Testimonies

THIS HOPE IS REAL

Nathan Barry recently died from cancer.

He was 16

He knew Christ

His hope remained

Nathan shared his simple, yet deep testimony while knowing that death was most likely soon before him. You may not be facing a challenge this big, but we all desperately need a hope that is secure and can never diminish.

Nathan’s Testimony from Wazza on Vimeo.

LESSONS I HAVE LEARNED FROM MY DAD

The earliest photo of my Dad and me

On Sunday, our church will celebrate the 50th anniversary of my father arriving to pastor this congregation.

We will have a grand celebration on Sunday, but I want to share personal reflections on what I have learned from my father, because they are the most important things in life.

Many of the lessons I have listed are truths he has directly told me, while others are observations from his life.

THE GOSPEL

When I think about my dad, it all starts with the gospel. The gospel is what defines how he has spent his adult life. And the gospel is by far the greatest benefit I have received from him.

When you present the gospel it must be kept clear and unobstructed

Keep the gospel before you at all times

The Bible is completely true, dependable, unchanging and applicable to all of life

PREACHING and PASTORAL MINISTRY

Preaching is to be taken seriously; there are no shortcuts to preparing properly

Don’t allow secondary responsibilities in church life to get in the way of the primary responsibility of Word ministry

Expositional preaching is healthiest form of preaching for the congregation

When you preach, make sure people can see how what you say is in the Bible, for that is what will build their faith

Pastoral ministry is an honorable calling

Love the Church and love your church

“If you can’t sing well, at least you can sing loud” (this goes back to the days when the pastors led the opening hymn)

Be patient with people in their failures and show graciousness to them

There are Christians with whom you will not agree, but you should still have fellowship with them

Act quickly when sinful discord arises in the church

Make God your defender

FAMILY and FRIENDS

Family is important; don’t let those relationships break down

Love your wife and make her your best friend

Discipline and love should not be exclusive of one another

Stand with your friends in their times of difficulty

Makes friends of people when they are abandoned by others

A good meal is a wonderful way to spend time

LIFE LESSONS

Accountability

Hospitality

Generosity

Ask questions

Reading is important

There are a lot of books, so read the good ones

Work hard and carefully.

Don’t carry out any task half-heartedly

Don’t be afraid to own up to your weaknesses and failures

Confess to those you sin against

God is faithful in the midst of dark days and raging fires

You never retire from serving the Lord

 

 

THIS IS POWERFUL!

5 year old Levi has Down’s Syndrome. And that is the easiest of his physical difficulties. His adversities include four open heart surgeries (and counting).

This testimony by his dad, a student at Bethlehem Seminary, is powerful, perspective correcting, and encouraging!

“Drinking Deeply of the Tenderness of Christ” from Bethlehem College & Seminary on Vimeo.

TESTIMONY OF A CHANGED LIFE

On Easter, Mike Frampus who grew up in Greentree and then drifted far from church and God, gave this testimony of God’s grace to save him. Mike has a history of significant problems with anxiety – so just standing before everyone to share his story was a wonderful work of God!

Good morning,

Dana called me a few weeks ago and asked me to come up here and give my testimony. She had prepared me beforehand and let me know that she would do that one day, so of course I said yes.

After I hung up the phone, I began to search online out-of-state job sites, because now that someone had asked me to get up and speak in front of the church, obviously it was time to pack up my family and move as far away as possible to begin anew somewhere else.

You see, I have something that I’m sure some of you know a little about….fear of man. Not only that, but Satan desires for me to be ineffective for God’s kingdom, and so I wanted to give 10,000 reasons why I could not do this.

But then I thought of Moses and Jonah and all the other sinful men that God used for his glory, and the only thing I could say in my heart was: “Here am I. Send me!” So I’m here this morning to give you a very brief glimpse into the power of God.

I grew up attending Greentree Church as a child and being in Sunday school. I was even baptized as a teenager right here behind me, which by the way was the last time that I ever fit into a tub. It wasn’t long, however, until I decided that I wanted to take control of my life and do things my way.

I began at an early age to experiment with alcohol and marijuana, and these things helped me to become more comfortable in a world where I felt as if I didn’t really belong anywhere. I began to believe whole-heartedly that every moment of every day was meant to be lived for my pleasure. So I ran hard after sin towards death until God was no longer even an afterthought.

Initially I was convicted in my heart as I did whatever I thought might bring me joy, but as I graduated to harder drugs I was able to quiet that voice inside a little more effectively. The more I tried to run the more broken I became.

My partying lifestyle began to affect every area of my life, as I began high school getting straight A’s only to struggle just to pass my senior year. I couldn’t wait to get out and really start living…or dying as it turns out.

I used heroin for the very first time when I was 17 years old. Although it was not necessarily love at first sight, in just a couple of short years I would be sticking a needle into my veins, and experienced a rapid downhill decline. I began committing crimes to support my heroin addiction, and I began to steal from the only ones in my life that cared about me.

I have experienced overdose, been through treatments, been to jail, I’ve been robbed and pistol-whipped, and I even sailed across an interstate highway and off the shoulder of the road at more than 75 mph. There have been literally thousands of times in my life where I could have easily died one way or another, and at times in my life I even wished for death.

But God, in His great love and mercy looked upon my helpless state…and led me to the cross. By His amazing grace I have not used drugs and alcohol for over ten years. I am now married to an awesome wife and have three wonderful children.

It is God who sustained me and continues to do so each day. He opened my blind eyes to see that Jesus has already paid the penalty for my sins and for any who would trust in Him. Through the blood of our precious Savior Jesus I have been brought from death to life and I have been made a new creation.

If, this morning you have a loved one that you’ve been praying for who you know is enslaved by this or any other sin, or perhaps it is you that are caught in this vicious cycle….cry out to the only one that saves. He is faithful.

AN AMAZING TESTIMONY OF FAITHFULNESS

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My book suggestion this month is a change of pace. Usually I am suggesting a title on Christian living; this month’s recommendation is biographical.

Franz Hasel, was a 40-year-old deeply committed Christian. The odd twist was that he was also a German soldier during World War Two.

A Thousand Shall Fall by Susi Hasel Mundy (his daughter) shares his truly amazing story.

There are many stunning points in this fascinating and encouraging true story of standing for Christ when evil surrounds you.

Franz Hasel not only never killed anyone, his side arm was a fake carved out of wood (he was in an engineering company, so he was not involved in shooting at enemy soldiers).

He only missed celebrating one Sabbath Day (he was an Adventist) during the entire war.

Since his company move ahead of the rest to work on bridges, he was able to warn Jews to hide.

Franz was hated, mocked and persecuted by other German soldiers and officers, yet God protected him throughout the war.

Franz served on the Eastern Front is areas like Stalingrad, so he experienced horrifying amounts of bloodshed, brutality and deprivation. However, what stands out most is the warmth of his love for God.

“A Thousand Shall Fall” will appeal to those interested in biographies, history, WWII, Christian living or inspiration!

 

A CELEBRATION IN GUATEMALA

Evelyn

Earlier this month I was blessed to be a part of a team from Greentree that went to Chichicastenango, Guatemala to be with our mission partners, ASELSI. While we were there we participated in the festivities celebrating the 10th anniversary of the physical therapy clinic established at ASELSI.

My first time in Guatemala was nine years ago when the therapy clinic was only a year old and treated children in a small multi-purpose room.  Today, they have a large, beautiful and well-equipped facility for the therapy clinic to treat adults and children.  God has taken the desire and efforts of the missionaries and workers at ASELSI and had accomplished more than I could have imagined only nine years ago!

At the 10th anniversary celebration I saw many familiar faces of patients and families from my previous visits.  One girl in particular is Evelyn. Evelyn is a now 21 year old young lady who was born with severe spastic cerebral palsy.

When the clinic workers at ASELSI first met Evelyn she had severe contractures in her legs due to being confined to her small home. Children with disabilities in Guatemala are frequently isolated, having no access to wheelchairs, unable to attend school, and often hidden due to lack of services and embarrassment by families.

What impacted me most about Evelyn when I first met her was that even though she had severe physical and speech limitations she had a great capacity and desire to learn.

In spite of very difficult challenges, Evelyn and her mother were determined.  Evelyn was determined to learn and her mother was determined to help her.

The workers at ASELSI understand that every person is created in the image of God has great value to God. Evelyn was treated in the therapy clinic and also enrolled in ASELSI’s school for special needs children.  She has thrived and has learned much and she knows the love of Jesus through His gospel.

To surprise me when I saw her again this year, Evelyn had been working hard to learn some phrases in English so she could talk to me!  With tears in my eyes, knowing how difficult it is for her to speak even in her native language, I listened as she spoke her name and her age, and asked me, “How are you?”, all in complete sentences in English.  Her determination to love me by speaking my language humbled me.

When I first went to ASELSI I believed it was to help the children there but God has also used them to help me to appreciate the value that they have before God and the potential that all of His creation has to be used for His good purposes.

There are people around us who we may not see as not worth the effort to love, serve, or share the Gospel. Maybe it is someone with a severe disability, a child with very difficult behaviors, or a cranky neighbor that everyone avoids.  But we are all created in His image and have value to God. We are not called to make judgements on who is and who is not worth the effort. We are called to love and serve others and God uses it for His good and His glory.

TRUST and OBEY: A TRIBUTE to ELISABETH ELLIOT

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by Debbie Huber

“You are loved with an everlasting love. That’s what the Bible says. And underneath are the everlasting arms. This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot.”

This is how Elisabeth Elliot Gren opened her radio show, Gateway to Joy. She was a wife, mother, grandmother, missionary, prolific writer and speaker. She was best known as the wife of Jim Elliot who was martyred in Ecuador in 1956.

Many of us have heard the story and been inspired by Jim Elliot and four other young men who gave their lives for the sake of the gospel. It was humbling to hear of how Elisabeth returned to Ecuador with her young daughter to continue the work she and Jim had begun because God had called them to make Christ known in a lost world.

Last week Elisabeth went home to be with the Lord. Her life impacted many for the kingdom of God, but it was not because of any flashy, charismatic, celebrity style, it was because she was steadfast in her daily walk with trust and obedience to a sovereign God. Her life and teaching demonstrated the message that God is not here to meet our needs, but rather he is our wise and good God who is worthy of our trust and obedience even when we do not understand His plans.

When I first heard of Elisabeth Elliot’s passing I immediately though of my friend, Kris Breunig. This is what Kris had to say about Elisabeth:

To say that Elisabeth Elliot had an influence in my life would be an understatement. I first heard her on the radio program, Gateway to Joy. I would listen to her every day, just soaking in every word. I was a new Christian and I was not raised in a Christian home, so she became my Spiritual Mom.

When the radio program was taken off the local radio station I thought, what am I going to do? I did what any logical person would do; I started buying tapes of the radio program so I could continue to hear her wisdom. Over the years, I have accumulated over one hundred and twenty-five tapes.

Elisabeth has taught me to love hymns and use them not only to praise God but as a means to learn doctrine. She has introduced to me to the missionary stories of Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, John and Betty Scott Stam and of course her own stories of her and her husband Jim Elliot.

She also introduced me to some old time writers who I would not have the time to read, but she would read me their works and teach me their wisdom; such as Samuel Clark, Thomas A Kempas, Saint Francis de Sales, Elizabeth Prentiss and Brother Lawrence.

She has encouraged me when I was a mom with small kids and things would at times be overwhelming; with her words “Do the next thing”.

She helped me understand what the Christian life looked like lived out in everyday life while I was ‘peeling onions or cleaning toilets’; “The faithful taking up of the cross is the carrying out of the small duties that are distasteful to you.”

She has taught me to trust God even when it didn’t look like you could. “Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way, to be Happy in Jesus, but to Trust and Obey.”

I think most of all, Elisabeth helped me understand God’s sovereignty and accept it. “Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.” Psalm 16:5

Many will miss Elisabeth Elliot in this life, but God can use her example in the lives of His children. We can also demonstrate the simple message to “trust and obey” our great and worthy God.

JOHNNY’S BLOOD

I was recently reminded of the story in this article I posted a few years ago. It is well worth reading again

We owe Christ everything! 

Yet we can still be casual toward about our possession of the gospel, just as we can be negligent in how we serve the One who gave so much for us.

Philip Ryken’s shared this story which he had read elsewhere. It speaks to having a willingness to give our life fully to Christ.

A boy had a sister who was suffering from the same disease that the he had survived two years earlier. The doctor explained that she needed a blood transfusion from someone else who had conquered the same disease. Her brother was the ideal donor.

“Would you give your blood to your sister?” the doctor asked. Johnny hesitated at first, but with his lower lip trembling he finally said, “Sure, for my sister.”

Soon the children were wheeled into the hospital room. Neither one of them spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned. His smile faded as the nurse inserted the needle into his arm and he watched the blood flow through the tube. After several minutes, Johnny’s shaky voice finally broke the silence. “Doctor,” he said, “when do I die?”

Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated and why his lip had trembled when he agreed to donate his blood: he thought the doctor was asking for all of it! Yet out of love for his sister, he was willing to give it.

Christ not only poured out his blood for us, our guilt and the Father’s wrath was poured out on him! All this He did for those who had pushed Him aside to serve themselves.

The Apostle Paul understood what it meant to live in response to what Christ had done for him. In 2 Timothy 4:6 he writes,

“I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come”.

At first thought the idea of “pouring out our life” seems drastic. But what else are we doing with our life? Every day another 24 hours of our existence is being poured out for something – what a wonderful thing, if the that ‘something’ is the kingdom of Christ

How well do we appreciate the sacrifice Christ poured out for us? And what sacrifice are we willing to make for Him?

A TESTIMONY OF BIBLE STUDY

My name is Jacque Zarrillo

When I was asked me to give a testimony about Bible reading for our women’s retreat, I immediately said yes. And when it came to writing down what I would say – well, let’s just say this is my fourth version.

I have been reading the Bible regularly, a little of the Old Testament and a little of the New Testament every day for years and when I get to the end, I start over.

When ladies’ Bible study was starting back up in September 2013, and I found out we would be studying the Book of Luke, that’s where I was in my personal Bible study, so I decided to read over the same small part of Scripture for the week leading up to when Susan would teach from that part on Thursday morning, before I would move on.

What started happening is Jesus started jumping off the pages in a three dimensional way. I was getting to know him more intimately than ever before.

I began to see myself as one of the disciples following him around and started to believe nothing will be impossible with God.

This slowed-down, intensified Bible reading started informing and transforming my prayer life. I would find myself praying, “I am your servant, Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.” Or when Jesus taught about forgiving your brother seven times in the day and the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” I found myself crying out for increased faith also.

I began to identify with the woman of questionable character, realizing I had many sins that are forgiven. The more I see how much I have been forgiven, the more I am filled with love and gratitude and worship for the One who has paid the price for that forgiveness, causing me all the more to want to be living before Him, and spending time with Him.

And then I come to where, “An argument arose among them (the disciples) as to which of them was the greatest.” And this, just after Jesus tells them, the ones who are following Him, that, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” And I think to myself, Unbelievable! How could they argue about such a thing? That Wouldn’t Be Me! So I wonder why this little story is included.

Then I see a similar scenario take place again, only this time at the last supper Jesus ate with His disciples. He finishes telling them He is betrayed by one of the 12 and He is going to suffer as it has been determined, and once again the Bible includes, “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.”

Then I start thinking about how Jesus tells us, “let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” And then He says He is among them as one who serves.

But in my heart, I keep going back to the argument and the dispute about who is the greatest. Well, Jesus is addressing me and the attitudes of my heart here, and I sooo didn’t want it to be, but it’s true. As a follower of Jesus, I would have been right in the middle of the argument and dispute.
What that looks like for me today, is me comparing myself to others, thinking, I can’t believe she did that! I would never do such a thing. Or, I can’t believe they said that and they’ve been a Christian how long? I am so thankful the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

So as the Holy Spirit uses the Word of Christ to convict me, I can rely on my Savior Jesus to cleanse me from All unrighteousness, knowing that He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion, and so by the Spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, having full confidence that we are being conformed to the image of Christ. Not covering up sin, but confessing it and repenting of it and thereby not being a slave to it any longer.

So let’s cry out to the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit to be mastered by the Word of Christ!

GUEST MOM: LAURIE ANGERMAN

Ladies, I hope you had a good Happy Mother’s Day!
…I do believe every day is a day to celebrate mothers’, isn’t it?

I am a mother of three grown sons, and a grandmother of 2+ (one is still being knit by God).
However I am not able to write about how to be a good mother.
I could fill the page with advice on what NOT to do.
So, I will just tell you what I have learned since becoming a mother.

Has anyone ever heard this from their child…?
“Mom, everything is NOT always about God!!”

I have heard this from my children many times while seeking to address life issues through the lens of the gospel.

Truthfully, my response to life and discipline is often the same.
“Can’t it be about ME sometimes?”

Being a mother has taught me, well, a lot about ME.
And ME isn’t so wise. But God is!
I am thankful that the Holy Spirit reminds me of this daily.

Being a mother has taught me that The Word must consistently be a part of my day.

It has taught me to wear the carpet out on my knees in prayer, not pacing it while worrying.

It has taught me the value of sisters and brothers in Christ that will speak biblical truth to me, even when it hurts.

It has taught me the value of a church that faithfully teaches me biblical truth.

It has taught me that my emotions often deceive me so I can’t base my decisions on my feelings.

I must base my decisions on God’s word that will not deceive me or mislead me.

It has taught me that from the time I rise until I put my head down on the pillow, my life is ALL ABOUT GOD.

This life is not easy for anyone.
As much as being mother is a blessing, it is very challenging, to say the least.

We become so consumed with our long list of daily duties and troubles that we can easily lose sight of God and His purposes.

Despair often knocks at the door of our hearts.

Right now many mothers are struggling with great difficulties and even severe hardship (joblessness; working full time and feeling stretched to far; loneliness as a single parent; a marriage that is in trouble or has ended; chronic sickness; troubles with children that are rebelling with seemingly no love for God, but instead a love for the destructive lusts of the flesh; children that are suffering physically and emotionally).

Oh, how easily we can fix our eyes on what is seen, not the unseen. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

We often end up joyless, believing a lie that we have been forgotten and forsaken.

We head in the wrong direction, toward the darkness of despair.
If you are going in that direction, what should you do?

You must intentionally STOP, pray, read the Word of God, seek Christ centered relationships, and get to church regularly. You will never be led astray by these common graces God uses for good in our lives.

So you see, I can’t write anything telling anyone how to be a great mother or a great anything….however, through Christ’s example and His mighty power in us, we are equipped to be loving servants to a world that is in need of His great love, no matter what our circumstance in life.

That is what being a mother, sister, friend, neighbor, co-worker, church member, child of God is all about. Whatever road we travel, seek to make it all about Him. He will make your paths straight.

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
                                                                               Proverbs 3:1-7