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Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

This month, on Sunday, October 16th, we are kicking off a Stewardship Campaign Series called Committed to Christ. Unfortunately, the words “stewardship campaign” have gotten a bad rap over the years. Somehow, these words have been reduced to the thought that the church is just begging for money. The truth is that stewardship is all about discipleship. And, we, who claim to love Jesus, are striving to be his disciples, right? And, not just striving to be his disciples, but striving to be disciples who are growing more and more in the likeness of Christ.

Let’s cut straight to the heart of the matter: how committed are we to being growing disciples of Jesus Christ? Please take a moment, look in a mirror, and ask, “How committed am I to being a growing disciple of Jesus Christ?” No one else can answer this question for you. No one else can answer this question for me. It’s a personal question whose answer has a profound effect on our lives together as the Body of has a profound effect on our ability to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our neighborhood. If we are not individually committed to being growing disciples of Jesus Christ, we will not grow as the Body of Christ. Ephesians 1:22 tells us that Christ is the head, over all things of the church, and the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” We cannot display the fullness of Jesus without growing more and more in his likeness.

Growing as disciples isn’t something we wait to do when we have time, or when life is more settled, or…or….or (fill in your own excuse)….friends, the time is NOW! I am praying that we will dig into this series: Committed to Christ, that we may grow in our personal relationship with Jesus, and as a result, our church will be filled with passion for the call God has on our lives to live life intentionally with our neighbors.

Over the past three years I’ve walked alongside a family who suffered a great tragedy. You all know the story about our great-niece, Brooklyne Rose, who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia at 10 months of age and was basically in Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital for the last eight months of her life before she lost her battle on December 5, 2019. Her parents, Emily and Dan, could have easily quit on life…could have easily dismissed God for taking their sweet, baby girl at such a young age. There is no rhyme or reason as to why precious Brookie had to die.

Instead of shutting down and staying angry, Dan and Emily decided to believe that “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) They founded a nonprofit called “Brooklyne’s Beacons” whose mission is “To be a light to families battling childhood cancer.” Their vision is “To raise awareness of childhood cancer, inspire hope, and provide support for those affected by it.”

For two years in a row, Brooklyne’s Beacons has sponsored an event called “Bike for the Bell.” When the bikers, runners, and walkers finish, they ring the bell in solidarity with cancer patients, who, when they finish their treatments, ring a bell. I’ve been honored to be the Event Coordinator for Bike for the Bell and have witnessed the strong faith of my niece and nephew-in-love. Will their hearts be forever broken because Brookie is no longer with them? Yes. They miss her every single day. There is a hole in their family. They are blessed to be parents of 3 children: Colton (7), Brooklyne, and Adelyne (18 mos.). Emily and Dan work full-time, Colton plays sports, and Adelyne is an active, curious, independent toddler who keeps them on their toes. In spite of their busy lives and learning to live with their grief, they are choosing to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ…they are choosing to be obedient to God’s call on their lives to bring hope to families who so desperately need it.

The point in sharing their story is that we all have a choice to make. We can choose to let our life circumstances keep us down. We can choose to remain comfortable and lukewarm in our faith. Or, we can choose to be growing disciples of Jesus who wake up in the morning knowing we have a holy purpose to fulfill! Will we be committed to Christ or not? Choosing to be committed to Jesus does not mean life will be easy, but it does mean that we will live in the assurance and confidence that we are never alone. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Thanks be to God!

See you in worship!

Living in the Grip of God’s Grace,

Pastor Esta

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