October 14th 2018

Pastor Steve’s Blog October 14, 2018 One of the small treasures I have in my possession is a copy of the “Strength for Service to God and Country” devotional book presented to my Uncle by First United Methodist Church of Clarksburg, WV on December 25, 1943. This edition of Strength for Service was written during WWII and given to him for strength and inspiration during his tour of duty overseas. It is funny how timeless the Gospel is. It is interesting to read something written back in time so many decades ago. Yet, some of it sounds like it could have been written this week. I hope this blesses you as much as it did me. I was reading the daily devotion for June 14, 1943 and it was entitled: “The Things That Last” written by Talmage C. Johnson, First Baptist Church, Kinston, NC. The Scriptures for the day were I Corinthians 13 and Hebrews 12:27. The highlighted Scripture was I Corinthians 13:13: “Thus, faith and hope and love last on, these three, but the greatest of all is love.” (Moffatt Translation). Johnson’s devotion reads: “The dizzy pace of current events can upset us tremendously. Things are happening around us and to us so rapidly that some of us have begun to think that nothing will last. Would it not be wise for us, then, to snatch whatever satisfaction the present moment offers? Why let any thought of yesterday or tomorrow affect our conduct now? Why not lay aside all scruples, bid conscience cease to speak, and discard religion altogether? If Edgar Allan Poe was right in saying that life is a tragedy whose hero is ‘the conquering Worm,’ then life if futile and morality foolish. But this philosophy of life is a lie. There are enduring values. As Paul puts it, ‘faith and hope and love last on.’ Yes, even in wartime these things last on. Because they are permanent realities they are worth giving ourselves to. Because Christianity is based upon these abiding things it is now more necessary for us than ever before. It alone gives meaning to all life. Dostoevski tells of a thief and a harlot waiting together for the end in a dark room. By the light of their last candle they read a tattered Gospel someone has left behind. They come to the story of Lazarus, and they begin to say to each other: ‘He raised Lazarus from the dead; he can raise us.’ That’s it; ‘faith and hope and love last on’ and even death cannot entomb them.’” Prayer: “Grant, O God, that I may give myself not to the things which are passing but to the eternal. Help me to keep my faith in man and God. Let not hope die within me. May I, remembering that Thou dost love me, never lose my capacity for loving others and loving Thee. Abide with me through all of life’s changes. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

December 16, 2018

Pastor Steve’s Blog December 16, 2018 Ann Parker, who is a member of our congregation, provided me a copy of her late husband’s book entitled: “Humor and Wisdom: Thoughts to Brighten and Enlighten Your Way” – by Wallace Parker. As I think about Christmas it reminds me of family and the wisdom that is often shared among family members. In his book on page 68, Wallace provided a section entitled: “My Mother’s Notebook: Words for Your Children.” It is a compilation of thoughts from Virginia Wilkinson’s mother’s notebook. After all, mother knows best. Right. Here is some good wisdom we should all take onboard: It must be true that exercise makes us healthy. You have never seen a weak and run down tongue. It is easy to find fault but hard to find what to do with it. When men speak ill of you, so live that no one will believe them. Our heart is the mainspring for the tongue. It takes practice in daily conversation to replace weak language with better language. Do not cheapen your talk for the sake of getting a laugh. I cannot enlarge my soul by finding fault with the other fellow. There is too little thought in most of our thinking. If you are truly rich, you could lose all your money and still be rich. The pleasures that we give to others are the ones we most enjoy ourselves. Happiness lies in having something to do, something to love and something to hope for. The greatest wisdom is kindness.

December 9, 2018

Pastor Steve’s Blog December 9, 2018 I ran across this story on the internet and found it worthwhile for reflection. So I thought I would share it with you. Blessings, Pastor Steve A men's group at a Baptist church in Georgia decided to give away money as a blessing to the community. About 80 families at the Sandy Valley Baptist Church received envelopes with amounts between $100 and $1,000 with one simple instruction. "Take it home and open it with your family and talk about the ways you can bless someone," CJ Holmes, who headed “Project Multiply,” told Fox News. "One family bought a bunch of blankets and gloves and some fast food gift cards and gave them to homeless people with information on the shelters in town," Holmes said. A couple of people joined their amounts together to help pay medical bills for a member of the church who was going through chemotherapy. Another lady was shopping at a grocery store when she saw a woman with a cart filled with food and supplies. She told her, "You must be feeding an army," and when the woman responded that she was "feeding some homeless and veterans, she offered to use the money to pay for the groceries and then donated her time to the event handing out the food for Thanksgiving. One member tipped their waitress $500. The idea came when Holmes was meeting with 14 other men in his Sandy Valley men's group at church a few weeks ago, and the men independently raised $12,000 and presented it to the congregation the Sunday before Thanksgiving. “We’ve been individually blessed and wanted to lead them in a project to allow us to bless many other people," Holmes said. A lot of families in the church matched the amount they had received and give it to some need in their community, which met the idea the group hoped for of multiplying the initial amount of money. A church in Plano, Texas, handed out a total of $125,000 before Easter Sunday in March with a similar approach, sharing stories from the givers and those who received. “People’s lives have been blessed and that’s all we wanted,” Holmes told 13WMAZ, adding that they plan to make “Project Multiply” a yearly tradition at the church. Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

December 2, 2018

Pastor Steve’s Blog December 2, 2018 Today marks the beginning of Advent. Advent, for those that come from outside of mainline churches, marks the beginning of the new church liturgical year. The season of Advent includes the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. It can be as long as twenty-eight days, if Dec 25 falls on a Sunday or as short as twenty-two days, if December 25 falls on a Monday, making Christmas Eve the fourth Sunday of Advent. In their “Overview on Advent” David Bartlett, Barbara Taylor and Kimberly Long, point out “During the Advent season, the church prepares for the coming of Christ. Even as we make ready for the baby to be born in Bethlehem, the themes and texts explored during Advent take us beyond the birth, and even beyond the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, to a new moment of expectancy as the Day of Christ approaches and the reign of God is made fully manifest.” They go on to explain, “The coming of Advent jolts the church out of Ordinary Time with the invasive news that it is time to think about fresh possibilities for deliverance and human wholeness. Peace is at the heart of the promise born at Advent. It is difficult, however, to set out on the journey without repentance and forgiveness.” At Advent, God’s people summon the courage and the spiritual strength to remember that the holy can and will break into daily life. Let us open our broken hearts to God and to His healing grace and God will lead us to His peace. Advent is not a season of passive waiting and watching, rather it is a season for opening up our lives and letting God fill us with anticipation and renewed hope.