This newsletter now is mailed to about 150 homes and is posted every month on our website, hilltopchapel.org. I wonder, sometimes, how many of you actually sit down in your easy chair or at your computer and read the article and the rest of the "rag". When I try to figure out the effectiveness of our ministry, here at Hilltop Chapel, I'm left with the overwhelming feeling that it is really none of my business. My primary concern, I believe, as far as God is concerned, is to prepare others for the work of evangelism and whatever type of ministry He calls them to. This newsletter is just another aspect of the ongoing ministry of Hilltop Chapel.
Just recentlly, as I contemplated our outreach, I asked myself, "How effective have we been in reaching out to the people of Miramonte, Pinehurst, Badger, Dunlap and Squaw Valley?" I had felt a little doubtful about the impact we were having. Then, comments from deacons and deaconesses, Sunday School teachers, AWANA leaders and others, from over the years, came flooding back to me. These folks had related story after story of instances when they had been in conversations with people whose lives had been touched by the ministry of Hilltop Chapel. These people were not only from the mountain communities, but also towns like Reedley, Selma, Dinuba and even Fresno. People are amazed that a "little mountain church" like ours can do the things we do with the resources we have. Let's face it, you can't call ours a rich congregation! It was gratifying to hear their perspectives of our outreach and its overall effectiveness.
As I continued down memory lane, it became obvious that this ministry was and is making a difference. And then it hit me! That is exactly what I need to see and understand. It is never about us, as Christians, and our preconceived ideas about what should or shouldn't be happening. It is all about God and what He wants to do in a given situation.
Because we are a small community and there is very little industry here (logging has all but disappeared, many of our people travel down to Fresno or Visalia for work each day. Our ministry outreach extends to each of those workplace situations. You would be surprised at the number of people who have accepted Christ as their Savior through the witness of one of our congregation on the job. It's amazing to contemplate the awsome power of God as He works through the lives of believers in many different circumstances every day. We are not capable of comprehending the scope or magnitude of God's ongoing work in the world today. All we can do is marvel at the stories of changed lives, healed marriages and relationships, families pieced back together and friendships restored as people realize their need for the Lord and reach out to Him in faith.
The real measure of any church body is not the number of people occupying pews on any given Sunday morning. What makes or breaks any congregation is attitude. If we are in a body that is loving and caring that, in essence, is what is expressed to the community at large. The apostle Paul tells us, in I Corinthians 13:1-2, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."
We are not good and kind because we were born that way or because mom and dad did such a great job when we were kids. The truth is, we are only loving, good and kind when we come to the "foot of the Cross" and receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. His love, compassion, grace and mercy become ours the moment we turn to Him in simple faith and say, "I believe in You." It's really that easy. When we do truly believe, the portals of heaven are opened up to us and all of God's blessings begin to flow our way. As we receive these heavenly gifts, we are to pass them on to others. In I Corinthians 2:12, Paul says, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God." We are not passing on worldly things, but things directly from the heart of God. The little chorus goes like this: "Freely, freely, you have received. Freely, freely, give. Go in my name and because you believe, others will know that I live."
How long has it been since you gave the idea of sharing your faith any real consideration? There is a whole world out there that still needs to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may be the only one standing between some poor soul and the gates of hell. Yes, I realize we're making a difference, here at Hilltop Chapel, but there is so much more to be done. Let's not rest on our laurels. Let's see how many more we can rescue before Christ comes again.