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February 2014 - Anger, Truth and Forgiveness PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 03 February 2014 00:00

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:25, 29-32). NRSV


Have you ever heard of someone speaking poorly of you? Have you ever realized that someone you thought was a friend was actually speaking badly of you to other people? Have you ever been the victim of someone else’s slight? From the driver who curses at you, to the co-worker who snubs you, to your child who tells you to leave them alone, to the spouse who says things in public that embarrass you, to the church member who tells everyone else but you why they’re mad at you, it hurts to be on the receiving end of someone else’s smears, snubs, or snide comments. It just plain hurts and often makes us angry. Soon our hurt and anger can occupy most every waking thought. We concoct conversations in our imaginations to set the re-cord straight, to tell the offender how wrong they are, and actually how they’re not so great themselves! It’s easy to become enslaved by those feelings and to want to get back at the one we now view as an enemy. But when we do, we’re suddenly confusing personal virtue with sanctimony and moralism. These days it seems people adopt a “say anything” attitude, claiming to be speaking the truth, and when we’re angry, we have to be careful that the truth we speak is not as hurtful as what has been said or done to us.


Does it matter how we speak to and of other people? The letter to the Church at Ephesus says it does. The letter to the Ephesians insists that we are members of the same body, Christ’s Body, and therefore we have a responsibility toward one an-other. And that applies as much to the way we speak to and about one another as to any other aspect of life. In Matthew’s gospel, the first law which Jesus preaches to his disciples forbids murder and entrusts their brother’s well-being to their care. Even anger is enough to overstep the line, for “anger,” as Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in The Cost of Discipleship, “is always an attack on the brother’s life, for it aims at his destruction.” (127) But as followers of Jesus of Nazareth, we are called to put away anger, to pray for our enemies, and to assist others, even when they hurt us. We are called to embrace the love God has for us, so that we can help others embrace the love God has for them, as well. Everyone you meet is searching for meaning and belonging in life, and your job is to help them find it. The truth of our existence is that we really are each other’s keepers. We have an obligation to one an-other—particularly from the perspective of mutual faith—to relate to each other with love and kindness and compassion. Make no mistake: it grieves God when we fail to do that. It grieves God when we act in ways that positively destroy the fabric of humanity that the Spirit weaves among us. For God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). The way to keep the body of Christ whole and healthy is to practice forgiveness. It is the only true antidote for the poison of bitterness and anger. It is the only way we can fulfill our calling to be a sign in and for the world of the new life which God has made available through Jesus Christ, the One who cried out, “Father, forgive them.”

From Your Pastor’s Heart,

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


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


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