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.
.
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

Happy Monday, November 13, 2017 church!

November 13, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday to all! We had a wonderful day yesterday as we worshipped our great God and learned what it means to live in the light. Followers of Jesus walk in light and love. They are no longer darkness but light in the Lord. They seek to avoid sinful and selfish behavior. Followers of Jesus refuse to participate in the fruitless deeds of darkness and by their lives, actions and words expose evil. The seek to know God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. And they seek daily to live lives full of God’s Spirit, controlled and empowered by Him to walk in light and love.

It was also wonderful to celebrate Thanksgiving together as the East Madison family of God. The food was wonderful and the fellowship was sweet. I want to thank all those who made the food, those who helped set up for the meal, and all those who came. Also, thank you for sharing what you are thankful for this year. As I said last night, I am thankful for you. I am thankful to serve as your pastor. I am thankful for your desire to live for Jesus, walk in love with each other, and for your desire to see others know Him. May all our desires for these things grow as we walk with Jesus together.

Remember, we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper during our worship time next Sunday, November 19.

If you want to contribute to the Operation Christmas Child boxes, you will need to get your contributions to the church this week. Contact Damon and Megan Tolhurst with any questions about Operation Christmas Child.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, November 6, 2017!

November 6, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Good afternoon! As much as I want to say “Happy Monday” to you today, I really cannot do that after the tragedy at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Another senseless tragedy caused because of hate has invaded the sacred spot where the people of God had gathered to worship. Like the hatred and bigotry that caused the senseless killing of nine at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina a couple of years ago as they studied God’s Word, hatred drove another person to take 26 lives, many of them children, and wound twenty more in the middle of a worship service. We join with our brothers and sisters across the country in praying for the families of these victims, those who were wounded in this attack (many of whom in critical condition still) and for the people in Sutherland Springs, Texas impacted by this act of hatred.

In a world where there is much bitterness and hatred around us, let us as the people of God put into practice Ephesians 4:31-32: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”

Our annual East Madison Thanksgiving Feast is this Sunday night, November 12 at 6:00 PM! I hope you will plan on joining us for this time of Thanksgiving celebration we share as God’s family.

Thankful to be your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, October 30, 2017 church!

October 30, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday to all! Yesterday it was great to be together with the people of God and worship God as we focused on His glory and as we focused on Jesus as “the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world.” We looked yesterday at keeping the unity that we have because of what Jesus has done for us by saving us and providing peace with God. We looked at the things we need to do to not let anything disrupt the unity we have because we believe and belong to Jesus. All of us need to maintain proper attitudes of humility and gentleness as we work together for Christ’s glory. All of us need to seek to use our abilities and giftedness to build up the body of Christ and see His Kingdom extended to others. All of us need to seek to continually grow in knowledge and maturity in that unity so that God would through us shows the greatness of Jesus. As Ephesians 4:1-3 say and I really can’t say it better: “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Our annual East Madison Thanksgiving Feast on Sunday night, November 12 at 6:00 PM is less than two weeks away! There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the foyer with a list of things we need for that feast. I hope you will plan on joining us for this time of Thanksgiving celebration we share as God’s family.

We have a new grandbaby! Our granddaughter, Anastasia Lucette Ray (Tacy) was for Thursday, October 26 at 11:38 PM. Mom and baby are doing well. We thank God for his blessing of another granddaughter and we pray for her to know, love and serve Jesus with her life.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, October 23, 2017 church!

October 23, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday! I hope your week started well this morning. I also hope our worshipping and gathering yesterday prepared you for what God has for you this week. We have a great and powerful God who has saved us with a great salvation! As we more and more understand this great salvation, we are motivated to boldly pray. In humility and boldness we can pray for inner strength and power to serve Jesus. We can pray for us to understand better intellectually and know experientially the great love of God for us and the world. We can also be assured of God’s power to do not only what we ask, but so much more than we can ask or even imagine! To Him alone belongs glory now and forevermore!

We will be having a fire pit and hot dog roast on Sunday, October 29th at 6:00 PM. I hope you will plan on being here. Bring buns and wieners for hot dogs for you and your family and some marshmallows.

We will have our annual East Madison Thanksgiving Feast on Sunday night, November 12 at 6:00 PM. There is a sign-up sheet on the table in the foyer with a list of things we need for that feast.

Pray for the annual Minnesota/Wisconsin Baptist Convention meeting held in Milwaukee at Layton Avenue Baptist Church this Friday and Saturday.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, October 9, 2017 church!

October 9, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Sisters and brothers,

Happy Monday to all! Wasn’t yesterday a great day of worship? The music was great and Ron’s new song was fantastic! And even though Pete and I plan independently most Sunday’s the music and message, God always seems to fit it all together. God’s ways astound us, don’t they? We saw how God’s plan for the ages calls people from all nations, tribes, peoples and languages to Himself to be His One people. We saw that God’s servants through the ages include choices that amaze us, people whose lives have been radically changed by the gospel. We saw how God’s church through the ages even enlightens the angels of heaven. And we saw how God’s methods through the ages continually confound the wisdom of men. We saw how even in the bad stuff that happens to us and the very difficult times when we can’t see through the darkness, God is working for our good and for his glory. God can and does bring good from horrible circumstances and evil things that happen to us and all around us. Yes, God works to glorify Himself and create His one people in ways that absolutely astound us! We need to remember that when we are going through times when it is hard to see any rhyme or reason to what is happening. We need to remember God is with us and working through us and for us to accomplish His redemptive purposes.

We will be having a special Sunday next Sunday, October 15. Part of the leadership of the church planting team that David Juhlin and Hoyt Lovelace work with on their trips overseas will be with us to share about this work. They will be sharing in the Bible Study hour in Jason’s class at 9:30 AM and then bringing the message during the morning worship. We will also celebrate the Lord’s Supper during worship and follow that by a Pot Luck luncheon. Bring some food for your family and a little extra for our guests to the luncheon. It will be a great day!

Pray for our Damon and Megan and our youth as they go to the “Called Out” conference in Baraboo this weekend. Pray that our students and leaders would be drawn nearer to God and to one another. Pray that this conference will help them more faithfully live for Jesus and more effectively be His witnesses wherever he places them.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church

Happy Monday, October 2, 2017 church!

October 2, 2017 | Categories: Church Blog.

Brothers and sisters,

Happy Monday to all! I hope the day has started well. We had a great day yesterday as we worshipped together. Although our worship team was a little slim because of all that was happening among our church family, Pete and Ron did a fantastic job leading us. Thank you brothers! I want to also thank our childcare workers and those who provided children’s worship. It is fun to see how much the children look forward to children’s worship when we have it. Often our childcare providers work behind the scene and are not recognized but they provide wonderful ministry and witness to the children. My prayer is that God would use them to plant the seeds of the gospel deep into the hearts of children that children might come to know Jesus early in life.

I hope the message encouraged you by helping all of us to see the unity that is being restored through the cross of Christ to humanity. Jesus’ death not only reconciles us to God when we believe, but it reconciles us to each other. God does not have many peoples, but in Christ Jesus He has the one people of God from every tribe, language, nation and tongue. There is a tremendous diversity among the people of God who believe in Jesus, but that diversity is a diversity in oneness, not in division. Through the blood of Jesus people from every nation, tribe, language and tongue are one! We should protect and strive to live in that oneness by denying ourselves, taking up our crosses daily and following Jesus. We must always be seeking to live for Jesus and not ourselves. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4. “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I pray that God would continue to help us to do this today and every day!

Ladies, remember there is a Ladies Night Out scheduled for this Sunday evening, October 8th. The ladies will meet at Cheryl DiFonzo’s home to watch a movie together at 6:00 PM. Bring a snack to share if you can.

The Veritas Forum places the historic Christian faith in dialogue with other beliefs and invite participants from all backgrounds to pursue Truth together. Veritas Forum is sponsoring an event on Monday, October 9, at 7:00 PM at High Point Church called “Can a Scientist Believe in the Resurrection?” John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and an internationally renowned speaker on the interface of science and religion. He has also participated in several debates with some of the world’s leading atheist speakers. If you are interested in going as a group to this event, contact me.

Love being your pastor!

Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church