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Dear Renew Church family,

Over the last months, a variety of things have taken place that have caused us to seriously examine where things are with Renew Church and what our future might look like.  We have struggled financially and have fallen farther and farther behind each month in covering our monthly overhead.  We have also lost a considerable number of people since this past fall.

In November, I put out the challenge to the congregation that by February, we needed to increase our tithes and attendance to help bridge the gap in our financials or we would have to look at alternative options.  Immediately following that, I was in a terrible car accident and have been unable to meet with people or attempt to raise funds.  Being out of commission has also highlighted how much I was doing on my own vs. having the support that is needed to sustain us long term.  In light of all of this, we have now arrived at February, and unfortunately we have not made much progress in gathering support of any kind – both with people and finances.  We are at a place where we have had to make some very tough decisions and figure out what the best path is for our church in this season.

With all that said, February is going to be our last month meeting on a weekly basis on Sunday mornings.  Our very last service will be the last Sunday in February – Feb. 26th.  Moving forward after February, we will continue to have a men’s and women’s group that meets at the counseling center and I will be putting sermons online weekly for people to watch, but we will not be meeting as a group on a weekly basis anymore.  We hope to potentially have a large group gathering several times a year for anyone who would want to join us for that.

We are very sad and this has been a huge grieving process, but we are learning that sometimes you have to let go of something for something new to grow.  We are hopeful for what God will create out of this ending, and while it might look different, we know that Renew Church will not die.

Renew Counseling is doing very well and will continue to operate as it currently is.  We will be using the counseling office space for our men’s and women’s groups and potentially in other ways as we seek to continue serving our community.

You have meant so much to me, and to my family over the years, and I am so grateful for all of the ways you have impacted my life.  While I wish I could share this news with all of you in person, I wanted to make sure that you knew what was happening in the life of our church.  If after reading this, you have any questions or would like further clarification, you are always welcome to contact me.

We will be continuing to meet for the remainder of February, and I promise that you will have my very best effort in all that we do as we finish strong and well.  I would ask you to please join us for these last few weeks as we celebrate all that God has done in our midst and look forward to what He will continue to do in the coming weeks and months.

I love you all,

Pastor Fizz/David

Trusting the journey is hard, especially when you can’t see the end and the journey has never been kind. Trusting the tools you’re developing on the journey is tough because the tools don’t feel comfortable and the tools you were given have rarely worked over time. Trusting the people you’re sharing the journey with is almost impossible because people have been the most common source of pain and have never consistently helped you heal. That’s where faith comes in. Faith always steps into the gaps between the here and the there. Faith reminds us that we can accomplish much when we are surrounded by love. Faith whispers yes, keep going, when life screams no, you can’t.~D A Lawson

Good Friday friends. Tonight I’m very tired from a tough week of physical therapy and just difficult life stuff. I don’t like it when life is tough and then you get more bad news, or you find out that someone you know or love is sick. It just feels unfair, and it feels like an emotional dogpile…let’s just pile it up, because she/he can take it. The truth is, it is unfair. And there are days, weeks, months, and years that are just really unfair, and somehow you’ve got to find the strength and the hope to get up, get out and do it one more day…just one more day! Join us Sunday as we continue “the good news, page 3.” It’s gonna be great fun. To honor my feelings, I wrote this. Please enjoy, and know that I love you and am praying for ya!
Speeding on our way through the daily grind
Wondering about life but I’ve lost my mind
Weaving through traffic like I’ve lost control
Feeling really broken pretending to be whole
Wondering why I do this every day of my life
Nothings really wrong so it must be right
When out of the blue I get hit and I’m done
Figuring out life when this crap weighs a ton
Now asking for help feeling deep in despair
Trying to reach out but feel no one cares
Knowing in my heart that there really is hope
Finally figuring out that there’s inside dope
Focusing on the love that tries to break through
Knowing when I’ve got it there’s peace in you
D A Lawson

Good Wednesday friends! I hope that your week is going well and that you’re feeling ready as we fully enter the New Year! It’s prayer request Wednesday, so please share any request you might have. Continue to pray for me as I’m in the midst of additional medical appointments and now starting physical therapy. My days are already full, and this is just adding to my crazy schedule. On top of that, Monday I had my whole root canal fall out of my gums-it’s the only tooth I’ve ever had dental work on. It’s related to the accident, but just awful as I try to eat with a gaping hole in my gums…lots of fun. Know that you are loved. Know that no matter what’s happening, God loves you! I love ya and I’m praying for ya!
Where does Hope begin? In life, hope begins in the other, our parents or caretakers who lovingly look at us and remind us that life is safe, good, and okay even when there’s pain and doubt. But for many of us, that hope did not stick, or was not consistent enough, or was clouded by their anxiety and their stress. Hope always begins in the other, and if not in parents, then the Great Other. But ultimately hope must be internalized, become our own hope that’s intimate and personal to our own needs, and our own situation. For that to deepen within me I must be consistent, work on reducing my anxiety, and remember… ~D A Lawson

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Good Monday friends! I pray that your holiday, or workday, or whatever you’re doing today has been a good one! As I’ve been reflecting recently, I’ve become so aware of the significance of silence and times of meditation, and not just because I’m injured either. I think part of what I’ve discovered over the years is that the “good news” that was given to us in Jesus can become dull, or boring, or unnecessary if we don’t focus on silently holding it and meditating on it. Good news, in our human, frail existence can quickly become, old news, or boring news…and then we struggle and want to create more good news. Sadly, this leads many into a Christian addictive cycle, needing, more, bigger, greater. We become like the children of Israel waiting for the next big miracle, or complaining about the simple miracle of having food given to us-I can just hear the whiny response of the Israelites
in the desert; manna again Moses. It has no flavor, and it’s too mushy, and it’s not….and on they drone. But their story is our story. Without spending time in quiet and without meditating on the amazing gift we have been given in Jesus, we can want to spice it up, make it bigger and better, we’re gonna kick it up a notch as Emeril Lagasse used to say. But here’s the thing, the good news needs nothing from us to make it better. It’s the good news…it doesn’t need anything else. And that what’s amazing about our faith and about Christianity, that we don’t have to add anything to that news, it’s perfect just as it is. I love ya and I’m praying for ya today!

Wow what a crazy day. I began worrying about doctors visits and visiting the orthopedics, and in the middle of what was a pretty crazy, physically painful day, I discovered that Princess Leia/ Carrie Fisher had died. This has already been a tough year for losses in both the music and acting industries, but the loss of Leia caused me to pause, and to reflect about the significance of loss, and the importance of hope. Princess Leia was probably one of my first onscreen crushes. She was strong, and stubborn and take chargey, and that seemed so attractive to me. Wow, a woman who was both deeply strong, feminine, and intimately sexy all at the same time…I was in love! Of course I was only 10, and had not crushed on many women, except Wonder Woman/ Linda Carter who also portrayed a strong, sexy woman. Leia in many ways represented the voice of Star Wars and the hope it exemplified. For me, her character embodied those of us in the US, or in Christianity, or in any group, who stood up against bullies and victimizers, and who challenged those who used people and manipulated the universe for their own agenda. I gained hope that the causes I stood up for, the people I confronted because they hated others, and the systems that bullied their employees, were ultimately worth it, and we could win because, well, Leia won, and that endeared hope in me. I mean seriously, anyone who could stand toe to toe with Vader was special. I once had an administrator, in a previous school, call me out for wearing shoes he didn’t like. He had great power and influence over me, and could have fired me. He told me I needed to wear better shoes to graduation, and I retorted that he needed to pay me more money! I stood up to a bully-in my mind-who like Vader would scare people to get their way. Leia was successful, and shockingly, I wound up choosing to leave that employer and this leader was fired almost 8 months after he confronted me. So today, I grieve! There’s a small piece of my hope that Leia took with her, but she created so much hope in my life, that I am forever grateful to her. May the Force Be With You Today! I love ya and I’m praying for ya!

Good Monday friends! I hope you’ve had a little time today to recover from all of the craziness this past weekend. And I hope you’ve been able to spend time remembering what Christmas is about. Christmas is almost like a wild horse that gets away from people. It starts out fun and exciting, with the parties and the holiday lights, and the festivities, but as you allow the spending and shopping and the cooking to kick in, it can slowly move faster and faster, until it feels like you’re running around without any control. And for many it makes the day after Christmas like a hangover…you crash and have to recover. So today, there are many, who are trying their best to recover from what was a crazy, frenetic couple of weeks. Back when I did therapy, I would have people describe horrible day after blues, that were exactly like a hangover…the buildup, the excitement, the crazy last minute shopping, the frenetic increase in pace, and midnight wrapping, then the crash with headaches and isolation. Please don’t lie, we’ve all been through it. It makes Christmas a tough holiday. Even if you enjoy all of the gifts and cooking and craziness, the day after letdown is pretty tough for most people. And so, many wind up numbing during Christmas just to make it through. And it’s ironic, because the season was intended to be slow, and reflective, pensive even. Yet our modern culture has stripped away the real, true, hope found in Christmas and replaced it with something that leaves us empty. And for some, that emptiness is carried over into their experiences of God and the church. Here I am God, celebrating the day of your birth and look what happens…I crash and burn. It’s important here to do something I actually hate doing, and that’s splitting the nature of Christmas. There are actually two Christmases in the US and for many around the world. The first Christmas is the one most commonly experienced, is the over commercialized, highly competitive, financially debilitating Christmas. This Christmas is very empty and addictive, and for many, no matter how wealthy you are, it’s hurtful. It’s painful because the one really meaningful thing in life is stripped away, our presence. The second, is the quiet, reflective, non commercialized holiday spent remembering God’s presence and His time with us, and all that occurs because Immanuel came. This part of Christmas is filled with inner rewards, insight into the nature of God’s love for us, and outer rewards, the sharing of God’s love with others who so desperately need it. Over the years I’ve tried to encourage the second form of Christmas, while not feeding the beast of the first. Sometimes that can be interpreted by others weirdly though. This year we held service during Christmas morning, exactly because we need to remind ourselves of the relational and reflective part of Christmas. And on a totally hilarious note, we had to break into our building this year to have the service, the city sent the poor kid with the wrong key to open the door. Thanks to my son, James, who squeezed in through a window and got a huge rug burn, which he’ll probably never forget, to help us open the doors so we could worship Immanuel. Ironic that we had to break into our building to worship. And so, I pray that each of us, no matter which Christmas we experienced, can slow down and remember the amazing gift that we are celebrating this Christmas-God with us. I love ya and I’m praying for ya!

Good Tuesday friends, I can’t believe it’s just 4 days before Christmas. As we begin celebrating the birth of the Messiah, or Immanuel, I hope that we can all take time to recognize the amazing gift we were given. God’s presence on earth, walking with humanity again, just as he did in the garden, is such an amazing gift. And God’s love is so great that he doesn’t want us to feel alone, and think that he’s distant. God chose the hard path of connecting, intimacy, and vulnerability over the punitive choices of punishment, lectures, and attacks. God really wants us to love him, to choose him versus fear him. And in the end, God came to wake us up to a love, to help us understand how to love others, and to encourage becoming who God created us to be-which is loving ourselves. Each is difficult and painful, but if you commit to the journey, you wake up to an incredible life and a beautiful relationship with the creator! I love ya, and am praying for ya!

Good Monday friends! I hope that you’ve had a great weekend, and I hope that this week, before Christmas, has started well. I’m always amazed at how crazy the week before Christmas is…there’s generally too much hustle and bustle, and I rarely feel very grounded or prepared to celebrate Immanuel’s birthday. The amazing thing about Immanuel-God with us, is that he came to interrupt our lives. God’s goal was, and is to wake us up from a very deep slumber that the world has lulled us into. The world has lulled us by getting us to focus on competition and advance to the point that we grow numb to ourselves, to others, and to God. And so Immanuel didn’t just sneak into the world to save us from ourselves and from evil, He came gently into the world to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming, and to wake us up to love, to compassion, to kindness, and to mercy. This year I hope that you recognize that Christmas is about being alive to God’s love as you’ve never been before, to be filled with compassion and kindness, and to practice mercy. These are God’s gifts to us through Immanuel and they are the gifts we share because Immanuel interrupted us, and woke us up to a new life. I love ya and I’m praying for ya!