Throughout history, there have been few national days of prayer. In fact, there were only a few noteworthy ones between the 1700s – 1900s. The National Day of Prayer that we know today was founded in 1952, and it was co-founded effort between the United States Congress and President Harry S. Truman.
The holiday was signed into law by President Truman, and every president since has signed a proclamation that encourages Americans to pray on and celebrate this day. The theme of the 2021 National Day of Prayer is love, life, and liberty. The national holiday has always been the first Thursday of May every year since it was founded in 1952. This year it is May 6. It stands as a day that continues the decision-making of the country’s founding fathers, which used the morals from biblical lessons in difficult situations. Basically, using God’s guidance to make important decisions in the country and for yourself. Just like Thanksgiving and Christmas, the National Day of Prayer has become recognized by Americans nation-wide.
Knowing that America was founded by people of European-descent with predominantly Christian backgrounds, it’s no surprise that this holiday was originally created to celebrate Christian faith. National Day of Prayer was an effort to ask American citizens “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.”
Not sure what to pray? Here’s a list of things to pray for on National Day of Prayer:
The President The Vice President Our nation’s military For our country’s leaders to have wisdom in decision making For our country to submit to God and His authority
Praise and gratitude Families and communities Those suffering and in need
If you need personal prayer, please feel free to call the church office at (805) 529-8422 or click HERE to submit a prayer request.
April 2021 Session Update from Pastor Keenan Barber
As I wrote about a month ago, I will try and keep you the congregation informed about where the elders of church are leading in.
The elders have spent time praying and discerning the many ways the pandemic effects the life of the church. As the color of the county has moved from the alarming rates of infection in Winter to where we are now – there are changes in the way we shape our Sunday morning worship experience. We continue to meet in person. Up until now, we have had a maximum number of people in the sanctuary set as around 100 people (25% of the full capacity of 100). As of now, the color of our county has changed to Orange and as such, we are able to accommodate 200 worshippers (50% capacity). We are still in a place where we are discouraging singing when are meeting indoors, but are hopeful that will shift soon as well.
Programs Moving Forward
Many of the programs that we hosted pre-pandemic are slowly making their way back on to our campus. We are hopeful to bring our Sunday School program back on to campus beginning in June. VBS will look a little bit different this summer with MPC hosting 7 Tuesdays rather than the traditional week-long VBS experience. And keep an eye out for some fun all-church gatherings happening about once a month this summer.
Congregational Meeting: Sunday, May 16 in-person and livestream
We will making a few changes to our by-laws as well as voting on new elders and deacons. The Nominating Committee has done a great job to identify four elders and deacons to serve starting on July 1, 2021. I hope you can join us for our Meeting so that you can be the first to pray for our incoming church officers.
One Last Thing
Did I mention that we are meeting in person – in the sanctuary – on Sunday mornings?!? I am hopeful that we will begin to see many of you return to in-person worship real soon so that we can begin to reconnect with each other and connect with Jesus all in the same physical space together. Worried that there will be too many people? Thus far, the most number of people we have had present is about 75 which means there is plenty of room to come and have plenty of distance between you and the people around you. Time for the church to gather. Look forward to seeing you there soon.
It is that awesome time of year that makes me think of new beginnings and new life. It is the time when we move from dreary winters to warm days full of sunshine. It is when we can genuinely enjoy being outdoors, so important in this time in history, without the oppressing summer heat. I love taking long, deep breaths on the days I can open the windows and let the fresh air waft through the house. My dogs can make full use of the backyard space and run and play with each other in the sun and then relax under the trees for shade and rest. It is when baseball season begins. It is when school is finally nearing an end. We see spring break joyfully come and then go just as quickly. It is also when we have spent time remembering Jesus’s death on the cross and then celebrated His victory over death at Easter.
Sometimes I just sit in awe of the beauty God has placed around us. This past weekend the weather was perfect. There was not a cloud in the sky. I had the opportunity to be outside enjoying the beauty of both God’s creatures, great and small, and nature as it begins to bloom everywhere with new life.
I fully admit I can get caught up with all the distress that surrounds us. Again, especially at this time in our history. I have lost friends this year to both Coronavirus and cancer. Many people I know are still going through long term health issues. I see people struggling with relationships and once rock-solid friendships. Financial hardships abound. You already know, life is not perfect. In fact, the only thing that ever was perfect, well, that was Jesus. But when I stop to think about the glorious gift of a beautiful spring day and how blessed we are to be able to enjoy it, well, it makes all of these stresses and hardships just a little bit easier to swallow.
In the end, springtime brings us our biggest hope when we celebrate Easter. As Keenan reminded us in his Easter message, when Jesus was crucified on the cross, he completed our work for us, saying, “It is finished.” He took everything we own to the cross with him…our sins, our struggles, and all of our fears…EVERYTHING!!
We not only serve a God who creates amazing beauty, but we serve a God who loves us so very much that he sent his son to die on a cross for us and defeat death by rising again. I don’t think there is a better time to reflect on the love God has for us and the new life our faith in Jesus brings to each of us than on a beautiful spring day.
So today, go outside, sit in the sun or under the shade and reflect on just how much God loves you as you soak in the beauty of the new life emerging all around you and celebrate that you are given that new life too!
I grew up in Abington, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. I earned my Bachelors degree from Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA and my Masters degree from Arcadia University in Glenside, PA. From the time I was in 2nd grade I wanted to be a math teacher. I have taught middle school math, high school math and currently I’m teaching math at Moorpark Community College. I’ve also been a Realtor and a Piano teacher.
Our family first moved to Moorpark in 1990. We joined MPC in 1991, when the church was still meeting at Chaparral Middle School. We moved to Wisconsin in 2001 when Mike took a new job. Unexpectedly, we landed back in Moorpark again in 2013.
I loved reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. God wants a relationship with us; just like we want with our kids. We need to spend quality time with Him, not just on Sunday morning during the church service or when there is a prayer need. I have a scheduled time (in the calendar on my phone) every day for one-on-one time with Him. God smiles when he hears from us – just like I smile when I hear from my kids.
A favorite bible verse (that is posted on a magnet on my refrigerator) is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” There’s so much that I wonder about with the circumstances of my life. I could write a book about all of my answers to prayer. Rarely has it been the answer I wanted or expected. But, I trust God’s purpose and plans for my life.
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.
What are your Hobbies/Interests? I like traveling, gardening, kayaking, swimming, and exploring museums.
What are your Favorite Vacation Spots? I like San Diego,CA, Whistler, Canada, and Maui, Hawaii.
Family? I have 3 adult daughters, Talia, Cathryn, and Marlena. They were raised in MPC.
How long have you been at MPC, and what’s your favorite experience at MPC? I am an original Charter Member at MPC. I moved and lived 9 years in NJ, then moved back 2 years ago. My favorite experiences at MPC are small groups, fellowship, learning and growing in my spiritual community of Christ.
What is your favorite Bible verse? “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
What is one kind of ice cream? Chocolate Mint Chip Ice Cream
Jeremiah 7:1-7 The Message from GOD to Jeremiah: “Stand in the gate of GOD’s Temple and preach this Message. “Say, ‘Listen, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship GOD. GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, has this to say to you: “‘Clean up your act—the way you live, the things you do—so I can make my home with you in this place. Don’t for a minute believe the lies being spoken here—“This is GOD’s Temple, GOD’s Temple, GOD’s Temple!” Total nonsense! Only if you clean up your act (the way you live, the things you do), only if you do a total spring cleaning on the way you live and treat your neighbors, only if you quit exploiting the street people and orphans and widows, no longer taking advantage of innocent people on this very site and no longer destroying your souls by using this Temple as a front for other gods—only then will I move into your neighborhood. Only then will this country I gave your ancestors be my permanent home, my Temple.
Through Jeremiah, God called the people of Judah, and thus, us today, to reevaluate their practices as they relate to worship and their overall spirituality. Why? Well, they would seemingly worship God in the temple with all their hearts and then go out and commit appalling acts…they lied and cheated each other…they demoralized those who were homeless, widowed and strangers. They tyrannized and in so doing shed innocent blood. They had completely forgotten the command given to them by Moses in Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love GOD, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got!” (The Message). And the way we show that love is not by simply showing up to church on Sundays to tick off another worship, but allowing Him to dwell with us wherever we go…to extend that love throughout each day…to our families, to our friends, to our neighbors, the grocer, the coffee shop barista, etc., etc.!
Jeremiah was reminding the people of God that their Lord was interested in more than filled pews on Sundays…He was interested in their everyday lives. If they truly worshiped Him, Jeremiah was saying, they would see that taking care of their friend, neighbor, co-worker, etc, was just as important as being in worship once a week. The little things we do for one another, every single day, are just as important as the sacred act of worship to our God.
It is during this period of Lent, that we can reflect on how God is reminding us that He’s concerned about the everyday aspects of our lives just as much as he’s concerned the worship aspects. You see, worshiping God is not a once a week act, but a lifestyle that needs to permeate through every aspect of our lives and beyond.
So, the question for you to reflect on during this Lenten period is this, “Have you surrendered your all to God and relegated all areas and aspects of your life to Him? If not, this is the perfect time to reflect and then to act.
1. Where did you grow up? I grew up in the San Fernando Valley.
2. What are your hobbies? My hobbies are paddle boarding, swimming, riding my motorcycle, and walking my dog. All of which have been placed on hold until my back heals.
3. What’s your favorite vacation spot? My favorite vacation spot is Maui, Hawaii.
4. What is your role and why do you enjoy it? I enjoyed being a Deacon for the opportunity to serve others as God desires.
5. How long have you been at MPC and what’s your favorite experience? We have been at MPC for six years and I most enjoyed the Forest Camp experience when I was a youth leader.
6. Your profession and family: I was a Parole Agent for 12 years prior to my retirement in 2012. I live with my wife Cathy in Moorpark and I have 3 children.
7. What’s your favorite bible verse/book/movie? I most enjoyed God is Not Dead, parts 1and 2. I would love to go to lunch with Bill O’Reilly. He highly influenced my traditional thinking and standing up for American ideals. The book that I have read 3 times and has offered much peace is, Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander.
8. What’s your favorite ice cream? I love pineapple gelato.
9. What’s your favorite pair of shoes? My favorite shoes are Merrills.
10. Which President (living or dead) would you Shadow in the Oval Office for a day? No question, Ronald Reagan, would be my favorite president to shadow.
I think this sign is a great representation of the last year. If someone would have come to me a year and a half ago and told me all that was going to take place in 2020 and 2021 I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have believed them. At times it has been completely bonkers – upside down – tumultuous – like I’m living my life out of a washing machine.
The crazy part is that The Church in its long history – especially with the adaptation of seasons like Lent – really sought to get people to feel the way this sign feels. As you gave things up for Lent, as you sought to live out the reality of the crucifixion, as you attempted to align your life with that of this Jesus – in some ways you felt exactly as this sign indicates.
Jesus invites us to live out the upside-down life. Jesus invites us to walk a different walk than the people of this world are walking. Jesus invites us to take the road less traveled. Jesus invites us to walk the narrow path through the narrow gate. He invites us to live out the adventurous life of one who follows after the Shepherd who knows his name.
And as we follow – as we love people unconditionally – and as we forgive people who don’t deserve to be forgiven – and as we go through the painful times of our lives – and as we continue to live out a life of a long obedience of faith in the same direction, even in the upside down times, Jesus accompanies us. Jesus accompanies you. Jesus accompanies me. So even when it feels like I’m the guy on the sign, I can take solace in knowing that Jesus is right there with- me.