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Thoughts
June 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 June 2013 00:00

in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18)

There’s a decided shift in energy when summer comes. School is out, which means morning routines are a bit slower and commutes are a bit lighter; the weather heats up which slows everyone down. But one place that does not slow down is the church. The energy shifts, but it does not stop. The energy of the Holy Spirit never stops. This year FPCJ is sending a mission team to Henryville, IN, to help rebuild homes ravaged by tornados in 2011, our newly forming community garden will need tending, and the fish at Fish Heaven will need feeding and catching, and Vacation Bible School is in July. Of course worship and Sunday school continue uninterrupted.

 

While we may or may not slow down, we often go in separate directions. Ten people leave on June 2 for IN, I go to Chicago for three weeks, and you go – well, I’m not sure where all of you are going, but I have heard that some of you are heading to the beach. Even though we may not be seeing each other as regularly, we are still connected. When you are in town, covenant to be in worship together, pray for one another, and look for opportunities to serve, no matter where you are. Whether it’s something formal or a small gesture of kindness, God will be using you to be the hands and feet of Christ – no matter where you are.

 

From your Pastor’s Heart,

Pastor Sue
 
April 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 00:00

When they [the women] came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, be-cause their words seemed to them like nonsense”. (Luke 24:9-11)

The women came back to the tomb that first Easter to discover that Jesus was not there. He was in fact, risen from the dead. Upon telling their family and closest friends, they were told, “nonsense.”

 

Nonsense. It literally means no-sense. But if we think of it in modern colloquial terms, it can mean: hogwash, baloney, gobbledygook. With the wave of a hand and the utterance of “pee-shaw,” we can easily dismiss what has been said as silly. The Greek word leiros translates as nonsense, but at a deeper, more contextual level it means garbage! Pardon my crudeness, but *&$!@&^#% actually comes closest to a modern day translation intended by the disciples.

 

One day a woman came to my office to explain why she was choosing not to be a Christian. “I don’t believe in the trinity. I don’t believe in the virgin birth, and I especially don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus. It makes no sense.” She’s right; it doesn’t make sense. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and God’s offer of salvation, of unconditional love and forgiveness, makes no sense. To the world, maybe even to our family and closest friends, our telling of Christ’s resurrection may sound like leiros, but it’s important that we tell them anyway.

 

There are those who will be aghast at my response to the woman in my office. My agreement with her statements might be judged as “unchristian.” But like the women who came from the tomb to tell the others about what they had seen and experienced, all I could do was share with her some of my experiences of the love and grace and forgiveness that Jesus died to give to me.

 

Hopefully my testimony will open up possibilities for her to wonder. That like Peter, she will see for herself and one day return to a community of believers who are also filled with the wonder of it all.

 

I pray that in this Easter season, you will be struck by the wonder of the resurrection, and that you are willing to share what it means to you, even if you are told by those closest to you, “nonsense.”

 

From your Pastor’s Heart,

Pastor Sue
 
Pastor's Corner - September 2011 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 29 August 2011 00:00

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”  (Matthew 5:9).


When a crisis occurs we are forever changed, for good or ill. For some, remembering a crisis may trigger intense physiological, emotional and/or spiritual reactions; for others remembrances may be easier, less severe. This September marks the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. For many, remembering these events will be extremely painful; for others the events of that day are no longer considered a crisis in their everyday lives. For some, feelings of incredulity may roll in like a thick fog, making it hard to see the light of Jesus Christ; thoughts of vengeance may clash with a desire to be a peacemaker. For most, age old questions of God’s sovereignty, justice and presence will emerge anew.


As we draw closer to this anniversary, turn often to God in prayer, and daily to the Scriptures for assurance, comfort and direction. Visit the PC(USA) website, which offers specific Scripture texts related to 9/11. Listed are quick references to the Old Testament Prophets, several Psalms, and New Testament Scriptures, all written by God’s faithful people who experienced crisis, or at least suffered hardship and longings for God’s comfort and peace.


Also, a daily devotional for the first 11 days of September has been prepared for you, which you can find on the church website.


In this season of remembrance consider that each person, even children, may be affected differently. Offer each other grace and space to think through thoughts, experience feelings, and through faith live into the very real and present hope we have in Jesus Christ, our risen Savior.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

Yours in faith, hope and love,

Pastor Sue

 

 
Pledging as an Act of Worship - October 2011 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 29 September 2011 00:00

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2, NIV)


Without realizing it, many people view their money as part of their life blood. Take away a person's money and they are not sure how they will survive. In our culture having money is akin to having power. Having power translates into meeting daily needs, at the very least. So for some, asking them to give away their money is asking them to give away their power. If money and power are viewed as lifeblood, no wonder people want to part with them on their own terms.


As Christians, we are called to live counter-cultural lives, lives that don't make sense to the rest of the world. The world teaches us to take care of our needs and wants first, and then maybe feed and help others with the leftovers. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people, even Christians, say, "I work hard for what I have, and 'they' (the poor and powerless, the alien, the refugee) should work hard too." That's not what Scripture teaches.


Scripture teaches us to give away our money, give away our power. As per power, any power we have comes from God and is to be used to glorify God. As per money, God owns everything. We are merely stewards, God's money managers. Just as in the business world managers are held accountable for their use of what has been entrusted to them, God holds us accountable to what has been entrusted – not given- to us.


Sunday, October 9 is Pledge Sunday, the day we make our financial commitment to God and to this church for the year ahead. This year as an acknowledgment of God's generosity to us, during worship we will bring our pledge cards forward as a spiritual act of worship, placing them in baskets. This worshipful act of physically presenting our pledges is a sign and acknowledgment to God of God's place in our lives. Because God through Jesus Christ first came to us, we can come before God, gratefully offering our lives and a portion of God's money, which is pleasing to God. In so doing we will be not be conformed to the pattern of this world which says, "My money is my business"; instead we will be saying, "The money I have is God's business and in this act of worship I will open myself to the renewing of my life and mind."


Between now and October 9, please give prayerful consideration to God's generosity in your life, and then watch what happens as you allocate your money to eternal things, not to temporal things which only seem to bring life or a sense of power. Respond to God's generosity with generosity; you will be amazed at what God will do.

See you in worship!

Pastor Sue

 

 
It Takes a Village - June 2011 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 00:00

The old African proverb and 1994 title of Jane Cowen-Fletcher‟s children‟s‟ book, “It Takes a Village”, illustrates the truth that we need each other to be successful. Cowen-Fletcher‟s book tells the story of a young African girl searching for her younger brother, only to find the rest of the village has been watching over him as well.

 

This truth is found in our Scriptures and applies to the Church. Along with the Holy Spirit, it takes the entire church to nurture a child into young adulthood, but even then the job is not done. Reaching out to others in the name of Jesus Christ and cultivating disciples takes devotion to God through consistent worship attendance, prayer, following Jesus‟ teachings, spending time in fellowship together, and generosity of spirit while caring for the needs of others.

 

Acts 2 reports the efforts and blessings that abound from being this kind of church: Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:46-47).

 

Though we do not literally meet together everyday, we do have opportunities to serve together everyday. Part of our mission is to have God add to our numbers every day “those who are being saved.” The summer of 2011 offers several opportunities for the church to “raise a child” while God adds to our numbers:

  1. Fifth annual Thornwell visit, June 24-26 (Susan Baggarly, Outreach Committee)
  2. Vacation Bible School, July 11-15 (Traci White, Christian Education)
  3. First Day of School, Suder Elementary (currently Membership, Growth & Development)
  4. Dog Dayz of Summer, August 20 (Bob Stevens, Membership, Growth & Development)

 

Your help is imperative; each of these events requires the help of everyone. Even if you are not personally able to attend, you have something to offer, especially your prayers. Look for listings in your weekly bulletins of what you can offer; check out FLC bulletin board sign-up sheets and newsletter articles; tell the coordinators now of your willingness to help. God‟s efforts to bring people into a loving, saving relationship with Jesus Christ can only be helped if the whole village participates. I pray God will bless us and add to our numbers daily those who are being saved so that together we may faithfully serve our Lord.

Grace and peace for the journey,
Pastor Sue

 

 
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