Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November Newsletter

From Laura, 12 … Last weekend we went on a campout at Stephen F. Austin State Park. The weather was freezing cold the first day and during the nights, and perfect coolness the other two days. I slept outside and it was very nice especially when I woke up during the night, looked up into the sky, and thought sleepily, “Orion!” They have a volleyball court there and part of the group played for awhile. At home we have just a rope between two trees and very small squares. It was a lot of fun there though with a lot of people. It was a busy campout spent fellowshipping with our friends.

From Becca, 15 … Last weekend we went camping and had a great time. These are some of the things I enjoyed:

  • Drinking hot chocolate on frigid mornings
  • Going on walks in the woods
  • Playing Catch Phrase and volleyball
  • Riding our bikes through the woods
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Lying on my bed gazing at the stars
From Seth, 18 … Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading an excellent book on welfare and benevolence called The Tragedy of American Compassion, by Marvin Olasky. The author has discussed two unbiblical methods of compassion that both flow from incorrect views about man. The first sees man as basically good and thus sees poverty as universally caused by external factors, never by internal sins like drunkenness, laziness, and irresponsibility. The compassion this view produces is universal welfare for the poor, including those unworthy of material support. The other view, Social Darwinism, sees man as basically a highly-evolved animal and thus sees the poor as the scum of society. This view produces zero compassion because it only wants to eliminate, not transform, the poor. The proper view is a middle-ground that sees man as sinful, but still made in the image of God. This view gives material support to those who genuinely need it, but not for those whose poverty is a result of sin. This love, which will give no support to sin, does seek though to transform those trapped in a sinful, impoverished lifestyle. What sinners most need is the life-transforming, Christ-exalting power of the gospel.

From Anna, 21 … I really enjoyed our recent campout. Although it got cold at night, the weather during the day was perfect, and it was a treat to be able to spend so much time outside relishing it. I also appreciated being able to spend some quality time with several good friends.

I’ve been thinking about friendship lately. There’s a sense in which friendship is what we make it, since it requires effort and commitment on our part, but sometimes we can invest in a relationship and never see it become something really deep and meaningful. Other times friends just seem to “click” and a rich relationship develops with ease. I have no explanation for why that is. That element of mystery makes me so grateful to God for the blessing of good friends, because they aren’t something that I can manufacture by my own efforts.

From John, Megan, and baby-on-the-way …  This last month has gone by so quickly! It's amazing it's already November! The end of October we went camping at Stephen F. Austin State Park. We had a very nice time fellowshipping with friends and family. Even though it was pretty cold during the nights, the days were nice and sunny and warm enough for just one jacket instead of four coats!

James has been steadily growing and is moving around a lot more these days. It's fun, amazing, and reassuring to feel little feet and hands kicking and pushing around! The other day John was able to feel James kick for the first time! It was pretty neat! We are halfway along to being able to hold James in our arms! We both look forward to holding, seeing, and enjoying him! It's amazing how quickly these last several months have gone by.

John's work is going well. We had a season of it being slow, but God continues to show Himself faithful. He has provided jobs, and things are picking up again.

From Ray, Katie, Peter, and Samuel …  We had a fun time celebrating Peter’s birthday recently. It’s hard to believe he’s two years old! He’s such a delight to have in our family, even though he does keep us hopping. He’s adding more and more words to his vocabulary, and always trying new things, like jumping and riding his tricycle. He tries to play with Samuel, which is fun to see. Samuel is getting more able to interact with Peter, and does things like grabbing Peter’s ear. Peter thinks that’s very funny.

From Judith … I was recently reminded of God’s faithfulness. We have shredded very large amounts of paper lately. As I sorted through Gerald’s old pay stubs, memories flooded in. In 1992 Gerald left teaching without a job to go to. He worked at various odd jobs that included temporary teaching positions, painting a strip mall, and drafting. Those early years were full of uncertainty and low pay. The job market in Wyoming was tough back then. Yet we continued to grow in the Lord, our needs were always met, and the life of our growing family was rich and satisfying. I am very thankful that my joy in the Lord does not depend on any sense of worldly security.

From Gerald … In early October, we attended a weekend conference at our church. It increased my awareness of how media is used to shape and influence our thinking. The beliefs, assumptions, and biases of the producers of a message always influence what is presented. It is important for us to apply critical discernment to everything we read, hear, or watch. A message will often appear to make sense and have a sound basis when we first receive it, but may actually not be based on an accurate understanding of God’s Word.

As part of the conference program, we watched a documentary on church youth ministries. The film presented the youth group model of ministry as the cause of young people leaving the church as young adults. We agree that this type of ministry is fraught with problems and we do not support it. Yet, we do not agree with the premise of the film. The real reason young people leave the church is that they have not been changed by the Gospel. If a person has not been drawn to the Lord in belief and repentance, it should come as no surprise that he or she would leave the church. So, the real issue is not that 60-80% of youth growing up in the church leave the church during the first few years after high school, but rather that 60-80% of youth growing up in the church are not believers and have never been saved.

Our mandate is to see that the Gospel is clearly and consistently presented and that our church ministry model and our message be consistent with what Scripture teaches. If we are faithful to what God has commanded, then He will produce the fruit.

With love from the Pedersen clan

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