Our Need for God

We are entering the season of Lent, a season of the church year in which God calls us ever more deeply to stop and consider our sinful ways, to deny ourselves, and to meditate on the gift of Christ’s death on the cross that brought us salvation. 

The season begins with a Scripture lesson from the life of Jesus in which the Spirit called Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. During this trial, Jesus fasts from food and drink for forty days. The devil then comes and tempts Him with all the comforts of the world. The experience pushes Jesus to the max, but in the end He denies all the devil’s attempts to snatch Him away, declaring boldly to the face of the enemy, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Author Maggie Combs questions what we often consider to be a need for an “escape” in our lives. It could be a vacation, a sneak-away to our cupboard for a piece of chocolate, a bubble bath. All these can be good things, she says, but the problem comes when we elevate these “escapes” to a need. Considering them needs, we start to fight for them. When we don’t receive them, we get angry, short-tempered, bitter. These needs, Combs argues, come to take the throne in our lives in place of our need for God. 

Jesus’ departure to the wilderness is a challenge for us. It’s a challenge for us to look deeper at what we think our needs are. Yes we need food; yes we need clothing; yes we need rest. Our Heavenly Father knows we need these things (Matthew 6:32). But what other things, what other so-called needs, have come to take the place in our lives for our need for God? While Jesus may have hungered, while He may have had no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:19), while He was betrayed and rejected, Jesus was never lacking. He was never alone. Why? Because He had God (John 16:32). “And my God will supply all of your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). There are some things that the human heart requires to survive that only God can provide. 

What “need” has come to take the place of God in your life? This Lent, consider putting it aside so that you might find all that you truly need met in God. 


In Christ Alone,

Rev. Garritt and Sanette Fleming



“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members, though they are many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

A Body Working Together

If you have ever been in a tandem kayak before, then you know how essential it is for you and your partner to be paddling in the same direction. If one of you paddles forward while the other paddles backwards, then you aren’t going to go anywhere. Not only that, but your paddles are bound to collide like swords in a sword fight. 

This is what can happen on the lake or the river on a kayak, but so often this is what happens in the church. Jesus calls us to be one body, working together for His glory, but so often we find ourselves unaware of what others are doing or even in competition against each other rather than working together toward a shared goal and moving in the same direction. The lack of synchrony can also lead us to a place of stagnancy, of not really knowing what we’re supposed to be doing as a church. 

And yet we’re reminded again that Instead of many different “bodies” each doing his or her own thing, Jesus has called us to be one body, all working together in the service of our Lord. When God’s people live in unity it is a blessed thing (Psalm 133:1). Great things can be done that could not have been done otherwise. 

This year, our prayer and objective as a congregation is to move from being a just collection of people who might know each other, gather in the same building, and serve God in our own individual ways, to being a family that works together, that serves together, that cares for each other, and that seeks to work toward a common effort to please the Lord. We will be uniting around a singular theme and purpose:  “Schoeneck’s call to mission and service.” Each ministry in the church, such as the Senior Youth Fellowship or the Hospitality Ministry, will play a role in fulfilling this call and will work not alone but in tandem with another ministry in the church in this objective. More information will be shared throughout this month. 

Uniting around a common purpose, with each arm of the church doing something to contribute to the goal, we pray that we will be stronger for the Lord and will be able to accomplish greater things than had we been working alone. 

Before He left the disciples to go to the cross, Jesus prayed that God would make His disciples one so that the world see us and believe that God had truly sent Jesus the Christ into the world (John 17:21). This year, we pray that God would join us together as a congregation in one mind and one purpose so that through us, others might come to believe in Him. Amen. 

In Christ Alone,

Revs. Garritt and Sanette Fleming



A New Beginning

January, as the first month of the year, marks the start of something new. Many use it as an opportunity to start fresh — to begin healthier habits, to set new goals and priorities, to reset and refocus. 

As we think of the new start and new beginning associated with the first month of the year, a powerful truth of Scripture comes to mind, and that is the new beginning offered by Jesus Christ to all who turn to Him. 

Maybe we have gotten everything we could have ever wanted off of our list this Christmas. Maybe we got a raise or a bonus. Maybe we got tickets to our favorite show. Maybe we got a gift card to our favorite restaurant. These delights and comforts go a long way in making us happy, but it is amazing how all of these can feel hollow or empty when something is not right in our lives. When a relationship is broken, when we’ve done something to hurt someone and they’ve stopped talking to us, when find ourselves in the midst of a fight with a friend or a spouse, it’s amazing how all the gifts and money in the world can fade to nothing. If only we’d be able to talk like friends again, if only we knew they had forgiven us, if only there was peace in our home. We’d trade everything for this, for our relationships to be right again. 

Peter knew this feeling well. Peter had grown incredibly close to Jesus over the three years he spent journeying with the Messiah during His earthly ministry. When Peter heard that Jesus was going to suffer and be abandoned by everyone, Peter pledged to his Savior that he would never leave Him. But we know well what happened. When life got hard, Peter found himself doing something he never thought he would do. He disowned Jesus not once, not twice, but three times. After it happened and he realized what he had done, Peter went out and “wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75). The shame and weight of his sin pressed onto Peter’s heart. He knew how much his actions must have broken the heart of his Savior who loved him so much. 

Would there be a future to his relationship with Jesus? Would God forgive him for what he had done? As he wept, we imagine that Peter sat in a place of brokenness and despair with these questions on his mind. Yet the answer to these questions was not the end that Peter might have expected. Upon His resurrection, Jesus invites Peter to His side and asks him a simple question, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16). Jesus asks the question three times, one time for each of the instances that Peter denied Jesus. It was a question of commitment. Each time Jesus asked it, Jesus invited Peter to turn back and recommit his life to Him. Though Peter’s sin was great and it grieved the Lord, the Lord also loved Peter so much that He died for that sin on the cross. He was willing to forgive and have Peter back so long as Peter was willing to recommit his heart back to the Lord. That’s all He asked:  turn back to me and give me your heart once more. 

We all have stumbled along the way. We all have hurt someone. Right now you may be sitting in a place of grief or shame wondering what you could ever do to make it right and how anything will ever change. The first step is to turn to the Lord and to get your heart right with Him. Acknowledge what you have done, confess your sin, and turn your heart to Him once more. He is faithful and just to forgive your sins. 

With your heart now surrendered to the Lord, He will help to show you the way. He will lead you in what steps to take to make amends. And while it may not always be easy, while the result you want may not happen right away, know that the Lord will be on your side. 

As you begin this new year, maybe you are facing heartache and defeat. Know that Jesus offers a new beginning to all who turn to Him. He is waiting to help you and heal you. Receive His invitation!

In Gratitude of His Grace,

Pastors Garritt and Sanette



Giving the Gift of Our Faith 

Welcome to the season of giving. For the last month or more, we’ve been inundated with ads depicting the perfect gift for everyone on our list.

Gift giving can become something of a chore. It can become a selfish pursuit as we think more about what we’d like to give someone instead of what they want or need. And, it can even become a gift more for us than for them as we think about how we will benefit the gift instead of the actual recipient. I remember one year when I was growing up how got my dad a surround sound system for the family television. The gift was for him, yes, but we were just as excited as he was to open it because of the movies we knew we’d get to enjoy in crystal-clear stereo.

In this season of giving, how often do we stop to think about what it really means to give a gift to someone? How often do we really think about the needs of others and what another needs?

You and I as Christians have been given a tremendous gift — the gift of having a relationship with the God of life and salvation. We have been called out of darkness and into His wonderful light (1 Peter 2:10). His Spirit that is at work within us gives us tremendous strength. We know and can testify the power and the hope of our God, that though the world may say no there is no future and that there is no point, in God all things are possible. With Jesus, we are given new birth into a living hope. 

We have this gift, and yet so rarely do we share it. There are so many people that need to know the help and power that is in God, and yet we don’t have much drive to get out there and tell them about it. 

Psalm 91:9 gives an assurance to everyone who turns to the Lord:  “If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.’” This verse is a verse of promise for those who put their faith in Christ — as Christians, we may face challenges and hardship, but because God is on our side, these things will not overtake us; they will not overcome us. 

O lives have benefited from this grace from the Lord. But now, think of all those who have yet to benefit from it, of all who have yet to hear about it. Think of the teenager whose story we hear all too often — a young man living in the fallout of poor choices made by his or her parents, stuck in a hard place and thinking there is no way out. What if he knew this truth? What if he knew he too could make the Lord his refuge?

Others need to hear about our God; they need to see our God embodied for them by the way we care for them and stick by them when no one else will. 

This Christmas, let us give gifts, yes, but above all, let us give the gift of our faith. 

Revs. Garritt and Sanette Fleming



Grateful to God

“Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:19-20).

At a men’s conference I attended recently, I had the privilege of meeting a number of gentlemen who were excited about their faith. One conversation still sticks with me — a talk I had with a man named Mike. Mike is probably in his mid-to-late 40s. He works in sales, and he is married with three kids, the oldest in high school, the youngest in elementary school. As I spoke with and observed Mike, a few things struck me about him. While at a busy stage of his life, Mike had made the decision and commitment to come to this men’s conference even though there were probably many other things he could have been doing this particular weekend. Furthermore, he had come to the conference by himself, suggesting that he wasn’t attending because someone from his church had dragged him to go. Mike’s eagerness to stand up and start clapping his hands at the sound of the first praise and worship song affirmed this assumption. Lastly, in Mike I saw a faith that was living.

From his stories, I could tell that he did not go to church each week out of some obligation or routine. He went to church, and came to this conference, and prayed to and praised God daily because he knew he wouldn’t be the man he was were it not for Jesus. Mike shared with me that he has one of the most successful sales routes of anyone in his district. Despite the success, he continually reminds himself that he has all of this not because of what he could do but because of what God has done for him. As a cure to the “dead” faith of so many, Mike believes that people’s faith will start to come alive when they begin to really recognize what Jesus has done for them and how much they need Him for everything in life, every day of the week. 

We are about to enter the season of thanksgiving, a time of taking stock of all we have and recognizing how blessed we are. Some of us may have the tradition of going around our tables on Thanksgiving saying what we are thankful for regarding the year that has passed. This can easily feel like a routine exercise, especially after all the years of doing it. But this year, what if we really stopped to think about it? What if we really stopped to consider the amazing gifts and blessings that we have received? And what if we considered Who it is who has given us all these things and where we’d be without Him?

This year, may you truly take note of your blessings. And may the gratitude that fills your heart draw you nearer to Jesus, the giver of all good gifts (James 1:17).  May you realize that He has given you everything you need, and without Him you would not be where you are today. Without Him you’d be lost, lonely, afflicted, lacking, and without hope for today or tomorrow. 

This Thanksgiving and at every time of the year, Jesus is worthy of all our praise, all our passion, and all our devotion. To Him be all thanks and glory. 

Love and blessings, 

Pastors Garritt and Sanette