From Pastor John’s Desk

Much occurs during the shortest month of the year. February is packed with events like: Groundhog Day, Mr. Lincoln’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, George Washington’s birthday which this year falls on Ash Wednesday and the start of Eastern Orthodox Lent on Monday, February 27th.  February gets an extra day as this is Leap Year. Some of my family members have birthdays in February as does the Boy Scouts of America.

One of my prize possessions is my 1954 Fifth edition; seventh printing of HANDBOOK FOR BOYS which was copy written in 1948. On page 19 of that well-worn publication is where The Boy Scout Oath or Promise is found. The Scout Law fills pages 26 and 27. These words written many years ago are still a relevant code of conduct for Christians today for a Christian is to be reverent towards God.

Chaplain William McCormick’s Commander in Chief, the Honorable Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, was never a Boy Scout nor an actual member of any church and yet the principals that he practiced were agreeable to the Christian lifestyle. President Lincoln displayed a remarkable reverence for God during some very difficult times. Author Stephen A. Wynalda, in 366 DAYS IN ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S PRESIDENCY, recounts an event when Lincoln expressed some of his religious convictions to a Black Delegation from Baltimore who presented him with a Bible on Wednesday, September 7th, 1864. The president’s reverent words of praise were, “This Great Book — it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are found portrayed in it.”

– Pastor John, Visitation Pastor

From Pastor Dale’s Desk

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds… let us encourage one another…” Hebrews 10:24-25

Recently, my personal Bible study reintroduced me to one of my New Testament heroes; Barnabas-the “Encourager.”  In fact, I was thinking that we might even want to form a “Barnabas Brigade.” We meet Barnabas in the book of Acts. His was such an important ministry in the early Church. He spent his life building up his fellow Christians with his encouraging words and actions. When this man joined the Church his name was Joe, but he was so good at encouraging others that the folks at Church changed his name to “Barnabas-The Son of Encouragement.” (Acts 4:36) I’m convinced that part of the reason the early Church was so vibrant, magnetic and growing was its member, Barnabas, “The Encourager.”

The Church in every generation needs people like Barnabas. St. Andrew’s will continue to draw folks in and see lives changed as we add more “encouragers” to our ranks. That’s why I am asking you to enlist in the “Barnabas Brigade.” There are no meetings, no dues; just an investment of time and love.  Simply make a private commitment to God that you will encourage at least one person from the congregation each day and you are in the “the Brigade.” Through a note, a card, a phone call, a visit, a smoke signal, whatever, members of the “Barnabas Brigade” will show appreciation and concern for their friends at St. Andrew’s.  Ushers, teachers, nursery volunteers, homebound persons, leaders, choir members, visitors, and others will be strengthened and encouraged through our Barnabases. (Or is it Barnabi?)

How about joining? Will you make a commitment to offer encouragement to at least one member of your St. Andrew’s family every day? That’s all it takes. But, ooohhhh, what a difference you will make! The Barnabas Brigade needs you!

– Pastor Dale

Stewardship is Not Just Finances

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
1 Peter 4:10

As you study the above verse, Peter is telling us stewardship is not just finances, but also our time, talents, and encouraging others. God did not give us spiritual gifts to keep to ourselves, nor did He give us the same gifs. We are to share them in service with each other in service to our God.

Why not begin by bringing your spiritual gift to a Sunday school class. There is a class for everyone.

Want to spend more time in God’s word, join in with one of our Bible study groups. There is a Wednesday evening Bible study group at 6:15pm in the church boardroom. The ladies have a Sweet Fourth Saturday Bible study each month as well!

One can always start a small group Bible study in their home. Any of these opportunities is a great way to begin the new year!

Are You Experiencing a “Winter” in Your Life?

In addition to the cold weather outside, many people experience “winters” in their personal lives. A recent loss through death, divorce, or relocation may leave them lonely. A hospitalization, cancer diagnosis, or ongoing medical problems may leave them feeling isolated. The loss of a job, the fear of layoffs, or a financial setback can devastate one’s self-esteem. Family and personal struggles may leave them with nowhere to turn for support.

If you are going through a difficult time, our Stephen Ministers can bring God’s warm love back into your life. The provide confidential, one-to-one Christian care. They will meet with you privately on a weekly basis to listen, support, and encourage you, to pray with and for you, and to walk with you for the duration of your crisis.

To find out more about Stephen Ministry and how you or someone you know can be matched with a Stephen Minister, contact us today! Larry or Marie Gray at 742-7037, our Stephen Ministers are ready to care for you!

Stephen Ministry

Stephen Ministers work alongside our pastors to care, encourage, and provide emotional and spiritual support to people who are going through a difficult time, such as divorce, grief, hospitalization, unemployment, terminal illness, relocation, chronic illness, or loneliness.
       If you are in need of the confidential help of a Stephen Minister please call Larry Gray at 570-765-4588 or Pastor Dale Hippensteel at 570-742-2000; extension 303.

If you have gifts for caring, encouragement, and listening, please begin to prayerfully consider whether you might want to be part of this exciting ministry.Ever thought about becoming a Stephen Minister?

To find out more about Stephen Ministry, and how you or someone you know can be matched with a Stephen Minister, contact Larry Gray.

From Pastor Dale’s Desk

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans…to give you a future and a Hope… you will find me when you look for me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:11, 13

What a great couple of verses to take with us into the New Year! Especially after listening to all the prophets and pollsters of negativity telling us we are still in for rough times. (Not to mention the whole Mayan calendar thing for 2012!) What is forecast by experts for the next 365 days is, at best, an educated guess. But you and I have the promises of God! God has plans for us; good plans, for a future and a hope! God’s word is sure! So we can face the future with confidence and hope, whatever the circumstances.

I like the story of Thomas Edison, who at age 67, watched as fire destroyed much of his work and equipment. Did he give up on the future, give in to negativity, or quit in despair? Not at all! “All our mistakes are burned up,” the inventor said. “Now we can start anew.”
A new year gives us the opportunity to start anew as well. Ask God what He wants you to be doing in 2012; set some God honoring goals. Live one day at a time; not regretting the past or worrying about the future. Enjoy today as you walk with God. Be a difference maker as a part of God’s mission here at St. Andrew’s. And one more thing – Stand on the promise of God knowing that God has a good plan and purpose of your life.
Have a Happy and Hope-filled New Year!

– Pastor Dale

From Pastor John’s Desk

Greetings, grace and peace to God’s people at St. Andrews.

I started to type my New Year greetings and realized that my fingers pounded out 1912 instead of 2012. This got me thinking, that if it were possible, 1912 would be an interesting year to visit. The ladies made an incredible fashion statement with their long skirts, high bottom shoes, shirtwaist blouses, and those really big hats. Europe was at peace some two years removed from World War I and, here in America, shreds of the “wild west” remained. Many Civil War Veterans still lived and many of our ancestors would have worshiped in Evangelical Churches. The world moved to the clip-clop pace of horse’s hooves.

There are days, in our frantic pace of modern life, when January 1912 would seem like a romantic dream. The past has a lot to teach us while we thing about the blessings we are enjoying in the present. How many of us would be excited about a trip to the dentist in 1912? Outhouses do not have plumbing problems but memories of winter camps remind me that the outhouse is very cold at this time of the year!

What the future holds for us in these cold days of winter when our world seems to move at “warp” speed is uncertain and even frightening. The prophet Isaiah, who had a lot to do with the recently completed Advent Season, stated, “The word of our God shall stand forever.” As one who is not real wild about electronic technical changes, I find these words to be very comforting. As an historian, I find the thought that the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the same right now as it was in the by-gone year of 1912, and that God’s Word will still be the same tomorrow morning, even more comforting. Ten minutes from now is the future.

As we play our roles in history and face the future together, my prayer for each and every one who reads what I have written, is that 2012 may be a very good year for you, filled with God’s blessings, good or better health, and most of all the Peace of Christ that sustains us while passing all of our human understanding.

– Pastor John, Visitation Pastor