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IN CELEBRATION OF FREEDOM

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As we thankfully celebrate our freedoms, may we start with Christ!

All the rest is emptiness and bondage without Him.

For every Christian, Independence Day is the day he saved us!

MAP OF TOP CHRISTIAN APPS

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With the spread of smartphones we now hold the world in our hands – or at least an enormous gateway to it.

The challenge for us is to use this powerful tool in wise ways, particularly as Christians who want to use all of life for Christ.

This cool “World Map of Christian Apps” can help (click a couple times on the Map to enlarge it).

Some of these apps you may already know and use, but there is sure to be many you have not heard of and hopefully there are several that would be a significant help to you.

Happy searching

IS YOUR HOPE CLEAR?

 This is the third in a 5 part series on Tuesdays that present the great truth of biblical Hope.

A Clear Hope Makes a Hopeful Christian

In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us how to clarify the focus of our hope, in very practical ways: vs 19-34

Here are three points of clarity that will strengthen our hope

1. Clarify what is our treasure (vs 19-21)

We function each day within a world dominated by our physical senses and time.

These keep pressing us to treasure what they can enjoy now. Earthly treasure is their hope

Are we going along with the world’s view of hope? The answer is found in the practices of our life.

What are we trying to obtain, or protect above all? What sets off an alarm that life is not going well?

Our standard of living

A certain relationship

How people perceive us

Accomplishments

Each of these treasures is loaded with uncertainties

Our hope is not just for a Heaven we have never seen, it is in the fulfillment of salvation’s entire promise

Whatever our treasure, it will be the lens through which we see the ebb and flow of our life (vs 22-23)

If our value system isn’t clear, we will bounce around between various ‘hopes’ that are never secure

Our treasure chest is something we need to regularly examine. What have we put in there?

2. Clarify what is our purpose (v24)

We need to bring our labors in line with our treasure

We may not think we serve different masters, but who are we working for?

What do we make sure we get done every day – our time with God or our to do list?

Does our lifestyle determine our giving, or does our giving determine our lifestyle?

If someone asked; “How are you serving the Kingdom of God?”  Would we have an answer?

There is no way around it; we will have to disappoint one of those who want to be our master

Serving God will routinely get in the way of other things. We have many responsibilities, but we only have one master.

What does this have to do with hope?

Unless we have clarified our purpose for being in this world, this idea of God being “master” will be burdensome. Our obedience will be done begrudgingly; without much joy or hope in it

However if we clearly see our big purpose for being here – is God, then we are ready to get going!

It is not that every moment of serving God is fun, but it is all meaningful

If we believe what we do has great meaning, it will be entwined with hope, even when unpleasant

3. Clarify who we trust (vs 25-34)

We are tempted to trust what claims or looks to be strong and secure

If we are not clear about who we trust, we will make the error of putting our hope in people or things that cannot hold that weight

If our trust is always in God – rather than in our ability to trust God, then we have hope

God does not fail.

He does not change the rules.

He does not diminish our prize

He is not overwhelmed

His sovereignty is never unseated

Hope is strengthened by each new discovery that God can handle the full weight of what we need him to bear.

Keep clear about what your hope is in, and your hope will not fade

TOO BUSY FOR WHAT…?

I am busy, it is not just something that is happening this week, my to do list is so long I have several different to do lists. And you are busy too, so I am not breaking new ground with my announcement.

As Americans we like to complain about our level of busyness, but we also view it as evidence that our life is important.

But only part of our jam packed schedules is self-imposed. The world has become more complicated with innumerable moving parts. We live in a bureaucratic world that threatens to eat us alive if we dare to slow down.

Many areas of life suffer because of this. Family life is a common victim, so are simple pleasures and taking the opportunity to slow down enough to observe life that surrounds us.

However, the area that suffers most of all is our time with God.

Personal worship and reading God’s word are items we find easy to push off until we have “more time”.

But when does “more time” ever fall into your lap?

The answer to this problem is not discovering more time, it is becoming more convinced of our desperate need for time with God (along with the conviction that no one will make time spent more fruitful than Him).

In Stephen Altrogge’s blog,  The Blazing Center, he recently post this article entitled “So busy I MUST pray” Stop and read his article now, it presents too important a truth, to be too busy to read.

MOST POPULAR BLOGS IN 2014

My first blog post was on November 24, 2010. The title was “A Well Rooted Thanksgiving”

Since them I have published 975 articles.

I am thankful for the attention you have given this blog, whether this is your first visit or you have slogged through all 975 of them.

Well Rooted exists to encourage thoughtfulness and exaltation of God who is worthy of our being “well rooted” in him.

Along the way, Well Rooted has slowly grown in its readership. Last year the average daily readership was 415, which encourages me in the value of the time given to maintain the blog. I pray that God keeps expanding the fruitfulness of these articles.

I also post on Twitter regularly to accomplish the same purposes as the blog. If interested you can follow me there @pastorKyleHuber

In 2014 the article that appeared to grab the most overall attention surprised me. It was this article in October “My Courtroom Experience”. Immediately after publishing that article, readership rose significantly for a couple weeks.

The single highest readership day ever was on November 2nd for this article, “What Are You Buying?”. The blog almost reached 1000 readers that day.

The second highest readership day was during the series of articles “Get to Know Your Pastors”. Pat Tedeschi can feel flushed with pride that his article was the post popular.

Please keep reading, and share your comments, that can be instructful to all of us. And if an article is helpful to you, consider sharing it on your favorite social media outlet.

BEING A NEIGHBOR

We seek refuge in our back yards, rather than sit on our front porches

We park in our garages, instead of in the street

We shop online, rather than downtown

We change address more often, instead of settle at one place for life

For these and many other reasons, it is harder today to build relationships with our neighbors.

Yet,

The Bible tells us to “love our neighbor”

Our churches tell us to reach out to our neighbor

And we want to be a good neighbor

So, how do we make this happen?

A good place to start is to read this month’s book recommendation: “The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside your Door”, by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon

No book can do the work of neighboring for us, but reading this book can increase your heart for it and it provides lots of practical thoughts on what to do now.

Here is an excerpt

“The beauty of the art of neighboring is that it’s simple and genuine. You don’t need to memorize any pitches. You don’t need to chart out a master plan for evangelizing your neighborhood. You don’t need to worry about having a canned speech in your back pocket. In short, you need not make your neighbors your “pet project”; make them your friends. You simply need to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength, and body, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

FAVORITE BOOKS READ IN 2014

My favorite book in 2014 was also the most influential book I read last year. 

Delighting in the Trinity by Michael Reeves

Reeves book has encouraged me to think and pray in a more Trinitarian way. But the truly great thought is how our salvation brings us eternally into the loving relationship among the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. You can read my earlier review of it

The rest of my favorite books from 2014 are listed by category.  I hope you enjoy reading some of them yourself.

Christian Life

All Things for Good by Thomas Watson

Watson is one of the more readable Puritan writers. This short book is on the great promise of Romans 8:28. Many Puritan classics are available thru Vintage Puritan and can be purchased on Kindle very cheaply (enter Vintage Puritan in your Kindle or Amazon search).

Resisting Gossip by Matthew Mitchell 

I will speak more about this excellent book in a review next week

Worship Worthy by Tim Shorey

A great little book for encouraging us in our thoughts about Christ

Enjoy Your Prayer Life by Michael Reeves

A very brief book on prayer that actually gives encouragement to our prayer life

Does God Listen to Rap? by Curtis Allen

A helpful discussion on how we should approach matters of culture and Christianity

Pastoral / Church

The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson

Meetings that Work: A Guide to Effective Elders Meetings by Alexander Strauch

An outstanding resource for how we interact with one another in the church

Church History

The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation by Michael Reeves

A overview of the major characters and themes of the protestant reformation

Hear I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland Bainton

Considered the classic biography on Martin Luther

Theology

Communion with God by John Owen

One of the giants of theology, recently some of his works have been edited to make them more readable

Taking God at His Word:  Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary and Enough by Kevin DeYoung

A popular book from 2014 that encourages us in the importance of scripture

A Habitual Sight of Him: The Christ Centered Piety of Thomas Goodwin by Thomas Goodwin

Goodwin is another Puritan giant that is rarely read. This excellent book gathers brief excerpts from his writings that reflect on the glory of Christ

Found in Him:  The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union With Christ by Elyse Fitzpatrick

One of the best books you can read about our union with Christ.  It has been popular with many small groups at Greentree

History

The Siege of Washington:  The Untold Story of the Twelve Days that Shook the Union by John Lockwood

The Last Battle:  When US and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II by Stephen Harding     

A fascinating story for those interested in World War II

1781:  The Decisive Year of the Revolutionary War by Robert Tonsetic

Biography

First Man:  The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James Hansen

To be honest, the book was often tedious, but the description of Armstrong’s trip to the moon and walking on it make the book worth reading

Standing Next to History: An Agent’s Life Inside the Secret Service by Joseph Petro

The author led the Secret Service security team for President Reagan. 

Wilson by A. Scott Berg

Exceptionally well written biography on President Woodrow Wilson

A Thousand Shall Fall:  The Electrifying Story of a Solder and His Family Who Dared to Practice their Faith in Hitler’s Germany by Susi Hasel Mundy

An amazing story of a German soldier who was a deeply devoted Christian and lived by his convictions

A Life of Gospel Peace:  A Biography of Jeremiah Burroughs by Phillip Simpson

I was excited when this biography came out on my favorite Puritan writer. 

Days of Grace:  A Memoir by Arthur Ashe

Fiction

Books from the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian

If you enjoy historical fiction, many consider this twenty volume series the best there is.

JESSICA’S STORY

On Thanksgiving Eve, our church celebrated the gospel through the baptisms of people Christ has saved and brought into our church family. Today, I want to share one of those testimonies from Jessica Castiblanco:

I was raised in a Catholic family with a lot of inconsistencies, where emotional abuse was allowed.

I didn’t have a clear understanding of the Gospel. I felt very lonely, didn’t fit anywhere and grew as a rebellious teenager where the fun of the world was my life.

As time passed by and problems were bigger due to my bad decisions my heart was more rebellious. I tried to find answers in the wrong places without success many years ago in Colombia where I used to live, and started seeking God once I was married and having struggles with this new stage of my life.

 After many years of difficult experiences God has gradually opened my eyes and I can clearly see that he has been calling me throughout my entire life.  Now I understand how God has been working through different situations in my life.

I realized about 4 years ago that he has always been there shaping my heart with forgiveness, patience and love. I have learned many lessons from my husband, kids, church friends, leaders and every single person that God has perfectly placed in my life. 

I finally understood that being a Christian is not about how good you–

It is trusting what God has done to forgive our sins through faith in Jesus

I am here today with joy making public my commitment to the one that has been unconditional to me. I continue to grow in Christ through both good and bad circumstances and I can’t express how grateful and amazed I am that God has always been by my side.

GET TO KNOW YOUR PASTORS: KYLE HUBER

This is the fourth in a series of weekly blogs that answers some of your questions about getting to know the pastors of Greentree Church

Kyle is married to Debbie. They have three grown children: Jordan, Jillian (married to Ryan), and Elyse

When and how did you become a Christian?

From the age of nine days, I have been in church. Hearing the gospel preached caused me to know my sin even as a child. Around the age of 7, I remember praying with my mom before bed to receive Christ.

Where did you go to college and what did you study?

I attended Taylor University in the small rural town of Upland, IN. My studies were in Political Science and Bible

What led you to become a pastor?

I cannot remember a time when my heart did not desire to serve the church. By the time I entered college I knew I would enter pastoral ministry afterward. In 1982 I came on staff as a pastoral intern and then served many years as Executive Pastor until beginning the transition to Lead Pastor in 2002

What are your main responsibilities at Greentree Church? 

Prayer is the most essential responsibility I have as a pastor. Most of my time centers around preaching. The pastoral team has also delegated to me the responsibilities of planning and leading meetings of the pastors and staff. The pastors have also graciously encouraged my role as President of SEE Global (a mission organization serving Belarus).

What is your passion in ministry?

Teaching has long been a passion. Later a love for developing young leaders grew in me. In recent years my passion for encouraging and equipping pastors has increased

In what area would you like to see our church strengthened?

A healthy church needs to focus on every area that Scripture directs. My heart is that we keep growing deeper in the area of Biblical community. My leading prayer is that we grow in Love for God, which motivates us in all other godly things

What is your favorite book outside of the Bible?

I discovered JRR Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” in grade school. Since then I have read the trilogy over 20 times

Do you have favorite authors?

My favorite Puritan author is Jeremiah Burroughs, and my favorite Bible Commentator is Douglas Moo. In general Christian writing CJ Mahaney, Paul Tripp and Mark Dever are authors I tend to reread

If you could only read one book of the Bible for the coming year, which would it be?

The richness of the gospel in Ephesians is why I would pick that book

Is there a Bible verse that you go back to frequently?

Habakkuk 3:17-18 has been a tremendous help in forming my daily perspective

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls; Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

If you were not a pastor, what would you do?

It’s hard to imagine not being a pastor, but my love for teaching would probably lead me to teaching on the university level

What are your favorite foods?

Mediterranean cooking is my favorite. I enjoy trying new cheeses and always have a few varieties at home

If money was no object, what would be your dream vacation?

A few months of slowly cruising around the Mediterranean coast on a very comfortable yacht

What is a perfect day off?

Reading the newspaper at a coffee shop, then lunch at a restaurant with an intriguing menu & walking in a quaint town with Debbie, followed by being engrossed in a historical novel

GET TO KNOW YOUR PASTORS: PAUL LONG

This is the third in a series of weekly blogs that answers some of your questions about getting to know the pastors of Greentree Church

Paul is married to Erin. They have four young children: Lily, Lydia, Elina and Philip

When and how did you become a Christian?

As far as the when, I don’t know. I grew up in a Christian home with Godly parents who always taught me what the bible said and pointed me to the truth of the gospel. I remember at the age of 5 “asking Jesus into my heart”. I always attended Church and Sunday school (which was kind of hard not to when you grow up living on the Greentree property.) I was a good Sunday school kid yet in my heart I don’t know if I was truly a Christian. Through most of my school years I really led a double life; trying to be a good church kid yet fit in with the crowd at the same time. It wasn’t until college after a few bad relationships that I really began to seek God. So I don’t know if I was saved then or when I was younger. But from that time on I took my relationship with God seriously. 

Where did you go to college and what did you study?

I went to Gettysburg College and studied Health and Physical Education. I got a minor in Spanish. 

What led you to become a pastor?

Before working at Greentree I was working for my good friend Tim installing granite counters. It was a good job and I really loved working with Tim. But I was becoming increasingly frustrated and dissatisfied in my job. It was a that same time that Pastor Jerry called me into to see if wanted to take a greater role in developing recreational ministry here at Greentree. At the time I was serving as a youth leader and really didn’t have time to commit to more volunteering. 

Several months later, Jerry called me in again and offered me a job as the Director of Children & Youth Ministry.  I was excited, yet I dreaded telling Tim; I didn’t want to let him down but I continue to feel this dissatisfaction at work. When I finally got up enough nerve to talk to him about it he was very encouraging and excited for me.  That was a big confirmation for the direction God was leading me in. 

After I had been working at Greentree for a while the other pastors began to develop me for pastoral ministry.  I spent time with each of them working through various areas of study and practical ministry.  This “on the job” type of training was really helpful because that is how I learn best.

Becoming a pastor was honestly nothing I would have pursued on my own but really came from the encouragement and support of the other pastors. I don’t feel particularly gifted for what I do (most days I feel pretty inadequate actually), yet I am humbled that God would use me in this way despite my failures and inadequacies. It has been a very exciting, yet soul stretching experience. 

What are your main responsibilities at Greentree Church? 

I oversee the children and youth ministry as well as general church administration.

What is your passion in ministry?

My passion is that as a church we would train, equip and encourage families in how they raise, guide and teach their children. 

In what area would you like to see our church strengthened?

I would love to see those who just attend become vibrant members; serving, giving, participating in small groups and making disciples. 

What is your favorite book outside of the Bible?

I don’t really read for fun that much.  I have read a few books on Navy Seals over the years that I have enjoyed.  I like to spend free time bow hunting, fishing, working in the garden, and hanging out with my family. 

If you could only read one book of the Bible for the coming year, which would it be?

Colossians

If you were not a pastor, what would you do?

I really want to be a farmer. My dream some day is to own a farm. 

What are your favorite foods?

I could eat a whole bag of chips.  I really love some traditional Armenian food my family makes like lahmaǰun.  I like any meat product on the grill, sushi, subs, a nice soft homemade oatmeal raisin cookie and ANYTHING my wife makes!

If money was no object, what would be your dream vacation?

I would like to take my wife back to the Cayman Islands.  We went there for a day on our honeymoon and I told her I would take her back some day. But I would settle for a log cabin in the woods for a week or so. 

What is a perfect day off?

Breakfast out on the deck (bacon AND pork roll).  Spending time with my wife and kids. Taking the kids on a bike ride.  Going hunting or fishing.  Sushi for dinner. Finish it off watching a movie with Erin; ice cream of course.