Sharing With Steve
I am thoroughly enjoying this year’s focus on The Story. This book puts the Bible into narrative form. The comments have been very favorable as we have started in Genesis and are now in Exodus. We have completed five chapters so far. Several things have impressed me in this study. These are things that I probably already knew, but the way they have been presented have given them new meaning. We already know this, but God really wants to be a personal God. He is not some unknown cosmic force or unapproachable being. In fact, He takes the initiative and does not wait for us to approach Him, but He approaches us. He walked in the garden with Adam & Eve. He spoke to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He worked through Joseph’s life to preserve for Him a special people. He spoke with Moses. He instructed the Israelites to build a special sanctuary so that He could dwell with them and be among them.
I have been reminded that God’s ways are not our ways. He creates something out of nothing by the use of His voice. We can’t do that. He moves people to places they have never been to and promises thousands of descendants. He takes a woman beyond child bearing years and blesses her with a son. A young man is sold into slavery, falsely accused and sent to jail. There he is forgotten until he is elevated to 2nd in the kingdom of Egypt. He then proves to be the salvation of his family and that family will grow into the nation of Israel. We see a highly educated man who has been separated from his people try to defend his people by an act of violence. This same man then flees to the wilderness where for 40 years he watches sheep trying to escape and hide from his past. God intervenes and this man becomes the leader of the Israelite nation, some two to three million people. He does mighty wonders in the name of the Lord before the king of Egypt. He leads the people to a mountain in the wilderness where God makes Himself known and reveals His desire to dwell among His people. There are miracles, catastrophes, dreams, jealousy, forgiveness, law giving, etc. As the Book of Hebrews relates, many of these people had no understanding of what was going on, but they moved forward in complete faith in God.
There are times in my own life that I wish I knew what kind of picture the Lord was painting. I see some of the color and some of the objects. I see bits and pieces, but I have yet to see the final picture. He does not always clue me in on what He is doing and how He is doing it. I just have to trust that. The Story is vividly illustrating that. Sometimes I beat myself up. “If I was a better person, or did not make those mistakes, would the picture be clearer?” Then I realize that grace does not work like that. God saved me, period. I respond to that salvation by being obedient. When I disobey, I am sorry, and God forgives me and I see a little bit more of the picture. I am convinced that God will reveal parts of the picture to me, but I may not ever see the whole picture as God sees it. At some point, when I am standing with the Lord, I will see things as He sees them. Then the lightbulb will go off in my head and I will understand. Until then I must move forward in faith, knowing that the Lord is leading even when I make a mistake. That is when I realize that God’s story is there so that my story may be complete in Him. I am looking forward to the rest of The Story. May my heart and mind be open to the Lord and this marvelous story of His love for us.
Don’t Check Your Brain at the Door
For anyone who doesn’t follow the liturgical calendar, meaning most non-denominational congregates, we are in the middle of the Lenten season. I confess, I don’t follow most of the liturgical calendar. I didn’t even know there were so many church holidays and special occasions until I started college. Some I find superfluous. I believe I can observe Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter) without calling each day by its officially sanctioned names and corresponding actions (Though, some of them are very impactful).
The two seasons I treasure are Advent and Lent.
I started celebrating Advent with just my family when I was little. Later on, different churches I have been a part of picked it up.
Advent sets the pace for Christmas. The longing, the hope, the anticipation. It keeps me focused on Christ in the midst of one of the busiest times of the year.
I started celebrating Lent just a few years ago.
Lent has an interesting history. Though marked by most as a time of asceticism and self denial, Lent actually started as a focused celebration, a waiting period of purification because so many people wanted to get baptized on Easter. The church leaders set the forty days before as a preparatory period.
For me, Lent is the Spring Cleaning of my soul.
We accumulate junk throughout the year: stress, pressures, sin, failing, celebrations, successes. Lent offers itself as a time to mindfully abstain from distractions in order to fully engage the God of the universe.
My non-Christian friends have one gripe against the church. It’s expressed in multiple ways, but it comes down to this: A large majority of Christians believe they have a right to turn off their brains when they enter a church. They become lazy in their faith, in their actions and words, because they are lazy in their thoughts.
What would happen if we stopped checking our brains at the door and were willing to question teachings? Acts 17:11 talks about the Berean Jews being of more noble character because of their research, because they were willing to think and examine.
We would have more meaningful conversations.
Our faith would start to mean more personally.
Our words would push us to action.
I’m not saying you have to throw out everything you have ever learned.
I’m not saying you have to drop everything and live the rest of your life on bread and water.
What if you start with the remainder of Lent? What if, starting now until Easter, you made a point of examining your faith, asking questions, and seeking God? Could it really make much of a difference?
I know it can and will.
Test it and see or come talk to me to find out more about the possibilities.
Come Celebrate Easter with a delicious homemade Easter breakfast on Sunday, March 27 at 9:30 am in the fellowship hall, in lieu of Sunday school. This is a lovely time of fellowship before we join together for Resurrection Sunday Worship. Please sign up on the bulletin board if you plan to attend and also to volunteer your time or your food. Visitors are welcome to join us. Please see coordinator Cindy Gerstenlauer for any special dietary requests or questions.
Easter is steeped in traditions and customs
by Cindy Gerstenlauer
Glorious spring has arrived and Easter is just around the corner! What does dyeing, decorating and hiding Easter eggs for the kids’ Easter egg hunt, telling stories of the Easter Bunny, and placing chocolate eggs and other candy in beautifully decorated baskets have to do with Easter? Easter is traditionally a celebration rooted in the history of Christianity where we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Most of us follow and accept Easter customs without a second thought, but if we look at history, we would find that ironically, bunnies and eggs have a close symbolic relationship with the true religion behind Easter.
While early 16th century accounts from south-western Germany and the Holy Roman Empire detail the “Easter Hare” as a legendary being who gives eggs to young children, the contemporary version of the Easter Bunny that we all know and love today did not emerge in North America until the 18th century, (a custom brought over by the European settlers). The legend of both the hare (and rabbit) and eggs focused around the Spring Equinox. Springtime brings forth new life, crops, food, flowers, greenery, longer days, and warmth after a barren winter, Religiously, the symbolism of the egg may directly correlate to the resurrection of Christ, as an egg encloses and conserves within it, new life. So the Easter egg is a popular symbol of new life. Although the origin of the conventional custom of coloring eggs is unknown, it has its bearings in both seasonal and religious sentiments. Natural dyes within flower petals and root vegetables, when boiled with eggs, will turn the shells various colors. Many Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church customarily dye their Easter eggs red, in acknowledgment of the blood of the sacrificed Christ. There exist numerous egg-decorating techniques worldwide and the giving and sharing of decorated eggs varies from country to country, but all are a symbol of friendship, love, good wishes, unity and appreciation.
Easter is a family and friends affair, and what better way to get in the Easter spirit, then to join us for a truly memorable Easter Sunday Breakfast in our fellowship hall on Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 9:30 am in lieu of Sunday school. More details will be available in the bulletin.
The men will be meeting on Saturday, March 12, at 8:30 a.m. in the fellowship hall for a breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits, and beverage; we might even have fruit and sausage gravy. Breakfast will be followed with a time of devotion and study and then close with prayer. This is always a good time of faith, food, and fellowship. A sign-up sheet is posted in the foyer. There is no charge. See Steve for more information.
Adult Bible Study – We will be meeting three times this month, on the 2nd, the 16th, and the 30th. We have just started a study of 2 Thessalonians. This letter from Paul to the Thessalonians deals with the 2nd coming and our need to stay focused right up until the day that Christ returns. Study sheets are handed out; we have a verse by verse study. Questions are encouraged. This is a non-threatening way to learn more about the scripture. Everyone is invited. Please see Steve for more information.
And Remember, there are activities for the children as well. See Nathan North for more information.
God is a constant source of strength and comfort. This past month we celebrated the life of Charity Clodfelter. She was brave and faithful in the face of cancer. Please be keeping her family in your prayers. Please keep Ken and Carolyn Bennett in your prayers. Ken continues to faithfully battle Parkinsons. He is now home from rehab, and someone is coming in five days a week to help both Carolyn and Ken. Also continue to pray for Bonnie Iseman as she is recovering from surgery and is home from rehab. Begin praying for our Faith Promise Rally coming in April. Kerala (India) Christian Mission will be our focus, and Rajan Ipe, director, will be our featured speaker.
Sisters in Service is meeting Monday, March 28, at 7:00 p.m. Special guest speaker Carley Hanney, Community Relations director of Crossroads Pregnancy Center, will make a presentation about a moms and babies program that helps train young women how to be the best mom they can be. We always enjoy a devotion by one of our members and refreshments.
March and April Sermon Schedule
We continue to enjoy The Story – a book that is the Bible in narrative form. We have been getting positive feedback from everyone involved. There are still a few books left at $5 a piece. We will be looking at chapter 6 on March 6 and then chapter 7 on March 13. We will then take a break because of Easter and Faith Promise. We will have regular sermons on March 20 and March 27. Nathan North, our Family Life Minister, will preach on April 3. We will then have three Sundays of Faith Promise. We will get back to The Story on May 1 with chapter 8. Thank you for your support and your prayers for this effort.
From the Pew by Art Drake
The Lessening Influences of the World – PART 1
“As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.” Galatians 6:14 NLT
As I mature, both physically and spiritually, I come to understand more and more the lack of value of worldly things and the priceless value of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ and living in the Spirit.
One example of this is with material possessions. When I recently moved to Florida I learned how little intrinsic value material possessions have. I lived in the same house for twenty-two years and accumulated many “treasures” that I thought would somehow always be there. However, when I moved, I discovered that most of the things I had thought so important no longer fit into my new life, or were impractical to move. I found myself either giving away, or selling at very low cost, the things I previously thought I would have for life.
I learned a valuable lesson from this in that material possessions are just that – possessions. They have no real intrinsic value. Today’s treasure is tomorrow’s donation. As a friend commented when we were discussing, “It’s just stuff”. We can’t take material possessions with us into eternity either. Once we are gone, our “stuff” that was once so prized will be sold off, or donated, and will disappear.
Another area that I used to think had value was career and position. Early in my behavioral science studies I learned three things primarily motivated career behavior: money, power, and prestige. As people aspire to rise to higher position in an organization, it is generally for one of these three reasons. I have noted though, that after achieving the desired position they are often disappointed as these motivators did not provide the satisfaction they thought.
My sister has wisely noted the only real value of money is to make your life easier. Money can do this to an extent, but provides diminishing returns. Once our basic needs are met we start to see less real value in money and, instead, experience detrimental effects in the pursuit of obtaining more. We often see people with opiate wealth and are tempted to think all the problems in our lives would be over and we would be happy if we had that kind of money. Like all temptation however, the reality is something different. Wealthy people often seem to be very unhappy if they depended on money to provide happiness.
Power and prestige provide even less intrinsic value. People, no matter what position they occupy, are just people. They have the same faults, worries, and issues as everyone else. They are no better, or worse, than anyone else. People that sacrifice such things as health, or family, in the pursuit of power and prestige generally regret it. An even greater danger is when people come to associate their self-worth with the position. The power “goes to their head” and they believe they are something they are not. They experience crushing disappointment when they are no longer in the position and are not treated with difference any longer.
Retirement is an activity that some may find surprising as making my list of things without intrinsic value. Just as we are taught to get an education and a good job, we are also taught to save for retirement. What could be bad about being able to enjoy a good retirement? As with material possessions and career, retirement planning is fine if kept in perspective. It’s when we lose our prospective that they become bad. Retirement, no matter how well planned, is somewhat short and many people are not as happy as they thought they would in retirement as they lack meaning and purpose.
While material possessions, career, and retirement are not in themselves bad things, they can be detrimental if they take our focus off what does have intrinsic value. Next month in part two, we will explore how preparing for eternity should be the main focus of our lives. We will also explore how to leave a legacy that will last longer than the possessions and money we leave, or the positions we once held.
Emma Leigh Cox – March 3
Bethany Thomas – March 4
Toni Deaton – March 16
Kathi Tope – March 20
Joe Romaella – March 24
Jacquelyn Thomas – March 25
Mike Tingley – March 28
Anderson Tupper- March 29
Zachary Kapusta – March 31
Marion Thomas – March 31