Dear Members and Friends of Valley Park,
In church and family life, November and December can be considered among the most important months of the year. The reason is that there are two God honoring celebrations within two months. I enjoy both Thanksgiving and Christmas because they are opportunities to express gratitude for the many things God has created and graciously given to us. They are both familial celebrations that bring families together to celebrate life and express real gratitude to God for what He has given and done for us.
I will talk more about Christmas in the December Voice article. This month we will consider things for which we are grateful and should celebrate during “Thanksgiving.” Every one of us should be able to write a list of blessings in life we enjoy because of the things God has created, done for us and entrusted to our care. First, let us consider a very meaningful passage in the Bible written by the Apostle Paul about the significance of gratitude expressed to God.
“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their reasonings, and their senseless hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible mankind, of birds, four-footed animals, and crawling creatures.”Romans 1:18-23
The Apostle Paul, in this carefully worded text, wonderfully expresses the importance of gratitude in life. He first points out that God will judge those who are ungrateful for the things He has created and entrusted to them. He argues that there is no excuse for ingratitude.
Paul writes that people who are “ungodly” and “unrighteous” actually “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” This means their priority is to do what hurts life and they choose to ignore anything that challenges their unrighteous disposition. Thus, they choose narratives in life that ignore God’s existence and truth He reveals. Paul states God will ultimately reveal His wrath against these kinds of people.
- Most importantly Paul writes that people are well informed about the existence of God and should know better. He states God’s presence and work in the world are evident both within them and through the things He has created. There is something within every human being that reveals what God is like and represents His nature. There is therefore, according to Paul, no excuse for denying the existence of God and the goodness of everything He has created.
- A third point made by Paul is that being honest about God’s existence and nature should lead people to expressions of gratitude for everything they enjoy in life. But Paul says, “they do not honor Him as God or give thanks.” The result of their refusal to honor God and give thanks is that their ability to think becomes deluded and foolish. Life refusing to honor and express gratitude to God is destructive to the human soul.
The result of the reasoning in this passage is that we, who know God, need to slow down, acknowledge the privileges we enjoy in life, and give thanks regularly.
Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 23, 2023, is a day we should value because it is a special opportunity to express our gratitude to the God of creation for everything that He created that is good. We do this despite the presence of evil, suffering and death in the world because these were not created by God. See Genesis 1-3. But we see and enjoy the goodness of creation and creation reflects the creativity and goodness of God. We can gather, remind ourselves of our many blessings, and express words of appreciation to our God and Father in the heavenly realm.
I think we need also to express gratitude for principles upon which the United States is unique among all the nations of the world. Those who wrote our Declaration of Independence (1776 AD) and Constitution (1787 AD) were informed by principles established by God in the management of the world. One of the most recognized statements in the Declaration of Independence is
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Upon this conviction expressed close to 250 years ago, the United States is known world-wide as a country where freedom for every human being is fought for and established in the laws of the land. Yes, we have our weaknesses flowing from damage done to the human heart by evil. But in the history of mankind, there is no civilization that has more faithfully honored the creation of all human beings in the “image” and “likeness” of God. The regular and well-known fight in American is against the suppression of some people by the evil done by people who seek self-gain at the expense of others. America remains established upon the principle that “all men are created equal.” Our country is known as the best place in the world to live for anyone who desires to obtain the best in life achieved by hard work. So, we can give thanks for the many things we enjoy because we live in America.
My encouragement to the members and friends of Valley Park is that we devote November to appreciating the privileges we enjoy in this world and the country in which we live. We can pray for healing and wholeness for every human being in the world. We can express gratitude for our privileges and freedom to improve and enjoy our lives in this wonderful country. We can give thanks for things like family, love and church. We can become agents of God in helping others and serving their health and wholeness through Jesus Christ.
May God bless Valley Park and lead us to make a real difference in the world. Thanks be to God for the privilege of knowing Him and serving life. May God help us grow in our fruitfulness for Him.
Valley Park Ministries: Pray for the Following Ministries
- Prison Fellowship Angel Tree
- Prison Fellowship Angel Tree® equips churches to strengthen relationships between incarcerated parents and their children and support the families of prisoners year-round. Angel Tree provides an opportunity for local congregations to extend the hope of the Gospel and enfold Angel Tree families into church life through delivering Christmas gifts on behalf of incarcerated parents.
- Valley Park is participating in Angel Tree. Sunday, November 12th, the Christmas Tree will be displayed in the courtyard and you are welcome to choose a child or children to purchase a gift to be delivered to their home on behalf of the incarcerated parent. The Angel from the tree will tell the age of the child, sex of the child and what they would like to receive. The gift can be put in a gift bag (not wrapped) and returned to the Angel Tree Table by December 3.
- 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
- Small Group Studies: The Book of Ephesians
- Wednesdays, 7 pm in Conference Room
- Wednesdays, 7 pm, Zoom meeting, Budd and Vivian Rude, starts October 11
- Budd and Vivian’s Zoom ID: Call Vivian or Budd Rude for access.
- Thursdays, 10 am in Conference Room
- Sundays, 5 pm, in Conference Room, Starts October 8
- Thursday Morning Fellowship for our Seniors: Meets on Thursdays for coffee and fellowship. Everyone is welcome regardless of age. Pastor Kevyn makes great lattes.
- 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. thank you for considering helping.
- 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 (Pre-school through Kindergarten).
- 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.)
- 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 “November Birthdays”: Members, Friends and Youth
Please consider giving us your contact and birthday information so we can include you in our recognition of birthdays.
06 Vicky Jiminez
07 Bill James
08 Nicholas Villanueva
14 Rafil Vasilev
20 Wendy Ashenbrenner
22 Wilna Brestel
24 Monica Figueroa
30 Kevin Gray