Daily Word

Join us as the social norms continue changing during this ongoing situation to better ensure public health and safety.

June 16, 2020

Our attention is something that, whether we realize it or not, is very valuable. For instance, organizations worldwide go to great lengths to attempt to capture our attention for only a few seconds, often times costing them thousands of dollars. Another example is grade school. I remember tons of times when teachers would say something along the lines of, “Class, I need your undivided attention.” 

You see, in our world today, there are many things begging for our attention. And if we are not careful, we will allow the majority of our attention to be focused somewhere other than on Christ. I believe that not only does God desire our mind’s attention, but also that of our heart. 

David talks about this in Psalm 86:11, when he says, “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” 

God doesn’t want to split our heart’s attention with anything else. I believe that there is a drastic difference between simply looking to God occasionally, and focusing on Him constantly. The devil knows that if he can get our attention off of Christ, we will slowly begin to doubt God’s faithfulness, rather than rely on it. 

What in your life needs to be minimized so that Christ can be maximized?

Bryce Holdman, Middle School Coordinator

June 15, 2020

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” – Romans 1: 20

This year, Vacation Bible School at Mt. Horeb will look very different. Instead of the all the high energy excitement, music, and activities to which we are all accustomed, our homes will serve as the backdrop for one the greatest weeks of the year as we share the experience virtually with others members of the body of Christ across our world. While some things have changed, what does remain the same is our God and our need to continue to look for Him, recognize Him, and follow Him wherever He leads.

The apostle Paul tells us that we are without excuse to recognize what our God is like. Not only has He made a way for us to know Him through His word, His son, Jesus, but He also displays His “eternal power and divine nature” in the beauty of the natural world. He is a God power and might, tenderness and beauty, and order and detail.

Think about all you can learn about our God through:

  • Observing the beauty of blooming flowers
  • Listening to the sounds of quiet streams and roaring oceans
  • Feeling the refreshment of water through tiny rain drops falling on your skin or by jumping into a lake
  • Smelling the fragrance of the woods or freshly cut grass
  • Touching the soft fur of a kitten or puppy

Sometimes when our experiences are smaller, simpler, less noisy, we see and hear things we often miss. Our Father’s created world offers us many glimpses into who He is. We can recognize Him if we look. Whether or not you and your family are participating in VBS this year, we invite you to look for God in the world right around you. His power and nature are on display. Pray for eyes to see these “invisible qualities” through the handiwork of His creation.

Dell Simpson, Circles Coach

June 14, 2020

We all have Needs and Wants and some of us articulate these more frequently than others, but the fact is we all have these desires. We teach our children there is a great difference between the two, but we often fall into the same trap as children when we express these desires to God. The Bible teaches us in Psalm 23:1, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” It also teaches us in Philippians 4:19 that, “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

So, let’s define these words and examine how they affect us so much. First, a Need is essential to living and can be summed up as food, shelter, and clothing. It can further be defined by basic needs such as rice (food), a pup tent (shelter), and a potato sack (clothing). Secondly, a Want is something above and beyond a Need such as a thick ribeye steak (food), a mansion (shelter), and designer jeans (clothing). These wants can affect us because they can take us from contentment to greed. We can be spoiled without even knowing it and become ungrateful for already having our basic needs.

The point of all this is to recognize that nobody is happy about this season of life we’re in currently, and it doesn’t look like it will go away tomorrow. However, as Christians we can take heart in the Apostle Paul’s writing in Philippians 4:11-13 when he said, “I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances. I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Steve Arneson, Mt. Horeb Member & Professional Christian Counselor

June 13, 2020

Growing up in a family of six I was always the peacemaker. Well, I started a lot of chaos and fights too, but I always preferred everyone to be happy with one another. I took a personality test one time and it revealed that I value harmony above most things. I want for people to be happy with me, with one another and to be at peace. 

This is such a unique time in our history. First with Covid-19 and now with the racial tension that is going on across our country. There are people on both sides of the arguments, there are conspiracy theorists, and everyone seems to know what’s right, what’s fake, who’s lying and who’s covering up. 

In this time, I seek and strive to learn, grow, let God speak and shape me. I try to stay humble, open minded and be teachable. In the middle of all of this, however, I long for peace, for agreement, for harmony. And when I don’t see that, I often remember the promise of God at the end of the Bible. 

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4

These words give me hope. I don’t have all the answers, I don’t have it all figured out, but one thing I do know. Even in the middle all of the arguing, fighting, figuring out, this truth rings out. One day Jesus will return, and He will cure and console and wipe away every tear. 

To that end we keep advancing His Kingdom, we seek to see this accomplished on earth, as it is in Heaven. Still though, the promise of His return should offer hope and peace to us all.

Daniel Stevanus, Student Ministry Director

June 12, 2020

As I sit down to write this Daily Word, there’s a temptation to go straight to the New Testament and find a strong passage on hope or joy, particularly from the writings of Paul, but recent reading has taken me in a different direction. Many that aren’t very familiar with the Bible would probably consider this the complete opposite direction. I’m talking about the Old Testament. There are many passages, specifically from Psalms and Proverbs that sound an awful lot like the teachings of Jesus and the writings of Paul, but many, both believers and unbelievers alike feel that much of the Old Testament is more war, wrath and rebellion, while the New Testament is more love, hope and peace. I’ve actually had that conversation with an unbeliever. While there definitely is both war and rebellion within the Old Testament writings, that isn’t the take-away or the point. What has jumped out at me lately is the way God still used and loved a people who were rebellious, who made major mistakes, who walked away from him time and time again. And he didn’t just use them, he loved them.

Romans 5:8 says it best – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

What is sometimes hard to wrap our heads around is the fact that “While we were still sinners” was happening a lot sooner than the death and resurrection of Jesus. While David was still a sinner and a man capable of adultery and murder, 1 Samuel 13:14 tells us he was a man after God’s own heart. While Moses was still a sinner and murdered an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew, God used him for the good of his people and to pave the way for Christ. Time and time again throughout the Old Testament, God used people who were living lives in the gray – and that’s putting it lightly. You and I live our lives in a certain kind of way to make certain we don’t make the kinds of mistakes that many of God’s chosen ones did and that’s a great thing, but if you’re anything like me, you can get really caught up in the overwhelming guilt and shame of sinning at all. Of falling short in any way. Sometimes the weight of a sin that most people wouldn’t think twice about – making a decision based solely on pride – can keep others awake at night, feeling every bit of the weight of that hidden failure.

However, relief comes from Romans 3:23-24 which tells us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

It doesn’t get any simpler than that. So, where’s the application? How is this practical to us right now? Well, for those of us who suffer from the weight of the perfection that most of the world demands of us, we can look to both the New and Old Testaments for the strength to release it. God has been trying to take it since the dawn of time. He showed us relentlessly throughout the Old Testament how your failures don’t define you. Then the exclamation was put on his message through the crucifixion of Christ. Your failures, big or small, don’t define your worth. You’re not too far gone. I’m not perfect and neither are you. What’s hard to grasp is that we never will be while living in this broken world. We’ll always struggle, but God isn’t keeping score on his children. Though we are still sinners, we are forgiven and loved, so take the weight, leave it at the altar and feel the relief.

Alex Killman, Contemporary Worship Leader

June 11, 2020

Since June 2016, the week before VBS has been quite stressful for me. Whether I was serving on the Decorations Team or now as a Kids staff member managing registration, the week before VBS has been jam packed with last minute details. Feelings of fear, anxiety and restlessness have traditionally flooded this week. I can’t tell you how many children received their Crew Assignments between 1:00 AM and 4:00 AM because I couldn’t sleep.

But here we are in 2020 in a different world. It’s the week before VBS and there are no Crew Assignments to make, name tags to print, or decorations transforming our campus. I know that it’s not just me; many of you are having a different week. One thing that is not different, is the joy that surrounds VBS. Among the stress of years past, there was always joy in that a multitude of children and volunteers were coming together to learn about Jesus. This year, I get to Focus more on the joy because there is not the same level of stress. 

As Pastor Jeff reminded me during a staff devotion, we can ask the Holy Spirit to grow the Fruits of the Spirit in us. We can follow the VBS theme: Focus and Take a Closer Look. I choose Joy! Which fruit will you focus on?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5: 22-23

While I will greatly miss celebrating the last day of VBS when at closing children shout “One more song!” because they don’t want to leave worship, there is still reason to celebrate! Will you join me in celebrating Virtual VBS! You can join by watching the videos posted daily beginning Monday at mthorebumc.com/vbs. Join me in prayer of thanks that out of town VBS participants will receive their packet in the mail. Join me in a prayer of celebration that 1269 participants (some around the world) are registered and countless more will Focus and Take a Closer Look at what it means to follow Jesus!

Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the one who started this journey of faith. And he is the one who completes the journey of faith. – Hebrews 12:2a

Jennifer Baldwin, Kids Admin Assistant

June 10, 2020

As the nation has had it attention affixed to the racial injustices affecting people of color, the question has arisen, what should be the Churches response? A thorough reading of the scriptures reveal the intention God has for the diversity of cultures. From beginning to end, the unity of all people, standing arm in arm, in the worship of Jesus is the ultimate goal.

Revelation 7:9-10 says,
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,  and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Genesis begins with God promising to bless ALL nations through the Hebrew nation. The book of Revelation tells that in the end, people from every tribe, tongue and nation will unite in giving glory to Jesus. This is not a blindness toward race and diversity, but an embrace of all cultures. So, our response should be getting a head start on what is to come in the end. The Church needs to embrace and celebrate our diversity while worshipping Jesus together because of the salvation that comes from Him.

What are practical ways to stand arm in arm with people around you who may not look like you in the name of Jesus?

Pastor Trevor Miller

June 9, 2020

Last week, I began a journey pursuing a Masters of Divinity online at Asbury Theological Seminary. And my first day of class consisted of reading the first two chapters of a book entitled, “Ministry in the Image of God.” This book talks a lot about how the Trinity is a key component of any fruitful ministry. 

While I was reading, a statement regarding the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives caught my attention. It was simply this: “Unless the Holy Spirit fills, the human spirit fails.” 

You know, the truth is, many times in my life I have witnessed the reality of the latter part of that statement. “God, why am I still stuck in this sin? God, why is there still so much tension within my marriage? God, why can’t I find a way to simply love my co-workers?” 

If you find yourself asking these questions or even ones similar, here is the question I would challenge us to ask ourselves in response: Have we let the Holy Spirit truly fill us?

There is a difference between simply possessing the Holy Spirit and being filled by Him. Being filled by the Holy Spirit looks like a daily laying down of our own desires, passions and agendas and instead picking up our cross and following Christ’s lead through the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus says in John 16:13, that when the Holy Spirit comes, “He will guide you into all the Truth.” Our world is searching right now for truth. The Holy Spirit is the only One who can provide it. Will we seek to be filled with that Spirit each and every day, or keep searching elsewhere?

Bryce Holdman, Middle School Coordinator

June 8, 2020

I don’t know about you, but when I’m under any kind of stress, making decisions becomes difficult. In fact, even insignificant decisions seem overwhelming. Simple options seem like large obstacles and clarity feels like an illusion.

Let me walk you through my typical routine when I feel this way:

  1. I spend an extra 7 minutes in the frozen section of the grocery store deciding between the name-brand ice cream I like and the off-brand that could save me 50 cents but tastes worse than the carton it comes in.
  2. I leave with the name-brand ice cream, and deep guilt over our financial (and caloric) future.
  3. I start questioning all of my life choices and reevaluate my priorities.
  4. I consult scripture for something, anything that will give me assurance.

It’s times of great stress (including this season we’re in now) when I just want someone else to tell me what to do. I want assurance I’m picking the wisest, best, correct choice. I want a personalized note from God so I don’t get it wrong. But therein lies the problem. Decisions inherently put our brain into dichotomy mode. Pros vs. cons; right vs. wrong; either-or. By the time I arrive at step 4 (consulting scripture), I’m looking at the “right” answer that leads to my joy and ultimately, my success. 

However, we so often find scripture to be much more about the “either way” than the “either-or”; more about the “why” than the “what.” We ask: should I take this job or that, go to church here or there, serve inside the church or on a global mission trip? God says: Yes! Because either way, your purpose is to glorify my name.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21

Our joy and success will not come by making all the right decisions. In fact, the more we focus on our own joy and success, the further away from it we get. It’s when we join in God’s purpose to glorify His name among the nations and make His marvelous works known among all peoples that we find what we’re searching for (Psalm 96:3). God rescues His people (Psalm 106:8), blots out our transgressions (Isaiah 43:25), leads and guides us (Psalm 31:3), listens, forgives and sees us in our desolation (Daniel 9:17-19) all for His name’s sake.

Let me remind you today to take a deep breath, listen to the sweet voice of our Father, and release the pressure of making decisions to the only purpose that is eternal.

Either way, I will exalt my God the King (Psalm 145:1).  Either way, I will glorify You for all the things I’ve heard and seen (Luke 2:20). Either way, I will give thanks to You with all my heart (Psalm 9:1). Either way, I will work with all my heart, as if working for the Lord (Colossians 2:32).

“Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” –  Philippians 4:20

Kristina Killman, Missions Admin

June 7, 2020

Ready or not here we come Mt. Horeb! We’ve said it a million times… we are Better Together! The psychological barrier of social distancing is over as we return to church next Sunday. But hold your horses just a minute as we will still be physically distancing and wearing masks. Honestly, I hate wearing a mask, but I realize many elderly people and others with respiratory conditions may be fearful of returning to church, so our Greater Good is to extend “grace” to them so we can all benefit within the body of Christ.

When the apostle John wrote about Jesus he said, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14. Did you catch that? Full of grace. The Christian faith is built on grace which is defined as unmerited favor. A person who is anxious or fearful about the Coronavirus is often struggling simply to get out of the house and we, the body of Christ, are to exemplify Jesus being full of grace.

For those that remember the movie Jaws, it took months after that movie for people to get back into the water. Fear and doubt often accompany individuals as they embark on a new normal. We are in that season of testing the waters and seeing just how far our minds will take us. For many, this will be a season of confidence and boldness and for others it will be what psychology calls systematic desensitization (gradual extraction of fear). Nevertheless, we all can learn a great deal about extending the grace that God gives us. Remember He said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Steve Arneson, Mt. Horeb Member & Professional Christian Counselor

June 6, 2020

This past week I got the privilege of hanging out with my niece and two nephews. My brother and sister in law are missionaries overseas and because of all that has happened with COVID-19 they decided to return to the US for a season. I’ve been enjoying the extra “Uncle Stal” time that I get to spend with them. 

It is always so fascinating how when one sibling does something, the others immediately want to do it as well. They say things like, “but she got to do it” or “it’s not fair, I didn’t get one” and sometimes they simply see what one is doing and then follow suit. Jesus reminded us that to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven we must become like little children. And in Ephesians 5:1-2 we are told:

“Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Just like children who follow the leader, or play copycat, we are to imitate God. We are to learn what He is like, and to become like it. And Paul, writing to the believers in Ephesus, immediately tells them HOW to imitate God. In verse two he says, imitate God by walking in love, just like Christ did, giving himself up for us. 

Today more than ever we need to be reminded that God loves us SO much and we are to share that love with others. How we treat and love others is important and should mimic how Jesus modeled it for us, to give ourselves up. To set aside our preferences, our needs, our wants and focus on the needs of others. As we learn to imitate God, following the example of Jesus in offering ourselves up, that becomes like a fragrant offering to God. 

Daniel Stevanus, Student Ministry Director

June 5, 2020

My grandma, whom I affectionately call Nani, has always been one of my dearest friends. We have been close as long as I can remember anything, and I don’t have context for my life without her in it. She will turn 94 in a month and I can’t wait to celebrate her with my family!

We talk on the phone almost every day, sometimes twice a day, and people can usually tell when it’s her that I’m talking to because my southern accent kicks in and I start talking very loudly and slowly. It may be just a quick “goodnight, I love you,” but the talk always blesses my heart.

There’s something to be said about having someone in your life that you love to talk about and also love to talk to. I’m so confident and secure in her love and support for me as a person, that it’s easy to tell others about her. She is a picture of God’s love for me.

Psalm 108: 1 says, “My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart.” 

You see, there’s a rest and security that happens in our hearts when we can fully trust in the love of God. We can let loose and sing His praises with all of our hearts, with all of our beings. This verse hits right on that, and I love how it says the phrase “no wonder.” Something first happens deep in the heart before there can be an outpouring of confident praise, and it always comes back to the relationship. I actually have something to sing about!

I have a lot to talk about when it comes to my Nani and why I love her so much, because there has been an intentional relationship formed over the years. Our relationship with God is also being continually formed, allowing our hearts to know Him more as we keep singing His praises. When we truly can trust Him, it’s no wonder that we can fully praise Him.

Grace Marie Ward, Worship Arts Director

June 4, 2020

My teenage daughter and I were having a discussion the other day when she starts going through a long list of “what if” worries. I give her some counsel. And then I give it to myself, because it is me, too.

I need to plan ahead, I say. I’m a visionary and visionaries live life mostly down the road.

But what ifs are just a smokescreen for the human need to control our future without fully trusting God.

And what if we spend half our life worrying about something that never actually comes true… have we not wasted our life on an unrealized fear?

And what if we did know what was up ahead… would we not get ahead of God, strategize ourselves out of needing Him altogether? 

These questions have a way of unsettling me, destroying my peace, leaving me insecure. Ultimately the “what if” life doesn’t work. 

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not guaranteed deliverance. Just before Nebuchadnezzar delivered them to the fire, they offered some of the most courageous words ever spoken. 

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”  – Daniel 3:17-18

Even if.

Even if the worst happens, not what if, God’s grace is sufficient. Those three men faced the fiery furnace without fear because they knew that whatever the outcome, it would ultimately be for God’s glory. They did not ask “what if” the worst happened. They knew “even if,” God would take care them.

God loves us. He will comfort us. He will tenderly care for us. He will still be good. He will never leave us.

Isaiah 41:10 declares, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Sandy Harman, Kids Preschool Coordinator

June 3, 2020

According to a recent study, 11% of the United States population is afraid of the dark.

Maybe you are a part of that 11%.

As parents, my wife and I have entered the “nightmare” age with our young boys.

Fighting sleep deprivation, we began to brainstorm how to help them. As a child of the 1980’s, I quickly remembered the glow in the dark stars that many people would stick to their ceilings. That little bit of light provided “perfect peace” to take my mind off of my phobias and help me get back to sleep.

Two days later (thanks to Amazon) the house is back in balance when the stars we ordered arrived.

Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.”

Our phobias and anxieties can really hinder our relationship with Jesus. We are reminded that, like having a little light in our room at night, God is our source for peace during situations that create anxiety.

Be encouraged and rest in the perfect peace knowing that God’s eyes are stuck on you!

Anthony Indovino, Young Adult Coordinator

May 31, 2020

We’ve all heard Jesus commanded His disciples to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), but who is your neighbor? In our world today, there is much discord and even hate for others, however Jesus blessed us by telling a parable in Luke 10:25-37 about whom we are to love. The story begins with an expert of the law asking Jesus what he must to do inherit eternal life, and believed that doing this meant to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all our soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus declared, “You have answered correctly.” But the man wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Then Jesus tells a parable of a man, probably a Jew, who while traveling, was robbed and beaten. Three men came to him separately, a priest who passed on the other side, a Levite who also passed on the other side, and a Samaritan who took pity on him and stopped to help. This man bandaged his wounds and took him on his own donkey to an inn and paid for his room and board till he recovered. 

Jesus then asked the expert of the law, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” In our world today, Jesus commands us to do likewise. When we see injustice or oppression towards our neighbor, we should also take action regardless of the persons race, creed, or color. Remember, love is an action.

Steve Arneson, Mt. Horeb Member & Professional Christian Counselor

May 30, 2020

When will everything go back to normal? This seems to be the question on everyone’s mind right now, and rightfully so. Some stores are cranking back up, church reopening is on the horizon and with this beautiful weather, most of us can’t wait for our usual summer lives to begin. And yet while we are so close to the end of this social distancing time, let us not lose focus of what God has been teaching us through this time. 

In the beginning of Acts, the disciples get to spend some time with Jesus after his resurrection. (this is what our past series has been all about). And while they had learned so much with Jesus about new commands, a different way of living, an upside-down view of the world, when it was all said and done, they still had their old question in mind:

So, when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” – Acts 1:6

Before Jesus arrived, the Jewish nation had long awaited a Savior to come and free them. Free them from the Roman Empire, and allow for their nation to live and govern itself without the oppression of anyone. And because Jesus didn’t look like what they expected, many rejected Him. The disciples were among the few that understood that Jesus was also that long awaited Savior. And though Jesus spent three full years teaching them, though they grasped some of his teaching, they still fell to their old way of thinking when it was all said and done. 

In the end, they still wanted to know when the Kingdom of Israel would have its time. They wanted to know when Jesus would free them and they would live as they had been promised. In some ways, with this question, they missed all that they had learned in the previous three years. 

Our time has been shorter, though maybe it has felt like three years at times, as we reopen and come back to normal, let us not forget all that Jesus has taught us during this time. Let us not forget the time spent walking, dining with family, visiting friends and appreciating the time. Let us not forget what Jesus has been doing in our hearts when everything goes back to normal.

Daniel Stevanus, Student Ministry Director

May 29, 2020

A few weeks ago, I was in my living room studying for an upcoming message. So, I had my Bible out sitting with me on the couch, and a few things to take notes with beside me. At some point in the morning, I went to another room to get on a video call and several minutes into that call, I began to hear some light rustling noises from the other room. I tried to ignore it but eventually jumped up to check on the situation. When I walked in the room, I found my two puppies casually laying on my couch eating my Bible.  I never thought as a grown woman I would need to say the phrase “sorry, my dog ate my homework.” Some days are full of the unexpected.

Each day brings something new, whether it’s new joys or difficulties. Some days are so beautiful with people and places that you love, you’d be ok if it went on forever. But there are certain days that we just can’t wait to end simply because it seems that everything has gone wrong.

Maybe it was a conflict that brought a lot of tension in a close relationship or some terrible news that you heard that is weighing so heavy on your heart.

In these cases we often say that we just need a reset or a good night’s sleep to just start over again tomorrow. But you know what? Nothing about waking up tomorrow will change the reality of what happened today. However, a few days ago I was reminded of a Bible passage that brings a new perspective on waking up to a new day.

“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” – Lamentations 3:23

We don’t wake up to a new day just carrying the load from previous days, expected to navigate all of the upcoming situations on our own. Instead we wake up to the reality of God’s faithfulness and new mercies every morning. May that be enough for you today, to remember that this new day, no matter what it actually brings, has started afresh with new mercies from our God. And guess what? So will tomorrow!

Grace Marie Ward, Worship Arts Director

May 28, 2020

Recently I was reading in the book of Zephaniah. Yep, that’s right, Zephaniah! It’s a great book of prophecy that is relevant today! As Zephaniah is warning the people to repent, a certain verse stood out to me.

“Seek the Lord [search diligently for Him and regard Him as the foremost necessity of your life], all you humble of the land who have practiced His ordinances and have kept His commandments; Seek righteousness, seek humility [regard them as vital]. Perhaps you will be hidden [and pardoned and rescued] in the day of the Lord’s anger.” – Zephaniah 2:3

Did you see it? Not just the urgency to seek Him, but the HOW?  “Search for Him and regard Him as the foremost necessity of your life,” “Seek righteousness, seek humility (regard them as vital).”

What is a necessity? Something that is indispensable. Something that is NEEDED, not just wanted. When I hear the word necessity, I think of something I need for survival.

What does vital mean? Like necessity, indispensable…needed for life!

Seeking God, spending time with Him, in His Word, in Prayer, listening for His guidance, wisdom, direction is not just wanted, it’s NEEDED! For SURVIVAL! 

Wow!  As I read these words over and over I realized how much it explains. It explains why we don’t feel “right” when we are not spending time with Him, seeking His face! Because we NEED it! We need it like the air we breathe, like the water we drink and like the food that nourishes our bodies! We need Him!

Let’s continue to SEEK His face daily! Spend time with our precious Savior so our souls are refreshed! 

And those who know Your name [who have experienced Your precious mercy] will put their confident trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not abandoned those who seek You. – Psalm 9:10

When You said, “Seek My face [in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need],” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I will seek [on the authority of Your word].” – Psalm27:8

Seek and deeply long for the Lord and His strength [His power, His might]; Seek and deeply long for His face and His presence continually. – Psalm 105:4

Leigh Johnson, Kids Elementary Coordinator

May 26, 2020

I think it is so interesting how the Book of Joshua begins. The first few verses say this, “After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: ‘Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all your people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.’” 

I’m so thankful that God’s plans, purposes and promises don’t just STOP when a servant dies. You see, God is a God of the NOW, but He’s also a God of the NEXT. He’s reminding us in these verses that we as humans are only mere vessels for Him to work through. He doesn’t need us to accomplish His plans, but for some reason He chooses to use us! 

And I wonder what kind of lies the devil was telling the people of Israel at this time, reminding them that their leader Moses was now dead. How could life go on? Where would they go next? How would God’s plan move forward now? 

But the truth is, even though their leader was deceased…their God, their Provider, their King was STILL on His throne, and still working. He just chose another vessel to work through. 

God’s perfect plan for your life won’t be thwarted by your human imperfections. Will you let Him use you, by making Him the Lord of your life?

Bryce Holman, Middle School Coordinator

May 25, 2020

I heard this week that spiritual interest is higher than at any other time in our lifetime. There are more google searches for “God,” “prayer” and “church” than ever before.We live in a time of great opportunity as many who are far from God are searching for hope.  

So how do we seize this opportunity for Kingdom impact? 

If you were to measure your heart towards lost people, where would you fall on a scale of 1-10 with one being “icy cold” and 10 being “sizzling hot?” We’ll call this our “outreach temperature.” Would you ask God to help you turn it up one degree over the next few weeks? And then to do it again and again.  

At the same time God is working to increase our awareness and compassion for the lost, we can embrace the powerful work of prayer. Think of and write down the names of those you know who don’t have a relationship with Christ. Commit to praying for each of them for one minute every day. Setting an alarm on your phone and praying at the same time every day helps to keep it a priority. A 1-minute prayer can unleash power that will change hearts and lives.  

And finally, be alert to opportunities for spiritual conversations and when they present themselves, be ready to share with others the reason for the hope that you have. How has Jesus changed your life? How did you come to know Him as Lord? How has He provided hope and peace during this pandemic? Who can you share your story with today?

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.1 Peter 3: 15 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Acts 1:8

Janis Albergotti, Missions Director

May 24, 2020

During this COVID-19 season, have you made the most of your wilderness? Remember when things were just moving along and then one day someone hit the brakes and the world came to a halt? We all retreated with shelter-in-place orders to flatten the curve and we entered a strange, isolated and new place of life. While we were all taken by surprise, it never made God say, “Didn’t see that coming.” The Bible is full of stories telling of Moses, Elijah, Jesus, and others spending time in less than desirable locations, only to be stretched in a good way by God.

We read in Matthew 4:1, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” As we could spend much time unpacking this verse, one point extremely noteworthy is that Jesus was never alone in the wilderness. We often feel anxious or worried when our circumstances show us how much we are really not in control of, but God reminds us that He is with us. What’s he doing?  Well His name is Counselor, Teacher and Rabbi, so He’s doing the same thing yesterday, today and tomorrow. The real question is… are you learning?

Yes, this wilderness season will be over soon and what will you have gained? What did God teach you, while He was with you allowing uncomfortable circumstances into your life? Did He teach you about your patience, your pride, or your lack of power to control things? Whatever it was, understand He is a God of order even when life seems so out of order. So, don’t waste your wilderness and thank God for the lessons of each day. Sometimes it takes a different path to teach us to, “Be still, and know I am God.” – Proverbs 46:10

Steve Arneson, Mt. Horeb Member & Professional Christian Counselor

May 22, 2020

Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you, and you only have to be silent.”

This passage is such a great reminder for me when it comes to wanting to control situations in my life. Me being the person I am, I like maintaining a certain level of control over obstacles in my life. It can be challenging sometimes to believe that I don’t have to fight on my own. However here in Exodus we learn from Moses that “we only have to be silent.” There is something so powerful in God that speaks through silence and through that, He conquers the world. We are given the Word of God as a gift and a blueprint to show us that it’s okay to not have answers. It’s okay to feel stranded sometimes. Every influential person in the Bible has their flaws. Moses was fearful when it came to following God’s commands. David was fearful in certain circumstances in his walk. There is a level of vulnerability that comes with being silent. In a culture where offense and defense aren’t just found in sports, we fear being vulnerable before the Lord. God is vulnerable with us; therefore, being made in His image we should be vulnerable with Him. If you’re feeling fearful in this season, let’s all listen in the silence because God will move and He will continue to conquer the world.

Brett Fenstermaker, Contemporary Worship Coordinator

May 21, 2020

A couple weeks ago, I had gotten up much earlier than my still sleeping children to do some work on my computer. I heard footsteps coming toward my room from down the hall. Although I couldn’t see with my eyes who it was, I instantly sensed it was my son. I recognized the sound of his step, and I was acutely aware of the fact that it was him. Without looking up from my computer, I greeted him by name from behind the semi-closed door. Seconds later he opened the door and looked at me, puzzled. “Hi, mom. How did you know it was me?” he asked. Smiling, I answered, almost without hesitation or any real forethought to his question. “Son, I would recognize you anywhere. Don’t you know that I have everything about you memorized, even the way you walk across the house in the morning?” I didn’t need to see him to know that it was him. I had an innate and intimate sense of my son.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue,
you, Lord, know it completely.
– Psalm: 139: 1-4

See, in the eyes of God, you are His only child. He knows your likes, dislikes, preferences, and passions. He doesn’t put you in a group or category. He looks at you…individually. He sees you…clearly. He knows you…completely. He pursues you…as if you are the only one on His mind. You are His beloved child, and He longs to love you like you have never been loved before.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So, don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” – Matthew 10:29-31

Rest assured that someone who would take the time to count the number of hairs on your head has an everlasting awareness of exactly who are you. May you know today that He looks at you as if you were His only child, with a deep longing for you to recognize Him as your Heavenly Father.

So today praise God for His presence in your life, and ask Him to show you in the coming days just how much He adores you!

Sandy Harman, Kids Preschool Coordinator

May 20, 2020

My daughter is learning to crawl. It’s a painful process as she scrubs herself along the carpet and crashes from time to time into the couch and side table.

As I watch her struggle to grow and mature, I take comfort in knowing that she is a work in progress. One day she will walk. One day she will run.

You are kind of like a baby.

I am kind of like a baby.

We are all works in progress.

Paul writes to the people of Philippi to encourage them in their spiritual growth. He reminds them of a truth that should encourage us today as well.

Philippians 1:6 says, “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

The work that God has started in you WILL be completed.

So, if you think you have arrived, there is still work to be done. Be open to change.

If you think you are a lost cause, be encouraged, God is not finished with you yet.

Sometimes we have to crawl before we can walk.

Pastor Trevor Miller

May 19, 2020


This is exactly what Joseph teaches us in Genesis 39. In this chapter, we read about an encounter he has with Potiphar’s wife. The Bible tells us that she was attracted to Joseph, and even told him in verse 7, “Come to bed with me.” She persisted with this desire of hers, and in Genesis 39:11-12, the writer says…

“One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants were inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.” 

You see, Joseph was constantly feeding the Sprit’s desires, not those of his flesh. And so he teaches us how to react when we are faced with temptation: look the sin in the eyes, and run the other way!

James 4:7-8 tells us to “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” 

I believe this season can be one of healthy quarantine, rather than unhealthy isolation. If the devil has kept you down in this season, and you’ve been stuck in a cycle of sin, it’s time to look him in the eyes, and RUN THE OTHER WAY to your Heavenly Father, waiting to receive you with open arms, no matter how far you’ve strayed away!

Bryce Holdman, Middle School Coordinator

May 18, 2020

Many years ago, I fell in love with Jesus and surrendered my life to Him. It was through intentional Bible study that I learned to hear His voice and receive direction, encouragement and correction. When a passage would provide an answer to a question or stir up something within my soul, I would highlight it or underline it, write a note in the margin, date it and claim it. My bible became and remains a journal and a living testimony to my journey with the Lord. The markings serve as signposts that remind me of God’s faithfulness to me in both the good seasons and the seasons of trial. 

This week in my quiet time, I was directed to a passage that provided a signpost that spoke to the times we live in. 

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. – Psalm 29: 10-11

I highlighted and underlined these verses in January of 2009 following the Haiti earthquake. I was claiming that the same LORD that the Psalmist was writing about, is the same LORD that sits enthroned over the people of Haiti thousands of years later. In the margin, I added the words “over the earthquake/Haiti” with the date 1/09. Since that time, the margin has received other entries: over the hurricane 11/10; over the earthquake/Nepal 4/15; over the flood/SC 10/15; over the hurricane/Puerto Rico 9/17; over illness/Ismail 5/18; over the coronavirus/the globe 3/20. 

These signposts serve to remind me of the LORD’s faithfulness in the storms of life. The verses preceding these give us instructions on how to respond to the revelation of His faithfulness:

Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. – Psalm 29: 1-2

The command is to worship the LORD who is worthy. To worship the LORD who sits enthroned over the storm. To worship the LORD who gives strength to His people and blesses them with peace.   

Take a few moments and sit quietly with the LORD. Reflect on this season of isolation, uncertainty, disease and death. When and how has the LORD provided you with strength and peace? What signposts has He given you to remind you of His faithfulness? May our response be, O mighty one, to give to the LORD the glory due his name. To Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.

Janis Albergotti, Missions Director

May 17, 2020

I’ve been thinking a lot about what church is going to look like when we can all come back together. What temporary changes will be made? What permanent changes will we implement? Will people wear masks? When will we ever be able to hug each other or shake hands? I’ve spent hours imagining this “new normal” for our church.

If I’m being completely honest with all of you, I’m anxious about it. And I’m sure a lot of you are, too.

But this week, I stumbled across a verse with an important reminder for all of us. Hebrews 13:8 declares, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Our God is constant and unchanging.
He is continuously faithful.
His promises are always true.
His grace is everlasting.

When we can go back to church in person, I want you to know that some things will be different. And it might take a while for us to get used to these modifications. But amidst these changes, let us grasp onto the truth of Hebrews 13:8 that our God is same yesterday and today and forever. We can always count on Jesus.

Emma Murphy, Congregational Care

May 16, 2020

One of the most straight forward commands we receive in Scripture is found, in my opinion, in James Chapter 1. In verse 21, James tells the readers to put away filthiness and wickedness and then contrasts that with verse 22 where he says: 

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Now I said this passage is super straight forward, I didn’t say it was easy to follow. In fact, quite the opposite sometimes. It is often easier to hear what God is saying rather than obey it. Think about it. You’ve heard convicting sermons, you’ve read challenging pages in Christian books, friends have encouraged you to make Godly decisions. God has spoken to you through these avenues and challenged you to listen, and still you haven’t obeyed. 

I think it is important to take this command to heart during this season especially. You see so many of us have talked about what we have been learning. We have admitted that God has been showing us new lessons through this change of pace. We talk about new habits we have developed with this gained time. 

As we start to see a light at the end of this tunnel of self-quarantining let’s begin to pray for these lessons to take root. Let’s pray that God would help us cement what He has taught us. Let’s become followers of Christ that are doers of His Word, that put it (His Word) into practice. 

Daniel Stevanus, Student Ministry Director

May 15, 2020

Time…yeah, we’ve had a little bit of that on our hands lately. A few of us have been busier than ever, but that seems to be the exception, whereas most of us have had less to do as the world has come to a sudden stop – a stop that came many, many long weeks ago. Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that long ago, but it can sure feel like it when you’re used to having obligation after obligation from the time you wake up until the time your kid is in the bed – eight days a week (not a typo) – and then all of a sudden, you’re just involuntarily placed into a semi-limbo where you still have to kind of do normal life, but also can’t at the same time. See, our minds have become so accustomed to running a 16-hour sprint every day that when we’re forced to run the race as a Tortoise instead of a Hare, we can somehow become even more exhausted than before.

Back in the old days – the year 2019, of course – when most of us were asked, “How have you been lately?” we quickly responded, “Busy.” So how are some of us more tired now than we were before? Well before, when we were all so busy, we were mostly on auto-pilot. Most of us have the same set of routines we go through on a daily basis. The details may change up a bit, but the overall schedule usually doesn’t change a great deal. We wake up, get ready for the day, if you have kids you get them ready, maybe scarf something down on your way to school/work, you do your job, come home and get dinner ready, put the kids in the bed, binge a couple hours of Netflix, fall asleep to said Netflix and repeat. Sound familiar? Yeah, me neither. So now, our auto-pilot is broken and we sit and think and try to figure out what to do with the kids today because they’re not going to want to do the same thing they did yesterday. And do we have to go back to the grocery store again? If so, then we’ll go through the mental strain of watching every little thing we touch, cleaning everything when we get back home and getting all cleaned up again so that we can feel some sense of relaxation when we plop back down on the couch after the whole event we call “Going to Publix for milk” comes to an end.

The point that I think we all understand is…we’re tired. Tired of this way of life. Tired of worrying about something that none of us can even see. Tired of the stress of it all. So, where’s the relief? Well, if we forget where to go for strength, for peace, for a break from the stress of this new way of life, there is no relief. However, if we look to only 16 words spoken by the one that Isaiah 9:6 calls the “Prince of Peace,” we can find what we’re longing for. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

So, there it is. If you believe in Jesus Christ and believe He is who He says He is, then you can take Him at His word. Look closely, though. Look at the first word – “come.” He’s directing us. Rest is provided, but not when we’re burnt out. It’s provided when we go to Him. We must move in His direction to be transformed by the peace that radiates from His presence. So, don’t wait any longer. Go, run to Him. Through the Word, through Worship, through the quiet listening for His voice. Find the peace, the only lasting peace that’s available in this world. He’s there, ready and waiting, so go.

Alex Killman, Contemporary Worship Leader

May 14, 2020

Have you been asking, “why?”

Have you been missing your friends, coworkers, distant family, the people you serve as well as those who serve alongside you?

Have you been wondering what good can come out of this? Yes, we have had much more time to spend with Our Heavenly Father. More hours to pour over His sweet Word and kneel in His presence. Many of us may have had a revival spark in our hearts that echoes how we felt when we first met Him. Yet, many of us may be wondering, “what else?”

Recently, my team and I attended a virtual conference for those of us who serve in Kids Ministry. Just that very day I had been sinking into that feeling of sadness at not being able to physically minister to the children at Mt. Horeb. I had been in prayer about it earlier that day.  Wouldn’t you know, God, like He ALWAYS does, spoke directly to my heart through our opening speaker! 

He said something like this: “Have you wondered why you’re here?  A leader at this time? God put you here to be pivotal at THIS TIME!” Wow! That was a God Moment for me! 

Obviously, I thought of Esther being told by her Uncle Mordecai that “perhaps she was born for such a time as this!” (Esther 4:14) It is not an accident that you and I are alive right here and right now! 

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.  – Psalm 139:13-16

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace. – Galatians 1:15

There are countless scriptures proving He chose each one of us to be born at a specific time for His purpose, to bring Him Glory! Isn’t that beautiful? 

Let’s ask God during this time, and continue to ask when this is over, “What would You have me do during THIS time for YOUR Glory?”  And when He answers, run….

Leigh Johnson, Kids Elementary Coordinator

May 13, 2020

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28

In a world where the is not always
equal opportunity
equal justice
equal privilege
equal freedom
equal empowerment

We must ask the question, is this what God intended?

Though our world loves to divide into the haves and the have nots, Paul is speaking in the book of Galatians about another world that is bursting onto the scene because of the work of Christ.

This new world does not mistreat because of differences, but celebrates them.
This new world does not push others down because of their appearance, but lifts them up higher than its self.
This new world does not tolerate oppression of others, but demands that each person is treated as someone who is full of divine worth.
This new world does not prop up systems that harm, but embraces attitudes that heal.

May those of us who love Jesus fight for this new world to become a reality.

Pastor Trevor Miller

May 12, 2020

“God wants your focus.” This is a statement, that if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably heard thousands of times from a pastor or elsewhere in the church. And the truth behind these words can be found in many different stories and narratives throughout Scripture. However, I was reading through the book of 1 Samuel the other day and a verse stuck out to me that never had before… “But Samuel was ministering before the Lord.” – 1 Samuel 2:18

You see, in this passage we read about Samuel and the ministry he was doing and learning under a priest named Eli. The writer tells us a few verses earlier that “Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord.” We learn about evil and sinful things that Eli’s sons were doing throughout Israel. But in verse 18, we see Samuel’s FOCUS. 

Samuel saw the sin around him, but chose not to partake in it. He was focused on a higher power. He was learning how to be IN the world, but not OF the world, as Jesus talks about in John 17. And later in 1 Samuel, we read of all the incredible ways he was used by God. But I truly believe what got him to that point is his FOCUS. 

God will use you if you decide to disregard your distractions. And what better time than RIGHT NOW, quarantined with you and your Bible, to focus on growing your faith?

Bryce Holdman, Middle School Coordinator

May 11, 2020

The LORD bless you and keep you: the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace. – Numbers 6: 24-26 

This Scripture, referred to as the Aaronic or Priestly Blessing, is also found in the lyrics to the song, “The Blessing,” that our worship team introduced to us a few weeks ago. In it we find the language of blessing, safety, grace, Divine Presence and peace, all of which are especially comforting right now.   

Similar language appears in Psalm 67:1.
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us.

But verse 2 gives us a greater purpose in asking for and receiving the blessing.
So that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. 

The Psalmist’s purpose in asking for this great blessing was not a selfish request. The ultimate goal is God’s glory and the salvation of the perishing. He knew what we may not know or may have forgotten. When lost people see the work of God in the lives of His people, when they see the blessing and favor of God, they see evidence of God’s existence and proof of His loving character. Perhaps one of the greatest opportunities for evangelism today is for the Church to celebrate God’s saving power and to supply evidence of changed and blessed lives to a watching, unbelieving world.  

One of the first incidences of blessing in the Bible is in Genesis 12:1-3 where Abram is ordered by God to leave his country and is told:  

Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

The mission of God begins with a blessing and a promise to one man and will culminate in all the families of the earth being blessed (Revelation 7:9). His blessing comes to us so that it can be passed on through us to someone else until all people, everywhere have seen, heard and experienced the blessing for themselves.

Janis Albergotti, Missions Director

May 10, 2020

In Jeremiah 31:31-35 God delivers an incredible promise to the people of Israel. He says that He will forgive their sins and that they will come to know him. It’s the gospel message that we are so familiar with today. At the end, however Jeremiah concludes by saying: 

“Thus, says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar — the LORD of hosts is his name”

I have been thinking about this name of God, the Lord of hosts. And I decided to do some research and found the definition for the word “host.” In its simplest form, the way it is used here, means a large number of people or things. 

In Bible times this word was used especially in military terms to indicate an army. So, it would be the God of a LARGE army. This is also where we get the expression of God of Angel Armies. And calling God the Lord of Hosts was use a lot by the prophets, especially Isaiah, Malachi and Jeremiah. 

Some scholars think this was used more by these prophets because it corresponds to the time of the divided Kingdom of Israel. Their military force would have been the weakest (or non-existent) during this time and they would have needed to be reminded that God was the God of hosts, the God of angel armies, still in control. 

I think it is encouraging to think that God reminded His people, during their time of need that He was God who could provide that need. He is God of what we need and he is God of unlimited resources. Be encouraged today that God knows what you need, and is looking to provide that. 

Daniel Stevanus, Student Ministry Director

May 9, 2020

As things are starting to open back up in South Carolina and in the country as a whole, I’ve watched opinions on these decisions voiced all over social media and every news station. Some folks are thankful that life is somewhat going “back to normal.” Others are still very much against loosening these restrictions in fear of an even greater outbreak. I’ve experienced people degrading one another’s thoughts. I’ve observed people shaming those on the opposite “side” as them.

We are a society that often gives off the impression, “if you’re different than me, you are wrong.” We are a society that polarizes, rejects, and belittles. We are a society that excludes those that look, think, or believe differently than us.

As Christians, however, the Gospel we proclaim paints a radically different picture:

Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors | Matthew 9:10-13
Jesus protected the widows | Mark 12:41-44
Jesus allowed the little children to come to him | Matthew 19:13-14
Jesus gave sight to the blind | Mark 8:22-25
Jesus forgave adulterers | John 8:2-11
Jesus touched and healed lepers | Matthew 8:1-3

Jesus showed compassion and grace to everyone. And he demonstrated unconditional love by paying the ultimate price so that we can radiate that same love to all people; regardless of who they are.

“Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. The old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.” – 1 John 2:7-11

As followers of Jesus, let us emanate Christ’s love and allow his light to shine through us in this dark world.

Emma Murphy, Congregational Care

May 8, 2020

We planted some seeds this week. And now, we wait…

Our family is blessed with not one, but two young adult special needs kids under our roof. These exquisite humans never outgrow the wonder of simple projects, but patience isn’t their forte – especially not for our Abby. She is motivated, driven, task-oriented and the direct opposite of long-suffering. Abby checks the status of our potted seeds regularly, pretty much on the hour. I’ve done my best to explain that it takes seeds 5-10 days to germinate, but she’s certain that if she waters them constantly and keeps an eagle eye firmly on the prize, she can beat the odds and speed up the action!

I suppose Abby’s mom isn’t much different than her when it comes to waiting for things to unfold. I’d much rather manufacture rapid results and see if I can rush the process, than to patiently trust that growth is happening under the soil, away from my watchful eyes.

Romans 12:12 in Eugene Peterson’s The Message, gives us this directive: “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”

These days of waiting are beginning to feel like all soil and no sprouts. But, if we stay focused on Paul’s three step plan, we will see results. Rejoice in confident hope, be patient in trouble and keep on praying! I promise you, good things are happening under the earth. Exciting things are on the way and all of this waiting will be worth it. So, put down the watering can, stop staring at the soil, and trust that God is getting ready to bring forth new life when the right time comes!

Melodie Griffin, Traditional Worship Director

May 6, 2020

Abraham trusted God to lead him.
Moses believed God could use him.
David repented and God forgave him.
Esther risked her life to save those around her.
Mary grew the hope of the world inside of her.
Peter learned God loved him.
Paul allowed God to share his truth through him.
Thomas did not let his doubts define him.

Paul tells us in Romans 15 the very reason we have record of all the failure stories, success stories and redemption stories from Genesis to Revelation.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”- Romans 15:4

God’s word gives us the endurance to give it another shot today. We have been given the precious scriptures because of the encouragement that it brings to each and every one of us. The Bible is a gift that gives us hope in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in.

If God could use the eccentric crowd listed above, He can most certainly use you.

Pastor Trevor Miller

May 5, 2020

King David is known for many things, including his defeat of Goliath, and even being called a man after God’s own heart. So, it’s no surprise that he authors a good chunk of the Psalms we have the privilege of reading. In Psalm 63, David is talking to God and about God. He is at a point in his life when scholars believe he was in the Desert of Judah. 

In Verse 5, he says these words about God’s love, “I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods.” 

Personally, I believe something we as humans chase after daily is satisfaction. The world can offer us numerous different temporary satisfactions. However, there is only one that’s eternal: God’s love and presence. 

Maybe in this season, God has been trying to give you His eternal presence, but you’ve been too caught up in something temporary. 

It’s time we accept FULL satisfaction, rather than chasing after FADING satisfaction. 

God is offering it to you right now. Will you take Him up on that offer?

Bryce Holdman, Middle School Coordinator

May 4, 2020

When my father was still living, we would visit as often as we could. One of the first things I would do after arriving and giving him a hug would be to gently remove his eyeglasses, take them to the sink and give them a good cleaning. It was amazing how much grit and grime would have accumulated on the lenses. His response was always the same, “Wow! I can see so much better. I had no idea what I’ve been missing.”

I was reminded of this story this week.

My office has moved from the church to the infrequently used dining room in our home. Setting up shop in my new space, I positioned myself to be able to look towards the window. What should have been a lovely view of sunshine and nature was instead a scene filled with cobwebs and windows covered in grit and grime. With cleaner, cloth and some elbow grease, the windows got a good cleaning, inside and out. When finished, I found myself thinking, “Wow! Now I can really see.” Until then, I had no idea what I’d been missing.

Such is the way of the Christ follower. Before we encounter His love, our perspective is smeared with the grit and grime of deceit, self-centeredness and worldly things. But His love awakens us to truly see. 

His love enables us to see the Truth about God and ourselves.

His love gives us a vision to see things as they ought to be.

His love empowers us to perceive the change the world so desperately needs and then to respond in love to be that change.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13 

Janis Albergotti, Missions Director

May 3, 2020

Have you heard the Gossip? As tempting as it is to want to hear rumors… the true Christian should stop and walk away when someone starts to gossip or slanders someone or something. The Bible speaks of this in Exodus 23:1 stating, “Do not spread false reports.” Gossip, slander and rumors are casual conversation about people or issues that typically involve details that are not confirmed as being true. Gossip is telling a third person something they would not or have not said to another directly. A rule of thumb is if one hasn’t gone directly with information to a particular person they are speaking about, but goes to another instead… it is Gossip.

Gossip is normally meant to hurt a reputation and anyone who participates in fake news will ultimately be known themselves as untrustworthy. It is selfish and cowardly people who speak of others’ faults, mishaps and half-truths who ultimately show their own lack of credibility. Don’t trust a gossip. Even one of the ten commandments states, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:16

Amazingly most people who spread gossip are ultimately wanting to tear others down, in order to elevate themselves. Sadly, we have heard many rumors during this pandemic season. The best way to receive information without becoming anxious, is to gather more and more information before putting your own stake in the ground. We all know individuals who need to be taken with a grain of salt. Be sure you’re not one of these people that others question your integrity. Remember, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” – Ephesians 4:29

So when you walk with Christ, you focus on building up others which glorifies Him. Press On.

Steve Arneson, Mt. Horeb Member & Professional Christian Counselor

May 2, 2020

Over the last several weeks, our Congregational Care team (with the help of other staff members), have been checking in on our people at Mt. Horeb. And the main purpose of these calls is simple; to ask the question, “How are you doing?”

I started thinking… How many times a day did I pass someone in the hallways at work or at a restaurant or on a walk in my neighborhood (before our lives changed with Covid-19) and either ask or respond to the question, “How are you doing?” Probably too many to count. In the South, it’s almost common courtesy to ask this question when you greet someone, even if you have no idea who they are. While making these phone calls, however, I realized how much I usually take this question for granted.

In Psalm 139:1-4, we hear David sing about God’s intimate knowledge of His people. David expresses, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely…” My favorite part of this psalm, though, is the ending. David finishes with an invitation for God to continue to check in with him. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24

In this season of being at home, we aren’t being asked the question, “How are you doing?” much anymore. But, during this time, we are all experiencing a range of different feelings and emotions. Some people are getting more rest and feeling fresh, renewed, and reenergized. Others are facing great anxiety, depression, frustration, and anger.

I want to encourage all of you to do three things this week. First, it is my hope that you will take the time to check in with your friends and family and intentionally ask them, “How are you doing?” This simple, yet significant question could be the act of kindness that leads to great encouragement or helps someone going through a difficult time. Second, I pray that you will check in with yourself and ask the same question. Use this season to become more self-aware. How is it with your soul right now? Finally (and most importantly), check in with God. Spend time in His Word and spend time in prayer to your Heavenly Father.

I miss you, church family. I look forward to the days when I can once again ask you in person, “How are you doing?”

Emma Murphy, Congregational Care

May 1, 2020

My college daughter just completed a riveting semester of Earth History. In one of her final assignments, she evaluated the effects of environmental factors on tree rings. She explained, “Each ring signifies a year of growth; a thick ring implies undisturbed and healthy growth, while a thin ring implies the opposite.” Undisturbed and healthy – is it only possible to be healthy when undisturbed, or could it be that we could see our greatest growth during times of disturbance?

The apostle James spoke a lot about growth, and he knew what it was like to address a socially distanced church. In fact, he began his writings with, “This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is written to Jewish Christians scattered among the nations. Greetings!” The very first verse of the book lets us know that these believers were scattered about, often isolated and experiencing loneliness, and even persecution. James didn’t waste any time in getting to the point of the matter – he wanted them to grow in the middle of the disturbance. “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So, let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”

Wow. Besides the fact that I want to break out into a Disney song when James admonishes us to let it grow, I am fascinated with the thought of what my spiritual rings would show upon further inspection. In 1993, when we learned of the special needs diagnosis of our first born, I dare say there was a thick ring that developed as I pressed deeper into the character and goodness of God, learning intimately of His sovereign care. After the release of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life in 2002, my ring must have displayed a heavy growth spurt as I was part of an encouraging accountability group each week, flexing my spiritual muscles while learning to live out my purpose in the kingdom. But on the contrary, I could pinpoint coasting seasons of my life, where my tree ring was puny. Things were easy. I didn’t have to try hard, so I didn’t. I wasn’t growing.

James said, “So let it grow!” While these strange times appear inactive, underneath the surface, this can be a hyperactive season of growth! As our faith is tested, and as our endurance is fully developed, we truly can be ready for anything. Ready. For. Anything. What will your quarantine ring show after this season of required endurance? Don’t phone it in. Lean in to what God has for you now, and by all means, let it grow!

Melodie Griffin, Traditional Worship Director

April 30, 2020

I love Luke’s description of Jesus calling His first four disciples. Luke gives us more detail than the other gospel writers on the topic. I suppose that is because he has the eyes, ears and mind of a physician. He naturally pays attention to every detail. These details in Luke 5 spark my imagination! I can almost feel the energy of the crowd pressing in on Jesus as they excitedly wait for Him to speak. I can just picture Him sitting in a fishing boat teaching God’s Word. The next part is my favorite, the moment He interacts with four men out of the crowd. I can almost see the wonder of these lifelong fishermen as they bring in the catch once Jesus directs the casting of their nets. Then I can almost hear the gentle reassurance in Jesus’ voice as they begin to follow Him on adventure.

In Kids Programming, we refer to this as the beginning of their “Jesus Story.” The moment they encountered Him for the very first time. Of course, seeds had already been planted in their hearts and minds about Him. However, in these verses in Luke they hear from and interact with Jesus. More than that, they made the decision to follow Him. They accepted His invitation of adventure to grow God’s Kingdom.

The Bible gives beautiful accounts of this story. However, my imagination continues to run wild thinking of the men chatting about this event. I wonder what it sounded like as these four men shared about that day by Lake Gennesaret. Can’t you picture them walking along with the other disciples talking about how they had fished all night without a single nibble?! Then Jesus tells them where to toss the net and WOW…so many fish the boat starts to sink! And they must have been asking what it would look like to be fishers of men! What an exciting and awesome Jesus Story!

If we call ourselves “Christians” we too have a “Jesus Story” that is just as exciting and awesome. No matter where we were or what routine task we were doing, when we chose to follow Jesus, adventure began. Remember, the disciples were going about their regular routine on a normal day when Jesus came along. Jesus’ invitation for us is the same as for the four men in Luke 5, to go on adventure with Him to grow God’s Kingdom.

So, take a few moments today and reflect on your exciting “Jesus Story.” Thank Him for calling you to a life of adventure. The journey may have challenges along the way, but the glimpses of Kingdom work in us and others is breathtaking!

Vicki Reke, Kids Ministry Director

April 29, 2020

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

There have been a lot of things that I have missed over the past few weeks.
Sit down restaurants. Toilet paper. Sports. TJ Maxx. Haircuts.

But, what I have missed more than anything else is people. I’m not great at social distancing. The book of proverbs reminds us that when we have meaningful and intentional relationships, we develop and grow in ways we otherwise would not.

Relationships teach us humility.
Relationships teach us trust.
Relationships teach us forgiveness.
Relationships teach us wisdom.
Relationships make us sharp.

As things begin to settle back into a “new normal,” make finding at least one person that you allow in your life a priority. Good relationships do not happen by accident. Make a conscious effort to invite someone else into your fears, hopes, dreams, marriage, insecurity, pride, failures, questions, victories and doubts. We are better together.

Pastor Trevor Miller

April 28, 2020

If you are anything like me, it can be very easy to focus on the past. The sins you have committed, the battles you have lost. Or maybe for you, focusing on the past looks like dwelling so much on the previous positives, that you miss out on something God’s doing now that is even better! 

In Isaiah Chapter 43, God is speaking to Israel in a merciful way, even amidst Israel’s unfaithfulness. In Isaiah 43:18-19, God says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” Now, based on the few verses before this, we can infer that the “former things” refers to God’s deliverance from the Egyptians, when He made a way through the Red Sea in Exodus. But you see, I think these words from our Lord apply to our past today, both the high and low points. 

Regardless of where you’ve been, regardless of the battles you have won or the battles you have lost, I believe that in this season and in this world, God is doing a NEW THING! Revival is beginning to take root inside many of God’s people, and I believe He desires to use the people of Mt. Horeb to create an environment of revival RIGHT HERE in Lexington, SC. 

Will you forget the former things, and join in on the new things God is doing?

Bryce Holdman, Middle School Coordinator

April 27, 2020

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.Psalm 62:5

For many of us, silence is nearly non-existent in our busy, schedule driven, screen-saturated culture. Even in prayer, we may find that quietness and stillness escape us. Uncomfortable with silence, perhaps even seeing it as non-productive, we do all the talking and fail to wait for Him. Developing the practice of “listening prayer” is transformational. 

The Psalmist indicates that in silence, our hope is found. As we develop the long-forgotten discipline of listening, we discover an intimacy of relationship that provides the true source of all hope, His Presence. 

Let’s make the most of this time we have been given. Let’s allow it to be a season of preparation. Preparation to practice listening to God and abiding in His Presence. 

Janis Albergotti, Missions Director

April 26, 2020

Got Power? In whose Name? The Bible says in Philippians 2:10, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” This power is hard to comprehend, but amazingly it is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and it lives in you. But it is not in your name, the power is in His Name, in you.

The Bible says that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Our job is to produce fruit for the kingdom and in order to do this we must abide in Him. Yes, the power is in Him and it flows from Him to us. Ever wonder why it says we must abide in Him and He will abide in us… instead of He will abide in us regardless of what we do? It’s because we have a part in the work to be done and it’s a choice for us to abide or not. However, this does not mean it’s solely up to your abilities.

So, how’s your self-confidence? Wait, just let me say it’s too high. Remember the verse, Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” It doesn’t say we can do all things through us who give us strength, it’s Christ who gives us power and this is in His name which I call Godfidence! Yes, look for yourself in all the Bible and you won’t find God telling you to improve your self-confidence. In fact, what it does say in John 3:30 is, “He must become greater; I must become less.” When Godfidence happens, you will then walk on water and know the power in the name of Jesus. Press On.

Steve Arneson, Mt. Horeb Member & Professional Christian Counselor

April 25, 2020

The book of Proverbs is part of what is known in Scripture as Wisdom Literature. A big portion of this book deals with pursuing wisdom, becoming wise. So much so that wisdom is actually personified by a woman that must be sought after. There are many words of advice on how to pursue wisdom, how to find it and how to apply it to our everyday lives. 

One verse that challenges me is in Chapter 14.

The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.” – Proverbs 14:10

If you just opened your Bible and read this verse with no context, it wouldn’t make a ton of sense. But in light of the whole chapter, speaking about how to seek out wisdom, it actually can speak volumes to us today. 

In fact, this verse is talking about developing a lifestyle of personal reflection. You see it is speaking about knowing our own hearts well, with the difficult aspects and the positive emotions. It is talking about an introspective searching and knowledge of our own heart. And this self-awareness is what produces in us wisdom. 

So, for those who are tired of binge-watching shows and movies, for those who have run out of DIY projects, for the ones who have read all the books they wanted to read, for those who are done mindlessly scrolling through their phones to pass the time, for those who want to become wise, this is for you. Take time to investigate your heart, your emotions, to feel, the good bad and the ugly. Take assessment of how you are doing, and allow God to grow you in Wisdom as you do so.

Daniel Stevanus, Student Ministry Director

April 24, 2020

When I was a little girl I learned a song that we had to sing in a school program. The words go like this:

“Have patience have patience
Don’t be in such a hurry
When you get impatient 
You only start to worry
Remember remember
That God is patient too
And think of all the times
When others have to wait for you”

After all of these years I have never forgotten the lyrics or the melody, and there will be times when I will start to sing it as a reminder to myself. Some of the basic principles we are taught as children are actually some of the harder things to live out daily as we get older. 

Personally, having patience is always something I have struggled with as a child and an adult. I have a pretty driven mindset and personality, so when I want things to move in some sort of way, I will do what I can to make it happen. This comes as a strength and a weakness. However, it is critical for me to learn to lean on God and wait for the right time “to do” or “not to do” something. Often our inability to wait or be patient is difficult because it is essentially losing some sense of control. This is truly letting go and letting God, as I have heard people say.

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.”Psalm 37:7

Maybe for some of us right now, we are getting sick of the waiting. We are trying to take control of situations that we definitely have no control over. Let’s not miss the opportunity to lean into God’s presence during this time, and let’s trust Him to lead us as we seek to be patient. Besides, let’s not forget how incredibly patient He has been with each of us.

Grace Marie Ward, Worship Arts Director

April 23, 2020

Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and your city gates. – Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I’ve been reflecting on this passage a great deal lately. I naturally gravitate to Verse 7, “Repeat them to your children.” I believe it is our great privilege as adult believers to guide the next generation in their faith journey.

However, more recently I have been focusing on the next part of the text. That we are commanded to have a continuous conversation with those around us about God’s Word; what He has done, is doing and will do. Practically speaking, we should integrate what we are learning and experiencing with God into all we do. Yes, all we do… work, preparing meals, walking the dog – our everyday schedule.

But the only way we can do this is to know the One true God. How can we have conversations about someone we do not know? In Biblical times people were only taught the Word of God, everyone did not have access to the written text. They would share about all they had seen and heard God do. This not only allowed them to know God’s character but to also be encouraged as they saw how He cared for His people.

Today we have the great luxury of having God’s story at our fingertips in a variety of ways. How are we doing exploring the story? Are the words taking root in our hearts prompting us to share what we’re discovering or simply adding to our head knowledge?

This command is for all believers no matter where we are in our faith journey. God desires for us to know Him. Therefore, He invites us to engage with Him through His Word. When this takes place, it brings about true heart worship and we can’t help but share it with those around us. 

Vicki Reke, Kids Ministry Director

April 22, 2020

There is a common question I have heard over the past few weeks.

“Where is God in all of this?”

It’s a fair question. There are many circumstances that we experience that would cause us to wonder if God is absent or to question if God even cares.

There is a story in the gospels in John 11 where Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, dies and is laid in a tomb. When Jesus arrives on the scene, after he is rather slow in his travels, his response gives us an in depth look at where God may be in the middle of our suffering, our trouble and our despair.

In John 11:35 we find the shortest verse in the entire Bible. It is only two words long.

“Jesus wept.”

Though Jesus would ultimately raise Lazarus from the dead only a few verses later, we see his raw emotion at the loss of a friend. Jesus weeps. His heart is broken.

It reminds me of another verse in Psalm 34:18.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

When we hurt, God hurts. When we suffer, God suffers. When we are grieved, God is grieved. This should give us a bit of comfort in knowing that our God is not aloof to our plights, he is fully aware and will respond according to his good will.

Pastor Trevor Miller

April 21, 2020

One of the most interesting books in the entire Bible is Revelation. There is so much mystery around what it has to say about both the present times, as well as the future to come. And during this season we find ourselves in, there are many people asking the question, “Where does the Coronavirus fit in Revelation?” While I don’t know the answer to that question, I was reading through Revelation the other day and something caught my attention that I believe God wants His people to hear TODAY! 

In Chapter 21, the writer talks about a New Heaven and New Earth. He talks about the future to come and it says in Verse 4, about God, that “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain.” 

You see, even though our RIGHT NOW is not ideal, and features some of these tough things, God is giving us hope for the future. We as believers have something incredible to look forward to. But the road to get there requires our faithfulness right now. 

Will you remain faithful to God in this season, knowing He has remained faithful to you?

Bryce Holdman, Middle School Coordinator

April 20, 2020

For our family, this pandemic has yielded a tidier yard and landscape. Given the choice of pruning shrubs, pulling up weeds, cutting back overgrown thistles, or heading out to the coast for a day of fun in the sun, we would choose the latter every single time! But the inability to travel has led us to take a closer look at what is right in front of us. With shears and rake in hand, we have spent the last few Saturdays outside engaged in what we call “Operation: Take Back the Yard.”  

Growth is taking place all around us. It seems that nature did not get the mandate to “shelter in place.” Given the proper temperature, light and nutrients, plants continue to grow despite other factors in the environment. Plants intuitively know that developing deep roots under the soil will lead to survival and bearing fruit able the ground. Those with deep roots can withstand high winds, seasons of drought, and even a fierce tug from an amateur gardener.  

In Ephesians, Paul names an essential component needed for believers to develop deep spiritual roots. 

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.Ephesians 3:14-19 

Being rooted and grounded in the love of Christ provides the anchor that we need to weather the storms and unexpected trials of life. When the truth of Christ’s love for us is more deeply rooted than anything else in our hearts and minds, even a global pandemic will not be able to uproot us. His love has the power to strengthen the weary, cast out fear, cover a multitude of sins and infuse Light and hope in the darkest of days.  

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.Lamentations 3: 22-23

Janis Albergotti, Missions Director

April 19, 2020

Got Passion? About what? As we have just finished celebrating Easter and the Passion week where Jesus death and suffering led to Resurrection Sunday, we take note that this passion is defined as a state of strong emotion. We are reminded by the writer of Hebrews 12:2, “For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

This passion lived out by Jesus is the same zeal given to every believer who walks with the Holy Spirit. It is an emotion which allows us to rise above our circumstances and focus on the one who brings us through our circumstances. We live this way by intentionally and purposefully focusing on an audience of one, Jesus, while navigating life and all it’s obstacles. It means we develop a patience endurance to trust and obey God even in the most difficult times.

The apostle Paul gave us a great example of this type of passion when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” We are encouraged that above all, we are to focus on returning glory to the one above all. Jesus died on the cross so we can face today and every day without fear because He has already paid the sin debt for us. Imagine what we could do if we didn’t have fear holding us back. Well guess what… we don’t have it holding us back because 1 John 4:18 says, “perfect love casts out all fear.” So, press on Christian soldier, your passion is your Lord and Savior.

Steve Arneson, Mt. Horeb Member & Professional Christian Counselor

April 18, 2020

It’s no secret that this extra time has been useful for people wanting to work on home improvement projects. As I scroll through the different social media apps I’ve marveled at what some people have worked on. Clean garages, new fences, paint, shelves, decks and of course landscaping and gardening. 

The gardening projects have been my favorite to take notice of because of how bad I am at it. No, I won’t give up. I always want to learn more and I admire what others are doing with it. Also, gardening reminds me so much of Scripture which is full analogies and comparisons to nature, creation, flowers, fields, buds, fruits and trees. 

Psalm 1:1-3 says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers.” 

Verse 1 offers blessing to the person who avoids evil but instead, in Verse 2, delights in God’s Word and thinks about it, and obeys it, day and night. That person is likened to a tree in Verse 3. A tree that is planted by streams of water. Which means it is receiving its proper nutrition. And it is growing, strong and healthy and yielding fruit in the proper season and not losing leaves due to malnourishment. 

Let us continue to draw near to God in our prayer, Bible reading, studying of His Word and obedience to it, so that we too may be like that tree. Well planted, with good soil, sun, water, producing good fruit even in this difficult season. Prospering in all that we do. Strong and not malnourished, spiritually speaking.

Daniel Stevanus, Student Ministry Director

April 17, 2020

I know for me it has been strange to be home working alone during typical office hours. Working alongside others daily is something I miss. In our habitual schedules, we often take community for granted.

Through this season, we are reminded how precious spending time with our family is; how precious Sunday morning is. We are being taught the art of community even in a time where we are not gathering.

I believe God is using this season as an awakening and a strengthening. 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus because we, as Christ followers, are representatives of Jesus. We all have a purpose and we all have gifts that help us share the gospel. For example: we can lift objects with our hands but we cannot lift the same object with our ears. However, we can listen with our ears but we cannot listen with our hands. Each part of the body has their own gifts and they each serve a purpose while being equally important. 

He is showing us what it means to be the body of Christ and the body of Christ is what makes up the Church. The church is not the building, it is the people. By being the body of Christ, we are expanding the good news beyond the building of Mt. Horeb and allowing it to enter our homes, our neighborhoods, and our community. We are a united connection founded in Christ. We are the body. We are the Church.

Brett Fenstermaker, Contemporary Worship Coordinator

April 16, 2020

After Jesus’ death, the disciples were afraid and wondering what to do. In John 20:19 they gathered behind locked doors fearful of the Jewish leaders. It’s at this moment that Jesus comes to them for the first time after His resurrection. Jesus first spoke peace to them. Then He showed them His hands and side. The disciples rejoiced at seeing the Lord! All but one, Thomas wasn’t gathered in the room with the others.

Later when Thomas returned, the disciples excitedly shared the news, “We’ve seen the Lord!” But Thomas wasn’t so sure. It seemed he was weary of holding onto a faith that he felt had crumbled. He just couldn’t believe the notion of a resurrection. So, he made a bold declaration, “If I don’t see the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger into the mark of the nails and put my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

A week later Jesus visits the disciples for a second time and this time Thomas is part of the gathering. Jesus greets them all and then sees Thomas, not just a glance but complete focus. He truly sees Thomas just where he is in all his doubt and uncertainty. Jesus goes to His friend, not with harsh confrontation but with a gentle invitation to believe.

Jesus was in the middle of several big picture events during this time. He conquered death, was preparing the disciples for mission and was about to return to God the Father! However, He took time to be intentional with His friend, Thomas. Jesus saw him and met him where he was. Thomas’ personal doubt was not too small a detail for Jesus, even in the big picture.

Make no mistake friends, Jesus sees each of us exactly where we are. Just like with Thomas, He comes to us with a gentle invitation to believe. He wants us to believe with our whole hearts that we are no small detail in the big picture.

What are your concerns and doubts today? Know that whatever they are, you can bring them to Jesus. Trust that He sees you, loves you and is never too busy with big picture events to be intentional with you.

Vicki Reke, Kids Ministry Director

April 15, 2020

How is your heart today?

How is your soul today?

If we are honest, many of us would say that our heart and soul is tired, fatigued and troubled. There is much in life that can contribute to these feelings we experience. The pressure to perform, to succeed and to keep up is enough to wear out one’s heart and soul.

Jesus knew the tendency for people to find themselves running on empty.

He says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

We have been given an invitation when we sense that we have reached our limit. That invitation is to come to Jesus and experience… rest. Accept the invitation today.

Pastor Trevor Miller

April 14, 2020

Easter Sunday is always such a joyful time of celebration. Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Son of the living God, has been resurrected from the dead, and that indeed is something worth celebrating. But maybe today, you woke up feeling like the celebration was short lived. “God thanks for resurrection Sunday, but how can I rejoice on this normal, back-to-reality Tuesday?” 

I think one of the least read books in the Old Testament has something to say about this. 

In Habakkuk, the writer spends two chapters dialoguing with God, complaining about his current situation. But in Chapter 3, to close out the book, Habakkuk prays to the Lord, understanding that the chaos going on around him is still in God’s hands. 

He says in 3:17-18, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, YET I will REJOICE in the Lord, I will be JOYFUL in God my Savior.” 

You see I believe that in this season, we have the CHOICE to REJOICE. Though there is much chaos, fear and worry around us, I believe God gives us the answer to finding joy in the middle: inviting His presence into our present. 

Will you join me in allowing God to give us the joy He desires we have?

Bryce Holdman, Middle School Coordinator

April 13, 2020

Scripture tells us that following the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to more than 500 people. (1 Corinthians 15:3-7) They witnessed first-hand His nail scarred hands and glorified body. While we do not have the same vantage point as that of the disciples and the other eyewitnesses, we have the written Word and the gift of the indwelling, ever-present Holy Spirit.  

“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” – John 14:25-26

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth… He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” –  John 16:12-14

God knew how difficult it would be for us to apprehend the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, so He provided His Spirit and His Word to teach, exhort and empower His followers. Armed with these, we are commissioned to be ambassadors for Christ, re-orienting our entire lives to proclaim the Good News. Easter 2020 may have passed, but the tomb remains empty, Jesus is alive, and there is a dying world waiting to hear.

Janis Albergotti, Missions Director

April 12, 2020

Ever Been forsaken? By whom? Forsaken means to be abandoned or deserted. On this Easter holiday we recall while Jesus hung on the cross He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 NIV) Amazingly soon to be King David of the old testament cried out the exact words to God in Psalm 22:2 when his enemies were attacking him, and he had not yet been delivered by God. This saying is believed by some as God turning His back on His own would directly contradict the Bible if that were the case. As we read in Deuteronomy 31:6, “Do not be afraid or terrified because of them (your enemies), for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you”.

To unpack what some might consider a contradiction or confusing versus, we must understand that “forsaken” is an action and not a feeling. So, when we recognize that when Jesus walked on Earth, He was 100% man and 100% God. Yes, Jesus had human feelings just like King David, you, and me! Therefore, when He hung on the cross and cried out, He was truly feeling forsaken… but He wasn’t actually forsaken. His human nature felt abandoned, but God the Father never deserted Him. 

We’ve all been forsaken by friends, family, and even ourselves before. However, on this Easter the same God who raised Jesus from the dead is the same God whom we can have full confidence in that He will never leave us or forsake us. Rejoice in knowing you are never alone even when you feel alone. God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow is always with you whether you feel Him or not. Now that’s something all of us can celebrate!

Steve Arneson, Mt. Horeb Member & Professional Christian Counselor

April 11, 2020

As we gear up, and prepare for Easter 2020 we understand that it may look a little differently than it has in years past. No arriving to the church at sunrise, in fact, no arriving to the church at all. Instead families will congregate around their screens and devices with immediate family only. Your Easter outfit might consist of pajamas, or maybe you’ll celebrate by throwing on something other than sleepwear, but still super comfy. Meals plans might change, maybe even our Easter baskets, Egg hunts, family visits, and everything else will be just a little different. 

Still though, as believers, we will celebrate in our hearts. We will take time to gather virtually and remember that day, so many years ago, when Jesus conquered death and returned to life. 

And that is the beauty of our walk with Christ, we aren’t confined to traditions, and rituals and church buildings.

Jesus once had a conversation with a Samaritan woman. And when she perceived that he was a spiritual person, a prophet, she asked Him to solve this long debate between Jews and Samaritans about which was the better mountain to worship on. Jesus answers her by saying: “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” – John 4:23 ESV

These words should ring loudly in our ears during this season. As we celebrate Jesus, and His resurrection, during this time where things seem out of place and different from the norm, we must remember to be true worshipers. And while we may miss our yearly traditions, gathering with our church family and all our normal ways of celebrating, we understand that those things help us remember, but aren’t essential to remember. 

After all, it isn’t about a place, it’s about a person. Jesus. Who came to this earth, lived a perfect life, died to pay our penalty, was buried, and after three days, rose again.

Daniel Stevanus, Student Ministry Director

April 10, 2020

Today is Good Friday. The Darkest day in history, as it’s often referenced. On this day we remember Jesus being crucified on the cross, shedding His own blood. The journey of Holy Week is certainly filled with beauty, betrayal, and brokenness. 

Take time to read  Matthew 27: 11-26 as we see the narrative of Jesus coming before Pilate, the Roman Governor. 

As Pilate wrestles with what to do with Jesus, he offers the crowd the chance to release Him.  Yet, the crowd shouts back “Crucify Him!” Even though it seems that Pilate did not think Jesus was guilty, he eventually sentenced Jesus to death.

However, right before Pilate gives this sentence, he comes before the crowd with a bowl of water and he washes his hands. 

This was a symbol to the people that he did not want to take responsibility for what was about to happen to Jesus. 

However, we all know that none of us can escape the responsibility we each carry when it comes to our own sin that Jesus bore on the cross. 

This symbolic hand washing done by Pilate could not truly free him before God.

We all have been washing our hands these days a little more than normal. There are constant suggestions from health care workers and news outlets to keep washing our hands frequently to prevent infection. On this Good Friday as we wash our hands throughout the day, let’s remember the story of Jesus being condemned to the cross for the sins of the world. May we rest in the truth that He has made a way for true cleansing and salvation, taking on our own shame. 

And as we refer to this dark day as Good Friday, we can all believe that God was doing something beautiful in the midst of all the brokenness.

Grace Marie Ward, Worship Arts Director

April 9, 2020

In Mark 4:35-41 the disciples find themselves on a boat in the middle of a great windstorm. Waves were breaking over the boat to the point that the boat was swamped with water. They went to Jesus, who was in the boat with them, for help. They find him sleeping and wake Jesus with a question. “Teacher! Don’t you care we’re going to die?” Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Silence! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was a great calm.

I have read this story many times. This is the first time, however, that I really focused on the fact that Jesus was sleeping. We see very little about Jesus sleeping throughout the New Testament. I believe that teaches us something about Jesus. He was calm during the storm, He was not panicked or anxious. And He illustrates He is still completely in control by calming the wind and the sea simply by speaking.

Why do you think the story of the disciples’ storm experience is included in Mark’s gospel? I think one thing God is showing us is there will be “storms” in every believer’s journey here on earth. We may be even tempted to ask of Jesus during our storms, “Do you not care?” But we can have confidence that He cares because as the story shows, He is in the boat experiencing the storm with us. He is not leaving us alone to battle on our own. He is still completely in control speaking into our situation even before we can see the “wind and the sea calm.”

It’s true that Covid-19 is the windstorm we’re all experiencing. However, that windstorm has brought waves into our individual boats. What waves are crashing into your boat today? Is it the challenge of becoming elementary, middle and high school teachers overnight while you are also trying to work from home? Thinking how to best care for older family members, loss of work, or experiencing unshakable feelings of anxiety?

Whatever our crashing waves look like, remember who it is we’re asking for help. The same Jesus who created the wind and sea still speaks to them. He still cares deeply for His people and is actively working for our good.

Jesus was asleep in the story not because he didn’t care but rather because He was not panicked. He cared for their need and calmed the storm. Let us all be encouraged that He is not panicked in the middle of our storm either. Therefore, ask for His help and be confident that He will care and calm today just as He did many years ago.

Vicki Reke, Kids Ministry Director

April 8, 2020

During the final week before the crucifixion, do not be mistaken, no one took Jesus’ life from him.

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.  Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. – Matthew 26:47-50

Men with swords and clubs did not arrest Jesus by force. He gave himself up willingly.

So, Pilate said to Him, “Do You refuse to speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You and authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me if it were not given to you from above.” – John 19:11

Rulers who tried to wield their power as a weapon did not crucify Jesus against his will. He gave himself up willingly.

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” – Luke 23:46

Evil did not take Jesus’ life on the cross. He gave it up willingly.

Never forget that Holy Week is about the Lord of Lords and King of Kings laying his life down as an act of sacrifice and love, so that we might pick up our life as an act of gratitude and obedience.

Pastor Trevor Miller

April 7, 2020

Pause for a moment, if you would, and join me in taking a deep breath in and exhaling out. 

Maybe for you, that was the first moment of calmness you have experienced in the last few weeks. The reality is, amidst all the things our world is offering us, I believe God is challenging us to choose PEACE in this season. 

In John 20, after Jesus had been resurrected, He appears to His disciples and says these four simple words, “Peace be with you.” You see, after Jesus was crucified, the disciples had lost their peace. However, in this passage, because JESUS was now in the room, PEACE was now in the room.

Have you lost focus of your peace because you’ve lost focus of your Savior? Invite God to realign your focus to the only source of true peace!

Bryce Holdman, Middle School Coordinator

April 6, 2020

Yesterday, we celebrated the beginning of Holy Week with Palm Sunday, the day that commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The following day, Monday, the Gospel writers record Jesus’ activities. Take a moment to read these accounts in Matthew 21:12–22, Mark 11:15–19, and Luke 19:45-48. 

Jesus cursed a fig tree for not being fruitful. In John 15:1-2, He says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”  Bearing fruit is an indication of living faith.  

Arriving at the Temple, He responds to the injustice of the corrupt moneychangers with a righteous anger. He overturned the tables and cleared the Temple saying, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of robbers.’” – Mark 11: 17

This week a friend of mine witnessed a line five blocks long outside the Harvest Hope food distribution point. Grieved, she overturned the table of apathy and initiated a “go fund me” account on Facebook to raise money to go towards food for the hungry in our local community. Our partners in India are struggling to get food and provisions for their families due to the government lockdown and price inflation. Rather than letting the people outside their gates starve to death, they overturned the table of entitlement and shared their meager resources with those less fortunate.  

This message for today is a call to be fruitful in overturning the tables of injustice in our day. Let’s invite Jesus to break our hearts for the things that break His and then use what we have been given to bear fruit for the Kingdom.

Janis Albergotti, Missions Director

April 5, 2020

Got Love? Which kind? When we study the Bible, we are led to the definition of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV. This states, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” As we read these words of the New Testament, we see that this love in Greek is called Agape love and it is an action. This is what is known as unconditional love.

Another type of love is Eros love which is the warm fuzzy, sensual, or feeling based love. Our world today is wrapped around the axel of Eros love which is conditional love. It’s a quid pro quo love which when given expects something in return. When we fall in or out of love, we exemplify Eros love. We place a condition on someone and if they do not live up to that, we withdraw our love. That’s not biblical love.

The Bible implores us to love God, love self, and love others. Yes, the Bible even commands us to love your enemy. This would be impossible to do if we were to love them always with our feelings. However, when we apply unconditional Agape love to these commands, we realize that as 1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV states, “Love never fails.” Let’s all practice Agape love today and see how much deeper our faith with grow.

Steve Arneson, Mt. Horeb Member & Professional Christian Counselor

April 4, 2020

Most churches and spiritual leaders seem to be communicating a collective message right now: use this time to grow in your walk with God. 

Sure, the how sounds different. Read more Bible, or Christian books, extended time in prayer, daily walks, family time, new traditions, projects around the house. Do what you must to redeem the time you have now. 

I’ve been thinking a lot, however, about the why behind this advice. And I think this verse speaks to that.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” I especially love this verse in the New Living Translation which says “do not COPY the behavior of this world.” 

How is the world behaving right now? I see confusion, worry, anxiety, finger pointing and everyone trying to offer their best solution to what truly is a worldwide crisis. What are you noticing? How are people in your sphere dealing with these strange times? 

Paul tells us, his readers, that we don’t have to copy these patterns. Instead we can and should look very differently than the rest of the world. And not because we are some superheroes that are immune to fear and hard times. We don’t have to behave like everyone else because we can be transformed by the renewal of our minds. And this is the how that I alluded to in the beginning. 

If you will allow God to lead you to use your time differently for Him, as you read and pray and seek Him, He will renew your mind. You will start to see the situation under a light of hope and peace that comes directly from God. And that type of attitude is different from the world and is contagious to the world. It is the greatest testimony we could give about our God during this hard time.

Daniel Stevanus, Student Ministry Director

April 3, 2020

At one time or another, most of us have heard the term “first-world problem.” Maybe you’ve said it jokingly about something you’ve complained about or someone else has said it at the expense of one of your stories. Either way, it’s pretty easy to understand its meaning without having to ask Siri. What we considered to be worthy of a mood swing was really nothing more than a mere inconvenience – not even a consideration in some parts of the world. In the good ol’ USofA, we’re no strangers to convenience. Basically, all of life has become a convenience at this point for most of us – fast food, remote starters for our cars, talk-to-text, automatic doors. The point is, many of us enjoy so many modern-day luxuries that when we’re forced to choose the “reduced sugar” version of chocolate fudge ice cream because the grocery store ran out of regular, we get frustrated and later start the story of that loss with “can you believe I had to…” 

Well, some of our problems these days don’t feel so comically “first-world” anymore – parents have instantly become teachers to their school-aged children, small business owners are wondering if they’ll have to close their doors and those who need the Church the most are now more socially isolated than ever. Each one of us has our own brand of struggling right now. And our problems are more real than they’ve ever been. So at a time when things seem so difficult and the future looks so uncertain, what do we do? 

We shift our focus. Not forget about what’s going on around us, but intentionally set our eyes on what God has already done in all the other seasons of our lives. You see, this time has opened my eyes to more blessings than maybe ever before in my life. The blessings were always there. My focus just wasn’t on them. Right now, many of us actively fear suffering, and many times only the possibility of it, but how often do we look to heaven and proclaim what David did in Psalm 9:1?

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. – Psalm 9:1

 David saw much success in his life, but can you imagine the suffering he witnessed as well? I believe he set the example for us to follow. To keep record of what God has done for us, to tell others, and right now, to tell ourselves. God has poured out his blessings in different ways over each and every one of us – through our families, our friends, our jobs and resources. You see, we have a rare opportunity right now – to be faced with the choice to be fearful or faithful. To be hopeless or thankful. 

I want to encourage each of you right now to thank God for five things He has done in your life. And when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, thank Him again. Let’s be people who are faithful in our praise to the God who has always been faithful to us. 

Alex Killman, Contemporary Worship Leader

April 2, 2020

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

This passage from 1 Thessalonians has been on my heart for the past few days. These three short commands from Paul have been important and convicting for my attitude during this season.

Rejoice Always:
In 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes to a community undergoing persecution for their faith. Despite this suffering, Paul urges them to “rejoice always.” This isn’t a command to be annoyingly happy amid the troubles. Instead, it is reassurance that when we have firm hope in Jesus Christ, we can experience genuine joy in every situation.

Pray Continually:
How could we possibly pray without ceasing when we have work to do, children to care for, dinner to make, etc.? This seems impossible and impractical. But Paul is not telling the Church in Thessalonica they have to be on their knees, with their eyes closed, and their hands folded in prayer 24/7. Rather, Paul is speaking of a lifestyle of prayer. This means being conscious of the constant and active presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It means being fully dependent upon and in continual fellowship with God. When we are in Christ, each breath we take is a prayer.

Give Thanks in all Circumstances:
Paul does not say give thanks for all circumstances, but instructs that we are to give thanks in all circumstances. As we grow in our love and understanding of God, we have more reasons to be thankful. We thank God for His faithfulness in our wandering. We thank God for His strength in our weakness. We thank God for His peace in our chaos. And we thank God in all circumstances because we know He “works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

Emma Murphy, Congregational Care

April 1, 2020

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

Life has a way of winding us tight.


Many of us walk around with a low-grade anxiety boiling just below the surface.

The writer in Psalm 46 tells us to “Be still”. This is the Hebrew word raphah. It can be literally translated as abandon, sink, relax or cease. To be still is to let go. To be still is to stop striving. To be still is to take our hands on the wheel. To be still is to loosen our grip. Practice the art of stillness today. Know that God will be exalted and He is in control.

Pastor Trevor Miller

March 31, 2020

Our holy confidence is not shaken! But when we focus on the pit of despair, we can be in danger of falling into the pit. To keep from falling we must change our focus.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Our Holy Confidence is restored when we focus on Jesus Christ!

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:2

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. – Isaiah 26:3-4

How do we fix our eyes on Jesus? We stay focused on facts and not our feelings! Facts based upon the Word of God. Remember Jesus is the Word that became flesh. When you see Jesus, you see the Father!

• God is with us!
• God is for us!
• God is in us!

If you shut your eyes and think of Jesus Christ, what picture comes to mind?

Most of us see Jesus on the cross. Reminds of us of God’s great love! His forgiveness, grace and mercy.

But Jesus isn’t on the cross! The only thing on the cross is our sins! Where is Jesus? 

Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. – Romans 8:24

And not just Jesus but also the Holy Spirit!

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. – Romans 8:26-27

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? – Romans 8:31

Pastor Jeff Kersey

March 30, 2020

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” – Philippians 4:12b

Earlier this week, I was sitting with the Lord and unloading all my frustrations and discontentment at His throne. Suddenly, I felt the Spirit bring to my mind these verses from Philippians, written by the apostle Paul. Paul is what we would consider a giant in the faith. He was one of the leaders of the first generation of Christians, considered by some to be the most important person after Jesus in the history of Christianity. He writes that he has learned the secret of being content. And not only did he learn it, but he shared it with us. 

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4: 11-13

Paul learned how to be content because he had ample opportunity to practice it. He had weathered seasons of uncertainty, discomfort, persecution and rejection and knew first-hand the strength the Lord provides. He writes, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4: 8-9).  This secret Paul is referring to is the ability to rise above our external circumstances because our focus and strength come from a Source that is trustworthy, unshakable, unchanging, all powerful and eternal. The God he knew in Jesus the Messiah enabled him to face everything with a strength that came from outside of himself.

Contentment in times of adversity is a choice, and often it is a choice that has to be made over and over again. It has to be practiced until it becomes our default response. It gives me hope that Paul said he had to learn it. We see here a very human Christian facing difficulties and troubles and having to learn, just like us, how to navigate them. No easy button. No shortcuts. It was a process for him too. So, let’s be gentle with ourselves and others during this uncharted time. Let’s be people who cooperate with the work God wants to do in us so He can be magnified through us. Together, let’s proclaim and live out that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

Janis Albergotti, Missions Director

March 29, 2020

Got Hope? In what? The Bible teaches us that hope anchors the soul, but we need to understand the object of that hope to make sure we don’t become hopeless. In Hebrews 6:19 NLT we read, “This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” So, we are not to hope in our circumstances, but hope in The One who brings us through our circumstances. Our focus of hope must be constantly and only in Jesus.

Sometimes we become hopeless when life gets overwhelming and frantic. During these times just surviving the day can be our only goal. This often creates a desire to numb or escape from the emotional pain so alcohol, drugs, food, social media, are used to cope with these stresses. As the old hymn states, “In Christ Alone, our hope is found”.

Real hope is only found in a personal relationship with Jesus. Not because He will magically take your pain away, but because He will walk with you through your suffering. The Bible teaches us in Daniel 3 that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not pray to be saved from the fiery furnace. They were confident in God’s ability to take them through the trial, and eventually Christ showed up with them in the fire. So, if you’re going to be hooked-on-hope, make sure it’s on someone who reigns above your circumstances!

Lastly, we read in Hebrews 11:1 NIV, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Therefore, our hope is an essential element of our faith, and we must strive to anchor our hope in Christ Alone.

Steve Arneson, Mt. Horeb Member & Professional Christian Counselor

March 28, 2020

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

Psalm 90 is a Psalm of lament written by Moses. He offers up this prayer to God coming from himself as well as the people of Israel. Here he confesses the hardship of what they are going through by spending their time (40 years) in the wilderness, the desert. He also is sure to continue to worship and lift up God’s name as he understands this difficult season was brought about because of their unbelief and rebellion. 

Then, in the middle of this whole Psalm he offers up these words in verse 12 which start out with “so” or therefore, in light of all that I just said…Moses talks about the brevity of life in the first part of the Psalm and then says, so, in light of this, while I am stuck in the wilderness season of my life, teach me to number my days. 

Another way this could be said is, while I feel like my days are wasting away, and I’m not able to accomplish much, teach me to have the right view and perspective on my time. Then I will gain a heart of wisdom or then I will know how to better use my time. 

This can help us today. We didn’t cause our wilderness time, but we are in this weird holding pattern. Most of us have gained time with no school, working from home, events being cancelled. So we don’t want to just let it waste away. And while it may have been fun to just sit and do nothing, watch shows, nap, catch up on some much needed rest, at some point, we must learn to number our days. To see this time as precious and valuable and to develop a plan to better use it. 

Here are some ideas…

  • Worship God through your daily reading of Scripture, prayer, singing worship songs, joining our church online, leading your family to do the same and caring for others
  • Enjoy your family using this time establishing new traditions, movie nights for sure, but also board games, plant some flowers, have a bonfire, host a family talent show night
  • Learn something new – our biggest excuse for not starting anything is always that we don’t have enough time. So pick up that book, watch those youtube tutorials, check the Pinterest DIY section and then go take that car apart and paint that wall
  • Sit at the feet of Jesus – grab a cup of coffee, and after reading and praying just simply sit. Enjoy knowing that God made you and loves you, and he delights in you as Trevor wrote about earlier this week

Lord Jesus, help us to remember that our time is limited. So during this season of uncertainty, where we have some extra time, help us to use it well, to your glory. Amen!

Daniel Stevanus, Student Ministry Director

March 27, 2020

The Hebrew word Halal means to praise, shine, boast, celebrate. When we couple this with the Hebrew word Yah, which stood for the name of the one true God Yahweh or Jehovah, we get the meaning “Praise Ye the Lord”. This is where we get our word Hallelujah, which is one we often hear in songs of worship. 

Throughout the Bible we see believers being called to lift their praises to God. All of the circumstances we could imagine are represented throughout their journeys. There were times of captivity, times of wandering, times of blessing, and times of rejoicing. Emotions during each of these journeys would surely range all over the place. However, the call for the people of God to raise their own hallelujah was clear. Scripture reminds us of the importance of praising the Lord for who He is and what He has done! 

Psalm 145: 4 says, “Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.”

Then Psalm 145: 7 says, “Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.”

Homes full of hallelujahs! That’s what we need right now! There is a generation watching and listening, and how we raise our hallelujah during this time is important! Besides, don’t we still have a wonderful story to share?

Grace Marie Ward, Worship Arts Director

March 26, 2020

For the past two weeks, I’ve gotten in the bad habit of immediately checking the news when I wake up each morning. It’s the first thing I do when I grab my phone to turn off my alarm. I fill my head with news about the increasing reported cases of Covid-19 and the number of deaths caused by this virus. So, before I even roll out of bed, I’m sad, fearful, and anxious about tomorrow.

But this morning, I did something different. Instead of instantly checking the depressing news, I felt this nudge from the Holy Spirit to be joyful.

Psalm 118: 22-24 exclaims, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

We are all familiar with the last verse in this passage and use it often to express our desire to choose joy every day because each day is a gift from God. We don’t, however, pay much attention to the two verses proceeding it. But Jesus uses the exact words of verses 22-23 in the New Testament when he refers to his rejection by his own people. Jesus explains that he is the rejected stone that became the cornerstone. Jesus is the crucial foundation of our salvation and faith.

When we read verse 24 in light of this context, we realize something even greater about this “day that the Lord has made.” This “day” is a prophetic image of the establishment of Jesus Christ on the Throne. This “day” is a direct reference to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection that gave us the gift of salvation.

We are currently enduring challenging times in our world, but Psalm 118 gives us hope that Jesus still sits on the Throne. We can delight in the truth that Jesus came to earth to give us undeserving love and unexplainable peace. And because of Jesus, we can live each day, even the most uncertain and difficult days, with joy.

Emma Murphy, Congregational Care

March 25, 2020

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” – Zephaniah 3:17

A few days ago, I was holding my 5-month-old little girl while she was sleeping. She was so sweet in my arms with her little lips poked out and quiet snores. She looked perfect. So, I took some pictures. A lot of them. All of them of her… sleeping.

You see, my heart was bursting with love and joy over my daughter and she was doing nothing to earn it. I was in love just because she was mine.

Maybe you need to hear today that the God of the universe delights over you with gladness. This Hebrew word for delight literally means… well… delight. God is madly in love with you. Maybe you need to hear today that the God of the universe rejoices over you with song. The Hebrew word for rejoice literally means… well… rejoice. God beams with affection for you.

Now some of us can buy the fact that God might feel this way about your kids or feel this way about a good friend of yours, but we struggle to accept God’s unbridled love for us. Maybe we can see him loving the more dependable, less angry, more sober, better filtered, slightly more fiscally responsible and kinder version of ourselves, but the current me? No way.

But God sees you for who you really are. The purest you. The realest you. And He loves it. So, stop trying to earn His love. You never can, it’s to be freely received. Stop trying to impress Him. He created the world; He does not impress easily. Just be. And if you listen closely, you might just hear the joyful song. 

Sometime today, play the song “Goodness of God” by Bethel Music. Listen to each word and allow it to penetrate your heart and cause you to believe that this is the way God feels about you.

Pastor Trevor Miller

March 24, 2020

“These are the times that try men’s souls.” – Thomas Paine

Today we are being tested with uncertainty, trials and tribulations. Our response will reveal what we are made of, what we really believe and what our life is built upon. In Matthew 7:24-25 Jesus said,

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

Now more than ever we need to “put into practice” the words of Jesus.   While teaching His disciples, Jesus must have seen the worry and anxiety on their faces. The words He spoke to them, He wants us to hear today.

“So my counsel is: Don’t worry about things—food, drink, and clothes. For you already have life and a body—and they are far more important than what to eat and wear. Look at the birds! They don’t worry about what to eat—they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food—for your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Will all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothes? Look at the field lilies! They don’t worry about theirs. Yet King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as they. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you, O men of little faith?

“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.

“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time. – Matthew 6:25-34

My friends as we navigate this coronavirus let’s seek first God’s Kingdom and live one day at a time. It really is the best way to live!

Pastor Jeff Kersey

March 23, 2020

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  – John 14:12

No matter where we go (or don’t go), uncertainty about the future, and the resulting fear, battle for our thoughts and emotions. However, this is a day to remember that our hope comes from the LORD. When faced with the unknown, we turn to the Word of God to find our direction, wisdom, and Truth. We remember that God rules and reigns even when circumstances would tempt us to believe otherwise. God is not surprised by the development of a virus or the upheaval of our day-to-day living. He is not distracted, absent, or disinterested. He remains “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 emphasis added).  

Many among us may be feeling helpless to do anything significant while practicing social distancing. It may be true that we can no longer do things the way we are used to doing them. But this season provides us with a unique opportunity to show the world how a Christ follower responds to crisis through the lens of faith rather than fear. John 14:12 reminds us that those who believe in Christ will not only do the things that Christ did but that they will have power to do even greater things.  

I believe that this crisis will be redeemed as the sick receive supernatural healing, the love of Christ is demonstrated by His Church, and the Gospel is announced in neighborhoods across the globe drawing lost people into saving faith. I don’t know about you, but this is a movement I want to join.

Take some time to read the Gospel of Mark.  As you read ask yourself these questions:

1. What do I learn about Jesus from this story?
2. How can I take what I learned and apply it to my life today?
3. How can I use this story to help someone else?
4. Who can I share this story with this week?

Janis Albergotti, Missions Director

March 22, 2020

Got Anxiety? Got Stress? Did you know that Stress does not come from a stressor? For example, the coronavirus, finances, employment, health and relationships, can all be stressors, but not everyone may receive stress from them. If Stress came from a stressor, they everyone would get stressed from these. So, Stress only comes from a Mindset or a Belief about the stressor. If we do get stressed, we then often get anxiety. This can happen so fast that we need slow motion replay to discern the true root of the problem. Anxiety is simply the result of our mind (belief) trying to control ourselves and our environment. Just think for a moment, what are you truly in control of? Can you control the events of the next minute, or your heartbeat? No, so when you surrender control of things you are not in control of, you trade your rags for God’s riches. That’s what Philippians 4:6-7 NIV says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That’s right, our minds. So, change is made as the Bible says in Romans 12:2 NIV, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” This means that you are in control of your decisions and choices (free will), but not much after that. In fact, your expectations can often cause much anxiety because we sub-consciously believe we can control outcomes more than we really can. All this to say, when trials and tribulations come, be Still and know He is God.

Steve Arneson, Mt. Horeb Member & Professional Christian Counselor

March 21, 2020

The people that know me best know that I love to quote Joshua 1:8 

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

I like to quote this because it is one of the first verses I ever memorized, and it’s message is so simple, yet profound. 

You see, simply put, this verse reminds the reader to meditate on the Book of the Law which for at the time was the first five books of the Old Testament, and for us is the whole Bible. We must learn it, think about it, share it with others and most importantly obey it. Then we will see success in our life. 

However, what makes this so applicable to us is the backstory of this verse in the context of the whole chapter. You see chapter 1 of this book sees Joshua taking over leadership after Moses’ death. Talk about some big sandals to fill! The leader of the whole Jewish people, who successfully lead them out of Egypt, and through the wilderness has died. The new, young guy is about to take over and is going through a season of transition. 

While our season of transition today is very different, with quarantines, social distancing and changes in routines, I am sure some of the feelings that Joshua had are similar or the same as what we are feeling. Emotions such as uncertainty, fear, anxiety and trepidation about what is to come, these are typical of big changes and transition. 

That is the exact backdrop, however, for the encouragement that God gives Joshua, and it is the same encouragement He gives us today. Though there is transition, and times are different, even uncertain, we must remain faithful to God’s Word. To learn it, share it with others, and put it into practice. Then our ways will be prosperous, then we will have good success, even in uncertain times. 

Daniel Stevanus, Student Ministry Director

March 20, 2020

What has been your song this week? Maybe there’s a phrase that is bringing you comfort or a truth you are declaring daily, and you just can’t help but sing it out. The songs we sing on the mountain will often be the songs we need to cling to in the valley. For many people this week, this disruption to daily life has left them navigating a new normal, which feels like a season in the valley. As a worship leader I love encouraging the people of God to lift their praises to Him in a collected voice altogether in every season we go through.  I’ve always believed there is such a powerful shift in the room when this happens. We represent all different stages and seasons of life as we join as the body of Christ, and together we are continually pointing each other to His goodness and faithfulness.

“O magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together” – Psalm 34:3

On Sunday morning this week we begin something new, and we don’t know how long this may be a new normal. It’s going to look different and probably feel different as people gather to watch and worship as a church online only. The beautiful thing is that churches across the nation will be doing this very same thing. We won’t be able to hear the singing and praising of the church body in a gathered room that’s full of energy like a typical Sunday service. Rather, you get to lift your own unique, individual voice to the Lord, and maybe that’s the very thing the church needs to hear right now; hearing your own voice magnify God, reminding you of what you believe and why. Your worship location may be changing but your worship proclamation has not! So lift His praises loud in your living rooms, from your back yards, or from your cars as you take a beautiful drive. Declare His goodness for your family, your neighbors, and for yourself to hear. And remember your church family will be doing the same thing at the same time as we exalt His name together!

Grace Marie Ward, Worship Arts Director

March 19, 2020

We often find ourselves associating the Church with a building. We think of the Church as a structure where Christians gather for worship, prayer, fellowship, programming and special events. But as this pandemic sweeps through our nation, we are forced to close the doors to our beloved building. More importantly, we are faced with the lingering question: what do we, as the Church, do now?

Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 5: 14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Even though the doors of the church building are closed, we are still called to be the Church. The Church is not a building or a structure or a location. The Church is the Body of Christ, the community of believers, set apart with the purpose of shining Christ’s light in this dark and troubled world. While we can’t physically gather on Sunday mornings, we can still be an embodiment of the Gospel.

Find times this week to be the hands and feet of Jesus (but make sure to use lots of hand sanitizer). Call and check in on your neighbors. Share the link to our livestream services with a friend. Write a card to someone in an assisted-living facility or nursing home.

Emma Murphy, Congregational Care

March 18, 2020

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

We were never promised an easy life. In fact, Jesus promised quite the opposite. When talking with his disciples, Jesus warns them that in this life they will face trouble. We all can relate to these early Jesus followers because we too can rest assured that we will face difficulty in this world. Trouble in the form of broken relationships. Trouble in the form of disappointing diagnosis. Trouble in the form of overwhelming bills. Trouble in the form of paralyzing pandemics.

But look what Jesus also promises.

We can take heart because right in the middle of the trial we are offered peace. Right in the middle of the struggle we are offered peace. This peace is not the absence of conflict, the absence of anxiety, the absence of disappointment, the absence of a crippling virus, but it is the very presence of God. There is nothing this world can throw at us that we cannot handle because Jesus has overcome the world.

You are not alone. God is by your side.

Find several moments today to shut off all technology and spend a few minutes in quiet silence, resting in God’s peace for you today.

Pastor Trevor Miller

March 17, 2020

As the coronavirus spreads globally and locally, we want to feed our faith instead of feeding our fear by becoming more connected with believers all over the world through prayer and Holy Scripture. As Christ followers we turn to God in times of fear and uncertainty as we do in joy and victory. As we practice social distancing, we are reminded our God does not keep His distance.

As a Prayer Driven church let us:

Pray for the Prince of Peace to guard us from panic, anxiety and division.

Pray for the supernatural gifts of Wisdom, Discernment, Knowledge and Faith for our Spiritual, medical, political and economic leaders. The people God has placed in authority.

Pray for Protection and health for those providing medical care to those battling the effects of the coronavirus. Ask God to pour out the supernatural gift of healing upon our healers.

Pray for sufficient medical and human resources.

Pray for healing for those infected and those who face quarantine.

Pray for the discovery of a corona vaccine and treatment.

Pray for the Church to truly represent the Light of the World. To be ready, available and able to give witness to the love of God.

Pray we all come to a place of true repentance and total dependence on God for all things and that God would release to this world protection, provision, healing, restoration, strength and salvation.

We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part. – 2 Corinthians 1:9-11 MSG

Pastor Jeff Kersey