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