"Ministry Notes" are published monthly
in the Juniata Sentinel Newspaper
by members of our congregation.

"We were therefore buried with him through baptism unto death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." Romans 6:4.
As a young boy growing up on our family farm it was not unusual for my brother and I to build an elaborate series of hay tunnels with freshly baled sumer hay that were eerily dark with numerous turns, drops and rises daring only the courageous to enter. The fear I faced was the result of my own making. And on a much larger stage, what Jesus had to face, including the fear of the cross and the darkness of seperation from his father, was a set up by Adam and I. In spite of all that, Jesus love for us, and his Father carried him through the torture and a deep dark death. This perfect Lamb was slaughtered and became the living sacrifice for all. By his subsequent resurrection He now gives us the courage to bury our old life in exchange for a new life with the resurrected Christ. Worthy is the Lamb!

Pastor Keith Graybill

The focus of Jesus parable of the Prodigal son is easily understood by most listeners, however there is a parable within a parable here that is worth some focus. It could also be called the parable of the “orphaned son. In this parable, we find that the brother of the prodigal son clearly does not know the special place of love the Father has for him and the inheritance that is his. And it’s not just that he stands to inherit dad’s ranch (as in the future) but he has real time access to all his dads stuff…yes, it’s actually his now!  This son has a deficit-based mentality, and while he could enjoy every benefit of being a full-fledged son, he instead views himself as a slave striving for the acceptance that he already could possess. When he looks in the mirror he sees himself as being enslaved and father as a task master.    I believe this orphaned spirit can find its way into our identity as believers too easily when we see a brother or sister receiving grace for a failure or grace to a formerly disgraced sister or brother now being restored into fellowship.
Freedom from this type of bondage begins with a full surrender of ones own desires and then captured by our Fathers Adoptive heart. Romans 8:14–17 says, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” God is in the adoption business. He signed the contract with his blood. And if we by faith received it…we confirm what is written in John 1:13-13.  “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”                     ---by Pastor Keith Graybill


“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

We often do not know our own minds, but the Lord is never at an uncertainty. We are sometimes ready to fear that God's designs are all against us; but as experienced in the past, even that which seems evil, is for good.  He will give us, not the expectations of our fears, or the expectations of our fancies, but the expectations of our faith, but that which will be the best for us.

“Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” Psalm 40:5

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12

 The happiest people on earth are the ones who have discovered that God has a plan for their lives now, not just in the future.                                      ------ Linda Geissinger


"Can You? Will You?"

I don't fly often, but when I do, I always avoid one set of seats.
They are the seats by the emergency exits.

If you sit in the seats by an emergency exit, you are expected to be physically able and willing to help others evacuate in the event of an emergency.

There is an instruction booklet the occupants of those seats are asked to look over. Then, each individual who sits in those seats is asked two questions. In the event of an emergency, "can you do the job?" And, "are you willing to do the job?"

Children under a certain age are not allowed to sit in those seats. Physically handicapped are not allowed to sit in those seats. The very elderly and frail are not allowed to sit in those seats. They just might not be able to render the required assistance.

Spiritually, we are the ones at the "emergency exit." We are in a position to help save people from a disaster - to help set them free from a life of sin and its consequences.

Can you do the job? Are you willing to do the job? Or do you need to move out of the way and let someone else do what you have the right, ability and responsibility to do?

Jesus told us to "tell" His story, to "go" into all the world and "teach" what He has already shared with us. The Bible is our "instruction booklet." It gives us all the information we need - if we will study its pages.

But can you and will you do the job?
–                                                                                                                  Shelia Heil, Gospel Greats (Used by permission)
"Relying On God's Faithfulness"

      So you think you've had it bad in 2014!  Perhaps you are even dreading 2015.
But, God is faithful.
     Let's go to the Old Testament. Jeremiah, a faithful prophet of God, was treated badly. He was beaten, thrown into prison and thrown into a pit or cistern. While in the pit, God sent a rescuer to bring him out of the pit. And, the rescuer brought rags, so Jeremiah was protected while being lifted from the pit.
      As we continue to read in Jeremiah, we come to the end of the 52nd chapter. There it says that Jeremiah was taken from the prison by the king and ate bread in the presence of the king all the days of his life until the day of his death.

Finally, some good news for Jeremiah.
      As we continue reading the Bible, the book following Jeremiah is Lamentations. This book was written by the prophet Jeremiah. Although it is a funeral poem talking about the death of Jerusalem, it is a book filled with hope.

Lamentations 3:22-26 and 55-57 reads:
      "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!' The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. I called on Your name, O Lord, from the lowest pit. You have heard my voice: ‘Do not hide Your ear from my sighing, from my cry for help.' You drew near on the day I called on You, and said, ‘Do not fear!'"

      Until the end of his days, Jeremiah listened to the Lord. Jeremiah spoke what the Lord wanted spoken. Jeremiah remembered God's faithfulness even in the worst of circumstances.
      It doesn't matter what your circumstances are today. God will speak to you and God will remain faithful until the end.
     As you enter the New Year, claim the promises of the faithful God.

Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (NKJV)
                                                                                                              Shelia Heil, Gospel Greats, (used by permission)
                “Have you seen the fields of sunflowers?” This was one of the first questions I asked at the Ladies In Fellowship Together (LIFT) event held at Lost Creek Mennonite Church in September. I went on to list several lessons we can learn from these radiant early fall flowers.
                Sunflowers track the sun. Most plants track the sun but sunflowers actually move toward where the sun is in the sky all during the day. Wouldn’t it be great if as Christians we tracked the Son of God and followed Him all day long? Being busy, kid’s activities, sports, and other events apart from church can be beneficial but hold no eternal value. I have constantly ask myself what takes my eyes off of Jesus and distracts me from following him.
                Sunflowers need stabilized. They can easily topple over if not planted firmly in good soil. I know that daily Bible reading, prayer, and regular church attendance helps keep me and my family firmly planted in our relationship with Jesus Christ. If I neglect these things, it’s like being planted in loose soil that could easily topple my faith when hard times occur.
                Sunflowers resemble the sun. Sunflowers not only follow the sun but when you look at them, they resemble the sun too. Resembling the Son should be one of those things we do as Christians. I also shared with the LIFT ladies about a recent Duck Dynasty episode where Jace told of a fight he and Willie had as young adults. Their watching friend sarcastically stated, “You’re  sure acting like fine Christians.” That was an eye-opener for Jace and he and Willie never physically fought any more. Acting Christ-like is something I have to work on daily in order to resemble the Son of God.
                “Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1,2.
                LIFT holds monthly events designed to encourage all women from the community and provide free childcare. It is held the third Wednesday of the month at Lost Creek Mennonite Church, Mifflintown.          ----- Judy Mummau

As all of you around small children know, once a baby enters the picture you know exactly what will be the center of attention, and rightfully so. My wife and I can’t go through a day without asking our daughter what she’s thinking about five times over. Something that continues to amaze me, though, is the way that she can be so stubborn about things, even at six weeks old. If you offer her a pacifier when she doesn’t feel like it, her mouth will clamp shut and she’ll give you a mean look that makes you glad she can’t get out of her seat and chase you down. Another thing that amazes me is the way she fights sleep. We know she needs to get a lot of it—she’s growing so fast right now. Nevertheless, if she makes it through the window of time after feeding and didn’t get to fall into a deep sleep, she will desperately fight drifting off. It is amazingly frustrating to my wife and I. We know as soon as she takes a little nap she will feel great, but instead she will wail and scream while she’s keeping herself awake. That kind of stubbornness wasn’t taught to her. So with the baby screaming and continuing to be obstinate we look at each other and discuss which of us had to pass along that stubborn nature – that “Adam’s fallen nature” conversation always leaves me on the defensive. If you want to know the conclusion to that conversation and who really caused her to be stubborn, I think you need to go back a generation or so…
Really, the conversation about humanity’s stubbornness has been going on since Old Testament times. We see constant reminders of how stubborn and stiff-necked people are punished for their rebellion. As early as the plagues of Egypt in Exodus 13:15 we read that “When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed every firstborn in Egypt.” Now no one in the Bible was stubborn like the people of Israel. For those of you used to dealing with cattle, here is an analogy you can agree with from Hosea 4:16…” The Israelites are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer. How then can the LORD pasture them like lambs in a meadow?” Remember that Hosea was the prophet who married a prostitute to act as an object lesson for how Israel was constantly in rebellion against the Lord.  In Hosea’s prophecies we can repeatedly read that Israel’s stubborn refusal to obey is what prevents them from peace as a nation that would be like “lambs in a meadow”.
So how do we react when we can’t reason with someone being stubborn? When they keep crying out in frustration as they are fighting the very thing that will solve the problem? Whether it’s a child trying to fight sleep when the adults around her know that sleep will be what makes her feel great…or maybe it’s trying to help a coworker that just ignores the advice you try to give them even though you’ve been doing that task for ten years and you know how to avoid the extra headaches…we all have daily experiences with stubbornness. And those are just examples of other people being stubborn – I won’t even begin to ask about examples of our own shortsighted stubbornness. 
We get stubborn about all the wrong things. We resist what God has planned for our lives, we resist the Biblical messages and most of all we resist the calling to set ourselves apart. We need to be stubborn in our following of God’s commands for our lives. We need to be so resolute in how we follow him that we don’t get distracted by attempts to distort the truth. The only way we can be stubborn for all the right reasons is to be fully aware of who we are called to be in Christ through studying his Word. God has promised his support for us when we take up our cross and follow him. What are you doing today to be persistent in your journey to be like Christ?     ------Adam Beck

While recently enjoying lunch with our youngest daughter and a close family friend, their conservation turned to how their fathers introduce them to others, since all three of us are the “ladies” of our families.  As I listened, my mind went back to my father.  He passed away in March of 1998, but I couldn’t help but recall how special he was and still is to me, and the wonderful years we had together.  I remember well the warm, safe feeling I would get when my father would introduce me as his youngest daughter.  I felt special to be called his child.

Then my mind turned to my Heavenly Father!  That warm, safe feeling I got with my earthly father was so special, but how much more so with my Heavenly Father!  He has extended the free offer to be His child to all who would accept Him as their Lord and Savior!  I have accepted His offer and feel blessed to call Him my Heavenly Father.

If you have not accepted his offer, I pray you do so today, then you too can have that warm, safe feeling that our Heavenly Father gives!               ---- Lil Weaver
“Mom, can you turn the light on for me?” Although my young son is tall enough to reach the light switch, he does not like to be alone in the dark. My children and I have begun to wake up earlier because it is now lighter earlier due to the time change. Our bodies want to be awake in the light.
We are naturally drawn to the safety and security that light provides. Jesus is often referred to as The Light. He is The Light of Life. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, he has conquered the darkness of death and given the light of eternal life to those that believe in him.
In the darkness we can not see what makes us stumble (Proverbs 4:8). But Daniel said,
“God reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells
with him.” (Daniel 2:22) “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers,
so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the
image of God.” (1 Corinthians 4:4)
If you feel like you’ve lived in the grip of darkness too long, the warmth and comfort of Jesus’ light is available for you. Pull back the curtains of your home that have veiled the light for too long.
Just as my son does not like being alone in the darkness, let Jesus walk with you out of the darkness and into his saving light.                         ----- Judy Mummau