The Voyager: Encouragement for Life's Journey
Below you will find articles from our Church's leadership meant to encourage you and give you insight into questions about life, faith, and God.
We all have children at home, some because we home educate, others because the school is shut down for Covid-19. All of us need something to keep our children busy during the long days of spring. April 12 is Easter Sunday, and while I can't promise the church will be able to meet on site together at that time, as uncertain as these times are, I can give you a dozen suggestions for celebrating Easter at home with your family. One a day for April, if you desire.
1. Make a bunch of Easter treats and share them with our firemen, doctors and nurses, or pharmacy teams. Look up how to make crispy rice bunnies or birds nests. Country Living has 50 Easy Easter Treats to choose from.
2. Decorate with plastic eggs in the yard, making a wreath for your door or hanging garland around the porch. Hang eggs on a tree or bush to liven up the outside. Plastic eggs are waterproof and easy to close over a string making colorful, fun decorations.
3. Take Easter pictures from the internet or a coloring book and place tracing paper over top to make your own dot to dot pictures. Then trade and see who can make the best reproduction from connecting the dots. You can have a coloring contest as well and then decorate the refrigerator with the entries.
4. Use Kool-Aid or shaving cream to color Easter Eggs. Better Homes and Gardens has 43 creative ways to color eggs. Try a few new ones and the old standbys as well.
5. Celebrate Spring and new life by sprouting beans. You can use dried beans that are in your pantry and place them in a wet paper towel in a ziploc bag and see them sprout in just a few days. Transfer to a cup of dirt and grow your own plants in the kitchen window.
6. Speaking of windows, why not transform a window or glass doors into a stained glass masterpiece with finger paint and painters tape? See Pinterest for more ideas along this line.
7. Make home made cards with colored paper and send them to loved ones who are unable to get out of the house. Bunny stamps can be made from toilet paper rolls glued together. Check out CraftyMorning.com for the samples.
8. Make an Easter Basket full of things around the house for loved ones and leave it on the porch. Then call and watch them open it from the car.
9. Watch a family Easter movie on YouTube, like the Story Keepers Easter. These were always a favorite of my children as they tell the tale of Easter in a cartoon way but with Bible truths.
10. Bake some Resurrection Rolls for Easter morning. These are marshmallows wrapped in crescent rolls with cinnamon and sugar spices. When you bake them, the marshmallow melts, and you open an empty tomb.
11. Watch Easter Contatas or plays on YouTube. There are many church productions from past years that can be very entertaining and moving. The Day He Wore My Crown is an excellent musical piece,
12. Have an Easter Egg hunt in the yard. Do a theme like each child has an assigned color of egg that they can only pick up, or a limit to the number so that everyone gets eggs. Or if your family is very competitive, see who can find all the eggs in the shortest amount of time. Hide and rehide for all day fun!
These are just some suggestions. Use websites like those mentioned above to find more fun ideas. Always remember to teach the true Easter story as children can get confused with lots of different themes. Read the story from the Bible to older children. Tell the story in a child friendly way to younger ones. It is not necessary to give graffic detail to young children, but focus on the fact that Jesus beat death and rose again to save us from our sins. Explain to chlldren that all the festivities like eggs and bunnies and chicks are to celebrate springtime and new life, like we have in Jesus. Have fun!
Article by Lowanda Mullican, Children’s Ministries Director
Everyone has a worldview. In other words, we all have lenses through which we see the world. As Christians those lenses should be the Bible because the Bible communicates the authoritative standards of God’s truth to us. As I have watched the world and the church respond to this crisis, I see how far we have gotten from a biblical worldview. I see some of my brothers and sisters in Christ responding like the world with fear and conspiracy theories. On the other side of the spectrum, I also see believers responding with a presumptuous faith that lacks wisdom and is irresponsible with the lives of others. Below are three biblical truths we should consider as those who claim to love God and follow his Word. While this is not an exhaustive list, it will help us adjust our lenses as we begin to seek answers about how God would have us respond to this crisis.
1. God's Sovereignty does not dismiss our responsibility.
When we say that God is sovereign we mean that God is in charge of everything. He is after all the creator of everything so he should be in charge. However, God, in his sovereignty, created human beings to have a free will. It was God’s will that we would be able to choose to obey him or not. It was also God’s will to delegate responsibility to human beings as caretakers of his creation. God created Adam and Eve not to be robots that carry out his every dictate, but to be in relationship with him and to have a part to play in his sovereign will being done on earth.
When we choose not to obey God and not to be good caretakers then bad things happen. I have often heard people ask why God allows bad things to happen. That is a faulty question. God is not to blame for the bad things that happen in the world. Evil, suffering and sickness is a result of humanity choosing not to obey God and in so doing we side with the one who first rebelled against God, the devil. Sometimes we pay the consequences of our own choices. Other times the suffering we endure is because of a world system that has come under the influence of evil as a result of humanity’s disobedience. Either way, God is not to blame.
The good news is that God will use whatever we go through for our good if we trust him. He is always available to us through prayer. He hasn’t just left us to our own devices but he wants to help us in our weakness, often times in miraculous ways. It is our responsibility in a crisis such as this to turn to God, seek his will, obey his will, and ask for his supernatural help. He has promised that if we call to him he will answer us and show us “great and unsearchable things we do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).
2. Faith is not irresponsible.
Many times faith seems risky. Unreasonable even. But faith is never irresponsible or apathetic towards those impacted by our leaps of faith.
When your choices impact the lives of others then the governing parameter must be love. In fact, whenever our faith is not motivated by love we have to question who our faith is in because the Bible tells us that, “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and that “what is important is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6, NLT).
This is especially important for Christian leaders whether of churches or businesses. You may have full assurance that your faith protects you from Covid-19 but do you have enough faith for your entire congregation or employees? Are you willing to make amends if your faith ends up not covering them and they contract the virus? Everyone is at different levels of faith. Jesus did not give up on the disciples when they were still growing in their faith but rescued them when their faith fell short (Matthew 8:26; 14:31; 16:8; 17:20). As Christian leaders we should encourage believers to have faith in God and at the same time make allowances if necessary to protect them should they waver in their faith.
3. Faith in God displaces fear.
Notice that I didn’t say faith that everything is going to work out or faith that we will overcome. Our faith must be in who God is – his faithfulness and power. The greatest example of faith in Scripture is Abraham and we are told in Romans 4:21 that against all the evidence to the contrary, he believed God would do what he promised. He knew the nature of God. That he was good and faithful and loving and able. In the same way our faith must be founded in who God is.
During a time in my life where I was struggling with fear and wavering in my faith, the Lord spoke to me and asked me what exactly my faith was based on? I realized at that time my faith was in God doing what I wanted him to do. I wanted him to come through for me in a specific way instead of trusting that no matter what my circumstances looked like he would work it all out for my good because he loves me. As I learned to trust God and not my circumstances the feelings of fear and instability decreased and my peace increased.
I learned that the way to increase faith is to feed my heart and mind with who God is. To meditate on his faithfulness and worship him for his goodness. This isn’t a denial of the circumstances, just a realization that God is bigger than any problem and loves me so much he will never abandon me to my circumstances. I don’t deny the reality of Covid-19. But I deny the power of fear and chaos in my life because my God is greater than any virus.
If you are battling fear during this pandemic, please let us agree in prayer with you. Contact us for prayer using this link.
article by Pastor Shawna Carpenter
What does it mean when the Bible tells us that God owns everything? What is God's heart when he says that we belong to him? Pastor Jeff addresses the reality that something or someone is going to own you. Will it be God or will it be the circumstances of life?
“The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him.” (Psalms 24:1 NLT)
“I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the One who lives forever. His rule is everlasting, and His kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to Him. He does as He pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop Him or say to Him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’” (Daniel 4:34-35 NLT)
“But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the One who formed you says, ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.’” (Isaiah 43:1-2 NLT)
“God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.”
(Ephesians 1:5 NLT)
What a humbling reality. God owns it all. The One who transcends the reaches of time and space owns everything within them. And He can do with it, with us, as He pleases. God answers only to himself. This reality of ownership is simply the unavoidable effect of God being God.
Yet that was not enough for Him. The above passages in Isaiah and Ephesians vividly reveal a reality of ownership based on relationship with God. In His ownership of us, God chose to give us wills of our own, giving us each the power to choose how we will live. Because humanity has used our power of choice to rebel against God’s ownership, God entered our world in the Person of Jesus and provided the way by which we could be made right with Him and be owned by Him in personal relationship.
The declaration of “you are Mine” in Isaiah 43:2 is not motivated by God’s infinitely superior position, but by His love. It is an invitation to be relationally owned by God so that we do not have to be owned under the tyranny of anything else. As expressed in Ephesians 1:5, this invitation from God is for us to know the life-giving reality of His ownership in which we progressively know Him not just as the Creator, King, or omnipotent Ruler, but as our Father. In giving humanity this opportunity, God has done what pleases Him. It is an initiative that flows out of the very pleasure of God, tangibly expressing the love that defines His character (1 John 4:8). The image of Himself that God has stamped on each of us (Genesis 1:27) is seen in our capacity to know Him in this way.
Look at the reality that Isaiah 43:1-2 reveals! When you are owned by God in a personal relationship of trust and reliance, nothing else can own you – not the deep waters of life’s situations, not the surging rapids of circumstances, not the fires of trials and problems that threaten to consume you. Jesus came to provide the way by which we can be owned by God in the context of personal relationship with Him. Belonging to Him in this reality invalidates the claim of the enemy over our lives. Willfully submitting to God’s loving ownership places a “sold” sign on one’s life, reminding life’s situations that they cannot own what has already been purchased. It is a reminder to us as well, reassuring us of our freedom purchased for us by Jesus’ sacrifice.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4 NLT)
The joy that James 1:2 expresses is found in trusting the love of God, in understanding that His ownership over our lives is motivated and regulated by His perfect love for us. Then we can declare, “Fear, you have no place in me. I am owned by God. Hopelessness, you cannot place your feet under my table. Anxiety, though I may hear you knocking at my door, you cannot live here. Depression, you will not own me because I belong to God!!” When Jesus truly owns you, no moment can! Regardless of the bad doctor’s report, the job that no longer needs you, the financial stress, the family tensions, or anything else, submission to Jesus’ ownership over our lives gives purpose to it all, anchoring our lives in the bedrock of His love.
If we do not submit to God’s ownership over us, we will be owned by life’s situations. The enemy will use the circumstances of life as a context to overwhelm us, robbing us of our identity in the process. We were created to belong to God in personal relationship and to find our value and identity in God’s loving ownership of us. What about you? To whom do you belong? What owns you?
Article by Pastor Jeff Pfingston
How to Find Peace in a Storm
Storms in life are inevitable, but we all have a choice how we will face the storm. As painful as life is sometime, Jesus promised us that we can have the peace of God to shelter us in the midst of life's storms.
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
1) Have Faith Like A Child.
Jesus told us that his kind of peace is beyond our ability to comprehend with our minds. However, just because it's beyond our comprehension doesn't mean it's difficult to experience. In fact, it's the opposite. It takes childlike faith in our Father God. Faith that he loves us and wants the best for us. Faith that even though he never promised life would be easy, he did promise he would always be with us. Faith that the problems that are so overwhelming to us, are easy for him. To have faith is to believe in what we may not be able to explain or understand. I can't explain or understand everything about God and how he works, but a god who can be explained isn't really God. A god that can be explained and understood is limited by our understanding. Our Father God has no limits and he loves us. So have faith, like a child, that your Father God will carry you through this storm.
2) Forgive anyone who has wronged you.
Sometimes the challenges we face are because people have failed us, wronged us, and disappointed us. Whether people acknowledge and apologize for their part in the hurt we feel or not - forgiveness is always necessary to experience peace. When you forgive others it's not just for their sake, it's for your sake. The Lord knew how important forgiveness was which is why he said that we would be forgiven by God only if we've forgiven others (Matthew 6:15). It's not that God is angrily withholding forgiveness from us, it's that he wants to rid us of all the bitterness and resentment we feel towards others so that we can have peace. The way he rids us of that resentment is by us forgiving others.
Choosing to forgive opens the conduit of God's peace and forgiveness into your life. What you do for others God will do for you. There is great freedom and peace in knowing you are forgiven and in being free of all resentment towards others.
3) Choose to Trust God.
Every time we face a storm in life we have a choice to make. Will we face it in our own strength and ability or will we allow our Father to carry us in the storm? Will we put our hope in him? Making the choice to trust God and worship him in the midst of a storm is what makes the peace of God a reality in our life. Like peace, trust will sometimes defy understanding. All I can do is tell you my own testimony that though people have failed me many times, and I have failed myself, God has never failed me. When I put my trust in God and not in my ability or the ability of others to rescue me, He has always come through. Not always like I was expecting but always in a way that surprises me with how good he is and how much he loves me. One thing I've learned is that God is trustworthy.
Are you facing a storm? Why not pray with me. "Father, I am overwhelmed with the circumstances I am facing right now. I don't know how I will make it through this storm but I trust in you. I know you have the answers and that even when I don't see the answer, you are with me. Thank you for carrying me in this storm. I ask for your peace that is beyond my understanding to shelter me right now. Thank you Father."
Article by Pastor Shawna Carpenter, March 2020