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The View From My Window

December 6, 2015

I was pulling out of York Hospital early on Monday when I saw two older ladies running up the hill. The incline they were tracking was both steep & long yet they were really going at it. Both were dressed in sweat clothes & neither was carrying anything so I knew they hadn’t just knocked off the drug store at the bottom of the street.

My first thought was, “Ladies, there are easier places to run!” The fact that they were already more than half way up the hill & that neither looked to be in distress gave me a strange sense of conviction. It made me feel like a slacker. I had actually been considering cutting back on my own running routine but here were Mother Theresa & her older sister training for a triathlon.

People have an effect on us; sometimes the effect is quite profound. As we seek heaven for revival there are a few things we need to keep in mind so that the effect we have on others is actually constructive. That’s what we’ll be talking about in this morning’s sermon.

Pastor Joel Everhart

November 29, 2015

 

Hospital-Hallway

Looking forward to her surgery earlier this month my wife was understandably nervous. In fact, she wasn’t entirely sure she wanted to go through with the procedure until the day before we went to the hospital. Throughout that time I was her calm support letting her know that whatever she decided was fine. Every time she became anxious I seemed to have the right words to calm her nerves. On the morning of the surgery she appeared quite in control of her emotions as I felt my insides turning to jelly. For months she had worried about her recovery & suddenly I was the one who was filled with apprehension.

She said her turning point came the morning before surgery as the Lord blanketed her in a sweet peace. I had great peace & confidence until I needed it most. While sitting in the waiting room I was reminded that she had always made it through past surgeries with flying colors, which gave me confidence to not trust my own jitters.

Sometimes we need to repent of our emotions; apologize to the Lord for losing it. But isn’t it good to know He doesn’t let our failures influence His victories? He stands ever ready for us to change directions & trust Him more.

Pastor Joel Everhart

November 22, 2015

 

iPad & Mac2

I was sitting at my desk finishing up some time with the Lord when the thought struck me: I haven’t gotten anything done yet today. The emotion that went along with the thought was one of defeat, guilt, & sadness. The truth is that I had completed many routine tasks already; important routine things. The reason I could then turn to checking the seemingly more important items off my “to-do list” was because I had, in fact, started my day early & well.

Routines are vitally important: they take care of the necessities so we can focus on the urgent or otherwise significant duties of the day. Routines can become so habitual that its healthy to recognize them every so often to see if they need any adjustments. Can I do better? Am I covering all the basics? Are there technologies or ideas that could help to improve my daily schedule? Is it time to shake things up? Shouldn’t I feel good about having established good habits & stuck with them?

This morning we begin a brief series on reevaluating ourselves as a church: celebrating what we’ve done well & dedicating ourselves to do better. They say there’s always room for improvement so let’s do what we do for Jesus with ever increasing vitality & worth.

Pastor Joel Everhart

November 15, 2015

I have the deepest sense of loathing for the people scamming our seniors, stealing identities, & putting devices on card scanners to take information in order to empty our accounts. Surely if they put their ingenuity to work toward making an honest living their skills would afford them a living wage. But they don’t want to work to earn a paycheck they want to work to steal yours. They don’t want to abide by God-honoring principles building wealth over time; they want it all now with no concern over who they hurt. Indeed, some of them have come to believe they are entitled to take whatever they can get.

That’s the mindset of that false god we started talking about last week. He has no concern over who goes to hell: men, women, children, young, old, handicapped, intelligent, beautiful, homely, or not too bright. Masquerading as a god of love, posing as the One True God he deceives many into thinking they’re going to heaven when in fact its all a scam. He’ll take your soul & leave you morally & eternally bankrupt. Protect God’s identity. Don’t settle for the impostor.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

November 8, 2015

 

turning

There’s a certain type of driver that only uses his turn signal when it benefits him to do so. You’ve seen him: you are waiting to pull out into traffic but a car is coming so you wait.

The car goes slower & slower but still you wait. At the last second he puts on his signal & turns (if he uses it at all). Had you only known what his intentions were when he first appeared you could have been on your way but as it is that 30 second delay caused you to miss a green light, arrive to work late, lose that promotion … That same driver sits at green arrows until they turn yellow so only he makes the light.

There’s a false god running around with the same motive: to benefit himself. He also masks his true intentions lulling people into a false sense of reality. Falling for his tricks will cost you a lot more than 30 seconds of your time; it could prove eternally fatal. Make sure you are trusting in the right God.

Pastor Joel Everhart

November 1, 2015

 

fireplace

I like to get as warm as I can before I dart out into the cold for my morning run. Often I’ll stretch in front of our gas fireplace. Somewhere between waking up feeling chilly & breaking a sweat is this starting to get hot sensation that almost makes it feel good to step outside into the frosty darkness. The problem is that as my body warms in front of the fire it likes it a little too much. Something inside starts to make excuses as to why it would be better for me to stay right there instead of contend with wind chills.

God has given us all good things to enjoy but He hasn’t given us anything to enjoy so much that it is meant to keep us from the important duties of life. There’s a time to relax, a time to enjoy, a time to recharge but also a time to go to work, a time to endure pain, & a time to leave the comfort of the fireplace for the health benefits of running.

One of our most important duties is to be a light for Christ in this dark world. It won’t always feel good. Pulling away from our comfort zone may be hard. But that’s why we’re here.

Pastor Joel Everhart

October 25, 2015

Inevitably during the vetting process of pre-election politics someone will rise in the polls for a while, look to be the next logical choice, then crash & burn as something nasty in their past — or even in their present — comes to light. Two names from earlier elections come to mind: Republican Herman Cain & Democrat John Edwards.

Cain was a businessman from Georgia that looked to have all the credentials conservatives love, though, shortly after he soared to the top of the polls, revelations of his extramarital affairs quickly sank any hope he had of moving into the White House. Edwards was a wealthy, good looking senator from North Carolina applauded for his devotion to his wife as she battled breast cancer. The revelation that he fathered a child with his mistress was only the beginning of his woes.

Each of these men came ridiculously close to securing the most powerful job in the world. In the last days the wickedest man of all will rise to power. He will appear to be the perfect choice. His credentials will look flawless. He will be brilliant, winsome, articulate … & evil.

Pastor Joel Everhart

October 18, 2015

Sometimes the wealthy decide to set up foundations to set aside some of their wealth to help others or provide capital to fund projects about which they’re passionate. Rather than choosing to deposit the whole sum of money into their favorite charity all at once, a foundation allows them to keep on giving for a very long time after they’ve passed on. There’s no way of getting around the fact that this is a very nice thing to do.

People are capable of doing great acts of kindness. Although believers in Jesus Christ top the charts for charitable giving, even unbelievers are capable of being generous. Usually, however, there is some ulterior motive involved: it creates a “legacy” after they’re gone or it provides huge tax advantages …

And so it will be with the final empire that rises in the last days. It will have all the show of humanity at its best: caring for the poor, equality for all … but, oh, the ulterior motives! It would probably be utopia if it weren’t for the one driving it all. What’s his motivation? To steal, kill, & destroy.

Pastor Joel Everhart

October 11, 2015

 

worship-cropped

Our little Yorkie knows every house in our neighborhood that has a dog that will bark at her as we walk past. As we go down the road she will pull to zig-zag me from one side of the street to the other in order to avoid these “hot spots.” Interestingly enough, she will bark at any dog that goes past our house. From the safety of our home she will run from one window to the next as she attempts to rattle the nerves of passersby. She hates when it’s done to her but has no trouble dishing it out. How human! We love to bark from our places of safety but are quickly shaken whenever we are not in control of our own environment.

Is the same true of our worship? Do we love to worship the Lord whenever we are safe & secure inside our church but withhold the same whenever circumstances are hostile to our faith? What if armies from heathen nations rise up against our country or our allies? Will we worship then? Will we still believe that God is in control? We may soon find out.

Pastor Joel Everhart

October 4, 2015

 
Encourage-One-Another

A week ago my wife & I took a walk around our neighborhood. I had been out a few minutes earlier & told my wife it was a little chilly so we put on our jackets. As we stepped outside we felt hot & wondered why we’d donned an extra layer. Halfway down the block a cloud covered the sun & we braced ourselves against the chill of the wind. As we turned the corner, the sun came out, & we started to feel like we were baking. This cycle continued throughout the walk: we roasted, we froze, it was too hot, it was too cold …

How life like! Life is full of extremes: we’re either overworked or bored; hungry or stuffed;anxious or lazy … Ah, but there is coming a day when a trumpet will sound. We’ll leave all frustrations behind & it will be heaven at last!

The Bible refers to this as the “Blessed Hope” of the believer. No matter how extreme your day becomes remember that it won’t be long — soon we’ll be leaving this too hot, too cold, boring, over-stimulating world.

Pastor Joel Everhart

September 27, 2015

 

Boldness-01

My wife & I had the joy of watching two of our grandsons while their parents got a little time alone recently.

Uncharacteristically the older brother wasn’t being very nice to his younger sibling. I warned him a couple of times but he completely ignored me. Finally, I reached for the squirt bottle I use to discipline my dog & let loose with a blast that caught him in the shoulder. The look on his face was priceless: a mixture of shock & indignation.

“Grandpa, you shot me!” he said.

“I know — you weren’t listening to me,” I replied.

If we are here to be witnesses for Jesus but people aren’t paying any attention to us, is there something we can do about that? What good is a witness that no one hears?

It’s time to make a bolder stand. It’s time to rethink our methods. It’s time to get creative.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

September 20, 2015

 

Learning to Walk

One of the greatest days in any parent’s life is the day their child is potty trained, but I have yet to meet a parent that remembers that date for very long. That’s true of so many significant dates in the development of your child: 1st tooth, 1st word, 1st step … we meet each of these new accomplishments with great joy – so why don’t they stick in our memory? I think it’s because as soon as they pass one milestone they’re pushing toward another. We get so caught up in their struggle forward that the past quickly fades. 

What is next is always better than what just happened. That’s not just true about kids. Somewhere in life we start believing the devil’s lie that our clay has hardened, that we are who we are & we can’t change. Liar, liar, pants on fire! Each one of us is constantly changing even if we don’t take notice of it. Don’t settle for what you’ve been. Start with baby steps. “With God’s help I can do it!”

Pastor Joel Everhart

September 13, 2015

Three captured sailors were placed one at a time in front of a firing squad on the beach. The first man was placed against a wall as the soldiers prepared to shoot. As the sergeant barked, “Ready…Aim…” the prisoner yelled, “Tornado!” The hapless riflemen looked skyward as the man jumped over the wall & escaped. Noting what his friend had done the second man waited until the sergeant gave his commands: “Ready…Aim…” & the prisoner yelled, “Tsunami!” The squad turned to look at the ocean & the prisoner escaped.

The third man stood there wracking his brain for some disaster that might distract the gunmen. The sun was hot, the seconds ticked by. Think, think, think, he said to himself. The sergeant yelled, “Ready…” All the good disasters are taken, the man thought. As the sergeant bellowed, “…Aim…” the prisoner yelled at the top of his lungs, “FIRE!”

Communication doesn’t have to be elaborate to be effective. Remember that the next time you want to proclaim that Jesus is Lord.

Pastor Joel Everhart

September 6, 2015

Recently a couple fresh off the farm moved into a small 3-bedroom duplex just down the street from my wife & me. The house sits on a tiny speck of land, shares the neighbor’s driveway, & has a 1-car garage.

The problem: they’ve tried to bring too much of the farm with them, including truckloads of dirt & mulch! The garage is packed floor-to-ceiling with equipment & supplies just waiting to be tooled into useful items. His pickup is one of those full-sized jobs with enough cab space to fit the Partridge family & the other two vehicles don’t even fit on their property. Most days you will find him out in his driveway with his power tools chewing through lumber. They don’t seem to know much about living in a neighborhood … or how to be retired.

When we become Christians, we move into a new neighborhood. The Lord helps us get rid of some old stuff & teaches us how to get along with our new neighbors. Are you learning or resisting what He’s saying to you?

Pastor Joel Everhart

August 30, 2015

One day the dog & I were out walking a mile from home when I decided I didn’t want to walk anymore, but there were no good alternatives to just sucking it up & heading home. How often have you continued to do what you needed to simply because you had to & not at all because you wanted to? It might have involved a difficult project at work, a fussy child in the middle of the night, or resolving a conflict with your spouse. Much of our lives are spent “sucking it up.” Hoover & Dyson have nothing on us.

“Suck-it-uppers” clean up the mess others leave behind, they persevere to get the job done after others quit, they get tired, they have other (better) things to do … but they get the job done anyway. I’m not talking about suck-ups: those who only perform when the boss is watching. “Suck-it-uppers” are those who finish the job long after everyone else has gone home. Let’s take a lesson from them today. Are you troubled? Suck it up.

Pastor Joel Everhart

August 23, 2015

I’m an administrator. Part of my job is to oversee all of the ministries and the business end of running a church. Of all my duties, I see this as the greatest challenge to my particular skill set. Knowing that to be the case, I’ve done two things to help myself in this area: (1) I’ve tried to glean good administrative practices from others who are gifted in management & (2) I lean heavily on people within the church who have demonstrated a proclivity for organization. Thankfully, we have many hard-working, good-tempered, patient, experienced members who can plan, organize, administrate, & oversee programs, budgets, calendars, & others in Christ honoring ways.

My management style is to find good people to coordinate the various ministries or clerical duties then give them the freedom to do their job. If a problem arises I do my best to help them help us. Openly admitting my lack of organizational skill has been met by much grace from others that are usually more than happy to help. I’m particularly thankful for the good people that sit around the board room table with me. Also, Pastor LeRoy & Wanda Bunker have been of tremendous help to me in this area.

I’d appreciate your prayers for me on this. Maybe there’s a part of your job or life you need to quit pretending you’re competent in & ask for some help. Chances are, you’re not hiding your weaknesses as well as you think you are. Coworkers & family members appreciate an honest assessment of one’s self much more than puffery, smoke screens, excuses, & worst of all — deflecting blame. You probably don’t want to list your weaknesses on your résumé but owning them with the people you’re close to will actually improve your relationships as well as your productivity.

Pastor Joel Everhart

August 16, 2015

I’m a counselor. I’m not a psychologist — I’m a pastor that asks the Holy Spirit to help me help people through some of the rough patches in their life. Rarely do I spend more than several sessions with any one person, couple, or family. Often I’m their first “last resort.” They haven’t been to a “counselor” yet & may even need to see a physician. If a person can get through those low moments of life they usually go on to live well. It’s not unusual for someone to have suicidal thoughts or feel as though their marriage is doomed or think they will never be able to adjust to a loss. Talking to someone else can help them see it for what it is: a season that will pass, & when it does life will once again be worth living.

Frankly, some people come to me because there is no charge & others just to say that they’ve tried everything. I even went to talk to the pastor about it but nothing helped, they’ll say. They were never really interested in change, only in getting their spouse off their back or easing their own guilt. However, I believe we’ve seen some real miracles for those who sincerely cry out to the Lord for help. Even if all we’ve achieved is peace of mind for one day – when you’re in the middle of a crisis that can be a miracle in itself.

When I shared in this column about preaching, I said there are two elements to preaching well: preparation & desperation. In counseling, there is no preparation other than years of experience with one’s own struggles with life. Sure, there’s a lot of reading & studying that can be of some assistance too, but mostly you approach each crisis with a desperation that knows that if God doesn’t show up – if the Lord doesn’t speak – nothing of any value will happen in the session.

I’m a counselor … chances are you are, too.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

August 9, 2015

 

pastor praying

I’m a pastor &, to me, pastoring is being with people in their times of greatest need.

Recently, I received a call from a hospice chaplain that a woman in a nursing home was in her last days. It weighed on my heart to get her husband in to see her one last time. He doesn’t have a car & the nursing home is in Shippensburg. I called his house early on Monday morning to see if he wanted to go see his wife & I learned that she had passed away at about 3 a.m. that very day. It kind of sickened me that I hadn’t acted sooner, but the weekend had been so full. As it turned out he had other offers of transportation but he simply wasn’t able to cope with it at that time. Now he accepted the ride in order to say goodbye to her remains.

We arrived to the nursing home shortly before the cremation society was due to pick up his wife’s body. As I stood beside him while he said “goodbye” I realized that this would be his final opportunity to see her. As the finality of it all settled in I reached out to steady his quivering frame fearing he was about to collapse. As we prayed there in that little room, the presence of the Lord became very real.

It is such an immense privilege to represent the Lord in moments like these. It also creates a bond between myself & the person to whom I’m ministering. Although I may have been friends with the folks before I walk with them through a time of loss or great struggle, I come out the other side as part of their family. Often people think they’re “bothering” a pastor so they don’t call for a word of prayer or to ask him to visit — I want you to know that nothing could be further from the truth.

Pastor Joel Everhart

August 2, 2015

 

Joel Everhart - Preacher

I’m a preacher. There are two elements to preaching well (or at least feeling as though I’ve preached well): preparation & desperation. On the preparation side, the first step is to hear from God. As often as I’ve experienced this phenomenon (35 years in the ministry often preaching three times a week) it is still very much a mystery to me. Inspiration for a new sermon or series can come at the oddest of times: in a dream, while walking the dog, driving along in the car, hearing or reading something that really grabs me, working through a problem … And inspiration can come in different forms: anger, joy, excitement, encouragement, etc. Once I have my inspired thought (the seed) & the text it’s time to study.

Working in the Word develops, changes, & grows the seed. It’s here where old truths take on new meaning & fresh application for my own soul. As I watch the message blossom, often taking unexpected turns, it excites me. Words, phrases, & illustrations come to my mind as though I’m being fed these thoughts. When I’m really “in the zone” of study, hours can pass like minutes. Sermon writing is one of the true joys of my life. There are times I feel like I’ve been on holy ground.

As the moment to preach approaches, desperation begins to settle into my soul. One of two fears often appear: 1) What so inspired me in study has turned to dribble suggesting that I hadn’t heard from the Lord at all, or 2) The words on the page seem so holy that I’m not able to deliver them in a worthy manner. Either way the fears cause me to cry out to the Lord in desperation asking for His divine intervention. As He answers those prayers, preaching goes from being a terrifying experience to another of the great joys of my life. I’ve prepared & I have copious notes but when I’m really “in the zone” of preaching, I can’t wait to hear what I’m going to say next because I’m clueless as to what that might be.

You would think that the preparation would alleviate the desperation or that the desperation would make the preparation unnecessary. But I have found that there are two elements to preaching well: preparation and desperation.

Pastor Joel Everhart

July 19, 2015

 

Mountain Jumper

For we know that if the earthly tent (body) we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Corinthians 5:1

Ever have one of those mornings where you glance over at the clock to see that you have two hours before you need to get up but you’re feeling pretty awake? You lay there for a long time but when you look at the clock again only ten minutes has passed! You are tempted to get up but know you are going to need a little more rest in order to do well later in the day. Finally, you nod off and the next time you peek at the clock you’ve overslept and your body is whining that it wants to go back to sleep!

It’s hard enough when a close friend lets you down but why in the world does your own body pull stunts like that? What do you do? You can’t punish your body without making it harder on yourself. You can’t go to work and leave your body at home. The only thing you can do is pick it up and push it along hoping it feels better as the day goes by.

Some poor souls literally have to carry their body to the bathroom, force it to get dressed, talk it into eating enough to survive – every step is a battle of the will. If your body doesn’t hurt today you really need to be thankful. If your joints aren’t twisted with arthritis, you didn’t have to give yourself a shot this morning, or you aren’t fighting a migraine it’s a very good day. If you are battling fatigue or pain this morning, remember that the day is coming when you will leave this old, broken, fallible tent behind & go to live in a glorified body that will never groan or tire or ache or breakdown. Soon and very soon we are going to see the King!

Pastor Joel Everhart

July 12, 2015

Let me tell you about one of our long time faithful members — our sister Joey Church. Joey started attending back when we were meeting on Locust Street where the library is now. Over the years she has faithfully supported our services with her attendance & offerings. I’ll probably miss several of her contributions but I remember her best as a Rainbow teacher with Kathy Altland back when my daughter Kayla & a dozen other preschoolers attended that class. Joey was a children’s church worker for years & also got involved with our Bible Quiz team. She was a regular helper in the kitchen during all of our get-togethers. Famous for telling it like it is, she has her own unique brand of humor that has always added flavor to our fellowship.

Over the past few years she has been battling multiple sclerosis. The disease has robbed her of a lot of physical abilities, but not her strong spirit or faith. She serves as an example of perseverance in the face of a trial. But this article isn’t about Joey. Without fanfare, without recognition, a number of women (& at least a couple of guys) from our congregation have been helping make up for much of what the illness has taken away. In no particular order: Deb Mummert, Deb Flickinger, Donna Marquet, Judy McKain, have been very helpful with Carolyn Brown and Ron Shupe adding their names to the list of those willing to help get her to appointments & such. Tim Ruth has done a number of home improvement projects for her as well. The youth group shows up every fall to rake leaves in her yard.

None of these people wants me to recognize their good deeds. None of these people have mentioned what they’re doing for our sister Joey. They have just quietly, with loving motives, done what we’re all called to do: serve. I just thought you’d like to know what kind of a church you’re attending.

Pastor Joel Everhart

July 5, 2015

 
candlelight cropped

I’d like to pay tribute to the nine church members in South Carolina who recently lost their lives while attending church on a Wednesday night: Clementa Pinckney (41) the senior pastor at the church, Sharonda Coleman Singleton (45) an assistant pastor, DePayne Middleton Doctor (49), Cynthia Hurd (54), Susie Jackson (87), Ethel Lance (70), Tywanza Sanders (26), Daniel Simmons Sr. (74), & Myra Thompson (59)

Our loss is great. Nine saints gathered to worship the Lord are gone and one evil, hate-filled killer remains with us.

First of all, let me note that we have many more like them, like us, that buck the trends of our society and make the worship of our Lord a priority. I can’t imagine what an intelligent, well educated, hard working pastor Clementa C. Pinckney was that he could lead a congregation and serve as a state senator. How sad that a fool could take him from us.

Next, I marvel at the peaceful, loving response of the community and relatives of these good people. Listening to the words of their children & grandchildren as they speak at their funerals tells us their faith was real & it has left an impression on everyone that knew them. The killer could take their lives but not their testimonies nor their influence. There is a profound difference between the response to the deaths of these innocent people than there has been to the passing of others that were killed while committing violent or illegal acts! No riots; prayer services and communities coming together. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if after having experienced their welcoming smiles the evening before his heinous act if that boy doesn’t confess, repent of his hatred & run to the cross feeling the full horror of the sin that clings to his soul. That would indeed be a jewel in the crowns of those martyrs.

But more, let the actions of prejudice shock us all. Let it serve as a cleansing bleach removing the stains of hatred that linger in our own souls. Take down the confederate flags in our own hearts. Refuse to use race as a reason to judge another; remove from our vocabulary derogatory words and wash from our conversation anything that smacks of racism. This is how we ought to honor these dead brothers and sisters: by walking away from their funerals with cleaner hearts. Then they will not have died in vain.

Pastor Joel Everhart

June 28, 2015

time clock

Time, time, time, time, time: I’d like to address the topic of time. What is time? How can I account for it? Why can I get so much done during some of it & so little done during other periods of it? How is it that I can leave earlier than usual &, yet, arrive later than normal? Why does an hour often feel like forever while the years fly by? I was strolling my grandson along the other day as he pointed out wildlife: squirrel, rabbit, bug, bird … Suddenly my mind flashed back to having his dad on the back of my bicycle thirty years earlier hearing the same sounds. Where did all that time go?

The book of Ecclesiastes talks quite a bit about time and has this to say at the end: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion to the matter: Fear God & keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) Whatever time is, it counts most when we use it serving the Lord. Time works best whenever we dedicate whatever we are doing to His honor.

I’m so glad I took my son to church & taught him the ways of God. It would have been so easy to get caught up in other things as the time slipped by. So many meaningless things we did together don’t even come to mind but the things of God last forever. Now there’s a neat word: forever.

Pastor Joel Everhart

June 21, 2015

 

bathroom sign

Last week, I talked about our need for regulations of many different kinds lest we take advantage of one another, ruin the planet, & justify our avoidance of any responsibility that might cost us something. I also stated that the Bible is the best place to find a solid foundation upon which to build said regulations. But what do we do when regulating agencies begin to mandate ridiculous or harmful rules? OSHA, in my opinion, has done just that by issuing a mandatory policy that allows any employee to use whatever restroom they choose without any interference lest they become offended at another person’s response to their choice of gender identity.

It states in part, “Restricting employees to using only restrooms that are not consistent with their gender identity, or segregating them from other workers by requiring them to use gender-neutral or other specific restrooms, singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety.” In other words a man can walk into a ladies restroom & the fear is that he will be offended if anyone tells him he doesn’t belong there. The uneasiness of the ladies using that facility when the man walks in is viewed by that governmental agency as prejudice! Their feelings or at least any expression of those feelings is illegal. Offending the average female is not a concern of this government but offending a man visiting a ladies restroom is seen as egregious.

Which do you feel would cause a person’s gender identity crisis to stand out more: that person using a gender neutral restroom or a man walking into a ladies room? Why is the government getting so messed up? They took the Bible out of the equation. All other ground is sinking sand.

Pastor Joel Everhart

June 14, 2015

 

scripture god breathed

I’m a “no regulations” kind of a guy. I tend to think of organizations like the EPA, DER, OSHA, etc. as uninvited governmental intrusions on the lives of hard-working people. However, the other day I started to think about the many underhanded things people have done that has affected myself or others I know: contractors that cut corners but charged full price, companies that leveraged away benefits from their workers, workers that have cheated their employers, people willing to sell dubious or even harmful products just to make a buck … I’d hate to find out that my house is built on top of an old toxic waste dump.

The truth is that laws, regulations, enforcement, & penalties are necessary because of the wickedness of the human heart. Someone had to start a campaign before most people stopped throwing their trash out their car window. Someone had to get the government to look at how filthy our air & water was becoming because polluters were not going to make changes for the good of the environment on their own. Large industrialists were not concerned about the safety of their workers until they were held accountable. Now I’m not suggesting we need more regulations or even that the ones we have are balanced, logical, or fair. What I’m driving at today is that we tend to think of ourselves as good, honest folks who usually (if not always) choose to do the right thing. History proves that theory wrong. History proves the need for armies, police, courts, jails, fines … We are sick, we are wicked, we need forgiveness, we need instruction, guidance, & counsel.

Our nation needs a good, solid, firm foundation on which to build safeguards for everyone. Here’s one: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, & training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17. All other ground is sinking sand.

Pastor Joel Everhart

May 31, 2015

 

Tulips | eastberlinassembly.org

I was out trimming my hedges the other day & mused over the fact that it didn’t seem very long ago that I was shoveling snow off those same bushes. For weeks now we’ve been mowing our lawns. They didn’t need mowed for five months but suddenly they demand our attention. We were busy enough before they woke up yet somehow we have found the time to do the landscaping.

My wife and I live in a 55+ neighborhood where the houses are meant to be low maintenance. I’ve noticed that most, if not all, of the residents have put in elaborate gardens. It’s not unusual to see a senior citizen outside trimming, weeding, planting, pulling, watering, etc. I’ve said to more than one as I’ve strolled past, “Isn’t it fascinating how we all buy low maintenance homes so we don’t have to do so much work on them, then we go outside & plant gardens we have to spend all summer tending?” Invariably they stop and think about what I’ve said for a moment then laugh & say something like, “Yeah, we’re a funny lot; aren’t we?”

Most of these people have retired because they were tired of working only to discover that what they like most to do for leisure is to work. So whether its shoveling snow, trimming hedges, mowing the lawn, driving a truck, pouring cement or filing a brief, maybe we should just be thankful for the strength to do whatever it is that needs done at the moment.

Pastor Joel Everhart

May 17, 2015

I’m fresh back from vacation & trying to get my brain to function like it did before I gave it a week off. Of course, the time flew by, yet, it’s funny how unfamiliar my routine has become to me after so short a respite. Little things like sleeping in & staying up later than usual, eating every hour on the hour, having a diet that consisted mostly of pastries, doing only what I felt like doing … Oh how my flesh grew in just a few days!

Suddenly it’s time to get up, shave, eat bran-heavy cereal, & go to work. You’ll be happy to know I was able to find my office okay. After my computer updated itself I was thankful to discover I can still type. Later I may even try my hand at writing something useful but I’m sure you’ll understand that I don’t want to overdo it my first day back.

I made a quick trip through Wal-Mart this morning on my way in — they have a display of Hawaiian shirts for just nine dollars a piece! Why are men my age so drawn to such displays? I would have bought one but vacation is over, after all. So, if a year after I retire you happen to see a very large bald guy with a long beard wearing a loud tropical shirt — that will probably be me.

Pastor Joel Everhart

April 26, 2015

 

spray bottle

Last Sunday I visited the Children’s Church with a squirt bottle in my hand & a towel over my shoulder. Their theme for the day was Jesus washing the disciple’s feet. I asked them to imagine what else Jesus could have done with the basin full of water … He could have pretended to be washing someone’s feet then just dumped the whole bowlful on them! Imagine what a laugh He & the other disciples would have had while the one sat there dripping wet. But Jesus didn’t come to entertain Himself or to take advantage of others; He came to serve. You can take the lesson from there.

I washed a few of their shoes with the water & wiped them with the towel but, soon, everyone wanted squirted & I had a good time obliging them. The next morning I was out on my run when what had been a drizzle turned into a rain. At one point a goliath raindrop landed square on the top of my head. Immediately I thought about squirting the kids the day before & this verse came to mind: Give & it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, & running over … Luke 6:38. So if you have a kid in Children’s Church last week, tell them that God got me back good the day after I squirted them!

Pastor Joel Everhart

April 15, 2015

 

Barb's-View-01-PS

I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following truth. 3 John 1:4

My kids’ birthdays have recently passed. It has been a reminder of the ultimate blessings they are to me as God has given me the privilege of watching them mature & grow in Him. Both came to know the Lord at a very young age. Both continue to be sensitive to the leading of the Lord in their lives. They, their spouses, & children are walking in the light of the Word. I truly could have no greater joy than to know our children are following the truth!

Barb Everhart

April 12, 2015

 

old rugged cross

I’m still glowing over the teamwork I saw displayed here on Easter Sunday … Curvin, Jamie, Sam, Donna, John, Lacy, & many others set up a beautiful display, cooked up a delicious breakfast, then served up a wonderful time of fellowship. Dwayne & Missy lead a team for a powerful human video. Bridget delivered a timely word on how we approach God in prayer. I thought the worship team starting out with The Old Rugged Cross & ending with Victor’s Crown (a song that was new to us but perfect for Easter) was simply inspired.

How much did the pastor have to do with any of that? Absolutely nothing; I got calls or texts from our friends volunteering to do the breakfast, human video & testimony. Some of it I even forgot I had approved (sorry Bridget). The week before a guy walked in with a ram’s horn (Old Testament type trumpet) & we had the best Palm Sunday ever. I had no idea he was coming.

You might think it would bother a pastor to have so little control over what goes on in a church service. Not this guy — I say, A Holy Spirit led congregation filled with people willing to obey His voice is as good as it gets! Kind of makes you wonder what He’s going to do next; doesn’t it? Lead on, oh King eternal.

Pastor Joel Everhart

April 5, 2015

 

easter 2

 

I Peter 1:3-12

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

So be truly glad.There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your soul.

10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

 

– Happy Easter from all of us here at New Life –

Thanks for celebrating with us today!

March 29, 2015

 

man cooking-web

I’ve mentioned it before: I like to cook. That can be problematic when there are only two people in your household. Leftovers are inevitable. There have been weeks when we’ve dedicated several days to cleaning up leftovers. But I have this bad habit of taking what’s left over and adding things to it until we have more left over after that meal than when I pulled whatever we’re trying to finish up from the refrigerator!

Right now there’s a ground turkey – rice – vegetable – cheese casserole sitting in our fridge that started out as a meat loaf a couple weeks ago. It’s a very simple concept: take what’s in the ice box, nuke it in the microwave for a minute or two & eat it. That’s what I intend to do but somewhere between the fridge & the microwave I get struck with a thought like: That beef would make a wonderful beef-vegetable soup. That would really taste good on a chilly day like today… Before you know it I’ve got enough soup to feed a family of five.

Eventually much of what I’ve made ends up in the freezer in one form or another. So, if you’re ever having company from out of town & you’re low on groceries or you’re up for a different taste combination than you’ve ever had before (something that’s not readily identifiable just by looking at it) … give me a call.

Pastor Joel Everhart

March 25, 2015

 

As a youngster I can remember being very shy, holding on to the hem of my Mother’s dress as she stood to teach Sunday school. Not quite the picture of courage or boldness! In my teen years, however, I grew in my faith in the Lord. I became increasingly aware of His presence in my life, which provided me with a strength & courage that caused me to boldly stand for the truth of the Word. I was not afraid to carry my Bible with me to school to read during study halls.

I’m so thankful for the Christian upbringing my parents provided for me in those early years. Sometimes as we age we tend to revert back to being afraid, but if we stay in the Word we will have the daily reminders we need that will assure us of a possession of strength & courage in the Lord. Today’s world can be a scary place, but with the help of the Lord we can & WILL overcome! This is my command be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Barb Everhart

March 22, 2015

 

busy kitchen

I’m busy but I’m not busy like people with their kids still living at home or those taking care of their parents (or both kids and parents). People are like time sponges: the more of them that live in your home the less peace & quiet you will experience. There may also be more laughter, activity, entertainment, purpose &/or help, but there will definitely be less privacy.

It’s really a balancing act, isn’t it? An empty house can be lonely, depressing, or too quiet, yet a full house can be too hectic. Babies don’t come with a money back guarantee good for thirty days after you bring them home from the hospital. Parents can’t be traded in for a more cooperative set. Children & teens don’t have a knob you can turn to control their energy level or volume (someone really ought to invent one of those).

Other people in your home get in the way of many of your plans: what you’re going to cook for dinner, where you are going to spend your “free time,” what you’re going to watch on television, if & when you will get to sleep, sports car or minivan …. Yet no matter who or how many make your house their home there always seems to be room for them. And when they’re gone you’ve got more time, space, money, rest … & a hole in your heart. As it turns out the whole time they were sponging up your time, they were stealing your heart!

Pastor Joel Everhart

March 18, 2015

 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

The wonderfulness of the human mechanism is so great that, if realized, it produces a sensation of fear. It has been said that if we could see one-half of what is going on within us, we should not dare to move. Each of us is given special abilities & talents from God. As we use them for Him it brings marvelous glory to His name. We are not to compare ourselves with others, but to give thanks to the God who made each one of us, unique in their own way, to minister His grace so that others may come to know Him.

From the view of my window this past Sunday morning, I witnessed two amazing young people use their (musical) talents for God. What joy it brought to my heart to see God’s creation acknowledging & praising Him. God’s work in you Lathan & Libby is wonderful, & I know that full well!

Barb Everhart

March 15, 2015

 

old tea cup 2

My wife and I have been visiting our neighbor, Ann, who went into the Brethren Home a couple months ago. She has been battling cancer & bipolar disorder for some time, but more recently — Alzheimer’s. She’s been in four different sections of the home because her conditions have deteriorated since she’s been there. Now she’s in a lockdown unit with others coping with dementia.

When we first started visiting her there, Ann was a little more like a staff member helping with the other patients & we wondered if it was really necessary for her to be in that section of the home. On one occasion she insisted we have a cup of tea & some cookies with her. As we sat there visiting, another patient walked up beside me, spoke three sentences (none of which had to do with the others nor did they make any sense in the context of what was happening). She reached down & took several sips of my tea, placed the cup back in front of me then scooted a chair along in front of her as if it was a walker until she disappeared around a corner.

Well, it finally happened … Ann didn’t recognize us the last time we stopped in to see her even though it had been less than a week since our last visit. It was sad but at the same time we’d never seen her happier. All the stress & worry was out of her system. She lives in the moment because that’s all she has. Her painful past with its memories are gone. Not all Alzheimer’s patients are pleasant, of course — one seemed to take great pleasure in growling at our Yorkie pup we like to take along to visit the patients. As Callie runs behind me the patient beams with delight. May God richly bless those that care for them! Such concern they show, such patience, such strength! Those caregivers take such abuse but respond with such grace. And God bless those of you taking care of loved ones!

Pastor Joel Everhart

March 8, 2015

 

white runner

Last week we considered how to dress for winter temperatures when running before sunrise. This week we’ll talk about weather conditions:

Don’t run when the roads and sidewalks are covered with ice. A day without a run is better than a day in the emergency room. When there are patches of ice, use extreme caution & slow down whenever anything looks remotely slippery. I love running on newly fallen snow & especially if it is snowing while I run. Fresh snow has a grip your shoes can grab if you run a little more flat-footed than the normal exaggerated heal-to-toe. Snow also has a way of lighting up an otherwise dark landscape. Snow that others have trampled is pretty much ice (especially if it’s a day or more old).

As for rain, I choose not to run in heavy downpours but find that a gentle shower is not a problem; you’ll be wet with sweat by the time you’re done anyway. If a little rain keeps you from running you are not a runner. Maybe we can put all this to the old tune Kenny Rogers used for “The Gambler” … “You got to know when to go out, know when to stay in, know when to take a walk, know when to run; you never skip a session just because you’re lazy; they’ll be time enough for resting when your body’s dead.”

And there it is again: that whole thing about everybody dies. Are you more ready for your date with destiny than you were last week? You ought to be because you are one week closer to it.

Pastor Joel Everhart

March 1, 2015

 

winter-runner-2

A couple words about running in the winter before sunrise:

First, check the Internet for the temperature & wind chill. Overdressing for a run can be as uncomfortable as underdressing … but not as dangerous. For any temperature above 40 degrees a T-shirt & shorts along with good running shoes is sufficient. At 40 degrees you’ll start out chilly but feel fine after the first mile. Between 35–40, a sweatshirt added to your ensemble is good. Between 28-35 degrees, I add a pair of gloves & a knit cap. Anything under 28 degrees requires sweatpants: light ones in temps above 20, heavier ones for the teens & lower. Once it’s in the teens I add a second sweatshirt with a turtleneck & a hat that completely covers my ears. For single digits I also tie the hood of my sweatshirt over my hat. For wind chills below zero, I wear a face mask & add an extra pair of sweatpants. When wind chills are in the double digits, I run in the gym.

On top of it all you need to have something fluorescent & reflective. Never assume that the people in the cars can see you or that they care about your welfare — there are a few people out there who actually enjoy watching you jump out of the way. Next week we’ll discuss weather conditions.

Who cares? you ask. Anyone thinking about adding a morning run to their exercise routine. Okay, maybe that’s nobody reading this column. Let’s try this then: everyone reading this will one day die. Are you prepared for what comes next?

Pastor Joel Everhart

February 22, 2015

I made a call to set up an appointment with a tax guy (it’s like making a dentist appointment, but for your money – even if it goes well you come out numb for a while & it’s never painless). The receptionist told me I have to talk directly to the preparer but he’s with another client. “He’ll call you back in a few minutes,” she says.

I have another call I want to make, but do I wait for the taxologist to call me first? (He can’t make an appointment with my voicemail.) Twenty minutes pass & I could have made my other call twice. Forty minutes later I get the call for which I’ve been waiting. While I’m on the phone scheduling the tax appointment my phone is buzzing with an incoming call. The tax guy tells me he’s booked solid for the next two weeks but has a few openings the following week that he expects to be snatched up quickly (he specializes in clergy taxes: the IRS has special rules for ministers that require special preparers). Talking to this guy is like talking to a doctor or lawyer so I dare not put him on hold to take the incoming call.

Luckily the incoming caller leaves a message. I get off the phone, listen to my voicemail, call the person back to answer a question &, of course, I get his voicemail. He texts me to let me know he got the message I left in response to his message. I grew up in a home with a party line (if you’re under age 40 Google “party line telephones”). Back then we couldn’t have a private conversation; today we can’t have a real one.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

February 15, 2015

As I was driving to the office the other Friday I caught up to a line of cars traveling north on route 194. I couldn’t see the front of the line to determine what the holdup was & just assumed that we were following a school bus or garbage truck. “Maybe someone making a left turn had to wait for the opposing traffic to clear before they could turn & that backed up traffic,” I thought.

Finally I crested a hill and was able to see what was at the front of the line. It was just a car. I glanced down at my speedometer to see how slow we were going: 40 mph on the nose. The driver in that lead car had the audacity to go exactly the speed limit for that area even though the rest of us were trying to get to work?! Trying to get to work is a good rea- son for pushing the speed limit, right? How about driving home from work to spend time with one’s family? Getting Junior to soccer practice on time, running late for a dentist appointment … What about this one: I actually left early but got behind two school buses and a garbage truck?

We may feel justified in breaking the law but none of those excuses will keep us from having to pay the fine if we get pulled over. The same is true with breaking God’s laws. You may feel justified because it’s now socially acceptable to do whatever but that doesn’t pardon you from the very real consequences of your sin. You do need to be justified but not by some excuse you thought up in your head. Only the blood of Jesus is able to cleanse us of our sin. In order for that to happen we must truly be sorry for our sin and ask the Lord to forgive us. Forgiving yourself then repeating your offense over & over will get you nowhere good! Repent (change your ways) & ask the Lord to not only forgive you but to adjust your attitude until you actually want to do the right thing.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

February 8, 2015

The following post was submitted by an anonymous reader of this column:

I really got a lot out of your last post. I could not stop thinking about it — it even kept me up late one night. One of the reasons you wrote about for why we all might be here on Earth still (God’s waiting for us to tell others about Him) really stirred something in my heart. Parenthood is teaching me a lot about God’s love for us & this is what came to mind after reading that post:

It’s like having three kids that you have to live apart from until a set time (which only you know) in the future. Only the oldest child knows you, has memories of you, & loves you as the two other kids are too young. The only way all three can live with you is by their own choice. The oldest already wants to live with you but the other two aren’t sure as they don’t even know you. You, then, have a choice to make — either (1) leave the oldest child with the two younger ones in hopes that he’d share your love for them so that all three might one day come to live with you or (2) only bring the oldest with you & leave the other two behind for good, despite your great love for them. You decide to leave the oldest child (he will come to live with you no matter what at the future date) with the other two, but you’re able to check in via video cam to see how things are progressing.

How frustrating it would be as that date creeps closer to know that your oldest is squandering his time because he doesn’t feel the same urgency you do & that he is not sharing stories about you, how much you love his siblings, or his own memories of how cool of a parent you are in order to convince the other two to want to live with you. Can you imagine the hurt you’d feel if he’d never even mentioned your name (because he’s got a free pass to live with you already)? How selfish. And, obviously, in this analogy I am the selfish, oldest child.

February 1, 2015

I try to be out the front door & on my morning run by 5:30am. Stretching beforehand is a priority. My old bones crack & pop as I twist & bend. Apparently there is this zone between sleep & activity that cannot be rushed lest a different kind, a damaging kind, of cracking & popping takes place.

Cannot the same be said for our spirits? Shouldn’t there be some adjusting of our heart & mind before facing the world? You may have fallen asleep uttering sweet prayers & praises to our Savior but by the time you wake your spirit needs attention. Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test & approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Don’t just jump out of bed & into the world! Stretch, move, transform your mind by spending at least a little bit of time in God’s Word. Be sure it’s a Christian radio station you’re tuned into as you drive to work or do your morning chores. You don’t want to miss God’s will for your life ever — after all, it’s “good, pleasing, & perfect.”

– Pastor Joel Everhart

January 25, 2015

A. W. Tozer says that God will be as pleased to have us in Heaven as we are to be there. That’s an amazing thought! I suppose it’s just one more way to express God’s immense love for us. It would help to explain the cross: Jesus did what He did in order to save us — at such an enormous cost! If He didn’t want us in Heaven, He could have just not suffered the pains of Calvary. The cross is the Lord’s unforgettable valentine to you signed with His own precious blood.

Now, if He is so anxious for us to get to Heaven in order to be with Him He must have a pretty good reason for keeping us here a little longer (or maybe I should say reasons). Here are a few I can think of: (1) He enjoys watching us live this life much like we enjoy watching children & grandchildren grow & conquer new feats, (2) He’s already enjoying intimacy with us as we worship, pray, & live, & (3) only while we’re here can He use us to influence others to grasp a hold of faith for the first time or keep holding onto it if they’re already a believer.

You won’t be here much longer. Look forward to being with Jesus in Heaven but enjoy the view while you’re here — be with Jesus as much as possible now. Make good use of your remaining days or hours by helping someone else see the light we’re journeying toward.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

 

January 18, 2015

It was the Sunday after Christmas … our kids from Utah had already been with us since the Wednesday before when our gang from North Carolina showed up. It was the first time ever that our three grandsons (ages 9 months, 1 year 3 months, & 3 years) were together. I absolutely felt like the richest man on the planet! When you only see them once a year even their tantrums are cute.

It seemed to throw them off their game when they’re throwing a fit & Grandpa is laughing; that’s just not the reaction they were expecting. They weren’t going for cute, they weren’t trying to be entertaining, they were trying to whine & cry me into submission to their will. (Not that they flipped out very often mind you — most of the time they delighted us with their smiles & giggles.)

Since they’ve all gone home the house sure feels empty but I don’t think anyone has taken it harder than our Yorkie Callie. She thought she got three little boys for Christmas & somebody took them back!

– Pastor Joel Everhart

January 11, 2015

I ate too much. I didn’t just eat too much of the good kind of food I ate too much of the kinds of food Dr. Oz warns the world not to eat. We baked pies & cookies & cakes in anticipation of our company through the holidays but our guests really behaved themselves (nutritionally speaking). Every night I promised myself not to eat like a pig the next day & each day I succumbed to a craving for sugar.

Just thinking about cutting back made me hungry. Apparently I’m a better baker than motivational thinker. Once again I need to stop fighting my own battles & cast my wimpy soul on the mercy & power of the Savior. Thankfully, He’s not just about saving our souls He is a friend like no other.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

January 5, 2015

Well, our kids from Utah made it for Christmas & it made for a most memorable occasion! The boys (Hudson, 9 mos. & Colten, 3 yrs.) really lit up our holiday. Too young to get so anxious that they couldn’t sleep yet old enough to enjoy the wonder of presents under the tree. Colten’s Dad said, “There are presents under the tree for you.” Colten responded, “No there isn’t.” (It took some doing just to get him to go look.) His first reaction was to run back & tell his Dad, “There are presents under the Christmas tree!”

Later we visited a lady in a retirement home that doesn’t have any family left. In the gathering room where we met with her is a large tree with lots of beautifully wrapped boxes underneath. When we told Colten there weren’t any actual presents in the boxes he had a meltdown. Apparently a person can get used to getting gifts real fast. Isn’t that one of the keys to a happy life? Learning to accept blessings graciously while staying pleasant when the stuffed stocking is for somebody else; it’s great to enjoy your turn as long as you can be just as happy for your brother or sister when it’s theirs.

Paul said he had learned the secret to being content with very little or with a lot. I think that even after you’ve acquired that skill it requires a refresher course every so often to stay current with that degree. So if you got what you hoped for this past holiday season, congratulations! If not, you may have received an even greater reward: an opportunity to build your contentment muscles.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

December 28, 2014

It’s kind of ironic that I wrote recently about not being able to recapture that childlike anticipation of Christmas, yet, here I am this morning anxiously awaiting news of whether I’ll get what I want this year. Our kids from Utah are to fly in this Tuesday in order to spend Christmas with us, but they’ve had a bout with the flu this past weekend. If they’re not feeling better by today (Monday) they’ll postpone their trip. Since they’re two hours behind us it’s too early to contact them. I’ll have to patiently wait for them to get in touch with me. Our freezer is packed with meats to be cooked & cookies galore. The past few years we’ve not had a tree but we bought one a couple weeks ago since “the boys” were, I mean ARE coming. Stupid flu.

So what I’ve learned is that anticipation isn’t about age or theory; it’s about wanting something bad enough yet knowing it just might not happen. I’m old enough that if I want something bad enough I either go get it or (if it’s too expensive) I just get over it … but this isn’t a thing it’s a visit — contact with loved ones. It’s what I want most; it’s what I was told I’d get… Alas, we learn yet again that the most precious things in life aren’t things at all.

Thanks, Father, for giving me the gift of anticipation this Christmas & even if I don’t get what I’m asking for exactly when I’d like to have it, I know that You are always up to something good. Merry Christmas! There, a prayer like that ought to guilt God right into doing exactly what I want … right? Just kidding — it is a sincere prayer. We serve an awesome God.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

December 21, 2014

Try as I might I just can’t get back to the feelings I had as a child at Christmas. Pastor LeRoy reminded us last week of how we couldn’t sleep the night before & how a week before Christmas was like an eternity. Actually when you factor those things into the equation maybe it’s better to be an adult during this time of the year! I suppose the wise thing to do would be to pick and choose the child-like stuff & the adult-like qualities that blend together to make a wonderful Christmas holiday. Maybe that’s part of the wonder of family: the blending of old & young in a common experience … the kids bring the awe & wonder, the adults polish it by decorating, cooking, & wrapping special gifts.

The place we all meet together is at the manger scene. It’s there that the children forget about their wish list (for a moment) & adults allow the stress of their plans to ease. While united we turn our hearts upward in praise then bow low in grateful thanks for a God who would come to save us. Anyone can celebrate a holiday but only Christians know Christmas. Any kid can get excited about surprise gifts; any adult can decorate or plan a meal but only a Christian can truly celebrate Christmas: O come let us adore Him!

– Pastor Joel Everhart

December 7, 2014

The hunter has become the hunted. Last year I bought something on Amazon as a Christmas present for my wife and, now, every day that I open my email there is an ad from that website filled with promotions and once in a lifetime deals!

I’ve gotten so many links from them that I no longer even read their subject line — I see their name and hit delete. Every couple of months I take some time to unsubscribe from websites (which I have never even visited) that put me on their “annoy with extreme prejudice” email list. Unfortunately, that has proven to be a little like scratching poison ivy — it spreads. I’m beginning to think that when you hit the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the message, your email address is automatically sent to ten other annoying sites. Even some overtly Christian promoters have taken to phishing tactics!

Imagine … there are people who go to college just to learn how to aggravate you on a daily basis. Aren’t you glad that there are other people who have dedicated their lives to being a little ray of heavenly sunshine wherever they go? Increase the wattage of your life by spending a little less time with the world and a little more time with the Lord each day. And — please — don’t use any of the tech skills God has blessed you with to irritate the rest of the planet.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

November 30, 2014

Maybe it’s like this where you work too: you get back from vacation, turn on your desktop only to be greeted by 17 updates reconfiguring your hard drive. When Microsoft or whomever is done updating and “improving” your computer, it runs slower than ever. You weed through the backlog of emails when a message pops up that you need to restart your device to activate the changes. By the time you’ve worked your way through your backlogged emails, a fresh batch suddenly appears. When you eventually get to the work you intended to do when you first fired up your PC, you type in several words before anything appears on the screen. This lag in gratification causes a spasm in your brain.

You don’t suppose our computers get attitudes, do you? Maybe it’s like a dog that gets angry when left alone too long so she chews through a throw pillow or hides one of your slippers (not that I know any dogs like that).

I’ll have to finish this column later … my dog wants to go out.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

November 23, 2014

It’s that time of year we greet one another with that time honored greeting: I can’t believe it’s Thanksgiving already!

More stores will be open this Thursday; more football will be on television; more Maalox will be taken and more food will be consumed than perhaps any other day of the year. We keep trying to recapture those feelings we had as children of awe and wonder at the food, the decorations, the visiting relatives …

I think the secret is to get some children into your house for the holiday. More work? Yep. Bigger mess? Sure. Picky appetites? Probably. But the payback is priceless: smiles, giggles, questions and a chance to plant a memory seed they’ll carry with them until it’s their turn to cook the turkey. Rather than relegate the youngsters to the little table or side room perhaps we should start our planning with them in mind and work out from there. My wife has a wonderful way of preparing for a grandkid weeks ahead of time and boy does it help.

Whatever you do please remember to be nice and jolly because what good are fine china, gourmet meals, delicious desserts and beautiful decorations if all the kids can remember is that they got in trouble for touching stuff? Do you want to be remembered as the crabby relative or the nice one?

– Pastor Joel Everhart

November 16, 2014

The Rite Aid on the corner of Eisenhower and Wilson in Hanover has been watering its lawn with automatic sprinklers very early every morning all summer and late into the fall. In June and July when the sun was already up at 5 a.m. it wasn’t a problem to negotiate between the shooting streams of water or avoid them altogether while on my run. But as darkness once again claimed the morning, it was easy to be in the middle of the gauntlet before realizing the water was being shot out into the air.

This is what happened a few Fridays ago. I could see some of the streams of water as they rotated over the sidewalk and then back toward the drug store (and those I saw I avoided). One step away from dry pavement I got struck in the back of the head with one large spit of water strong enough to cause me to lurch forward. Back in the summer that might have felt refreshing but not in November. It’s the one you don’t see that gets you. It soaked my head and soured my disposition for a little while.

Who waters their lawn in the winter?! No doubt there’s someone watching that controls those sprinklers and they’re laughing right now! These were just a few of the thoughts I had … the printable ones. The fact is there is someone purposely trying to get us to start every day off on the wrong foot. Fortunately, there’s another Someone who stands ready to help us regain our equilibrium (and no His name is not Folgers or Maxwell House; although they may help).

Make Jesus a part of your morning routine – the people you live, go to school or work with will be glad you did. Because we’re either a shower of blessing or a thunderstorm and the difference is with whom we spend our morning.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

November 9, 2014

I was out walking my dog on Saturday — no, this isn’t a repeat of last week’s column. I walk my dog a lot, so keep reading …. We came around a corner to find a young teenage boy throwing a football to himself in his front yard. He threw the ball into the air, missed catching it and went into some bushes to retrieve it. It stirred up some memories of many a pick-up game I had with my friends on fall days just like that one. When I was his age and when there were no friends around, I would do just what this young fellow was doing. When he emerged from the bushes, I called across the yard to him, Hey, would you like me to toss you a few passes?

The boy looked stunned, afraid, and he said (almost stammering), No, that’s okay. I’m good. As I walked away, it hit me that I am a stranger to this young man and had tempted him to violate a rule that has been drummed into every young person: never talk to strangers! It’s a good rule — a necessary rule — that wasn’t needed when I was his age. What’s changed? The tossing aside of Biblical morality.

They say sexuality is personal, that one person’s perversion has no effect on others or on society as a whole. Are you kidding me? It has stolen our innocence; it makes a loving grandpa feel guilty for having been friendly to a child; it has made our society a dangerous place to live!

If you are caught up in any of the sexual sins (including pornography), do whatever you need to do to get free. Repent today — confess your sins to someone you trust that will hold you accountable. If you need help, give me a call and I’ll find someone to partner with you. Judgment is coming and the Bible says it begins with the house of God. If you wait, God will see to it that your sins are made public. For the Word promises that there is nothing done in secret that will not be exposed. Get covered by forgiveness and cleansing today.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

November 2, 2014

I was walking my dog on Saturday when a group of senior citizen bicyclists rode past. A word about Spandex: no. Best case scenario is that you are young and firm and Spandex looks good on you (2% of the population). If that is the case you may be causing a brother or sister to have impure thoughts.

Then there is the segment of the population that thinks they are young and firm but are not (80% of the population). Depending on the individual, these people can cause reactions from a mild chuckle to full blown nausea to passersby.

Finally we have the 18% of Americans who realize they are neither young nor firm but still think that a black Spandexy version of the Michelin Man is hot. These usually have trouble keeping significant portions of their body in the Spandex. Peddling down the street looking as though you are giving birth to a baby rhino – well that’s an image we could all live without.

So I’m pleading with our younger people for a return to Biblical modesty if for no other reason than to set a good example for their grandparents.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

October 19, 2014

I drove through the Hanover Panera Bread the other day to pick up a salad for lunch. The young lady at the window leaned out and said, “Hello beautiful, you’re cute…” The compliments went on and on like that through the entire transaction! If that’s not weird enough very similar things have been happening to me on a regular basis.

It’s not unusual for me to be taking a walk through our neighborhood and have a woman slow her car, roll down her window and say, “What a cutie!” Ladies get a grip! Fortunately I’ve had my Yorkie puppy along every time this has happened – it would have been all the more embarrassing if I had been alone.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

October 12, 2014

I started writing this post and I felt something scratching the top of my shoe. Looking down I saw my Yorkie looking up. When our eyes met she stepped back — meaning that she wanted to go out rather than get picked up (I speak Yorkshire). So we went out for the fourth time this morning. Coming back in she didn’t want to follow me up the stairs to my office; she wanted to stay in the gym. Rather than try to chase a Yorkie (useless for me, fun for her) I hid behind the door until she came to find me. I was banking on the hope that she would rather be with me in the office than free to roam around on her own. It took a little while but sure enough she scooted past the door and headed up the stairs.

I believe God works on the same principle with us. He could chase after us but He prefers that we turn away from our agendas to pursue Him. As long as we think there’s something better He’ll let us go but when we finally realize that we’d rather be with Him on His terms than on our own He welcomes us into His arms, into His embrace, into His presence, into His divine world filled with everything wonderful.

As I finish this piece Callie is peacefully sleeping on a blanket atop my desk surrounded by toys and treats. Yeah, you can keep doing whatever it is you think is going to satisfy you but my advice is to pursue God once again, like you used to when you first got saved or the last time you truly felt alive in Him.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

October 5, 2014

I ran into the local funeral director this morning at the Post Office. He asked how the church was doing and I said, “It’s good, we have a lot of really nice people in our church.” He responded, “Yes, you really do.”

You have a very good reputation around town! The thing that is most impressive to me lately is how hard so many of you are working. Quite a few of you have been involved in digging, raking, carrying, wiring, etc. And many of those doing the grunt work also fill many of the offices in the church. Andy & Mel along with Bob & Angie were seen out raking rocks all day last Saturday. Joe was here almost every evening the week before. Rick gave us one of his vacation to fill in some ditches. Emily & Vickie have been providing food for the workers … and the list goes on and on.

I’d have to say I love to work but I don’t do nearly as much of it as many of you who are serving for the sheer joy of blessing the Lord and one of His churches. Suddenly I’m feeling guilty for not mentioning others of you who work so hard among us, like Pastor LeRoy & Wanda, Ron, several Debs, Dave, Mike … and I’m not even going to mention my most favorite worker of all …

– Pastor Joel Everhart

September 28, 2014

Okay, it’s fall. I love fall. I just hate what’s next. Alright, hate is (perhaps) too strong a word. The Bible instructs us to give thanks in all things. I suppose winter is a thing therefore I need to learn to be thankful not only in winter but for winter. Pray for me (and for you, too, if you have a similar bend).

I know a few strange people that love winter; I’m hoping to become like them. Actually, there is a lot to enjoy about the season: the holidays, there’s something romantic about the first snow of the season, a fresh coating of snow can be beautiful and makes soup and a hot cup of tea special … I really wouldn’t mind the winter at all if it didn’t get so cold.

Cold — that’s it. That’s what I strongly dislike about winter. Even normal cold is bearable; it’s those winter chills! Do people who love winter not feel wind chills? Is it a mindset? Can I have certain brain cells cauterized so that I don’t mind the cold? Can they do that without making me drool at the time or lose the feeling in my left foot? I know what you’re thinking: Pastor needs all the brain cells he can get. Haha, very funny, everyone’s a comedian. If in ten years I’m loving winter, then I’ll know you prayed for me. But if I’m not, at least I’ll know who to blame.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

September 14, 2014

They say that dogs have a very keen sense of smell. We humans are often overcome by one rank smell (like the odor of a skunk or burned potatoes) whereas dogs are able to distinguish different scents in the air at the same time. Our primary sense for navigation is our sight; dogs can “smell where they’re going.” In a large crowd of people or out in the woods your dog is able to track you down because she knows your smell. If she could talk she could tell you everywhere you went on any given day just by smelling you when you got home. And, yes, they know if you’ve been with another dog!

Why then do dogs love to roll in poop? No wonder the Lord likens rebellious people to dogs:  they are treated to the finest the Lord has to offer but choose to roll in the “poop” of this world. I hope you have better sense than a dog. Find out what is truly worth living for and stay away from the you know what.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

September 7, 2014

If you know me very well, you know that I’m in mourning. The summer is over. I know, I know … it’s not “officially” over until some meaningless date passes but, trust me, it’s over.

The kids have been back to school for a while already, darkness comes a little earlier each evening, and the sun is sleeping in later each morning. When it rained it didn’t last several days in a row — it rained then the sun popped out again.

I know I should be thankful for the coming colors of fall, crisp autumn mornings and evenings, and football, but I just need a little time to deal with the loss of summer. It was a great sumer, wasn’t it? Alas, oh summer of 2014 we loved thee well. Rest in peace, for you were good to us.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

August 31, 2014

The most amazing thing happened this morning while I was out on my run. As I jogged past the Rite Aid on Eisenhower Drive their sign displayed the time and temperature as 5:59am and 60 degrees. When I got to the Dodge Dealership on the same street a block away their display said 5:58am and 64 degrees! I must have been running so fast that I actually caused time to go in reverse just like Superman did in one of his movies. Not only that but I heated up the planet by four degrees! It’s a good thing I only ran four miles — although we could all use a little extra time in our day — nobody likes a heat wave.

I wonder if I ran the other direction if the planet would get cooler? Oh my … the thought just hit me … what if I am personally responsible for global warming? I started running a little over 25 years ago and no one was talking about the planet heating up back then – only since! Please don’t share this column with anyone from the DER, EPA or Department of the Interior…

– Pastor Joel Everhart

August 24, 2014

Did you know we now have several stretches of highway in Pennsylvania that are posted with a 70 mph speed limit? While traveling home from Pittsburgh a few weeks ago I came upon one on the PA Turnpike. I told Barb, “Look at that! I’ve never seen a 70 mph speed limit sign in our state before!” A half mile later there were construction signs everywhere with a reduced speed of 55 mph. Isn’t that just like life?

You could really be making some time if it weren’t for this restriction or that delay. Our smooth sailing seems to be restricted to half-mile increments divided by ten-mile construction zones. Don’t despair, just ahead is an exit into a better land where the restrictions will be gone and we’ll be free forever. As the old hymn goes, “Just a few more weary days and then I’ll fly away!”

– Pastor Joel Everhart

August 17, 2014

What a great summer! Lower than normal temperatures, plenty of rain, everything is green and lush. I’d like to circulate a petition calling for this summer to be extended by an extra six months. That would put us somewhere in March to get started on next spring. I know March weather can be a little sketchy but, hey, after nine months of summer we’ll probably be ready for a little cool down. I know it might seem odd to have highs in the 70s for Christmas but I’m willing to give it a try.

You’re probably worried about all those people who make their money in the cold weather months like ski resorts and such. They could plant corn. Guys that plow snow could cut grass instead. The people that supply us with heating oil can go take a flying leap …err… I mean live off the profits from last winter and enjoy an extended vacation in the Sahara Desert.

The truth is … we’ll take whatever weather we get and be thankful that we live in a land where we can get cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. As much as I enjoy complaining (I’m pretty good at it, don’t you think?) I’ve got a lot more to be thankful for. How about you?

– Pastor Joel Everhart

August 3, 2014

Suddenly my Dad is old. He’s 85 now so you might think I’ve been warming up to the idea of his senior status but you’d be wrong. While vacationing recently I had the opportunity to spend a day at my folks’ house helping them with some things they can no longer do for themselves. I did some painting, cleaned out the gutters and changed a light bulb in their kitchen overhead light. It was on that last job that Dad’s failing physical abilities became most evident. I got the ladder in position and he decided he could do the job so he climbed the couple steps but found he couldn’t extend his arms enough to get the globe off the fixture.

Just a few years ago, he and I carried a couch up a flight of stairs and I was surprised by his abilities even as I questioned every step he took (he’s had two bypass surgeries). Now after “supervising” me for a day he spent the whole next day in his recliner. Even his voice is sounding weak. I want to go back to the days when I’d tell him he shouldn’t be doing something and him proving me wrong. I want to go back tot he days when he’d say, “Don’t tell your mother we did this.”

There’s something very sobering about watching your father age. There’s something very comforting about knowing that a day of renewal is coming for all who are in Jesus Christ.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

July 27, 2014

I’m not sure what happened but the other morning I woke up at my usual time but it was dark. For about a month the sun was already rising by 5 a.m. but no longer. It’s all downhill from here, you know: days shorter, leaves start to change, kids off to school, Thanksgiving, a few cute snowflakes fall and then … wham! The Polar Vortex comes howling out of Canada to latch onto us and chew away at our souls until our spleens have frostbite. Oh, how I try to hold onto these last few days of summer! Oh, how futile my attempts.

It’s like the book of Ecclesiastics telling us how swift life passes, how meaningless everything is, and that we ought to do something to memorialize each summer like go to the beach or the mountains or whatever because before you know it, you are old and then you are dead. I may have helped the text along a little there, but I’m sure I stayed within the spirit of the writer’s intent.

I read a pastor’s message the other day decrying church members who wander all over creation each summer leaving the church unmanned. I’d say get to church as often as you can, but if you get a chance for some adventure — take it! Live! Inspire the family with sights to be seen and places to be explored. Put as many footprints acrosst his great land as you can. After all, earth is spelled e-ART-h; it’s God’s greatest masterpiece and He loves when we admire His handiwork.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

July 20, 2014

It’s time to review the lessons I’ve learned from spending a week with a ten month old:

(1) What you think is childproof isn’t, just because you can’t get past a barrier doesn’t mean they can’t. (2) What is funny the first time they do something can become very frustrating the 101st time they do it. (3) Never place a plate of food in front of the child — feed one piece at a time otherwise plan on picking up scattered food morsels (this is the one place where dogs come in handy). (4) You have to choose between thirsty dogs and a wet toddler. (5) The child can nap as you take them for a walk but you can’t. (6) They are afraid of the wrong things. (7) The difference between picking them up when they want to be picked up and picking them up when they do not is a trip to the chiropractor.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

July 13, 2014

Over the past week it was our joy to host my son, his wife and their 10-month old son, Parker. If you’ve been following this column you also know that we got a new Yorkie puppy about a month ago. Parker is walking and running with ease and it was interesting to see the progression of Callie’s (the puppy) relationship with him evolve.

It started out as love at first sight. Callie could hardly believe they made people more her size; standing on her hind legs she licked the baby full in the face as Parker smiled and giggled. By the second day the puppy was completely terrorized by the boy: whenever the baby was around the dog found a creative place to hide. As time passed the pup learned the baby’s limitations as they developed a cautious friendship and even started playing with one another. This morning as I hoisted the baby into my lap to read him a book (he loves books) Callie jumped up to join us. With a baby on each knee I read “Summer,” a children’s book about the joys of this season of the year.

I’m not sure who enjoyed the session the most because a good time was had by all. By the time you read this article our company will be gone and, boy, will it seem quiet at our house. Quiet is good but I think children are better.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

July 6, 2014

Happy 4th of July Weekend! What a beautiful summer we have had so far: good rains minus damaging storms, a few real scorchers (they’ll help make the fall feel more welcoming even though we know what comes after that), and a few very pleasant days. I’ve already caught and released three lightning bugs, enjoyed a watermelon and several ears of corn on the cob.

Yet to do is have a grilled hot dog and make our favorite summertime dessert: pound cake cut into cubes with layers of strawberries, blueberries and bananas all swimming in whipped topping. You can design the top to look like a flag if you arrange the blueberries and strawberries right. We use nonfat whipped topping and, of course, everyone knows how healthy the berries are being full of antioxidants and stuff. My wife always tells me to get a low fat angel food cake instead of a pound cake but for some reason by the time I get to the grocery store, I forget to make that substitution. She pretends to be angry about my mistake but who can stay angry with a dessert that displays an American flag? It’s simply unpatriotic. If possible, let the dessert set in the fridge overnight so all the juices can intermingle and soak into the cake.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

June 29, 2014

Our family now consists of a middle aged couple, a geriatric dog (98 in dog years), and a puppy. With that combination it’s a given that one of us is going to have to use the facilities in the middle of the night and it doesn’t matter which one starts the parade because once one arouses the others each has to take a turn. We also enjoy taking walks around the neighborhood together but we usually do that during the day. It’s nice to have activities where everyone can participate. Family dynamics change through the years and we have to adapt.

We mourn for what we’ve lost (kids move out, pets as well as loved ones die, friends move away…) but we adapt to our new circumstances and do our best to look forward to what comes next. Through all our transitions, we have found Jesus to be our one faithful constant. He was with us before “we” were “us” and He will continue with us even when it’s our turn to leave this world. It’s a good life with many unexpected turns; be sure to get a firm grip on the Rock of Ages, all other ground is shifting sand.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

June 22, 2014

I got to the office this morning with a dozen things on my mind not knowing which to tackle first and sort of trying to do them all at once which is, of course, impossible. I felt like the Lord told me to take a deep breath and unclench my brain. The puppy is here with me again and fortunately I found out she likes carrots too. A carrot will occupy her for quite a while which gives me time to check another duty off my list.

A clenched brain is very inefficient but by simply relaxing and trusting that God will help with whatever needs done, the day goes a lot smoother. I remember a song that was popular a few years ago: “I need to be still and let God love me; I need to be still and let God love me. When this old world starts to push and shove me I need to be still and let God love me.” Odd, isn’t it, that we produce better work whenever work isn’t the first thing on our mind?

– Pastor Joel Everhart

June 15, 2014

This morning I’m babysitting our new puppy at the office so my wife can try to catch up on some much needed rest after several rather hectic weeks. So far she’s chewed on everything on my desk (the puppy not my wife). If you get a letter or report from me this week and the corners are mangled you’ll know it was written on Monday. If I loan you a pencil and you find teeth marks in it, they’re not mine.

If she were at home she’d be napping at this time of the day but I happen to have a lot of things on my desk that apparently need to be tasted. Of course she’s not always chewing, sometimes she runs to the door so that I walk her down the steps, through the gym, then the lobby, over the porch until we reach the grass where she dances, jumps, chews on grass and rolls around.

Barb was looking for a therapy dog. I think I’m going to need some therapy by the time this one is trained. Thankfully God never gives up on us in our immaturity. He relentlessly disciplines, rewards, and teaches until we are of some use. The dog is eating again so I guess we’ll be taking another trip over the river and through the woods…

– Pastor Joel Everhart

June 8, 2014

My wife and I spent a good part of this past week visiting with family from the Pittsburgh area. There was a misunderstanding over — of all things — a toilet. It all developed very innocently but when divergent factors all came together it looked, to one family, to be a plot conspired upon by other members of the extended clan. It was a near disaster complete with women in tears and the cutting off of communication nearly complete. Fortunately, we arrived just in time to talk to each “side” and “have a good chuckle” over the whole misunderstanding. It was easy to see how each thought they knew what the other camp was thinking but both were wrong. It made for an interesting few days off. I wonder if the writers of the show Duck Dynasty would be interested in a script for one of their episodes.

Anyway, how unfortunate that so many of our families have been split by attitudes attained over misunderstandings. I think the best course of action for any of us is to keep on loving each other even if we think they’ve turned against us just on the chance that we could be wrong and contribute to the breaking up of a relationship that both we and they need to stay in tact. Let’s be like Jesus: keep on loving and never let go.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

June 1, 2014

My wife did a wonderful job of preparing for our 8 month old grandson’s visit. She purchased a number of age appropriate toys from a secondhand store in Hanover and returned the ones I bought. Parker’s parents were amazed at the variety and selection of items ready for their son to enjoy: it was like Christmas in May for the little guy.

So what were his favorite pastimes? Working his way through or around the barriers surrounding the TVs and slapping them on the screen, pushing the buttons on any electronic device (the real ones not the toy ones), exploring electrical outlets, pulling wires… I thought: how human.

God created so many wonderful things for people to enjoy, yet, from our first parents on we run after all the things that hurt us and destroy our culture. Regardless of how ridiculous the pursuit, if God said, “Thou shalt not…” that’s exactly what we want even if it kills us. Sadly, rather than living in a society that has learned from past mistakes we live in one that empowers people in their lusts for destructive lifestyles. The only law left on the books today is, “Thou shalt not call sin sinful!” Changing our laws does not change the consequences.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

May 18, 2014

My wife got a call last Sunday evening (Mother’s Day) from our son telling her he was bringing his family (including 8-month-old Parker!) for a visit and should arrive this Sunday (today). Well, of course, that was the best possible news she could have heard. But from then until now she has been hard at work converting our home from a senior citizen retreat into a daycare center.

She thinks about everything; her mind never stops. Safety latches on the cupboard doors below the sink, knick-knacks raised above three feet, more rugs to cover hard wood and tile floors lest the child should fall. She’s even rearranged the furniture so the boy will have something to hold onto as he motors around. We’ve bought toys, food, and accessories all in anticipation for the lad’s arrival.

And to think he’ll remember none of this. My wife, however, will never forget it.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

May 11, 2014

Happy Mother’s Day! Ladies, I’m sure you will agree with me when I say that having children is a real life-changer. Living with kids adds a lot of activity to your life and takes away much of your personal time.

Most mothers would say that the rewards far outweigh the costs. I’d also venture to say that your children become all the more precious to you as the years pass. You hold that newborn thinking you could not possibly ever love anyone or anything more than you do at that moment. Yet you find out that your love for them grows; it grows ever more as
other children are added to your family.

If you’ve put on a few pounds since having babies, it’s only because your heart has doubled or tripled in size due to all the love that’s growing there. Thanks so much for all that you do!

– Pastor Joel Everhart

May 4, 2014

In this column last week I talked about being careful not to offend others and being quick to forgive any who offend us. We had some fun with Joey Church in the evening service because she took the message very personally hoping she hadn’t offended anyone and I joked with her that I would dedicate this week’s message to her. Of course, she begged me not to but it just feels like too good an opportunity to pass up.

Joey has been a delight to have as a member of New Life for more than twenty years. Her cheerful attitude, warm smile, willingness to serve, and sharp wit have made many feel welcomed and loved here. She and Kathy Altland were the Rainbows teachers when our daughter Kayla was in that class. Joey has helped in the kitchen, baked some great cakes for events, worked in Sunday School, Children’s Church, VBS, at ladies’ events, etc. She has been a true friend to many.

Diagnosed with MS several years ago (and losing her job and other things because of it) hasn’t dampened her faith, her enthusiasm, or her contribution to our fellowship. I can only hope that in my hours of testing I prove to have the quality of soul that our sister Joey has exhibited through the years. God bless you, Cheryl “Joey” Church!

– Pastor Joel Everhart

April 27, 2014

Leaders, followers, cooks, servers, singers, musicians, speakers, helpers, teachers, inviters, invitees, workers, counters, ushers, chaperones, fine arts participants, egg stuffers, egg spreaders, egg gatherers, egg makers, egg sellers … wow, what an Easter! And, wow, what great cooperation between so many people! Well done, church! Together we worshipped the Lord through everything we did. Doing it with a joyful spirit was the icing on the cake of our sacrifice.

If anyone ate the donut you had your eye on or sat in your usual seat or did not return your greeting or literally stepped on your toes during the “shake hands and be friendly” portion of the service, or disappointed or offended you in any other number of ways please be quick to forgive them (especially if it’s me!). We all offend others and get offended ourselves but God is pleased whenever we cover over one another’s misdeeds with love, grace, and forgiveness. It’s possible to walk away from a great week of ministry feeling tired, unappreciated, taken for granted, or even abused but God is glorified whenever we sign the back of the check for whatever thanks we’re owed and turn it back into praise for God alone. I hope we did this world some good over the past couple weeks and I hope you enjoyed your part in it.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

April 20, 2014

Happy Easter! What’s your fondest memory of Easters past? Likely it has something to do with your family or even a family tradition. Does it include a ham dinner? Was church a priority? I ask these questions because I think it’s important to build good traditions and memories for our kids

On the radio the other day I heard the story of a man diagnosed with brain cancer who (from the moment of his diagnosis until he was absolutely physically unable) spent his time playing and talking with his kids. He and his wife took the family to Disneyland, after that they went camping and fishing. His purpose was to create good memories of himself for his kids to carry with them. The lady telling the story was one of his daughters and she testified as to how much his efforts meant to her now that he’s gone.

Don’t just live, create memories that will continue to bless others long after the day is past. Don’t just go to church, eat, and take a nap … talk about what you do, why you do it, what matters to you and what you hope will matter to your children. Is there something you could do today to make a memory? Perhaps take a group picture or work on a project together? Without that effort, today will just pass away but with something to remember it by it will live on.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

April 13, 2014

I learned a lot about grandparenting this past trip to Utah. Previously we have only ever dealt with one grandchild at a time and they’ve been very young. On this trip we had a 2-yr-old as well as a new baby to look after. Newborns require a lot of specialized care where they need held while fed, squirm around while you’re trying to change them, etc. When I was caring for the grandkids by myself, the 2-yr-old knew by instinct when I was immobile due to handling the baby and he used that time to do things he otherwise would be prevented from doing (i.e. run to another room and squirt his applesauce all over the carpet or climb the shelves to secure valuables he’s not allowed to have).

I also learned not to allow the 2-yr-old to walk out of the house under his own power thinking he would head for the car for an outing. The first time I did this, I got hit with a snowball — the kid’s got an amazing arm! One sunny day, I took him to the park — he ran constantly for over an hour but when we got home, I was the one who took a nap. But then there was that golden moment in the evenings when he’d come by and choose to sit in my lap while I read him a story or he’d flash one of signature smiles …

May God bless and strengthen all of you full-time parents and grandparents! I may run four miles a day, but I’m no match for a 2-yr-old!

– Pastor Joel Everhart

April 6, 2014

I always felt a little bad about the fact that we only had two children. The fact that they were the greatest kids ever has helped to temper that pain. However, as Barb and I were talking the other night, our family is now growing like crazy! Each of our kids married great partners which doubled the amount of kids we have right there. Our kids are so good at producing the most awesome grandkids ever that I can’t see them stopping anytime soon (don’t share this column with them).

This morning we are in Utah helping to care for our brand new grandson Hudson which is now our third grandchild (all boys!). We’re hoping for some little granddaughters, too, because they’re just so cute. I figure a few more grandsons is good before that happens (don’t share this column with my wife) because some couples stop after they get at least one of each. Wouldn’t that be funny if they each had a bunch then they all moved close to home at the same time? How does that old Chinese proverb go… “Be careful what you pray for you just might get it.”

– Pastor Joel Everhart

March 30, 2014

This morning we’re trying a little experiment: the Children’s Church Kids are spending the morning with us in the sanctuary. If everything goes well we’ll be doing it on every fifth Sunday of the month (four times a year). Our purpose is to expose the kids to the adult worship service so that when they “graduate” from Children’s Church it is a smooth transition for them to join us on a permanent basis. Also, we think it is very valuable for a kid to be able to experience worshiping along with their family every so often. So, we’ll be paying special attention to our children this morning because we want to make them feel very welcome.

Can you even imagine how important a child’s first “big church” experience is in their development as a follow of Jesus? Do what you can to make them feel welcome and if there’s a little extra noise, feel good about attending a church that has so many kids!

– Pastor Joel Everhart

March 23, 2014

Spring has sprung, the grass as riz, I wonder where the birdies is!

During this mother of all winters, I’ve marveled at how warm 20-couple degrees can be after wind chills in the single digits or below zero. I’ve also marveled at how cold the 40s can feel when I’m expecting it to be warm. Expectations are fascinating: they can set you up for pleasant surprises or bitter disappointments. Personally, I always try to aim my expectations a little low and hope for better. There are those times, however, when the Lord just drops something in my heart that is bigger than I could ever expect on my own. That’s when faith takes over.

Faith is the assurance that we will get what we hope for because it’s not based on our ability to produce it. It’s based on our confidence that God has spoken it into our lives and nothing is impossible with God. Don’t be misled into thinking you can produce whatever your heart desires but neither should you doubt that God will do what He has promised. Open up your heart to God today — He’s always looking for someone to bless.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

March 16, 2014

Pastor LeRoy and I went in to see Ron Strine the day after his knee replacement at the Wellspan Rehab Hospital in York. When we got there he’d just come back from therapy where they surprised him with the amount of pain they were able to inflict on him (while smiling and telling him he was doing great). He said they didn’t mind it at all when he screamed. The nurse came in with an ice pack and explained that they were waiting for his pain meds to arrive. The ice didn’t help. Finally she returned with a pill and a needle; five minutes later we saw Ron relax and smile. Isn’t it amazing what such a little pill or small amount of liquid can do? Sometimes the greatest gifts do come in the smallest packages: life changing gifts.

You never know what small act of kindness or simple word of encouragement will cause another person to think twice about the Lord. Be sure to “season your conversation with salt” and that as the farmer in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower scattered seed he tossed it onto good and rocky soil alike. That little comment you make, as small as a seed, just might take root and change someone’s life. That simple act of kindness can be the very thing that convinces another that God really does live in you. Each of us is just as capable to sow weeds of discouragement or thorns of pain. What’s in your seed bag?

– Pastor Joel Everhart

March 9, 2014

This past Monday was such a frustrating day for my wife and me. Barb had a nerve conduction test in Gettysburg at 9 a.m. and a doctor appointment in York at 2 p.m. At 11:30 a.m. we had to meet a guy about a thing and were to meet with an attorney by 5 p.m. — both concerning a neighbor’s property and well-being (she has moved into an assisted living home and we’re assisting with her move). Both doctors, the one scheduled for 9 a.m. and the one at 2 p.m., were running over an hour and a half late. As painful as the nerve conduction tests were they didn’t show anything that would be helpful in treating Barb’s pain. The roads were snow and ice covered and filled with some drivers that were driving too slow and others that were going too fast. Add to all that a below zero wind chill, running late to every appointment only to have to wait, yet at the end of the day being no further ahead than when you started.

I laid my head on the pillow intending to pour out my complaints to God but thought it would be the “Christian” thing to do to begin with praise then transition into grumbling. But once I started thanking God for all He had done in the day, the list just kept growing: we were kept safe on the icy roads, we made it everywhere we needed to be with time to spare, everything we planned to accomplish got done and more, Barb and I had a sweet time of connecting in a very strange way while getting frustrated together over the whole mess, somehow we managed to fit in two very delicious meals (one along the way and the other in the comfort of our own home), we found the guy with the thing and the attorney very helpful, a neighbor opened up the part of my driveway the plow had shut after I’d shoveled …. Suddenly I realized that the only bad thing about the day was my attitude.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

March 2, 2014

It’s March 2nd and I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to be done with January and February in all my life! Even though we’re still staring down the barrel of some lows in the teens at least we’ve survived two thirds of one of the coldest winters in recorded history. Someone told me the other day that, worldwide, this has been the forth coldest winter on record. I know what you’re thinking: “There’s still time to break the record!”

The other day I saw a really fat robin; I’m thinking he was wearing long johns under his feathers. Sam told me Donna saw a blue bird; I told him it was a cardinal with frostbite. You know where I’m going with this … this winter is for the birds!

– Pastor Joel Everhart

February 23, 2014

We recently got a classic picture from our daughter-in-law Andrea of her son, Parker (4 months old) perched atop his dad’s shoulders. The look on the boy’s face is one of pride, joy and accomplishment. The haunting thing about the photo for me is the realization that it was just “yesterday” that the dad (Josh) was sitting on my shoulders.

My mother-in-law tells me that grand kids grow up faster than kids and great grand kids even faster! By this time next week I might be a great-great-grandpa! I guess the moral of all this is to do our best to enjoy where we’re at in life right now because it sure won’t be here for long. May God give us the wisdom to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

February 16, 2014

Even though we’ve prepaid for propane this winter and are on automatic fill here at the church we ran out of propane yesterday and boy is my office cold today. I have a little space heater but I guess the heating element is burned out because it only blows cold air – very cold air. It felt a little better after I turned it off. Shipley tells me we’re on the list.

All this causes me to think about how much of these luxuries we enjoy that I take for granted day after day: heat, plowed & salted roads, fresh food, computers, cell phones and the list goes on forever. It reminds me of that old hymn: “Count your blessings name them one by one, count your many blessings see what God has done!”

I can say I was cold for a few hours but how many in the world can say they’ve been cold their whole life?! Some of you work out in the cold — office? What office? Others work in big open spaces like warehouses, garages and the like; God bless you. I still say we ought to oust any politician that has been working against global warming.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

February 9, 2014

I often forget the date, occasionally I forget what day it is but now I think I’m confused as to where we live. Is this Minnesota, Michigan or North Dakota? Please go home and install a coal furnace, burn some trash out in the backyard and if you have an old tractor let it idle in the driveway – we’ve got to do something to promote global warming before we all freeze to death!

By the way, I talked with Jack this week and Dot is doing much better. She’s been able to get up and walk with her walker which she hadn’t done for quite a while. Also, if you see a groundhog, don’t miss.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

February 2, 2014

I’m sitting here munching on a baby carrot trying to think of something to write about in this column when it strikes me that the particular carrot I’m eating is quite tasty. As I pause to thank the Lord for this simple delight I wonder what it took to grow, process, ship, display and sell this product to me. Where did the carrots sitting on my desk come from? How many people were involved in the process of getting them to me? Reading the plastic bag they came in I discover that they were grown in and shipped from California.

Someone(s) (with the help of automation no doubt) planted, watered (California is under a severe drought), harvested, washed, and packaged these little orange nuggets. How many different trucks did they ride in moving from warehouse to market to warehouse to Nell’s Grocery store in East Berlin? How many different workers touched them on their way from the dock to the produce section? The only thing I know for sure is that Linda Mickey is the clerk that scanned and bagged them for me. I had a staff of hundreds deliver my carrots this morning! Not to mention they were on sale: 2/$3.

When you have a whole country working just so you have something to munch on while you are at your desk, you must be a very special person – don’t you think? If there was time I’d tell you about my celery…

– Pastor Joel Everhart

January 26, 2014

That Polar Vortex came back!

Car batteries that have no trouble providing plenty of juice under normal conditions can fail in very cold temperatures. My battery wouldn’t answer the call the last time the Vortex attacked and I had to jump it using our other vehicle.

It was interesting to see that I wasn’t the only guy at Advanced Auto looking for a replacement that morning – we were all lined up –
much to the chagrin of their installer. Personally, I think he should invest in a pair of gloves; it might improve his attitude.

My internal battery is a lot like the one in my car: it provides plenty of pep under normal conditions but when that Vortex hangs around for too many days in a row it takes a toll on my otherwise sunny disposition. The auto parts store has nothing to help that condition (although a new auto air freshener is always nice).

We can, however, sometimes help jumpstart others that are a bit weather worn and they can likewise help us. So, even if you’re having a tough time of it, do what you can to look on the bright side for the sake of the people you love. Life is a team sport and we do better when we’ve got each other’s back. Maybe double up on the phone calls you usually make to our shut-ins or send an extra card of cheer this week. I think it will do your battery good.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

January 19, 2014

It sure has been an interesting winter so far, don’t you think? We’ve had a number of snows, each of which seemed to make travel a challenge, freezing rain, sleet, several fifty degree days, torrential rains, sub-zero wind chills; I think we even had a day in the seventies in December!

We have become familiar with the term “polar vortex”. I hope I never hear that term again. Shifting winds, a moving vortex can bounce us from warm to unbearably cold in a few hours and back again. Some days its 38 degrees and snowing, other days its 25 and raining! A bunch of people studying global warming recently got their boat stuck in ice so thick that other boats designed to break through the ice couldn’t get through to them.

I’m 56 and all this is new to me. We’ve been preaching about the 2nd coming of Jesus lately and the Bible says that as that day draws close there will be signs in the sky and on the earth. The question isn’t, “Is God speaking?” The question is, “Are we listening?” There’s an old catch phrase from those that study Bible prophecy that says, “Get right or get left.”

– Pastor Joel Everhart

January 12, 2014

My email server decided to update its system and felt it necessary to blow up the old one. They did away with my password, wiped out my address book and finally locked me out completely until I started to comply with their new orders.

I resist being retrained. Even when the new is “better” with more options I prefer to be left a couple decades behind as long as I’m getting my work done.

After wasting several hours of my time as I typed in email addresses and became familiar with some of its new features it promises to save me time in the future. I read somewhere last week, “Being busy pays off in the future; being lazy pays of right now.” Being lazy doesn’t appeal to me at all but getting busier in order to be more productive is often a hard sale to me.

But isn’t that the way of Christ? Sacrifice now, serve now, study now, give now – making not only for a better life as we mature here on earth but a greater reward in eternity. Too often I give the Lord the same resistance I give modern technology even though I know that His ways are best. So here’s to a new year: may we become better at embracing the changes ahead!

– Pastor Joel Everhart

January 5, 2014

I was watching the news the morning after Christmas when I saw that many of the stores were opening early with expectations of after Christmas shopping crowds. I had several things to return so I jumped in the car and got to three stores before 8 a.m.

There was a little snow on the ground that may have deterred some people but I was virtually alone in each of the stores I visited! There were roped off areas, signs to direct people and many clerks available but almost no shoppers. With stores opening on Thanksgiving, staying open until midnight on Christmas Eve, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, Free Shipping Friday… maybe what we really need is a few more days without ANY shopping. There was a time we used to do that once a week!

There’s something peaceful about quiet streets and empty shopping centers. I know what you’re thinking: “But you were shopping the day after Christmas, Pastor!” No, I was returning – they lost money on me.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

December 29, 2013

Happy New Year! A fresh slate; a clean page; it’s time to reflect on the past and set some goals for the future. It could also be a good time for some pork and sauerkraut.

In everyone’s life there should be some time for celebration as well as perspiration. For many of us, we get a little extra time off during the holidays to relax and enjoy ourselves (whether that’s what we do with the time or not is largely up to us).

Others actually have to work overtime during this festive time of year because of the type of business they’re in. Still others make the festivities themselves labor and stress! They snap at others that laze around or think poorly of those that relax. Some of us would rather be busy than sit around; others are quite the opposite.

So why not let everyone enjoy what they do best? And let not the worker think ill of the relaxed ones among us when we’d rather be serving anyway. However, come January 2nd … everyone back to work!

– Pastor Joel Everhart

December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas to you and yours! Thank you for all your kind remembrances of my wife and me during this wonderful time of the year.

Having a new grandbaby in the family renews our wonder of babies: how beautiful they are and how quickly they grow. Our daughter-in-law tells us how captivated she is by the son in her arms even though we know there have been a number of fussy times (he’s cutting two teeth at 3½ months!). She tells us that Parker doesn’t just roll over he’s a regular gymnast in his sleep. What a great gift for God to give to the world: a baby!

I wonder if the shepherds and wise men got to hold Him? Luke 2:28 says, “Simeon took [baby Jesus] in his arms and praised God”. Not only were children later welcomed into Jesus’ lap; I have to wonder how many laps He had crawled into while He was growing up. Maybe there were grandparents, uncles, aunts, and friends of the family He felt especially close to. From the very beginning people were welcome to “behold Him” and even to hold Him.

When Jesus came He shared His life with us, His whole life, even the joys of touch and warmth – and He still does – Merry Christmas!

– Pastor Joel Everhart

December 15, 2013

Wow, it was a tough drive home from church last Sunday morning! I have a four wheel drive SUV but drove my car because they said the icy stuff wouldn’t happen till later in the afternoon.

Traffic stopped on 194 just south of Abbottstown and the lady in front of me couldn’t get moving again. Try as I might I just couldn’t push her by myself; I looked up to a line of cars in either direction as far as I could see but no one else got out to help. Only after she backed to the side of the road did three young people from way back in the line come walking up; with their help we were able to get the lady on her way freeing everyone else in line.

Because we were on the knoll of a hill no one could pass safely; our only hope was to get everyone moving yet everyone was waiting for someone else to do something. Working together we all got on our way safely … seems like there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

December 8, 2013

We greatly enjoyed having our son Josh, his wife Andrea, and their new baby Parker home for the week of Thanksgiving. There is something surreal about seeing your kids take care of a baby.

I really appreciated my wife’s organizational skills as we prepared for the visit and all our friends that loaned us baby equipment! You basically have to remodel your house when a baby is coming to stay for a while. But what I most appreciate is the fact that those old baby watching skills seem to come back when you need them. I was able to take the early morning shift with Parker which allowed his parents to enjoy some well deserved sleep. Even though the baby had a few fussy times (nothing compared to when our kids had colic) I remained calm and seemed to know what to do.

There’s a relaxedness about being a grandpa that may not have been as pronounced when I was a dad (their having colic probably had something to do with that). Barb noted how very comforting it is to hold a sleeping baby. A new life in a family, even when its sleeping, sure adds new life to a family.

– Pastor Joel Everhart

December 1, 2013

For a brief instant we had our grandson to hold but now Thanksgiving is past, relatives have dispersed, and for a short time we focus on the major holiday of the season. In the blink of an eye Christmas will have come and gone.

There will be moments when the wind chill causes us to grit our teeth as we recognize that it is indeed wintertime. But just as we think we can’t take the cold any longer, spring will arrive and we will once again dash through summer.

All of life goes by so quickly. Be thankful, give generously, laugh often, love extravagantly for life is short and days like these are precious. Soon each one of us will appear before God to give an account of how we lived. The Bible tells us that God puts more emphasis on how we finish than on any other part of our life. So finish well. Put on your track shoes. Run in such a way as to win the race and finish with a burst.

Not that you need to get busier or become more stressed; certainly not! Deepen your roots into the Lord, become more serious about serving others and never miss an opportunity to express God’s love to another human being. Everybody runs; few run well.

– Pastor Joel Everhart