Recently the entire nation has been held hostage by the Black Lives Matter movement. This movement is founded on rebellion to authority, like most movements of its kind. Recently this movement spilled into our sister town, Clarkston, Washington. Because of this “peaceful” protest of those who risk their lives every day against evil, the hospital was shut down, the police were on high-alert, and fear was in our little community.
Well I am not one who goes and looks to cause trouble, but if someone is going to cause trouble I will stand up to oppose them. With that motive in mind I organized our own movement on the street opposite of theirs. Fear was having its way in my mind; fear of putting my people in danger…which no shepherd wants to do. So I prayed asking God to let me know if it was what He wanted me to do or if it was just me being macho. In the church mail that day was an advertisement for a black t-shirt that said #prayerlivesmatter. I am not a Jew, but I will accept any sign God is willing to give me.
The day of the rally five of us loaded into our cars and headed down “to die for our Lord”. Sure enough, there they were…2 black protestors and 145 undereducated liberal white mouth breathers who stood for equality! We marched across the road and tracted every last one of them with “Coexist” and “Smile Jesus Loves You” tracts.
The police who came to protect and the minutemen who came to protest with their “Don’t tread on me” flag got tracts also. Then we stood opposite of the BLM “rally” with scripture signs and smiled while they all scowled.
If those fools read a Bible they would find that Black Lives Mattered first to God…Acts 8:26-39.
Each calendar year comes with four months that have five Sundays in them. Those Sundays here at LCVBC are dubbed “Family Sunday”. Typically, we have a family Sunday school with a Biblical game and devotional geared for everyone and then Sunday Morning Service. Sunday evening is cancelled on these Sundays…because I am the pastor of this church and can do what I want to do with my services…not because I am in the slightest bit contemporary!
Another thing we do quarterly is have a family game night on a Friday evening where we rent a gym in town and play volleyball, basketball, soccer, boxing, wrestling, splitting, spraining, herniateing and other games Baptists are known for during a gathering of this nature. Since this happens at the time of our Friday evening men’s prayer, we push men’s prayer to the next morning and have a men’s prayer breakfast on Saturday.
Recently we had all of these events happen on the same weekend, so we had a family weekend. Friday evening was the game night. Saturday morning we had a family prayer breakfast, and Sunday was family Sunday. Pastor Tim Haveman was the guest speaker on Sunday, so I had him speak to our men before breakfast Saturday morning, while Mrs. Haveman spoke to the ladies after breakfast. All in all it was a real blessing to see a church function as a family unit.
Baptismal services happen when the water of the river is warm enough to swim in. Usually around September/October. They are preceded with weeks of announcements to spark those interested. Four young men were scheduled to get baptized (Mnason Gipp being one of them). Three did. The fourth’s lost mother stopped him before he could get into the water. Satan hates what God commands. If there is an attack, you must be doing something right. Keep Tristan in your prayers.
A couple of years ago I busted a toe playing soccer in our church basement barefoot. This has been a pain to deal with since that time. In April I went to have it looked at and found out that I was going to need to have a surgery. The cartilage in between the joints of the big toe on my right foot had busted. This piece was floating around and lodging in various positions. Since the surgery in July I have been pain free.
The reason for this being in the mission letter is two-fold: first, thank you to those who have prayed over this for me and second, as a life lesson, if there is something in your life that is causing you pain physically or spiritually, get it fixed. It isn’t going to go away without the helpful hands of another (Gal.6:1).
While out looking for a house to buy, I noticed a dent in my car that wasn’t there three houses before. Bewildered I walked around the car and found a note under the windshield wiper that read, “I saw what happened to your car. If you would like to know please call…”. So I did. Once the detective work was done and the wife was safely returned home I went to the house of the person responsible for backing into my car. (Before I go any farther you must know that it wasn’t hit hard. The paint didn’t break or flake off at all. It was more like a dent that is caused by pushing too hard on the surface of the car. Unfortunately it was in a crease, so it can’t be “popped” back out.)
Everything went fine when I confronted the man responsible for the accident. He began to tell me about how his life was in a downward spiral and everything was coming down on him. I began to tell him how his life was in a downward spiral and everything was coming down on him…then I told him about the Saviour. Twenty minutes later with tears running down his face he prayed and asked the Lord to save him. Pray for Mark Drevlow to grow in the Lord. We have met since then, but there is much ground to cover.
We have had 20 people leave for various reasons. Some justifiable, some not. Regardless these things take place in churches. The problem here is that 15 of them were faithful to all the services. This is a gut punch to a church sitting steady each Sunday at 70+. God has blessed in spite of this, but one of the families was my right-hand man who got a job promotion (Ps.75:6,7). I need help in this area.
Canvassing---We stopped canvassing for a month or more til my foot recovered from the toe surgery. It resumed in August with 220 houses being done. This was followed in September with 573 houses. It will conclude in October as the days get colder and wetter. Pray for fruit from the outreach and blessings for our church’s efforts to throw out the life line.
My beautiful bride reminded me recently of the need to write a prayer letter. Seems that I have not done that in quite some time. Thought I had, but she was right again that I hadn’t. (I say “right again” because I am sure she has been right in the past, but I can’t seem to recall it…)
There have been a number of positive things to report on. Firstly, we have had up to 16 ladies out for our monthly Ladies Bible Study. It has held close to that number each time we have held it this year. Secondly, we recently started a youth group (7th-12th grade) and that has also had up to 16 young people come out to that. The spirit in these groups has been as it ought to be…Christ-like! Can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see people come to whatever service or fellowships we have.
Also, we had a high day of 85 on February, 28th and had 92 on Easter with only a few visitors. Easter services have consistently grown since we have been here.
We all know that it is not all about the numbers, but more numbers is a sign of groweth in a church and the “numbers don’t lie”.
Isaiah 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
We started canvassing again slowly in April with 237 houses getting canvassed, in May we covered 821 houses and 317 houses in June. This is a total of 1,375 houses getting covered so far this year.
June 21st brought about a milestone in this portion of the ministry as we have totally canvassed the main body of Lewiston! This process has been four years in the making. In 2013 we did 2400+ houses. In 2014 we did 6,514 houses. In 2015 we did 3,198 houses. And in 2016 we have done 1,375 houses for a grand total of 13,487+ houses.
By the time you receive this letter I will have had a surgery on my left great toe which will have halted canvassing for a little bit. This is due to a soccer accident in the basement of the church a couple of years ago where a 10 year old defender stopped me driving the ball for a goal with her shin. When I collected myself up off the ground I knew that something was wrong. It has been a functioning problem since then and it is going to be fixed soon. After I am back on my feet (literally) we will start the surrounding towns.
Acts 13:49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
An Answered Prayer
About a year and a half ago the church had some visitors from the Province of British Columbia. A retired pastor and his wife, Larry & Reet Arbo, visited on a Wednesday evening. As we fellowshipped after service for a few minutes, Mrs. Arbo told me that she had led an elderly lady to the Lord at a laundry mat earlier in the day and then handed me $20 to give to her. The plan was that Mrs. Arbo was going to email her for her address, then make contact with me to set up a visit and give her the $20.
A year and a half passed with no contact regarding the elderly ladies’ address. Since then the $20 has been tucked safely underneath a watch box. A few weeks ago I held it in my hands and prayed for God to put me back in contact with the Arbos since I didn’t have their contact info.
Last year I was asked by a young man, Caleb Williams, to do his wedding in Maine in May of 2016. Of course I accepted the offer. Well May rolled around sending Rose and I to Maine for the wedding and a few days of escape for the two of us. The wedding was on a Friday evening, so the pastor of the church, Art Dean, asked me to preach all day Sunday before the scheduled time off.
Sunday evening service brought in the regular faithful attendees with a few visitors from the area curious of their new building…and it brought in the Arbos all the way across the country from British Columbia! They didn’t know I was preaching that night, nor were they familiar with the church or pastor and I surely didn’t know they would be there…but God did and answered my prayer.
Since March we have been having Sunday evening services in our church. This has been a blessing and a challenge in many ways. Both have been physical. About twice a month I have a detention center and a nursing home that I go to at 2:30 in the afternoon. After those meetings it is pretty exhausting to teach for an hour on the book of Revelation. This is not a complaint, but a fact. The services have been well attended as the people are hungry for the word of God. The book of Revelation is especially an attraction as it is apparent that we are in the last days.
Every Easter churches across America have an influx of visitors, whether they are C & E church attendees or they are visiting a family member’s church. We are no exception to that rule. Each year Easter has been a record day or close to it. The Sunday after returns to the average number of attendees. This has been a gauge to me of how the church has grown numerically. This year we had 81 people attend, while last year was in the 60s. The next week it was back to 50ish. The average attendance has been around 55.
Most people wouldn’t know Mike Sherry outside of his sphere of influence. Bro. Sherry is an associate pastor for Hal Roscoe at Chili Bible Baptist Church in Chili, NY. He has been there faithfully serving for 13 years or so.
Our friendship goes back to trading match-box cars during special meetings at his dad’s church in the 90s. We connected again during the 3 years in Bible college and even were roommates for a year before he got married. When I took the Associate Pastor position in Martville, NY, Mike was only a couple of hours away ministering in Chili, NY.
I am used to preaching and also hearing preaching and can probably tell you where a message is heading before the preacher gets done with it. Even though preachers have been a major part of my life, there are few messages that I have heard that have stuck with me over the years. Fewer still are multiple messages from one preacher that have stuck with me. Bro. Sherry’s messages seem to add to that pile. He doesn’t come across as a flashy, well-polished preacher, but it is evident by his preaching that he has a walk with God and a love for the Book.
Recently we had a revival meeting with Bro. Sherry and near the end of the meeting, I had a lady tell me that of all the preachers we have had preach, she liked him the best. I told her it is probably because he is a pastor and is dealing with sheep just like her in NY. God has blessed me with a number of friends from my youth that are still standing in the gap for the Lord.
Pro 28:20 A faithful man shall abound with blessings:…
I am a man of many suits. Most of them are out of style or have been bought at a second-hand store or sale rack somewhere. My new suit was found the same way.
One Saturday I dropped to my knees for about 10 seconds and sheepishly asked God for a new suit. It was not a necessity, but a want. The only color that I have not acquired over the years is dark gray, so that is what I had in mind when I asked my Father for one.
Monday errands brought us close to the Mall and found me looking for a new coffee grinder in the home section of Macy’s and JCPenny’s, I always end up looking through the men’s clearance racks and while in Penny’s I found a dark gray sport jacket that was on sale for $71. It was regularly $240. My birthday had provided me with some spending money so I decided to purchase it. The pants were also marked down from $70 to $35. Making the whole sale $106 instead of $310…a grand savings of $204. Not a bad deal.
When I approached the cash register to pay it, the pants rang up for full price. The deal would have been off, but it rang up wrong and I got the pants at the sale price of $35. The sport jacket then rang up for a whopping $10! The whole sale was $45 instead of $310…a grand savings of $265!
This proved to me again that God does care about the things in life we want and sometimes chooses to smile on those that work for Him. God still answers simple prayers and like a loving Father chooses to reward His children with blessings.
Eph 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
It seems about that time to sit back and write another prayer letter. Seems hard to believe that this letter will cover the first quarter of 2015, but it is true and time truly flies.
As well as time flying by, my age is flying by also. The other week I went Folfing (Frisbee golf) with a couple of teenage boys in our church. Typically I would make up a story about the final score and say that they never stood a chance, but truth-be-told, much like golfing, I am terrible at folfing, and lost miserably. After a while I just reverted to heckling them, which I found to suit me more naturally. At some point in this adventure between counting the clouds, birds, grass, and my score, I counted the boys ages, added them together, and found out that they still were 6 years shy of my age! How can that be?! What happened to my youth? Oh well, I schooled them both at basketball later on in the day to prove to myself that I was still in my prime. Of course that game started off with me telling them a story about Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding and concluded with something to this affect, “…if you don’t want me to pull a Tonya Harding on your knee then you had better let me…”, you get the picture. (If you don’t “get the picture” then I just dated myself with the Kerrigan-Harding reference.)
Sunday Evening Services: Num 22:18 …I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more.
This verse has been the anchor for me over the last 2 ½ years of being a pastor. If I am not careful I will allow the brethren to dictate to me what needs to take place in this church instead of God directing me. The pressure has been there, but so has the word of God shining light on the path that He has chosen for me. I have been raised as an Independent Baptist from the womb and have never once been shaken from that. Frankly it disgusts me what “Independent Baptists” have allowed in their churches under the influence of others, showing that they were not truly independent at all, but rather dependent.
With that being said, I have a number of pastor’s or men that I seek wisdom from in approaching the next step of growth for this church. Never have I looked to add more ministries to the church or refused to add more ministries to the church based on peer-pressure.
God brought me to a church that has never had a Sunday evening service. This service has been something that I have been bred to love. It is truly my favorite service of all and it seems to be that way for many pastors to whom I have spoken. Shortly after I got here it became apparent that God didn’t bring me here to start a Sunday evening service out of tradition, but to pastor a church back from the brink of extinction and love people to the Lord…and this is what I set my heart on doing. (What you read is that I am drifting towards the contemporary church movement. This cannot be farther from the truth!)
During the first couple of years I would have special Sunday evening services whenever we had a guest speaker in preparing their hearts for a future service at that time…if God directed me that way. They were always well attended and received. Then people in the church would ask me when we were going to start them up, to which I replied, “When the Lord tells me to.”
One Wednesday afternoon last October, as I was preparing a message on the purpose of exhortation, the Lord told me to tell the church that evening that we were going to start Sunday evening services next year. So I did…and we did in March.
The first service had 44 people in attendance and rounded off after a few weeks in the mid-thirties. We are going through the book of Revelation upstairs with the adults, while the kids are being taught Biblical character traits downstairs by Rose. We don’t have them on the 5th Sunday of the month…because I am going contemporary! JK.
My Goat: Pro 27:27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household,
and for the maintenance for thy maidens.
Years ago, during the time of waiting for the Lord to show me where I was going to pastor, the Lord gave me the above verse. At that point we only had the two girls (maidens): Deborah and Miriam. On the 27th of a certain month the Lord showed me this verse and basically told me that wherever He was going to send us, we were going to be taken care of by a lost man (goat). It didn’t make sense at the time, but what truly does make sense in the Bible when you want it to. Hindsight is where the sense is made.
During July of 2012, I flew to Idaho to candidate for the church I am now the pastor of. That Sunday, the 28th, I taught and preached in the morning and then we went out to eat before I headed out of town on my trek back to NY. A couple who were members of the church took me out to eat, along with their daughter and son-in-law and their two girls. The evening before I was told that their son-in-law, Gary Powell, was not yet saved, but was interested in salvation. After the meal was over, as I was getting ready to leave, Gary awkwardly extended his hand and gave me a “Baptist handshake”. I casually said thank you and without looking, pocketed the money said my goodbyes and headed out of town. As clear as day I can hear God saying, “There’s your goat.”
He didn’t stay my goat for long, because in November of 2013, Pastor John Haveman led him to Christ after a special Sunday evening service, in October of 2014 he was baptized with his daughter, and this February he led his family in joining the church. Through tears I told this story from my pulpit and said that he was no longer my “goat”, but one of my “sheep”.
I realize that it has been a quarter of a year since I last wrote a prayer letter. This is not due to thousands being saved and discipled as you assumed, but due to my name, “Nate”, which is found in the word procrasti-“Nate”. Truthfully there has been a lot going on and the letter has been stalled until this time.
We stopped canvassing at the beginning of November due to the cold and a much needed break. Up until that break we had canvassed 6,514 homes in 2014. The city of Lewiston has been canvassed on the North and South sides of town and come April we will begin filling in the gap in the middle. My goal is to finish Lewiston by the end of July and then start canvassing Clarkston, Washington. Pray with me for wisdom on the right approach for this next year. Just because you did something one way a certain year doesn’t mean that the Lord wants it done that way again (II Sam.5:18-25).
The Couriers for Christ trip to Romania
It has always been a longing of mine to go on a Baptist Couriers for Christ campaign. This finally came to pass when my church sent me to Romania. (A few were disappointed that it wasn’t Siberia, but none the less off I went.) I am largely Romanian, so I welcomed a trip to the motherland with open arms. God truly blessed me with many opportunities to witness, as well as to fellowship with other believers from the States and from Romania. The Sunday that we were there I was asked to preach to the church that invited us there. After exhausting all the words I knew in Romanian, I decided to stick with English, which I still have not mastered. The pastor, missionary, and a number of people told me that the message was timely for the church. It is nice to know that God speaks Romanian too.
One day while on the streets passing out invites to the upcoming campaign, I was stopped by four police officers. They informed me that I was not allowed to do this and that I was to produce my passport and travel papers. Earlier that day I had taken pictures of my passport in case this happened, but I wasn’t going to carry it with me on the streets. They weren’t thrilled with this new info either and wanted to see the pictures. So as my phone booted back up I did what I do best and joked around with them trying to make the arrest that was most certainly in my future less violent. Three of them got tired of waiting and walked off while the other one leaned in and said, “I am Baptist. You are fine” and went after his buddies. No stocks or bonds needed for me.
Before I left I had prayed and asked the Lord to allow me the chance to lead someone to Christ personally while there. That answer to prayer came during street work, when Gabriel asked the Lord to save him. I won’t elaborate on this story, because I went into depth about it when writing for an upcoming Couriers for Christ newsletter. If you would like that story you can find it on our website at: lcv
Psalms 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Before I left for Romania the announcement had been made a few times that there would be a baptismal service when I got back State side. There were three people that I was planning on baptizing upon return. In November of 2013 a man in our church, Gary Powell, trusted Christ during a Stewardship meeting after a Sunday evening service. He had not requested to be baptized although I knew through the Baptist grapevine that he was interested. When I got back I went to his work and let him know that if he wanted to get baptized it was time, now (October) or after the weather warms the water again in the late summer of 2015. He texted me a few days later and told me that after reading Matthew 3, Mark 1, and Romans 6, he was going to take the plunge. His initial delay in getting baptized was family related. His wife and oldest daughter had been baptized in the river the year before and his youngest daughter was close to salvation, thus he wanted to wait to be baptized with her after she got saved. The Sunday of baptism I was sitting in my office and in walks Gary and his youngest daughter to tell me she got saved that morning and wanted to get baptized. Gary told me that she came down the stairs crying that morning and said she wanted to get saved. She knew it all and prayed to be saved! Psalms 37:4 came to mind after I heard this story. Gary chose to please God over his desires and God gave him what he wanted. 5 were baptized that afternoon. By the time you read this letter the Gary Powell family will have officially joined the church.
Proverbs 10:5 He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: …
Well, the summer has brought about hot weather above 100 degrees many times. This makes canvassing in the morning a necessity. Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m. I head out the door to go canvass a neighborhood for about an hour. It is amazing how many houses you can get done when you work at it. So far, from April – August we have canvassed 5,338 homes with the gospel. This is not personal door-to-door work, as most churches have, but more like spreading a blanket across the city.
The church will have certain days throughout the year to put together the packets (Jn. & Rm./Tract/Info card), which brings out 20 to 30 people each time. Even though the ground work is done by few, the reward will be reaped by many. Since I go out in the morning before the sun gets unbearably hot, there is not much opportunity for the working man or woman to help out. God has blessed me with another man in the church, Robert Richards, who is faithful to this ministry. Bro. Richards fell 18 feet last year making himself disabled, but not so disabled that he can’t walk with his pastor and canvass. On his own he has canvassed 1000 or more of the houses this year. He heads out with his sons and daughter to hit the neighborhoods next to his home and beyond. This has sped up my goal of canvassing all of Lewiston by the end of 2015. Clarkston and Asotin will follow in 2016.
A few months ago a man in our church started a veteran’s home ministry out of the church. It was short lived as the veteran’s home fired their director in charge of religious services, thus ending our short ministry there…for now. The first service we had there was very profitable to the church though. Charlene Lewis, who has a 90+ year old father in the home, was attending the service that Sunday. She had been looking for a church like ours and said she would visit soon. She did and eventually joined the church. Her background was southern and she said that I reminded her of the preaching she heard then.
In June we had our first Communion service since arriving in October 2012. God led me to use the whole Sunday morning service to do Communion. I preached a little bit, sang a song on that point, did part of the communion service, and repeated the process till Communion was taken. It was different for me to break it up that way. I have always seen it done in 15-30 minutes at the end of a service (this may be what I will be instructed to do next time), but taking the time the first time to do it was essential to explaining it and bring to heart the seriousness of Communion. There was much positive feedback regarding the service.
In Other News
Psalms 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
Normally, conversations in the Gipp home are based loosely on fact. We love to laugh and joke with each other, so when Ezra knocked on my bedroom door and stated, “There are men with guns outside”, for a split second I thought it funny, then I thought, during the other half of that split second, “when is the last time he used that line as a conversation starter?” After I realized that he had a sober look to his face, away to the window I flew like a flash to see what was the matter. Sure enough three police officers had a man down on the ground at gun point in the carport between my Suburban and gas grill (a space of about four feet). Five minutes before that, Rose had been cutting my hair in that exact spot. This is also a highly trafficked area for the kids to go play in the back yard of the church property. As a family we knelt at the couch/family altar and thanked God for His protection.
It has been on my mind recently to amplify my guitar. The only negative thing to amplifying my guitar was the hindrance a cord makes to sliding across the platform. You can only go so far before you are ripped back by reality like a dog on a chain! Seriously though, I have to use a microphone and stand in order for it to be heard. A number of young men came up from Treasure Valley Baptist Church and one of them gave me $100 to amplify the guitar. Now people hear how truly bad I am at playing. Thanks Ashton.
1Co 9:26, 27 …I therefore so run…I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: …
In March I decided that the extra 10lbs I had acquired over the winter hibernation was not worth keeping around so I started to run a few times a week. The hot weather has slowed that down severely, but I have started back up as the weather has cooled down again. Something happened one evening as I was running. Normally while running I feel as though I am two steps from death and wrestle with thoughts of positive obesity, but something happened as I came to the end of a 4 mile run. I can’t explain it, but those who run call it a “runner’s high”. Maybe it was adrenaline or some endomorph release, but a feeling that I could run until my legs fell off swept over me like a wave. I ran for another mile ending, at that point, the longest run in my life! If I could bottle up what I felt and sell it, I would be set for life. I guess…only those who run have the opportunity to feel a runner’s high. As a Christian I have experienced the same feelings. The feelings you get when leading your children to the Lord and then being able to baptize them. The feelings you get when people walk up to you after a message with tears in their eyes praising God for what you just preached. The feelings you get when a 40+ year old husband and father who has been prayed over for years gets saved and he walks into your office with teary eyes to let you know. This is a Christian runner’s high! I guess…only those who run have the opportunity to feel this!
I Cor.9:24 …So run, …
Thank you to all those who pray and give to keep us running in Idaho.
2 Timothy 4:5 …do the work of an evangelist,…
David Spurgeon meetings
The close of May brought evangelist David Spurgeon to our church. We had scheduled a Wed.-Sun. meeting, but after nine hours of delayed flights we cancelled the Wednesday service and started the next evening. All went well, even though it was Memorial Day weekend. A number of families were gone due to family engagements, but we pressed on with it anyway.
The Sunday before the meetings started we advertised in the paper here. A sticker on the front that led to an ad inside was put on the front of every Sunday paper. Every house in Lewiston, Idaho and Clarkston and Asotin, Washington, that received a paper saw it. It cost a little bit, but it was well worth it. The Friday evening service was Bro. Spurgeon’s personal testimony and we had a record high (since I have been here) of 69 people in attendance, half our people and half visitors that heard of the meeting.
It is a joy to a pastor to hear people, who were nervous about coming, be there every night. Some said they were only planning to be there for two services and in the end they only missed Saturday evening. Each evening we had supper an hour before the meetings for the people and snacks outside after church. This was a good time for our people to mingle and fellowship with each other and some of the visitors that came. There has been nothing but positive feedback about the meetings.
(Special thanks to Pastor Tim Haveman and Heritage Baptist Church for helping with the ad cost.)
Win some, lose some
April brought some lows to the work here. We had an elderly couple and an elderly lady leave the church. All left on speaking terms. Unhappiness was the bases for their decisions. (It had to be personal unhappiness, because more than one person has commented on the good spirit of the church.)
April also brought some highs to the work here. An older couple, the Tedders, have been attending the church since we arrived in Lewiston, and they joined the church.
John 16:21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
Well I cannot say for certain that Rose doesn’t remember the anguish of our latest Gipplet’s birth, but his smile does begin to make it a distant memory. Ira Daniel Gipp was born on January 16th healthy, happy, well, healthy. He was supposed to be born in early/mid February, but God had different plans. Romans 8:28 was definitely in play during the week of his birth. Three days prior to Ira gracing this planet, another preemie-baby was born to a family in our church, Nevaeh Sydenham. Nevaeh was supposed to be born the same week as Ira in February. Both infants were roommates in the preemie unit for at least a week. The reason God did this was because the other father isn’t saved. This gave me time to “bond” with him over our babies and establish a relationship outside of the pulpit. I was able to be Nathan Gipp (‘nough said), not Pastor Gipp during those moments. All-in-all things went well and both babies have been in church since. Also, since then another newborn was added to our LCVBC family in late March, Miranda Tedder. Babies bring life to all ages in a church. What a blessing!!!
A special thanks goes out to my mother-in-law, Peggy Wolski, for coming to our aid during the month of February. Our church family provided us with meals for a couple of weeks until she came and then she did the rest. I love her dearly, but she makes it difficult to tell “mother-in-law jokes”, because she doesn’t fit the bill in any of them. It is a blessing to be married to your best friend, but also to like your in-laws. That isn’t always the case for most men.
Last year a man in my church walked into the Sunday service right off the street. He had been backslidden for 12 years. Well, like the prodigal, he “came to himself” and got right with God. Since then he has been through some trying times making him the witness that he is today. Because of his witness a number of people have gotten saved. This is the growth that I want to see in our church…inward then outward. The contacts he has through his state-based recovery group has led to Mel, Dan, Kiley, and Sam getting saved.
Often we preachers preach on being a witness to those around you at work, school, and play. This is great and expected of any child of God, but because of the position God has put us into, the people at work, school, and play for us are already saved. I minister to sheep, not wolves. This makes it hard to see people saved when I mostly deal with saved people. Don’t get me wrong…I witness…a lot, but it is usually spontaneous to a person I have just met. So I pray for a person who is willing to receive and believe. Luis Hernandez was that person. Recently I made a 20 hour trip by bus to Wyoming to pick up a bigger vehicle for our growing family. While on the way Luis boarded the bus 4 ½ hours into the trip and was on my buses all the way to Salt Lake City where I was able to give him a gospel tract. We separated when I boarded my bus to go into Wyoming only to be told we all were going to have to switch buses due to some “mechanical failure”. Luis came over to ask some questions about the church and myself. In five minutes the gospel was given and he prayed to get saved. As soon as he got done he said, “I feel different…I feel good”. Within minutes I was boarded onto another bus and gone. Luis has my card, but has not made contact. Please pray for him to find a good church family.
A salt water fish tank has been on my bucket-list for some time. In the last year I have been able to acquire some of the things needed to start one: a 55 gallon tank, a stand (made by a man in my church), and you guessed it…fish! Things are going swimmingly. You probably don’t care about my fish tank, which is fine, but God does. Let me explain. All was in place, but a canopy for the top of it. A wood canopy can cost up to $300+! One Saturday I was looking online at a canopy I wanted, but wasn’t about to spend money on, and I felt like God told me to go to Petco and look for one there. My first response was one that most Christians make, “Why would I spend your time Heavenly Father on something so small and inconspicuous, when souls are dying for want of thee? Blah, blah, blah…” After I realize it wasn’t “spirituality” but laziness that was stopping me I headed for Petco. Within minutes of arriving at Petco, the worker in the aquatic section told me that he was getting rid of his wood canopy from his 55 gallon aquarium and would give it to me for free! We serve a big God who cares about our little wants.
I almost missed out on a blessing because I thought it foolish to “Go to Petco” when God told me to. Imagine what blessings Christians miss out on all the time when we think it foolish to “Go” when God tells us to? Please study: Mt.28:19/Mk.5:19/16:15/Jn.15:16 with Ps.126:6 and GO!
Piano player/song leader---Still praying for God to answer this request.
New believers growth---Since we have been here we have seen a few people trust the Lord. Keep Mel, Dan, Kiley, Sam, Gary, and Skyler in prayer for growth.
I once again wrote for the weekly religious column in the Saturday issue of the Lewiston Tribune. The following is the article that was inspired by the "holiday" season. Read on...
It is the Holiday season. A festive time. A giving time. A time where “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” are published throughout the land. A time for family. A time for…me to have a BIG PROBLEM! What could seriously be wrong with all the above mentioned? The question is not “what is wrong with it”, but rather “what is being left out?”
Recently I took my family on a stroll through Locomotive Park where all the lights were hung with care. As I stood at the end looking up through the tree with all the blue lights a thought struck me. Where is all the Christmas stuff? You know the manger scene with the wise men and shepherds? There were definitely enough lights to create the star of Bethlehem! There were dancing penguins, and an igloo, we heard music and got free cookies! Can’t go wrong with free cookies?! But nothing to reflect the true meaning of Christmas: JESUS CHRIST THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD!!!
Ultimately it is the age of political correctness and being so worried about offending anybody that has brought about not being allowed to put up anything about Christ, during Christmas, in a city park. Or is it? Honestly this is just one more step down a road, that we as a country, starting taking many years ago. Where is God in education? Is He allowed in your schools? How would you feel if you were purposely forgotten on your birthday?
The only way to remove Christ out of Christmas is to “educate” Him out. Now the day for us to remember the true Light of Christmas has become drowned out by Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The BCS and NFL playoffs are on more minds than thinking about God’s gift to mankind. Jolly Ole Saint Nick has replaced Jesus as the centerpiece of Christmas. “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” are the words we utter in place of “Merry Christmas”. Tell me you have not been educated out of the true meaning of Christmas!
Now for some “light” on the subject:
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”
“…Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
“..Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
Wow what a gift of God! Please dust off your Bible and read John 3:16-20 and read why God gave His Son and the reason why the “light” has been purposely turned off during Christmas. Merry Christmas to all.