JZ's A to Z Blog
By Pastor Joel
March 29, 2018

Parents, are you considering having "the talk" with your preteen son or daughter? Here is a recommendation from a Pathway parent who tried and recommends, "Passport to Purity.

Here it is in his own words:

"I would strongly consider looking into a weekend away with your preteen to go through Family Life's Passport2Purity. It is a multiple audio CD, Journal and projects that illustrate the importance of wise decisions as your child enters adolescence. Some of the stories are a little corny and it can definitely be uncomfortable for both of you but it is well worth it. It can be purchased directly from Family Life, Amazon, and Christian Books. It is usually the cheapest at Christianbooks.com."

If we aren't teaching our preteens about the goodness of our God in designing human sexualty, someone else will be teaching them. Make sure they hear it from you!




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By Pastor Joel and Mike Bultema
December 15, 2017

During the summer of 2017, I preached a series on how the Bible and science really are two sides of one coin. For some, it’s interesting to explore the topic. One of those is Mike Bultema. My buddy Mike was fueled by desire for growth in the Bible/science debate by passing along tidbits and sharing a DVD series. At my request he wrote this piece "Ramblings of a Mad Man." Thanks to Mike for putting his thoughts to paper. He deeply values scripture, the Christian faith, and the pursuit of knowledge about the creation and mankind. Sorry Mike that it took me so long to get this blog up.

"Ramblings of a Mad Man"

We at Pathway Church have recently heard a sermon series comparing Science and Religion. I have personally enjoyed this series but have a few points or questions that I would like to voice. The Bible never tries to disprove the scientific community, but a lot of science people try to disprove the Bible. Why do the history tellers try to tell me that the cave man of old was stupid and slow, and only lived to about 40 years of age? Science teaches that early man was on a constant quest for more knowledge. Good grief! The fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is what got us all in this mess we are in in the first place. My Bible says man lived for hundreds of years and was well learned in the arts and metal working. For example, God told Noah to build a boat. Noah didn’t ask, “What is a boat?” Noah built a giant boat! That job alone requires a basic understanding of carpentry, engineering, time management, tree falling and so on. Bottom line, Noah was not stupid.  

I believe the Flood actually happened. Most people look around and not much has changed, so they think the world has always looked this way. Well, the Bible says otherwise. This earth went into mourning after Adam and Eve brought about the fall into sin. The mourning got worse until God said “Enough! I’m going to wipe you people off the face of my earth and start over!” Queue the flood, massive changes, earth still suffering from sin until the moment Jesus dies on the cross. The curtain in the Temple ripped, the earth shook, again, then things start to slow down.  

I think that there were constant earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves and such until Jesus’ death. Jesus’ death and resurrection brought an end to the reign of sin. Oh, by the way, take my Jesus off of the cross. He isn’t up there anymore. HE IS ALIVE!  

Over 40 years ago, I was taught that an ice age was coming, too many cars and trucks. Today my kids are being taught Global Warming, too many cars and trucks. I’m not going to worry about it too much people, God said season will follow season. There is order to the chaos.  

Occasionally, science will find something that we as a people have forgotten about. Dinosaurs, deep sea creatures, giant fish, they have even found whale bones in the Sahara Desert. It’s all in the Bible, even lost civilizations.  

Okay, deep breath, I believe in the Bible and what it says; all of it. If science and the Bible seem at odds to one another, I’m going to have to side with the Bible. If I start to pick and choose what parts of the Bible to believe, then I just devalued it all. That is what the devil wants. That is the bottom line; put a shadow of doubt in someone and they start to lose faith. Please don’t forget the real battle is between good and evil. So in closing this rant of mine, our battle is not with science itself. Science is just a tool that evil uses to try and trip us up. Science can only tell us what they see. The Bible tells us what was here before, and what will be here after. We don’t have to explain the Bible, just believe it. Most people don’t know how the brakes in their car work, but they believe that they will work when they step on the brake pedal!  

The Bible never changes. Sometimes science will change its stance though. So, when in doubt, wait it out.  

Thanks for listening,  

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By Pastor Joel
December 08, 2017

Two weeks ago Paul Siemer, Pathway’s worship director, shared deeply his struggle with panic attacks. Some of you may have wondered what Ashley, Paul’s wife, was thinking and feeling as she walked beside him during those dark days. Here’s her version.  

Thank you Paul and Ashley for your vulnerability. God is good, and you are brave!

“Paul shared this week about his struggle with panic attacks and anxiety and I was asked for follow up and to share some more on it.   

So five years ago, Liam was born! He was our third child, making it three kids ages 4 and under. It was the first time in parenting I really began to feel like I was out of control! And in a very typical Siemer-style way of doing life, we decided to move. Our house sold when Liam was one month old and we were in a new house when he was less than 4 months old. Just a few weeks later, in the midst of a very chaotic season of life for us, Paul experienced his first panic attack. (Cannot imagine why, right?-Just kidding!) Well, I thought life was hard having three young children, but I had no clue that some of the darkest years were ahead for Paul and I. When I think of those years, all I can say is THANK YOU JESUS for the healing, restoration, and hope that only YOU give.  

Paul mentioned during the years of panic attacks that we had a miscarriage. I was in my second trimester and we lost a baby girl. The week of my miscarriage was one of the darkest weeks for us. We were consumed with grief and Paul was battling constant panic attacks so it was very hard for us to heal. I would get the kids in the car, put on gospel hymnal music and just drive and cry--nearly every day. I didn’t want to open my Bible, and I had no words to say to God, but my heart was broken and I needed to hear His promises. So I listened to songs that were filled with scriptural encouragement.  

Paul is my other half and I could not help him. I missed him deeply. He missed himself. I wish I could say I was never angry, but that would not be true. Anger, frustration, disappointment, loneliness were feelings that lingered for years. While Paul struggled with anxiety, I lost my best friend. I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone.  

But I share all of this today because God allowed anxiety to break Paul, and then the Lord reshaped him more in Christ’s image. Paul has a different faith now than he did five years ago. In Paul’s words, “the ground under his feet was put back stronger than ever in his relationship with the Lord and even in our marriage.” And the best part of this pain that we both lived through is that the Lord can take our pain and use it to bless someone else who suffers like Paul did. We can tell someone we have been there! We have such grace and love for people hurting in a way that we could never have had until we lived it ourselves. I pray the Lord uses us to minister into others’ lives who are hurting. We are not an answer to anyone’s problems, but we can tell them—“You are not alone.” I think that is an amazing part of the gift we have in Jesus Christ. He understands our sufferings. He is a Savior who suffered. There is nothing we can experience that He cannot meet us in. And when He allows us to suffer, He is refining us to go out and share His love and grace to others. My life theme seems to be about restoration. When we had our miscarriage and lost our sweet baby girl, who we named Aria, the words from Scripture that I clung to and still cling to are:  “He will restore my soul.” I love how the Lord makes beauty from ashes. May He continue to restore me, AMEN!” ~Ashley Siemer

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By Pastor Joel
October 13, 2017

For the last year, Pathway has been re-purposing food with a local Starbucks. Usually packaged food is thrown away in the restaurant industry if not used by the packaged date. However, through Food Donation Collection Program, Pathway is able to assist with bringing our local dated food to area food pantries. The following is an explanation by Jackie Sergeant who faithfully does Starbucks food runs. Thank you, Jackie and children. And thanks to all volunteers who participate. ~Joel

“Mom, What’s A Food Pantry?”
By Jackie Sergeant

This was a somewhat foreign term to my kids ages 11, 10, 8, 5, 3 and 8 months. Serving in any ministry is a challenge with small children. Most require a certain age/ability that can help. My husband and I have both felt slightly limited in our ability to participate in different ministries due to our young family. I have always had a heart for serving our neighbors locally; I want to take care of those around me.

When Pathway offered the opportunity to help deliver Starbucks food to local food pantries, I signed up!

Pathway Church partners with the Food Donation Collection Program. Their vision verse is John 6:12:  “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” For our ministry, we pick up unsold food from the local Starbucks and then it is brought to a food pantry in Cedar Lake. This food is what Starbucks would otherwise throw away at the end of the day. The food pantry in Cedar Lake serves approximately 41 families per week!

The term ‘food pantry’ has not been common in our household. Our family has not yet had to utilize one. So when I explained to my kids that we would be helping to pick up and deliver food to local food pantries, it brought on some interesting conversations. We talked about who would use a food pantry. It might be for someone who has lost a job, someone who is elderly, someone who is a single parent, or someone who has just fallen on hard times. We talked about the kind of food they might receive. We discussed where the food was coming from. 

Sometimes I go by myself to pick up and deliver the food. Often I have one, or many of my kids with me. They get to help carry the bags, pick up the food and deliver it. I believe that making my children aware that there are others less fortunate than they are and that THEY can do something to help, will have a lasting impact on them. 

Below is a video made by NOWTHIS that shows exactly what Pathway (and my family) have been able to participate in:  https://www.facebook.com/NowThisNews/videos/1488585184564934/.

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By Pastor Joel
September 29, 2017

Michele and I will be visiting the seven churches of Asia Minor in the country of Turkey next February (Lord willing). We’ve found that hearing the Bible in the context of the land is of great value and inspiration. Here’s an article on why Turkey is so important to the Biblical record. It’s written by Brad Gray from Walking the Text ministry. Brad is a guide whom Michele and I went with to Israel five years ago. If you are interested in either the holy land or Turkey for a Biblical knowledge trip, we highly recommend him. Check out his site: walkingthetext.com.

Here’s Brad’s description of Turkey:
“Why Turkey? What’s in Turkey? What does Turkey have to do with the Biblical story?"

These are a few of the questions I’m often asked when people find out I’m leading Biblical study trips to this country. These questions are good questions. These are the same questions I had when I first considered the possibility of taking a Biblical study trip to Turkey. But the very asking of these questions exposes the reality of our unfamiliarity with the Biblical story. Here’s why:

Thirteen books and letters of the New Testament were written to the residents of Turkey (ancient Asia Minor). That’s nearly half of the New Testament. Among those letters not written to Turkey, a number of them were written from Turkey. In a nutshell, without Turkey, there is no New Testament as we know it!

Two letters written to Turkey that stand out are the gospel of John and the book of the Revelation. Have you ever wondered why the gospel of John is so radically different than Matthew, Mark, or Luke? It has everything to do with who John’s audience was. Of the gospel writers, only John was writing to the land of Turkey (although Luke’s patron, Theophilus, to whom he wrote Luke and Acts to, may have resided in Turkey). John was using stories from the life of Jesus to connect to a particular people in a particular land. As one begins to understand the world of Asia Minor, one better understands the gospel of John.

Unquestionably, the most debated, cryptic, and confusing book of the New Testament is Revelation. Revelation was written to the people of western Asia Minor (Roman province of Asia). Although most people see Revelation as an apocalyptic, end times account that will only become certain in the future, most fail to recognize that it was originally a letter of encouragement written to a persecuted people who would have understood the contents of the letter at the time they received it (not at some undisclosed time two thousand plus years later). In order to better understand Revelation, one has to better understand the land of Asia Minor. Also, since the letter of Revelation was written to the people of western Asia Minor, the seven churches mentioned in chapters two and three are, of course, in present day Turkey.

The early church of Antioch (on the Orontes), where the people were first called Christians, is in Turkey.

Paul grew up in Tarsus, a strategic, bustling, commercial city, world-renowned for its school of philosophy, along the southern coast of Asia Minor, in present day Turkey.

Timothy was from the city of Lystra, in the province of Galatia, which is in Turkey.

All three of Paul’s main missionary journeys were through the land of Turkey, with the first journey almost entirely in Turkey.

The first seven Ecumenical Church Councils were all held in Turkey (Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon).

Furthermore, because of Asia Minor’s strategic location between Rome and the rest of the world, it was of utmost importance to the Roman Empire (hence, why it became the Eastern Roman Empire in the Byzantine Period). The Empire pumped an unparalleled amount of resources into making the land of Asia Minor serve its purposes well. So the ruins in Turkey are large, impressive, and they provide the best picture of the Greco-Roman world. As many have said, “If you want to see the Greco-Roman world; don’t go to Italy. Don’t go to Greece. Go to Turkey.”

Back to my words:
I’m looking forward to sharing our learnings in sermons and blogs. When Michele and I toured Israel, it was the best 10 days of personal Biblical growth we ever had. I’m hoping Turkey will be similar.

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