by Pastor Domenico Danesi
As we are now in the spring season, we look forward to warmer weather, sunshine, and outdoor activities. Families look forward to the end of the school year and the summer months of June, July, and August. People adjust their lives in the summer, and as parents we must be flexible, but we cannot abandon our parental responsibilities in this warmer, more laid-back season.
Here are 5 tips for the spring and summer months that I pray will help you.
1. Have 4 or 5 things your child/children are personally responsible for every morning.
An example for each morning would be: 1. Make your bed; 2. Brush your teeth; 3. Get dressed; 4. Eat breakfast; 5. Read your Bible for 5-10 minutes. Ask your children if they did their “4 or 5 things” each morning. If they haven’t, then supervise them as they do them. This may irritate the child, but let them know that it is because they did not do what was required that you supervised them. This may be enough motivation for them to not be supervised again for a while.
2. Have 4 or 5 things they are responsible for doing in the evening.
For example: 1. Brush your teeth; 2. Take a shower or bath; 3. Put your clothes in the hamper; 4. Put your pajamas on; 5. Read a book or play quietly for 30 minutes. If they do not do 1 of these things, supervise them.
3. Make your child play outside each day (weather permitting, of course).
This used to be the norm when I was growing up, but technology and lifestyle changes have made outdoor play something that children and parents must be intentional about now. Insist that they turn off all the gadgets and screens and play outside in the fresh air and sunshine!
By Collin Zweigle
On Easter Sunday we gathered together and we read this passage from Acts chapter 2: “‘In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike— and they will prophesy. And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below— blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the LORD arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.’” (Acts 2:18-21 - NLT)
These things that Joel prophesied are very UNCOMMON. None of them happen very often. I can't recall the last time I saw the sun blacked out and the moon turned into actual blood.
UNCOMMON was the theme at Flower City Work Camp (FCWC) this year. And just as Joel prophesied unusual occurrences would happen, God did uncommon things. First of all the concept of giving up your Spring Break to go work on a house that belongs to someone that you don’t even know is completely ridiculous. Seriously, for a 13 year old, I’m pretty sure there’s a new Pokémon game that just came out that they would rather be playing, but hundreds of them (700 students) left their gaming systems at home and spent their week ministering in the name of Jesus. This is very uncommon, my friends. At FCWC I saw young people lifting their hands in worship night after night, praying over each other, listening to each other, and living out Jesus’ command to love each other. This is a natural thing at Flower City. It’s a shame, but many weeks out of the year we don’t do this quite as well. More than 36 adults from our church right here at Koinonia Fellowship gave of their time (much of it vacation time) to minister in the name of Jesus during FCWC. This is also quite extraordinary. We are just beginning to see the after effects of that week. Those of you who participated deserve a standing ovation, and to those of you who didn’t participate, I hope you feel very left out. I hope that you feel like you missed out on something spectacular, and I hope that you will be challenged and encouraged, maybe even with some healthy peer pressure, to get involved in one of the things that makes being a part of the body of Christ so wonderful.
If you look back on your life you'll see uncommon things that Jesus did. You’ll see moments, miracles, provisions, things that simply shouldn’t have happened, but did, because God was on your side. He is always for us and never against us.
For us it's not the norm to gather together as an entire congregation on a Sunday morning. It was beautiful to do so on Easter, and I realized, this is uncommon.
By Lynn Metier
“Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me” (Nehemiah 2:18). “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).
The phrase “the hand of God” is found repeatedly throughout the entire Bible, and last month we began looking at God’s “hands”. Here we continue with the same, noting that one of the meanings of this phrase is the sovereignty of God, or what some call ‘Divine Providence’. This is clearly evident in the testimony of Job (Job 19:21), and in the account of Naomi, who rightly identified God’s control over her life (acknowledging Him as “the Almighty”), but wrongly interpreted her circumstances to mean that God was against her (Ruth 1:13d,20,21). She surely would have had no idea how God planned to use her life as a typology to represent the nation of Israel to future generations, nor how her suffering and anguish then would be turned into joy, not only while she still lived on earth (Ruth 4:13-16), but also forever upon receiving her reward (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
Frequently the Biblical expression “the hand of God” meant to be under the influence, conviction, power, or control of the Holy Spirit, and this was especially used in the Old Testament, in Psalm 32:4 for example. (Today’s expression, to have a situation “in hand”, has a similar connotation of control.) Also, from Genesis 1:2 we know that the Holy Spirit had a ‘hand’ in the creation of the universe, and the Psalms proclaim God’s ’hand’ in creating heaven and earth and humanity: “Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.” (Psalm 102:25) “The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.” (Psalm 95:5) “Your hands have made me and fashioned me” (Psalm 119:73). But wait a minute! The Bible also says, “the universe was created by the word of God” and “the earth was formed…by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3; 2 Peter 3:5). Is this a contradiction? Not to God! The Living Word of God is Jesus His Son (John 1:1-3,14), through whom everything was created (Colossians 1:16). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Galatians 4:6), and “the Lord is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Thus, the compound unity of our Creator God was responsible for bringing everything into existence through His Word (Jesus) in relationship with the ‘hands on’ involvement of His Spirit. But, as we have already seen, God’s “hands” didn’t become idle after He finished creation.
By Collin Zweigle
A few years ago a song by Hillsong United came out called “Relentless.” The chorus goes like this:
“Your love is relentless.
Your love is relentless.
Your love is relentless.
Your love is relentless.”
Over and over that chorus is repeated. The same words are sung. I know it’s easy to find praise choruses repetitive a lot of times, but I encourage you to think about the significance of repetition. In scripture when Jesus says, “Verily, verily I say unto you…” we take that as meaning, “This is super important! Don’t miss this! Write this one down!” I believe that’s something that the writers of our modern worship anthems think about as they write. “Your love is relentless.” Hey, let’s say that a whole bunch of times so we can actually think about it and get it ingrained in our minds. Repetition was literally how we learned to read when we were 3 years old, and it is still an effective teaching tool for us as adults and students today!
Recently I have been reminded of the love of our great God through stories of Christians caught in sin being restored through God’s relentless love. These stories have been hugely impactful to my heart and to my faith. In relation to this, at youth group recently we were talking about the Vine and the branches in John 15. I was marked by the analogy that uses and the truth that a branch is literally part of the plant which it stems from. Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches. We are His branches, a growth out of Him, a part of Him. He is saying that to cut off one of His branches would be like losing a part of Himself.
By Collin Zweigle
So you made it through the first month of January. Maybe you kept that New Year’s resolution to eat more healthily or exercise more or read the Bible every day… so far. Many of us have given up on making New Year's resolutions. We feel like there are always things we need to improve on in the new year. We become overwhelmed when we examine ourselves because we see so many different things and we don’t know what to do first and so we just don’t do anything. We say, “I’ll get to that later,” or, “It’s really not that bad, right?” This attitude is called complacency. If you find yourself giving up on yourself, saying a certain sin is “not that big of a deal,” or accepting the way a negative relationship is going, or something similar, please don’t!
When I was growing up I would often become overwhelmed with my math homework (it often ended in tears) or feel like I had way too many chores and would never be able to get them done. I would get myself all worked up and just give up and go play with legos (something I had control over). In these moments when I would get overwhelmed or say things like, “I can’t do it,” or, “I’ll never get it done,” my mom would always say in a very calm tone, “Collin, just do the next right thing.” It was so simple. With this approach I could calm my feelings of discouragement and focus on one thing, the next right thing. Simply doing the next thing coming up, the next thing that was necessary, the next thing in the bathroom that needed to be scrubbed, the next multiplication problem, the next apology I had to make.
See, we all have a series of duties each day, week, month, and year. Things we are responsible for can often pile up and seem really overwhelming, but when we focus on one thing, the next right thing, we’ll find that the pile isn’t so scary. For you that might mean resisting the urge to go buy that 2 liter of Coca-Cola and drinking the whole thing while watching your favorite TV show (the next right thing). It might mean waking up a little earlier to go for that run every morning or tomorrow (the next right thing). In spiritual terms it might mean making time to spend in intentional prayer or actually letting go of whatever is going on in your life for a few moments so that you can really focus on how wonderful God is in our times of worship each week (the next right thing).
1 Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” So when you are tempted to throw in the towel on whatever commitment you have made, whether it’s to follow Jesus with all your heart, to make healthier choices, or maybe it’s just to listen more, remember that He has made a way for you to do it! God has made a way for you to do the impossible (the huge pile of stuff you have to do). "With man [in our heads when we get overwhelmed] this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." [Giving you the power to do the next right thing and the peace that surpasses your understanding.] Mark 10:27. Don’t give up; just do the next right thing.
By Domenico Danesi
Once again March has arrived. Spring is on the horizon and on March 17th many will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The color green will be plastered around school and work. Shamrock shakes (must admit I like them a lot) will be available at McDonalds. Bars will be filled to capacity as people drink away! What would St. Pat think about all this? Who was this man? Did he drink? What is the meaning of the shamrock? Perhaps your children have questions similar to these.
What is known about St. Patrick is that he was born in England to wealthy parents near the end of the 4th century. At age 15, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates from his parents' estate in the Roman province of Britain, and sold into slavery in Ireland, where he spent six years in captivity, according to Freeman. After his escape, Patrick wrote in a letter of an "angel" speaking to him in a dream, telling him to become a missionary in Ireland, according to History.com.
St. Patrick was a missionary to Ireland. What does alcohol and missions have to do with each other? Nothing. St. Patrick spent his life praying, fasting, and seeking to convert people to God. Rev. Sean Brady concludes: "He was a man who came to face and help his former enemies who had enslaved him. He came back to help them and to do them a great favor – the greatest favor he possibly could."
Rev. Earnes concurs: "I honestly feel that what Patrick taught Ireland was that there is a cost to discipleship, but it's a cost worth paying. And I believe, to bring this right up to date, the church of St. Patrick must be constantly saying to people, 'Discipleship demands of you, but it's a cost that Christ will help you to pay.'" (CBN.com) St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity – an illustration that is still used today. St. Patrick was a man of God who had a tremendous impact in the evangelization of Ireland.
Training up a child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6) involves revealing truth to them. “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)
We must lay solid foundations in our children. Use March 17th as a springboard for the gospel. St. Patrick is a good example of forgiveness, sacrifice, and missions. We are responsible for explaining to our children what the truth is behind all the traditions man has made. Over time this man, who was a valuable missionary to Ireland, has now become associated with drunkenness and debauchery. This is nothing less than the ploy of the enemy. Ignorance is a tool that works against you as a parent. Educate and inform your children about who this man was, what he did, and what he stood for. Answer your children’s questions as best you can, and if you do not have all the answers simply say, “I do not know but I will do my best to find out and then inform you.” St. Patrick’s Day has some valuable meaning. Take the opportunity as a family to learn and grow together during the month of March.
By Teresa Hiwale
Is there the right person to marry? Is there the “one”? Does God put us together?
There are plenty of accounts in the Bible telling us that God had specific people get married. The first couple no one will question they were made for each other. God took Adam's rib to create Eve so that he would not be alone. It is not like Adam had a lot of choices; Eve was the only women on the planet. Even though God made her just for him, there were problems within the marriage. Let's face it, Adam threw Eve “under the bus” the first opportunity he had by blaming Eve for his sin. “And the man said, ‘The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.’” (Genesis 3:12) Instead of taking responsibility, he blamed his wife.
Then there is Isaac and Rebekah. A prophet told Abraham that his son Isaac would marry Rebekah in Genesis 24:44. Now she seems very sweet; when they first meet she offers him water to drink and for the camels. Now she was drawing up the water from the well; this took time and energy. There is no mention of how many camels she gave water to, but one camel can drink 30 gallons of water. That is a lot of water to draw from a well. Yet there were problems within this family too. You see, Isaac had a favorite son Esau, the first born, and Rebekah had her favorite son Jacob. In the end Rebekah tricked her husband into blessing the younger son instead of the oldest.
In contrast we have the story of Isaac's son Jacob. He goes to his uncle Laban’s home and falls in love with Rachel. His uncle then tricks him into marrying Leah, Laban's older daughter. Eventually Jacob married Rachel, the younger daughter. There is definitely tension and strife within this home. It is obvious that Jacob would have been better off marrying only one of the sisters. The question is which one. God allowed Laban to trick his nephew into marrying the older sister. Was this God's “chosen one” for Jacob or did Laban act against God’s will? Was Rachel the one God had in mind for Jacob, since she was the one Jacob fell in love with? Rachel is the one who gave birth to Joseph. Joseph played a key part in saving the Israelites. On the other hand Judah, the son of Leah, is in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. God allowed Jacob to marry both of the sisters and blessed both of their children by using them in a big way in His plan.
Let's take a look at King David. Everyone knows David was wrong in taking Bathsheba as his wife, since she was already married to another and David had him killed. Was this in God's plan, since through this union came Solomon, who is part of the genealogy of Jesus. This marriage was against God's will for sure, since David sinned in order to marry her. Yet God allowed it and blessed it, but not without its consequences.
By Lynn Metier
“May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!” (Psalm 20:1)
Since God Himself is the Divine Author of the Bible, in our quest to better understand His name, nature, and character, it is worthwhile to note that no less than twenty-two times He calls Himself, “the God of Jacob”. This breaks down to seventeen times in the Old Testament and five times in the New Testament. Seven of the references also include His designation as “the God of Abraham” and “the God of Isaac”, so that leaves fifteen times that single out Jacob. Compare that to ten times that are unique to Abraham, and only once for Isaac. Considering other ‘giants of the faith’ of the Old Testament, we discover that four times God identified Himself as “the God of David”, only once as “the God of Daniel”, and not a single comparable designation as the God of Moses or Joseph. So let’s look more closely at this “God of Jacob”.
Why Jacob? For one thing, Jacob’s life is chronicled in the Scriptures from before his birth (Genesis 25:21-26) until after his physical death (Matthew 22:32). The God of Jacob was actively involved in his life in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16), in the wilderness (Genesis 28:10-15), and even in the world, typified by Egypt (Genesis 46:2-4). Thus, God is showing Himself to be committed and compassionate to this individual for not just his physical lifetime, but forever. But one might think Jacob to be a rather unlikely candidate for the Creator of the universe to focus on. He was an ‘underdog’ in that his father Isaac preferred his older brother, and tradition would have the inheritance, both the usual birthright and the extraordinary heritage promised by God (Genesis 26:1-4), go to Esau. But, as the apostle Paul noted, God chose Jacob over Esau (Romans 9:10-13), thus highlighting God’s sovereignty. Jacob was also an opportunist, conniving, self-reliant – in other words, a sinner like the rest of mankind. But God chose to exhibit His mercy and grace through His long-suffering and faithful care of Jacob. No matter where Jacob was physically or spiritually, no matter what his circumstances or situation – whether alone in the wilderness or living with four wives and their numerous children – God was always with Jacob. In spite of Jacob’s flaws and failings – and he had many (as do we all) – and notwithstanding his strengths and abilities, the Omniscient and Supreme Ruler of the universe patiently and benevolently worked out His plans and purposes both in and through Jacob’s life. And He will most assuredly do the same with us, for He has declared: “I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” (Malachi 3:6) And we are Jacob’s offspring if we are saved by grace through faith, as was his grandfather Abraham, who is our father of faith (Romans 4:16,22-25).
Notice the connection in Psalm 20:1 (above) between God’s name of Yahweh (rendered as “LORD” – Exodus 34:6-7), and “the name of the God of Jacob”. What does the phrase “the name of the God of Jacob” mean?
My name is Jordan Rowley and I’m absolutely blessed beyond measure to be your new Worship Ministry Director at Koinonia Fellowship! I can’t say enough how honored, humbled and excited I am to be in this role and for all the Lord has in store. Perhaps that’ll be for another Kerusso. But for now, it seems appropriate to share a little about my background.
So, where to begin? I’ve been a follower of Jesus Christ for about 15 years (singing and strumming for just about the same). My wife, Michelle, and I have our quiver filled with four precious daughters and one more little girl on the way. No, that’s not a typo – we will have FIVE GIRLS (prayers appreciated). From 2003 through 2008 we attended Koinonia. In fact, Michelle and I were married by Pastor Ray in 2006 and our oldest daughter was dedicated to the Lord in 2008. Throughout this period, I became good friends with Pat Tharp, who I credit along with Bob Scata, for “discipling” me as a worshiper/worship-leader. Shortly thereafter, a need arose at Living Water Christian Fellowship in Irondequoit. Long story short, I served as the worship leader there for several years and was also blessed to become a Deacon. In addition, I’ve been a missionary of sorts for the past five years for a locally based ministry called Climbing For Christ (C4C). C4C is called by God to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the mountainous and hard to reach places of the world where others cannot or will not go. My time with C4C brought me to serve the lost and the least in places like Haiti, Peru, Nepal, and Tanzania. In addition, it allowed strong relationships to be forged with brethren in Pakistan, the Philippines, and beyond.
Of course, with all that said, to everything there is a season. Just as God moved our beloved brother Pat on to a new season, so He moved my family and me. Not only do I believe He led us to return to Koinonia to fellowship, but a few months ago I began to sense that my season serving full-time with C4C was coming to an end. I felt the Lord calling me to leap into the unknown with no safety net other than His everlasting arms. So, I did.
By Jordan Rowley
What do you desire most? What does your heart truly long for? What has your attention and your affection? Where do you spend your time, talents, money, etc.? The very fact that you’re reading this is a good indicator that you desire God. That’s great, but if you’re human (again, the very fact you’re reading this is a good indicator you are), then chances are you have other desires too. Good, bad or indifferent, there are other things in life that claim your attention and affection.
Typically, when we think of jealousy, we think of it as negative and sinful as it would be if I were jealous of my neighbor’s car, but in reality, jealousy itself is neutral. It can be good or bad; holy or sinful; depending on the object of one’s jealousy. God Himself is jealous, yet we know that God is perfect in purity and holiness. In fact, one of the names of God is Jealous! “For thou shalt worship no other god,” we read in Exodus 34:14, “for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”. Isn’t that incredible!? The Creator and Sustainer of the universe, the Author and Finisher of past, present and future, the Lord Almighty is jealous for His glory and for the hearts of His people. One of the Bible verses that God used to sear this fact into my soul is James 4:5, which reads, “… The Spirit who dwells within us yearns jealously”. Let’s stop right there. This is such a rich truth it deservers an extra moment of meditation. The – Spirit – who – dwells – in – us – yearns – jealously! Reading this incredible passage should cause you and me to do three things. One, it should cause us to rejoice in the fact that we have a God who yearns jealously for us. There is truly no other God like our God. Two, it should cause us to fall to our knees in repentance for the things we allow to come between us and our Lord. And three, reading this passage should cause us to pray that God would grant us a heart that is jealous for Him too. Then, by His grace, may He empower us to cast down anything that comes between!
As we walk though this life, there are innumerable distractions that divert or delay us in our pursuit of Jesus. These things in and of themselves are not necessarily “sinful” things. In other words, our recreational activities, our careers, our ministries or even our families can just as easily dethrone God from the premier and primary place in our hearts as can addiction, lust, greed or pride. But that must not be so! We must jealously guard our hearts. One of the all-time best calls to arms for us is found in the book of Hebrews. Right after describing many of the amazing acts of faith by people like Abraham, Noah and Moses, we read in Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us…” Amen. May we be quick to lay aside anything and everything that comes between us and our Savior and may we set our priorities in their proper order. This is true worship! This is true praise! This is the offering God truly desires – a soul that is set apart for Him.
So, how will we respond to His Spirit now?
By Domenico Danesi
The 2016 2nd Annual Deep Wells Conference will take place on Saturday, March 12th from 8:30am to 4pm at Koinonia Fellowship. The theme of this year’s conference is “Feed and Lead,” taken from Isaiah 40:11. Dr. John Walker will be teaching the AM General Session “Feed and Gather”; Pastor Jim Harden is teaching the PM session “Carry and Lead”.
In addition to the general sessions, you can choose to attend two breakout sessions, one in the morning and one after lunch. The breakout topics are:
We selected breakout topics that many parents and children struggle with. We desire to face the difficult topics head on and help equip you with answers and solutions. All the presenters are seasoned Christians who are well-versed in the content area they are facilitating.
Congratulations to Thomas and Celia McHugh, who celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary on February 18th! (Pastor Ray performed the renewal of their wedding vows on their 50th.)
The McHughs started coming to Koinonia at its inception over 30 years ago. They had been raised Roman Catholic and raised their children in that faith. Their son had a born-again Christian roommate in college who led him to a saving faith in Christ. He started praying for his parents, and they were born-again while in their 40’s. One by one their 3 daughters were also born again. Now all 4 of Tom and Celia’s children have saved spouses (one is a Messianic Jew), and are active in various Christian ministries and organizations, along with raising 8 grandchildren in Christian homes. The McHughs also delight in having 2 great-grandchildren.
Although in their mid to late 80’s, this couple remains as physically active as possible, and Tom, who has been involved with The Gideons International for many years, continues to enjoy devoting time to that organization. Celia reports they frequently reminisce over their many years and can now see God’s hand was active in all their lives. She says probably the main reason they have enjoyed a strong and lasting marriage is because of their submission to Christ and their desire to live lives pleasing to Him. She readily acknowledges that God has greatly blessed them and they have much to be thankful for. She states: “The Christian way of life brings joy.”
By Lynn Metier
“For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.” (Psalm 92:4)
The Bible has much to say about the “hands” of God in both the Old and New Testaments. Some of it is metaphorical language for “God is Spirit” (John 4:24); and, Lord willing, we’ll look next month at what some of the Old Testament symbolism represents. But one of the Bible’s most profound revelations, and one of the greatest wonders of all ages, is that the one true and living God took on human flesh and form (John 1:1,14) in order to redeem mankind (John 1:29). Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man (Matthew 16:16,27), accomplished the work of our redemption by allowing His hands to be nailed (John 20:25) to Calvary’s cross (Colossians 2:13-14). For this tremendous work of His hands alone, we shall rejoice and praise Him for all eternity! “And they sang a new song, saying: ‘… You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9,11-14).
The hands of Jesus brought gladness to many in performing many notable works during His time on earth. In Matthew 19:13-15 we see Jesus putting His hands on little children to bless them (even rebuking His own disciples for their objections); and upon His departure into heaven, Jesus “lifted up His hands and blessed” His disciples (Luke 24:50,51). Even though He could raise the dead on command (as He did with Lazarus – John 11:43,44), He took Jairus’ young daughter by the hand to bring her back to life (Luke 8:41-42,51-55). He often touched the sick (Matthew 8:15) and maimed (Luke 22:51), the blind (Matthew 9:27-30) and deaf (Mark 7:32-35), and even a leper (Matthew 8:2,3) to heal them, but all this He could have done, and sometimes did, by word alone. (For examples, see Matthew 8:5-8,13, 9:6,7; Luke 18:35,40-43, 17:12-14.) Why did the hands of Jesus literally, physically touch sinful humanity? For the same reasons we often touch others – to extend comfort, and express caring and identification with them. These hands-on works of healing likewise demonstrate God’s personal love for each of us, and give us more reason to rejoice.