The year 2020 has certainly been full of challenges and difficulties. However, we can still look back and find much to be thankful for and if we look carefully, we will realize that God has and will always remain faithful.
This year we have realized that the church is not a building. It’s the people. Heritage Village Church has met in the Don Everingham Center, online through Zoom and Facebook Live, and outdoors on a front lawn. As the county Covid-19 regulations tightened, relaxed, and then tightened again, as the weather heated up, cooled down, and as wildfires raged all around us, we really did not ever know where we would be meeting from one week to the next (and we still don’t)!
During this year of pandemic, by God’s grace, we were still able to meet together for worship every Sunday in some form or fashion.
1 Corinthians 3:9, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building”
1 Peter 2:5, “you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
We are the church and Jesus has promised in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
This year it has been particularly encouraging to see the people of God encourage and share with one another, especially during the most difficult of times. Some baked bread and shared it with others. Some picked up groceries, prescriptions, and essentials and dropped them off with others. Some made phone calls, sent cards, letters, and e-mails and checked in with one another. Some brought pastries and coffee to the park for socially distanced get togethers. Some met up on front porches and front lawns. Some made a variety of tasty meals and delivered them to others. Some wrote checks, purchased gift cards, and gave gifts. All displayed such generosity!
2 Corinthians 9:7, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Proverbs 11:25, “The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.”
If I had to describe the year 2020 in one word it would be “pivot.” We have all had to constantly adjust to changing circumstances this year. As such, we have had to constantly pivot in these changing and uncertain times. This has increased our trust in Jesus and helped us remember that we are not in control. God is sovereign and is still on the throne. We will continue to seek His wisdom and guidance and will trust His faithfulness in 2021 and throughout all of eternity.
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
Job 42:2, “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.”
Here is a summary of each month including key verses that correspond to the teachings and events from that period of time.
1 Peter 5:10, “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you”
In January, we finished up a series on 1 Peter. The final message in that series was called “Standing Firm in the Faith.” In that message we were encouraged to stand firm in the faith in the face of difficult days. Little did we know that some of our most difficult days were soon to come!
At the annual celebration, we reflected on God’s greatness and goodness the previous year. We also began a weekly Bible study on the first half of Exodus and renewed our commitment to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In February, we started a new series on the gospel of Mark. The word gospel means “good news,” and Mark starts right off proclaiming the good news of Jesus. In the very first verse: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1)
No narrative is more compelling, and no message more essential, than the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the greatest story ever told because it centers on the greatest person to ever walk this earth.
Mark has some good news to share and that good news starts with Jesus Christ the one and only Son of God. But Mark’s gospel is only the beginning of the good news because the story of Christ’s kingdom will continue through all of human history and into eternity!
Mark couldn’t wait to tell the good news of Jesus to his readers. We need to have the same sense of urgency in our own lives in sharing Christ with other people.
Psalm 77:11, “I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.”
In March, we learned about a key theme in Mark, the amazing, astonishing, authority of Jesus. Jesus Christ is Lord of all! Others may have authority and power. Only Jesus has the power to save people from the wages of their sin which is death (Romans 6:23). The authority of others is limited by time and boundaries as their authority will one day come to an end. But, the authority of Jesus never ends!
On March 22, we had our very first Zoom worship service due to county regulations to help curb the spread of Covid-19. During that service we were exhorted to not forget God’s faithfulness. We were challenged to face uncertain times with the certain remembrance of what God has done in the past. This gives us certainty that He will once again be faithful in the future.
During that message I asked if God could be using this time to call his people to do even greater things for him. Could God be calling the church and culture back to the foundation of His infallible Word so the gospel can be proclaimed in more powerful ways than ever?
At the end of March, I gave a message called “Trusting God” from Habakkuk 3:16-19. The book of Habakkuk challenges us to put our faith in God even during times of great difficulty, uncertainty, or confusion. Times like those we faced in our world, country, and families.
I asked, “How does the current world situation affect your trust in God?” “Is your faith strong enough to trust God no matter what?” Having made it through 2020, our faith in God has been strengthened, and we will continue to trust Him in 2021!
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
In April, we celebrated Palm Sunday with a message called, “God’s Plan Is Greater.” I don’t know what your plans are, but I do know that God has a plan for your life. And I know that if you follow God’s plan, your life will be so much better!
God’s plan may not always make sense to you while it is happening, but His plan is always best. His plan is always right. And His plan usually looks quite different from our plans. On Palm Sunday, the people had certain expectations about Messiah, but God’s plan was very different. The people wanted a political savior who would set them free from Rome. God’s plan was to send a spiritual savior to set us free from the power of sin and death.
On Easter we celebrated with a message called, “Resurrection Hope.” We have hope because Jesus won the victory over death. If we seek the risen Savior honestly, earnestly, and obediently, He will turn our sorrows into Resurrection hope.
Mark 4:9, “And He said to them, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’”
In May, we dived back into the gospel of Mark. We learned about the parable of the soils and found out the good soil is comprised of those who “hear the word and accept it and bear fruit” (Mark 4:20). Those who truly hear the gospel are those who accept it and bear fruit.
Whenever we hear God’s Word, one of four options are possible. We could walk away without understanding it and watch the enemy steal it. We could receive it with great joy but no roots and watch as it withers. We could see the worries of this life and the pursuit of wealth choke it out of our lives. Or we can have properly prepared our own soil and watch as God starts to produce a great harvest in our lives far exceeding our own expectations.
May we continue to till the soil of our hearts and be ready for the harvest He wants to bring forth in our lives- “some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred!” (Mark 4:20).
Mark 4:41, “And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!’”
On June 14, we regathered inside the Don Everingham Center with a message called, “Who Can This Be, That Even the Wind and the Sea Obey Him!” Jesus’ disciples knew He had authority over demons and disease, yet they were totally unprepared for the miracle of the calming of the storm.
We tried to picture the moment when Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves. At Christ’s command, “Peace be still!” the wind ceased immediately. In a moment the waves vanished, the wind was silenced, and the surface of the lake became still. This type of supernatural power over creation has only one explanation: it belongs to the Creator Himself. Then we tried to picture the fright and amazement the disciples felt as this was revealed to them. God Himself was right there with them in the boat!
Who is this Jesus? It’s the most important question you will ever answer. He is the Son of God- put your faith in Him. Jesus is King of the Universe, but He also came as a loving Savior. He died on the cross, so that all who believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Mark 6:2, “And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands!’”
In July, we talked about the power of unbelief versus the power of belief. The people of Nazareth did not believe and Jesus marveled at their unbelief. May we in Heritage Village Church believe in the eternal Son of God, His Resurrection and in His power. May we not be distracted by the irrelevant, but may we have a single-minded focus and devotion to our powerful Lord and King. May we not be unbelieving but believing. May we cry out, My Lord, My King!
We held a special congregational meeting to approve the Board’s decision to assist us with a down payment to purchase a home. We are so immensely grateful for this help and never ceased to be amazed at the tremendous generosity demonstrated by the congregation! We look forward to settling into our new house and making it a home.
Mark 6:50, “for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’”
In August, as county regulations once again prohibited indoor gatherings, we began meeting outdoors on a congregation member’s front lawn! We set up canopies, a keyboard, and an amplifier. One of the neighbors even started attending our services. We praised the Lord outside in the fresh air (except for the Sundays it was 120 degrees and the Sundays when the wildfire smoke was hazardous).
A special thank you to all who helped with the outdoor services from lending us your lawn, setting up canopies and sound equipment, passing out snacks and ice cream sandwiches, setting up Communion, and helping with the worship team.
We were challenged to hold on to God’s promises in difficult days. We can hold onto God’s promises to help us overcome. The four promises we held on to from Mark 6:45-46 were: 1. We are never out of the intercession of Christ, 2. We are never out of the sight of Christ, 3. We are never out of God’s reach, 4. We are never out of God’s care.
He is the all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful, all-loving God who knows our troubles and will rescue us in His perfect timing. May we rest in God’s promises as we begin the New Year 2021.
Mark 6:34, “And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.
Mark 8:2, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat.”
In September, we talked about the merciful compassion of Jesus, our Provider. Compassion belongs to the Lord God; it is a vital aspect of His divine nature. When we look at Christ, we should not be surprised by the compassion that He demonstrated as the Messiah. The Lord Jesus Christ is a compassionate God.
In Mark we read two accounts of Jesus feeding the multitudes. In Exodus we see that God provided for the entire nation of Israel in the wilderness for forty years. And God can definitely take care of you and me. Remember who Jesus is and what He has done. What He has done before, He can do again. He has promised to meet your every need, and He will continue to do so.
We started our fall Bible study in the book of Psalms and were greatly encouraged by a variety of psalms of faith. Psalm 20 was an appropriate song of trust in the power of the living God in the day of trouble. We have never faced such a time as we have in 2020, but it has given us such opportunity to demonstrate our own faith in the power of the living God!
We met outdoors for most of the month and celebrated God’s goodness with a special service and ice cream sandwiches.
Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
In October, we held a congregational meeting to approve changes to our bylaws. These changes helped clarify our convictions as a “Bible-Believing Church.” The truth of God’s Word has not changed since our founding 43 years ago. We have the same God, the same Bible, and the same eternal promises for the future. Best of all, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. In these days of change, He remains the same.
We finished up the month with two indoor services back in the Don Everingham Center.
Mark 10:15, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
On November 1, I gave a message called, “Let the Little Children Come to Me.” By identifying children as part of His kingdom despite their ability to do anything to earn salvation, Jesus went against conventional wisdom of the day. The salvation of such children is a powerful illustration of the biblical truth that salvation is by grace alone.
Missionaries that we support, Dan and Dina Krull, shared with us testimonies of God’s faithfulness in Central Asia.
Our family participated in the National Bible Bee, and Pastor Wendell Brown and Darren Johnson gave inspirational and challenging messages while we were away. Congratulations, Anastasia, Elizabeth, and Hosanna for hiding God’s Word in your hearts and, by His grace, placing so well in the competition.
I came down with Covid-19 on our way back from our trip and ran a fever for twelve days. I was completely exhausted and drained. I am so thankful for the care I received from Yulia and the children, and for the numerous others who prayed for my recovery, brought soup and aspirin, and dropped off many bags of groceries and household supplies. Thank you!!
Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
In December we were encouraged through a series on Christmas Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Our Christmas services looked different this year as we were back on Zoom due to county regulations, but we still honored the birth of our Lord and Savior together.
During the 2020 Christmas season, we remembered that Christ is central. He is the reason for Christmas. He is the one who brings true hope, peace, joy and love for us all. May we draw near to him to worship, to praise, to follow and believe in 2021 and beyond.
I am surely blessed by each person who is part of the Heritage Village Church family. Each of you is such a valuable part of the Body of Christ! I am grateful for the innumerable ways each of you serve the Lord. Thank you also for your prayers, affirmations, and thoughtful gifts throughout the year.
I am also blessed by our wonderful board of directors. Each board member truly seeks God’s will for our church and possesses great insight and discernment.
I concluded our first Zoom worship service on March 22 with these words: “At some time in the future, I look forward to reminding you of this challenging time and all the ways (which we can’t see yet) in which God directed our paths! Remember His faithfulness!” That time is now- may we move forward in 2021 strong by remembering His great faithfulness in 2020!