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Hunched over person, in the shadows.

We have the victory over discouragement and depression in Jesus!

WE HAVE THE VICTORY IN CHRIST JESUS!

Our shield of FAITH will extinguish ALL the flaming missiles of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16). Our adversary is defeated but persistent in his attacks. He cannot touch us (I John 5:18), but he does tempt us to believe lies.

Dear Friends, please remember that if God is for us, who can be against us? God empowers us to be overcomers and conquerors in this battle of life. But the key is to do it in HIS POWER and not lean on our own understanding.

Hebrews 12:3 says, “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

I find that focusing my attention on Jesus and worshipping Him revitalizes my spirit and renews my mind. It’s amazing what praising can do! I want to encourage you to worship our Lord—loudly and joyfully, as you sing of His power and His strength and His forgiveness and His grace and His mercy and His love and His purpose and His plan and His will.

Fixing our eyes and minds on Jesus is the spiritual transforming perspective that lifts us up and gives us wisdom from above to deal with life’s trials and challenges.

I pray that you are experiencing His glorious presence right now!

“In His presence is the fullness of Joy.” (Psalm 16:11)

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To be a place that inspires spiritual growth, worship and ministry to people!

Our desire is to use Sonrise in the Woods to minister to people on the mountain.

Our mountain communities need a place where children can enjoy playgrounds, youth can gather for wholesome activities, adults can fellowship in unhurried peace and the elderly are treated with the dignity and honor they deserve. That is the vision God has given Church of the Woods for the new campus.

Our San Bernardino Mountains have more than 671,686 acres of National Forest land. There is another 147,313 acres of non-USFS land within the National Forest. As we consider that the 818,999 acres will always be preserved and undeveloped, it seems like our 37-acre parcel is a great location to serve the needs of people on our mountain.

It is amazing how much false information and hysteria is being generated over a project that seeks to serve our mountain communities by providing resources that are sorely lacking. Our Lord Jesus Christ said that the two greatest commandments are: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind . . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39) That is our goal!

God’s Word declares, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) In other words, God’s greatest desire is for the eternal souls of people to be saved. That is our goal too.

It is our prayer that Church of the Woods will be a catalyst for people to come to know God personally through Jesus Christ. Our project, Sonrise in the Woods, is designed to enhance our ministry into people’s lives and provide a wholesome, beautiful environment for ALL the communities to enjoy. It will be a great place to benefit from picturesque landscaping, natural beauty and fellowship with people from all over. It will be exciting! Hope to see you there, too.

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Read God's Word slowly, frequently and prayerfully.

God’s Word is filled with promises and hope that inspire people even during difficult times. One pastor told this true story of an attorney in his church,

“After meditating on several Scriptures, this attorney decided to cancel the past-due debts of 17 of his clients. He drafted a letter and sent it via certified mail. One by one, the letters began to return, unsigned and unopened. Sixteen of the seventeen letters came back to him because the clients refused to sign for and open the envelopes, probably fearing that this attorney was suing them for their delinquent debts. How profound! We owe a debt for our sin and God is willing to cancel it but too many people will not even open His letter that contains this great news.”

  • Let me encourage you to open your Bible! This book is God’s love letter to you.
  • It reveals the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers.
  • Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true and its decisions are immutable.
  • Read it to be wise, believe it to be saved, practice it to be holy.
  • It contains light to guide you, food to nourish you and encouragement to cheer you.
  • It is the traveler’s map, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s character.
  • Here paradise is restored, heaven is opened and the gates of hell disclosed.
  • Christ is its grand subject, our good its design and the glory of God its end.
  • It should fill the memory, rule the heart and guide the feet.
  • Read it slowly, frequently and prayerfully.
  • It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory and a river of pleasure.
  • Follow its precepts and it will lead you to Calvary, to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ; yes, to glory itself, for all eternity.

“For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” ~I Thessalonians 2:13

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Ending the Journey of a Lifetime at Golgotha

Our last day began with a brief tour of the hospital where Tom Gronewald volunteers as a missionary servant to Israel. It was very enlightening to hear about and to see the medical facilities and preparations done by this hospital.

We went from the hope of holistic medicine to the sobering reality of the Holocaust! Touring the Yad Vashem museum and the atrocities of the Nazi Holocaust leaves you an ache in your heart. The staggering scenes and video-taped interviews with Holocaust survivors left a grim reminder of the evil that is in this world. It ignites the passion for showing love and restoring the dignity and value of every human being. People matter to God and people matter to us too!

Our final journey took us to the Praetorian where Jesus was flogged, mocked and spat upon. He went through all the agony of Gethsemane, the beatings and the crucifixion for us!

Wow, what a Savior!

We wept as we stood on the stones in which Jesus received His cruel thrashing. We followed the Via Dolorosa , the way of suffering where Jesus carried His cross with the help of Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15:21).

Along this busy road we came to Golgotha and the Garden Tomb. We were truly standing on holy ground as we saw the Skull in the rocky cliff and personally witnessed the empty tomb. We gathered to read, worship and celebrate Holy Communion. What a special time of personal renewal and spiritual intimacy with our Lord. Richard played his violin and Kyler led us in worship as we spent an hour and a half just praising God for His gracious sacrifice on our behalf. This is the fitting conclusion to an amazing tour.

Isaiah 53:4-5 reveals the prophetic truth of our Messiah Jesus:

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.”

Our group has truly become a family and many are already planning to join us on our next trip to Israel and Greece from July 8-22, 2011. Please pray about joining us as well. You will never be the same!

Shalom!

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At the top of Mount Sinai

Following the Exodus of Israel through Sinai desert!

Leaving Cairo, we traveled under the Suez Canal and spent the day going through the Sinai desert on our way to Mt. Sinai. According to tradition, it was on this mountain that Moses received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19 and 20), which we reviewed with our family on the bus. The mountain is also reputed to have served as the site where Moses was commissioned from God at the burning bush (Exodus 3). The alternative mountain is in Saudi Arabia (formerly Midian).

The hike to the top of Mt. Sinai was grueling, but well worth it. We had a full moon as we started hiking at 2:00 a.m. to climb for more than four miles. God provided an amazing site of the sunrise to the east and the full moon illuminating mountain ranges to the west.

Chelsea took a picture of the full moon and a brilliant blue cross appeared in the photo. As we waited to see the sunrise, there appeared a bright blue light just above the rising sun. It seemed as if God was affirming His manifest presence to us.

We left Egypt and entered the “Promised Land” of Israel and there seemed to be a lighter spiritual atmosphere. It was here that we felt like we were standing on holy ground. We greeted our good friend and tour guide Ido Keynan and “Yoshea,” our driver from the last tour. It was a great time of fellowship and laughter driving up to the Dead Sea.

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From the Great Pyramids

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Greetings from Egypt

Our tour family is bonding well as we experienced our first day of touring, even with some jet-lag! Ancient history filled our eyes and ears as our Egyptologist guided us through the fascinating Egyptian Museum spanning over 5,000 years. We learned that headdresses and eye liner were originally used as protection from the sun and sand of Egypt—only later did they become fashion/religious coverings and cosmetics.

The forty day mummification process was explained and then “dead” results viewed in the Royal Mummies Hall—this same embalming process was used on the Patriarchs, Jacob and Joseph, signifying their high standing in Egypt at their deaths (Genesis 49:33-50:3, 26).

The word “Egypt” occurs over 600 times in Scripture with about 150 times signifying to get “out of Egypt.” However there is one time that God commands to “flee to Egypt.” Matthew 2:13-15 tells the story. After the museum, we ate lunch on the Nile. Next we made a quick trip into the Coptic Christian section of Cairo. The Church of St. Sergius is believed to be one of the places where Joseph, Mary and Jesus stayed during their flight from Herod.

The Giza plateau was our next destination to view the impressive Pyramids and Sphinx, as well as “Cheops Boat Museum,” housing one of the large boats buried next to the pyramids to be used in the afterlife. There was drama unfolding as our group arrived after the gate was locked to enter the Sphinx viewing/photo area, but our tour security guard convinced them to open up the gates for us.

Throughout this day, I kept thinking about how much time, energy and effort these ancient people took to prepare for the afterlife. WOW! Scriptures emphasize the fact that we will all give an account of our lives before God one day. My question after today is, “Are we preparing for our eternal home with the same kind of passion?” Obviously, we don’t need to build a pyramid, nor be mummified to secure eternal life. But we do need to repent of our sins, and receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord to obtain salvation. Then we make our lives count for eternity by our ministry for His glory.

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