August 12th 2018

Pastor Steve’s Blog Aug 12, 2018 I read an interesting opinion piece online recently penned by J. Warner Wallace dated July 8, 2018. He begins his article by saying that The Journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science (SPPS) released a study demonstrating that religious people live longer. He added that the study observed that “self-reported religious service attendance has been linked with longevity. Researchers found that religiously affiliated people lived between 6.64 and 9.45 years longer than those who were not religiously affiliated. They also found that religiously affiliated people had an approximately five-fold lower rate of suicide. In an attempt to explain why religious people live longer, the author writes that non-religious groups were united in their commitment to a common interest, but Christians were united by a commitment to God. He added, “A common interest can bind us as friends, but a common Father binds us as family.” Family. That’s what we are at St. Paul Church. We are family. We are not united only by some common societal cause or interest. We are united as family because of the price Jesus Christ paid on the cross to free us from the slavery of sin and death. And we celebrate that reality every Sunday when we gather as a church family for the Sacrament of Holy Communion. It’s seem like a no-brainer that you will live longer if you are loved and supported by being a member a church family. So let’s help people live longer. Let’s practice our family skills this week by loving God with all our heart, mind and soul and loving our neighbors/friends/church family as ourselves.

September 23rd, 2018

Pastor Steve’s Blog Sep 23, 2018 Even though I have been through two hurricanes these last two years just like the rest of you, I am still amazed when I turn on the weather channel and see what the powerful forces of nature can do, especially when it comes to the power, wind and rain from a hurricane. Now we have Hurricane Florence and its terrible flooding aftermath. I am glad it didn’t come as a Category 4 or 5 as some weather forecasters thought it might when it was some days out. Thank God for that. But the total rain amounts are astounding. To see roads on which Cindy and I travel to and through North Carolina underwater is amazing. Please be in prayer for all those affected by this storm and also be thinking about a financial contribution if you haven’t given already. Let’s put some helping hands with our prayers. I am confident we will be receiving a special offering, on a coming Sunday morning in the next few weeks, to send to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to help with hurricane relief. One additional note. As I watched Hurricane Florence churn in the Atlantic, I wondered just how much energy is generated by one hurricane. I found an article online written by Michelle Z. Donahue on October 12, 2016 for the Smithsonian.com just after Hurricane Matthew passed through talking about just that. The amount of energy generated is almost unbelievable. “As destructive natural phenomena go, hurricanes are among the heavyweights. If not for the gale-force winds and resulting projectile debris, then for the massive flooding that results when one makes landfall and stalls out, a hurricane is a nasty piece of work. Just ask the residents of the coastal Carolinas and Georgia this week as they wring themselves out from Hurricane Matthew’s weekend deluge. In terms of energy stored and released, hurricanes pack a huge punch. Your “average” tropical cyclone might release the equivalent of 600 terawatts of energy, with a quarter of a percent of that as wind; the vast majority of the energy in a hurricane is in the form of heat stored and released as water vapor condenses into rain. So while wind is only a small part of the overall energy output of a hurricane, it still generates vast amounts of power: around 1.5 terawatts, or just over a quarter of the world’s current total electrical generating capacity of 5.25 terawatts. The wind from just one storm is a gold mine of clean energy.”

September 16th, 2018

Pastor Steve’s Blog Sep 16, 2018 I ran across an interesting article this week while I was reading the online magazine put out for pastors from Christianity Today. I thought I would share a small portion of the article on the “Ministry of Absence” written by Stephen L. Woodworth. It made me stop and think and perhaps it will for you as well. “Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who participated in the Nazi resistance during WWII, shared (Henri) Nouwen’s conviction when he wrote, “Before God and with God we live without God.” While frequently misunderstood and misapplied, Bonhoeffer’s challenging observation points to the reality that our lived experience on this side of heaven is an existence among shadows. God is certainly present, but in a way very much unlike the totality of presence we will experience in the world to come. We live “before God and with God” as imperfect creations, marred by sin and limited by our ability to see only “in a mirror dimly” (1 Cor. 13:12). According to Nouwen, that is a reality rehearsed regularly in our weekly worship. Through the ministry of the Word and sacraments, we are simultaneously reminded of God’s presence as well as his absence. We study his revelation and allow his eternal voice to speak into our current lives, yet we grasp it imperfectly until we are able to see him face to face and “know even as we are known.” We consume bread and wine with the conviction that Christ is spiritually present even as we acknowledge the explicit promise that we will do so “until the Lord returns.” Our entire lives of worship and ministry are practiced without the physical presence of our Lord. While spiritually present at all times, the impetus for our following lies in a future hope of our reunion. We anticipate the kind of unending presence of God that alludes us until we are glorified.”

September 9th 2018

Pastor Steve’s Weekly Blog Sunday, September 9th I like reading Rev. Mike Murdock. God has given him a ministry of wisdom, much like he did King Solomon. He has some nuggets of wisdom he shares when it comes to “habits.” As I said last week, we are our habits. So we should pay attention to the habits that make up our lives. I am going to preach a message in worship on Sep 16th about seeing our habits as a gift from God. What is a habit? It is any action, conduct or behavior that we repeat. It could be a good habit or a bad habit. A bad habit might be smoking. A good habit is like brushing our teeth. This means that anything we do repeatedly becomes a habit and because it is a habit, it should get easier for us over time. This is a gift that comes from God to help us as we live our lives. Some experts believe that when you repeat a specific action for 21 or more days, a habit is formed. Think on your habits. Make a list. What habits do you want to change?