News

A Fly Fishing Small Group has started at MVC. This group meets every Tuesday at 7pm. The purpose of the group is to get together and fellowship as we learn the skills of fly tying and fly fishing. Activities include:

·         Fly tying
·         Fly cast
·         Entomology
·         Rod building
·         Fishing trips

Don’t have any equipment?  No problem, we have plenty of extra equipment.

If you are interested, please contact the church office at 610-326-5856 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will put you in contact with the group leader.
Life flies by me so quickly that every day seems the same.  But every now and then one of those moments transpire that stops everything and hits you right in the face and burrows deeply into your soul.

We had a wonderful time at the Yellow House  Hotel for my daughter Abigail’s rehearsal dinner.  After the meal, Mike and Abbie began handing out gifts to the wedding party.  The first gift went to the flower girl – a colorful bag almost as big as she was, full of “princess” gifts that delighted her soul.  Next came the gift for my little son, Sam, the ring-bearer.

He has been in a few weddings now, so he knew there was a gift coming for him.  I could see the anticipation on Sam’s face.  I could remember the excitement of receiving gifts when I was a boy; how wonderful those surprises were!  One of the little joys of life…

In the months preceding the wedding, Mike and Abbie had teased Sam that they were just going to get him a pair of new underwear.  But on this evening I think that was the farthest thing from Sam’s mind.  When Mike brought out a little bag less than six inches high, Sam gently set it down and gingerly unfolded the tissue paper.  The first gift was a little plastic ball about the size of a gumball with a little plastic squirrel in it – something that came from a gumball machine.  Sam looked at it slightly perplexed, set it aside and then pulled aside more tissue paper.  He began to pull at the next gift; it was a small item of clothing.  He unfolded it – it was a little pair of underwear with doggie bones and fire hydrants on it!  He looked at it, still somewhat perplexed.  And then he went back into the bag, pulling the remaining tissue paper out, looking carefully through it for anything more.  There was nothing.

I watched his little face.  You could see the disappointment creeping over his face.  You could see his wheels turning.  And then suddenly, without any instruction or comment, Sam walked over, threw his arms around Mike’s waist, and said in the sweetest voice, “Thank you SO MUCH for my gift, Mike!”  And then he hugged Abbie and thanked her, and he walked back over to me, where his little bag was waiting.  He took the underwear, looked at it appreciatively, and smiled at me as he folded it neatly and put it back in the tiny bag.

I could hardly keep back the tears.  I can hardly keep them back now as I type this story.  I will never forget that moment of a little boy’s true giving of thanks as long as I live.  It was one of the proudest moments of my life but my heart couldn’t take prolonging that moment any longer than was necessary.  I asked Sam if he thought Mike and Abbie were just teasing him.  He shrugged that he wasn’t sure.  I asked him if he liked his gift, and he nodded that he did.

At that moment Mike produced a big silver box and presented it to Sam.  You could see the joy flood back into Sam’s face.  He pulled the lid off the box and tore eagerly through the tissue paper and when he found within the box the type of gifts that he was hoping for, he squealed with joy his deeply heartfelt thanks to Mike and Abbie.  And as I watched him receive the good gift, my own heart rejoiced, perhaps more than Sam’s, because I understood even more than Sam did the truly wonderful and good thing that had just taken place.

I don’t think that our heavenly Father plays practical jokes on us, but I do think that sometimes He gives us gifts that are far less than we want or expect.  He knows His reasons.  But He also knows that one day we’ll understand – and He’ll hand us our own “big silver box” that contains things that our eyes had never seen and our ears had never heard, things that had never entered into our imagination as remotely possible, things above all that we could ask or think.

I’ve received some excellent questions about my series on the soul and the brain that I couldn’t address from the pulpit, so I’d like to address them here.

Are there brain problems that really do affect the soul?

Absolutely.  Alzhimer’s and Parkinson’s are two prominent examples.  The mental retardation caused by Downs Syndrome is another.  Brain trauma caused by a fall or a hit to the head can also alter thinking and behavior, as can damage caused by substance abuse.  The causal relationship of brain damage to behavior in these cases is demonstrable.  These are clear-cut cases of brain damage or malfunction.
 
My point is not that “mental illnesses” and “personality disorders” cannot be the result of brain malfunction; only that such has been assumed, not demonstrated.  Brain malfunction is assumed to be the cause of thinking and behavioral disorders because of the medical community’s naturalistic bias that leaves no other explanation besides bodily malfunction.  I counter that chemical problems may very well be caused by thinking or feeling or believing problems.  My approach to these things is to deal with “soul problems” when behavior is involved; save drugs and surgeries as last resorts.

Is it a sin to take drugs for mental and behavioral problems?

No – it violates no command of God that I know of.  The question is “Do such medications really solve the problem?”

So why not take medications?

I wouldn’t say “don’t ever take medications.”  We had just better be aware of some misconceptions that are involved regarding such drugs and the problems they are supposed to address.  First, the medical community assumes that the “symptoms” of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, et al, are caused merely by chemical imbalances.  They don’t know that for a fact, nor do they seem to take seriously the idea that thinking patterns can affect the physical structure and functioning of the brain.  They simply assume that brain abnormalities (i.e. chemical imbalances) are at the root of thinking, emotional and behavior aberrations.  There is no way to test whether one has a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Second, many times prescribed medications give little or no relief.  If we are sure of chemical imbalance, and we are sure that a given med addresses imbalance, why should that be so?  Why are prescriptions of such medications trial and error, i.e. “try this med and if it doesn’t work we’ll try another medication?”  That sounds like guessing – not knowing – what’s going on in the brain.  Is such use of medications wise?

Third, the assumption is that the “chemical imbalance” is an abnormal activity of the brain that needs to be corrected.  But what if the brain is simply responding normally to bad patterns of thought or bad circumstances?  Is the chemical adjustment of the medication really fixing the problem?  Could such unnecessary “fixing” be making things worse?  Could it be creating other problems?  We simply don’t know.  I would point out, however, that it is not uncommon for people who take medications to find themselves having other “chemical difficulties” later which require different medications.

I’m not saying that medicines have no effect on emotional problems.  They obviously can make chemical adjustments that result in different feelings.  But if the chemical imbalance is being caused by wrong thinking (as we’ve seen is possible), and the wrong thinking continues, then aren’t we interfering with the body’s normal functioning – and is that a good thing?  Furthermore, there is no evidence that such chemical imbalances are occurring EVERYWHERE in the brain, i.e. that every synapse is affected by low levels of chemicals in need of “fixing”.  There is also no evidence that the medications affect ONLY those synapses which HAVE low levels of chemicals.  How do such medications affect the parts of the brain that are functioning normally?  We simply don’t know.  Could such meds be causing damage in such healthy places?  We don’t know.  Hence my notion that people proceed with caution with medication.

If you must take medication to get relief from symptoms, recognize that you’re just getting relief from symptoms.  This is a good thing!  But while you’re feeling better on the meds, use that condition to try to address wrong patterns of thinking so that the real problem gets addressed.  Unfortunately, this is not what usually happens.  Learning to undo bad habits of thought and belief is hard; taking a pill is easy.  If the pill gives relief, why do the hard work of correcting deeply ingrained thinking patterns?  It is not unusual for people to become dependent on a medication, and if or when the med fails to provide relief because the body grows accustomed to it, the person scrambles for a different medication, then another, and another.  The real “soul problem” goes unaddressed.  The doctor trying to help will prescribe as many meds as it takes to give relief; but pastors and counselors are concerned about more than relief.  We’re concerned about healthy, wholesome souls that live by right belief and right thinking.
In Pastor Chris' sermon on November 9th, he mentioned this link to the Arabic newspaper Al Jazeera.  Click on the link and go to the end of the article and read the many responses from around the world to get a taste of "looking through different windows" as mentioned in the sermon.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2008/11/20081154282266589.html
    Last month I laid out some principles of our philosophy of missions support here at MVC.  My goal is to achieve a high-percentage of support for each missionary; I’d rather support a few missionaries at a high percentage of support than throw nickels and dimes at twenty different missionaries.
    When you go onto the mission field, you’re away from home. You’re with people who are different from you – they think differently, speak differently, act differently.  Everything truly is foreign, and “foreign” can’t help but translate into uncomfortable.  I was only in the Pacific Islands teaching for three weeks, but I had no access to phones or computers, and I missed my way of life; I missed my family and friends.  I missed the personal comforts that those familiar to me could give to my soul.  I realized that I drew a lot of inner strength from my fellow Christians and the things that were comfortable to me.  That got me thinking about the needs of long term missionaries – people who faced the “foreign” every day for three or four years at a pop and had to try to get comfortable with it.  And it made me think about how easy it is for the church to send money every month, but to not really be personally involved with its own missionaries.  They come home on furlough and are guests of honor for a Sunday – but they live here every day for a year while they’re home.  What an opportunity to BLESS them – and to be blessed by them – if we’ll only take advantage of it and connect personally with those who represent Christ in our behalf around the world.
   I want to get our church – and that means our people, not our “institution” – more in touch with our missionaries.  One of the things that I’d like to see started is “circles of support” for each missionary – a small cluster of people interested in each missionary – a cluster of people that will pray regularly for a missionary and will use the technology that we have to communicate with our missionaries.  You can IM and e-mail just about anywhere in the world (Chuuk was one of the few exceptions!).  You can send pictures and videos.  You can take (and demonstrate) personal interest and care.  Can you imagine what a blessing this would be to a missionary?  Rather than feeling alone and abandoned, he’d know – not just by a few words scattered occasionally here and there – but by more regular interaction that people really do care about what he’s doing on the field, and that they care about him – and I use the masculine pronouns editorially – but missionary wives and single female missionaries need the same thing!  If we surround every missionary with ten people – say five families each – we can develop relationships by regular friendly and informal contact; not the cold, stiff contact of a letter on church stationery, but of casual and true caring from “regular folks.”  Through this we can build our own understanding of missions and our own connection to missions; we can become liaisons for that missionary to the rest of the church, conveying his needs, his successes, his struggles.  Such relationships also mean that when the missionary comes home from furlough he can feel he’s a part of us; he’s already got a circle of friends that really care.  He doesn’t have to be assigned by the “hospitality committee” to some random person’s home for a meal when he’s here preaching during furlough (or worse, be sent out to dinner at a local restaurant with the pastor).  Instead he’ll have friends familiar with his work, people that he can talk to, people he can let his hair down with.  I think that’s good for our church and for the missionary.  (Anybody interested in heading up these circles of support?  Get in touch with me!)
   That brings me to one final thought.  I think our people would be more prone to get involved with missionaries at these more significant levels if they knew that missionary (or does Jesus’ statement about a prophet being without honor in his own country apply here too?)  Many missionaries that contact me got my name off of a Christian mailing list; they don’t know me or our church from “Adam;”  they’re just looking for Christians that will pray and send money so they can get on with their work.  They all have worthy missions, and I don’t mind inviting them to come.  But we have a number of local people – friends and family members of our own congregation, and even a few from our own congregation – who serve the Lord in various mission fields, and some of them are looking for support.  And I’m thinking that perhaps seeking to support them first will do more to build our connections and our care about missions than if we bring in total strangers.  Any thoughts on that?
   I’d appreciate any response to these ideas as the elders continue to develop our missions program here at MVC…








    
    Last month I spelled out how independent churches do missions. This month I’d like to explain some problems that we’ve encountered in doing missions.

    Every month I get several missionaries requesting permission to come to MVC to seek support. Most of them I don’t know at all; they found our church on the mailing or phone list of some other organization. When I tell them that we are not presently taking on new missionaries, they   always respond cheerfully and prettily: “That’s okay, I’m not looking for financial support; prayer support is so much more important!”  I’m always tempted to respond:  “Okay, I’ll put you on our prayer chain; no need to take up an entire Sunday service for your presentation if all you want is prayer.”  Deputation is about raising money; it takes money to go to the field.  The missionary knows that; I know that.  Why do we have to try to sound so pretty and spiritual?

    I always imagined that the bulk of a missionary’s support came from churches and was filled out by the regular gifts of a few individuals.  I was shocked to find the opposite to be true: most support comes from individual donors. Should I just accept this as a fact of life and adjust our missionary strategy to it?  Instead of the entire congregation sending a large monthly amount to a few missionaries, why not just open the door to every missionary who requests access, and let each person in the congregation decide which missionaries they want to send their monthly checks to?

    Here’s why we aren’t going in that direction.  The biblical picture is that a missionary is an extension of the local church.  Our missionaries are an arm of Mountain View Chapel reaching out into the world.  As such, I believe we should shoot for giving them as much support as possible.  If one church can provide 60 percent (or better) of a missionary’s monthly support, the missionary doesn’t have to be on deputation as long and   doesn’t have to worry so much about fund-raising; he can get on with the job he’s called to do.  Furthermore, the missionary doesn’t have to be accountable to 100 different individuals in 50 different churches spread over three or four states, nor does he need to send out 100 different mailings or visit 100 different people while home on furlough.  Instead, he can work primarily in and through and with the church that provides the bulk of his support.  He can get to know us, and we him, and this keeps the church as a whole more involved in the missionary and his mission.

    So this is the type of missions program that we’re trying to develop here at MVC.  But if this is the governing philosophy (achieving a high-percentage of support for each missionary) then inviting missionaries that we are not going to support as a congregation just so that they may randomly “beg” for funding from individuals diverts those funds from the main objective, and seems counter-productive.

    Along the same lines, this is one of the reasons we have reconsidered giving “church support” for short term missions trips.  While we were doing the trips, I received a number of questions about short term trips to China from those who had contributed to those trips.  Are these missions really worth all the money that is being poured into them?  Do the two-week missions really accomplish anything that contributes to long-term success, or are the trips primarily benefiting the “missionary?”  After all, if you’re in a place for a mere two weeks, unless you’re accomplishing a very particular task (e.g. building a building, teaching a class), you’re not really much more than a tourist.  And how much effect can tourists really have?  Our folks may have a great experience, but are we trying to give experiences, or are we trying to accomplish a deadly serious task in a foreign country?  And if it’s “the task,” isn’t that task done more effectively by long-term missionaries who are on the field and “in” the culture?

    The same goes for trips to South or Central America to build churches or schools.  Isn’t it a more effective use of funds to send the money to the on-field long-term committed  missionaries and allow those native to South America to build their own buildings?  Is it good stewardship to send ten guys at $3000 a pop to work for ten days among people with whom they can’t communicate to build a building which becomes, in the eyes of the natives, the “Americans’” church – which means that when something goes wrong with the Americans’ building, the Americans will have to send another team down to fix it?  Aren’t there workers in South America who can build their own buildings and maintain them for a lot less than $3000 a week?

    These aren’t the whinings of tight-fisted stingy people, but thoughtful questions about wise stewardship from real committed givers.  I know that our decision to not pursue short-term mission trips at this time  doesn’t sit well with a few, but such trips are not contributing to the overall direction in which we’d like to head with our missions program.  Nor does the idea of inviting in missionaries at random to skim off funds that we’d like to go to the support of those      missionaries we choose…

And I’ll spell out some thoughts about choosing missionaries to support in the next installment of the Scrip…


The weather looks like it will be rain-free for our Annual Church Picnic this Sunday after the service!  If you did not get a chance to sign up, but would like to attend, please contact the church at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 610-326-5856 and we will get back to you. There will be tables in the gym where you may put food that you want to keep out of your car if it's hot outside and a table to keep food hot and plugged in. There wil also be a table in the hallway by the kitchen to place items that need to be refrigerated. If you get there and the kitchen doors are closed, the Sunday School teachers will make sure your food gets into the refrigerator.  If you have any questions, please call the church office.  SEE YOU AT THE PICNIC!
    Some folks have asked about my ideas regarding missions outreach.  We have a number of folks who are from non-churched and denominational church backgrounds who may not understand how non-denominational churches do missions.  So I’ll take this issue to spell out the process.  Let’s get acquainted with some basic missions jargon:

Mission:  The task of spreading the biblical message of Jesus Christ. 

Missionary:  The person who spreads that message is a missionary.  So to some degree, we’re all missionaries.

Mission Field:  The particular place or country where the missionary goes to spread the message.  Palau is Rob Watt’s mission field;  the greater Berks County area is our mission field.  So is your neighborhood…and your school…and your workplace.

Evangelizing:  Preaching the gospel and seeking to convert people to Christianity.  This is also known, pejoratively, as proselytizing.

Church-planting:  Traditionally, the main purpose of missions – convert people and teach them to put together their own congregation that keeps the mission going among their own people.

    All churches have missionaries, but if you’re from a denominational church background you might not have known much about missionaries because those denominational missionaries tend to be sent by denominational headquarters, not by the individual churches.  The denominational churches just send money to the headquarters, a percentage of which covers missionaries.  The headquarters’ missions department decides which missionaries go to which fields and with how much money.  Denominational headquarters also takes care of processing all of the visas and finances and flights and shipping and international relations.

    Independent non-denominational churches operate differently.  Each church is essentially its own denomination, and it is very difficult for one church to completely finance a missionary AND put someone on staff to handle that missionary’s finances, flights and international relations.  Instead, mission-minded people have developed mission boards that focus on particular missions.  A mission board is a parachurch ministry, i.e. an organization that works alongside of churches.  A missionary-to-be chooses a mission board that works with missionaries going to a particular field or doing a particular type of work.  The missionary goes through preparatory candidate classes to learn about the culture and language and the how-to’s of his mission field.  Once this orientation is completed, the independent missionary begins the process of deputation.  Deputation usually takes about three years of going to various churches, presenting your mission and hoping that the church will give you financial support on a monthly basis.  A church that gives support is called a supporting church;  the missionary’s home church which usually provides the largest percentage of supporters is called the sending church. 

    The average cost per month for a single missionary is $3000; a married missionary with children will be much more than that.  In order to get on the field the missionary must have commitments for at least 80% of his support, plus the funds necessary to ship him and all of his stuff to the field (that can be anywhere from $25,000 - $50,000, depending on what needs to be shipped and where).

    The missionary is an extension of his supporting churches;  he is essentially part-time staff for each of those churches.  Traditionally a missionary went to his chosen field for four years and would then come home to the United States for a one-year rest, called furlough.  Some missions have shortened the terms to two or three years with furloughs of six to eight months. While on furlough, missionaries return to their supporting churches and give reports of what is going on with their mission; many times, because of rising costs or unstable economies where they minister, they have to raise additional support during furlough.  Furlough is not vacation.

    The purpose of the missionary is to spread the gospel of Christ.  Traditionally this has been done through church-planting.  Increasingly, however, people around the world are hostile to proselytizing and now many missions focus on providing medical help or hospital care, care of the poor or orphans, education or some other non-religious humanitarian work.  Such assistance becomes the door for conversation, the forming of relationships with the native population, and the preaching of the gospel for the establishment of churches.

    Presently, MVC supports four missionaries:
 
Bill & Kathy Miller are planting churches in Brazil with CrossWorld Mission
(http://www.crossworld.org/home/). 
1)   The Millers have been supported by MVC since before I was the pastor, and back in the 1970’s Bill was pulpit-supply for our chapel while he was a student at Lancaster Bible College.

2)   Alan & Deanna Heathcote are planting churches in South Africa under Biblical Ministries Worldwide
(http://www.biblicalministries.org/). 

3)   George & Linda Hege, former assistant pastor at Colebrookdale Chapel, a sister church of MVC, started ministry under Liebenzell Mission USA (http://www.liebenzellusa.org/) in Ecuador taking the gospel to a mountain tribe (the Cuaiquer) that had never heard.  Once the first Cuaiquer believers were established, the Hege’s came home and are presently using their Spanish skills to plant a multiethnic church outside of Reading, PA  (Muhlenburg Area Community Church).

4)   MVC’s former youth pastor and worship leader, Rob Watt, is also serving with Liebenzell USA, pastoring an English-speaking congregation and establishing a branch campus of Pacific Islands Bible College on the island of Palau.

    Each of these missionaries has a bulletin board on the wall by our sound room.  On each board are pictures and maps, as well as literature and monthly updates regarding each missionary’s work.
Feel free to browse and take some home.

In next month’s issue I’d like to mention some particular problems that I think need to be addressed regarding missions and the missions process, and the future of missions at MVC.

I enjoy collecting proverbs and concise pronouncements of truth from my reading.  For your pleasure and benefit, here are a few that I've come upon recently...

Everything should be made as simple as possible - but not simpler. - Albert Einstein

We should love both: those whose opinion we follow, and those whose opinion we reject. For both have applied themselves to the quest for the truth, and both have helped us in it. - St. Thomas Aquinas

Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save. - Will Rogers

To God, nothing is secular - not even the world itself, for it is His workmanship. - Justin Martyr (2nd century Christian philosopher)

The man surrounded by dwarves looks like a giant. - Jewish saying

We have to believe in free-will.  We've got no choice. - Isaac Bashevis Singer

Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. - President George Washington

The 'good man' is being superseded by the 'nice guy'. - Rabbi Shraga Silverstein

The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life. -  Theodore Roosevelt

Go not for every grief to the physician, nor for every quarrel to the lawyer, nor for every thirst to the pot. - George Herbert

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of   doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. - Benjamin Franklin

Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory. - General George Patton

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. - Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan

If the church wants a better pastor, it only needs to pray for the one it has. - Anonymous

Tell your family, friends, and perfect strangers that the MVC Youth Group Yard Sale is today, Friday, May 23 from 8 AM to 8 PM and tomorrow, Saturday, May 24 from 8 AM to 4 PM at the Rotenbergers' house at Routes 73 and 663 in Gilbertsville.  This year's yard sale is even bigger than last year's and features some of the best quality merchandise we have ever gotten.  Come early and be the first to get a shot at lots of furniture, books, bric-a-brac, clothing for all sizes, basically anything you can think of...  If we don't have it, chances are it doesn't exist!

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