Wednesday, December 21, 2016




WORRY looks around, REGRET looks back and FAITH looks forward …

“Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.” – George W. Bush … The Teen Mountain Ministry enjoyed a great concert at the SaveMart Center.  The Winter Jam attracted teens from all over the area and brought them together to share their faith and their testimonies.  Many thanks to Bruno and Colleen for organizing this worthy event …  Lead me, Lord, lead me in Your righteousness; make Your way plain before my face.  –Psalm 5:18 …                

Glad to see everyone survived the General and Presidential Election and that our local polling place at Hilltop Chapel had a steady influx of voters.  It’s time to bring God back to the Whitehouse.  “Without God, there could be no American form of government nor an American way of life.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower  …   “Those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.” -- Abraham Lincoln  …  Many hungry friends, family and neighbors came out to fill their hearts with the gospel and their tummies with a delicious Thanksgiving Dinner here at Hilltop Chapel on November 20.  Many thanks to all those who participated and helped make this a very successful annual event  …  That same day, all the Operation Christmas Child gift boxes that had been lovingly packed were collected for delivery to the local collection center in the valley.  With happiness and gratefulness, we would like to announce that our small, but faithful and caring church collected items for needy children and packed 101 gift boxes, exceeding our goal, to be distributed with the Good News and Great Joy to many needy children all over the world.  We all have a voice -- from families, to communities, to churches -- we are the body of Christ and are helping to send the Gospel to the far ends of the earth …   HOLY HOTLINES:  Worry Hotline -- 1 Peter 5:7.  Fear Hotline -- Isaiah 41:10.  Temptation Hotline – 1 Corinthians 10:13.  Doubt Hotline – Romans 10:17.  Sickness Hotline – Isaiah 53:5.  Depression Hotline – Psalm 34:18.  Loneliness Hotline – Deuteronomy 31:8.    LINES ARE OPEN 24/7  …  Here are some quotes that actually appeared in church bulletins:  “The sermon this morning:  ‘Jesus walks on the Water.’   The sermon tonight:  ‘Searching for Jesus.’   and   “Ladies don’t forget the rummage sale.  It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house.  Bring your husbands.”  …  Christmas falls on a Sunday this year so make plans to join us for our special Sunday Service at 11 a.m. (There will be no Sunday School that day.) …  He forgives your past and gives hope to your future  -- and remember, staying in bed shouting, “Oh God!” does not constitute going to church …  More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus ended the debate of which lives matter – He died for ALL!

Friday, November 11, 2016

DID YOU KNOW… ? Nov.2016


We began the month of October with a Kickoff and Countdown for our Operation Christmas Child gift box mission outreach sponsored by Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse.  There were videos, literature, boxes and gift suggestions available to anyone interested.  Many hearts are touched and lives are changed forever with these gift boxes that go into areas in our world where Christ is unknown  … The Teen Mountain Ministry began the month having a yard sale to raise money to fund their activities for the year, and the proceeds totaled nearly $500.00.  Congratulations on a job well done, and many thanks to their leaders, Isidro and Colleen Bruno, their family and friends, and the teens for all their hard work and preparation, as well as David and Kaysia Barr for allowing them to have their sale on their property … The men (and ladies) gathered in our Fellowship Hall for a delicious breakfast and fellowship, followed by a busy work day to shine up the church in preparation for our Harvest Dinner & Auction the following day.  Pastor Rod, Lesley and their helpers provided an exceptional presentation of the auction items, and after enjoying a delicious dinner, our church was able to raise $3,200.00 as Christmas gifts for the missions we help support.  Many thanks to Jon Lovewell for his culinary talents and for all those who helped set up and clean up.  Your efforts were very much appreciated by all those who attended … Our Christian Education Director, Lesley Davison, reported that the AWANA Club Fall Bash went very well, and the children enjoyed the games, festivities and the treats … October was Pastor Appreciation Month and it’s been said that Pastors are like firefighters, rushing from one crisis to another – no sooner do they put out one fire than they’re called to another one.  They listen, care, pray, and extend God’s hand of mercy and grace.   We appreciate being fortunate to have such a good shepherd leading our flock …  Here are some quotes that actually appeared in church bulletins:  “Potluck supper Sunday at 5 PM – prayer and medication to follow.”  and  “The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.” …  **Be sure and check out our Hilltop Chapel’s web site on the Internet at:   You will find helpful information regarding our church, organizations and events, as well as our monthly NEWSLETTER and the Pastor’s Blog  …  *Mark your calendars, November is shaping up to be a very busy month.  November 8 is Election Day and Hilltop Chapel is the local designated polling place for Pinehurst and Miramonte.  Please exercise your God-given right and get out and VOTE.  Prayer for those in authority is both a privilege and a duty.   A prayer from Our Daily Bread:  “Lord, we pray today for the peace of our nations.  We ask for Your intervention as we turn to You in confession and repentance.  We praise You for Your blessing and Your provision.”  November 11 is Veterans Day.  Show your love for America and respect for our veterans and fly our flag with honor and pride.  Shake a veteran’s hand and thank them for your freedom and for their sacrifices.  Join us here at Hilltop Chapel for a delicious Thanksgiving Dinner with all the fixings on November 20.   Filled Operation Christmas Child gift boxes will be collected on November 20, to be delivered to the collection site in the valley the next day.  Many thanks to all those who participated in this worthy ministry.    *Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.* 



  • 11/1  TUE  11:00 AM   Helping Hands Meeting & Potluck. 
    • Our meeting this month will be held at the home of Barbara Hunter.  We are blessed to have so many gracious ladies who open their homes to us and Barbara is a splendid example of that hospitality.  Come on out and join us as we fellowship together in the name of Jesus!
  • 11/3  THU   7:00 PM   Deacons & Deaconesses Meeting.  
    • We’re headed over to Ivan & Judy Strayer’s newly remodeled house for our November meeting.  It’ll be fun to see the fruits of their labor and enjoy each other’s company as we discuss and pray for the needs of our congregation.
  • 11/8  TUE  7AM-8PM   General Election
    • Hilltop Chapel is the designated polling place for Miramonte and the surrounding area.  Please, study your ballot carefully, then make sure to vote with an informed mind and as God leads you.
  • 11/10          THU    7:00 PM  Official Board Meeting.  
    • Our board will be meeting (officially) for the last time in 2016.  There are many items before us and therefore, much to discuss.  Pray that the Lord will give us wisdom as we take care of the business of Hilltop Chapel.
  • 10/12          SAT   10:00 AM   Ladies’ Craft Day.  
    • Now that the Harvest Dinner and Auction is behind us, the next obvious craft giving opportunity is Christmas.  I know the ladies are feverously working to finish up last minute projects in time for gift giving.  Maybe you’d like to join them and share some ideas.
  • 1:00 PM   Teen Mt. Ministry Trip to Winter Jam.  
    • The young people, along with Isidro & Colleen Bruno and other chaperones, will be headed  down to Save Mart Center in Fresno, to spend an evening listening to Christian musical artists from all over the country.  We pray for a safe journey to and from Fresno, and lots of good music!
  • 11/19          SAT     8:00 AM   Men’s Breakfast & Fellowship.  
    • As we approach Thanksgiving, the men of Hilltop Chapel will spend their own time of thanks for all of God’s special blessings we’ve experienced over the past year.
  • 11/30          SUN  12:15 PM   Thanksgiving Dinner.  
    • Thanksgiving is always one of our favorite holidays, in that it is the one day each year that we come together to give thanks with grateful hearts to God for His wonderful provision and care for us.  Let’s honor Him as never before!   





      As we count down the days until Thanksgiving Day, are you silently asking yourself, “what do I really have to be thankful for?”  There are many people looking out on the horizon and bemoaning the ominous clouds of doubt, fear and uncertainty looming ever closer. 
      With the Presidential election just a few days away and the outcome very much in doubt, the specter of a greater influx of refugees and others into our country, a 20+ trillion dollar national debt and a laundry list of other challenges facing us, it’s no wonder many people are filled with anxiety.  To whom do we turn and do we have any real expectation, no matter what promises may be offered, that things will turn around? 
      It would be a grave error on my part to place before you the expectation that there is some “easy-peasy, lemon squeezy” way for our country to pull out of the tailspin we’re in and right ourselves in
a couple of months or even years.  It took us a long time to get into this situation and it will probably take a much longer time to climb out.  There is no intention on my part to turn this article into a political tirade or try to convince you which way you should vote.  You will be led, hopefully, to vote your conscience.  It is each citizen’s right and privilege to vote, but the greater responsibility is to be informed before stepping into that voting booth.  If you’ve done that, you’re way ahead of most!  Now, let’s look at a few reasons to be thankful as we “gear-up” for Thanksgiving and Christmas. 
      First and foremost, we have been created in the image of God, the creator of the universe.  He has given us the unique ability, among all the creatures on Earth, to reason, communicate through language, make choices and, ultimately, accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.  What a marvelous relationship those of us who know Jesus as our Savior have with God.  We have the ability, through prayer, to enter the very throne room of God, to make known to Him our deepest fears, joys, desires and greatest needs.  He listens to us and answers our prayers according to His sovereign will and purpose for each one of our lives.
      Secondly, God the Holy Spirit dwells within each and every believer and gives us God’s direction, strength, comfort and ability to live lives that are, at the same time, pleasing in God’s sight and extremely
fulfilling and rewarding for us.  Did you ever really contemplate what God gives to those who love Him?
You not only get the benefit of His constant love, mercy and grace, but also, His protection, guidance, comfort and peace.  I’m completely confident that the apostle Paul is 100% correct when he writes: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:38-39). 
      The third absolute given to us in our relationship with God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the promise that we will spend eternity with Him in heaven and are considered joint heirs with Jesus in the treasures of heaven.  Paul, again, states: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out “Abba, Father” (literally translated—Daddy or loving Father).  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.  (Romans 8:14-17).  Think of it, folks, we are sons and daughters of the living God, joint heirs with His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit dwells within each one of us! 
      Yes, we definitely are facing trying times; that cannot be denied.  There are things down the road that
look ominous and uncomfortably eerie.  We have not faced similar circumstances in the history of the United States of America.  We can only guess what the future may hold, yet we know from biblical prophesy that these times will come upon us and all the things prophesied will come to pass.  How much of it will occur during our lifetimes is unknown to all except God.  Jesus, however, made it quite clear that what we are experiencing now is only the “beginning of sorrows”.  Things will get much worse as the Great Tribulation approaches.  With every cloud, however, there is a silver lining!
      We, the true Church, the body of Christ, will be “caught up” (Raptured) some day soon.  Paul, once again, writes:  “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ shall rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words”  (I Thessalonians 4:16-18). 
      If that’s not reason enough for thanksgiving, then I’d say we are not looking at things from God’s perspective and, after all, who has a better perspective than the One who knows exactly how everything will end?  Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

                                      PASTOR  ROD

DID YOU KNOW… ? Aug 2016


Our thoughts and prayers are with the many families in western states who have been effected by raging wildfires this summer, many losing their homes, businesses, and even their lives.  This long, hot, dry summer has taken a toll on many of us.  Our air has often been very unhealthy, with warnings to stay indoors when possible, and ‘Flex Alerts’ often being announced.  “The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we inhabit are not only critical elements in the quality of life we enjoy – they are a reflection of the majesty of our Creator.” -- Rick Perry … We want to thank all the brave firefighters for their efforts in preserving our quality of life here in the Sierra foothills.  We pray for their safety as they risk their lives daily to protect our neighborhoods … Classes for the 2016-2017 school year resumed here in August, and we all offer our prayers for a successful school year for the teachers, staff and students … In addition, we covet your prayers for a successful and exciting season of AWANA programs provided to the local youth here at Hilltop Chapel.  These after school programs are scheduled to begin in September, and we thank all the volunteers who give of their time and talents to provide this worthwhile program for our youth.  We shape tomorrow’s world by what we teach our children today, and if children are to find their way to God, we must point the way … Respect the old when you are young.  Help the weak when you are strong.  Confess your faults when you are wrong.  Because one day in life you will be old, weak and wrong … A free Tri-Tip barbecue with a concert starring Allen Frizzell and Family brought many of our local residents out on a warm evening in August.  Those attending thoroughly enjoyed the Country Gospel Ministry that Allen is well known for, and appreciated his traveling up the hill to bring the Good News to all of us here at Hilltop …  The Teen Mountain Ministry enjoyed their pool party and barbecue at Art and Joanne Hofer’s home in the valley.  Many thanks for their gracious hospitality, and our prayers are for a speedy recovery after Joanne’s double hand surgery … The Greatest Man in history is Jesus.  He had no servants, yet they called Him Master.  He had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher.  He had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer.  He had no army, yet kings feared Him.  He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world.  He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him.  He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today …  Sadly, we lost three of our faithful Children of Christ late in August.  Our Christian sister, Elaine Pike, went home to be with the Lord, and her very large family and circle of friends gathered here at Hilltop Chapel to celebrate her life and legacy.  She will be greatly missed.  Also, Bonnie Baldwin, a long-time resident who faithfully attended our church for many years was called home, and her memorial service will be held next month.   Dave Chaffin is now sitting at the right hand of God and we are grateful he knew and loved the Lord.   We are praying for the families who are grieving …  *UPCOMING EVENTS:   Mark your calendars for the Annual Evangel Home Banquet next month on Tuesday, September 13, 2016, and for the Christians in Action Annual Banquet, ‘Faces Around the World’ on Thursday, September 15, 2016 – both being held at Tornino’s Banquet Center in Fresno.   Our church reserves a couple of tables at each banquet, so make a point to attend and come hear how you can literally make a difference in the lives of so many around the world.  Also, our Baptism will be held on Sunday, September 11, 2016 at Hume Lake.

DID YOU KNOW… ? Oct. 2016


Two of the missions we help support held their annual banquets in September:  The  Evangel Home Banquet on September 13th and the Christians in Action Annual Banquet, ‘Faces Around the World’ on September 15th.  Both were held at Tornino’s Banquet Center in Fresno and were very well attended.  The residents of Evangel Home gave a touching and poignant testimony of how their faith had been strengthened and hope in the future had returned to their lives.   And, as in the past, the Silent Auction and Dessert Auction conducted by Christians in Action was a rousing success – and a delicious ending to a great program.  Many generous people showed their love of Christ’s teachings and cared enough to help change the lives of many … In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make … Please join us in welcoming the newest members of the Family of God, having been baptized at Hume Lake on September 25th:  Brittany Crose, Garett Crose, Bryce Ahumada and Kevin Ahumada.  A sizeable group of family and friends gathered to help celebrate the occasion with them, enjoying a picnic lunch and fellowship amid the rustle of the pine trees and a clear blue sky.  We know God must have smiled down on his children that day … Proceeds from the Helping Hands bake sales helped defray the costs of those attending the Women’s Retreat at Hartland Christian Camp in September.  Nine of our ladies made the trek further up into the hills to enjoy some inspiring workshops and spend some peaceful quality time in the forest communing with nature and talking with God, when they weren’t swooshing down the Zip Line that is.  They’ll have some stories to tell and some very good memories …  The Kickoff for the AWANA Club was scheduled for September 27th, if the kids could be transported to the church, since the school bus was no longer available to them for this after school event.  Please pray that our precious children will be able to attend the AWANA Club Meetings weekly during the school session … Hilltop Chapel was pleased and honored to have the Area Coordinator and Year-Round Volunteer for Operation Christmas Child drive up from Tulare to our little country church to speak to us about the importance of this blessed outreach ministry that brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes and the Good News of God’s love, and each box is a gospel opportunity.  She inspired many of us to eagerly participate in this worthwhile mission field and reminded us that we are all missionaries and all can help make changes in the lives of God’s children across the world.  More information can be found at  … Here are some quotes that actually appeared in church bulletins:  “Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church.  So ends a friendship that began in their school days.”  &   “The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.” …  *UPCOMING EVENTS:  Mark your calendars for our annual Harvest Dinner & Auction on October 16, 2016  …  **Be sure and check out our Hilltop Chapel’s web site on the Internet at:   You will find helpful information regarding our church, organizations and events, as well as our monthly NEWSLETTER and the Pastor’s Blog.

Friday, October 14, 2016





         Have you ever wondered what other folks think about you?  Dumb question, right?  I think most of us, even those who seem to “care less” about what others think of them, still wonder how others perceive them.  It’s human nature to crave acceptance from our peers, seek approval or, perhaps, just be considered “alright”.  What, however, if something comes to you “out of the blue”, shakes you up and causes you to reexamine how you are looked upon by others?
         Recently, I was attending a gathering of people I’d known for many years, and the subject of
pastors, myself included, came up.  One individual was very complimentary of the pastors in our
area, mentioning that one was an excellent Bible teacher, another had a very clear and concise way
of presenting the word of God and that I was prone to preaching the “E—word”.  Naturally, I was a
little perplexed—actually baffled—as to the exact meaning of the “E—word”.  I was familiar with several “words” starting with a particular letter of the alphabet and none of them were, in any way, flattering.
         I asked, “what exactly is the “E—word”?  I was informed that it meant “evangelism”.  I’ve been
called a lot of things in my life, not all flattering, but never an evangelist.  I was absolutely elated!  That statement was, truly, one of the best endorsements of my ministry I have ever received. 
         I would like to think that I’m a pretty fair Bible teacher, worship leader and, hopefully, pastor.
I am not now, nor have I ever considered myself an evangelist.  That particular moniker is reserved for the likes of D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday and, of course, Billy Graham.  What my friend at the gathering was referring to was my frequent sermons about the Great Commission that Jesus gave to His disciples (and us): “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone”. (Mark 16:15).  Those words are not limited to evangelists, pastors and sidewalk preachers. 
         Each and every born-again believer in Jesus Christ is charged by Him to be a “spreader” of the Good News that He came into the world to save sinners.  What a wonderful privilege it is to start a
conversation with someone, either known or unknown to us, and watch God turn the encounter into an opportunity to lead someone to His blessed Son, Jesus.  It happens every minute of every day all around the world and people who never had any contact with Jesus, are turned into “new creations in Christ” (II Corinthians 5:17).
         I wonder what would happen if everyone who reads this article, however they receive it (on line
or through the U.S. mail), went out and told just one person about Jesus and His love for them.  It’s
possible that as many as 1,000 people a month might receive Christ as their Savior.  That’s 12,000 new Christians a year.  Those are numbers even Billy Graham would be proud of!  It could happen.
         God is not limited by our myopic view of what’s possible.  He thinks and acts way outside the
scope of our understanding.  I do know this, however:  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (Gentile). For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”  Another scripture tells us that:  “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  (II Peter 3:9).
         I have written this article as a “love letter” to all of you who are reading it right now.  It’s a little reminder of how much God loves you and wants you to know Him, not only as the Creator of the entire universe, but also as the One who desires a close, personal and intimate relationship with you. It’s yours simply by inviting Jesus into your life and seeking His forgiveness for your sins. 
         I would also like to thank the person who added the “E—word” to my vocabulary and reminded me how important our personal testimonies, about what Jesus has done for us, are in spreading the Gospel message to folks struggling with their sin and seeking a way out.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  (John 14:6).

                                                                                                PASTOR ROD

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

DID YOU KNOW… ? July 2016

DID YOU KNOW…  ?   July 2016

The best things in life are truly free – Faith, Hope and Love … July turned out to be one of our hottest months on record, with many triple digit days and no relief in sight, as August arrives with many lingering 100+ days forecasted.  With the heat in mind, the ladies of Helping Hands gladly drove up the hill a little farther to Kings Canyon National Park to gather at Penny Burgin’s Wilsonia cabin in the cool whispering pines for our monthly potluck and meeting.  Penny’s gracious hospitality was very much appreciated and many left with a joyful heart and renewed and strengthened faith … Our faithful and tireless volunteers arrived early Saturday morning on the 9th of July to share a delicious breakfast before gathering the strength to tackle the clean-up work day at the church in preparation for our VBS.   Their efforts are valued and a grateful church thanks them … Our annual Hilltop Chapel Vacation Bible School began on July 11th, with the theme of ‘Surf Shack’.   We averaged between 42 and 43 kids and the VBS ministered to 45 kids.  The leaders, teachers and volunteers busily prepared for their arrival, not knowing what to expect.  All the children participated in the activities well, and seeing the reaction of the kids was inspiring.   Not known to all, the leaders, like Lesley Davison and Ivan and Judy Strayer, had to improvise and make many changes to the curriculum available to make it work for our church.   All aspects, including classes, crafts, posters, and snacks were effected by new curriculum changes.   Artistic talents were put to the test creating decorations for the walls in the Fellowship Hall, and the volunteers did a yeomen’s job.   Families gathered together for a closing ceremony with a hot dog lunch and a rocket launch.   Many of the families appeared moved by the attention given to our VBS.   One outcome was a mother and daughter who re-dedicated their lives to Christ.  Amen to that.   Many, many thanks to everyone who contributed.  You will truly be blessed … Children are the messages we will send to a future we will not see …  We were thankful for some special invited guests -- the Arancibia family returned to tell us about their experiences in Cochabamba, Bolivia as missionaries for SIM, providing a Guesthouse Ministry to other missionaries and teams, including medical missions, construction teams, etc.  Osvaldo was appointed to the SIM Board of Directors and is in charge of repairing and maintaining SIM Bolivia’s 11 homes and 13 apartments, which keeps him very busy.  Bolivia is one of the poorest countries not being reached, but with their Crossroads, 30+ countries have come through their guesthouse.  They honor God and strive for excellence.  The Arancibias are currently leading Perspectives Classes in Bolivia and recently had 34 students learning the heart of missionaries and God’s heart.  Our church gave from their hearts and provided them with a generous love offering.  Their needs are great to fulfill God’s plans for them … Here are some quotes that actually appeared in church bulletins:  “A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall.  Music will follow.” & “At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What Is Hell?’  Come early and listen to our choir practice.” …  *UPCOMING EVENTS:  Mark your calendar for the first Saturday in August – the 6th – and join us for a delicious Tri-Tip Barbecue Dinner beginning at 5:30 PM, with a “Concert Under the Stars” featuring the musical talents of Allen Frizzell & Family at 7:00 PM.   





              I’ve been wracking my brain for over a month now, in an attempt to come up with a timely article for this newsletter.  You may think that it is easy to do one of these things every month for 20 years, but sometimes one really does get the dreaded “writers block”.  So, as the days ticked down to the publishing deadline, I was in a quandary as to a topic, let alone an entire article.  Then, as I was sitting at the computer, a thought came to me as clear and concise as any I’d ever had before.  “Why not write about sermons, the good, the bad and the ugly?
            Many of you have attended church most of your lives and have heard hundreds of sermons.  I am of the opinion that not all of them were “home runs”.  As a matter of fact, by the number of people I see taking a short nap during some of my sermons, I’m pretty sure a few of them—sermons, that is—never got to 1st base.  So, if you had a way of measuring someone’s sermon, how would you do it?  What makes one sermon “ho-hum” in nature and another just what you needed to hear?  I’m fairly confident that some of you may have started to “nod off” while reading this article.  I can assure you it will get better.  After all, it took me the better part of a month to come up with the idea!
            I always take the approach, when preparing a message for Sunday worship, that someone in the congregation needs to hear what God has to say through me that particular morning.  It’s not a boastful attitude, just a realization that there is a need in somebody’s life that must be met on that day.  Each one of us has challenges to face in daily life and God has answers to give us through His word.  I think most
pastors try to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit on any given Sunday and prepare their sermons accordingly.
            If then, I were to ask you, “What was the greatest sermon you ever heard”, what would be your response?  Perhaps, somewhere along the line, you were able to hear Billy Graham preach to a stadium full of people.  What a thrill to watch as several hundred people walked down the aisles to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.  Maybe, it was a famous guest speaker at a large church in Fresno or Los Angeles or at a Christian camp like Hartland or Hume Lake.  As the speaker brought the message something he or she said just touched you deep within and you felt invigorated and renewed in your spirit.  I guess each one of us has heard one or more outstanding speakers at one time or another, but I believe I can honestly tell each and every person reading this right now where and when you heard the greatest sermon ever preached.  You may be a little skeptical as to my ability to prove my claim, but give me another 5 minutes of your time and I think you’ll agree with me.
            To my way of thinking, there is only one greatest sermon in each of our lives.  It’s the sermon, the tract, the Sunday School lesson, Vacation Bible School class or the words of a mother, father, grandparent, friend or perfect stranger that convicted each one of us of our need to repent of our sins and ask Jesus into our life as our Savior and Lord. There will never be another communication of any kind as important to you as the one that turned you from a sinner into a child of God. 
In II Corinthians 4:5-6, the apostle Paul puts this teaching into its proper context: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  The simple truth is, as Paul writes to Timothy, his son in Christ, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into to the world to save sinners.” I Timothy 1:15
            There are no sweeter words that any person can hear than those of a believer sharing his or her faith in Jesus and the good news that God loves everyone and Jesus suffered, died on the Cross and rose from the dead to give them forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
            So, the next time someone asks you, what was the greatest sermon you ever heard...turn to them and say, “The greatest sermon I ever heard was the one that lead me to believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.”  There will never be a better one than that!
(Reprised from September 2007)      
                                                                                                                        Pastor Rod

Monday, August 1, 2016




I’ve been watching, in amazement, the news from around the world this past week.  I must say
that “roses and lollipops” were not the first two things that came to mind as I scrolled through the
items posted by various sources of information.  I’m well aware that looking for hopeful signs about
any subject from politics to world peace, is a total waste of time, however, there seems to be absolutely no relief from the constant turmoil and bloodshed in every corner of the globe.

         I sure many of you were glued to your TV screens, computer monitors, iPads, etc., as the two
political conventions unfolded over the last two weeks in July.  What riveting theater we beheld as we sat spellbound by speaker after speaker portraying their particular candidate as the next “savior” of our beloved country.  Whoever is elected in November will be the 45th president of the United States of America. 

         We’ve had some excellent men take the oath of office, starting with George Washington’s first
inauguration on April 30, 1789, and we’ve had some who were less than dubious.  I won’t boor you with my list of the best and worst, but I will tell you that what separates the highs and lows on my list usually boils down to one very important trait—integrity.  I looked up integrity in the dictionary, just to see if was the correct word to use in this particular context.  I’ll let you be the judge. 

1) Strict adherence to a standard of value or conduct. 2) Personal honesty and independence.  I think that if every man who ever took the oath of office had that kind of core set of values our country would not be its present condition.

         Why do we find ourselves in such a sad state of affairs in 2016?  We, as a nation and the world at large have collectively spent the past 100 years moving farther and farther away from absolute standards of biblical truth, law, morality, parenting and education.  What we are left with is a total absence of any sense of right or wrong, a complete disregard for discipline, and an embracing of every form of lewd and immoral activity.  Do I think that we are hopelessly lost as a nation?  No, I am a very optimistic person (sometimes to my detriment), however, I’m not able to say with any certainty that the tide is turning in a positive direction. 

         What I am absolutely certain of is that God is still and always will be sovereign in every situation and that, ultimately, His purpose will be served.  How can we, seeing what is transpiring on this old earth, have any confidence that the prophets of the Old and New Testaments are right in the things they have written concerning the future of mankind?  The space allotted for this article is not near adequate to give you even a taste of all the prophesies that have been fulfilled, to the letter, in the history of mankind. 

         The book of Daniel alone reveals the rise and fall of the four major world powers from Babylon, to the Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman empires and predicted the rise of the global “one world” system that we are experiencing as I write this article in July of 2016.  What we, as Christians, have to understand is that none of what we are witnessing today should take us by surprise or cause us to throw up our hands in despair.  It’s all clearly and accurately spelled out for us in God’s holy word!

         Yes, the world is getting worse by the minute.  Yes, there is danger around every corner.
Yes, governments and leaders are losing the confidence and support of their people.  And finally,
yes, there is no doubt that we could be eye witnesses to the end of the world as we know it.  Isn’t
that what Christians have been praying for and preaching about since the apostles’ time?  That’s
what my Bible says, so I assume yours is pretty much the same as mine. 

         If this article accomplishes anything, I hope it will cause us to think about where our hope
lies.  It certainly is not possible for the leaders of the United States, the European Union, Russia, China, Australia, Canada or Israel to bring about world peace.  It is not within the power of the
leaders of the major religious factions, cults or isms to derail the onrushing tide of devastation sweeping the world today.  Governments, politicians, religious leaders, armies, or major corporations will not change anything that is about to transpire on Earth in the coming months.
         The only hope we have or have ever had remains the same:  It’s Jesus!  If you have put your faith and trust in Christ there is nothing to fear.  If you are still clinging to the false belief that someone else is a better bet for you, there is a great deal to fear. 

         My fondest desire is that everyone who reads this article will spend eternity with God in His heavenly kingdom.  There is still only one way to find forgiveness of sin, peace, joy and eternal life—it’s simply trusting God’s promise. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “…Sirs, what must I do to be saved? they responded, “Believe on the Lord, Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household.”  (Acts 16:30-31).  It’s as simple as that—don’t miss it!

                                                                                Pastor Rod   

8/2       TUE    11:00 AM   Helping Hands Meeting & Potluck.  This month’s meeting will be
                                            held at Hilltop Chapel and our hostess will be Susan Nilsson.  I know
                                            that we’re always telling you how wonderful our monthly get togethers
                                            are, but they really are quite special.  The food is great, the Bible study
                                            and discussion is lively and the fellowship is genuine.  Come find out for                                            yourself!
8/4       THU     7:00 AM   Deacons’ & Deaconesses’ Meeting.  Our meeting this month will be held
                                            at Pastor Rod & Lesley’s home on Lavender Lane, Squaw Valley.  We are
                                            just 6 people who hope to help others in our congregation find and enjoy
                                            a close, personal relationship with God, through faith in Jesus Christ.  As
                                            always, we seek the prayers of God’s people to help us to be ambassadors                                           for Jesus wherever we happen to be.
8/6       SAT     5:30 PM     Tri-Tip Barbeque and “Concert on the Lawn” with The Allen Frizzell family.
                                            We’ll be serving the best Tri-Tip on the mountain along with: country baked
                                            beans, veggies, green salad, dinner rolls and really delicious variety of desserts.
                                            It’s all free, so bring a friend or two, eat a hearty meal and join us for some
                                            really special country gospel music, played by a family with a long pedigree in
                                            country music.  Allen Frizzell is the younger brother of “Lefty” and David
                                            Frizzell and has been gifted by God with two children who are great musicians
                                            in their own right.   We hope you’ll join us for a very special evening.
8/13     SAT     10:00 AM   Ladies’ Craft Day.  Summer is in full swing and the enthusiasm of our crafters
                                            is higher than ever.  Join them for a special time of crafting, talking, food and
                                            all the coffee you can drink!
8/18     THU   7:00 PM     Official Board Meeting.  There are lots of things to be discussed and decided
                                            at this month’s meeting, so be in prayer for our board members as they tackle
                                            the essential things concerning our body of believers for the remainder of this
                                            year and on into 2017.
8/20     SAT     8:00 AM     Men’s Breakfast & Fellowship.  The men are always in good spirits when food
                                            is on the agenda and we try to oblige.  Hope you’ll join us.
                        3:00 PM      Teen Mt. Ministry Pool Party.  The young people will be driving down to the
                                            home of Art & Joanne Hofer, in Dinuba, for a really special day in the sun &
                                            water.  If you’ve got a teenager and wonder how it all works, just call Isidro &
                                            Colleen Bruno at (559) 338-0585.
8/28     SUN    5:30 PM      Supper & A Movie.  Our monthly get together will feature a delicious supper
                                            prepared by our own, Theresa Pike.  We’re going to be featuring another,
                                            Bible based video on the life of “Paul the Apostle”.  Hope you’ll join us!       


Saturday, July 9, 2016

DID YOU KNOW… ? June 2016


“When you find yourself in the position to help someone, be happy and feel blessed because God is answering that person’s prayer through you.  Remember:  Our purpose on earth is not to get lost in the dark, but to be a light to others, so that they may find their way through us.”  – Alberto Casing ...  The Teen Mountain Ministry honored graduates from the 8th grade and high school, presenting them with gifts, during our June 5th Sunday Service,  in recognition of their achievements.  We appreciate the dedicated leadership of this great ministry …  Helping Hands wishes to thank Donna Stieber for offering her lovely home for our monthly meeting and potluck, with Marcia Wilcher hostessing.  Everyone attending enjoyed themselves …  One of our faithful was called home to be with the Lord, and many of those who knew and loved him joined together here at Hilltop Chapel this month to celebrate the life of Gary O’Bosky.  He left a beautiful legacy … Love your parents and treat them with loving care, for you will only know their value when you see their empty chair.  Call them, visit them, take their grandchildren to see them, laugh with them, hug them, listen to their stories, take them their favorite foods, respect them and be patient – tomorrow might be too late ... Men’s Breakfast in June was enjoyed by all who attended.  Joy Gibson was there as guest speaker and to give the devotion this month -- a lesson in bread-making … We want to thank the Gibson’s for their loyalty in driving up from Pasadena to attend our little country church about once a month.  Barbara has provided us with her joyful piano accompaniment to our hymns on many Sundays and Joy is always by her side providing supportive encouragement.  Our church family is truly grateful to have them as regular attendees … Father’s Day service was greeted with abundant sunshine and many fathers bringing their families to church.  Congratulations to the deserving fathers, winners of this year’s drawing for Father’s Day gift cards from Harbor Freight, provided by Helping Hands:  Kevin Ahumada, Dave Duncan and Warren Trost … The first of 3 bake sales held at church on the last Sunday of each month was very successful.  Helping Hands is raising funds to help defray costs of the Women’s Retreat at Hartland Christian Camp in September and we look forward to next month’s sale.  Many thanks to Gail McClard for volunteering to organize them … A big shout out to all those dedicated workers who help clean the church each month.  Thanks to you, we have a church we can be proud of … Mark your calendars for Vacation Bible School week to be held here at Hilltop Chapel next month from July 11th through 15th.   We seek your prayers for this year’s VBS, ‘SURF SHACK’Many youngsters will be joining us for a week of adventure and ‘fun in the sun and surf’.  They will enjoy games, sports, crafts and snacks.  Hearts and lives can and will be changed and we know that the more we pray the greater the harvest will be.  See you all there … Lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, teach them to your children and your grandchildren. -- Deuteronomy 4:9 … We shape tomorrow’s world by what we teach our children today.  … Why is it our children cannot read a Bible in public schools, but they can in our prisons?  …  Here are some quotes that actually appeared in church bulletins:  “Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community.”   “Smile at someone who is hard to love.”   “Say ‘Hell’ to someone who doesn’t care much about you.” - and - “Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir.  They need all the help they can get.”