Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Below you will find a great resource for family reading and gifting. It comes from Chuck Colson’s website listed below and was written by Eric Metaxas. Let me encourage you to go to their website which has outstanding resources for navigate our culture in these difficult times. Eric is an excellent author and I encourage you to read anything he writes.
Blessings, Pastor Mike


Pathway On The Move

We are so excited to have purchased our own church facility.  We are currently working on our design and building plans, as well as our use permits.  In the mean time, we have been blessed to be able to use the beautiful chapel at Mount Vernon Memorial Park at 8201 Greenback Lane in Fair Oaks.  We are continuing to have both our Classic and Modern Weekend Services on Sundays and 9 and 10:30 am.  There's plenty of parking to the left of the Chapel.  You can follow the painted crosswalk if you need to use the ramp to enter the building.   Restrooms and drinking water are available in the lobby.  Please do not bring food or drinks (except water) into the chapel.  
 
We have KidZone programming during our Modern Service at 10:30.  The Nursery (6 months to 2 years) is located at the north-west entrance of the main chapel.  Signs are posted.  KidZone Children's Church (Pre-school to 5th Grade) is located in the Small Chapel which is at the west end of the main Mount Vernon building.  Signs are posted there as well.  Please sign your kids in at the check-in table, and  leave your cell phone number so we can reach you during the service if needed.  
 
Our Junior High students have their Sunday School class as well.  They can join their parents for the opening, worship music portion of the Modern Service, and then they are dismissed during the greeting time to go to class, which is next to Children's Church in the main building.  Their Sunday school teacher and the KidZone check-in attendant will direct them to their classroom.
 
Bulletins, communication/prayer cards and offering envelopes are all available at the back of the chapel.  You can ask an usher for assistance.  The credit card machine is also there and available to use for offering.   If you donate to Pathway directly through your bank, please update your bank with the new mailing address below. 
 
Church office hours are varied during this transition, but the church phone number has not changed.  Please feel free to contact the staff at 916-988-2390.  The church's new location and mailing address is 8999 Greenback Lane, Orangevale, CA 95662. 
 
Thank you all for being patient and faithful during this critical transition.  We strongly encourage you to stay connected and continue attending our Weekend Services as well as  joining a LifeGroup.  It is important for us to do life together.  We have plenty of small group resources available.  Contact Leanne in the office to gain access to materials or RightNow Media.  
 
May God bless you and yours as He continues to provide for and bless Pathway Fellowship.  


The Greatest Easter Sermon Ever Preached

 
 
Was by 
John Chrysostom (349-407), the early church's famed preacher and archbishop of Constantinople at the great Church of Holy Wisdom (Built by the early Christians, nowt aken over by Islam as if it were there own creation, the Hagia Sophia in what is now called Istanbul). Read more...


A Testimony of Faith

Every once in a while, I meet someone who has a tremendous testimony of God working in their lives, in spite of all the praying-woman-silhouettedifficulties.  When I received this one from Kirsten A., written so well, I was so blessed that I just had to share it with you (with her permission).   “In my application essay, I recounted how my journey overcoming complex regional pain syndrome led to my current desire to become a physician assistant.  Though perhaps compelling, and while completely true, there is another story that parallels and underpins that story -- one I believe to be of infinitely greater worth:  how God used my pain and brokenness to soften my heart to His Truth.   "God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full -- there's nowhere for Him to put it," writes St. Augustine (City of God).  This is not to deny God's omnipotence, but rather an affirmation of our free will.  It was particularly true of my situation prior to my illness.  Being raised in a loving but secular home, I found no shortage of worldly things with which to occupy my time when I later lived in Los Angeles as an adult.  Notions of a higher power were, to me, irrelevant at worst and charmingly intellectual at best.  When the pain began, however, I quickly learned that the things I held up as necessities really were not.  What mattered beyond all else was the love and support of my family and friends.  Most reluctantly, I entered a new life physically and spiritually.   In response to what I now recognize was prompting from my grandmother and the Holy Spirit, I began reading the Bible.  As I read, God placed key believers in my life.  Through prayer, revelation, and loving discipleship, I placed my faith in Jesus Christ.  I still remember lying awake one night, tears streaming down my face, asking the Lord how he could forgive me for every shameful thing I had ever done.  Today I know that the answer is repentance and the blood of Christ given through unfathomable grace.  On June 9th 2013, I was baptized by my pastor in the American River.   What I initially perceived to be the most disastrous event in my life was actually a great blessing.  CS Lewis writes, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world" (The Problem of Pain).  I rejoice in the Lord for His perfect plans, and for those who have and continue to guide me along the path.  How blessed we are to have such a faithful Father!  If anyone sees any light in me, it is because of the love of Jesus Christ.  Though I fall short daily, I strive to love and serve others where they are in life, so that they too may know the true joy of God's love for them.   In my daily life, I endeavor to seek first His kingdom and to listen to the still, small voice of the Spirit.  It is often challenging.  I have noticed that it is easy to feel connected and loving when things are pleasant.  It is quite another to do so in the midst of time pressures, hostile patients, cramped and hot working conditions, and loosely restrained chaos.  Many of my patients face extremely difficult home, health, and financial situations, the frustration from which is often directed towards staff in the form of verbal and, at times, physical abuse as we make efforts to help.  Slow referrals processes, understaffing, and endless insurance procedures act to further complicate the situation for these patients.  I have learned, and am still learning, to put my anxieties and frustrations before God, that I may lean on Him to serve each individual with diligence and humility.   Prayer and fellowship are invaluable.  I've found that it is now natural for me to speak with God throughout the day -- thanking, asking, listening, praising in silent song -- my heart is drawn to Him because He is the only one who can truly satisfy it.  I also benefit from fellowship through my church, participating in women's bible study groups as well as a Middle East missions training program.   Above all other paths, I want to follow the one God wants uniquely for me.  I believe He has led me to serve as a physician assistant.  God willing, I will walk with discernment through whichever door He opens, wherever that may lead.”   Kirsten A.   Soli Deo Gloria! Pastor Mike


Back to Jerusalem

Simon Zhao in his early 30’s was appointed the leader of preaching and evangelism in the Northwest Spiritual Movement, a group dedicated to taking the Gospel back to Jerusalem. Originally he was from Shenyang (a city in which I was privileged to meet and fellowship with the underground movement, teaching and preaching). He grew up angry at God for the death of his father, and the rape of his mother. He vowed to get revenge. Years later he was saved as his mother told him that only God could grant justice.

It was at a prayer meeting in Shenyang where the Lord 1st gave Simon the vision of ministering in the Northwest province of Xinjiang. It was bitterly cold outside and the snow drifts were high, no one could get in or out. Simon and 2 other believers placed their hands on a map of China and began to pray over the various provinces. His heart was directed toward Xi$_1njiang. Later Simon found other Christians who had the same vision, to take the Gospel to Xinjiang and the regions beyond. Then Simon met and fell in love with Wen Muling, who was to become his wife. She was the 4th generation descendent of a Qing Dynasty imperial Officer.

Along with other groups, they began to make their way on foot to Xingiang.

They were headed to the Northwest Border of the Soviet Union and on their way won many Chinese Soldiers to faith in Christ. In 1949 it was troubled times in China with much civil war and unrest. They continued their journey through widespread internal chaos.

In 1950 the Cultural Revolution was well underway and all of the groups of Christians were arrested for crimes against the state and put in prison for various lengths of time. He was separated from his wife who was pregnant with their 1st child. She would lose their child and she died in prison in 1959. Simon would know nothing of this until 1973.

Prison was harsh for Simon, they tried to get him to renounce his faith, but he would not and endured much torture and abuse. They finally gave up on trying to get him to deny his faith, but every time they found him praying he was beat harshly. Back home his church did not know whether they were alive or dead. The church went underground. After a few years, they had forgotten all about Simon and the groups dedicated to head back to Jerusalem.

Simon then realized that he would never get out of prison alive, and so when the guards weren’t looking he prayed for his wife and child and the other’s in their party arrested for their faith. He prayed "Lord, I will never be able to go back to Jerusalem, but I pray you will raise up a new generation of Chinese believers who will complete the vision."

After many years of suffering in the coal mines in slave labor, Simon was almost dead, and so they transferred him to a toxic chemical factory. The new job was easier than the mines, but every day they were exposed to toxic gases and chemical poisons. Each night he returned to the prison where each day he suffered beatings, but this time from fellow prisoners. The guards had devised a plan for the prisoners to vent their hatred out on each other, rewarding them for their work. Simon was an especially hated man because he refused to renounce his faith. He was an easy target for these brutal men.

Through it all, Simon never gave up on his faith in God. On one occasion, in the midst of a severe winter, the guards refused to let him stay in the heated cell block. They stripped him to his underwear and made him stand out in the cold. They pushed him outside saying "you believe in your God, so why don’t you pray for Him and ask Him to keep you warm?" For the 1st few minutes the cold wind tore into his flesh like a razor. Simon cried out to the Lord for mercy. Then something amazing happened, he felt a tremendous warmth coming through his whole body. As the cell mates and prison guards watched, steam rose from his body and the snow melted all around him.

Regardless of the miracles, they continued to beat him mercilessly. One time it fractured his skull and went into a comma. He heard God speak to him, "My child, I am with you. I shall never leave you or forsake you."

His wounded and cracked skull was instantaneously healed.

Simon spent over 31 years in prison for his faith, finally being released in his 60’s. The people’s government decided to show lenience upon him. He had missed the whole period of the Cultural Revolution under Mao, in which millions were killed by the fanatical Red Guard’s, a holocaust seldom mentioned.

Simon was the only one of his band of missionaries that lived through the terror of those years. No one was waiting for him, he had been long forgotten, given up as dead. He never stopped giving thanks to the Lord of Lord and the King of Kings who helped him endure, who never left him.

He felt privileged to suffer for His Lord, but he was tired and physically drained, he wanted to die and come home to his Lord, his wife and son. During his imprisonment he knows that he should have died 1000’s of times, but God kept him alive, but for what?

After some time some local Christians heard about this old man and his testimony. Out of respect they brought him food and gave him clothes and shelter. News spread throughout the house churches in Xinjiang that a "miracle man" had survived 31 years of brutal imprisonment.

People from all over came to hear his story and to meet with him.

As a revival was spreading throughout regions of China’s house churches, and they began to recall the "back to Jerusalem" movement of the early 40’s. Christians traveled for weeks in order to meet this broken humble servant of God and his story of "back to Jerusalem". During the 50’s through the beginning of the 80’s, there had been no talk of "Back to Jerusalem".

But now, wherever Simon spoke there was a fire that was lit in the hearts of all who heard, tears were shed, people were convicted, and the Back to Jerusalem Movement received new life. God’s people in China, those who had gone through hardship and pain, imprisonment and torture, but nothing like Simon had experienced, were being called back to Jerusalem.

At 83 years of age, on Dec. 7, 2001, Simon Zhao finally went home to be with his Lord and family. But for 20 years, he was able to preach, teach, and inspire the new generation with God’s passion for Back to Jerusalem.

God had answered his earlier prayer through him!

The house churches in China knew that God had prepared them for this task.

They had already experienced persecution in severe ways. They had no reservations in giving their lives to God to undertake this mission.

They went knowing that most of them would die in the process.

They went unafraid, knowing that God was leading them and would use their sacrifices, just as He had used Simon Zhao to keep the vision alive.

They have been called by God. And nothing was going to hold them back.

Today they are moving by the 1000’s into the 10/40 window.

While westerners protect their families and lives foremost, and will run at the 1st sign of persecution. These brave soldiers for Christ move ahead. They are not afraid of what might await them. They are more concerned for the lost souls who do not know Jesus. They are putting their lives, their families on the line knowing that suffering for Jesus is a part of carrying their cross in the service of the Savior who carried the ultimate Cross for them.

(Story adapted from "Back to Jerusalem" by Paul Hattaway)

Soli Deo Gloria! Pastor Mike

 



Dwelling in the Past

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September 8, 2015

I spend a lot of time recording history, holding on to the past. From the time Jan and I were married, I have been obsessed with capturing history.

It all began with an “instamatic” camera with those little tiny cartridges of film. Photography became even more important to me after we started our family.  I didn’t want to lose those great moments.  Photographs is a way of keeping the past.  I wanted to be able to remember what it was like back then and how our children looked at their various ages and functions.

 

I began shooting movies with those little spindles of tiny film that you could actually watch on a projector.  It was about 1984 that I got tired of those cheap-o-camera’s that gave poor quality & so I bought my first 35mm.   Now I was buying larger rolls of film that gave much better quality.  I even bought a movie camera that recorded on those big cassette tapes that you could play on a video tape player.

 

I cannot begin to tell you how many 35mm camera’s I have purchased over the years.  I began to shoot slides and prints & do movies.  It was a regular 3 ring circus.  My kids still make fun of me when I took them to Disneyland when they were children armed with my camera’s.

 

Then came the digital age & I upgraded on all my camera equipment, eventually buying a portable photography studio to do some “serious” photography that you could edit in Photoshop.  I have all the stuff I need to capture the history of my life, from weddings, graduations, kids, grandkids and world travels.  It is not too difficult at all for me to spend significant amounts of time each week, downloading, editing and printing, & more importantly, remembering.

 

I do all of this so I don’t lose the past.  Granted, there is some artistic value in photography, and I truly enjoy that as a hobby.  But my main focus is to record the lives of my loved ones in whatever they are doing.  I guess you could say it is my desperate attempt to hold on to those wonderful times.

 

Remembering is one of those double edged swords that can be a blessing or a curse.  I don’t want to lose the joy and beauty of the past. And yet at the same time, I can’t forget the things that should be buried and forgotten.

 

Often I find myself ruminating on my past. (By the way, cows “ruminate” – look it up) Sometimes it is a rehearsal of difficult conversations replaying in my mind; what should have been said and what could have been said.  Or I cogitate on past regrets of what might have been had I chosen another path, or taken a different turn in the road of my life. Often I sift through memories of individuals who are long gone—either through death or some other forced absence from my life—wishing for more time with them or another opportunity to commune together or have a better closure.

Regrets, nostalgic remembering, and analytical thoughts can all work together to keep me bound in a place to which I can never return.

 

“Dwelling in the past”, as if one could take up residence there permanently,

is a strategy I often employ when I find the present or the future daunting. Rather than face the challenge of the future, I retreat into my past, searching for comfort, or numbness. Part of the reason I do this lies in the simple fact that to move forward is to leave behind that which has become dear—whether that is a cherished memories of wonderful people or a grudge coming out of some needless conflict.

 

As I said in my sermon Sunday, God has great plans for us.  He has empowered us to do incredible things, things that we never dreamed we could do.  Most of us are too afraid to move ahead and see what God might have in store for us as our future. For others it is a call that woos us to consider what more we are capable of doing, and who we are capable of being, both now in the present and as we journey into an unknown future in this world.

 

God told the Israelites, “Remember” that you were slaves in the land of Egypt. The Bible bears witness to a God who remembers.  And then again in Psalm 56:8 “You have remembered all of my wanderings; put my tears in a bottle, are they not in your book?”  Jesus commands us to “Do this in remembrance of Me.”  

 

But remembering the past as a joy and strength, as a platform from which to launch yourself into God’s purpose for your life is very different from making one’s home in the past, or seeing the past as the place of confirming your poor self-image.  Why sulk over the past when God has an incredible pathway lined up for us that will not only bring Glory to God, but give us a sense and purpose as members of His Body, the church. I want to be like Paul,  “letting go of what lies behind and looking forward to what lies ahead.”  You have an incredible journey just waiting for you to live it out.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Mike