Last Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday – a day that we traditionally attribute to Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Jesus rode into town on a donkey, fulfilling a messianic prophecy spoken long ago through the Prophet Zechariah and recounted by Matthew:
“This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, `See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'”
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem in this very particular way He was declaring himself as the Messiah the Jewish people had been waiting for. It is a wonderful day, full of celebration and hope for a bright future. It is hard for me to sit back, thousands of years later, and imagine such a hopeful and joyous crowd turning so quickly into an angry mob demanding Jesus be crucified. It’s baffling if you think about it. But history has shown us how quickly public opinion can turn, sometimes it merely takes a rumor.
Still, as I sit here I can’t help but think about what it must have been like for those closest to Jesus. How they must have felt proud to enter into the city with Jesus, and how confident they must have felt in their belief that He was the promised one they had waited so long for. And yet, as we can see most famously in the story of Peter, not a handful of days later this proud and confident disciple of Jesus becomes afraid of his association with Him and instead of remaining by His side Peter denies that he even knows Jesus. Not only does he deny it, but he denies it three times. I imagine the chill that must have run down Peter’s spine when the rooster crowed and Jesus locked eyes with him from across the courtyard.
We can never know the intimate details of what went on in the minds of the disciples, but we can imagine. We don’t have any indication that any of them spoke up for Jesus against the Jewish religious leaders and the mob they incited, perhaps they were simply too afraid for their own lives. Or had they begun to doubt that Jesus was, in fact, who they thought He was? I think they were afraid, at least at first, or maybe they were all in denial that any of this was happening: the arrest, the trial, the punishment. It could be that they were sitting back waiting for Jesus to call forth His heavenly glory and smite the unbelievers, leaving no room for anyone to doubt who He was.
And then Jesus did the unthinkable – He died. I imagine this must have been shocking to His followers, beyond what words can describe. How is it that the savior, the great and promised Messiah could die? He was supposed to free the people and usher in a never ending age of peace and prosperity in a renewed relationship with God – finally undoing the damage that was done so long ago in the garden.
We know that Jesus died Friday afternoon, it is why we call it “Good Friday.” But I can’t help but imagine that to the followers of Christ who were there on that day it was anything but good; it must have been frightening. There was barely enough time in the day to get Jesus down from the cross and into a tomb before the Sabbath began, and then they had to wait until the Sabbath ended before anything more could be done. We call that day Holy Saturday, a day where people stand vigil, remembering the death Jesus suffered on the cross, and awaiting the dawn of Easter morning – also known as Resurrection Sunday.
Today, we are in the unique position of looking back on the event, full well knowing what happens Sunday morning. For us it is the beginning of the story, instead of the end of one. This weekend is a time to remember, but it is not a time without hope or without promise. We have only to wait for the dawn, for Easter to come and celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise to set us free and bring us back into relationship with Him. Jesus may not have been what the Jews expected, but He was exactly what we all needed Him to be.
God’s word is living! Now try to explain that to a five year old. Every Sunday that’s what we do in Uptown Kid’s Ministry.
Uptown volunteers don’t use just words to teach God’s word; they back-it-up with action and heart. We have teachers and co-teachers that invest themselves in creating a fun environment where the Bible becomes tactile, interactive, and memorable. Library lane leaders and walker wranglers get down on the ground to read and play showing each individual child he or she is treasured and valuable. The babies experience the love and safety of God’s arms as dedicated baby huggers cuddle and care for them on a Sunday morning.
And, parents, we are a small part of God’s hand on your child(ren)’s life. If God’s word is truly living, then realize YOU are the leading example of faith in your child’s spiritual growth and understanding. You are with them more than an hour on Sunday morning, and they look to you first. Don’t let this discourage you, rather be encouraged by your church body, scripture, and God’s mercy. Each day point out God’s amazing work in your life to your kid(s). Make it commonplace to talk to your child(ren) about God’s way, the choice to follow Jesus, and what that looks like.
We are blessed with a dedicated and loving team of volunteers that encourage and help strengthen our children’s faith and self-worth in Christ.
It’s never too early or too late to start talking about God. If you are new parents, you can begin reading baby bibles and saying prayers over your little one. If your child is older it may be a rough start but it becomes easier with practice. To help open some of these conversations with older kids there is information each Sunday outside their classroom door, on the website, as well as on the Harvest app under “Upstudy” that gives you an outline of what they learned in class as well as questions to ask “on-the-drive-home.”
As a church body we are told to build one another up showing the world around us God’s love—Start with those closest to you.
This past Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday, the day people in Israel recognized Jesus as King and praised God. We learned Jesus entered Jerusalem not on a war horse seeking fame or vengeance and retribution; Jesus humbly came on the back of a donkey, a colt, fulfilling prophecy. He came not rescue the Israelites and mankind from Roman rule and oppression; Jesus came to rescue the Israelite people and all of mankind from the mark of sin on our lives. So we celebrate and rejoice because we have a loving Redeemer, a humble Savior! We celebrate and rejoice because we can choose to follow Jesus and obey God!
We look forward to seeing you for this upcoming Sunday as we celebrate Jesus conquering sin and death— we have a risen Savior!
Uptown Kid’s Ministry Director
I thought I’d share a little bit about what is going on with the men’s ministry around Harvest.
The men’s ministry at Harvest is a ministry that I help lead with Jeff Isom. We’ve been working together for a couple of years, planning and preparing events for the men of our church.
When we plan an event, we try to make sure our activities fit into one of these buckets:
- Outreach – something to bring an unchurch friend to
- Fellowship – getting to know the other men from Harvest
- Discipleship – growing in Christ together
- Service – working toward a common goal
I wanted to highlight two of the things that are coming up soon for the men of Harvest.
First, we are getting ready to start another batch of men’s small groups at the end of April, and this falls into the category of Discipleship. We are going to go through the book Every Man a Warrior. The book covers some of the basic principles of becoming a student of the Word: regular Bible reading, prayer with purpose, and scripture memory. If you feel like you could be better at any of these disciplines, I think you should consider joining us through this book. It’s made a huge impact on a number of men in the church, and I think you’d really enjoy it!
Second, we are going to The Harbor again on April 1 for our service event. Once each month, a group of men go to The Harbor – a ministry of Portland rescue mission – to prepare and serve dinner to the men who live there. The Harbor is an awesome ministry, and it’s really cool to see familiar faces every time I go. We arrive at 4:45 and leave around 7. During that time, we make dinner, meet the guys who live there, and fellowship with them while eating. It’s a really fantastic ministry, and I’d encourage you to read a little bit more about it here.
If you’ve been wondering about what to do or where to get plugged in, I’d love to hear from you. Shoot me an email or meet me in the foyer on Sunday morning. I’d love to share a little bit more about what we’ve got going on around here!
To learn more, visit the Men’s Ministry Page on the website!
I have a confession to make: I’m a loser. Not the kind of loser who through poor choices or bad luck never seems to make a success of things. No, I’m the kind of loser who, well…loses things. Lots of things. Repeatedly. Over and over. Jackets, keys, books, important papers. You name it; I’ve lost it. My theory is that there is some sort of invisible vortex into an alternate dimension that follows me everywhere I go, snatching up items whenever I set them down and spitting them out Heaven knows where a few hours or weeks later. At times, this can be inconvenient.
On the other hand, it has been great for my prayer life:
“Oh God, Great Heavenly Father, Beloved Master of the Universe, please, please, PLEASE let me find my keys!”
“Oh God, Lord of All Creation including black holes and alternate dimensions, please, please, PLEASE let me find my refund check!”
“Oh God, Patient and Kind Father who never grows sick or weary of hearing from me, please, please, Please, show me where I left the foot cream.”
It is possible God got a little sick of my panicked pleadings. I say this because he eventually provided me with a secret weapon against the vortex: my husband, David.
If I am a loser, David is a finder. He has this amazing ability to take in all the visual details in the world around him and draw important conclusions from them. “There is a tiny green corner of paper sticking out from beneath that pile of newspapers. Could that be your refund check?” It’s a miracle really. When he opens the refrigerator door and looks at the chaos of tinfoil-clad leftovers, wilting produce and crowded condiments, he can always find the mayonnaise. I love this man.
Not only is David skilled at finding things, but he is persistent. When he looks for something he will not give up until he finds it. If I have lost something, he will drop whatever he is doing, and comb through every corner of the house until he finds it for me. Now, here’s the thing. David does not enjoy searching for things. He has such a good visual memory that he almost never loses something himself. And yet, he is constantly giving up his free time to help me find stuff. Why? Because he loves me.
And here’s where Missions comes in. You were wondering when I was going to get to that, weren’t you? Have you ever seen the artist’s rendition of Jesus where he has a sheep thrown across his back and he is all happy and smiling and stuff? Why do you think he’s so happy? Have you ever seen a real sheep? They are not the cleanest creatures and they are dumb as posts. They are also quite heavy. If I had a sheep strapped across my back, I would not be smiling.
The picture comes from a story Jesus told in Luke 15:4 – 15:7 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me. I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Jesus is smiling in the picture because he is happy. Something was lost, and Jesus found it. Jesus is the finder! Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” The Bible tells us that Jesus first came for the lost sheep of Israel. But when he rose from the dead he opened up that vision to include the whole world. He told his disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19.
Here’s another confession. That verse doesn’t move me. It doesn’t give me chills. I know it is “The Great Commission” and all, but it feels a thousand miles away from me. For forty years I have been trying to drum up feelings when I hear that verse, and it is just not happening. All I feel is a vague sense of guilt because, basically, I am one of those ninety-nine sheep who feels safe and warm and is perfectly content to stand around eating grass and making fun of that funny bleating noise the other sheep are making. I have zero desire to “Go and make disciples.”
Nevertheless, I am 100% committed to missions. Why? Three reasons:
First, It’s not about how I feel; It’s about how God feels. As a member of the body of Christ, I am God’s finder. I am the hands and feet of Jesus. I don’t need to feel an intense desire to save the lost. Just as my husband will get up and look for something because he loves me. I will get off my bottom and help Jesus reach people for God because I love God. And God loves everyone. He will miss every person that doesn’t make it into Heaven. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Second, I remember what it feels like to be lost. I know what it is to be lost and alone, trapped in sin and shame. It is a bad place to be; and if I can have a part in saving people from it, I’m in.
Third, God is a Keeper. The people God saves get to be with Him for eternity. Most of the things I do each day probably don’t have a dramatic eternal impact. It would be nice if looking at pictures of kittens on the internet somehow advanced the Kingdom of Heaven, but I don’t have a lot of confidence there. However, the things I do to support missions, do have an eternal impact. I can’t think of a better use of my time and resources.
Harvest Christian Church is 100% committed to missions. We support missionaries all over the world. In future posts, I’ll share some of the great things happening in Africa, Mexico, the Middle East and Cuba because of the missionaries we support.
September Price, Missions Committee
Visit our MISSIONS info page here!
Something happened this past weekend. Something unexpected, but also something that was incredibly exciting to be a part of.
This past weekend, a group of students came together out at Unite Winter Camp. Like so many other situations with teenagers, there was a group who knew each other well, and a group of newer students who knew very few people, if anyone at all.
When it began, it was clear that some people were unfamiliar with the surroundings, others admitted they were there because their parents made them go, and still others were genuinely there to learn and grow in their faith. But by the end of camp, Sunday night, every member of the group was united in heartfelt goodbyes, nicknames, hugs, and laughing, as in two short days, they had united.
But this doesn’t just happen, not often, and certainly not often with teens. Social insecurities usually hinder this kind of unity happening in this short amount of time. But God moved this weekend, and we all came home better for it.
I think this is precisely what Jesus was encouraging us toward when He was praying for us in John 17:20-26. Jesus, just hours before His arrest, vehemently begs His Father that those who believe in Him will be united in Him, just as He is united in God. Jesus also prays that His church will be united with one another, so that “all of them may be as one”.
But I wonder how you, the reader, handles this verse. It certainly is not limited to teenagers at a weekend winter camp. Here we see the Savior of the world calling out to God that those who believe in Him be unified entirely. And yet, how often is it that we are content to come to church on Sunday, enjoy an uplifting or challenging message, worship for a while, and go home? Maybe we read our Bible and we listen to Christian radio and we love Jesus, but are we uniting with the body of Christ? Are we in fellowship with our church, both inside and outside of the building?
Being part of the body of Christ doesn’t just mean we are united with Him, it means that we are coming together in fellowship, in service, and in so much more with the other members of our church. Too often I hear people say that they “don’t feel connected” with the church, yet they’ve never tried a small group, or gone to any events, or even just stayed and talked with people after service.
If you’re feeling like you haven’t connected with anyone, it’s time to live Jesus’ prayer and make a point to unite with the rest of church, to plug in with what we have for you here.
You never know what a small group, or a coffee conversation, or even two days at a camp will do for you.
I would like to give a resounding thanks to everyone who gave scholarship money for students to go to camp. This camp would not have been the same without every student that went, and your contributions made that happen. Thank you!
Youth Pastor Steve Valdez