Scripture Reading: John 14:1-14

Jesus Comforts His Disciples
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Jesus the Way to the Father
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 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. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.


Flip Flops

by Lauri Kuhn

JOB 33:14-18 (NLT) “For GOD speaks again and again, in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they lie on their beds. He opens their ears in times like that, and gives wisdom and instruction, causing them to change their minds, and keeping them from pride, and warning them of the penalties of sin, and keeping them from falling into some trap.”

In September 2022, a few friends and I went on a Discover Mission trip to Anadarko, Oklahoma. We went to see how the ministries and the Sullivans were doing. The Sullivans were still recovering from Covid, but doing well, and the ministries were thriving again. On the journey home, we had decided before hand to stop at the Ark Encounter. We arrived in the small town we would spend the night, get up early and go to the Ark Encounter, then head back home.

Well, I needed a brush and the Dollar General was close to the hotel we were staying at. As we pulled up, the store had a shopping cart full of flip-flops for $0.25. I heard that small voice in my ear say, “They would be good for the DR.” NO! I thought. I just wanted to go get my brush and go to the hotel and rest after driving all day. The next morning, one of the friends on the trip said she really liked the brush I got and asked if we could go back to the store so she could get one. Sure! So, we pulled up to the store and the flip-flop cart was still there. I ask the LORD,” Do you still want me to get these flip-flops?” “Go get them”, He said.

My friends and I pushed the cart in the store, and told the girls working at the register that we would like all the flip-flops. We start packing the flip-flops in boxes, so we have the same amount in each box. The girl at the register said they had more in the back. Eureka!

Then chaos ensued. They couldn’t figure out how to ring up all the flip-flops up on the register, and customers were lining up. Meanwhile, we’re telling the girls where they would be going – to the DR! Turns out, one of the girls at the register was the manager and says, “You can have them all for $10. We need to get rid of them to make space in the store.” Over 200 pair of flip-flops for $10! Thank you, Jesus! After packing the flip-flops in the car both my friends hand me money for the purchase. I paid nothing for them!

Listen to that small voice, it just may be the voice of GOD!


Full Circle

by Crystal Johnson

On Sunday, January 22, 2023, I sat in the sanctuary and watched as my son became a member of Christ’s American Baptist Church. This is something he did fully on his own, without any encouragement from me or his father. Yes, we were very happy that Gage decided to take this big step and so extremely proud of him. However, the decision was his and his alone. Becoming a member of the church was not something I was going to “push” him into.

As I was sitting there in the sanctuary taking it all in as Pastor Josh spoke about how Gage literally grew up here at CABC and has been a part of things since he was a toddler, a thought popped into my head, “huh, we’ve come full circle”. The verse from Proverbs 22:6 immediately came to mind. This verse is special to me for several reasons! It is the verse that CABC Preschool identifies with, and strives for above all other teaching. Training a child to go in the way they should go… listening to God’s words, knowing of Christ’s love for them, serving their Lord and Savior. This is my main goal for the children that go through CABC Preschool each year. “When they are old, they will not depart from it.” It is our prayer that even after these kiddos leave CABC Preschool, a piece of this knowledge, love and servant heart will go with them, so that when they are older, teenagers, adults, they will still have that knowledge, or have expanded on it over the years.

As a young mom I was careful and adamant about raising Gage and later his younger sister in the way they should go. I grew up knowing about Jesus and believing Him and His Heavenly Father. I knew Christmas was because of Christ’s birth and Easter was because of His crucifixion and resurrection. I knew Christ was the Savior of the world and the only way to get to Heaven was through Him. However, when I was older, in my teens and early adulthood (particularly after Gage was born and my Grandfather passed away) I really struggled. Not so much with faith, just lack of proof, lack of evidence of God in my life, lack of knowledge. I vowed that my children would not feel that way. And so, we went to church.

Gage was dedicated to the Lord (at CABC), he attended Sunday School classes, he attended VBS, we attended Easter Family Fun Days, he was a part of the live Nativities on Christmas Eves, as he got older, he started volunteering for things. Small things at first, like manning a game at the Fall Fest., when he started playing guitar he started to play on Wednesday evenings for the Pulse Worship. He started helping at VBS when he was too old to participate. I could keep going, but my point is, Gage grew up at CABC and NOW he is a member of CABC as an adult.

God has brought Gage around full circle in his life here at CABC. Psalms 138:8 says “The Lord will bring to an end or to completion that which is about me.” Gage did not depart from the way he was brought up when he became a young adult, even though it is so easy for young adults to lose their way or fall away from their upbringings, especially spiritually, for however long it may be. I could almost feel God’s hand patting me on the back, saying, “Well done, Mom! You started him on the way he should go.” This was not about me, all I can say is, “Thank you, Lord. All glory and honor and praise are yours! Gage is yours.”

I don’t what other “circles” God has in mind for Gage, I’m sure there are many! What I do know is that He will complete the works He starts. Full circle.


O Christmas Tree

by Chris Abbey

Ask my husband. I have literally hundreds of Christmas ornaments on my tree each year. I have been collecting ornaments since I was 17. I have ornaments from my travels to Europe, Asia, Canada and Central America, and many states in the US. My friends and family know I collect, so they bring me ornaments from their travels. I have handmade ornaments for my mom, children, grandchildren and friends that I cherish.

It’s not just enjoying my finished Christmas tree that brings me joy, but the act itself of decorating it. The memories of my past come to life when I open those ornament boxes. When I select an ornament, I remember back to where I was, or I think of who gave it to me and my heart smiles just a little. Some of them are so fragile, and some have scents; and the look, feel and smell take me back, so many years. Usually, I cry at least once or twice at the memories some of my ornaments bring. I love those memories of family and friends.

As treasured as my ornaments are to me, we are so much more a treasure to God. The beauty of my tree cannot begin to compare to the beauty all around us. There is so much that’s not good these days. We hear of evil on the news,
we see greed all around us, and injustice where we most expect justice to rule. What can we do to keep from drowning? We must take the time to find those “God Sightings”. If we don’t, we can lose sight of all the glory of God’s creation, and fall into total despair. We must Choose Joy!

Each one of us is like one of those ornaments, a treasure, a beautiful creation, most precious to God. He handmade us. He dreamed of us. He created the earth for us. From the majesty of the mountain ranges, to the fierceness of the ocean. From the quiet of the woods, to the vastness of farm fields. From the mysteries of stars in the heavens, to the heat and brilliance of the sun. I like the simplicity and celebration of the old hymn, “For the Beauty of the Earth”. Google the words and think of the blessings all around us. Such a simple, sweet song.

Scripture: Read Genesis 1-31. It’s about the creation of everything, and it ends with “…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

I read recently, where a little boy was looking at the sky and stars with his dad and he asked, “If the wrong side of Heaven is so beautiful, what must the right side look like?” Just imagine!


Body of Christ

by Judy Bakk

Could you imagine if your whole body was an eye ? You could not walk or talk . Or an ear? How would you see and walk and talk? Think about what you would be missing out on! I use to think that as being a part of the Body of Christ we all had to be alike in all ways! I was so wrong! Just like our physical body has many members and each on has a specific
purpose so do we as the body of Christ! Even Jesus’s disciples were hand picked by God each one different for the furtherance of the gospel. Each one had a specific purpose that God wanted them to do. God has specific purposes for you and I as well. Each one of us make up the body. I can not be you and you can not be me but we can work as one to glorify God! So next time you begin to wonder why he or she does not think exactly like I do know that God has placed them here to balance us out and complete the body so that we can glorify God and grow and build the body up in love. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35.) The way we love demonstrates who we are.

“Body of Christ” refers to all individuals who heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13); are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the
Spirit (Ephesians 2:22); and are joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is
working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:16).

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part
suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)


The Idea of Community

by Bethanie Freeman

Community is not a word that I often think about. I live in an area on the outskirts of Hanover that isn’t really a neighborhood. We wave to some of the neighbors but know very few names. This isn’t new to us; in fact, it has been the case since we were married. It had never crossed my mind that
community was overly important. I was content to live with my family, a few friends from church, and colleagues that I chat with in the hallway at school. It wasn’t until I went on my first trip to the Dominican Republic that the idea of community started to creep into my mind.

While on the trip, I began to notice things that I had never seen before. On our first day of food distribution, I saw neighbors who truly were looking out for neighbors. They made sure to let us know if someone wasn’t home and why, so that we could leave food for them. It was interesting to me…a glimpse into Philippians 2:3-4, which states, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” They wanted the friends in their community to have a meal for their family. Could they have simply ignored that need? Of course, but they live in such close community with one another that I don’t believe that option would’ve crossed their mind.

During a clothing distribution, I saw people, all of whom were in great need of clothing items. They did not push, grab, or fight to get items. They did not argue. They did not complain at what was available or offered. They simply waited together. They showed items to others and helped choose sizes to meet the needs of each person. Even, when we ran out of items for the teen boys, they did not become disrespectful or belligerent. They simply said thanks for the shirt or the socks, and went out on their way, genuinely pleased that others were able to receive much-needed items. (Don’t worry, when we returned in July, we packed up special bags for these young men filled with items to remind them that they were not forgotten and that God saw their needs). Such a picture of Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”

Upon my return home in both March and July, I stayed in daily contact with many of my new friends living in the DR. I could tell you countless stories that I heard, but one of these really stuck out to me. My new friend, whom I met in July, lives in Villa Mella with his parents, sister, and nephew. A horrible work accident has left his father unable to work his regular job, and now this young man is the primary provider for his family. While working with him to create a more stable financial plan for his life, he shared with me that he was unable to pay the rent or purchase food for his family. I was so frustrated, because we had been working on this concept of meeting basic needs. He very calmly explained that his Godmother was extremely ill and needed medical care. I explained that I understood his wish to help her, but that it was more important for him to feed his family of five and not be kicked out of his rented home. Without a second thought, he explained that with God as the center of your life, you place these needs into his hands and in doing so, you are able to care for the needs of others without fear. I can honestly say that never in my life have I chosen to meet the needs of
someone else at the risk of my family missing a meal or missing a mortgage payment. How simply he imitated the words founds in Acts 4:32, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”

I have one final example to share from my Haitian brothers and sisters that are serving the Lord so faithfully in community in the Dominican Republic. Another young man shared with me that he wanted to begin working with an organization in the US. This group had decided, on what appeared to be a whim to me, that they wanted to offer some support to the poorest of Haitian communities in the DR. This young man had literally no spare moments to his day, as he typically works a 75-hour week while attending several courses to train as an electrician. The organization had no plan, no money, and no concept of how this was going to work. Their work had primarily been with immigrants within the US. So again, in my “great wisdom,” I advised against joining this new group. I had spoken with the head of the organization, searched their financials, found google reviews and did my due diligence to make an informed decision. I was shocked that he did not agree with my sound logic. Instead, he reminded me that it is the job of those who love God to come alongside people in their community, to walk with them in hard times, provide for their needs, and to encourage them with the Word. He assured me that if he was faithful to this calling, God would prove faithful to him by providing the time and resources, regardless of what my research had shown. Their first outreach was in a community that he described as far worse than any of the areas we are taken to serve in. He gathered a group of 30 friends and people within his community to celebrate the start of a new school year with clothing, school supplies, and haircuts. To this day, I do not know how he stretched the tiny amount of physical donations and money to supply these needs for over 200 children. What I do know is that his faith was strengthened, the faith of his community was strengthened, and my very weak faith was strengthened, as I saw God meet impossible needs in impossible circumstances. It didn’t matter that those serving had little to offer and that they also were living poverty. Instead, they remembered the words of 1 Corinthians 12:26-27, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” They chose to follow the call of decreasing the suffering of others by serving them in the name of Christ Jesus.

So, as we look at community in this new year in our Sunday services, my thoughts go in numerous directions. Can I honor Christ in the way my Haitian family does? Am I willing to sacrifice my comforts to support my communities? I pray that God uses me this year, uses each of you this year, uses CABC this year to build a better community of people that love and obey God and seek to share His salvation with others so they can be in community as well.