Happy Monday, January 15, 2018 church!

January 15, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday to all! We had a great day yesterday! If you missed the Bible Study time at 9:30 AM, you missed something special. Jason Donaldson was sick and could not be there. (We pray you are better, Jason. We missed you!) However, God was present. The adults who were there began to talk about their experiences with “40 Days of Prayer.” I have heard many reports from people who said that God moved among them as they shared! The adults present told me that they left with a sense of expectation and optimism about how God was moving and working at East Madison! As we worshipped after Bible Study, we sang about how great and glorious our God is and His great salvation! Thank you worship team for leading us in His praise. The message focused on never, ever taking God for granted! We serve too great a God for us to give Him less than our all and our best. We need continually to seek to passionately and wholeheartedly submit ourselves to Him. We can rest in His steadfast love seen in this: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We should always in fearful awe seek to understand and honor the Lord’s holiness and His great name. We are here to submit and serve God and center our lives around Him and never seek to reduce Him to anything less that the absolute Lord and Ruler of our lives.

Keep praying and seeking God together, especially during our “40 Days of Prayer” emphasis. God is moving among us!

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, January 8, 2018, church!

January 8, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday to all!  Yesterday was a good beginning to our “40 Days of Prayer” emphasis. I sensed God moving among us as we learned from God’s Word how to be a people of prayer, praise and power.  If we want God to truly work through us, we have to seek him in prayer and praise.  We have to acknowledge our powerlessness apart from His Spirit moving among us.  We have to have faith and believe that God is a God who can answer prayer, who wants to answer prayer and who will answer prayer!  God desires to answer the prayers of His people who seek His glory and His will.  God wants to show His power among His people and in the communities where He has placed His people.  His people need to be completely humble and willing to share their struggles with their brothers and sisters.  His people need to acknowledge that we want to see what God alone can do among us instead of what we can produce by our vain human efforts.  We must be people of prayer and praise in order to see His power!  Last night as we met together for prayer at the Juhlin’s,  it seemed as if we are doing just that!  Let’s keep up the praying, praising,  and seeking God individually and collectively!  In the 40 days ahead, remember to use your “40 Days of Prayer” guide as we as a congregation join in intensive prayer for a fresh move of God’s Holy Spirit across Wisconsin and Minnesota.  I anticipate God moving among us in powerful ways as we pray together as the family of God at East Madison and as the family of God in the Minnesota/Wisconsin Baptist Convention.

Ladies, you are invited to meet for lunch Saturday, at 11:30ish on January 13 at Cracker Barrel. (Lois and Carla recommend the Coca-Cola chocolate cake!)   Invite a friend!

We will have a Business Meeting on Sunday evening, January 14, 2018 at 6:00 PM.

Below is some information and some prayer requests for some of those missionaries we support.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, January 8, 2018 church!

January 8, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday to all! Yesterday was a good beginning to our “40 Days of Prayer” emphasis. I sensed God moving among us as we learned from God’s Word how to be a people of prayer, praise and power. If we want God to truly work through us, we have to seek him in prayer and praise. We have to acknowledge our powerlessness apart from His Spirit moving among us. We have to have faith and believe that God is a God who can answer prayer, who wants to answer prayer and who will answer prayer! God desires to answer the prayers of His people who seek His glory and His will. God wants to show His power among His people and in the communities where He has placed His people. His people need to be completely humble and willing to share their struggles with their brothers and sisters. His people need to acknowledge that we want to see what God alone can do among us instead of what we can produce by our vain human efforts. We must be people of prayer and praise in order to see His power! Last night as we met together for prayer at the Juhlin’s, it seemed as if we are doing just that! Let’s keep up the praying, praising, and seeking God individually and collectively! In the 40 days ahead, remember to use your “40 Days of Prayer” guide as we as a congregation join in intensive prayer for a fresh move of God’s Holy Spirit across Wisconsin and Minnesota. I anticipate God moving among us in powerful ways as we pray together as the family of God at East Madison and as the family of God in the Minnesota/Wisconsin Baptist Convention.

Ladies, you are invited to meet for lunch Saturday, at 11:30ish on January 13 at Cracker Barrel. (Lois and Carla recommend the Coca-Cola chocolate cake!) Invite a friend!

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Tuesday, January 2, 2018 church!

January 2, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Tuesday and Happy New Year to you all! I hope you had a great weekend and got to relax and enjoy bringing in 2018. It is hard to believe that it is 2018! Sometimes I feel old realizing I have lived in two different centuries and two different millennia! However, as we worshipped together this Sunday, we realized that we serve the God of the universe who makes all things new! God loves to grant new starts and new beginnings! No matter how bad we may have blown it yesterday, today He offers us forgiveness and a new start. We can be new creations, new and redeemed human beings, if we trust in Jesus as Savior and Ruler of our lives. Also, now we can have new starts every single day even in the midst of horrific circumstances because “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness,” (Lamentation 3:22-23, ESV). These new starts do not depend on our circumstances, ingenuity or abilities. These new starts only depend on the character of God, on His steadfast love that never ceases and on His mercies that never come to an end. Also, we know God will ultimately recreate this sin-corrupted creation. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. In this re-creation, there will not be one trace of evil, there will not be one trace of rebellion against the good and perfect Creator God. There His redeemed children will worship and serve Him forever! Yes, God does make all things new!

Next Sunday we will begin a journey with our brothers and sisters across Wisconsin and Minnesota as we begin “40 Days of Prayer.” Prayer and devotional guides will be handed out that will help you spend some time the next 40 days asking God to give His people, His church, a fresh outpouring of His presence and power to do His work. I hope each of you will participate. I anticipate God moving among us in powerful ways as we pray together as the family of God at East Madison and as the family of God in the Minnesota/Wisconsin Baptist Convention.

Our Disciples Path Wednesday group will resume this Wednesday, January 3rd, at 6:30 PM.

We will have a Business Meeting on Sunday evening, January 14, 2018 at 6:00 PM.

Love being your pastor in 2018!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Merry Christmas, Monday, December 25. 2017 church!

December 25, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Merry Christmas to all! I pray you have a wonderful day as you celebrate “God Came Down.” Jesus, God the Son Himself left the glory of heaven to be born in a barn and save us from our sin. Yesterday was fantastic as we worship and were challenged by Nate Ray, sermon, “The Christmas Story: In the Middle of a Mess” Nate wrote:

Oftentimes because many of us are so familiar with the Christmas story, and it can feel sentimental and nostalgic. We need fresh eyes to see it anew with all of its shock value. We need to remember the Christmas story wasn’t nice and clean and tidy, but that Jesus was born in the middle of a mess. Jesus’ kingdom comes as Jesus came: in the middle of a mess.

When we look at the Nativity, the Nativity not only pictures Jesus’ birth: the nativity pictures the way of Jesus, the way Jesus’ kingdom breaks into our lives, the way Jesus’ kingdom breaks into our world, and Jesus’ very methods. It is not just serendipitous that this happens to be how Jesus was born. This is God’s chosen entry point into our world, and when you look at Jesus’ life and ministry, and then the ministry of his earliest followers, you see this is the gospel story! God plops right down, in the middle of the mess; the mess of the world and the mess of our lives.

When darkness looks as if it has won the day; when the powers seem their most powerful; when hope seems the furthest away, light enters – unnoticed with the exception of those on the margins of society – born to poor parents, in a place where no respectable child would ever be born.

In the darkness, light enters, His name is Jesus, and He changed and is changing the world.

“In (Jesus) was life, and that life is the light to all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

(John 1:4-5)

THIS is the good news of the gospel!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming and meeting us in our darkness and our mess and continually bringing Your life and light to us!

Next Sunday, December 31st, we will only have a worship service at 10:30 AM.

Love being your pastor this Christmas!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, December 18, 2017 church!

December 18, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday to all! What a wonderful day we had yesterday! The worship music was wonderful from Emily and Annette Juhlin’s prelude as we came to worship, to the original songs we were introduced to and worshipped with written by our own worship team, and to the beautiful harp offertory by Abby Longmore! I thank God for the many gifted people at East Madison who are using those gifts to the glory of God. It was also so good to introduce Leslie Harrison as our newest member! I hope the message challenged all of us to make the best decisions we can make by determining to seek and do God’s will just as Joseph did in Matthew 1. Doing God’s will requires sometimes doing difficult things. Doing God’s will requires an openness to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit by prayerfully and carefully seeking to know God’s specific direction. Doing God’s will often not be understood by others. Ultimately, however, doing God’s will is what is good and pleasing and perfect. God’s ways are always right and His will is always best!

This Sunday, Christmas Eve, December 24 we will only have a Christmas Eve worship service at 10:30 AM. Join us and invite a friend. Oftentimes people will come to worship on Christmas Eve when they might not attend any other time of the year. This is a time to plant a gospel seed in their lives. Pray for and invite family, friends and acquaintances who do not regularly attend worship to attend this Sunday at East Madison. Church family, do your best to go out of the way to greet and welcome all our guests this Sunday. I have asked my son Nate, who will be with us, to preach the Christmas Eve message. I believe Nate has a gifting especially to communicate God’s great news to the young adults of this generation. I know I am biased, but I believe we all will be blessed by his message.

If you have not yet given to the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions this month, you can still do that. There are envelopes and prayer guides if you need them on the table in the foyer of the church building.

Love being your pastor and celebrating Jesus Messiah, the reason for the season, with you!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, December 11, 2017!

December 11, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday to all! I hope you are having a great day! Yesterday we were reminded in the lighting of the advent candle by Deanna and Abri that Jesus came to give us peace because He is the Prince of Peace. The message from Isaiah 9 reminded us that because “a Child was born, to us a Son is given” we can have hope in the deepest darkness. When life is so dark that you cannot seem to see the hope that Jesus provides, we must choose to see by faith what we can’t see in our lives or circumstances. We also must make sure the enemy of our souls does not rob God’s children of the hope we have. Believers can be robbed of the hope that we have. We can forget that God does have a preferred future for all of us. Things for God’s children will get better no matter how difficult it is right now. Hang on to hope in Jesus! Draw near to the people of God when hope seems to wane to help remind yourself of true hope we possess because we are God’s children. The world only has only counterfeits to hope. Jesus alone is the hope of the world and apart from Him there is no real or lasting hope. Rest and live in Jesus, the hope of the world.

It is two weeks until Christmas! On Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24 we will only have a Christmas Eve worship service at 10:30 AM. I have asked my son Nate, who will be with us, to preach the Christmas Eve message. I know I am biased, but I believe you will be blessed by his message.

Remember we are taking up the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions this month. There are envelopes and prayer guides if you need them at the church building.

Love being your pastor!

Happy Monday, December 4, 2017 church!

December 4, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday to all! I hope you are slowing down enough to enjoy the Christmas season. Sometimes in our frenzied activity around Christmas, we miss what it is all about. God became a man in Jesus Christ to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. What was that? Jesus came to save us from our sin and save us that we will live for Him. It is a season of wonder and awe. Don’t get so busy that you don’t slow down enough to contemplate the beauty of our Savior and the miraculous way He saves us!

We finished up the letter to the Ephesians yesterday and heard a call to battle against the devil and his minions. The enemy of God and the destroyer of people will be opposing God’s people and God’s mission until Jesus returns. Though there is no doubt about the outcome of this spiritual war, we still must be prepared for this spiritual battle. Our weapons are truth and love. God provides His very own strength for us to battle against this forces of hell. We are to arm ourselves in the whole spiritual armor God: His truth, the truth of Jesus as the only hope of the world; His righteousness provided to us in Jesus when we believe; His gospel that provides true peace to those who believe; the helmet of salvation which cannot be taken from us; the sword of His Spirit, which is His Word, and the shield of faith where we believe God’s truth and not the devil’s lies. Along with putting on God’s armor, we must stay in continual communication with our Lord and Commander, Jesus Christ. We must not let anything block the lines of communication between us and God by being filled with His Holy Spirit and always be in an attitude of prayer. God provides everything we need to win battles and stand in victory against the enemy of God and the destroyer of people. Let’s fight these battles His way. And as we do, we will stand and we will win!

Remember a Christmas tradition at East Madison, the Juhlin’s Annual Christmas open house. It is open to all this Friday night, December 8, from 7:00 to 10:00 PM. Directions to their house are available at the church building.

Yesterday we gave out some prayer guides and offering envelopes for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Use those prayer guides this week to daily pray for those taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. Be a part of an army of pray-ers that boldly approach God’s throne of grace to pray for the salvation of people all over the world.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, November 27, 2017 church!

November 27, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday to all! I hope you are having a great day following a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday weekend and a wonderful day of worship yesterday. We gathered yesterday in Bible study as adults, youth and children, and then we worshipped our God from whom all blessing flow. We learned from Ephesians 6 that one of those blessings was the blessing of work. Work is a part of God’s original intent for human beings. Before the fall, people were placed in the garden of Eden to work and tend to that garden. God worked as He created the world and we work as human beings created in His image. We were reminded that as we work in whatever sphere God has called us to work in, that we work for His glory and not for the praise of men. We work hard not to please men but to please God. If others work for us or under our management, we treat them with respect and seek to help them be the best they can be. We remember that those workers are men and women for whom Christ died. We refuse to try to motivate people from fear, but work to motivate them with respect and love. We stand up against oppressive or abusive bosses or fellow workers as we seek what is just and right and good. As Chuck Colson wrote, “Christians view work as a high calling, a calling to be co-workers with God in unfolding the rich potential of His creation.”

We will begin celebrating the advent of the Christmas season this Sunday, December 3. If your family would like to read for worship one of the advent readings, let Pete know soon so he can put you on the schedule. Also remember in December during the advent season, we take up the Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions. All of the money given to that offering goes to the international mission field to support sharing the gospel around the world.
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Yesterday we made available packets for each of you to use to share the gospel with your family and friends this Christmas season. In those packets was a booklet called “The Christmas Code,” which has a short daily reading for individuals or family to use during this Christmas season. Also there are invitations to our Christmas Eve service and two candy canes! Many of you took some packets to give to your family and friends this season. If you were not here, they will be available at the church building if you would like to pick some up to give to family, neighbors, and friends. As I shared yesterday, Carla plans to bake some banana bread to put with these packets. We will then give them to our neighbors and friends. The Christmas season is a wonderful time to reach out to others. We hope this packet will help us all to do just that.

Ladies, remember you are invited to a Christmas Concert at the State Capitol this Sunday, December 3. The ladies will meet at the church building at 3:00 PM to attend the concert at 4:15 PM. Following the concert, the ladies will be going to Monty’s Blue Plate for supper. I received this announcement today about this concert from a fellow Madison pastor:
Capitol Annual Christmas Pageant! This pageant has been taking place in the capital every year for more than 75 years. Here is a description of it: It’s one of Madison’s best-kept (and no-cost) secrets – the Christmas Story sung through Christmas carols in 4-part harmony by local high-school choirs in the rotunda of the Madison Capitol building. (Emily Juhlin will be singing with these choirs as she is in the
La Follette High School choir.) The lights are turned out and the Christmas Story is illuminated in live montages. Each performance lasts 45 minutes. There is limited seating but you can either stand or bring your own chair.

Enjoy God’s glorious presence and the awesome mystery of his birth being celebrated within our state capitol! It’s a wonderful way to quietly pause during the craziness of the season and enjoy the beauty of what Christmas is really about.

Remember to put on your calendar a Christmas tradition at East Madison, the Juhlin’s Annual Christmas open house. It is open to all on Friday night, December 8, from 7:00 to 10:00 PM. Directions to their house are available at the church building.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, November 20, 2017 church!

November 20, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday to all! Worship yesterday helped us see the value of community. As a community of believers we gathered to pray God’s blessings over the Operation Christmas Child boxes that are being sent out from East Madison. As a community of believers, we thankfully shared the taking of the Lord’s Supper together. In taking the Supper, we were reminded of how thankful we are for the sacrifice of Jesus that paid for our sins and bought us for God. We are also thankful for being a part of the communion of the saints. We are one in Jesus and we have one another to share in the journey of living for the glory of God.

We were also reminded how important it is to make our families a priority. We are to have servant-like attitudes as we live together as families. Husbands and wives are to make their relationship the priority relationship other than their relationship with Jesus. Husbands are to love their wives as Jesus sacrificially loved His church and wives are to willingly allow their husbands to lead in their homes. Children are to obey their parents and all of us are to honor are fathers and mothers all the days of our lives. Fathers and mothers are to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. They are not to make it impossible for their children to please them. Parents are never to give their children the impression that their love is conditional. All of us are to seek to make the family God placed us in a reflection of Jesus loves for His church.

We will begin celebrating the advent of the Christmas season on December 3. If your family would like to read for worship one of the advent readings, let Pete know soon so he can put you on the schedule.

Also, we have ordered 100 booklets called “The Christmas Code” that we are going to put in sacks with invitation to our Christmas Eve service. “The Christmas Code” is a small little book with daily advent readings. We will be encouraging each family to take some of these packets to give to family, neighbors, and friends. The Christmas season is a wonderful time to reach out to others. We hope this packet will help each of us do that.

Ladies, remember you are invited to a Christmas Concert at the State Capitol on Sunday, December 3. The ladies will meet at the church building at 3:00 PM to attend the concert at 4:15 PM. Following the concert, the ladies will be going to Monty’s Blue Plate for supper.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church