On Battling Unbelief with God's Promises

 By: Henry Knapp

This fall, we are focusing on “The Essentials of Our Faith,” with the intent that as a congregation we would believe all the more strongly on what God has revealed to us as Truth. “Essential” can mean important, crucial, central; but we also intend to use the word to mean influential, impactful, meaningful. The Essentials we are looking at should be essential to our daily lives—knowingly impacting all that we do. Something we firmly and consciously believe in.

Unfortunately, we have a very unbiblical understanding of “belief.” Far too often, we equate belief with the intellectual assent to a certain proposition—that is, we believe something if we think that it is true. Thus, I believe that 1 + 1 = 2, because I think it is true; I believe in God, because I am convinced in my mind that He exists; I believe I can sit in a chair, because my mind knows from experience that (most) chairs hold me.

Biblically, however, belief is not equated with knowledge, but with trust and dependence. To be sure, there is an intellectual quality to belief; one cannot have true belief without knowledge, without the mind’s acceptance. Nevertheless, full, biblical, saving belief is not a function of one’s intellect, but of one’s trust.

And the belief we are to have, the trust we are to exhibit, is not in the existence of God (that’s easy to do), but belief, trust, and dependence in His promises to us (and that’s much more difficult than the “casual Christian” realizes). If you know that God promises the best for us, yet you have a hard time living that promise, then you are exhibiting unbelief, no matter how convinced you are that God exists. Belief is not an awareness of God’s promises, nor even being convinced of their truthfulness. One believes, when one acts in faith, trust, and dependence in light of those promises.

Battling unbelief is not a matter of seeking and knowing truth, it’s a matter of confidently living in light of the promises of God. Thus, reworked from John Piper’s Future Grace,

*When anxious about some risky new venture or meeting…

Battle unbelief with God’s promise of Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear not for I am with you, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you.”

 *When anxious about being too weak…

Battle unbelief with God's promise of 2 Cor 12:9 - "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.

 *When anxious about facing opposition…

Battle unbelief with God's promise of Romans 8:31 - "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

*When anxious about being sick…

Battle unbelief with God's promise of Psalm 34:19 - "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."

*When anxious that I might shipwreck my faith…

Battle unbelief with God's promise of Phil 1:6 - "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ."

May you battle unbelief, trusting in His essential promises! “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). To the Praise of His Glory!

Essentials of Stewardship

 By: Mike Tomashewski, Head of Stewardship Team

We are in the midst of an exciting time at Hebron Church.  At the time of this writing, we are just starting to embark on a series on the “Essentials” of what we believe.  This encompasses not only the sermon but also the Sunday School hour.  In this vein, the Stewardship Team wanted to share what our “Essentials” are that are guiding the work we do on your behalf.

First, “The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).  Put another way, God has created a wonderful world and retains ownership of it.

Second, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it”.  (Genesis 2:15).  We have been given the role of stewards over creation.  We are called not only to maintain it but to make something of it.  Think of the parable of the talents where the servant who hid his money away was chastised.

Third, God chooses to involve us in his unfolding plan of redemption.  This applies to us as individuals, to Hebron as a church, and to the universal Church as a whole.  He could do it all himself, but he chooses to have us be a part of His redemptive plan.  So we are called to minister to our community, to our nation, and ultimately to the world.  Part of those roles call for financial support, and it is incumbent on us to manage our households so we can support his work here on earth.  So much has been given to us that we cannot help but to get involved and to give back so that others may, too, see the goodness of his grace.

Mike Tomashewski, Head of Stewardship Team

What do you have that you did not receive? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

Family Life Ministry

By: Dan Bender

How are Family Ministry Environments Structured?

Family Ministry at Hebron Church is set up with the following structure. We are all familiar with houses. We use the practicality and versatility of the home for imagery. We focus on 3 environments.

#1 The Foyer - The place where people enter in, get to know and become known. 
(ex. gatherings and fun opportunities)

#2 The Living Room - The place where people get to come together regularly and share their day to day or week to week. (ex. Wednesday and Sunday programming)

#3 The Kitchen - The place where people spend intentional time together.

(ex. trips, retreats, small groups, and service opportunities)

What does it take to make Family Ministry happen?

Family Ministry at Hebron Church is an ALL HANDS on DECK situation.

Family Ministry is done by the families of Hebron with support of the larger church family, which is supported by the Family Ministry Staff. The purpose of Family Ministry Staff is to create and curate opportunities for the church family to engage, encourage and empower the families to fully live into the reality that they are the PRIMARY faith influence in the lives of their children and are primarily responsible for raising them in faith.

Everyone at Hebron Church has a role to play in Family Ministry.
It all starts with support through prayer. Everyone should be praying.

It then comes to being present. Opportunities need people to make them happen.

This is where we need people passionate about serving families and families committed to being served. You have to show if you want to grow.

What are the current needs? Simple as ABC and 123.

For Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings we need to make sure that we have at all times 2 adults in every room. This is not just a request, but it is what Pennsylvania expects us to have for proper safety coverage. Because of what it takes to do Family Ministry in these rooms, often we need 3 people.

Every (birth through 12th) room needs 1 Adult Primary Facilitator, 1 Adult Assistant, and 1 Adult/Student Helper as numbers dictate.

Think of it this way.

A - Adult Primary Facilitator

B - Adult Assistant

C - Adult/Student Helper

This requires a lot of people power to pull off.  Which is why we need you to step up and become a part of what is happening every week.

What is the REALITY?

Kids need stability. They need people who are caring and consistent.

Primary Facilitators need to average 75%-85% being present to be effective in leading. 85% is a sneaky statistic because that is when BURNOUT sets in. God knows this. He set it up. Rest 1 Day, work 6.

If you are keeping score, 6/7 = 85.71428571%

We need to start getting people plugged in and serving so that we can have a more sustainable Family Ministry. One where people are engaged in what is happening with this next generation and providing respite to those who have been holding down the fort over the last year or more.

We have a lot of ministry opportunities that need to be filled. They range from behind the scenes preparations for weekly programming, to special event needs, to being present with kids during programing and supporting them in the community by showing up to cheer them on at a game or activity.

What is the ASK? 

We are going to ask that God would inspire you to serve. Then inspire you to get your clearances. Then inspire you to have a 15-minute orientation phone call, ZOOM call or in person meeting with Dan Bender. Then inspire you to be behind the scenes or be present as we look to inspire an everyday faith in THIS GENERATION.  They always say it just takes 1. That is true.

We are going to ask that Family Ministry families who are not already serving fill 1 spot per semester.

We are going to ask that the greater church family who attend the 9:00 AM or 11:15 AM service and are not already serving, fill 1 spot per semester.

We are going to ask students (6th-12th) to be a helper 1 time a semester.

What happens NOW?

Welcome to EveryONE.

EveryONE is our New Volunteer Pipeline. This Pipeline is owned by the Connections Team partnering with the Family Life Ministry Team and partnering with other teams as things come to pass. As the staff liaison to both teams,  it is good to launch it using Family Ministry because that is where the biggest needs are and biggest area of impact.

The need is apparent. It’s time to plug in. Sign ups are coming.
We will begin to place those who already have clearances.
We will help those who do not have them acquire them. Some needs do not require clearances if they are behind the scenes, but the vast majority do.
We will offer an orientation to each type of need so you can be confident.
We will follow up with you after you serve. We will eventually create an EveryONE Board so you can see what the needs are in real time.

Much, Much, Much More to Come.


 By: The Mission And Outreach Team

Ed. Note: Below is the contents of a letter received on 5/15/2023 from Dalton Dueck, Director of Member Services at Ethnos360 regarding the retirement of the Jordans, long-time Hebron mission partners.


“Dear Friends of Dave and Fran Jordan,

It is with a great deal of satisfaction that I invite you not only to share some memories with me of the service the Jordans have had with Ethnos360 (formerly New Tribes Mission), but also to look expectantly together to the future the Lord has in store for them.

Dave and Fran began their service with New Tribes Mission in 1977. When they retire this June, they will have served with New Tribes Mission/Ethnos360 for over 45 years.

In late 1977, after completing the New Tribes missionary training, Dave and Fran, with their three young daughters, traveled to the other side of the world to begin a life-long journey. Their hearts’ desire was to bring the knowledge of Christ to an unreached group of people in Thailand.

The first step was learning Thai language and culture in the bustling city of Bangkok. From there they relocated to the mountains of a then remote corner of northern Thailand in early 1979. Learning the Prai language and culture in a war torn area occupied the next four years of their lives. They formed relationships, helped develop a Prai writing system, and began preparing literacy materials, Scripture, and Bible lessons for evangelism.

Despite a slow initial response, the first young girl believed in 1987. As the first village received consistent foundational teaching, a greater response slowly spread among numerous villages. During this time Dave kept on with teaching, lesson writing, and translation while giving time to serve on the field leadership team for most years from 1988-2010. He also served as a translation consultant. Fran homeschooled their four children for many of these years and also taught women and children.

By 2009 Dave was able to devote more full-time attention to Bible translation, most of which was completed by 2019. The joyful dedication of the Prai Old Testament portions and New Testament took place in March 2020.

God continues to bless the spread of the gospel to new villages and also across the border to Prai villages in a neighboring country. The Jordans certainly have no regrets for having spent their lives to reach the unreached! You as supporters have been such a vital part of their journey, and we now share the joy of this wonderful harvest.

On June 1, 2023, Dave and Fran will officially move to retired status with Ethnos360, but as the Lord allows, they plan to remain in their present location continuing to help equip the slowly maturing Prai church. Two of their children and their families are also in Thailand and contribute in significant ways to the Prai church.
Together with the Jordans, we at Ethnos360 are grateful for your years of love, support, and prayers. We would like to thank you for your part in helping see the Prai people reached with the gospel and now reaching out to others. Thank you for continuing to stand with Dave and Fran and supporting them with your prayers. You will be pleased to know that if you wish, your gifts for the Jordans may still be sent to Ethnos360, and they will continue to be tax-deductible. As is intimated in the status “Retired Member,” Dave and Fran will be retiring but will continue as members of Ethnos360. They feel honored to continue sharing together with you in God’s work among the Prai people.

Thank you for your desire to be a part of the work of Ethnos360 as we strive together to make Christ known to every people group.”

On Being Connected to You

 By: Henry Knapp

“You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.” Given my family antics, I needed to be reminded of this fact from time to time—how often I longed to be able to pick (or “unpick”) my family! The idea behind the quote is that there are some things you can choose, and there are some things that are chosen for you. I can't change who my parents are, who my siblings are, who my children are—by definition, I am connected to them.

Hebron is a church in the "Presbyterian tradition." That means we believe certain things theologically and we act certain ways practically. On a theological level, to be "Presbyterian" means that we believe the Bible teaches certain key ideas—the sovereignty of God; the depravity of Sin; the predominance of Grace in salvation. We work hard each week to communicate, and worship according to these key biblical ideas. Practically, to be “Presbyterian” describes the way we function (as led by elders), and that we are inter-connected with other congregations.

This “connectional character” of our church is sometimes hard to grasp.

Basically, this “inter-connected-ness” tries to capture the fullness of how God speaks in Scripture about His people. Sometimes, the Bible uses the term, “Church,” to describe the local congregation. When Paul addresses letters to Ephesus or Philippi it is most likely he has in mind a single gathering of people to worship the Lord. There are other times, however, when the Bible speaks of “Church” as referring to all of God’s people, as when in Acts 15 the whole “Church” gathers together representatives from around the world—a “universal Church.” Finally, there are times where the word, “Church,” addresses the congregations in a local area—Paul’s letter to Galatians is a perfect example: many local gatherings all taken together.

Given the various ways “Church” is used, Hebron, as part of the Presbyterian tradition, has recognized (1) it is an individual congregation, (2) connections to other congregations, and (3) is part of the “universal Church.”

The “interconnectedness” of the Church means that we cannot always separate ourselves from other Christians. We all know what it is like to be embarrassed by what another Christian has done—there have been some epic failures of church leaders in the past years. As much as I have wanted to distance myself from them, the same forgiveness (same God, same Christ, same Grace) that saves me is available for them as well. “There is one body and one Spirit… one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:4-5). We are “connected” in Christ.

How this “interconnectedness” works out in everyday Christian life for the believer is a challenge. It is also a challenge to work it out as a congregation—How shall our “connectedness” be expressed? As part of the Presbyterian tradition, we want to be linked to other believers, other congregations, as a way of expressing that biblical picture of the universal Church, but how, with whom, and in what ways, is a challenge.

As you seek to express that “one-ness” of faith with one another, please be praying for Hebron as a congregation as we seek the best way to reflect our participation in God’s universal Church. And, keep showing up! You are valued and wanted in our connection here at Hebron! All so that we might be… “To the Praise of His Glory.”

Presbyterian in A Changing World

 By: Session

Hebron Church is a Presbyterian church. This means several things. First, it means that we are a connectional church; we believe that as individuals and as congregations, we are branches connected to Christ Jesus, the Vine (John 15); we are members of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12). As Presbyterians, our congregation is governed by a session of elders and is part of a local presbytery, which is a body comprised of elders from multiple local congregations. That presbytery is part of a synod, and that synod is connected to the General Assembly. We are connected to other believers in this Presbyterian denomination, the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). This kind of connection should be a good thing, the body of Christ, gifted by Him to build us all up to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).

Secondly, being Presbyterian has traditionally meant that our faith is founded on the Scriptures and the teaching of the Scriptures as described in the Westminster Confession of Faith. If you haven’t read the Westminster Confession, we commend it to your reading and study. It is an awesome and faithful testimony to our big God and to His amazing grace. We believe in a sovereign God, sin that pollutes us and separates us from God, and in the Gospel which contains an offer to repent and believe in God’s sovereign provision for our sin problem in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. We understand these to be absolute truths, not relative truths, not just true for us, but true for all. This Gospel is God’s righteous and gracious solution for man’s alienation from Him.

We have all seen our culture move away from even the idea of absolute truth, from the existence of God, from the problem of sin and alienation from God and the need for a Savior. Our denomination has tried to respond to these cultural changes in many ways some of which have relaxed the view of the Scriptures’ infallibility, shifted attention to some social and political issues, and altered criteria for ordaining pastors. Many of these changes are an attempt to include people with more varied views of Biblical interpretation and worldview. There is great concern that these changes have compromised the truth, compromised the Gospel message and the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ. These changes have also altered the characteristics of those ordained to the teaching ministry in the PCUSA. Because of these things, Hebron has kept some distance from our presbytery for many years.

This has all contributed to our present crisis of difficulty recruiting pastoral staff. We could not find a suitable pastor within the PCUSA, and recruited Henry Knapp from outside the denomination. We could not find a suitable ordainable assistant pastor from within the PCUSA despite nearly 3 years of diligent searching. We are grateful that God has graciously provided Dan Bender as our Family Life Director, but the overall problem remains. Because of these issues, your Session is trying to look into the near future to discern what denominational situation will best help Hebron to find leadership to continue worshipping and serving a big God, a creator God, a saving God. Please pray with us and get involved in this process of discernment. Please commit yourselves to attend the sermon series on The Essentials of Our Faith and to the Sunday school meetings to focus on how these essential truths may guide us into the future.

Dave Mulock, Session member, on behalf of Session

Children's Ministry

 VBS Recap

By: Dan Bender

This year our theme centered around what it means to focus on Jesus. Our Memory verse for the whole week came from Hebrews 12:12 NIRV “Let us keep looking to Jesus. He is the one who started this journey of faith. And he is the one who completes the journey of faith.”

From our first night Family Celebration where parents and guardians were able to participate in Day 1 of programming all of the way through our closing, kids were given a very clear picture of what the Gospel is and how it impacts their everyday lives. 

It takes a lot of work both up front and behind the scenes to make something like VBS a success. We are especially thankful for everyone who spent time, energy and gave toward helping this year be its very best. The investment in the next generation through VBS will have a continued impact as these young ones grow up and follow Jesus. We look forward to continuing this investment the whole year long. 

Student Ministry

 Surf City Recap 

By: Dan Bender

For several decades now Hebron has been in partnership through the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation through a summer camp experience called Surf City. Although the physical camp we use now is different than it was many years ago, the spirit remains the same—Gospel focused, incredibly fun and life impacting. 

As you may or may not know, Surf City also plays a major role in my personal faith story. As a 6
th grader back in (ahem) 1994, I went there for the first time, and it was there Jesus met me and redeemed me. It has continued to be a very special place for me throughout the years as I grew and matured in my faith. It was also the place I felt God call me into ministry. Even though it has been some years since I have been there, this year lived up to all of the expectations. 

First and foremost, our speaker, Joe from Northway, did a fantastic job unpacking for us the necessity to be curious about Jesus. He did a great job all week long helping us move closer to Jesus. 

We also got to spend a lot of time doing team-building type things; and even though at the end of the week we did not take home the Gold, the Blue Bobsled Brontosaurus crushed most of the main events including the fabled Surf City Regatta. I do not think there was a more definitive victory ever in the Regatta, and that is thanks to the awesome Lady Swimmers of Hebron churning through the lake with the boat behind them. 

There was also time for more serious things as well. Every morning we would come together for a time of Bible study and small group questions. Every evening we would come together for a large group time of worship and activity and end with cabin time small groups. It was apparent that God was moving in the lives of our young people and helping them take steps forward in their faith. 

I want to take a moment to personally thank all of the leaders who came and spent the week with our students. Walking at least 30+ miles, going from early morning to late at night is no small feat! But to also be present, caring and leading authentically well is more than I could ask for. To the team - Don't stop Believing! To those who gave money to help students get to camp, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know how much that means because I was one of those kids who needed financial assistance back in 1994. 

God still moves in the sweet soft sands. We are totally looking forward to next year! 

The Knapps Are Going to Africa!

 By: Henry Knapp

Some of you may have heard that Kelly and I are traveling to Central African Republic from May 25 - June 7. We want you to be thoroughly informed as to this mission and your involvement in it. Thank you for this opportunity!

In the Fall, I was asked to speak at a “spiritual retreat” for in-country missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators. (We are huge fans and supporters of this ministry). Our Hebron Church elders have approved this call and time of service. We are being sent by you, Hebron Church, so thank you for being engaged globally with this endeavor. This small group of missionaries will be conducting a business meeting, fellowship gathering, and spiritual retreat with a guest speaker (aka - me!) They have not met live in person since before COVID. They are eagerly anticipating a rich time together in fellowship and productivity.

We will be seeking primarily to encourage, pray for, strengthen with the Word these missionaries. We will be living life with them at the capital city, Bangui, CAR. I will also preach at some local, indigenous churches. Finally, we were also asked to lead a marriage/family conference for a native CAR team of Bible translators. We will be busy and engaged! It’s all very exciting.

We covet your prayers, as well as prayer for the missionaries there. Pray for their joy, refreshment, protection, and nourishment spiritually. Pray for their stamina as they continue to make it their life and passion to translate God’s Word into the people’s native/heart tongue. Pray for the Spirit’s blessing during our time together!

We look forward to debriefing this entire mission and experience with you, our church family, on June 25th over a potluck picnic dinner in the Barclay! Come for a church fellowship, family night – and for sharing about God’s global work.

In closing, here are some interesting facts on Wycliffe Bible Translators work globally. There is now more Bible translation work in progress than ever before!

· There are currently 7,388 languages in active use worldwide

· Only 724 of these have the complete Bible.

· 1,617 have a New Testament, and 1,248 languages have selections and stories. 

· There is work in progress through Wycliffe missionaries happening in 3,266 languages.

· 1 in 5 people, speaking 5,509 languages, do not have the whole Bible in their first, heart language.

· 129 million people, speaking 1,680 languages, still need translation work to begin so the unreached can receive God's Word.

Pray, please pray, for God's work in this world and for Wycliffe missionaries.

To the praise of His Glory – and until the whole world hears!