Ministry Moments – April, 2020

Greetings members and friends,

It is March 30th, 2020 and we are all confined. It is difficult for many of us, we can’t do what we normally do. We can’t see our friends and families. We aren’t free to go to the grocery store as much as we may like. Our meals are at home, no way to go out for a special meal at a restaurant and let someone else serve you. We may be getting tired of the same walls with the same paintings, pictures and then there are the same old programs on TV and we are coming up on reruns, oh boy, that’s something to not look forward to.

This is not the first time in history that people have been placed in seclusion or confined to a place. It isn’t the first time in history that people can’t get out and walk around freely and greet friends on the street. God has allowed many of His people to experience this in the past, and it may happen again. Think about Anne Frank and her family confined to small quarters above a warehouse. It was Anne and her family, father, mother and sister and the Van Daan family, mother, father and son. They were confined with nowhere to go, they weren’t able to get out for fresh air like we can, and were completely dependent upon others to bring them food. (Amazon, Doordash etc.) Then there were those confined to concentration camps during the holocaust. They had no control and very little food or warmth. Paul spent time in prison numerous times. David spent time running from Saul, separated from people and hiding in caves. Then there is Pastor’s favorite confinees, Noah and his family of 7. On the Ark during the 40 days and 40 nights and then for about a year after while the Earth dried up enough for them to disembark.

So the good Lutheran question is “What Does This Mean?” This means we will get through this. We will make it to the next adventure He has planned for us. We aren’t alone; God was with the people before us and He is with us now. In every situation God is right there with us. [Matthew 28:20]  He understands what we are going through and He will give us the strength and courage to get through this just like He did with Noah and the others.

When this is all over and we can get back to what we knew as normal, God will still be with us and we will have new experiences that have seasoned our lives and to tell stories about; new things we learned, and we will have grown. Use this time to study God’s Word, to talk to friends you may not have had “time” to talk to. Call them on the phone and spend 10 minutes talking to them. Spend some special time in prayer and meditation. Enjoy those meals at home, set your table with the good china and share a candle light meal with your loved ones. Take this time to get reacquainted with those you love and care about.

May God bless and keep you all till we can meet again. And when we do meet again, we will be free to shake hands, give hugs and sit next to each other. What a wonderful time that is going to be. I look forward to that.

You are all in our prayers and thoughts and we will be talking with you as this goes on.

In His love and service,

Debbie Oatman

Ministry Moments – March, 2020

FEAR

          God has blessed us with emotions, they are the feelings we experience in our lives. There is joy, anger, worried, tired, sad, excited, fear, love and I’m sure you can come up with more emotions/feelings. We all have them, we all experience joy and happiness, sadness, love and fear.

          So, what do we do about our feelings? Years ago before we went to Seminary, Mark and I participated and eventually presented at Marriage Encounter. It was a GREAT experience and we enjoyed sharing our “story” with those coming to enrich their marriages. As we wrote for our presentations our mentors would say to us “There is a feeling behind that”. Prior to writing for Marriage Encounter, I thought I was sharing my feelings, but I learned I was holding back. I was afraid to share my “true” feelings. I didn’t want to face my feelings. This wasn’t helping me, it wasn’t helping Mark, and it certainly wasn’t going to help the couples coming to strengthen their relationships. Our mentors and friends helped us discover that sharing our emotions/feelings would open our communication with each other and with others.

          Don’t get me wrong, there is a element of privacy, of confidentiality, but sharing some of our feelings/emotions with each other and how we got through some of our difficult times and how we rejoiced in the amazing times God has given us is incredibly helpful to others and to each other in understanding how God works in our everyday lives.

          God has blessed us with joys, sorrows, and anticipation of what He has in store for us. There are times when we are fearful of what will happen in the distant future, in the weeks to come, and even tomorrow. The one thing we have and can always count on is God’s blessings and His constant presence. He is always there with us, we never have to walk alone.

          When I am experiencing fear and doubt I turn to His Word and Promises. Here are a few of my favorite passages that I turn to, I hope they will help you as well.

Hebrews 13:5                  Joshua 1:5                      Deuteronomy 31:6                  

Matthew 28:20               Romans 8:37-39             Romans 8:31-35            

2 Chronicles 13:12            Psalm 46:7                     Psalm 46:11                            

1 Corinthians 4:1            Deuteronomy 7:9 Deuteronomy 31:8

Genesis 18:14 Isaiah 8:10

          These are a few of the passages I turn to when I need comfort and support. There are many more passages that you can share with others, I would love to hear some of your favorites. I may find comfort in your joy of searching Scripture for His answer. The one thing I am not afraid of is telling God Thank you for the blessings and struggles. I am also not afraid to comfort others with the fact that God has always been there for me and will be there with them. To share God’s love and blessings with others that are hurting or even joyful is truly a blessing and honor.

In God’s peace and love,

Debbie Oatman 

Ministry Moments – Merry Christmas, 2019

The Wonder of Christmas/Xmas

          It’s that time of year – Christmas/holiday season/Hanukkah/Kwanza. There’s the hustle and bustle of the “season”. A time to rush around, spend more money that you really want to spend, make sure everything is set up at home, in the church, all the activities must be perfect; it is the season after all. It is a beautiful time of year, right? Everyone is smiling, especially the retailers.

Where is the joy and anticipation we used to have? What would happen if the tree didn’t get put up on time or the presents didn’t get wrapped, and the feast didn’t get prepared?  What if no one is coming over to celebrate with us? Would Christmas cease? What are we celebrating? The Season or the reason for the season?

God came to Earth as a baby, a little helpless baby. Why? Because we needed Him to come, we are sinners and without Him there is no hope, no joy, no future. Because He came, we have hope of a brighter life, a life eternal. We have the joy of knowing we are safe from eternal separation from Him. We have a future forever with Him.

          Enjoy the time with family and friends but don’t let all the hustle and bustle of this time of year get in the way of the real celebration. If the tree goes up a bit late or maybe not at all, remember, Jesus still came for you. If all the presents to get purchased and wrapped perfectly and under the tree at just the right time, remember Jesus came for you. If part of the feast doesn’t make it to the table, remember Jesus came for you.

Enjoy your family, share the Story of Jesus from Luke 2. One of my fondest memories is my Pappa  reading from the big family Bible and all the kids sitting around his rocking chair enamored by his voice and the Biblical account. This little baby came for me! He came for you! Because of HIM, WE have a place in Heaven forever.