November 17th, 2020

I was watching a hunting program on television titled, The Adventures of Colorado Buck.  This particular episode featured a hunting trip to Mongolia.  Upon arriving at this airport and standing at one of the baggage claim machines he realizes that he was in a foreign place.  All around him were dark complected, short in stature, and Oriental-looking people.  Colorado Buck is a Caucasian, approximately 6’ 4” and about 240 pounds, really long blonde hair, and wearing a fur coat with even longer furred cuffs and collar.  He looked at the camera and his first words were, “We ain’t from around here.”  I couldn’t stop laughing—what an opening line.  He stuck out like a Bald Eagle at a bird feeder.  

Do you ever feel out of place?  How about with your values?  Do they match up with the world around you?

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

This verse should be a type of gut-check gauge in our lives.  Do you find yourself conforming to the pattern of this world we live in?  Is the Holy Spirit transforming you, and renewing your mind?  In many cases, we know what God’s will is, it’s just that we make decisions that either follow His will or our own will.  Whenever I find myself struggling with my ways versus God’s ways I’m reminded that I don’t belong to myself anymore.  I have given my life over to Jesus Christ who has purchased my life at the cost of his own.  We belong to him now.  “We ain’t from around here.” 

With love,

 Kevin VanAtta

November 11th, 2020

“I became a servant of the gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3: 7-8)
The apostle Paul makes an interesting declaration pertaining to his priority in life since he became a Christian: to preach to the Gentiles. Because of the grace that was given to him, he was under obligation to share the good news with others. He was compelled to share the message that would give lost people hope. Jesus was his Savior and had experienced a life-changing direction.
I ask…what compels us to share? Are we thankful for what God has done for us? Do we realize what Jesus has saved us from? Without Jesus, we would have no hope and we would be destined for a life without God and eternal punishment. To know where we have come from and to realize where we are going should motivate us to tell the story confidently so that others will join us.
We all have a story to share about how Jesus has made our life different. Our times and the world need that story more than ever right now. The turmoil because of COVID and politics calls for a higher message to be told. People need to hear that there is more than just what we can see and hear all around us. There is more than endless debate and unfounded claims. Jesus is our life and we have a story to tell, the story of the “boundless riches of Christ!”
-Phil Beavers

November 3rd, 2020

Over the past few months, I have felt very discouraged with everything going on in the world. There has been so much fighting, shaming, and bitterness. Many times this is directed towards family, neighbors and even close friends, at times severing these relationships. I myself have had some very pointed comments made towards me by people I have considered friends for a very long time.

We are told in Mark 12:30-31 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

 Chuck’s sermon a couple weeks ago really hit the point, we must remember that no matter who is elected as our worldly leader on Nov 3, GOD is our true leader. And as we heard from Andy Sunday, if our opinion and other people’s opinions differ, that is OK, we just need to continue to LOVE each other. Our world is full of violence, and our daily lives can be marred by conflict and turmoil. But God promises His people a peace that surpasses all understanding. Personally, I am looking forward to next week where we can get back to disagreeing about the best college football team.

 On a personal note, April and I were able to spend 10 wonderful days in what is often referred to as God’s country, Michigan’s UP. This is an annual trip for us which we truly enjoy. This year was extra special, not only did we celebrate 5 years of marriage, we really focused on slowing down and seeing the splendor of GOD’s creation. Due to an upswing in COVID cases at both of our places of employment, April and I have chosen to quarantine ourselves from the group setting also. We both miss seeing everyone in person, but we are so grateful for the livestream which gives us the opportunity to still worship with Duplain. April is scheduled for a surgical procedure this week, so please keep her and the doctors in your prayers.

In closing, I wish to leave you with one of my favorite verses:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Phillipians 4:6-7

 

-Craig Price

October 27th, 2020

If you’re like me you’ve been called by a lot of names and titles in your lifetime. At various times I’ve been introduced as; dad, husband, son, grandpa, brother, coach, boss, friend, teacher, employee and a lot of other titles. There was a time when I felt these words defined who I was but I’ve come to realize that none of these actually define me, they merely describe me in relationship to the person I’m with. I’m more than that; we all are more than that.
I’ve been working on a series of writings about understanding our lives by looking at the life of Peter. As this week’s Elder’s Reflection I would like to share this shortened version of appreciating our identities through understanding Peter’s.
Peter would have had a list like ours; husband, son, brother, fisherman, friend, businessman and others. Possibly, like me, for a time these definitions of his identity would be enough but that would change. He would have an identity transformation,
This transformation begins with Peter following Jesus, (John chapter 1). By chapter 6, when Jesus asked the twelve if they were leaving Him because of a difficult teaching Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Peter continues to grow in his faith and understanding of who Jesus is to the point that when asked by Jesus who he believed Jesus to be, he responded in Matthew 16, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
While this last paragraph is poorly lacking as it gives no depth to all that Peter experienced while going through this transformation, it does get us to the main point. Peter went from being a man whose identity was defined by others to a man whose identity was defined by his relationship with Christ. The same should be true for you and I. Rather than those other relationships defining us our relationship with Christ should define those relationships.
Therefore, I am not a father who is a Christian; I am a Christian who is a father. I am not an American who is a Christian; I am a Christian who is an American. The same is true in all my relationships, Christ should be foremost and an integral part of each relationship.
Maybe this would be a better way to explain this; if asked to make a list of my most significant relationships my list might look like this, yours could be similar…
1. Follower of Christ
2. My family
3. Church family
4, Being an Elder
5. Being an American
6. Other friendships
7. People I have worked with
8. Those who oppose my viewpoint and might even be considered enemies
While being a follower of Christ is certainly the most important relationship on this list we need to remember that being a follower of Christ is also a part of every other relationship on this list too, even number 8.
We are not defined by how others perceive us but by how God loves us,
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, Gods special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light,” 1st Peter 2:9
In this world people are constantly trying to divide us and sort us into categories that work for them; black or white, Republican or Democrat, young or old, short, tall, rich poor, the list goes on and on.
Let’s make sure that as the world see us that the most obvious group to sort us into is as Followers Of Christ.
Praying for you all,
May God bless each of you as you live out your lives in such a way that there can be no doubt what your number one relationship is.
Blessings, Craig Steele

October 20th, 2020

Romans 15:1-7

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

2020 has been a tough year for many in many different ways. Covid-19, cancers, deaths, the list goes on. Some have had more trials than others but Covid has added to it. Some of us have not experienced it, some have had a taste of it. But let us not forget, God is in control and we should seek Him first. Many of us have been thinking about ourselves and what we want or would like. Jesus has set the example for us. It’s not about our self, it’s about others and what I can do through Jesus Christ for others.

Romans 15:1-3 “…not to please ourselves.  Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself…”

-Stan Hibbler