Celebrating the Present

“The Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!’” (Numbers 11:4–6). When the Israelites faced difficulties as they journeyed through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, their hearts were quick to turn back to Egypt. Their experience shows us that, while nostalgia can be a good thing, there are two problems with it. First, nostalgia makes us gloss over the problems of the past. When the Israelites pined over how well they used to eat in Egypt, they ignored that they were slaves there—beaten when they didn’t meet their daily quotas and forced to throw their newborn male children into the Nile. Were they really better off? The second problem with nostalgia is that it makes us forget the blessings of the present. All the while that the Israelites were complaining, they were enjoying daily miracles. The Spirit of God was leading them in visible form, as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). The manna that they were complaining about was daily bread that miraculously appeared six days a week—concrete, tangible proof that God was providing for them. In the 40 years that they traveled by foot, their clothes never wore out and their feet didn’t swell (Deuteronomy 8:4).

Sometimes we find it easy to complain about the things that our church is not or that it doesn’t have—especially when we compare what we see today with the past. We need to take a moment to consider what we do have and to recognize God’s miraculous provision. Although we are a small church, we support 52 missionaries—here in Philadelphia and all over the world. At a time when it’s impossible to take the Bible into schools, we have a thriving school where over 150 children and their families experience the love of God daily. In the past year, four people came to salvation, fifteen were baptized, and two received the baptism in the Holy Spirit at our churches. Praise the Lord! Despite our challenges, God is truly with us! Let us strive to maintain thankful hearts before the Lord, never forgetting all the blessings that He pours out on us day by day!

This year, Highway Tabernacle celebrates 125 years of ministry to the city of Philadelphia. The theme for our celebration is, “Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present, and Anticipating the Future.”

Otis A. Fortenberry

Honoring the Past

The Old Testament records the story of how God delivered Israel from Egypt “with a mighty hand and outstretched arm” and “great and awesome deeds” (Deuteronomy 4:34). Throughout their 40-year journey through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land, He established reminders for them to ensure that they didn’t forget His power and the miracles that He had performed. God told them to collect stones from the riverbed, after He led them through the Jordan River on dry ground; to wear tassels on their clothes and let the hair grow on the side of their heads; to observe memorial feasts and sacrifices. He gave them these reminders not only to build up their faith, but also so that there would be something that their children would ask about…to perpetuate that faith into the next generation. Sadly, in spite of all of these reminders, the Israelites were quick to forget God’s deliverance when they were in distress—when they came under attack, when they were hungry, or when they grew weary of traveling through the desert for 40 years. As Christians, it’s important for us to have a healthy sense of history. Without that sense, it becomes too easy for us to panic and lose faith when we face difficult times. The God who delivered and established those who came before us is still alive and active today! “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” (Hebrews 13:8).

Highway Tabernacle has had a tremendous history, going back to Thanksgiving Day in 1894, when seven individuals came together hungry for a greater move of God in Philadelphia. In the 125 years since, God has shown His faithfulness by raising up pastors, missionaries, and ministries. The church has endured two world wars, the Great Depression, a devastating fire, urban flight, and urban renewal. And the light of the gospel still shines brightly through our church! You can find a brief recap of the church’s history at http://youtube.com/HighwayTabernacle. If you aren’t familiar with Highway’s history, I encourage you to check out the video and thank God for His faithfulness. It’s certain to give your faith a boost!

This year, Highway Tabernacle celebrates 125 years of ministry to the city of Philadelphia. The theme for our celebration is: “Honoring the Past, Celebrating the Present, and Anticipating the Future.”

Otis A. Fortenberry

On the Journey!

I want to thank the deacons and family of Highway Tabernacle for the prayers and support for my mission trip to Africa, India, and Sri Lanka. In the Book of Acts, we read about Paul and others who went on trips, being sent by God’s people. On this trip, only two of us will be traveling…Dr. Neil Chadwick, founder of International Christian Partnership (ICP), and me. However, for sure, Highway Tabernacle will be there! Your love and willingness to let me go is an extension of Highway Mission Tabernacle. I will be teaching and encouraging pastors in areas of the world where few have opportunities for seminars and Christian education. Please pray for my responsibilities: teaching the seminars in seven different locations to over 750 pastors and leaders, preaching the Word on Sundays, and counseling and encouraging the believers individually. Also, please pray for our health and safety over the long journey.

Here is some more information about ICP: “The International Christian Partnership, founded and directed by Dr. Neil Chadwick, has adopted a very clear and simple mission. In America, pastors have a tremendous number of resources available to help them, in addition to years of formal training received by most.  Meanwhile, our brethren who labor in other vineyards have little or no such resources or opportunities. International Christian Partnership is doing its part to bring about some balance by sharing with dedicated pastors and evangelists in other parts of the world. This is done with great confidence that the benefit to the Church will be exponential. We faithfully remember that Jesus prayed for Peter who in turn was charged with the task of strengthening his brethren (Luke 22:32). We have been strengthened; now we will do our part to strengthen our brethren. To date, ICP has conducted pastors’ seminars in 13 countries, providing encouragement, support and continuing education for more than 7,000 local church planting pastors. The theme for the ICP 2019 Seminars in Rwanda, India and Sri Lanka is Encouraging and Strengthening the Brethren (Acts 15:32).”

With Gratitude,

Pastor Mark Boucher

How Do We See Ourselves?

“If you don’t see it right, you won’t get it right.” Most people live in moral confusion, adrift on life’s sea, not knowing why they are here and where they are going. God gave us His Word as a light to show us the way and to answer the questions of life. In the Book of Deuteronomy, God spoke messages through Moses to the Israelites as they were poised and ready to enter the Promised Land. This new land was occupied by people who had given themselves over to evil—even sacrificing their children to be burned alive to their demon gods. The Lord clearly warned His people not to “accept” the beliefs and practices of the inhabitants of Canaan. He told them, “This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire” (Deuteronomy 7:5). Why does God demand separation? He answers this question in the next verse: “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession” (7:6). God is holy, pure, and just. He called his children “out of” the world in order that they may witness to the world…showing them what God is like and how God’s people live in harmony with Him and one another. When you read the Old Testament, you see that, for the most part, Israel failed. Instead of seeing themselves as belonging to God (as His treasured possession), they grew cold toward God and eventually embraced the same evil practices as the nations they dispossessed. What are we to learn from this? By the power of God’s Holy Spirit in us, we can succeed where Israel failed. Jesus clearly taught us that, though we live in the world, we are not of the world. Believers in Christ have overcome the world “through our faith” (1 John 5:4). However, vigilance and watchfulness are needed! Being alert and aware of the tendencies of the “sinful nature,” we turn to the Lord with all our heart. Through Jesus, we see ourselves as God’s children…His treasure! May we please our Father by our choices to destroy any wickedness in our lives and live for Him alone.

Pastor Mark Boucher