Cleaning House

Company’s coming to stay with us a couple days. These are missionary friends we met in the Philippines and have not seen in several years. They’ve never been in our home, so we’re looking forward to the opportunity to reconnect.

When company comes, especially out of town overnight guests, we get busy. The house gets extra cleaning, furniture might get moved around a little, and the yard gets some special attention. I don’t think we’re being disingenuous – there’s just something in all of us that wants to put our good foot forward, make a good impression, and appear calm and chaos-free.

Let’s be honest – besides the neat-nicks among us, our homes are not always perfectly tidy. The dirty laundry doesn’t always hit the hamper, undealt-with mail languishes on the table, and the detritus of life finds countertops and coffee tables. We fear that someone may drop by and see what we are really like in the midst of a busy week. And yet, if we happen upon a friend’s “au naturel” house we’re not offended. Is this double standard hypocritical?

It depends on attitude. One person scrubs down the house for fear of how others will judge them if it is less than spotless, while another puts in the extra effort as an act of love for the guest. Same exterior result, different internal motivation. But the self-centered way will drive you crazy, while the other-focused effort brings joy. To realize, “I’m creating a homey welcome for my guests” makes mopping and dusting strangely satisfying.


This weekend at Bethany Church you’re going to notice a fresh look to our parking areas – fresh sealant and parking lines on the asphalt. You’ll notice the usual excellent work of the Sod Squad keeping grass green and sidewalks edged. In the evening you’ll notice attractive energy-saving LED street lamps, and soon you’ll be logging on to a new website. The Stewardship team is working on a plan to improve our restrooms and apply an overdue coat of paint to the building exterior in the near future, and a design team is exploring ways to freshen the look of our stage area.

Why you ask? Because taking care of our facilities is responsible stewardship. The building and grounds belong to the Lord, and he has entrusted them to us. We also want to create an attractive and welcoming environment for friends and neighbors. This is not driven out of fear or pride for what others will think of us – it’s an act of love to the unsaved and unchurched friends we are seeking to introduce to Jesus. Creativity also reflects the nature of our Heavenly Father, the First Artist and Almighty Creator. We want our facilities to say, “Welcome, relax, be at home and at ease, in a place where you will hear the Good News of God’s great love for you.”

Hebrews 13:2a reminds us, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers.” That’s why I’m excited to see some fresh changes. If it means I need to contribute some extra effort or extra funds, I’m willing, because I love our friends and neighbors enough to give them a fresh and clean welcome. I’m not trying to impress anyone, I just want to show our love by making the wonderful Bethany facilities an even better place to hear the Good News and be introduced to Jesus our Lord.


Brian Wiebe- Lead Pastor

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Violet’s Pest Control

Recently, our kids were playing with some friends out in the church play yard after Mommy and Me.  The girls were congregated around a corner of the yellow play house, crouched down in the dirt, looking intently at something captivating.  Suddenly, my 4 year old, Evy, came running toward me, crying and afraid.

“They’re biting me!”  she cried, as she frantically rubbed her legs.

Sure enough, a rebel legion of kid-biting ants had infiltrated the church play yard.  Evy, the brave scout, had met the enemy forces.  We quickly brushed the ants from her legs and shoes before asking, “So where did all these ants come from?”  She pointed back to where her 3 year old sister, Violet stood.  As I jogged to curious Violet, I realized that she was standing right in the middle of a concentrated colony of black ants.  I carried her (heroically, at arms’ length!)  away from the pile only to find that her shoes, legs, and little, white dress were swarming with black ants!  Three of us, Annette, Megan, and I, worked together quickly to brush off all the ants.

When the situation settled down and we’d all caught our breath, Annette remarked to Megan and me that she’d have to tell Bob (the church custodian, janitor, maintenance guy, and all around superhero of helpfulness) about the ants so he could take care of them before Sunday morning.  Perhaps he had some ant spray or some other magical chemical to destroy them?  As Annette walked over to talk to Bob, tiny warrior Violet, fresh from the battle, fought fire with fire, saying,

“Dear God, please make the ants go away.  In Jesus name, Amen.”

Then she trotted off to the playground while Megan and I stared at each other incredulously, saying, “Why didn’t we think of that?!” photo (9)

When Bob valiantly entered the scene, Megan and I joked that his help was no longer needed.  Violet had called in the big guns.  But we weren’t really joking… were we?  Perhaps Violet’s prayer was all that was needed to solve the ant problem.  Surely, the Creator of living things could completely relocate this massive army of ants in a miraculously timely manner before church on Sunday!  Violet believed this and her faith-saturated prayer was the most practical option in her untainted mind.

“Now this I know:

The LORD gives victory to his anointed.  He answers him from His heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of His right hand.  Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” 

Psalm 20:6-7

When you’ve got a problem that needs solving, where do you start?  When you need a victory, to whom do you look for help?

On Sunday morning when the girls went to check on the ant situation they found only a few lonely villains left.  It was definitely a prayer victory for Violet; she’d effectively used her shield of faith.  We didn’t even ask whether Bob had intervened after all.  Violet’s method was more practical, more logical than bug spray.  God’s track record for solving problems is undefeated.

So here’s my challenge for you:  Next time you’ve got a problem, try the most logical approach.  Pray FIRST.

Crystal Nachtigall


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The Fragrance of… Lemons?

As a kid growing up on what I thought was just a “boring old raspberry farm”, the thought of living someplace with palm trees and citrus in the garden would have been unthinkably exotic. And to now live where we enjoy pomegranate, orange, lime and lemon trees in our backyard still sometimes seems an unreal childhood fantasy. But here we are, and loving it.

imagesThat also means I’m learning how to care for this wonderful variety of plantings. And because I’m still enamored by the novelty of it all, I hate to prune back these trees any more than necessary. Yet I know that pruning is necessary and helpful for the trees and their fruit.

Jesus said he is the Vine, and we are the branches. He said,

My Father is the gardener…and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more” (John 15:1-2).

That’s you and me – that if we bear fruit we can expect to experience some cutting away, some pruning of branches in our lives. It might be painful at times, but it is so we will bear more fruit.

As I clipped away at the lemon tree in our yard recently I remembered the sensory bonus of lemon tree pruning: as one snips the branches, the fragrance of fresh lemon is released at every cut. It certainly makes the task more pleasant to enjoy that aroma.

As I considered the pruning work that God sometimes needs to do in my life I wondered what kind of aroma comes from my life in the cutting process? Is it the rich sense of humble gratitude, or the stink of complaining? I suppose we could ask the same questions as God may even do some pruning in the life of our church…what fragrance do we exude in the midst of pruning?

Second Corinthians 2:14-15 says,

Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.”

I want my life to be that Christ-like fragrance, even when life is hard, even when being pruned.

How about you? Are you experiencing a pruning in your life? What fragrance are you sending out?

Brian Wiebe-Lead Pastor



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A mighty fortress is our God; a sacred refuge is Your name

Your kingdom is unshakable; With You forever we will reign


You may have heard Pastor Brian allude to a family whose house was broken into this last week. Well, we were the family. After a full day of work, dinner together as family and a couple of hours of CPR instruction, we came home to open drawers, tossed clothing, and a TV parked close to the exit window the burglars used. We were in shock and we were shaken.

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While we still feel the effects of last Thursday’s break-in, we have been able to put some of this crime in perspective. Much of what we lost was jewelry and money. While some of the pieces were family gifts, it all amounts to stuff. No one was hurt. No one was a hostage. The things – read, people – we value most are intact.

Yes, we lost “valuables,” and we could have lost other things as well. Yet these “treasures” are not what our life is about. We have this opportunity now to understand what it really means to not treasure the material things of this world more than the kingdom of our Lord and King. Jesus himself reminded us,

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Matthew 6:19-21

I certainly do not want robberies to be a regular occurrence for us in order to hold this perspective. If anything, I hope we continue to have a lasting gratitude for what we have been given as a trust for the purposes of God’s glory. I also do not want this event to rob us of the certain truth that God is our fortress and refuge, our very present help in time of trouble.

Our confidence in locks and gates is certainly shaken. Our sense of personal security is rattled. The good news is that God’s kingdom among us is NOT shaken. Our confidence in the Lord is intact. He certainly knows what happened and will certainly take care of the justice we desire. We stand confident that our God is still watching us and giving us refuge even now. May this witness to God’s faithfulness encourage and remind you that the Lord will be a refuge for you even as He is for our family.

-Mike Spinelli-Choir Drector

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I recently had eyebrow surgery to improve my eyesight. During that procedure, an attending nurse asked the surgeon what the spot was next to my eye. “Let’s see”, he said. The nurse was persistent and pushed the doctor to check again. Sure enough, he had not noticed it before and proceeded to remove a cancerous growth.

I had the opportunity to personally thank the nurse and the Doctor for their God-given skills to take care of this need since it required two follow-up procedures to make sure the cancer was removed and reconstruction of the area. While recovering I have thought about vision and what it might mean to lose it.  images (3)

One person was asked what would be the most devastating loss, and he replied: Probably my eyesight. The other replied that even worse might be to “lose our vision”.

Morris Frank lost his eyesight by age 16 and traveled to Switzerland to meet Buddy, his seeing eye dog. With Buddy he was able to find freedom. A simple leather strap, linking me to life, He said. You might say he had a new ‘leash on life’.

But how do we not lose our vision? Hebrews 12:2. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Christ, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. With the resurrection, Christ is now seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

May we always keep our eyes on our Lord and the hope of resurrection.

 Ed Willems Minister of Care

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