April 7, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog April 7, 2019 I read an online column this week by Paul J. Batura, vice president of communications at Focus on the Family and the author of “GOOD DAY! The Paul Harvey Story.” The online column asked the question “Whatever Happened to Howard Johnson’s?” In his column he shares about his childhood vacations and road trips with his family and stopping at the orange roof restaurants and hotels along their way. I can also remember our family vacations back in the 1960’s and stopping at the place with the orange roof quite a few times ourselves. I liked their ice cream. Nostalgia can be a great thing and can bring back some wonderful memories. But as great as they are, they are in the past, and not the present. Go looking for a Howard Johnson’s orange roof restaurant today and you only find them in your memory. As great as our past experiences have been with God as individuals and as a church, we can’t let ourselves be caught in nostalgia-only mode. Our relationship with God needs to exist within the current realities of our lives and circumstances. That’s the only way for us to move forward and be used of God. But it doesn’t mean we don’t treasure and honor our past, but we need to live in the present. God said His name was “I AM.” God is always in the present, not the past nor the future, and so should we also be. With that said, let me share a little bit of his online column with you so that you, too, can share in the nostalgia of decades gone by and smile with that memory. “If you’re over the age of 35, the sight of the orange roof and copper steel cupola weathervane were at one time synonymous symbols of either the great American road trip or a special family meal – or both. With over 1,000 dining establishments in North America in the 1960s and 1970s, Howard Johnson’s was, for several decades, the largest restaurant chain in the United States. Established in 1925 as a small pharmacy by Massachusetts native Howard Deering Johnson, the enterprising Quincy resident quickly expanded his efforts to selling ice cream, hot dogs and soda at area beaches. The enterprise was a success. He perfected his ice cream recipe by increasing the butterfat content and soon distinguished himself from the competition by offering 28 flavors, a remarkable selling point in an era of few choices. His first restaurant featured classic New England fare that would become fan favorites – especially fried clams, hot dogs, baked beans and a hearty line of desserts, including sherbet and pie. World War II not only slowed Johnson’s expansion but actually threatened to shutter the business altogether. But with the peace in 1945 came renewed prosperity. In 1954, he opened his first motor lodge in Savannah, Georgia. The advent of the Interstate Highway System later in the decade only fueled the company’s growth. By the late 1970s, there were over 500 motels scattered all throughout the country, many of which had his accompanying restaurants next door. I’ve had the great pleasure and privilege of staying in a few magnificent hotel properties as an adult, but in my mind and memory, as silly as it sounds, Howard Johnson’s was six stars on a five star scale. Maybe it was the air-conditioning, a total luxury for a kid who learned to accept as normal the humid, sweltering summer heat of New York. Or was it the pool that each motel had in its courtyard, often with a slide and diving board? It’s funny how childhood experiences often inform adult habits, for good or bad. To this day, one of the great joys of my life is an early evening swim followed by dinner with my family. I realize now that’s because that was our family’s tradition as a kid – and supper at Howard Johnson’s always seemed the perfect ending to a perfect summer’s day. My choice was always the same – the “Daily Double” – two hot dogs in toasted butter buns, slipped inside cardboard sleeves, accompanied by a side order of crinkly, crisp French fries. In planning this year’s vacation, I was saddened to see that all the Howard Johnson’s we stayed at in the area are gone now – either taken over by new owners or demolished altogether. The restaurants have been out of business for years. As I plotted and searched properties online, though, I realized that I wasn’t really searching for Howard Johnson’s. I was searching for my childhood. I was reaching for that which has faded into memory, for a time when my greatest cares were hot dogs and swimming pools.”

July 14, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog 14 Jul 19 What can I say about Sunday’s worship service and the very strong presence of God and movement of the Holy Spirit among us. Didn’t you enjoy being in the presence of God. Resting in His presence. Sensing the movement of the Holy Spirit across the sanctuary. I know I felt it and I hope you experienced the Holy Spirit touching your life as well. At the end of worship, I extended an invitation for anyone who felt led by the Holy Spirit to respond and to come forward for anointing with oil and a prayer of faith. After both services there were a number of you who responded in faith and came forward. We anointed with oil and prayed in accordance to God’s word found in the Book of James, Chapter 5:13ff: “Is anyone in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 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.” I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit was present during those precious moments as we prayed together…as we offered up our prayers of faith. For those who came for prayer, I am looking forward to hearing what God has done in your lives in the days and weeks ahead. Next Sunday I will be preaching about prayer. Sneak peek. Our Scripture will be Mark 1:35-39. I like what my friend, Dr. Myles Monroe said about prayer: “Prayer is not just an activity, a ritual or an obligation. Nor is it begging God to do what we want Him to do. It is communion and communication with God. Prayer is meant to be one of the most exciting aspects of a life of faith. The power of prayer is the inheritance of the believer.” See you next Sunday.

July 7, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog July 7, 2019 I saw this reflection on my Military Chaplain’s website this past week and I thought I would share it with you. After reading the reflection I would encourage you to read Psalm 85. It starts like this: “You showed favor to your land, O Lord; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.” The theme for Psalm 85 is reverence to restoration. I think our country today could take a few lessons from our founding fathers when it comes to subject of prayer. Please be in prayer for our country. Prayer still underpins our independence. History Reflection for the Fourth of July How Prayer Underpinned American Independence by Stephen Lynch Prayer played an important role in the American struggle for independence. The First Continental Congress (Sept. 5-Oct. 26, 1774), comprised of delegates from all the colonies except Georgia, met for the first time, in September 1774. In a letter to his wife, John Adams described the spiritual backdrop as the colonies were about to launch the Revolutionary War for independence. "When the Congress met, Mr. Cushing made a motion that it should be opened with prayer. It was opposed by Mr. Jay of New York and Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina because we were so divided in religious sentiments - some Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Anabaptists, some Presbyterians, and some Congregationalists - that we could not join in the same act of worship. "Mr. Samuel Adams arose and said that he was no bigot, and could hear a prayer from any gentleman of piety and virtue who was at the same time a friend to his country. He moved that Mr. Duche, an Episcopal clergyman, might read prayers to Congress the next morning. The motion was seconded and passed in the affirmative." Adams continued: "Accordingly, next morning the Rev. Duche appeared with his Episcopal vestments and read the 85th Psalm. I never saw a greater effect produced upon an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained that psalm to be read on that morning. "George Washington was kneeling there, alongside him Patrick Henry, James Madison, and John Hancock. By their side there stood, bowed in reverence, the Puritan patriots of New England, who at that moment had reason to believe that an armed soldiery was wasting their humble households. They prayed fervently for America, for Congress, for the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially for the town of Boston [whose port had been closed and in which British troops were being quartered. "And who can realize the emotions with which they turned imploringly to heaven for divine help. It was enough to melt a heart of stone. I saw the tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave, pacifist Quakers of Philadelphia."

June 30, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog June 30, 2019. As we prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July, I again turn to my Uncle’s World War II devotion book, “Strength for Service” to see what was being said while the country was at war on the Fourth of July. It was a devotion by E.P. Anderson, Calvary Methodist Church, Nashville, TN. In his devotion he wrote the following: “All of us are challenged this day to remember the values that are included in true patriotism---all those things which made our country the greatest on earth, those things for which we should be willing to die. There is something almost divine in true love of one’s country. Religion and patriotism are woven together. Love to God means love for those high things which He has created. Let us pray: O Eternal God, in Thee do we trust. May we keep sacred the heritage from our fathers. Bless, we pray Thee, those who keep the home fires burning, and those who defend our land. God bless our native land! Firm may she ever stand, Through storm and night: When the wild tempests rave, Ruler of wind and wave, Do Thou our country save, By Thy great might! Amen.” Have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July!