2021

JULY FROM OUR PASTORS

What Will our New Normal Be?

It is easy to find ourselves desperate to reclaim lost time, lost opportunities, lost fellowship, and the loss of what we once called our normal routine. We all have done it or are doing it, trying with all our might to seek after and reclaim that which we perceive we have lost regardless of what may have caused the experience of loss.

In Matthew chapter 6, the same chapter in which Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer, He also taught us what it is we are to truly seek after. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Have you paused to earnestly, desperately seek after lost faith and intimacy with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior? Have you paused to seek Him first above all else? Let’s be clear, we are not talking about the loss of a loved one, though in some ways this, too, may apply. Nevertheless, we are talking about the loss of everything else.

God may not have caused every experience of loss, but He certainly does not waste these experiences. In the loss of time, opportunities and so on, we may find ourselves in a position in which everything that once hindered, distracted, and enticed us away from true relationship and worship of Christ have been stripped away. By stripping these things away, we can see clearly that which our hearts truly desire. You know, the Scripture tells us that where our treasure is, there we may also find our heart. (Matthew 6:21) Perhaps God is using loss as a way to reveal what’s truly in our hearts and to draw us back to Him.

Are you desiring Christ, His word, His Kingdom, His Righteousness? Are you coming back to the sanctuary to worship God or are you coming back for something else?

Whatever your loss is, don’t allow it to pull your heart into the wrong places and wrong desires. Rather invite Christ into your loss. He can do for us what no one and nothing can. Jesus values each and every one of us, and He is here for us. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)

Let us covenant together to seek first Christ’s kingdom and His righteousness in our spaces of loss, whatever those losses may be. Let us covenant to not want what we had, but seek after what Christ has prepared for us in the steps we take next. Perhaps Jesus Christ is calling us to a different, a better, and a more purposeful “normal” guided by His Holy Spirit living inside of us.

Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

Love and Blessings Always,
Revs. Garritt and Sanette Fleming and Baby Esther

2021

MARCH FROM OUR PASTORS

Staying Focused on the Work of God

March has arrived and the spiritual season of Lent is nearing its halfway point. To guide our walk with the Lord during this season, we often look to Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. The Scripture says that “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them He was hungry” (Luke 4:1-2). During this experience, the devil tempts Jesus in multiple ways to take the easy way out. “Tell this stone to become bread,” the devil says to Jesus, who is famished and would no doubt delight in a warm meal. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,” he says to Jesus, trying to convince Him to doubt the provision and care of God the Father. And then the devil offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world saying, “If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus knew the road ahead of Him would be difficult. It would require Him to give up His life. Here the devil was trying to give Jesus a way out by appealing to the desires of the flesh.

In our own walk with God, we will face temptations. The enemy works in our lives, too, just as he worked in Jesus’ life, trying to tempt us to take the easy way out. Ever have the Monday blues? Perhaps you can relate to the reluctance of getting out of bed and starting the work week. It’s a common experience. We say to ourselves, “If I had just one more day to relax, then I could handle the week ahead.” While it is Biblical to take time to rest and to press pause on our commitments, often what fuels our “Monday blues” isn’t a legitimate need to restore our body and soul but laziness and a fear of facing real life.

In our devotional and prayer life, we face the temptation to “call in sick.” Let’s face it, sitting down and watching TV often feels more enjoyable than sitting down to read our Bibles. Exercising or warming up that bowl of oatmeal for breakfast feels more rewarding than taking five or ten minutes to pray. We may even start to think, “It’s alright if I don’t pray today,” or even “Does it really matter if I pray?”

As these ideas start to creep into our head, Jesus provides us the truth and the example. Yes there is a time to celebrate, but first God has work for us to do. At one point in His ministry, Jesus looks in need of a meal and the disciples urge Him to have something to eat, but His response to them was this: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work” (John 4:34). Jesus never lost sight of His calling and His purpose. It’s not that He didn’t take time to eat, but He made sure to not lose His hunger for God. Looking back again to His forty days and nights in the wilderness, by His fasting it’s as if Jesus makes the declaration, “Lord, I will not forget the work you have for me!” In His fasting He teaches us that sometimes we have to put our reward on hold for God. There are things that God wants us to do — people He is calling us to reach, needs He is calling us to pray for, time He is asking us to give to Him in service and in study. We have a purpose, and God calls us out there, even on Monday morning.

Not only does God desire our service, but He desires closeness with us. We may be tempted to think that we can do it alone, that we can do the work and then clock out and go back to our business. But again Jesus reminds us of the truth. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). In these words He was saying to the devil that even if He made food out of stones, that food would not be enough; He would still need more. We still more. The great church reformer Martin Luther once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Prayer, reading God’s word, worship, all bring us close to our Heavenly Father who is our source of strength, who is the anchor of our soul in this dark world, who is the Great I Am who makes the impossible possible. God is our everything! As Christians, may we never lose sight of that. May we never give the devil lip service in telling us we don’t need God. We need the Lord; He is our lifeblood.

Just as the Spirit called Jesus into the wilderness, the Holy Spirit calls us to God this very day to remind us of our high calling and purpose, that we have work to do. And He draws us to Himself to remind us that He is our all in all, that in Him we find our everything. Today let us give God our praise, and let us give God our best. Amen!

Pastors Garritt & Sanette

2021

FEBRUARY FROM OUR PASTORS

Hearts After God

What is your relationship with God like? Are you just acquaintances? Do you spend a couple minutes together a week? Or is your relationship with the Lord living and active?

We recently heard an interview with professional football player Kirk Cousins, quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. Cousins, who grew up in a home where faith in God was right there with salt and pepper on the table, tells of a trying time in his life. He played on the high school football team, and it wasn’t until his junior year that he actually got a chance to play on the field. Sadly though, that didn’t last long because he suffered an injury which put him back on the bench. This hit Cousins especially hard because junior year is when the scouts come and recruit for colleges. Cousins thought it was over, his chances of playing college ball done. But his Dad was quick to put his despairing son back on track. “Remember Proverbs 3:5-6,”

he said. “‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.’”Cousin’s dad wasn’t trying to promise his son that football was still his future, but rather he was imploring him to trust in God, that no matter how this turned out, He still had a plan for him. As it turned out, Cousins did make it back on the field, and now he plays for the pros. What a miraculous turn around. “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)

For Cousins, this experience was a turning point and for him is a continual testimony of God’s faithfulness. God is real, and He desires us to trust Him and walk in relationship with Him. As we listened to Cousins’ testimony, we were moved to take our relationship with God more seriously, to walk with Him more intimately each and every day. The interview also mentioned a weekly practice of Cousins’ team and other professional teams, of having Bible study and chapel. This devotion time goes right alongside their other routines like working out in the weight room and running drills on the field. And so here are these titans on the field who also find it important bow their knees before the Lord. Again, as we heard this we were inspired to hunger after God a more deeply.

We are about to enter the season of Lent, a season which kicks off with a retelling of a prominent moment in Jesus’ life when He hungered and thirsted in the wilderness. While He was tempted by Satan to give in, His hunger for God was greater, as He declared to the tempter, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

This season, may you hunger and thirst for God in your life. He is who we truly need. Put Jesus first. Prioritize your relationship with Him, your devotions, your study of the Bible, and your honest conversation with Him. We pray that as you do this, you too will find the life and hope that Jesus, our living Savior, offers to each of us. Amen.

2021

JANUARY FROM OUR PASTORS

2021 IS HERE! 

Most if not all of us are happy that 2020 is over. 

I remember seeing a post on instagram with a dad and his baby girl who is a toddler. At the beginning of the video the dad was walking and pushing a shopping cart while his baby girl, who by all accounts just started walking, was holding onto the bottom of the cart smilingly assisting her dad to push the cart, seemingly because she probably thought she was the one doing all the work. Moments later in the video post, the baby girl was on her knees, still holding on to the cart while her dad pushed it along. I could not help but literally laugh out loud. Perhaps she ran out of steam after all, she just started walking. I thought that was it for the video but as I watched on my laughter became a belly roll because this little baby was now flat on her stomach, still holding on to the cart as her dad pushed it along. Can you imaging the scene? 

First she was walking while pushing the cart, next she was crawling while pushing the card, and finally she was lying down while “pushing the cart. Then the caption came up — “Me at the beginning of 2020, me at the middle of 2020, me at the end of 2020.” 

Most of us were excited at the possibilities of entering into a new decade. But, this decade caught us all off guard, and 2020 was turbulent all the way to the end. Many of us starting off walking, then kneeling as we tried to press on through it, and many of us ended it just flat out on our bellies. Between the tandem, the political unrest, and the racial unrest to say 2020 was crazy would be the understatement of the decade. Nevertheless, here we are — it’s 2021. 

Many of us are hoping that the baggage of 2020 will be left in 2020. The reality is, however, 2021 is not a magic number or year. Any unresolved baggage from last year and previous years will follow us in 2021. BUT, the GOOD NEWS IS, JESUS CHRIST! Jesus — the epitome of all that is good, the source of hope and amazing possibilities — is already here in 2021. Jesus Christ has not changed, and His resolve to journey into our chaos and sort and remedy our baggage for us and with us has not changed either. His love knows no bounds. 

Another good thing is that we know what baggages we are bring with us and therefore we know what to commit to our Lord Jesus Christ in prayer. Christ doesn’t want us to be oblivious to our circumstances, but neither does He want us to allow our circumstances to cause us to fear and lose hope. 

Our Lord Jesus Christ says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) And in John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!”  We will remain upright on our feet through 2021 come what may, for we stand on Jesus Christ the Solid Rock upon which we shall not be moved. 

Welcome to 2021. To Christ be the Glory, AMEN! 

2020

MARCH FROM OUR PASTORS

God Will Supply Our Need

One of the daily devotionals we like to read to get closer to God is “Our Daily Bread.” Recently this devotional published a reading that gave us great inspiration and strength. It shared the story of a woman and her family that had just moved. After the move, life only seemed to get harder and harder with every turn. The woman wrote:

“Physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, I curled up in my recliner. Our family had followed God’s leading and had moved from California to Wisconsin. After we arrived, our car broke down and left us without a vehicle for two months. Meanwhile, my husband’s limited mobility after an unexpected back surgery and my chronic pain complicated our unpacking. We uncovered costly problems with our new-to-us, old home. Our senior dog suffered with health issues. And though our new pup brought great joy, raising a furry ball of energy was far more work than anticipated. My attitude soured. How was I supposed to have unshakable faith while traveling on a bumpy road of hardships?”

Maybe you have felt this way lately, finding yourself up against obstacles and hardship in your life. In the face of all these feelings and tears, the woman from the story above turned to the Lord in prayer. At times, doing this may seem like a hopeless exercise when all else seems to be failing. Can anything change? Can it possibly get better? But God has a way of reaching us when we look to him for strength. The woman shared that as she prayed, she was reminded of the psalmist David whose praise did not depend on his circumstances. God was speaking to her. He was reminding her that just as He was faithful to David, He was and would be faithful to her; just as David found strength in Him, so could she as well. 

David’s life is a textbook example of someone who had a pretty bad day, and then much worse. Early on in his life David found his life in danger. King Saul pursued David and tried to take David’s life several times (1 Samuel 19-26). Later, David’s own men blamed him for the loss of their family members, and they talked about stoning him (1 Samuel 30:4). Then, David’s son Absalom stole the throne from his father David, and David had to flee to protect his own life (2 Samuel 15:14). The man truly knew what he was talking about when he said, “a mighty army surrounds me” (Psalm 27:3). 

But in the face of fear and certain danger, David turned to God. The Lord was his rock when all else around him was changing and falling apart. He wrote, “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge” (Psalm 16:1). David heard the rumors against his life all around him, yet he said, “But I trust in you, Lord. I say, ‘You are my God.’” (Psalm 31:14). 

One of the most striking things David said about the Lord was this:  “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup” (Psalm 16:5). For an Israelite like David, one’s portion was another way of referring to one’s inheritance. God gave each of the tribes of Israel a “portion” of land to inherit when they entered the promised land (see Joshua 13-21). While some might have said their greatest treasure and security was their land and their wealth, David instead said, “Lord, you alone are my portion.” It was true in the good times and especially true in the bad. Everything would be taken from David — his land, his reputation, his family. But there was something that could never be taken from him, and that was his God. God still remained with David when all else was failing. When all else was against him, even his closest companions, the Bible gives us an everlasting testimony from David when it tells us, “But David found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6).

In the face of adversity and hardship in life, it can feel like there’s nothing left and no hope, but God offers to be our portion, to be our everything. Let us learn from the example of David who found all that he needed in the Lord. 

God bless you all, 

Pastors Garritt and Sanette