Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, July 31, 2016

More! I Want It All!

My scripture text today is found in Luke 12:13-21
My title is Gimmee Gimmee because of a little confrontation I witnessed in Walmart this week between two children in the toy aisle……..After witnessing these two children fighting over what they wanted….I found this play on a nightly prayer by Steve Farrar, Family Survival in the American Jungle….it really isn’t funny….but I am sure there are many who pray this way:  Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray my Cuisinart to keep. I pray my stocks are on the rise,and that my analyst is wise. That all the wine I sip is white, and that my hot tub’s watertight.  That racquetball won’t get too tough, that all my sushi’s fresh enough. I pray my cordless phone still works, that my career won’t lose its perks. My microwave won’t radiate, my condo won’t depreciate. I pray my health club doesn’t close, and that my money market grows. If I go broke before I wake, I pray my Volvo they won’t take.  I put a lot of time into my sermons. If I had to guesstimate I would have to say that I put in about one hour for each minute that I talk. But no matter how well-researched the sermon is, how interesting or challenging the sermon is, some people may miss the point of it. Usually this is due to some dilemma or personal tragedy. Jesus had the same problem. He had been preaching on hypocrisy, hell and unforgivable sin. But this guy in the crowd didn’t hear a word of it. He had a problem that so distracted him that he could think of nothing else. He shouts out, "Teacher, get my brother to divide my inheritance with me." This wasn’t the first time for this sort of thing. For the second time in just a little while Jesus is asked to step into a family disagreement. First it was Martha and Mary. Now it was a brother against his brother over settling an inheritance. According to the law of the day, the elder brother would receive two-thirds of the inheritance and the younger brother would receive one-third. But this man isn’t asking Jesus to listen to both sides and make a righteous judgment; he is asking Jesus to take sides with him against his brother. People have a way of wanting to use Jesus to put their relatives in line. Jesus didn’t come to run everybody’s business. This guy didn’t want what was fair, he didn’t want what was right. He was GREEDY! His share wasn’t enough. What he was entitled to wasn’t enough. There are two ways to get enough: One is to accumulate more and more, the other is to desire less. But we’re greedy. We can’t pass up a deal. The only reason a great many American families don’t own an elephant is that they have never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments.  So Jesus tells him a story. We think it’s about rich people. Bill Gates. PowerBall winners. But the man in Jesus’ parable wasn’t a fool because he was rich. He had gotten what he had honestly-through the productiveness of his land. He was a fool because he forgot what was really important. He was a fool because he decided for himself what was really important. He was a fool because he thought: "I’ve done all this! I will pull down these warehouses, and build bigger ones!" my crops . . . my barns . . . my goods . . . my soul; everything is him, and nothing is God. He went wrong in the things he remembered. He remembered himself. The words "I" and "my" are used 11 times. Conversations reveal what people are like. Eleanor Roosevelt could talk for two and a half hours without referring to herself. At the other extreme, it’s been said that Elizabeth Taylor refers to herself every 90 seconds. Mine. Mine. Gimmee. Gimmee. We want more and more, all the time thinking it’s ours. We don’t own anything. Whatever we have is lent to us by God; we are the stewards for God’s property. He forgot, as do we sometimes, the words of Hosea 2:9(read).  Jesus didn’t condemn the man for eating, drinking and being merry, nor even for being rich. Rather the man was called foolish for building bigger barns. The point of the story is that the guy was planning to store more of his wealth than he needed to eat, drink and be merry. Look again at the words of the story. The man says, "What should I do for I have no place to store my crops?" Wait a minute! He’s got barns. His problem is that his harvest has been so great that his present storage facilities will not hold all of the grain. So he decides, I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain. But wait, his ground produced more than usual, so he thought he needed bigger barns. But next year the barns might be too big as this year the barns were too little. Years of famine commonly followed years of plenty. He forgot about his neighbors. If his barns were too small to hold his surplus, there must have been others more than willing to share it. Instead, he was greedy. He wanted it all for himself.  But Bible teaches that what we have, we have to share. Produce, and share with those in need. Eph 4:28   He forgot time. His whole attitude was that he had unlimited time. He was foolish to think that his goods were laid up for many years, as if his bigger barns would be safer than those he had; In just an hour those bigger barns and everything in them could burn to the ground maybe because of lightning, against which there is no defense. A few years may make a great change; moth and rust may corrupt, or thieves break through and steal.  The most dangerous word in the English language is "tomorrow." No one knows if tomorrow will ever come for them. There is an old story of 3 apprentice demons who were to be sent to earth on a mission. They were telling Satan what they proposed to do. One said, "I will tell everyone there is no God." "It won’t work," Satan said. "In their hearts they know there is. The second one said, "I will tell them there is no hell." "That won’t work, either," Satan said. "Even in this life they have tasted the agony and sorrow of hell." The third one said, "I will tell them there is no hurry." "Go," said Satan. "Tell them that and you will ruin them by the millions."  The rich man already has plenty of grain and goods. He does not have to live in the moment. He has barns for his future. They may not be as big as he would like, but he has plenty to eat, drink and be merry. The man already has enough wealth to enjoy life. But his greed has clouded his vision. He wants more....of the wrong things.  The pastor was invited to dinner in the home of a very wealthy man in Texas. After the meal, the host led him to a place where they could get a good view of the surrounding area.  Pointing to the oil wells dotting the landscape, he boasted, "Twenty-five years ago I had nothing.  Now, as far as you can see, it’s all mine." Looking in the opposite direction at his sprawling fields of grain, he said, "That’s all mine." Turning east toward huge herds of cattle, he bragged, "They’re all mine." Then pointing to the west and a beautiful forest, he exclaimed, "That too is….all mine." He paused, expecting the pastor to compliment him on his great success. The pastor, however, placing one hand on the man’s shoulder and pointing heavenward with the other, simply said, "How much do you have in that direction?" The man stared blankly for a moment, then hung his head and confessed, "I never thought of that."
Some people make some big mistakes in life:
1- In planning for themselves, they forget others.
2- In considering their material goodies, they forget the Giver.
3- In providing for their bodies, they forget their soul.
Three men perished in the summer heat of Death Valley. Deputies found their bodies 7 miles, 14 miles and 17 miles from their abandoned car. In leaving their car to seek help, the three had tragically headed in the wrong direction, going toward a ranch house they had passed 30 miles back. But just a mile in the other direction was a grove of trees and a spring of water! Jesus said to the Samaritan woman in John 4:13-14, “Everyone who drinks this water will be  thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst...”Jesus is the water of life! The waters of this life don’t satisfy and they don’t last! BUT JESUS SATISFIES AND HE IS LASTING!  So many people are heading in the wrong direction in life. They keep on looking for pleasure from this world and they will eventually end up dead. But if they would just turn and head the other direction, where the living water can be found, they would find true satisfaction and eternal life!  Our life is not our own. Our life is a loan which must be returned to God. Our attitude toward this life shows our commitment to God. Do possessions have a stranglehold on you? Are you headed in the direction of the living water? If you said “Now I lay me down to sleep”, what is the next line you would use?

 

 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Don't Be Greedy! Help The Needy!

Has your mom or dad ever said to you, "You don't need any more toys; you have too many already."Life is not about getting as much as you can for yourself. If you learn that, you will be a happy person!  My mom always made me give away half of my toys when it got close to Christmas.  One of the little boys in my group of children told about giving his toys and his 5.00 to someone who didn't have any.  It was sweet.  Anyways, Jesus told a story about a very rich man. He had a huge farm; and it was a very good farm. His fields and orchards had lots of wheat, lots of figs, lots of grapes, vegetables––much, much more than one man could eat! What do you think the rich man could have done with all that food? But do you know what the rich man did? He went to look at his barns and they were all stuffed with food. So...he tore them down and built bigger barns and stuffed all his food into his new barns!  The rich man sat back in his favorite chair and said to himself, "Soul, you have many goods, stored up for many years. Take your ease; eat, drink, be merry!" Is he planning to give any of his food to the poor? Is he thinking of others? Is he asking himself about what God expects him to do with the extra food?  That night, the rich man heard from someone. He heard from God! God said to him: "You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared­­––whose will they be?" Oh boy; tonight the rich man will die, says God. Then what use will all his barns full of food be? He should have been doing God's will all these years. He should have cared about hungry people instead of keeping it all for himself. He should have piled up works of love instead of piling up food!  Jesus said that a man like this may think he is rich, but really being rich is having years of love and compassion that he has shared. A grown man should know this.

My mom had a little saying that I liked as a child. Listen:
Don't be greedy;

help the needy!
Now say that with me:

Don't be greedy;
help the needy!

 One more time to make sure you have it. Loudly this time:
Don't be greedy;

help the needy!

 

Friday, July 29, 2016

When There Are No Easy Answers


About The Book:  How can a God of love allow terrible things to happen in our lives?
Christians often assume they're equipped to deal with tragedy if it enters their lives, but like most people, think it never really will. What happens, then, when we follow God's will to the best of our abilities and heartbreak strikes? Do we mean it when we implore "Have Thine own way, Lord" or does that only apply in times of blessings or small, manageable hurts?


John Feinberg knows that conundrum intimately. In 1987 his beloved wife was diagnosed with an incurable, genetically transmitted disease. They were immediately challenged in their faith and their approach to God's goodness in the face of the evil of suffering. More, they discovered just how little their Christian community understood about how to support people in crisis.

When There Are No Easy Answers considers the problem of grief from every angle, just as the Feinbergs walked through it in their journey. It confronts the question of justice, examines the nature of God, and argues for the reality of grace. Feinberg explores the biblical reasons against the use of traditional clich├ęs and platitudes, especially by those in ministry, and lays out alternatives that can actually comfort and encourage the person who is struggling or grieving.

About The Author:  John S. Feinberg is professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has also pastored churches and taught at Western Baptist Seminary and Liberty University. Feinberg’s previous works include Continuity and Discontinuity, Ethics for a Brave New World, and The Many Faces of Evil.


My Thoughts On The Book:
Grief is tough to go through and reading about it brings back a lot of  hard to deal with feelings.  Having had a massive period of grief in my life I was given several books on dealing with grief to read.  I wish I had been given this one.  It was perfect for someone experiencing grief.   When someone dies that we love the hardest thing is not knowing what to say, and when something is said it is not helpful at all.  As a pastor I deal with people grieving on a regular basis and it is tough to help someone....especially if you are not doing a great job of it yourself.  I love the fact that Feinberg covers the usual things people say.....that are not helpful, and why they are not helpful. So many times people quote scripture, but it is not used as it should be. Feinberg then moves on to tell the reader how to deal with grief.  It is a personal book(Feinberg talks about dealing with his wife's diagnosis), not an easy read at all, and gives a lot of ways to deal with such a deep subject.  The book is full of compassion and I truly believe that anyone dealing with grief and tragedy must read this.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications as part of their Blogging Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


 



 
 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Bad Aunt/Good Aunt

I was thinking about my nephew the other day and I feel as if I should share this bad aunt/good aunt story.  I have to admit....I was more the bad aunt....than the good one.  I went baby shower gift shopping with my SIL, Lucy one day.  She wanted something special for Elizabeth's, her step-daughter's, first baby.  The trip down was a nightmare.  Lucy's son Patrick kept taking off his shoes and throwing them in the back seat where Kat and I were sitting. It hurt.  But, I thought I would be a good sport and suck it up. We shopped a good while and I was getting a bit grumpy....I am not a shopper.  I am an in and out kind of shopper.  Lucy finally left her three year old son Patrick in my care while she did some serious shopping.  Patrick began to throw toys out of a bin all over the store.  The saleslady looked very displeased at me.  I must stop and tell you that Patrick was rotten....he always got his way.  I asked him several times to stop and put the toys back, only to find him finding something else to throw around the store.  If he had been my child we would have dealt with this with my attitude adjuster....but he wasn't mine to spank.  Patrick continued and I became very agitated.  Finally, I caught his arm, bent down to his ear, and told him that if he didn't pick up the toys right then I would pinch his head off.  He looked at me....seriously....and began quickly picking up the toys.  The saleslady smiled, I smiled, and Lucy returned to us with her gift in hand.  We shopped at some other stores for about an hour and a half and Patrick never said anything to his mother about the conversation between him and me.  We ate lunch....still nothing.  We finally ended the day and got into the car to go home.  Thirty minutes during the trip home the little fellow burst into tears and told his mom that I said I was going to pinch his head off....I knew I was fixing to catch it from my SIL...but....what ended up happening shocked me and my 6 year old daughter.  My SIL pulled her car off the road and spanked Patrick for lying!  I could have died.  I really thought I should tell her that he was telling the truth.....but the bad aunt in me didn't.....because I knew deep in my heart that he may not have needed THAT particular spanking....but he was LONG overdue for many others.  BTW....Patrick has grown in an amazing man.  Please tell me I am not the only person to ever do something like this!  I would love to hear your story if you have one! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Last Wednesday of Freedom Hodge Podge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! One item of business...Joyce has declared next week summer vacation here so no Hodgepodge on Wednesday August 3rd. She is going to  have out of town visitors and will be coming and going so not sure how much she'll be online. I start back to school so I am glad I have a few days to catch my breath.  Thanks for understanding! The Hodgepodge will be back in action the following week-August 10th. Also, we're here today so let's get to it- Oh and yes...click here to link up with Joyce and don't forget to spread some bloggy loving.

1.  On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your summer so far? Why? 
(1=eh and 10=best summer ever).  I is going to have to be a 5 or 6.  It definitely was not the best summer ever....but it was not the worst either.  It was a strange summer.  The heat kept you indoors....I guess you could call it the "Summer of my Discontent."  Can't put my finger on it....but it just was not grand and glorious.
 
2. July 26th is National Aunts and Uncles Day. Did you have many aunts and uncles growing up? Were you especially close to any one or maybe all of them? Are you an aunt? (or uncle for the men who join here on Wednesdays) Share a favorite memory relating to one of your own aunts or uncles or relating to a niece or nephew who call you Aunt (or Uncle).To start my answer off...my grandfather was one of 15.  I had 12 on my dad's side and 18 on my moms so yeah....I had a good many aunts and uncles.  I need to mention I have 96 first cousins too.  We lived 700 miles away from all but one uncle and aunt. I was close to most of them....especially the ones on my mom's side of the family.  I am only an aunt by marriage, but I love my nieces and nephews.  I have enough stories to write a book, but I don't want to share just one and hurt another's feelings.  They all read my blog.  So, let's just say....my life growing up involved a lot of awesome aunt and uncle memories.

3. What's your favorite food dipped in chocolate? What's your favorite food dipped in cheese?
I have to agree with Joyce on this one and say a Dairy Queen soft serve vanilla cone would be my favorite food dipped in chocolate, or a big juicy strawberry.  I am not a food dipped in cheese lover.  I love foods with cheese....I just don' t want any extra.

4. When were you last astonished by something? Explain.I'm going with the current election season and social media's response to it.
5. Surf board, paddle board, ironing board, Pinterest board, score board, clip board, bulletin board...which board have you most recently encountered? Bulletin boards....at both schools.... because Frank and I have been readying my rooms for the school year.  He painted my RCHS room and it is gorgeous.  There are three America's cup navy walls and one classic gold wall.  I will post some pictures when I get it all put back together.  While he painted I worked on bulletin boards.

6. What's your favorite story from scripture? Why that story? That is easy.....I love them all...but one of my favorites is found in Luke 10:38-42.  It is the story of Martha and Mary38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”  41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  I so want to be a Mary....but many times I get caught up on the Martha side and this story reminds me to stop and listen to Jesus.

7. If you were to travel from the east coast to the west coast in your own country, which five cities would you most want to see?

I wish this question asked which 50 cities I'd most want to see. Five is too hard! I've spent a lot of time traveling on the East Coast and have lived near NYC, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. I've been to Boston and points north and have also seen a good chunk of the Southeastern section of America. I've also spent time in portions of the Southwest, so for my imaginary trek I'm going with five places new to me. 

Here are five I'd like to see(again perhaps), but they're not the only five! 
1.  Anchorage, AL
2.  Oahu, HI
3.  Seattle, WA
4.  Portland, ME
5.  Portland, Oregan
 
8. Insert your own random thought here.  We have been in Revival all week.  It started Monday night and will finish up tonight.  Does your church have revival services?  How long do they last?  Have you ever been to a tent revival?  I love Neil Diamond and I thought I would share this song first.....
And to end on a humorous note....I have never been to a revival as good as the one Ray Steven's tells of.  Have you?
 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lord, Teach Us How To Pray!


My scripture today comes from Luke 11:1-14. 
There was a program on British television about the state of religious experience among children. It told about a young boy whose parents suffered a very serious accident. The boy told the police, "I wanted to pray but didn’t know any prayers." Alfred Lord Tennyson stated, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." Prayer sustains society more than any other factor.

Today I want to say……"Lord, teach us to pray."
Do we know how to pray as we should? Prayer is a spiritual discipline. It can be strenuous and frustrating, mentally and physically demanding. I think the disciples may have been struggling with the art of prayer. They didn’t ask Jesus how to preach or teach, but they recognized how they needed help with prayer.

Luke mentions that Jesus was "praying in a certain place" (11:1), when the disciples approached Him concerning prayer. It may be that our Lord’s example of prayer brought into contrast their lack of an effective prayer-life. Seeing the deficiency of their prayers, they asked for help. Although the need to pray is natural for believers, human weakness calls for Jesus to teach us to pray.
When we pray, we receive the gift of God Himself-Prayer is communion with God. He wants us to know Him. As we grow in prayer we discover that prayer is more than simply asking God for things, a selfish means to an end. Prayer is not an attempt to force the hand of God, but an act of submission to Him, with the understanding that God’s answers are wiser than our prayers. Prayer is to impress us with God more than it is to impress God with us or our needs. If we never gain anything from prayer but the opportunity to commune with God, that should be sufficient for us.

For many people, the Lord’s Prayer is simply a prayer to recite. But as we discover this prayer, we can find this model prayer to be a life-changing experience. There is no magic in a prayer, and mechanical recitation is empty and meaningless. Jesus discourages us to "not keep babbling like pagans who think they will be heard because of their repetitive prayers" (Mt 6:7). But as we truly pray this prayer-with understanding-we may find it changes our lives. All the petitions in this prayer are in the imperative mode in the original Greek, which indicates there is an intensity to prayer. Prayer is social action, economic force, and  political might-there is more power in prayer than all the armies of the world.

Some people think of prayer as a parachute-they’re glad it’s there, but they hope they never have to use it. In prayer we rely on God; prayer is our steering wheel, not our spare tire! Those who don’t pray are trusting in their own, limited resources. Some people turn to God only when their fragile foundations are shaking, and they discover it is God who is doing the shaking.
We sometimes also struggle with how God answers our prayers. C.S. Lewis once confessed that he was grateful God hadn’t given him everything he wanted: "I don’t know where I’d be if I’d gotten all I asked for!" Prayer may not change our situation, but it changes us. If our request is wrong, God says "No." If our timing is wrong, God says "Slow". If we are wrong, God says "Grow", and if our request is right, our timing is right, and we are right, God (usually) says "Go!" In John’s first epistle 5:14 he cautions that our prayers need to be "according to God’s will".

There’s no "spiritual frosting" in the Lord’s Prayer. It avoids pompous, high-sounding phrases, sticking to simple, meaningful concepts. We begin with God’s glory, and then we bring up our needs. It’s been said, "When God is first, prayer makes sense." The Lord’s Prayer is God-centered, not me-centered. It highlights the primacy of God.
Notice that Jesus doesn’t discuss the posture of prayer-in the Bible, people prayed kneeling, sitting, standing and laying face down. He doesn’t dictate the place of prayer-we can pray anywhere; the whole world is a Temple. He does not discuss the manner of prayer-prayer isn’t getting a serious look on our faces or adopting a certain tone of voice. Nor does Jesus specify the time of prayer-some people organize their lives in such a way that they have very specific times of prayer-that’s fine, but prayer is fitting any time, under any circumstance. We can go pray in church, but we can also find that church within ourselves-we are called to be portable sanctuaries. Is it OK to pray while driving? YES!  That is as long as your eyes are open! -And it’s a good idea if you’re on 431 or I-20! Paul instructs us to "pray without ceasing". Author Matthew Henry wrote, "Prayer is the key to the am, and the bolt to the pm." When we live in a God-conscious state, we begin to recognize the presence of God around us, which opens up the channel of communication with our Lord.

 Some Christians don’t pray the Lord’s Prayer because they want to avoid empty religious ritual. I agree that we don’t have to pray these exact words. Even Jesus doesn’t use the exact words on another occasion, His sermon on the mount in Mt 6:9-13. There He introduces this prayer, not by saying "pray this", but "pray like this". The Lord’s Prayer is a blueprint for prayer-a flexible model, not a rigid formula. Yet it is appropriate to pray these words because in them we unfold the entire message of the Bible and a summary of our relationship to God.
There’s another reason people avoid this prayer. Praying this prayer places some demands on ourselves… it is a risky prayer: John McArthur said it this way…..

I cannot say "our" if I’m living only for myself.
I cannot say "Father" if I don’t try to act like His child.

I cannot say "Who art in Heaven" if I am laying up no treasure there.
I cannot say "hallowed be Thy Name" if I am not striving for holiness.

I cannot say "Thy Kingdom come" if I’m not doing my part to hasten that day.

I cannot say "Thy will be done" if I am disobedient to His word.
I cannot say "in earth as it is in Heaven" if I’m unwilling to serve Him here and now.

I cannot say "give us this day our daily bread" if I’m not relying on Him to provide.
I cannot say "forgive us our debts" if I harbor a grudge against someone.

I cannot say "lead us not into temptation" if I deliberately place myself in its path.
I cannot say "deliver us from evil" if I haven’t put on the whole armor of God.

I cannot say "Thine is the Kingdom" If I am not loyal to the King as His faithful subject.
I cannot attribute to Him "the power" if I fear what people may do.

I cannot ascribe to Him "the glory" if I am seeking honor only for myself.
I cannot say "forever" if my life is bounded completely by the things of time.

The question for us all this morning at Midway is this-what are we relying on?
-When we rely upon education, we get what education can do;

-When we rely upon skill, we get what skill can do;
-When we rely upon technology, we get what technology can do;

-When we rely upon organization, we get what organization can do;
-When we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do.

Russian reformer and Nobel laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn said in an address to Harvard University: "We have placed too much hope in politics and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession-our spiritual life."
Those devoted to prayer do things by prayer-they begin with prayer, not tacking prayer on as an afterthought, after decisions are made. When faced with a challenge, the first thing to do is to go into prayer, not action. Those devoted to prayer give priority to prayer, and are never too busy to pray. Our level of Christian commitment is gauged by the character of our prayer-life.

Prayer is not a special gift for a select few. All who have trusted Jesus for salvation can pray as He taught. True prayer will not be achieved by human effort; it is a gift of God. Prayer is grace. If we are followers of Christ and we want to learn to pray, He stands ready to teach us.
So today I want to say…and I hope you will join me…"Lord, teach us to pray."

 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The 5 W's of Praying For Children


 
Scripture: Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16 (NIV)
 
Every morning I read the newspaper or watch the news on tv to keep up with what is going on in the world. Do you ever read the newspaper? Did you know that the people who write the stories for the newspaper have a special way of deciding how to write their story? Well, here is what the reporter does. To make sure that the facts of the story are complete, a reporter makes sure that the article answers five important questions. Those five questions are: Who, What, When, Where, and Why. When we read a story, it is good for us to ask ourselves those same questions to help us fully understand the story.
Today, we are going to read some verses from the Bible. These verses were written by James, the brother of Jesus. In these verses, James is teaching about prayer. After we finish, let's see if we can answer the who, what, when, where, and why questions about prayer. (Read James 5:13-16)
Well, let's see if we can answer the five questions about prayer.
• Who should pray? Anyone! These verses tell us that anyone who needs God's help or anyone who has received God's blessing should pray -- and that is all of us.
• What should we pray about? Anything! We should pray for healing when we are sick and for forgiveness from sin. We should offer prayers of thanks when we are happy, and ask for help in times of trouble.

• When should we pray? Anytime! If we should pray when we are in trouble, when we are sick, when we are happy, or when we have sinned, that is just
any time, isn't it?

• Where should we pray? Anywhere! These verses don't come right out and tell us where we should pray, but I figured it out. If we should pray any time we need God's help, then I guess it just makes sense that we should pray anywhere we are, because wherever we are, God is there!
• Why should we pray? Because God answers prayer! These verses tell us that prayer is powerful and effective and that if we will pray, God will hear our prayers, heal the sick, and forgive our sins.

The five W's of prayer. Who? Anyone. What? Anything. When? Anytime. Where? Anywhere. Why? Because God answers prayer.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wednesday Hodge Podge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! So glad you're here today! If you've answered the questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post, then run say hello to the neighbor who linked before you. Here we go-


1. Pokemon Go...your thoughts? Are you playing? Do you even know what it is?
I don't know at all what it is, but I do know it involves people running in pairs and groups all while looking down at their phones as opposed to where they are and what's right in front of them. Do we really need more of this? Ugh!  I know there have been some deaths because of this and I know the police have been called locally because it has frightened some of the elderly.  It reminds me of Street D & D and I think it is dangerous.

2.  What was something you collected as a child? Do you still have that collection? If you're a parent what's something your own children collected? Have you ever camped out, stood in a crazy long queue, or paid a ridiculous sum for a 'collectible'?  I never collected anything as a child.  AT Christmas my mom would make me clear out toys to make room for new ones and then I would donate them to the Salvation Army Toy Drive.  My daughters  collected Barbie Dolls and Beanie Babies.  Eric collected scale cars.  I never camped out or ran all over town for a particular 'fad' and never paid more than the regular price for a collectible. 

3. 'Collect moments, not things'...tell us about a moment you've added to your collection this summer.
I have collected a lot of moments this year.  Frank and I spent a week together at PCB.  We held hands, we kissed, we enjoyed ourselves.  I spent time with my dear friend Susan, I spent a few days in Michigan with Susan and Amanda, I helped with VBS and had a blast!
4.  What's something collecting dust in your home right now? Any plans to do something about it?
I am going to be honest and say I'm not highly motivated to dust my house just now. I will have it done by the time school starts back on August 1st.

 5. A favorite song relating to time?  I love the song Joyce chose and so I am going to use it too.


 
6. What's been your most frightening or your most interesting encounter with wildlife?
Hmmm...my most frightening was probably the time a dog attacked me when I was 3. I was playing across the street from our house and a Rotweiler knocked me down and stood over me growling and slobbering.  I do not like big dogs to this day.

7.  On July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong set his foot down on the moon. If you could travel to the moon would you go? Why or why not?
No. There's not enough Dramamine in the world to fly me to the moon. I'm truly thrilled there are explorers, astronauts, brave men and women who push the boundaries of space and time to show us what's out there. I'm just not one of them. Amen Joyce, well said!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
When did you start school?  When does school start where you live?  Before or after Labor Day.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Make Time For What's Important

My Scripture Today Comes From Luke 10: 38-42
What lessons can we learn from the story of Martha and Mary? Before we begin to answer that question we should know who Martha and Mary were. We know from John 11 verse 5 that Martha and Mary were the sisters of Lazarus and were loved by Jesus. Many scholars believe that although Martha, Mary and Lazarus were not among the 12 disciples, they were members of one of the larger groups of disciples. We most often think of Jesus traveling only with the twelve, but there is a lot of biblical evidence that there were at least three circles of disciples. The innermost circle was of course the twelve. The next circle probably consisted of about thirty people and probably included Mary Magdalene, Martha, Mary and Lazarus as well as several of the wives of the twelve. The next circle included all the other followers of Jesus.  Our lesson says that when Jesus came to Bethany, Martha invited him into her house and began to prepare a feast. In a society that required hospitality, Martha and Mary were renowned for theirs. While Martha was busy with the meal Jesus was speaking and Mary sat at his feet listening. We don’t know who else may have been at Martha and Mary’s house. We could probably assume at least some of the twelve disciples were there since they were with Jesus before Bethany and afterwards. Mary’s position as Jesus’ feet was the place of honor. This is noteworthy since in Jesus’ time women were not allowed to sit with the men and listen to the rabbis. Unlike today’s homes, the houses in those days did not have a separate kitchen and living room. Martha was most likely able to hear what Jesus was saying but because she was so busy she wasn’t listening. After a while she decided she needed some help and came to Jesus and asked if he cared that her sister was loafing while she was forced to do all the work. Jesus should make Mary help. Jesus replied that Martha was too busy with her preparations to pay attention to the most important thing. Since Mary was paying attention to what was most important, Jesus was not going to tell her to stop. From the tone of the scripture Jesus did not sternly rebuke Martha. Since he repeated her name we know that he addressed her with affection.  When I was a child….every time we had dinner at my grandmother’s house she would spend all day cooking. For dinner we would have at least one meat, potatoes, corn, at least two vegetables, rolls and cornbread, some form of congealed salad and a homemade dessert or two. As soon as dinner was over she would wash the dishes. We would all offer to help or tell her to leave them for later but our help was generally refused. When we got ready to leave she always complained that she hadn’t had enough time to visit.  It sounds like it’s almost the same story doesn’t it? Probably every one of us could think of someone (if not ourselves) that acts exactly like Martha when it comes to visitors. If you think about it though, this passage applies to much more than just meals.  In our daily lives how often do we get caught up in the details and miss what is important? Those of us who are parents may be spending all our times shuttling our children from activity to activity when what is most important to them is one-on-one interaction with their parents. When our children get older do you think that they will treasure their dance classes and ball practice or the times when Mommy or Daddy read to them or the whole family played games together? Think about your own childhood memories. What do you remember best? One that sticks out for me was a vacation we took to Santee Cooper River in South Carolina. We spent a week in a cabin on the river….fishing, swimming, playing games….and we didn’t see another person the entire time.  Many of us are overworked. Back in the 1950’s it was envisioned that the average work week would be 30 hours, instead in the 1990’s many people were working 50 to 60 hours a week with some doing as many as 80. But what are we missing out on with this sort of schedule? Is it really worth it to make extra money to buy things and not be able to enjoy them or worse yet to not enjoy our life at all? You may remember the Mac Davis song from the Seventies "Stop and Smell the Roses". In it we heard that "the way to heaven is a rough and rocky road" if we don’t stop and smell the roses along the way.  The scripture also applies to our relationship to the church. When Midway began I am sure everyone pledged to participate in its ministries by our prayers, presence, gifts and service. But do we? This pledge was made to God with the congregation as witnesses. As every new member is brought into the church we renew that pledge. Many of us however walk out of church on Sunday morning and get so busy that we forget all about it until next Sunday. We don’t pray for the church and its members if we pray at all. Sometimes we are too busy sleeping in to attend church on Sunday morning. Special events such as potluck dinners, youth carwashes, the parking lot sale and talent show are poorly attended. We have a Sunday night worship service yet the greatest attendance is ten people. We have a Wednesday night Bible Study….and the most in attendance is ten…. Any churches are struggling….they are too busy during the summers to remember that church expenses continue even when their members are not there…it is then that the finance committee is not sure how they are going to pay the operating expenses such as bills and salaries, let alone apportionments. Many have agreed to serve on committees but have never been to a meeting. What is so important that we cannot honor our pledge?  I want you to consider what I have said this morning. Although everything I said is important, it is not the “one thing” that Jesus was talking about. What was Jesus talking about? He was talking about our relationship with Him and with God! Martha was so busy preparing for Jesus that she forgot to be with Jesus. Yes it was important to feed her guests, but a simple meal would have been sufficient.  When we come to worship on Sunday do we approach it as a time to be with God? An article I read recently said that for churches to grow today they need to keep the people entertained. According to this article the church is just another entertainment outlet competing with all the others. If you want a thriving church you have to have great acoustics, a praise band, a professional quality choir, contemporary music, a multimedia center, beautiful decorations, lots of parking, and a charismatic minister with short sermons. Nowhere did it say anything about Jesus or God being a requirement. While some of these things are nice as extras, without Jesus why even bother?  I hope that is not what is happening here at Midway. Our worship services are not meant to be entertainment. We should never forget that the purpose of worship is to study the word of God and praise him. The hymns we sing are musical prayers. No matter how bad we may think our voice is every last one of us should sing for just that reason. We are not singing for those around us, we are singing for God, and every voice is beautiful to him since he made them. As we sing pay attention to the words and feeling of the hymns. Take the time after the service to read John Wesley’s directions for singing in the beginning of the hymnal.  After we leave the church do we continue to worship God and thank him for what he has given us? God is the most important thing in our life. Please do not get so busy that you forget this as Martha did.

 

 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Can You Hear Me Now?


Have you ever been in a room when a radio or television is turned so loud you can hardly think? Sometimes a car will go by playing very loud music and it feels as if the noise thumps in your head. This is called a distraction.

We can also be distracted by bright lights, certain colors, a bad odor, cells phones, or a lot of people trying to talk all at once.

Have you ever tried to talk to someone, maybe ask a question, and you realize the other person is not listening to you? You get the idea that the other person is thinking about something else - that person is distracted.

There is a story in the Bible about two sisters, Mary and Martha who were friends of Jesus. Jesus came to visit them. Martha was busy doing things and Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to him. Martha complained that Mary was not helping her with all the things she had to do. Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things," (10:41) "but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good part…" (10:42).

We may feel like we have many things to do, but we must remember that when our friends or family members want to talk to us it is best to stop what we are doing and give them our full attention. In this way we honor those who are reaching out to us. We let them know we really care what they have to say.

Mary chose to become very quiet and listen to Jesus. She really wanted to hear what he had to say. That is what we do when we pray and worship God. Becoming very quiet and listening is a way of honoring God.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Bountiful Hodge Podge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! Answer the questions on your own blog, then jump back here and add your link at the end of Joyce's  post. Be sure you say howdy to your neighbor on the list, because that's how we roll here on Wednesdays. Here we go-
 
1.  Do you find yourself influencing your world, or is it more the other way around?
I like to think I influence my world....but that is not always the case...sometimes the world gets a hold of me and I cannot seem to break free from the rip tide.
2. July 14th is National Tape Measure Day...the device was patented on this date in 1868. When did you last use a tape measure? Do you always know where to find one in your house? Tell us one way in which you feel blessed 'beyond measure'.
I keep one in my purse and constantly am measuring.  The last time I used mine was at Home Depot last weekend.  I am blessed beyond measure with my family and friends. 

3.  The Plaza Hotel (Eloise), The Land of Oz (The Wizard of Oz), Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia), The Hundred Acre Wood (Winnie the Pooh), Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), or Never Never Land (Peter Pan)...which storybook land (on this list!) would you most like to visit and why?  I'm going to agree with Joyce and say The Hundred Acre Wood. I too like the beauty found in nature, and the wisdom of Pooh and company. The Hundred Acre Wood seems like a peaceful place to take a break from the chaos, anger, name calling, and political rhetoric we're confronted with on a regular basis.  Well said Joyce, well said.

4. Where and when do you get your best ideas?  In the car, sitting outside, at the beach, in the mountains and at Cades Cove in the Smokies.

5. So what have you been watching on TV this summer? Anything good?  Food Network and Hallmark Movies.  I can't wait for the Olympics to start.

6. 'Don't swim for an hour after you eat', 'Dog days of summer', 'Knee high by the fourth of July'...choose a summer saying from the list or share one of your own, then tell us what image or memory comes to mind when you hear it spoken.  I grew up at the Beach, we would pack picnic lunches and go spend the day there.  I can remember my mom always telling me not to go swimming for an hour after I ate. I never understood why, but found myself telling my own children the same thing when we lived at Lake Martin.

7. In a single sentence, sum up one life lesson you've learned.  The acronym ASAP means Always say a Prayer to me.  Prayer is a big thing in my life.

8. Insert your own random thought here.  Have you ever been to Mackinac Island in Michigan?...or Traverse City?  I was there last week on a girl trip and it was awesome.  If you have never been....you should go.  It takes you back to another day and time.  Vehicles are not allowed.  You will see walkers, horse drawn carriages, and bikes.  There are 4 vehicles allowed:  1 police car, 2 ambulances, and 1 fire truck.
Arch rock

The porch at the Grand Hotel

The Grand Hotel

Island View

 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

On The Family of God

Today I want to tell you that….. God adopts us as his children. He gives the Holy Spirit to those who believe in Jesus.

 
 

Have you ever been to the dog pound? If you want a puppy, you may find one at the dog pound. These beautiful young animals need a place to grow up. They need a person who will adopt them and care for them. Do you have any pets that you tend? 

Well, my story for you today is about how much God loves us.
God has given us every spiritual blessing. Some of those blessings are love, joy, and peace. God has blessed us by adopting us as his children. Adopted means that you are taken to a new home to be cared for and loved by parents. He even makes a promise to us that he will always love us. He makes a down payment on us by giving us his Holy Spirit. That guarantees that we are his children. We belong to Jesus. He cares for us and loves us.  I don't know about you...but that makes me very happy.

 
 

Part III - Love, Joy, Peace



My scripture today comes from But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace ...” (Galatinas 5:22; John 15:4-13)
We have spent the last couple of weeks talking about the Fruits of the Spirit.  Today we are finishing up the series with Love, Joy and Peace.  When this sermon is over….and we leave this place….the goal is not to try and spend the next few weeks trying harder to be more loving, trying harder to be more joyful, trying harder to be more patient, trying to do a character self-improvement thing. That’s not what we are going to do.  Nope!  We are going to do something else. We’re going to go after one single word that Jesus talks about in John 15 - Jesus said, Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers. Such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit showing yourselves to be my disciples. As my Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Jesus is saying here, “From one moment to the next, keep receiving this unceasing flow of life and nourishment and love from God.” And if you do that—if you abide—the fruit of the Spirit will come. You can’t stop it.  And what is this fruit that the Lord wants to produce in our lives?

1. DIVINE LOVE - Now, there are a number of different kinds of love. There’s the physical kind of love. And there the platonic (non-sexual), love we have for family and friends. But the Lord isn’t talking about either of these. This love that is produced by the Spirit is something totally different again. This is a divine love that can only be produced in us when the Holy Spirit lives in us.   And this is what it looks like ....
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Divine love is so important because divine love shows everyone (including ourselves), who we truly belong to.  "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 1:34-35).  Divine love is also important because any other kind of love that we might give or receive that is not from God, is settling for second best in life.

 2. DIVINE JOY  Back in John 15:11, where Jesus is talking about remaining in him, he also says, "I have told you these things so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete." Whose joy are we supposed to live in? Jesus’ joy.   …..God’s divine joy is available to us. And we need it! We need God’s divine joy because it’s the only way to stay sane when things get crazy in life. You see, God’s divine joy stays no matter what’s going on around us. Not simply happiness, but “holy optimism.” Divine joy is not dependent upon circumstances. Divine joy is a delight in knowing God.  So….Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Divine joy is so important because divine joy shows everyone (including ourselves), who we truly belong to. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18-20).  Divine love is also important because any other kind of joy that we might give or receive that is not from God, is settling for second best in life.
3. DIVINE PEACE - In John 14:27 - Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives." Whose peace are we supposed to live in? It’s his love, his joy, his peace. And as we abide in him, the fruit of the Spirit just flows in the way that life flows into a branch from the vine.  Jesus gives this peace to those who are connected to him. There is a peace we can gain from the world, but it never lasts – you just need to walk into any parliament or any court room, or read any newspaper to see that. But the peace the Lord offers is not a lack of conflict. It is peace despite conflict. It’s peace of mind (Contentment), which springs from being in a right relationship with God...Despite conflict. It’s peace of mind (Contentment), which springs from being in a right relationship with God.  Divine peace is important because it shows everyone (including ourselves), who we truly belong to.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27).
In all of this we must remember that this fruit is produced to be eaten, not merely put on display and admired. Also, producing the fruit of the Spirit doesn’t mean doing a lot of new activities or trying really hard. It means doing the things you already do, but learning to do them with Jesus. This is what it means to "abide" or "remain" in him.