Hebrews 13:15 (ESV) “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.”
o “Praise does not always cost us something. We praise our dogs for fetching the ball and people for a job well done. Praise is often our response to some action that directly benefits us, and we feel generous because we extend it. We often find it easy to praise God from the same motivation. When He has blessed us, helped us, and protected us, we feel generous toward Him. We can sing, worship, and talk about how good He is because we can see it. That kind of praise, although worthwhile, does not cost us anything. It is not a sacrifice.”
o “Then there are those times when God did not come through the way we thought He would. The medical test comes back positive. The spouse wants a divorce. A child is wayward. The mortgage company calls in the loan. God seems very far away, and praise is the last thing to bubble up from our hearts. We can't see His goodness, and circumstances scream that He has forgotten us.”
o “To praise God in those times requires personal sacrifice. It takes an act of the will to lay our all on the altar before a God we don't understand. When we bring a ‘sacrifice of praise,’ we choose to believe that, even though life is not going as we think it should, God is still good and can be trusted (Psalm 135:2; Nahum 1:7). When we choose to praise God in spite of the storms, He is honored, and our faith grows deeper (Malachi 3:13-17; Job 13:15).”
o “The command in Hebrews 13:15 says that this sacrifice is to be offered ‘continually.’ Our praise of God is not to be based on our opinion of His job performance. Praise cannot be treated as a ‘reward’ we give God for His obvious blessings. Isaiah 29:13 says, ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’ Real praise continues regardless of circumstances. It flows continually from a worshiping heart in good times and bad (Acts 16:23-25).”
o “The ‘sacrifice of praise’ comes from a humble heart that has been purified by fire. It rises from a spirit that has chosen to honor God in spite of the pain that life is causing.
Psalm 51:16-17 expresses this idea when it says, ‘You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.’
Our all-encompassing desire should be to offer our sacrifice of praise to him both in the good times and in the bad; to believe that he is faithful in the moments when it is visible, and in the moments when it’s not. So, during this month when we celebrate Thanksgiving, we thought it would be appropriate to feature the many great things God has done for us this year, so that we can nurture a heart of gratitude in every season of life.
Addition of new ministries – This year God has allowed us to start three new ministries. The Y.E.S. (Young Enough to Serve) ministry is intended to encourage our seniors by providing opportunities for them to connect with one another and to grow in likeness to Jesus. Abigail’s Sisters is a ministry to those women who are widows, or whose husbands are not walking with the Lord. The purpose of this group is to provide a context for prayer and encouragement among these women in our church. IFI is a ministry to international students at Ohio State. Many within our congregation have received training so they can serve the international community around Columbus.
One full year with a new staff – This past year has been a banner year of unifying a new ministry team. God has taken a diverse group of servants (Pastor Andrew, Pastor David, Pastor Ben, Jon, Megan, and Kara) and put them together in a unique way. It has been amazing to see how God has brought the team together, and how he is using their unique strengths and gifts to serve the body of Christ.
Addition of new missionaries – This year God has allowed us to partner with three new missionary families: the Shaffer family, the McGinnis family, and the Davis family. In addition, Pastor Andrew had the opportunity to take Michael Davis to Costa Rica to serve with Jon McGinnis as they trained Christian leaders. Our desire is to make this a regular pattern in our ministry – supporting our missionaries by sending our pastors and people to help them “on location.”
Live Streaming Ministry – For the past year we have been growing our Live Stream ministry. Every week there are people from our church who stream our service while it is “in progress.” In this way, they are able to feel part of the body even though they might be home sick or away on business or vacation. This ministry also gives us a footprint into a digital world that expands our ministry around the globe.
Pizza with the Pastors – This year we introduced a new way for the staff to meet our guests, and as can be deduced from the title, it included eating pizza. This provided a great way for us to introduce our ministry to the many new faces at Maranatha and to make a personal connection that would begin a new relationship. The Pizza with the Pastors was also the conduit to invite our guests to come to our Welcome to Maranatha class.
Welcome to Maranatha Class – This year we restructured our membership class so that it could be more of an introduction to our ministry. In this class we were able to share the Biblical qualities of healthy community and how those qualities relate to membership. In the course curriculum we also included a spiritual gifts inventory, and a doctrinal statement so that we could provide a fuller picture of our church and a means by which they could get involved.
Baptisms – What a blessing it was to have several of our children baptized by their fathers this year! In preparation for baptism, we asked moms and dads to lead their kids in a study about baptism from a booklet entitled Preparing Young People for Baptism. We believe this was a beneficial step in providing resources to our parents so they can strengthen their discipling ministry to their children. We are committed to the truth that moms
and dads are the primary disciple-makers of their
Larger Deacon Team and New Deacon Elect – This year our leadership team expanded to 16, with two new deacons and four new deacon elect. I can’t tell you how great it was to have these men as part of our team. Their contribution to the ministry, and their insights in our deacon meetings were invaluable. What a joy it was to expand our group of leaders and share the load among a larger team.
Local Mission Trip for our Youth – This summer we tried something new with our youth missions team. We attempted to add another full week of ministry that targeted our community. Dozens of our own people volunteered to help with a soccer camp only weeks after our VBS program. And God faithfully answered our prayers by bringing over 120 children from our community – 70% of whom had no local church – to our week of soccer ministry. The response was overwhelming! Moms and dads from our community were impressed with the organization and professionalism of the camp, and talked about how they would love to send their kids again. In addition, the children heard about Jesus and were introduced the gospel – many for the first time ever! Praise the Lord!
Leadership Training – This year Pastor David and Pastor Andrew used the adult Sunday school hour to provide weekly training to several couples within our church. This training ran from February to the end of October. The couples who attended the class were identified as leaders within the church, and then given the opportunity to come together to discuss ministry philosophy, identify spiritual gifts, and to be equipped for leadership at Maranatha. As a result, many of these couples will be deployed into new ministries in the upcoming year.
Sunday Nights in the Park – This summer we tried something new for our Sunday night venue. I was personally encouraged by the informal atmosphere and the opportunity to grow through the instruction of the word, but also through fun and fellowship. Most weeks our time began at 6:00 and didn’t end until after 9:00. That’s amazing! Through the summer I was blessed by unique opportunities to meet new people and grow in relationship with the body.
Use of our facilities – This year we began opening the door to new groups so we could use our resources to bless our community. Of course, we continued to host the Board of Elections in the Spring and the Fall, but have now opened our doors to a couple other groups as well. The Northwest Soccer League and the Hilliard Colts baseball club are using our facilities throughout the Fall and Winter months. We also have several other requests from various groups around Columbus. The challenge for us is this, how can we maximize these opportunities, not just to open our facilities, but also to open our hearts to new relationships. We praise the Lord for growing opportunities to make connections with people in our community.
Telegram – We are grateful for a new communications platform that has opened better channels for immediate communication with our church community.
Variety of gifted men preaching on Sunday morning – This year we have strategically invited several of our men to assist in the preaching / teaching ministry. Pastor Sol, Pastor Kenoyer, Pastor Ben, Pastor David, and Earl Shaffer have all taken part in that process. We praise the Lord for the different perspectives and gifts that God has used to strengthen our body.
Costa Rica – Pastor Andrew is grateful to Maranatha for their partnership in his ministry in Costa Rica. He appreciates the opportunity to serve alongside one of our missionaries, and to teach a group of Christian leaders in another country. He considers it a great blessing to take what he has learned at Maranatha and share it with our brothers and sisters around the world.
Cross Conference – This January several of our college age and single adults attended the Cross Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The purpose of the conference was to challenge our younger men and women to consider a life of purposeful mission for the Lord around the globe, even in places that are considered dangerous. Our desire as a church is to call our young people to faith-filled missionary endeavors wherever the Lord directs. We rejoice in
the way God used this conference in many of their
Ministry Intern – This winter and spring a young man from our congregation devoted a couple days each week to serve at Maranatha in any way we needed, and to be discipled by the staff so he could grow in his walk with God. Pastor Ben took the lead in this mentoring role, and invested many hours of time into this young man. We are grateful for the opportunity to invest in the next generation, and are praying for new ways to raise up godly leaders.