“Be strong and courageous!” That is sometimes a challenge, especially in the midst of a struggle or in the face of fear of the unknown. This phrase is used 11 times in God’s Word: 8 times God is saying to 3 different people: Moses, Joshua and Hezekiah; and 3 times Moses is repeating it to Joshua and Caleb. Each time it is used just before battle. I believe that God is still saying it to us to prepare us for battle against this world, against Satan.
There are several scriptures that I have memorized and this is one of them. Why? Because it works! It’s not through the power of positive thinking that inspires me, even though thinking positively does help, but the power of this scripture to me is because of the one speaking it. It appears 4 times in the span of the first chapter in the book of Joshua. In verses 6, 7, 9 and 18 God speaks directly to Joshua as he succeeds Moses as leader over Israel after the death of Moses. Remember that Joshua and Caleb were the only adults who survived God’s punishment of the Israelites during their wandering in the desert because they remained faithful to God and believed that God would deliver them victory over the enemies in the promised land. They were the last of a generation who lived under slavery in Egypt and witnessed all of the miraculous ways God had led them and provided for them. They also witnessed God’s wrath on them over Israel’s unfaithfulness. Joshua’s faith saved him and God rewarded him and called him to lead the people into the promised land.
In this first chapter, Joshua is showing some reticence to the position, so God gives him an amazing pep talk in this first chapter of Joshua that is contingent upon these words….” Be strong and courageous!” God tells Joshua…”Be strong and courageous for I will lead you; Be strong and very courageous in following Moses’ instructions; Be strong and courageous and do not be afraid for I am with you; Be strong and courageous and I will give you victory!” Then, when Joshua takes his lead, what happens? Everything that God had promised – the people followed him and God gave them victories over every enemy. Some of the victories were easily won and others were hard fought, but in every one God gave them victory and was always with them, just as He promised.
So, can we find application for these words of God? They were not only spoken to Joshua, Moses and Heziaciah, but to each of us as well. Each day in whatever we face – the good, the bad and the ugly – we can stand firm in courage in our faith in a faithful God.
Be strong and courageous God says unto you!
I don’t know if I am ever going to warm up. It has been a long cold winter, hasn’t it? We’ve had the sunshine, but the temps just haven’t climbed very quickly yet, but surely in April we will see a change, I hope.
Hope is what we hold on to for what is to come. Sometimes I think we see hope as only the possibility of what is to come, not the assurance of what is to come, there is a difference. Warmer temperatures will come, it is assured if the Lord tarries, spring will give way to summer and the heat of July will come. So, my hope of warmer temperatures is assured, so something that I hold on to today with full knowledge that it will warm up. The only one that would change that it God himself, so unless Christ returns in the next few weeks, we can have confidence that temperatures will grow warmer.
Isn’t that the same confidence our hope needs about what is waiting for us in Heaven? We should put our hope in knowing that He is coming back for us without any question or doubt. Sometime the problem with our faith is the same problem we have enduring winter. We become too complacent because spring seems too far in coming.
In Hebrews 11:1 we read… Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. A hope that should be complete trust. We know that the blessed hope of God is a promise. And Titus 2:13 says… while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Let us keep the faith in the hope that is to come, not what may come, but what will! That’s Jesus’ promise.
As many of you know, Lisa and I have taken many trips to Haiti over the past 20 plus years. Haiti has been a huge part of our lives and service to God and His people. There is also a personal attachment for us in Haiti.
On my very first trip in 1995, I met a young teenage boy named St. Vertie. He was about 15 years old at the time and had been a part of the mission’s nutrition and school program for many years. He was sponsored by a family from Cayuga, so I had known about him before my trip. At our first meeting, he and I immediately bonded in what has become a father/son relationship. And several years later, when he first met Lisa, she became his mother.
On my first trip, he became our personal interpreter even though he was limited in his English, but we did our best. I felt such trust in him and a deep sincerity in his love for Jesus. On that trip, he took me to meet his mother, whom he cared for because she was ill. He had several brothers and a sister who were older and a few who were younger. I learned later that his father had abandoned his family many times and would show up from time to time and then disappear again. In time, it was known that his father had created a new life with a new family.
This family had struggled greatly to make ends meet, but thanks to the mission, they received the needed help and Jesus. Incidentally, St. Vertie’s mother was the first person baptized by the missionaries when they first came to their city. Sadly, their hardship grew greater and the younger children were placed in the mission’s orphanage because the mother could not provide for them. St. Vertie was the only child to remain at home and he cared for his mother and was ever so devoted. He not only remained devoted to his family, but also to his schooling, and to his God.
Lisa and I grew closer to St. Vertie, especially so, when he married his wife Elda and had their first child, Davidson. We were so fortunate to have been there on the day Davidson was born in the year 2000. St. Vertie continued his education beyond high school by attending a trade school and studying to be a Pharmacy Technician. He completed his studies and was blessed to find work within the missions newly establish pharmacy.
Through his studies, he remained faithful to God and his church and even was elected to the position of deacon, which comes with a lot of leadership. St. Vertie became more and more involved in the church and even began filling in the pulpit when the church was without a minister. Well, it wasn’t long until the people elected St. Vertie to be their Minister full time.
He is a great Pastor and a very powerful preacher, even though I don’t understand what he is saying, I can see his passion for God and see the spirit working through him. He is now the longest serving Pastor that his church has ever had and has such a wonderful ministry for Christ. When we returned last May, it was so wonderful to get to worship with him and his family again.
Our Haitian family has grown to include another boy, Dale Steve, who was born in 2011 when we were in Haiti. We were on leave from Haiti and Lisa had told Elda not to have her baby until we returned as a joke, well, we arrived mid-morning and that afternoon Dale Steve was born. Again, we got to hold that precious child on his birth day, just like his brother born 11 years earlier. So, we have two grandsons in Haiti!
Davidson, our oldest grandson, is in his final semester of high school and is taking an English proficiency test on Saturday, February 24th to see if he can be accepted into a U.S. college or university. If all goes well, and within God’s will, Davidson will graduate in June and come to live with us to attend IVY Tech to study nursing in January. There are still so many hoops to jump through, but if it is God’s will.
Truthfully, I had my doubts whether it could come to be, but how can I limit God. It is dependent upon Davidson’s performance, the U.S. government’s approval, the college acceptance and Lisa and I’s finances. It may seem beyond us, but it is not beyond Him. It is dependent upon HIM!
God has given us this amazing love for this family and from this family that has now spanned 23 years. What remains beyond the struggles and hardships; What remains beyond this world is HIS Love. If it doesn’t come to be, there will be disappointment, but there will always be love.
I ask for your prayers in seeking God’s will for Davidson. I also ask for prayers for his family as they wait and then deal with the possible separation from each other during this education. It will not be easy. I ask that you pray for God’s provision to meet the needs for this.
Our hope is that Davidson will get his undergraduate in nursing then seek what comes after that so that he can return to Haiti and serve God and his people.
Do you remember your first love? Whether it was a boyfriend or a girlfriend or even a pet, you will probably not forget the first time you felt love for someone outside of your family. Love is a gift and God is the giver of that gift. He created us for love – with the need to be loved and with the ability to give love. Why? There are many reasons why God gifted us with love. He wanted us to connect with each other in friendship, families and in marriage. He also wanted us to know His love for us and give Him our love. You’ve heard the phrase, “Love makes the world go round.” Love, as God intended it, is crucial to our lives, we can’t live without it because we were created for it.
I Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Love is the greatest and it was love that lead God to give Jesus, his only son, to save us. It was also the reason Jesus gave his life for us. What great love God has for us. The love that God has shown to us was expressed in action. No one and nobody has ever given us so much love and sacrificed so much because of it. What then should be our response to Him?
Love! Because God loved and continues to love us, we then should return love to Him.
How do we express our love for God and to God? Praise? Yes! Acceptance? Yes! Obedience? Yes! Action? Yes! Our love for God can and should be expressed to Him in every way and anyway we can as our love leads. Jesus stated how our love for him can be shown: feed my sheep in John 21:17; obey my commands in John 14:15; and love God and your neighbor in Mark 12:33.
When we love someone, we show them. We eagerly want do what we can for them to show this love to make them happy. Receiving and accepting God’s love for us should result then in our giving our love to Him in action - praise, obedience and action. I John 3:18 says, “ Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
Have your accepted and received His love for you? If so, freely give it back!
As we enter December, we all have plans and busy schedules that will leave us in a blur. As we celebrate as a church and as families, let us not forget the reason we celebrate Jesus’ birth.
That reason has been simply stated “Jesus was born to die.” Though this is truth, it is harsh. We tend to celebrate Christmas and the birth this small precious child who was born on a silent night in that little town of Bethlehem. We keep this death, burial and resurrection relegated to our Easter Celebrations.
Christmas is a time to celebrate, but only because of Easter. Let us view Christmas from the perspective of the Resurrection. Then, we truly have reason to celebrate more than just a baby born, or even more, a man put to death, but because of the love shown, grace given and eternal life offered.
Jesus was born as a baby. He grew to a man who became the way for our redemption with God, but as a sacrifice of great price. At Christmas, we received a gift – a gift of life – ours – an eternal life because of that baby who became a man who paid our price. What a great gift!
Merry Christmas and God Bless you all!
From Steve's Desk
Thanksgiving was always a day that I looked forward when I was growing up. It was always at my home because we had the biggest house with both sides of my family coming. I always wanted to go over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house, but both of my grandmothers always came to my house, go figure. The food was also something looked forward to, and I miss it to this day. My maternal grandfather always made the turkey and dressing, though it was dry to the bone, it was tradition. My mother always made the chicken & noodles and a variety of pies. One aunt always made the mashed potatoes that were dripping with butter and another aunt would make a fancy dessert bar from the recipes she found in the latest magazines. One of my great aunts always brought a large #10 can of peaches without fail. Another one would make homemade bread and someone else always brought the pop. Isn’t it funny how after all these years, I can recall such detail. I bet you can too!
Thanksgiving a great time of the year, but it is more than just one day or a season of the year. It is time to reflect on all that God has done for us and all that He has given to us, but it is more. Thankfulness is also a feeling, but it is more than that too. Thanksgiving is how we should be living. It is being thankful, saying we are thankful, showing we are thankful and living like we are thankful.
As we pause this month to give thanks, may we be challenged to feel it more, say it more, show it more and live it more.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 Lord, we are thankful!
Lisa and I want to express our gratitude to God and you for our opportunity to serve Him at Advance. We have always felt at home. October 15th marked our 3rd anniversary and it is hard to believe that it has been that long. Thank you for your support and encouragement in our ministry, we so appreciate being a part of your family.
Mission Advance THANK YOU!
Mission Advance is almost over for another year. It has truly been a blessing to serve God with you in reaching our congregation and community with God’s love. Our theme, BE MOVED to Go; to Do and to Give has given us the opportunities to love not just in word or in tongue, but in action and in truth as directed in I John 3:18.
I was moved by your efforts and your love. Thank you!
This year, our Do project list included: The Handicap Ramp Project – The project was completed with many hours of labor in planning and construction. It is a blessing to the family it was built for and they are so appreciative. The Town Lobby Painting Project – This project for the town of Advance has not been completed yet, but will soon. We have the volunteers, we are just waiting for the time.
The Fire Pit Project – our fire pit project was completed on Saturday, September 16th with several volunteers giving of their time and energy. It is truly a welcomed addition to our facilities and will be of great use.
Another Do project was our Pie Appreciation Project. This year volunteers donated 39 fruit pies that were given to show our appreciation for the public-school teachers of our congregation and the staff of Western Boone Community School Corporation at Grandville Wells, Thorntown and Webo Jr. & Sr. High School. This small act of kindness was well received. Our last Do project was our Burp Cloth Sewing Project. This year several volunteers cut, sewed and ironed burp cloths that will be given to the Payton Manning’s Children’s Hospital NIC Unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis.
Our Go projects were also a success: We ask for volunteers to go into our community to represent Christ’s love from our congregation. This year a group went to the Shalom House and volunteered serving food; another group worked at the Webo Food Pantry, and another group represented Christ at the LOVE INC. Homecoming Fundraising Banquet. The Banquet raised over $27,000.00 to help meet the needs of our community through this wonderful arm of the church who provide benevolence. We also donated a beautiful basket of bibles and décor items that was sold in their silent auction. We are fortunate to have been involved in such a worthy cause. Finally, a group of our volunteers when to Homewood Care Facility and staffed a carnival for the grandchildren, great grandchildren and residents. It was a fun night for all.
Our final emphasis was being moved to Give and give you did. We asked for monetary donations to provide a housewarming gift for Josh and Chloe Glenn, our missionaries from Hope Inner City to Columbus, Ohio. We were fortunate to host Josh and Chloe and their family on Sunday, September 24th for an update on their new mission area. Josh and Chloe have relocated to the new area in downtown Columbus to begin a new ministry. We were able to give them approximately $1,100 for their home needs.
We are also in the process of collecting baby items for our missionaries to Haiti, Zach and Christie Clayton and their daughter, Malia who is due in November. Zach and Christie will be with us for our 5th Sunday Fellowship on Sunday, October 29th. We will have a fellowship breakfast with them and host a baby shower. We are seeking baby items for a baby girl as well as monetary donations. They will be using the items themselves and donating items to families in Haiti as well. All donations need to be brought on or before October 29th.
Finally, we were challenged to give financially to aid the recent hurricane victims of the Caribbean and the southern United States by partnering with IDES – International Disaster Emergency Services, a mission organization that provides relief to those in need. This organization gave ACCC funds after the last tornado in our community that was used to help rebuild and meet needs. We were able to give $604.00 to that relief effort.
Though Mission Advance is over for this year, our call to action is not. We need to continue to put ourselves, as individuals and as a congregation, in the position to be moved to give, to go and to do. God will move us, but we have to let Him lead.
Thank you for being moved – I was moved by you!
The Big Game is a college football rivalry that has been played every year since 1892 between the University of California at Berkley and Stanford University. It is the oldest, continuous football contest in the country and the world. This November will mark its 125 years and to date Stanford holds the record of wins at 62 – 42 – 11. It is much like our own, IU vs. Purdue rivalry, which actually began in 1891, but has only been played 119 times. There was no game played in 1903 or during WWI or WWII. Since 1925, this game has been called the Old Oaken Bucket. Incidentally, Purdue leads IU in wins at 72 -41 -6. This is a big game if you are a Purdue or Indiana fan, right Arlan?
Every sports contest, whether individual or team sports, amateur or professional has its big game: The Big Dance of the NCAA; The Super Bowl of the NFL; The World Series of American baseball and even here at home we have the WEBO – Lebanon rivalry. These big games are filled with both excitement and anxiety. Victory or any time will practice and focus.
This month, my sermon series, entitled, The Big Game, will point us in the direction of victory in our Big Game, reaching our community for Christ. We are a team of God-gifted and talented individuals who are united through the blood of Jesus with a very important challenge of sharing God’s love and evangelizing. We are a team and we are each important to that team. We each carry a specific gift set that God wants to use to reach the world beginning at home, our church, and our community. When his team works together united in His Spirit there is nothing that is impossible.
We are a team ACCC! We each have a position to play on that team! We all have a purpose in God’s plan for our team! Let’s work together as a team! God’s Team!
During the month of September, we are hosting our 3rd MISSION ADVANCE. This is the time we have set aside to show God’s love to our community at home and abroad. We hope that we are challenged to BE MOVED: To Go! To Do! To Give! We pray that God will move us as individuals and as a congregation to carry out is work in our community.
Mission Advance is not a contest or competition, but it is a challenge. It is a challenge by God to show His love to those who need it. We are to bear witness to his love and saving grace. We are to serve God by loving each other, our neighbors, strangers and even our enemies. Loving is more than a feeling, it is an action. Our theme verse is I John 3:18, which reads, “Dear children, do not love in word or in tongue, but in action and in truth”. We have several ways for you to participate in Mission Advance and I will call your attention to the Mission Advance section of this newsletter for more details.
Join the team! It’s The Big Game!
From Steve’s Desk
The Dog Days of Summer are almost upon us. Have you ever pondered exactly what that phrase actually means? Well, it may not mean exactly what we think.
We think that it has its meaning in the extreme heat that is associated with our summers, especially in the Midwest, but that really isn’t where it originates. It does have to do with the days of late summer of July and August, but it has to do with the rising of Canis Major (The Dog Star constellation) and Lepus (The Hare Star constellation) that occurs in late July. I have never been too wrapped up in the stars, but I do appreciate a star filled night. We often look forward to seeing the stars when we travel to Haiti. The stars seem so much closer to earth there than at home. You can see them with more detail and vividness. You can even track the movements of satellites and the Space Station. It is all so cool from Haiti. The truth of why we can see the stars so much better in Haiti is because there is so much “earthly” light coming from around us, that the star light does not appear as bright. I suppose we can understand that even from our own rural setting as compared to the brightness of a big city. The more light we have around us, the less we will see the stars above us.
I think this is a perfect analogy for us in keeping our eyes on Jesus, the one true light. In the Old Testament, Isaiah recorded the prophecy that the people living in darkness will see a great light. That light was and is Jesus. Are we the people living in darkness?
Yes, but it may not be a literal darkness. You see, in our world today, we have many distractions that can take our focus off of God and His ways. There is so much competition that we do not see the true light. This means we have to focus and keep focused on Jesus the source of the true light and not be distracted.
There is no light that is as strong! No light that is as bright! There is no light but His that leads us heavenward.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Matthew 8:12
Jesus is the true light in this world that does lead us heavenward. We have to keep our focus on it!
Hebrews 12:2 - fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Don’t be confused by the dim lights of this world – focus on the one true light!
From Steve’s Desk
Summertime; Summertime; Sum-sum-summertime is here! It is so
wonderful to finally be enjoying warm sunny days, well I
hope. I am writing this article a few weeks early, so I hope
that the weather has turned warm and sunny by now.
With summer comes a different schedule of life. Some people
get busier, while other people have fewer activities. Some are
more relaxed and others are not. It all depends. It all depends
on - if you have kids or grandkids that have ball games, 4-H,
or any other activity that they are involved in. And you may
be planning to take a summer trip or vacation for a day or a
week. Summer is a fun time but it can also be exhausting.
My encouragement to you is to enjoy it! Get out in the
warmth and enjoy God’s beauty and your family, be a part of
it, but also stop! Rest! Enjoy! You may not be able to control
every minute but those times that you have control over –
Spend time with your spouse. Spend time with your
kids/grandkids. And don’t forget to spend time by yourself
And as you go this summer, go with God. Take him with you.
A busy schedule doesn’t have to mean a hiatus from God. He
can go too and will go. Be a witness for Him wherever you go
and are. If you can’t be in church in Advance – go somewhere
that is near your destination. It is always good to meet new
people and experience new services.
Enjoy your summer! Enjoy your time! Enjoy God and all that
He has given us.
From Steve’s Desk
Off we go...as many of you know, Lisa and I will be traveling to Haiti on May 15th for a 10 day stay. We will be visiting several different cities and missionaries across the country. We will be spending several days with Zach and Christie Clayton, our church sponsored missionaries in Haiti. We are excited to go and see our Haitian friends. We ask for your prayers for safety in travels and for God to use us for His purposes.
He is still alive! What a wonderful celebration and remembrance we had at Easter in all of our activities and services. Thank you so much to all of those who gave of their time and talents to serve God to lead us in this celebration. And thank you for participating in each and every way. Remembering each year is so important to proclaiming the message that Jesus is alive!
Had to share…I want to share a joke with you that was shared with me by my mother-in-law. “A taxi driver and a minister pass away and arrive at the Pearly Gates at the same time and were welcomed by St. Peter, who was making the housing assignments. St. Peter takes the taxi driver and shows him a big and beautiful mansion and gives him the keys. The minister’s anticipation builds and he contemplates what His mansion will be like since he was a servant of God. Well, he follows St. Peter to the next address which was just a small shanty in comparison to the mansion of the taxi driver. Dismayed, the minister asks, “Why do I get this small shanty and the taxi driver go the huge mansion?” “Well,” St. Peter responded, “During your sermons most people slept, but while the taxi driver drove, more people prayed!”
I hope that we do think about Heaven and anticipate going there, but do we often think about what our mansion will be like? I do! As we have discussed before, Heaven and the new Earth will be more than just clouds in the sky. In the book entitled “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn, the description of Heaven isn’t just streets of Gold and building built upon bejeweled foundations. Mr. Alcorn purport that Heaven will be like the perfect earth that was created for Adam and Eve before sin. Sometimes we see the beauty of this earth and fail to remember that what we see of this world is decaying and marked for distruction. The earth, as God created, was far different that what we see today. The best of here today will be the least of what will be there. It is hard to fathom, but it shouldn’t be hard to anticipate and long for.
What will our lodgings be in Heaven? I don’t know and I really don’t care – I want to be outside in the most beautiful place that I can’t even imagine. There we won’t be overcome by jealousy and pride, there is not sin there. So, while we wait the Lord’s return. Let us look forward and long for the place of our eternal reward. Dream of it. Imagine it. Long for it. Be careful while we wait here so that we are not overcome with jealousy and pride in what we may have and what others deserve. There is truth in the scripture “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” Let’s be thankful that we will have the hope of an amazing place. I can’t wait!.
If you are a fan of Broadway musicals, you will probably remember the Song, Easter Bonnet sang by Judy Garland to Bing Crosby in the 1948 musical entitled “The Easter Parade.” A few lines from the song go like this…
In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.
I understand that the wearing of Easter bonnets got out of hand at the turn of the last century. Wearing them became a status symbol and a sign of wealth that had negative results. People stopped going to church if they didn’t have a hat, or the right style of clothing. The problem was that the hat became more important than the person who couldn’t afford such finery.
Growing up in a small country church in the 1970’s, there were still a few senior ladies who wore hats, if not every Sunday, but always on Easter Sunday. Though they weren’t all decked out like some, they wore them, not as a show piece, but as a sign of reverence to God.
The wearing hats has been out of style for many decades, if you don’t county tobogins as somewhere today. Hates of the first half of the 20th century were the fashion. There were haberdasheries (hat stores for the younger crowd) on every Main St. across America. Not only did women wear hats, but so did men. Hats were so fashionable that this industry alone is responsible for the near extinction of several species of birds and animals. Special feather, and beaver skins were all the rage.
What I always found interesting was the fact that women were expected to wear their hats indoors and men were supposed to remove them to each show respect. Biblically references from the Old Testament do require the covering of one’s head in reverence to God. Even today, Jewish men cover their heads with a Yamaca to remind them that God is always above them in an act of humility.
Well, today, our dress has become much more casual, in church and out of church. That not necessarily a bad thing, what we wear isn’t as important to God as the way we live is.
Our lives need to be lived in reverence to God for all that He is; all that He has done; and all that He will do for us. When we do that, our dress becomes unimportant.
So, as Easter approaches - Wear a hat or not, just come as you are – that is what God wants.
Most of you know that Lisa and I were missionaries to the island Republic of Haiti for a year from June of 2011 to June of 2012. We have not been back to Haiti since we returned in 2012 and have dearly missed our Haitian friends and our American missionary friends. Well, God has provided us the opportunity to return to Haiti this coming May for an 11-day trip, and we are extremely excited.