives appeared with garlic and spices to add to the simmering pot of deliciousness.  And with that, the soldier gave one more sniff of the pot, yawned quite loudly and decided to go and rest under a tree while the stone soup gently cooked.

It was all the villagers could do to resist stealing a spoonful of soup smelling so wonderful with the fresh garlic and spices wafting in the air.  As the soldier slept a farmer made his way to the pot with some carrots he had hidden away in his cellar.  He was followed by a boy who had been sent with an onion.  Not long after that, the local butcher came bustling into the crowd with a sausage he decided could be spared for such a grand event as stone soup.

As the soup bubbled and the list of ingredients grew, the soldier rested until dinner time when he promptly jumped up, rushed over to examine the soup, and determined it to be the taste of perfection, if only it had a pinch of salt.

Moments later containers of salt came at the boiling pot from four different directions.  It was all the soldier could do to keep the soup from being ruined by over zealous salters.

That evening, an entire village of once broken and disconnected people enjoyed a mighty feast on the lawn of the town square.  They laughed and danced and remembered the old times with such fondness that, for the first time in a long time, they had a pleasant hope about tomorrow.

You can only imagine the offers that were made to purchase that magical stone from the soldier, but he refused to sell, and on the next day he loaded up and traveled on. 

Steadily making his way home from the war, he went, making war torn villages more like home along the way.

It can be quickly seen that Stone Soup is a metaphor for life, leadership, and generosity.  As you contemplate the impact of that metaphor on your vision for a new year, I encourage you to ponder three truths revealed in the story.

  1. As a child of God, you are a soldier traveling through a war-torn land on your way home.
  2. You have been commissioned to make this ravaged earth look more like home.
  3. Every pot of soup you start, you do for His glory.

Grace and peace and a Happy New Year to you all!

Podcast

Check back soon for this week’s Stone Soup podcast.

Links

Check out the church website for additional information about life at EFC.

Parents — don’t forget to head over to the WorldChangers page to access ways to connect Kid’s Church to your kitchen table.

On the Radar – Church Holiday Schedule

  • Wednesday, December 30 – No Church Activities
  • Thursday, December 31 – New Year’s Night of Worship — and talent show!  Email me at efcsweetwater@aol.com to sign up.

Revelation Bible study is taking a Holiday break.  We will resume our eschatological exploration Tuesday, January 5, 2010.

The Drum Circle will be getting back on rhythm in 2010.  Drop me an email if you are interested in learning to play hand drums.

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, January 3, is the first Sunday of the New Year — and the decade.  We look forward to a great start to this year and a great morning of worship with you!

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Gdanks, Poland

Gdansk, Poland

Wow! There’s a lot to talk about this morning. Pastor Eric is in Poland (soon to be in Croatia), Pastor Mindy, Pastor Lolo and Jay Neal got set on fire at Global Awakening’s School of Healing, it was Missions Sunday, and it’s the harvest season.

Has there ever been a better time to be at EFC? Well, the Cowboys did lose, so maybe next week will be even better.

Courage

Courage is a curious thing. And as we learned from Pastor Mindy, courage can also look like a crazy thing. But, when God is on your side, it can also be a pretty cool thing. Just like Jonathan’s plan to take on the Philistines single-handedly seemed crazy, we should start coming up with some crazy plans of our own, and trust that the same God who delivered the Philistines into Jonathan’s hands, will deliver our enemies into our hands. Courage, after all, is a lot easier to command when your trust is in God.

You can read this part of Jonathan’s story at 1 Samuel 14.

Missions Sunday

Appropriately, yesterday was EFC’s Missions Sunday. For anyone who stumbles upon this post or who is relatively new to EFC, the third Sunday of every month at EFC is designated specifically for giving to mission organizations. Here are just a few of the opportunities to support missions work at Emmanuel Fellowship Church:

Prepare International – Pastor Eric and Keegan are currently traveling with a team from Prepare International, and EFC members frequently support and accompany Prepare International mission teams.

Mission Brazil – Part of the reason Pastor Mindy and Pastor Lolo attended the Global Awakening School of Healing and Impartation was because it is a prerequisite to travel with a Global Awakening team to Brazil, which they will be doing in 2010. If you are interested in going to Brazil with the team, please contact Pastor Mindy for more information.

Tents of Mercy – Tents of Mercy is a Messianic Jewish organization spreading the gospel in Israel.  Tents of Mercy currently has five congregations throughout Israel, and EFC currently supports the Katzir Asher (Harvest of Asher) congregation in Akko.

World Bible Translation Center – Help translate the Bible into new languages for distribution throughout the world.

Sweetwater Prayer Center – Help support our very own Sweetwater Prayer Center.

Harvest Season

It’s the harvest season, and all the seed you have sown over the year – whether financial, in ministry, or at home – is ready to be harvested. The key, however, is to harvest because the crop doesn’t gather itself. So go and gather your financial harvest. Go and gather your spiritual harvest. Go and gather the harvest of souls you have worked on all year. They are ripe for the harvest.

I’m not sure where exactly that came from, but I hope it’s a good word for somebody, or a lot of somebodies.

You Heard it at EFC

The just-for-Bryant Wilkinson version (which includes his favorite song):

On the Radar

Advent Choir – The Advent Choir is a new and exciting adventure for EFC and is open to anyone who would like to participate. The choir will sing throughout the holiday season. Practice begins tonight November 16, 2009 @ 7pm at EFC.

WorldChangers – The EFC children’s ministry, a.k.a WorldChangers, has a new website where parents can keep up with weekly lessons and everything else going on with their little world changers.

Revelation Bible Study – The Revelation Bible Study meets weekly on Tuesdays @ noon at EFC. It’s not too late – it’s never too late. Come join in this in depth study verse-by-verse through the book of Revelation led by EFC’s very own Curtis Ward, who is blogging about the study on his blog The Watchman’s Gaze. Check it out.

Last Word

All the reports I’ve heard from Pastor Eric have been good, so keep praying for the wondeful work being done in Eastern Europe by Pastor Eric, Keegan and the whole Prepare International team.

I think I will also be writing next week’s Monday Morning Review, so if you have any news or info that you want included, please email me or leave me a comment below. Have a great week.

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Poland PreachingWe just finished a remarkable Ministry Training School in Gdansk, Poland.

I had the privilege of teaching with Randy Boyd of Prepare International and a new friend, Brad Davidson.  We taught seven sessions on Disicipleship and Spiritual Fathering.  It was a tremendous joy to teach on this subject alongside one of the most influential men in my life.  The message we communicated was more than words and principles, our very lives were a demonstration of the beauty and process of dicipleship over many years and stages of development.

A few observations from our weekend with these wonderful brothers and sisters:

  • The future of the Christian church in Poland is in good hands.  As I shared with 20 somethings through the weekend and teenagers on Sunday morning, I was blessed by the passion and caliber of these young believers.
  • Christians in Poland know how to worship! 
  • People in Poland are hungry for authentic Christianity.  A brief conversation on our flight into Gdansk connected a young woman with the local church.
  • Disciples are being made and will continue to be made in Poland!

Poland WorshipLord Jesus, thank you for the privilege of speaking life into believers in Poland.  May your fire and love fill their hearts and direct their steps.  I thank you for generational blessings flowing through the grace of discipleship among our Polish friends.  Strengthen the Body of Christ in Poland, Lord.  Encourage.  Refresh.  Bless.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

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See the WorldI have the wonderful privilege of taking my oldest son, Keegan, with me on a teaching/training mission trip to Poland and Croatia next week.

We are traveling with Randy Boyd of Prepare International and will speak to students and church planters in their ministry training schools. 

My hope is to bring practical training to church planters and ignite fiery passion in their hearts for ministry and the realities of the Kingdom of God.

Keegan is with me as a friend and a prayer warrior.  I am overjoyed to allow him the opportunity for this cross-cultural experience, and it is my desire to ignite in his heart a fire for missions.  Whatever he chooses to do with that fire is up to him, but I pray his heart will burn with a desire to see our King glorified in every nation and among every tribe and tongue on the earth.

Please pray for a joyous and safe trip.  Pray that our ministry among church planters brings encouragement and equipping that will impact nations for years to come.  Pray for a dynamite time between father and son as we embark on this adventure together.  And please pray for grace and peace to cover Mindy, our home, and our church family as we are gone.

Our Trip Itinerary

  • Thursday, November 12: Depart for the long jump over the pond.
  • Friday, November 13: Turn 35 somewhere over the Atlantic & arrive in Gdansk, Poland for a school on Discipleship
  • Saturday, November 14: Continue Ministry Training School in Gdansk
  • Sunday, November 15: Preach in local churches in the Gdansk area.
  • Monday, November 16: Fly to Croatia & Arrive in Sibinik, Croatia for school on The Kingdom of God
  • Tuesday, November 17: Continue Ministry Training School in Sibinik
  •  Wednesday, November 18: Continue Ministry Training School in Sibinik
  •  Thursday, November 19: Travel to Zagreb, Croatia for school on The Kingdom of God
  • Friday, November 20: Continue Ministry Training School in Zagreb
  • Saturday, November 21: Continue Ministry Training School in Zagreb
  • Sunday, November 22: Preach in local churches in the Zagreb area.
  • Monday, November 23: Fly home!

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.  Check back often for updates from the field.

You can track Pastor Eric and Keegan during their journey on a world wide map at instamapper!  Give it a click, it’s pretty cool.  😉

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WordPress for iphone

This is a practice post from the WordPress iPhone app. I plan to blog the upcoming mission trip to Poland and Croatia, so I thought I’d take a test drive.

What a great pic to practice with!

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Happy Birthday!Happy 1st birthday to the Sweetwater Prayer Center!  We are so excited to celebrate the one year anniversary of a dream.

The Sweetwater Prayer Center was established as a place of prayer that is available 24 hours a day for everyone in our community.  You can register and receive the entry code to the Prayer Center at the bottom of the Prayer Center Website.

During the past year, we have logged almost one thousand hours of prayer in the Prayer Center.  We have also had the privilege of hosting the National Day of Prayer for our community, and we have experienced the tremendous blessing of hosting friends from twelve different nations as they have joined us in prayer right here at 1418 Hailey Street.

…these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer.  Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” –Isaiah 56:7 (NIV)

As a “house of prayer for all nations,” we have a twofold dream for the Sweetwater Prayer Center.  First, we desire that a representative from every nation in the earth would pray at the Prayer Center.  Second, we aspire to establish a network of prayer that provides a representative to pray for every nation in the earth.  This vision of adopting each nation in prayer is described more fully HERE.

Click HERE to see a map of nations who have been represented in the Sweetwater Prayer Center:

Click HERE to see a map of nations receiving prayer through the Sweetwater Prayer Center:

For additional articles on missions and world prayer, you may want to check out:

And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” — Revelation 5:9-10 (NIV)

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Matthew 6 v 14 and 15 jpg“But I just don’t know if I can ever forgive what was done to me.”  I’ve looked into the tear filled eyes of many as they have spoken those words with a quivering voice.

But, what if I told you that you didn’t have to forgive WHAT was done to you?  

WHAT was done to you was wrong.  WHAT was done was unjust.  WHAT was done should never have happened, and I pray it never happens again. 

You are not expected to forgive WHAT has happened to you in your life.  The key to forgiveness is that we must find the grace to separate the offense from the offender.  When we are able to untangle the two, then we make the choice to forgive WHO it is that hurt you.

WHAT was done is the action that was committed against you.  WHO did it is the actor that was used to bring the pain.  In the process of forgiving the person, we must look beyond them to see the true source of the offense that has occurred in our life.

Our battle is not against flesh and blood, and though the WHO that hurt you may have been in flesh and blood form, that person was only a tool in the hands of an enemy.  It is the enemy of your soul who has come to lie to and steal from you.

Let’s pause for a moment and consider our own forgiveness and the grace we received from the life and death of Jesus on the cross.

In Colossians 3:13, Paul tells us:

“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

When we reflect upon our own salvation, we realize that God Himself separated the WHAT from the WHO in our lives.

WHAT we did was paid for through the death of Jesus on the cross so that WHO we are could be forgiven by the grace of God.  What an amazing gift!

Now it is our turn to give what we have so freely received as we release WHAT was done to us to the justice of God and allow even it to be paid for on the cross.  We then make the decision to forgive WHO it is that our enemy used to commit the act against us.

You can make the choice to forgive today by praying a prayer such as the one below.

Father in Heaven, Thank you for the forgiveness I have received from you.  I repent of holding unforgiveness in my heart.  Just as You forgave me, I make the choice to forgive_______________.  I release what was done to me to Your justice.  I ask that Your grace would cover _______________ and free them from the lies of our enemy, releasing them to a life of joy and healing in Your goodness and blessing.  Amen.  

Podcast

If you would like to learn more about the choice of forgiveness, you can click HERE to listen to the entire message of “Give Forgiveness” by Pastor Eric.

Links

I opened yesterday’s message with the miraculous story of Chris Carrier and the power of his choice to forgive.  Read Chris’ full story by clicking HERE.

You can also read more about the power of forgiveness as it brings healing to the nation of Rwanda.  Follow these links to read a news story from CNN and discover a power testimony from World Vision.

At the conclusion of yesterday’s service, I referenced a great series of videos on youtube entitled “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage.”  Here’s a clip of Mark Gungor and his humorous revelation about the male and female brain.

On the Radar

Brazil Mission Trip — Pastor Mindy and Pastor Lorin leave in December for a mission trip to Brazil!  They will each need to raise over $3,000 for trip costs.  For more info and to find out how you can support their trip, click HERE.

The Freedom Weekend is quickly approaching.  Have you signed up?  Make plans to join us November 6 – 7 for an amazing weekend of discovering the healing and joy found in Christ Jesus.   Space will be limited, so sign up early!  For more information, a schedule, and registration information, click HERE.

Happy Birthday to the Sweetwater Prayer Center!  This week marks the one year anniversary of the Prayer Center (and the 11 year anniversary of our church).  I encourage you to make visits to the Prayer Center a part of your weekly routine.  Schedule in opportunities to soak in the presence of the Lord.  You can register and get the 24 hour access code the Prayer Center by clicking HERE

You  Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Happy Day” by Tim Hughes
  2. “Your Love Never Fails” Jesus Culture version-This song totally rocks! 
  3. “I Repent” by Barry and Michelle Patterson
  4. “How Marvelous” Chris Tomlin version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, October 11, is our final week of “Live Like You Were Dying.”  I invite you to join us as we culminate this series by discovering how each of us can “Embrace Eternity.”

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