Dear Members and Friends of Valley Park,
I continue to be amazed by the increasing number of people attending on Sundays, the excitement I see in the lives of many who attend, and the unity manifested in everything we do. I can say that I see the presence of God’s Spirit in many ways at Valley Park and am confident that He is proud of us and is blessing our efforts to give our best for Him. What does it mean to say that we see evidence of God’s Spirit in our midst?
In one of Jesus’ first encounters, He talked to a woman drawing water at a well in the middle of the day (John 4:7-42). She asked Jesus His opinion on the best place to worship (Samaria or Jerusalem- see verse 20). It was kind of like people in our time asking which church in town is the best to attend. Jesus offered a unique response.
21 Jesus said to her, “Believe Me, woman, that a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But a time is coming, and even now has arrived, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”John 4:21-24
What does worship in spirit and truth mean? Jesus stated, “God is spirit” and is therefore most meaningfully approached on a spiritual level. Human beings are considered by Jesus as composed of both a spirit and a physical body. When appearing before His disciples in His resurrected form, Jesus clarified that He possessed a distinguishable physical body that could be touched, without which he would be spirit only.
“See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you plainly see that I have.”Luke 24:39
So, according to Jesus, God is most concerned with connecting on the level of spirit rather than the physical body. It would not matter where the woman at the well worshiped because it had nothing to do with place. God desired a connection with her on a level deeper than the physical. In a discussion with a Pharisee named Nicodemus, Jesus described this spiritual connection with God in a person as being like the wind.
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; so is everyone who has been born of the Spirit.”John 3:8
This wind represents the unseen influence of the spirit of God on a person in moving how a person uses the physical body. The physical body manifests the Spirit’s presence. In the world, people build temples and establish rituals that connect with the physical body, but the ritual and location may reveal no evidence of the spirit’s presence. Jesus is saying connection with Jesus “in spirit” impacts a person in ways only manifested by the body but not defined by it. Worshiping “in spirit” involves a true bonding of the human spirit with God, who is spirit. There is a oneness between God and a person. All this suggests that Valley Park is manifesting evidence of the unseen presence of God’s spirit.
Additionally, Jesus said “in truth.” The “truth” involves the additional component of identifying with God the mind and understanding of God.
“Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”John 6:27
To worship “in truth” is to have a focus on knowing the mind and heart of God as was shown with Jesus. It is to exemplify the life Jesus lived as the Son of God who knew, understood, and served the heart of God with clarity of understanding God’s revealed will for life. There was an identification with God as Father that was not only spirit, but so intimate that it controlled how Jesus thought about life and everything He valued. Jesus displayed this awareness of God’s will consistently in His life. There was therefore a spirit connection between Jesus and God that was aligned with understanding of everything of value to God. It was informed by the truth.
“17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” 18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in the same way. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. 22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.John 5:17-24
In like manner, Valley Park is manifesting the presence of God’s Spirit and a love for learning about Jesus. People are encouraged because we are worshipping God “in spirit” and “in truth.” September, in some ways, is the beginning of a new year because people have been detached for other things during the summer months, but school brings us back. As families are back into the rhythms of life associated with the fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas, let us pray for Valley Park that He will give us wisdom to manage what He is doing in our midst.
To God be the glory!
Valley Park Ministries: Pray for the Following Ministries
o American Baptist Churches of Los Angeles, Southwest and Hawaii
Annual Meeting at Valley Park Church
Friday. October 6 and Saturday, October 7
o Volunteers Needed for Sunday Clean-up– The Hospitality team continues to look for volunteers to help with lunch clean-up on Sundays. Perhaps you would consider a once-a-month commitment to help. If so, please talk to Ann Jones. Again, thank you for your consideration of helping on Sundays!!
o Children’s Ministry- Diana Nason
All children join parents in the sanctuary at 10:30 A.M. for music and worship. They are dismissed to their classes during the greeting time before the sermon.
Parents need to sign their children in when they drop them off and pick up their children promptly after service in Room 4 (1st -5th grade) or Room 2 (Preschool through Kindergarten).
o Youth Ministry- Victor Paz Meeting Location- Ranch House
Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 P.M. in the Ranch House.
Sundays: Youth are dismissed to the Ranch House for Bible study during the greeting time and before the sermon. (11 A.M. to 12 P.M.)
o Prison Fellowship Project Angel Tree!
Valley Park has embraced “Angel Tree” for many years. We will do this again this year. We will need at least 3 teams of our members to deliver gifts to the children.
Gifts are given on behalf of incarcerated parents to Angel Tree children through home deliveries and Christmas events. This step provides the opportunity for Angel Tree volunteers to present the Gospel to families impacted by crime and incarceration.
Connections made during gift distribution provide an opportunity to model and share the Gospel. You can start by offering a Bible card, praying with the family, sharing Gospel materials, and/or inviting them to participate in future ministry events.
Please think and pray about it. If you would like to volunteer for delivery of gifts please contact Tammy Eacker, (818) 400-3625 or email Eacker74@gmail.com.
o Food Pantry
Wednesdays- We are presently serving 120-140 families accommodating over 500 people weekly. It appears that community needs are increasing. We always need help between 1-5 P.M. on Wednesdays with set up, serving and cleanup.
Valley Park’s “September Birthdays”: Members, Friends and Youth
Please consider giving us your contact and birthday information so we can include you in our recognition of birthdays.
02 Diana Nason
06 Mark Hogan
09 Charlie Garcia
12 Erik Villanueva
13 Ludy Crizaldo
14 Victor Paz
15 Angela Kasbarian
23 Bryant Bardales
26 Cindy Gray
26 Werner Lopez (child)
27 Robin Pokorski
29 Alina Lopez
30 Jai Belcher