|Dear Church Family and Friends,|
Ezekiel 37 tells the story of God’s Spirit taking the prophet to a valley with bones in it. As he stands in the valley, Ezekiel sees there are many, many bones, and he also sees they are very, very dry. Then God asks him a question: “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel’s answer to God is, “O Lord, You know.”
That vision is really a story about us, the church. Walk with me into the valley with all the bones and parts of the church we have tried to rattle and bring to life. We’re familiar with these bones. We have walked among them and stepped over them for years. We have tied them together with our programs, and we have shaken them with all our administrative and promotional might. Yes, we know these bones well.
But something is missing. God told Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones so that muscles and flesh would come upon them and breath would enter them and they would come alive. You see, something needed to change with those bones, and something needs to change with the church. Ezekiel did prophesy, and God did turn that valley of dry bones into a mighty army.
God can do the same with us. But before the church can change, you and I must change. Simply changing materials, programs, and activities is not enough. We must change how we perceive the church. What makes a healthy church? Having the sanctuary full on Sabbath? Or is there something more? How we do church is directly related to how we think church. As we embark on our journey toward launching cell groups, let us keep that in mind.
Welcome to Richardson! Heaven’s best to you,
Click HERE for the sermon notes.
Click HERE for this week’s bulletin.
|What comes to your mind when you think of worship? Two boring hours at church once a week? Hoping you get something out of it that makes you feel good? The following illustration may open the door to a whole new way of thinking about worship.|
Boarding the ship the SS Dorchester on a dreary winter day in 1943 were 903 troops and four chaplains, including Moody alumnus Lt. George Fox. World War II was in full swing, and the ship was headed across the icy North Atlantic where German U-boats lurked. At 12:00 on the morning of February 3, a German torpedo ripped into the ship. “She’s going down!” the men cried, scrambling for lifeboats.
A young GI crept up to one of the chaplains. “I’ve lost my life jacket,” he said. “Take this,” the chaplain said, handing the soldier his own life jacket. Before the ship sank, each chaplain gave his own life jacket to another man. The heroic chaplains then linked arms and lifted their voices in prayer as the SS Dorchester sank into the icy waters.
What an illustration of sacrifice! As we continue our message series on worship, I’d like you to think about what a sacrifice like that has to do with real worship. Is it related in any way? Does it involve me personally in any way? I think you might be surprise by what we’re going to find in God’s Word this week.Above all, I hope we’re all changed by what we learn.
Welcome to Richardson!
Appreciating Christ’s sacrifice for us,
Please click HERE for Pastor Byron’s sermon notes for this Sabbath.
Dear Church Family and Friends,
Covid-19 is quite literally hitting home for many of us at this point.
In a world that has even politicized a pandemic, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope can seem like a pipe dream – something not based in reality.
So, this Sabbath, my wife Stephanie and I will talk about what the Bible has to say about hope in the darkest night. Hope in the pandemic. Hope in an election year. Hope in the ridiculousness of 2020.
Let’s be honest though, hope never has been an easy thing to cling to. Just look at the reference to Abraham’s hope in Romans 4:18: “In hope he believed against hope.”
Jesus is the God who specializes in providing hope where there is literal hopelessness. If the world implodes, we still can have the immovable confidence that He died and rose again.
If you’ve read this far – thanks! Here’s a challenge for you. Pause for a second and say out loud, “Jesus died for me. He rose again for me. He’s just about to come back for me! Because He’s alive, my hope can never die.”
It’s easy to get caught in our own thoughts and experiences and forget the majestic meta-narrative that surrounds us each day.
God is God. Today is hard. God is hope. I am scared. God is love. I am anxious.
These realities don’t cancel each other out. They coexist. Like Abraham, our challenge is beautiful but simple.
Even drowning in hopelessness, let’s choose hope.
This week I’d like to just open my heart to you a little bit about the current events in our wonderful nation. For years now, the political divide between the people of this country has been growing, which was cause for concern in and of itself. Then this year barely got started and we were hit with the coronavirus pandemic. While that was unfolding, we experienced several unwarranted killings of Black people by law enforcement, which came to a head with the death of George Floyd and the ongoing protests seeking to correct those injustices. To complicate things, it seems there are also anarchist groups taking advantage other people’s oppression to advance their own lawless agenda. All of this has moved our nation to a place of anxiety and instability I think few of us have ever experienced or perhaps even know how to cope with.
In the midst of this, I want to encourage all of us not to lose perspective or forget where our true grounding and stability lie. First of all, don’t let all the news we’re bombarded with push you to a place of fear and anxiety. I heard of a woman who was sharing her fear and anxiety from what’s going on with someone, and that person gave some great advice. It was to turn off all the news for one week—don’t look at, listen to, or read anything—and surround yourself with positive things. If you’re feeling like that woman, I’d like to suggest you follow that advice. Further, I want to add this—spend the time you’d normally spend on the news reading encouraging passages of Scripture. Here’s a wonderful piece of encouragement: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe” Proverbs 18:10. Our true grounding and stability are in the Lord our God.
Second, I believe we must strive to live the words of Jesus in John 13:35 now more than ever before: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” My heart truly breaks for what I see happening in our nation, and while we may not be able to impact it on a macro level, we certainly can on a micro level. We can make things better for the people we interact with and for the people in our own community by passionately pursuing a life of self-sacrificing love, which is the kind of love Jesus demonstrated toward us. I think of how beautiful it can be when each of us demonstrates that same love to the people around us, regardless of who they are.Last, I encourage you to just relax and rest in the Lord. Trust fully in Him. Don’t try to solve things on your own. I’m reminded of this powerful passage that is often so hard for us humans to actually do. “For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ But you would not, and you said, ‘No, for we will flee on horses’—therefore you shall flee! And, ‘We will ride on swift horses’—therefore those who pursue you shall be swift! One thousand shall flee at the threat of one, at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left as a pole on top of a mountain and as a banner on a hill. Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you” Isaiah 30:15-18. Let’s all slow down, be quiet, and rest in the Lord. I think we’ll be a lot happier and more peaceful.
Welcome to Richardson!
Grace and Peace to You,
First, I feel compelled to just stop for a moment and express gratitude to God for His goodness during this time that has been so difficult for all of us in so many ways. Even as we acknowledge that is has been, and continues to be difficult, in the midst of that, we have still seen so many evidences of God’s provision and intervention and blessing. I think of so many ways it could have been so much worse, so I don’t want us to forget to give our God a big “thank you.” I also want to thank all of our ministry leaders and their teams for the amazing way they have stepped up to adjust and continue ministry in the new environment. We have an incredible team at this church.
I must repeat God’s wonderful promise in Psalm 91:1-3, 9-11-“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. . . . Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” Let us all claim that promise and trust in our awesome God.
Second, I want to highlight the importance of Adventist Education during this time. If there ever was a time when students need a faith-based education to help them cope with the challenges of the world around them, it is now. I don’t think we fully understand the emotional toll the coronavirus pandemic is taking on our young people, and only God can provide a truly positive and hopeful framework within which to deal with their questions and find answers. North Dallas Adventist Academy is a place that provides that Adventist, faith-based framework and this is a great time to transition from public education to a decidedly Christian environment. We are giving special focus to that this Sabbath and want to welcome NDAA’s representatives among us. If you have children enrolled in public school, we’d like you to prayerfully consider making the move the NDAA for the coming school year.
Welcome to Richardson!
Grace and Peace to you,
Dear Church Family,
Something’s in the air, and I am not just thinking of viruses. As Pastor Byron talked about last Sabbath, we realize that we are living in the very last chapter of this Earth’s history. This is exciting, but also very sobering. Many people have questions and fears for the future. “Are we going to make it throughout this?” and “Am I prepared for what is coming?” are just a couple of such questions. Some people have already responded to the apparent oncoming crisis by stockpiling food and toiletries. We call them “preppers” in that they are preparing, or “prepping”, for an oncoming devastating emergency situation.
So should Adventists get involved in prepping? To be clear, I will not be discussing the moral right or wrong on “prepping” this Sabbath. But I will encourage you to engage in activities that will ensure yours as well as others survival through the final crisis. Tune in to our live stream this Sabbath and find out how you can be prepared for the end of this world.
Welcome to Richardson!
I want to take a few lines here to just encourage each one of you. There’s no question we are going through a world change that is far-reaching, difficult, and stressful. Many of you may be afraid for your health or that of a loved one. Many of you may have lost jobs or are wondering when it will be your turn. Some of you have perhaps even suffered with the COVID-19 illness. World leaders have never really faced anything like this before and are not always sure about the best way to deal with the challenge to each of their countries. There is conflicting information about the pandemic, and there are conflicting views about how best to go forward.
That all adds up to a lot of uncertainty for a lot of people. But what I want to say is this: Our God whom we serve was not caught by surprise by the COVID-19 pandemic. He saw all this coming, and He has a plan through it all – not just a plan for our world, but a plan for you personally. I know that because Jesus said God sees even the sparrow fall, and if He does that since we are so much more valuable to Him than a sparrow, how much more will He care for each one of us tenderly and personally?
God is in control of world events. Daniel tells us in chapter two that He sets up kings and takes down kings and knows what is in the darkness. So be of good courage. All these things are moving us irreversibly toward the coming of Jesus, which is what we all want anyway, isn’t it? God has promised in Psalm 91 that “no plague will come hear your dwelling.” So dear ones, claim God’s promises. Put your full faith and confidence in God, because He will not let you down.
In one of my favorite passages about His second coming in John 14, Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled.” So I say to you-do not let your heart be troubled. God loves you. God is with you, and God will bring us through this together more than conquerors.
Welcome to Richardson!
Dear Church Family,
Receive our warm regards.
During times of hardship like the one we are going through, we are reminded to embrace what M.L. King Jr. once said; “We must accept FINITE disappointment, but we must never lose INFINITE hope.” Brethren, it is true that our generation is going through one of its darkest periods that we can’t deny, but most importantly we can’t deny the fact that Our Redeemer lives – What then can we say of these things? Apostle Paul says; If God is for us, who can be against us? Easter weekend reminded us that not only did our Savior die on Friday, but on Sunday He was Alive promising us that there is Nothing Impossible with God. Hence, brethren, we are persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). Hence God’s word brings us to the conclusion that we are not a collection of our tragedies and circumstances, but we are more than Conquerors.
Christ’s victory on the Easter Weekend is what gives us hope that whatever we are going through we shall overcome. In His own words He alluded to this subject as follows; “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). Despite of our current circumstances we have an Overcomer – Christ Jesus whose presence is ever-present.
There was a fire at Yellowstone National Park and after the fire had subsided, a forest ranger in the park made a journey to the top of the hill where the fire originated from, to find out the cause of it. On his way up, he noticed a bird carcass burnt with fire, with curiosity he knocked it over, and to his surprise outran three baby chicks that were protected by the mother bird at expense of her own life. The bird is described as having known that there would be toxic smoke higher in the trees, hence took her chicks to the base of a tree where she covered them with her wings and saved their lives at her expense.
On their perilous journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, the children of Israel experienced one of the best Secret Service Protection ever in the form of the Pillar of Cloud by the day and the Pillar of Fire during the night. In all their wanderings that was full of risks, attacks, and poor weather, the Presence of God never departed from them. That very presence they experienced in their wandering is the exact presence that is promised us while wandering in this Earth before our Savior returns to take us Home. As the bird that covered her chicks to survive the fire, so is our God protecting us from all calamities. “Just as the birds hover over a nest, so the Lord who commands armies will protect Jerusalem. He will protect and deliver it; as He passes over He will rescue it.” (Isaiah 31:5). Brethren be ENCOURAGED.
Welcome to Richardson!
You are Covered
Pr. Joel Rosana
As the novelty of Zoom meetings and having church services online starts to wane, it’s important to remind ourselves of why we’re doing this.
Church is so much more than a place. It’s so much more than the services on Sabbath. Church is a community of people saved by grace. It’s not a museum for saints, it’s a hospital for the broken.
And as the Bible clearly implies, the church is Jesus’ beloved. The church is God’s bride. So no, we’re not going to give up hope. We’re not going to stop just because things are different. We’re going to continue forward in courage and in faith while simultaneously being anxious and afraid.
God has seen his people through worse situations, so we have evidence that God will carry us through even a time like this.
This Sabbath we’re having the special privilege of seeing our youth lead out! The theme will be resurrection and we will hear from Daniel, Desric, Will, and Jason. We’re also going to be blessed with some beautiful music as well. Our youth aren’t the leaders of tomorrow, they’re the leaders of now. I’m so proud of them, and I can’t wait to see how God will multiply their efforts.
I want to provide you with some tangible resources on our website for connecting with others even while we’re physically apart.
What started as a youth project is now available for the entire church. This link is for a digital bulletin board that we fondly call, “Warm and Fuzzies.” In sticky-pad style, you can leave a kind and uplifting message to anyone right there on our website. It’s like opening a little present whenever you find your name on there. I highly recommend engaging with that resource! Click HERE.
The second link here is for our new live-streaming page. On it, you can submit prayer requests, chat live with our loving moderators, and watch the livestream simultaneously. This week we will be live streaming adult Sabbath school and the main service. Click HERE
Additionally, I want to let you in on a resource that we’ve just rolled out. If you’re like me and many others, you’re actively looking for ways to help those in need, but you’re not sure how to take the next steps. Or perhaps you’re in the opposite camp where you need help, but you’re not sure how or where to ask for it. As a direct response to this, we’ve created a page on our website called, “Corona Help.” The goal of this page is to connect people that need help with people that want to help. All information submitted there will be anonymous and will only be seen by those directly involved in providing aid. Click HERE.
Lastly, I want to let you know that we’ve started a youth Sabbath school video series. It’s a group effort between local church youth pastors to talk about what’s going on with an authentic perspective. Our faith and lifestyles are challenged – so what next? You can find the first video when it’s posted on our Richardson SDA Youtube channel. Click HERE
God is a dynamic God, so my prayer is that we continue to serve Him dynamically.
Let me leave you with the beautiful words from Psalm 27:13-14.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!
You’ll be ok,
Hi Church Friends and Family,
Three simple words can change an entire lifestyle, can’t they? There are benefits, of course. But the disruption in our lives cannot be ignored. It’s a different time and finding some sense of normalcy is something that we’re fighting for.
God is good. God is love.
Our life is full of three-word pairs.
It’s important to react and cooperate with local and federal laws as long as they don’t infringe on Scripture, but in the midst of isolation, it can be hard to truly believe that what God says really is true.
This is why I want to continue sharing the story of Esther with you this Sabbath. Esther is a story of reversal. It’s a story of a people in the midst of uncertainty. It’s a narrative of what God is doing in the background and in the foreground even though we may not even perceive His presence.
We talk about our future, our hope in Jesus’ second coming, which we absolutely should continue to do – but not at the expense of Jesus loving us here and now.
God sees your lost job. God sees the struggle to bring food to the table. God sees the small wins that you’re having each day. God sees how you’re feeling right here and right now. But let me tell you – God is the God of reversal.
It’s intentional, and it’s a challenge. But I’m asking you to join me in acting like these verses are real – even if you aren’t feeling it.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
The most impactful three-word pairing that I have ever understood is that God loves me.
If God loves me, then He wants the best for me. If God loves me, then He wants to be with me even if I’m not looking or feeling too great. If God loves me, then he loves me for me.
So as you transition into this new normal, let the core of your reality be found in these simple yet magnificent words:
God loves you.
With love and courage,