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


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


Go and Tell - May 2011 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 02 May 2011 00:00

But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you . . ." (Matt. 28:5-7a)

Christians are called “an Easter people.” We live in the truth of the resurrection, and how because of it we are changed. Having been baptized, we are made holy through the resurrecting love of Jesus Christ; cleansed from whatever has sullied our life. Through his love in our lives we can sing “Halleluiah!”, we can know and experience forgiveness with God and each other; we can experience healing in all its fullness, grace sufficient for all of life, and the peace of Christ which measures beyond understanding. Because of Christ’s resurrection we are forever changed.

But that is not enough. It is not enough for us to sing, “Halleluiah!” in our church pews on Easter morning. Something is required of us; we are to “go and tell”. On that first Easter morning the disciples, women and men alike, were told “he is not here; he has been raised,” and then were instructed to go and tell the others.


Time and again I hear people say, “Well, I try to show God’s love.” “I don’t want to be like those Christians who shove Jesus on others, so I don’t talk about him, I just show him to others.” Friends, what if God’s angels had not spoken to Mary, to the shepherds, or to Joseph? What if the angel and Jesus had not spoken to the disciples on Easter morning? What if all along in Jesus’ ministry he had not spoken the word of God to others, had not said out loud, “For God so loved the world . . . ?” Would we have heard the good news?


It is not enough to just show God’s love; we must also tell of God’s love. In this new life we have been given, God requires us to share the good news of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. If we are truly changed by God’s resur-recting love, our grateful response will also include telling others what Jesus means to us, how his love has impacted our life, and how his love for all of creation can change the world. But that change will forever be made more diffi-cult if we are silent.


Sisters and brothers in Christ “go and tell!”
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


A Yes for a No - Ash Wednesday - March 9, 2011 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 09 March 2011 16:25

I am increasingly aware of the frailty of life this Ash Wednesday. With the rather sudden loss of my mother-in-law, and Rick's aunt, and four members of our church family last year, and the memory of my father's death on Ash Wednesday eight years ago, I am reminded of how delicate, tenuous and precious life is.

Traditionally, Ash Wednesday services focus on the brokenness and brevity of life to remind us that we were formed from dust and to dust we will be once more. For the saints of the faith who have gone before us Lent was a gloomy and miserable season in which they gave up something in order to prepare themselves for eternal life. Many of them focused on the physical denunciation of those things which brought pleasure. Still today many people fast from chocolate, soda, alcohol, dessert, and other pleasures. They fast from living a life of asceticism which is usually a short-lived and half-hearted fast. I too could and have given up those indulgences, but for me, this year, that doesn't draw me into a closer relationship with God.


So what do I fast from this year? Recently I've been wondering if my brokenness in life is reflected in how I see life; seeing it as a half-emptied glass, rather than a glass half-full, and maybe that makes me like those in our Scripture reading who wore their fast for all to see. My brokenness as a human being includes heart break at the condition of this world, and the treatment of God's people often to the point of distress. There are days when my brokenness can make all of life seem like a fast which results in a weighed down heart and an ashen-like spirit. Scripture reads:

   16"And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you"(Matthew 6:1-18).

So this year I'm trying something new: a yes for a no; a positive for a negative; a delight for a complaint; gratefulness for blindness. I'm not opting for a Polly-Anna philosophy, I’m opting for a life of gratefulness instead of blindness, because when I am focused on that which makes me frustrated or apathetic, on that which I can't control or don't have and think I need, I can't see what brings me joy and gives me energy; I can't see what I do have and don’t need. When I focus on the negative, I do not focus on God and God’s Sovereignty. This not only includes material things, but also goals, aspirations and dreams. Our lives can be filled with chasing the dream or reaching the next goal to the point that we loose sight of our present life. We become blind to what is right in front of us, the preciousness of life.

This Lent I am remembering the brevity and uncertainty of life by fasting from unconscious ungratefulness and feasting on seizing each day! I'm saying no to taking life for granted, to wasting the day by worrying about tomorrow, to wasting the day by regretting the past. I'm saying no, so I can say yes.


Yes, the journey is hard but I will rejoice in the presence of God. Yes, there are things I wish I could change, but I will be grateful even for the things I can’t change because they too shape my life. I will say yes so I can embrace this life God has given me, even a life which includes desert journeys, dark valleys and seemingly endless waiting. I’m saying no so I can say yes.


Death and dying is part of life and living, which is part of heaven and eternity; it's all one, it all reflects God’s beautiful vision and presence in the world. Yes, we are dust, but we are earthly dust, springing forth from a multi-million-billion-year "holy journey". We are fragile, but we are also part of a holy adventure reflecting God's love over billions of years and in unknown numbers of galaxies. Ash Wednesday invites us to take a "beauty break," to say yes to God and to life, so we may be more open to the awe-filled, precarious world in which we live.


In a little bit we will receive the mark of ashes on our foreheads, a reminder that we are marked for death, just as we were marked for life by God's very breath. You will hear, "from dust you have come, to dust you will return." This year you will also hear, "repent and believe the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel." Repent, turn around, live life fully in the moment appreciating God’s splendor, accepting God’s gift of grace and forgiveness as you travel this journey of life. Embrace the joy of knowing the Good News that Jesus traveled the desert journey and though tempted, was cared for and strengthened by God. Embrace life. May your own fast, your "no” be a "yes" to life.

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