Education: Paul holds a Master of Divinity from Golden State School of Theology and is completing a Masters in Professional Counseling.
One of my favorite illustrations: ï¿½Glass Beachï¿½ (Fellowship_
Several years ago my family ï¿½ that consists of three little girls and a teenage son took a short trip to Fort Bragg, California. If youï¿½ve never been there, Fort Bragg is a timber mill community that sits comfortably on the North Coast of California ï¿½ about three hours north of San Francisco.
It was there that we found Glass Beach and I discovered a powerful illustration of how God uses the church to make us into the jewels He planned for us to be.
In the little Epistle of Philemon verse six, the Apostle Paul makes a powerful statement that goes something like thisï¿½ ï¿½I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective as you gain knowledge of all the good things that Christ, for his purpose, put inside of you.ï¿½ (Philemon 6 paraphrased)
I donï¿½t know about you but often when we get into the real thick of ministry is awfully hard to see the good things and a whole lot easier to see the bad.
Yet Iï¿½ve seen God take the worst of situations and bring out His glory in the church.
Let me get back to my storyï¿½
That afternoon as we got out of the car, we had been told of this place called Glass Beach. It was even written about in our AAA Manual ï¿½ so we knew it had to be good. But what we saw from the parking lotï¿½or should I say dirt lotï¿½was nothing but weeds, wild shrubs, and what appeared to be a dilapidated asphalt road.
Oh yes, and a sign warning us that the area had once been a dump sight and to use caution.
We walked down the pot-hole filled road toward the seashore. The smell was a mix of sea air and dirt. To our left was a fence and beyond the fence the signs of what had once been a landfill. We walked on maybe a few hundred years ï¿½ and then it came into view.
The sun had just broken through the clouds and the rays of sunlight seemed to make the entire shore line where we stood sparkleï¿½glisten. As we walked closer we discovered the source of the beauty. The entire shore line was covered with small glass rocks reflecting the sun.
You see, what we had read in the tourist manual and had come to see was the result of devastation. Glass Beach was formed from the city dump. For years all the discards from the community where thrown into a hole near this shore. Eventually the hole was filled and forgotten. Thatï¿½s when God and nature took over.
For years the storms, surf and sea ate into the shoreline, breaking lose the debris. It shattered, then began to rub and push against itself ï¿½ eventually wearing down all the rough, broken edges and making what has once been nothing but brokenness into beautyï¿½Even more beautiful as the water bathed over the polished glass stones and the sun reflected through each one.
As I held some of the pebbles in my hand Paulï¿½s words in Philemon began to make even more sense to meï¿½ ï¿½the fellowship of your faith may become effectiveï¿½
Thatï¿½s how true fellowship worksï¿½thatï¿½s how God uses fellowship in the churchï¿½
We enter brokenï¿½our lives are often little more than the discards of broken relationships, broken dreams, broken promises. We sense our need for God and His people and He draws us to His Church.
Itï¿½s there that it happensï¿½and at first weï¿½re not really sure itï¿½s good. Even with Godï¿½s people we face trials, hardships ï¿½ and what the Apostle Paul calls in Philippians 3:10, ï¿½the fellowship of his sufferingï¿½. It often hurts.
Rubbing against other sinful creatures can make for some awkward if not painful timesï¿½
But little by little God uses each of us to hone away at the other. As iron sharpens iron Proverbs shares ï¿½ we smooth out the rough edges of each other.
Thatï¿½s fellowship. Sometimes itï¿½s by sharing in the pain of another. Other times itï¿½s through giving when we have enough to share ï¿½ or maybe not nearly enough, but we give anyway. Often itï¿½s the willingness to be ministered and comforted ourselves ï¿½ even when our pride gets in the way.
Iï¿½ve seen a broken bottle on the seashore beforeï¿½it usually just stays a broken bottleï¿½but something unique happens at Glass Beach. Itï¿½s because there are so many broken bottles and plates all brought together ï¿½ facing the struggles of their environment in unity that makes them so beautiful.
Weï¿½ve been back to Glass Beach a few times since then and each time we take a small bucket home with us to share with others. A reminder that God still takes the broken ones and with the Water of His Word and the power of His love and fellowship ï¿½ He brings out all the good that He created in each and causes His Sonï¿½s glory to shine through them.
ï¿½I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective as you gain knowledge of all the good things, that Christ, for his purpose, put inside of you.ï¿½ (Philemon 6 paraphrased)
Family: Paul and Terrie Newell have been married for over twenty-five years. They have one son, Benjamin and three daughters, Promise Anne and their twins Marilyn and Joylyn.
Best advice given to me about preaching: Be real...be honest...be transparent.
Books that have had an impact: The Servant: A Simply Story About The True Essence of Leadership (Author James C. Hunter)
Deep Change (Author Robert E. Quinn)
The Secret of the Vine (Bruce Wilkerson)
Leading Turnaround Churches (Gene Woods)
Good To Great
Hobbies: Writing, golf, spending time with Terrie.