Happy Christmas Eve Monday, December 24, 2018 church!

December 24, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday and Happy Christmas Eve to all!  Yesterday was a great fourth Sunday of advent.  Nathan and Kelsey reminded us with the advent reading that Jesus is the promised One who will reign on David’s throne forever.  The worship team led us in praising the One who came from heaven to earth, the King of heaven and earth whom the world should receive.  The message reminded us that all who come to Jesus must come to Him in humility and worship just like the wise men came to Jesus.  We don’t want to be like Herod who approached Jesus with hostility and hatred, thinking he could stop the plan of God.  In the end, Herod was destroyed, Jesus was protected and God’s purposes prevailed, as they always will.  Herod learned that all who oppose God’s purposes will ultimately learn:  No one can thwart the will of God and be successful!  We also don’t want to be like the religious leaders and scholars in Jerusalem who heard about a possible coming of the Messiah and were completely apathetic and indifferent.  They simply pursued a philosophical and intellectual study of the things of God.  These supposed leaders and scholars would not even take a five mile trip to Bethlehem to investigate!  If you only study theology as some kind of philosophical or intellectual pursuit that won’t really change your life, you are wasting your time!  But we do want to be like the wise men who came great distances at great expense to worship the new born King!  When they found Jesus, just a small child then, they fell down on their faces before Him and worshiped!  May we approach Jesus with the same humility and worship as the wise men did.

I am looking forward to our Christmas Eve worship with many of you tonight at 5:00 PM.  What a joy it will be to worship King Jesus as we celebrate His first coming!

Have a Merry Christmas!  Love being your pastor! 

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, December 17, 2018 church!

December 17, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday to all!  Yesterday we continued to think about the first coming of the Lord Jesus to earth.  Maria and Savannah reminded us of the loving kindness of our God through the advent reading.  The worship team lead us in singing of the coming of Emmanuel, God with us.  Then Luke’s account of the coming of the angel to Mary reminded us that the story of Christmas forever remains the story of the greatness of the only One providing salvation to the world, Jesus Christ.  We looked at the truth that Jesus was great inherently, in and of Himself.   His greatness is unqualified.  Jesus greatness manifested itself to us in that Jesus was given the greatest name, the name alone through which we can be saved.  Jesus greatness was manifested itself in that He has the greatest Father.  Jesus alone is the eternal Son of God.  Jesus greatness has manifested itself in that He has the greatest throne, heritage and reign.  Jesus will reign on the throne of David and His reign will last forever!  Jesus greatness manifested itself in that He has the greatest conception and birth.  Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin!  His conception and birth were totally unique.  No other conception and birth had ever happened like the conception and birth of Jesus before that time and nothing like it will ever happen again.  Those who deny the virgin birth deny the incarnation, that God became man in Jesus!  They deny Jesus is eternally God the Son.  They deny the very gospel itself.   Christmas is about the greatness of Jesus Christ.  Don’t reduce Christmas to merely presents and family and food.  Don’t even reduce it to the birth of a child, or the birth of someone who made a huge impact on the world.  Remember Christmas is about the Great One of the universe, the very Son of God Himself becoming Emmanuel, God with us, to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.  Jesus came to save us from our sin! 

I am looking forward to Sunday as we celebrate the 4th Sunday of advent and then to our Christmas Eve service next Monday evening at 5:00 PM.  There is always something special about worshipping Jesus with His children on Christmas Eve.  Invite someone important to you to worship with us on these days.

We need someone to volunteer for childcare during worship next Sunday, December 23 and on December 30.  Let me know if you can help.  We will not provide childcare for our Christmas Eve service.  We want even the little ones to be with their families.

Love being your pastor! 

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, December 10, 2018 church!

December 10, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday to all! Yesterday was a wonderful day of worship! Ron’s new song sung by our worship team reminded us to be prepared for whatever the Lord has for us. The first century world needed to prepare their hearts for the coming of the Messiah. We have to prepare ourselves for the Lord coming to us, working in and through our lives and we have to live prepared for Christ to come again. The message from Luke 2 reminded us that God often chooses the outcast of the world to move among. God often works in, for and through the outcast of the world to glorify His name. God chose the shepherds and the outcast of the first century, while the religious and the seemingly pious often were excluded. Jesus was knows as the friend of sinners and so should we, as His church, be known as friends of sinners. People often feel condemned by Christians instead of loved and accepted. We expect people to have Christian values before they meet Jesus. We have to love people and invite them into the presence of Jesus, so then they can be changed by His presence. My prayer for East Madison is that we will have the reputation of our Savior, that we are friends of sinners.

Don’t forget to be inviting family and friends to worship and especially to our Christmas Eve service this month. People are often more open to a gospel witness and invitations to churches during the Christmas season.

The Isthmus Brass concert to benefit the Porchlight ministry to the homeless will be held at the First United Methodist Church at 7:30 PM on December 12. There is no charge for the event but there will be an offering take to help fund Porchlight ministry.

You are invited to an East Madison tradition, the Juhlin’s Annual Christmas open house. It is open to all this Friday night, December 14, 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, December 3, 2018 church!

December 3, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday to all! Yesterday we began the celebration of advent (the first coming of Jesus to earth) through our first advent reading and the singing of worship songs thinking about this season. We were reminded in looking at the genealogy, the family tree, of Jesus in Matthew 1 that God always keeps His promises! God kept His promise to Abraham that all nations of the world would be blessed thorough Him. God kept His promise to David the David would have a descendant who would reign forever. God kept these promises through sending Jesus to us. But also through His sending of Jesus, God is keeping His promise to His people that every people group in the world would have representatives worshiping Jesus in His Kingdom. Finally we saw that God keeps His promise that all who turn away from sin and turn to Jesus, no matter what their past, can be a part of a fantastic future! I am so glad we serve a God who always keeps His promises!

Remember we have special booklets, invitations and gift bags available for you to give out to friends and neighbors inviting them to our Christmas Eve Service at 5:00 PM, December 24. Many of you took some of these with you yesterday and I am grateful for that. More are available if you need them at the church building.

The Isthmus Brass concert to benefit the Porchlight ministry to the homeless will be held at the First United Methodist Church at 7:30 PM on December 12. There is no charge for the event but their will be an offering taken to help fund Porchlight ministry.

You are invited to the Juhlin’s Annual Christmas open house. It is open to all on Friday night, December 14, 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 26, 2018 church!

November 26, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday to all! It was great to be with all of you yesterday and worship our great God. We considered God’s greatness. We heard a wonderful new song from our worship team adapted from the Apostles Creed that helped us remember and understand the nature of the God who loves and saves us. Nate Ray preached a sermon from the life of Joseph, the husband of Mary and the step father of Jesus, reminding us that God’s dream for us is bigger than our dream for ourselves. Nate helped us see that in moments of conflict and confusion, God guides His children with words of clarity and direction. Nate helped us see that often our dreams for ourselves are idols that we look too to find life. He reminded us that we truly find our lives in Jesus so we need to make knowing Jesus our goal and not the fulfilment of our dreams. We deny ourselves and take up our cross and lose our lives to Jesus, and thus we find life. We follow Jesus and step out in faith to whatever and wherever God calls us. We don’t know the ending of where that might lead. But as we follow Jesus in faith, we do get to know the God who calls us to follow Him.

During the Christmas season, many people are more open to an invitation to worship and the truth of Jesus than at other times of the year. We are making special packets to give out to friends and neighbors inviting them to our Christmas Eve Service at 5:00 PM, December 24. These packets will contain an invitation to this service and a booklet by Lee Strobel called “The Case for Christmas.” These packets will be available beginning Sunday so plan on taking some to give out to people you know.

Ladies, remember you are invited to a Christmas Concert at the State Capitol next Sunday, December 2. 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. Here is a little more information about this concert.:

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 14, 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 19, 2018 church!

November 19, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday to all! It was wonderful to worship with God’s family at East Madison yesterday! We thought about cultivating an attitude of thankfulness. God children are those who embrace the truth of God and seek to live our lives glorifying God and continually thanking Him. We seek to cultivate a continual attitude of thanksgiving. We can do this because God can take even the worst of circumstances and use it for His glory and turn it to good for His children. We cultivate this attitude of gratitude by remembering certain truths. First of all, God uniquely created each one of us to know, love and live for Him. Secondly, God provides us with everything we need to live. Thirdly, every single good thing in life, every blessing, is a gift of God’s love and mercy. And finally we cultivate this attitude of gratitude by remembering the great price paid for our salvation, the price of the very life of the Son of God. As Paul says in Romans 8, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all-how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things,” We can truly live thankful lives for this great and good God.

Next Sunday morning, November 25, my son Nate will be preaching in our worship time. You may remember him from last year’s Christmas Eve service. I believe he has a special giftedness to communicate to this generation. I hope you can be here and maybe invite some younger friends to hear a younger voice proclaiming God’s truth.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, November 12, 2018 church!

November 12, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday to all! Anatoliy Sapsay from Innovista Ukraine helped us remember that God was for us! God wants good for His people. God does not want us to blindly follow Him but to know and love Him. Anatoliy also reminded us that we are responsible for guarding our hearts. We guard our hearts, first of all, by not forgetting all God has done for us. Secondly, we guard our hearts against empty ideas and philosophies that lead us away from God. Paul reminds us of this same thing in Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Then last night we celebrated Thanksgiving as God’s East Madison family. Are you still full from our Thanksgiving celebration? Yes, it was a such good day yesterday as we worshipped God our Savior and spent time with one another, reminding each other of God’s goodness.

Our youth are working on putting shoe boxes of gifts together for Operation Christmas Child. They will be packing those shoe boxes this Saturday, November 17. If you have any donations, please bring them by the church building before Saturday. If you have any questions, contact Megan.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, November 5, 2018 church!

November 5, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday to all! Yesterday as we finished looking into the book of Daniel, we saw that believers are involved in a cosmic spiritual battle against the forces of evil. It is not a physical battle using earthly weapons of war but a battle involving the spiritual weapons of prayer, God’s Word, testimonies of faith, love, courage, and perseverance. Prayer is an important part of this battle. As we pray, we join the angels of heaven as they battle the demons of hell. That is why sometimes praying is very difficult and we have to work at it. We learned that the spiritual battle we will endure is a prolonged and intense struggle. We must faithfully persevere until Jesus returns and does away with evil and sets all things right. Ultimately we learned that God’s people in God’s power will courageously persevere in the battle against evil until Jesus comes in ultimate triumph. Jesus will come in ultimate triumph because He has already defeated the great enemy of God and mankind! Don’t ever forget that!

Next Sunday, November 11, we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper during our morning worship. Also, Anatoliy Sapsay will be sharing about his work in the Ukraine. Anatoliy Sapsay, Director of Innovista Ukraine. Anatoliy is a former manager of the International MBA programme at Kiev Business School and an army reservist. He has overseen growth of Innovista’s work in Ukraine despite the chaos of war, and leads the L’viv hub. Anatoliy worked with Grace Donaldson when she was serving in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine. AND TO MAKE IT A SUPER SUNDAY, on Sunday evening at 6:00 PM, we will have our annual East Madison Thanksgiving Celebration at 6:00 PM. There is a sign-up sheet for the food items we need for this celebration on the table in the foyer.

Our youth are working on putting shoe boxes of gifts together for Operation Christmas Child. Please put donations in the back of the sanctuary to help them out. If you have any questions, contact Megan Tolhurst.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, October 29, 2018 church!

October 29, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday to all! Yesterday we worshiped Almighty God, who is “Emmanuel-God with us.” We thought about seeking Jesus and His rule in every area of our lives and in every situation. We learned that we seek Him by storing up treasures in heaven and not on earth. We invest in what last forever, like knowing Jesus intimately and helping people come to know Him. We learned to seek Jesus by continually making sure nothing (materialism, unforgiveness, or any kind of unprocessed hurt) is preventing us from seeing life as God sees it. We learned that seeking God’s rule in our lives and in every situation should be the primary focus of our lives. If we do that, God will provide every other thing we truly need.

Our youth are working on putting shoe boxes of gifts together for Operation Christmas Child. Please put donations in the back of the sanctuary to help them out. If you have any questions, contact Megan Tolhurst.

Remember to turn back you clocks this Saturday evening, November 3rd before you go to bed. It is the end of daylight savings time. (I don’t think we actually saved any daylight, but simply rearranged it!)

November 11, will be a special day for East Madison. Anatoliy Sapsay will be sharing about his work in the Ukraine. Anatoliy is the director of Innovista Ukraine. He is a former manager of the International MBA programme at Kiev Business School and an army reservist. He has overseen growth of Innovista’s work in Ukraine despite the chaos of war, and leads the L’viv hub.

Also on that Sunday evening November 11, at 6:00 PM, we will have our annual East Madison Thanksgiving Celebration at 6:00 PM. There is a sign-up sheet for the food items we need for this celebration on the table in the foyer.

Pray for each other. There are now and always those among us who are dealing with difficult circumstances personally or in their families, so we need to continually hold each other up in prayer.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, October 22, 2018 church!

October 22, 2018 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday to all! Yesterday we sang praise to our Redeemer because of His deep love for us. We looked in Daniel 9 at the prayer of Daniel and thought about how his prayer should enlighten our prayer life. We looked at how our reading of the Bible should help us learn to understand better the mind of God and the things that glorify God for which we need to pray. We thought about always approaching God realizing His greatness. God is not our “good buddy” but the One who loves us more than any other and the One who alone is the awesome Creator, Ruler, and Redeemer of the universe. We can boldly ask for His help but should never approach Him with anything less than utmost reverence and respect. We thought about approaching God by confessing our own personal sinfulness and the corporate sinfulness of His people. We will not be sinless as we approach God and so we must always approach Him recognizing that it is not by our own merit that we come to God but by Jesus’ merit. We in humility seek to continually confess and forsake personal and corporate sin. We also remembered that as we pray we appeal to God on the basis of His character and compassion and honor. Our first concern should not be the alleviation of some difficulty but the glory of God. Finally we saw that God answers our prayers on the basis of His love. There is no lack of willingness on the part of God to answer prayers. God longs to hear and respond to those who pray to Him by and through the merit of Jesus, the One He sent to save us from our sin.

We will have our annual East Madison Thanksgiving Celebration on Sunday evening, November 11, 2018 at 6:00 PM. There is a sign-up sheet for the food items we need for this celebration on the table in the foyer.

Pray for each other. There are now and always those among us who are dealing with difficult circumstances personally or in their families, so we need to continually hold each other up in prayer.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church