Pastor’s Report 2022
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 generosity throughout the year.
Proverbs 11:25, “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” (NLT)
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.
James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (NKJV unless otherwise noted)
May you be greatly encouraged as we reflect on the events and teachings from each month of 2022, including key verses that correspond to that period of time.
John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
In January, we were finally back at church after a Covid outbreak in the family which caused us to miss the entire month of December. As we were all disappointed that we had completely missed the whole Christmas season, we decided to celebrate Christmas in January!
We went through a series of messages called “The Spirit of Christmas.” We looked at the role of the Holy Spirit in Christmas past, present, and future. In Christmas past, the Holy Spirit was behind all of the prophesies leading up to the birth of Christ at Christmas. In Christmas present, the Holy Spirit brought about the miraculous virgin birth of the Son of God. In Christmas future, the Holy Spirit will bring about God’s re-creation of heaven and earth.
We ended the month with a message called “Truth in the Age of Deception.” We are living in dangerous times wherein knowing truth and living righteously could be the definitive difference between becoming a victim of deception or being an overcomer who is positioned to help lead others into freedom and victory. We live in an age of deception. If we want to avoid being swept downstream, if we want to stand as the pillar and support of God’s truth, we must become people of the truth.
May we continue to commit to becoming people of truth in this age of deception and may we continue to be driven by a passion for knowing and proclaiming God’s truth!
1 Corinthians 1:9, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In February, we had our annual celebration and meeting and remembered the blessings of the previous year 2021. That year, as with the year before that, turned out to be full of challenges and difficulties. However, we can always 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.
In February, we picked up where we had left off in our Acts series and continued in that book until the end of July.
From Acts 4:23-35 we talked about “Marks of a Healthy Church” and were challenged to emulate this pattern in our own church. The first mark was affirming our commitment to God. That is affirmed through prayer, viewing God as sovereign, and knowing and applying His Word. The second mark was affirming our commitment to God’s people. This is affirmed through fellowship, unity, and generosity. The final mark was affirming our commitment to God’s work in the world.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.”
In March, we concluded our Bible study on the book Where Do We Go from Here? by Dr. David Jeremiah. The study brought to light prophetic passages of Scripture that show us God is sovereign no matter is going on in the world around us. We were given a call to action in light of troubling current events.
He writes in the introduction “Come join me in dedicating the rest of your earthly life to living by biblical convictions, exalting in the triumph of the gospel, and doing all you can to repair the structures of society and to stand in the gap before the Lord on behalf of the land. Don’t be fearful, and don’t let the times overwhelm you. The world will not end in rubble, but in His return! Our risen and exalted Lord Jesus Christ, our enthroned Savior- He knows the way forward.”
1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
In April, we celebrated Easter with a message called, “He Is Risen!” We talked about how most people spend the bulk of their time and efforts trying to gain the things of the world, which will perish, while neglecting their own souls and the souls of others, which are eternal. That is why on Easter Sunday and every day of our lives it is important to understand why the resurrection of Jesus matters so that we take it seriously. The resurrection matters because it is true and because apart from it, the Christian faith is empty (1 Corinthians 15:1-11).
2 Corinthians 5:15, “and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”
In May, we were introduced to an amazing man of God named Saul who became Paul beginning in Acts chapter 9. We looked at his incredible conversion and saw that God is able to transform the most unlikely of sinners and use them as His chosen instruments in the cause of the Gospel.
As we studied the beginnings of Paul’s ministry we looked at “A Ministry Mindset.” A ministry mindset is where a person is so thankful to the Lord Jesus for saving him, that he can no longer live for himself, but rather for Him who died and rose again on his behalf. A person with a ministry mindset is always looking for how God wants to use him or her in whatever situation God has placed them.
D. L. Moody once said, “If you don’t go to work for the Lord because you are afraid of making mistakes, you will probably make the greatest mistake of your life-that of doing nothing.” May we be a people with a ministry mindset for the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord!
Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You’”
In June, we continued in Acts chapter 9 and 10 and saw several amazing miracles performed by Peter and witnessed the amazing conversion of the house of Cornelius. God used Peter mightily, first to heal a man who had been paralyzed for eight years, and second, to raise a Christian woman from the dead.
In a message called “Mighty to Save” we saw that these amazing miracles can also be spiritual lessons of the power of the gospel to transform sinners. God’s mighty power causes unbelievers to turn to Him in saving faith and should encourage us to proclaim the gospel.
Psalm 33:12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”
Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.”
We started July with a special patriotic service and a message from Psalm 33 called “In God We Trust.” We were challenged with four action points: Pursue personal holiness and the fear of the Lord, Pray passionately for our nation, Praise in all circumstances, and Publicly stand for what is right.
In July, we organized a donation drive for the Tree of Life Pregnancy Center in Paso Robles. We collected diapers, wipes, baby clothes, baby blankets and gift cards to help women facing an unplanned pregnancy to find caring help, hope, positive options, and practical help.
We kicked off the collection on Sunday, July 17, with a special message called, “Children Are a Gift from the Lord.” There is powerful biblical evidence that unborn children are in fact human beings who are precious in God’s sight (Mark 1:1-6; Luke 1:15; 26-43; Judges 13:3-7; Psalm 139:13-16). Abortion is a terrible tragedy that should break our hearts. It grieves the Lord beyond measure.
We were encouraged to pray that abortion would end, to pray that those considering abortion would choose life for their children, to pray that society’s worldview will transform to see children as blessings form the Lord, and to pray that the Lord will intervene and protect the unborn.
At the end of the month we gathered together for a special event called Humor and Hamburgers. We enjoyed tasty burgers served up by the grill master himself, Scott Butler. We heard some hilarious stories and jokes and laughed a lot. We especially enjoyed hearing about Jerry Wallace’s love of ham hocks and the jokes he played on his partner during his time with the LAPD. Thank you for your service, Jerry!
Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”
In August, we began a ten-week series of messages on Heaven. We learned that Heaven is God’s house, Heaven is where God’s throne is located, and Heaven is Jesus’ home. Throughout the series we got a taste of the beauty and wonder of Heaven and learned more about the beautiful place we will live for all of eternity.
In August, we were privileged to have special guests Don and Sylvia Charles. We were blessed to hear Don play the violin which he has been playing for the past 85 years! We are so grateful for his life and ministry and always appreciate when he helps out with the worship team. Many thanks to our talented worship team and their help leading us each week.
At the end of the month we held a special event called “Tacos & Trivia.” We enjoyed delicious tacos with all the fixings. We also played an exciting game where we guessed which interesting trivia fact belonged to which person. Lynn Swartwood was the star of the day when his name came up the most as people tried to guess the trivia facts. Josiah and Daniel kept score, and the “Bearcats” team ended up beating the “Beauties and the Beast” team. It was a fun time of fellowship.
Mark 8:34, “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’”
In September, we began a Bible study on the book “Fearless” by Max Lucado. In the book he asks the question, “Can you imagine your life without fear?” We were challenged to trust more and fear less.
Throughout the study we were invited to turn to faith, not fear, as our default reaction to the threats of life. We were encouraged to find freedom from the fear of insignificance, and to take comfort that the Lord will never leave our side.
We also held a special “Back to Church Sunday” worship service. Many invited their friends and neighbors and we enjoyed tasty biscuits and gravy together. At that service, Bob and Mary Bentley were received as new members. We are so grateful for their commitment to our church and so excited to have Bob as a newly elected board member.
Philippians 3:20-21, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
In October we had a celebration of life for Ken Gentry and honored his life and legacy. Our thoughts were turned toward Heaven as we pictured him rejoicing with Jesus and as we finished up our sermon series on Heaven.
The very best thing about heaven is the presence of our Lord and Savior (1 John 3:2). We will be face to face with the Lamb of God who loved us and sacrificed Himself so that we can enjoy His presence in heaven for eternity.
The final message in the series was called, “While We Eagerly Await.” Knowing about Heaven should affect our life here on earth. Living for Heaven now means having new affections, a new direction and focus, new priorities, a new commitment to holiness, to service, and to witness, new perseverance through trials, and a new hope to guide us through this life. We were challenged to live life in view of eternity.
Psalm 139:12, “Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.”
From mid-October into November we studied the life of Gideon in a four-week series called, “Trusting God in Dark Times.” We were encouraged that God is at work even in the darkest of times, and even with the weakest of people, to accomplish His sovereign purpose for His glory.
Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, said, “God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him.” That’s how God works in spiritually dark times!
In November we traveled to Lexington, Kentucky where all four of our children competed in the National Bible Bee. Josiah learned all of his verses and competed for the first time in the primary division. Hosanna and Elizabeth both made it to semifinals in the junior division. Hosanna made it to finals and placed third in the entire division. Anastasia made it to semifinals in the senior division and also received the distinguished chairman’s oratory award. To God be the glory! We were encouraged to visit with so many families and young people who are building their lives on God’s Word!
Ruth 4:18-22, “Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron; 19 Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; 20 Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; 21 Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; 22 Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.”
In December, we looked at the book of Ruth as a Christmas story. It is the story of a young woman who made a radical commitment of faith to God and then journeyed to Bethlehem where she gave birth to a child who would change the world. It is the story of a righteous man who offered kindness, protection and provision to a young woman in her time of need. It is the story of a kinsman-redeemer who redeemed his beloved from a desperate situation at great cost to himself. And it is the story of a child in the line of Judah who was born as a redeemer in fulfillment of the prophecies leading up to Messiah.
Ruth and Boaz didn’t know it, but they were part of a story much bigger than themselves. God was working quietly behind the scenes preparing the way for Jesus to be born at Christmas. You and I are also part of a story much bigger than ourselves. We too are part of the Christmas story because Jesus came to be our Savior.
Christmas day fell on a Sunday, so we were able to worship together on Christmas morning. We sang Christmas hymns and lit candles together during “Silent Night.” We fellowshipped together afterwards with egg casserole, biscuits and gravy, and many delicious desserts.
On the first day of the new year, I gave a message called “Growing in the Lord in 2023.”
We were encouraged to pray Paul’s prayer from Ephesians 3 for ourselves and others this year. I am praying for a year of unprecedented growth in Christ in ourselves, our families, and our church.
Here is the prayer from Ephesians 3:14-21:
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
May we experience a season of unprecedented growth in the Lord in ourselves, our families, and our church in 2023!