“No Atheist in a Foxhole”

This week’s Pastor to Person is written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Psa 57:1 NKJV] 1 “…when he fled from Saul into the cave. Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You, and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until [these] calamities have passed by.”

One of the earliest uses of the phrase, “No atheist in a foxhole” was published by Warren J. Clear in a 1942, “Readers Digest” article – here is the scene with an unidentified sergeant,
I remember jumping into a hole during a particularly heavy bombing attack. A sergeant crouched lower to make room for me. Then all hell broke loose, and I wasn’t surprised to find myself praying out loud. I heard the sergeant praying, too. When the attack was over, I said: “Sergeant, I noticed you were praying.” “Yes, sir,” he answered, without batting an eye, “there are no atheists in foxholes.”
David is on the run; his King and mentor is trying to kill him, and the future seems bleak. Can you relate? Do you have those moments where you feel alone, afraid, trapped in a dark and difficult situation? What can we learn from David?
First, be honest. I love how Psalms give us insight into all that David was feeling. He tells God about his fear, his enemies, his circumstances. David didn’t hold back his emotions from God. 
Second, David reminded himself over and over who his God was. “God most High,” “God of mercy and truth,” the God who has fulfilled promises, the God whose wings he can take refuge. Even as a mighty warrior David looks up; not in when overwhelmed. He strengthened Himself in the character and promises of His God. 
Last, David finishes the Psalm with shouts of praise. David turned the pit into a place of praise. David’s heart and soul begin to well up with shouts of praise for who God is, for what He will do, for what He has done! 
Has the enemy tried to back you into a deep, dark, pit? How can you turn that pit into a place of praise? Be honest with God, remember what He has done, and worship! See you on Sunday! 

-Pastor Caleb

“A Special Gift”

This week’s Pastor to Person is written by Pastor Franklin Garcia.

“Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite.” Judges 3:15

There’s a story in the scriptures of a left-handed man, a man who probably had some of the same frustrations as other left-handed people have had. This story occurs at a time when the people of Israel had turned away from the Lord and had begun to worship the gods of the Canaanite culture, and the Lord had disciplined them for that. God had allowed an enemy to oppress Israel for many years. The invader is, Eglon, the king of Moab, a nation to the East.
One day Ehud, the left-handed man, came face to face with a monument, a reminder of the reality of His God. He thought about that monument, and remembered what it stood for, he made a decision to let God use him. God used his uniqueness in a special way. As he looked at that memorial, and remembered his left hand, Ehud killed the king of Moab and Israel was set free. God used him in a way no right-hander could have been used.
The Lord has given you too something unique, some talent to do something for Him that others cannot do. You have an ability that others do not have, and that God’s people need. God has given you too a special ability, and He calls you to serve His people with it.

-Pastor Franklin

“Help is on the Way”

This week’s Pastor to Person is written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Psa 30:10 KJV] 10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.
A quick reaction force (QRF) is an armed military unit capable of rapidly responding to developing situations, usually to assist allied units in need of assistance. They are equipped to respond to any type of emergency within a short time frame.
What comes to mind when you see the use of the word “helper”? Do you think of a child helping a parent? Or maybe a “good Samaritan” helping an elderly friend? Of the 82 times this word is used in the Old Testament, many of those uses are used in a military context where the LORD is intervening to save His people.
As we dig even further into the use of this word, I find it fascinating that it is also the root word used in Genesis to describe “Eve” (Gen 2:18… “I will make him a “help mate”) Often culture has struggled with the term “help mate” as derogatory or implying a lesser status. However, when we look at the broader context of this word we get a much stronger, fuller picture of how God viewed this partnership.
As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend. Take some time to think about how God has been your “helper.” Now zoom out and consider how some of the women in your life have helped model this. How has your mom, wife, sister, friend demonstrated this?
As we celebrate this weekend let’s highlight these God honoring heroes who run into and run alongside our biggest challenges. Who respond with selfless love and sacrificial grace when we need it most. How will you bless the “helper” God has placed in your life?

-Pastor Caleb

“X-ray Vision”

This week’s Pastor to Person is written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

“[1Sa 16:7 NIV] 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
November 8, 1895, German physics professor Wilhelm Röntgen stumbled on X-rays. He went on to earn the first ever Nobel Prize in 1901. These tests have become the standard for seeing inside the body to diagnose all kinds of things.
Here as Samuel is looking for a new King God gives us a valuable lesson on how we tend to view people. Saul the rejected king had all the physical characteristics of an imposing leader. Tall, strong, possibly good looking. As Samuel is going about his task looking for the next leader to anoint God tells him his method for choosing is flawed, “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Two lessons we should consider as we apply this principle in our own lives. How much stock do you put in someone’s outside appearance when evaluating others? Whether a candidate, influencer, stranger, or friend, how do you evaluate their capabilities to lead? In MLK’s famous “I have a dream speech” he talked about evaluating people not by, “the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Our world today places such a high priority on the outside that we can forget the importance of the inside.
Lastly, how do we evaluate ourselves? Paul told Timothy that there is value in physical fitness, but Paul placed a much higher emphasis on spiritual fitness. In a world that spends millions of dollars and hours focusing on how we look to others our priority should be how we look to God. How do we do this? A great start is Psalm 139:23-24 David turns on the X-ray machine of prayer and asks the Lord to search him and lead him.
When was the last time we turned on the X-ray machine of God’s Word, or prayer? How would God evaluate our hearts in preparation for the works He has prepared for us? Let us ask these questions of ourselves and our leaders as we seek the Lord’s will for today.

Pastor Caleb

“Love Above Knowledge”

This week’s Pastor to Person is written by Pastor Franklin Garcia.

“…while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that edifies people. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.” 1 Corinthians 8:1–3 
Paul set up two contrasts “the man who claim to know all the answers “and “the person who loves God”. Paul addresses the attitude of the “educated”, the knowledge that fuels arrogance by redirecting their understanding of the boundary marker of a Christian. It is not knowledge (of idols or even of God himself) that distinguishes a Christian. Rather Jesus’ followers are identified by the love they show toward God and their neighbors.  
Sometimes having knowledge leads us to think that we are better than others. Knowledge is not bad; it is good to learn, it is good to grow intellectually and to be able to develop as learners to contribute to the kingdom of God. The problem with knowledge arises when we forget that we are children of God, called to serve, love our neighbors and be humble. 
Furthermore, we should try to use our knowledge by serving others without bringing attention to ourselves. Our deeds done in humility will give others the confidence to seek help and counsel from us. Our wisdom from above should be manifested through humility, so that others can benefit from our knowledge. Knowledge accompanied by love and humility is a useful tool that will benefit all those around us.

-Pastor Franklin

“Holding Onto the Promise”

This week’s Pastor to Person is written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Act 23:11 NIV] 11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
This verse sets off a nearly 3-year adventure of one the most harrowing and challenging seasons of Paul’s ministry. It all starts with a promise. “You must also testify in Rome.”
Amazing how quickly we see the promise tested! Verse 13 tells us that more than 40 men had taken an oath to assassinate Paul. These men plotted an elaborate attempt kill Paul and extinguish the promise God had given.
Do you ever feel like there are forces working against the promise of God on your life? No matter how overwhelming, cunning, or determined Paul’s enemies were; they were no match for the power of promise of God.
As the rest of the chapters will reveal Paul will be tried, imprisoned, shipwrecked and snakebit all seemingly to delay or destroy the promise of God. Chapter 28 records the fulfillment of the promise as Paul finally arrives in Rome. Two things we can take away from this promise for today. 1. God is faithful to complete what He promises. Nothing the enemy tries can stop what God has declared He will do. 2. Just because God has given you a promise doesn’t mean it will be easy, fast, or fun but it will be fulfilling. Each delay and difficulty resulted in an opportunity for God to work in and through Paul’s life.
Are you frustrated because a promise isn’t happening when or how you though it might? You can trust in the promise because you can trust the promise giver. Take inventory of the promises you have been given in the gospel today. He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it!

-Pastor Caleb

“Tell Others About the Savior”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Franklin Garcia.

It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’

                                                                                                                              Luke 24: 44-47

Jesus appeared to his disciples in his resurrected body. They were frightened, and so Jesus asked them, “Why are your hearts filled with doubt”? The disciples did not expect that Jesus would rise from the dead. He explained to the disciples that everything that had happened was announced by him. He reminds them that he spoke to them all those things that were written of him in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. Jesus told them that the Scriptures should be fulfilled: The Messiah should suffer, die, and rise on the third day and they should proclaim in the name of Jesus the repentance for the forgiveness of sins. God’s plan was coming to pass. He announced these events a long time ago through his prophets. The people were not expecting a Messiah crucified; neither were the disciples anticipating Jesus’ resurrection. This section shows that God’s plan was fulfilled.

Now that the Scriptures had been fulfilled with Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection, and our hearts have been opened to this truth, the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins must be shared with others. We must be witnesses of his death and resurrection: explaining to others that Jesus is the awaited Savior promised by God through the Scriptures.

“Reaching the Unreachable”

This week’s Pastor to Person is written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[Act 8:5 NIV] 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 
“Saul” was on a rampage seeking to destroy the Church and Christians (Acts 8:3). Phillip turned this opposition into an opportunity. When Jesus gave his final instructions to his disciples, He told them to go from Jerusalem to Judea then to Samaria and even the uttermost (Acts 1:8) 

Philip is one of the unsung heroes of Acts. Through his ministry we have great example for sharing the gospel. 
First Philip is willing to go to one of the most hated communities and preach the good news to them. This is the greatest fulfillment of Jesus teaching to love our enemies. The gospel teaches us at the basic level we are all sinners in need of a savior. Philips obedience and their acceptance begins a paradigm shift in the book of Acts. 
Next, we see not just the Samaritans but Simon the Sorcerer (:9) is responding to the gospel. Again, we see the lengths Philip is willing to go with the truth of the gospel. The battle for Simon’s soul continues over the next few verses (9-25) but the truth remains that Philip did not shy away from sharing the truth with Simon.
Last, we see Philip sharing with an Ethiopian eunuch (26-40). Here we see the Spirit led Philip to meet with one stranger who was longing to understand more about the Messiah. 
As we navigate this Easter celebrating the victory of what Jesus did on the cross for us, let us not forget the broken and dying world around us. Let us have eyes like Philip that see past the anger, confusion, repulsion, & fear and see people that Jesus died for, that need to know the truth. 

– Pastor Caleb

“Praise the Lord”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Franklin Garcia.

The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. Psalms 116:6-7

The psalmist recalls how it was that the Lord delivered him from an impending death and enabled him to have a life of service. He was on the verge of death. His situation was exceedingly difficult, so he cried out to God in a difficult time and the Lord heard him. This psalm shows us a theological truth about God. He is merciful, compassionate, just and one who manifests his grace. Therefore, the author undertook to recognize the Lord in the temple.        This psalm is a personal song of thanksgiving.

Some of us have cried out to God at a difficult time in our lives, cried out when we were sick, cried out when we were in trouble, cried out when we were hopeless. Some of us even cried out when we did not have a relationship with Him, yet He listened to us and rescued us.

Like the psalmist we ask, what can we give to the Lord for all His goodness? There is nothing that we could give to Him. The only way to show our gratitude is through a consecrated life and commitment so others could see that there is a living and powerful God, who hears and helps those who call upon His name. A life of praise is not too much to ask if we have been touched by His goodness and mercy.

“Jesus is Praying For You”

This week’s Pastor to Person was written by Pastor Caleb Beller.

[John 17:20 NIV] 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,”

Jesus’ prayer here in John 17 is one of the greatest treasures of scripture. Jesus would soon be betrayed, falsely accused, beaten and ultimately crucified. Yet with the weight of all this pending who does He pray for?

Nearly 60% of this prayer Jesus prays for His disciples, and almost 25% of His prayer is for you and me! How amazing is it that 2,000 years ago, as Jesus was preparing for the cross, we were on His heart!  Jesus emphasizes two things for us who believe in Him, through the disciples’ message.

The first in unity. Four times Jesus is going to refer to “oneness” or “unity.” The idea is that we are no longer a fractured piece of broken humanity, but that we are now whole in Christ. The image-of-God fully restored through the work of Jesus and the Spirit in us! Jesus says that this unity will reflect His love to the world.

Secondly Jesus expresses His desire for us to one day be with Him. To see Jesus as He truly is and to experience the glory of Heaven.

Let us allow His prayer to fill our hearts and minds today! May the unity of Christ in you and you in Him reveal the fullness of who you were created to be. May the hope of heaven fill us with excitement and motivation to share His love with the world around us!