Sunday, February 24, 2013

“The Tree” and “St. John’s Chapel of the Valley”

Last Friday I was invited to minister at one of the first services of a new church being birthed in Santa Rosa.  Well known musician and composer, Pastor Rev. Bob Kilpatrick and recognized Bible teacher and musician, Chris Howard, have named their new effort “The Tree Christian Fellowship.”  Bob was out of town Friday, so Chris led the service.  

Frances’ brother, Ray Bingham was there with his wife, Joan.  I enjoyed eating with these precious servants of the Lord and staying the night in Santa Rosa in their lovely home.  Meet Ray and Joan in this picture.

St. John’s Chapel of the Valley is not a big church, but growing and “glowing.”  It is like an extended arm of Modesto’s Bethel Church only a couple of miles away.  It was such a pleasant experience for me this Sunday morning!  Pastors John and Neva Blakeley and staff welcomed me warmly.  I set up my lap steel guitar and joined in the great music.  Both Neva and John are excellent musicians and they have a team of top notch worship leaders.  Some of the songs were familiar and drew me back to my distant past.  Others were new to my ears.  Worship came easy.

A group of kids listened attentively to Felipe’s twisted version of a Bible story, which hopefully I straight- ened out for them.  I got the idea that the adults were taking it all in, too.  

Ministry is easy when among dear friends.  God showed up at the altar time and many of us felt His loving touch as we knelt and prayed.  Again a group gathered to pray for me at the close... as this will be my last planned preaching service before leaving for Argentina again in only 10 days.


Tonight I am including this picture I took a week ago when visiting our son, Ron and his wife, Elisabet in Felton.  Ron is sitting at his keyboard.  He started composing music when he was still a teenager.  I encouraged him to record all his new works at that time.  He has recorded scores of them, maybe hundreds, over the years.  Most do not have lyrics, just titles… like this 2 minute melody called “Angel Dream” which you can listen to by just clicking here if you wish: Angel Dream


Monday, February 18, 2013

Horses, Cabinets and Worship

This weekend I visited our son, Ron, and his Argentine wife, Elisabet since I had been invited to preach in their church Sunday.  They live on two acres in the Santa Cruz mountains only about 5 miles from the small mountain village of Felton.  They built a barn and corral to take care of Elisabet's two Arabian horses.  She rides them in endurance races and has a whole wall full of ribbons and trophies.  Some of these rides are 25 miles, others 50 miles.  Often they involve difficult, mountainous terrain. 

Last year she did a 155 mile endurance ride divided into three days!  She did not come in first, but she completed the 155 mile ride which is a major achievement in itself.  

A photographer captured this shot as she rode past him on her horse "Tango" during her second day of the race.  

Last Saturday Elisabet was honored with this 34 year old trophy.  It is the annual Eleanor Norton Award given to the club member who exemplifies the meaning of the word "Sportsmanship" for this year.  Elisabet's name is the 34th to be inscribed on it.  Among other reasons, the award was given to her in recognition of her 2 year tenure as president of the club, which is one of the oldest endurance clubs in the world. Many of it's members are world renowned endurance riders, with a combined half million competition miles!  She is also holding in her right hand a silver belt buckle given to her at the same award ceremony by her dear friend Julie Suhr who is 88 years old and still riding strong! 

Hidden in the second story of the barn shown above is a fully equipped, modern cabinet shop where Ron's business produces unusual and beautiful high-end specialty cabinet work which he designs for his growing bay area clientele.  Check out some of his creations that he has built and installed for delighted clients.  Just click on...

I had totally lost my voice last week, but God miraculously brought it back just in time to minister this Sunday morning at Redwood Christian Center of Felton which is nestled in the hills north of Santa Cruz only about five miles from where Ron and Elisabet live.  

Redwood Christian Center (Assembly of God) is a small congregation of believers led by Pastor Rose Warren.  Sister Rose, with us in this photo, makes this a church where it is easy to feel at home.  What makes it doubly special for me is that Ron and Elisabet make this their home church.  Today Elisabet was leading worship along with her team.  

Ron was running the sound board and video projection.  You can tell whenever the sound man is doing a great job.  It's when you don't notice him at all and everything runs smoothly.  Ron is an expert and takes this task seriously.

These next 3 photos show Elisabet's worship team taken this morning during the service by our friend, Paul, a neighbor of Ron and Elisabet.  And she invited me in on the fun with my lap steel, Hawaiian guitar.  

Elisabet has a noble philosophy related to worship leading: "Not performance, but worship."  And she believes in "Excellence, giving our best for God!"  She is very clear during practice at what she is driving for.  Several songs will slip from one into another with hardly a noticeable break.  Above all she is committed to not just "do a performance", (she hates the word "performance" in relationship to leading worship), but her goal is to actually lead the congregation in serious, inspired, joyful worship.   

This un-posed portrait of the keyboard player is a classic!  Paul is an excellent photographer.  And this musician is a great subject to capture.

Percussion is on the opposite side of the platform and this brother does it right.  He does not try to shine... but fits in perfectly, leading out strong or fading back exactly as instructed.  

Elisabet runs a tight ship, but with a special talent for kindness and maintaining good relationships. All this along with Holy Spirit anointing. 

What a privilege to minister to this body of believers!

At the close of the service Sister Rose called up some of the elders to pray for me as I will be leaving for Argentina again in just 16 days, Lord willing.  


PS. I remind you that all pictures may be enlarged by just clicking on them.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Holy Silence

I think it happened late in the famous 60s.  The “hippie thing” was blossoming throughout California.  Rev. George Elrod was pastor of First Assembly of God in Chico… home of Chico State University.  First AG was the "classy" church in town. 

Yeah... there was another Assembly of God church in Chico with an elderly widow lady pastor, Sister Lonnie Decker.  Her minister husband had passed away and she was trying to hold a little congregation together, as I recall, meeting in a house.
Brother Elrod, now with Jesus, told me that several Chico State University students in “hippie attire” came to visit First Assembly.  I don’t remember if he said they were barefoot or how they were dressed, but obviously not dressed like “First Assembly” folk.  The "Jesus Movement" was sweeping this culture and they were looking for a man named “Jesus.”  

Pastor Elrod told me with sadness and shame that they were not well received.  Certain parents expressed fear of an “undesirable element” that might affect their teenage kids.  The result was that these seekers sensed a feeling of rejection. 

But Sister Lonnie Decker opened her arms to them.  She had only a handful of believers anyway and nothing to lose.  That group, now joined by others, found the powerful Jesus that they had been searching for and a virtual revival broke out.  When I ministered in that church still in that house or perhaps a rented building, they were bursting at the seams with excited youth, while Chico First AG, now under another pastor, seemed parked at status quo.  

The next time I visited Chico about 5 years later these youth were in their own church building.  Sister Decker had retired and Gaylord Enns was now pastor.  I’ll never forget when Frances and I pulled into the parking lot at 5 PM, an hour before the scheduled missionary service as was our custom.  You could hear the roaring sound of prayer coming from the building.  And when we opened the door we found it literally filled with a youthful congregation on their knees seeking God.

Several ministers came out of that special move of God.  I only know a few of them: Bob Kilpatrick (with his inspiring music), Bob Maddux, Chris Howard, Roger Houtsma and *Barry Carroll.  

This morning I was invited to minister with *Barry and Betty Carroll (on right) at Family Christian Center in Dixon, California where several years ago, although he teaches at Capital Bible College, they accepted the challenge of serving as pastors.  The building is small, but well cared for and there was a beautiful congregation.  The atmosphere seemed special to me.  We Pentecostals are famous for our enthusiastic noise.  And I enjoy that kind of service as well.  But in this service there were moments of “holy silence.”  And after the preaching, the response at the altar time saw practically every person, young and old, I think including visitors, kneeling around the front as they opened their hearts to our wonderful Jesus.  Pastor Barry and I passed among them quietly praying for each one.
Our God is a God of variety.  He moves in many ways, sometimes amid flag waving, dancing, enthusiastic worship... complete with powerful bursts of “holy praise” and then... sometimes in the stillness of “holy silence.”  What an awesome God we serve!

P.S.  Check out another of my son, Tim Hiatt's short videos, "The Parable of the Restaurant"

The Parable of the Restaurant from Modesto Neighborhood Church on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

Today, February 3, Missions Faith Promise Sunday, I was privileged to minister in Neighborhood Church Modesto, my home church.  What an honor!  In 2005 the growing congregation moved from their smaller building into the Modesto Christian High School gym.  

For 13 years now our son, Tim, has served on staff here as worship leader, which includes many other facets on the ministry, including producing short video productions.  Below you can click on the one Tim produced for today's Missions theme, "Why Should I Care.* 

I handed my little pocket camera to one of our members, who happens to be an excellent photographer.  He captured a few of the special moments.  One of them was when I asked my grandson, Evan, to hold the suitcase for Felipe.  It was his first time and he handled it like a pro.  The shot is from the back of the church (gym), but you can get the idea. (Click on picture to enlarge)

I liked this one that was taken from behind the stage while Tim (on right with the guitar) and his great worship team were on the platform prepared to lead the congregation in a song that I had requested just before preaching.

And then there is this shot that looks like I was saying, "The fish was THIS BIG!"  Which is not what I was saying.  I just can't talk without using my hands... ha.  

But God was there and His presence could be felt.  And although all the faith promise cards have still to be tallied up, we are believing for another step forward in mission support.


See Tim's short video for today.  (He has produced many more.)  

Why Should I Care About Missions? from Modesto Neighborhood Church on Vimeo.