Pastor Steve's Blog

June 23, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog June 23, 2019 I hope you were able to be with us yesterday in church to hear our friends from Jacksonville Teen Challenge. It was so encouraging to hear their testimonies and see the life change that has happened in each one of them due to their personal relationship with Jesus Christ and support from the Teen Challenge Center. I look forward to St Paul continuing our support for this terrific ministry. Our special offering yesterday in church for Teen Challenge amounted to $500. I also heard that one of our Sunday School classes pledged an additional $300 to help with the ministry. Outstanding! That’s great seed planted in good soil. Can I get an “Amen.” Below is some good information about Teen Challenge. For nearly 60 years, our alcohol and substance abuse addiction recovery program has provided long-term recovery for tens of thousands of individuals. We are the largest and longest continuously operated group of addiction recovery centers in the world, with over 200 centers in the U.S. and over 1,000 more centers worldwide. In an Adult & Teen Challenge Outcomes Study by The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): • 92% of Adult & Teen Challenge graduates reported good to excellent health a year later. • 86% of Adult & Teen Challenge graduates reported they were drug-free a year later. • 72% of Adult & Teen Challenge graduates continued their education upon completion of the program. • 75% of Adult & Teen Challenge graduates were employed a year later, with 73% being fully self-supporting.

June 16, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog June 16, 2019 Kim Straughn, as the church’s Lay Delegate, and I attended the 177th Florida Annual Conference this past week in Lakeland, FL on the campus of Florida Southern College. This campus is famous as it was designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. FYI. Kim will present a report to the Church on this year’s Annual Conference in the near future. Just think about how long the Methodist Church has been meeting in FL. The Florida Conference and the state of Florida came into existence about the same time. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy reading a brief history of our Conference as found on the FL Conference website. “Methodism came to Florida with the circuit riders who followed the trails across the border from Georgia after the United States took control of the territory from the Spanish in 1821. Work in the peninsula of Florida, historically known as East Florida, came officially under the South Carolina Conference in January 1822, when the first appointment was made to Amelia Island. In 1831, the conference was divided and the newly formed Georgia Conference assumed the Florida work. In December 1821 the Mississippi Conference had assigned a preacher to Pensacola, in what was known as West Florida. Eventually, however, the Panhandle came under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Conference and later the Alabama-West Florida Conference, where it remains today. By the 1840s came the push for statehood and along with its momentum came the push among Methodists to establish a conference of their own. The General Conference of 1844 created the Florida Conference, and on February 6, 1845, in Tallahassee it was organized as part of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Statehood came a month later. Together the state and the conference grew to maturity. Since 1845 the work in Florida has been carried out in a number of conferences, which have been created, divided, and united. In 1939 three of those conferences—the Florida Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, the St. Johns River Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Florida Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church—united to form the Florida Conference, Southeastern Jurisdiction, of The Methodist Church. At the same time the two black conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church became part of the racially segregated Central Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church. They united in 1952. In 1968 The Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, which had had a presence in Florida since 1895, and the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church came into being. In 1969 the Central Jurisdiction churches also became part of the Florida Conference, Southeastern Jurisdiction, of The United Methodist Church. The story of the Florida Conference is written in the lives of the circuit riders and their modern-day counterparts who have followed the waves of population throughout the state, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is also written in the work of the people of local churches who have responded to the call of the gospel.” Further information can be found in the following histories of the Florida Conference: Florida Flame, by the Reverend Robert M. Temple, Jr., 1987 From Saddlebags to Satellites, edited by the Reverend William E. Brooks, 1969 The Trail of the Florida Circuit Rider, by Dr. Charles Tinsley Thrift, Jr., 1944

June 9, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog June 9, 2019 Pentecost Sunday Happy Birthday to the Church! Over two thousand years ago the Christian Church came into existence on the day of Pentecost. You can read about it in the opening chapters of the Book of Acts. I ran across this online devotional and the author was basically recounting the main points in my Pentecost sermon for June 9, so I thought I would share it with you and those of you who may not have been in church Sunday. A Devotion by Julius Medenblik Online Devotion dated May 20, 2018 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. — Acts 2:4 Ten days have passed since Jesus ascended to heaven and instructed his disciples to stay in Jerusalem. The day of Pentecost has now arrived. Pentecost is not just something found in the New Testament, it is actually an Old Testament holiday tied with the Feast of Harvest, or the Feast of Weeks, noting the beginning of harvesttime. This is also a time when religious pilgrims would travel to Jerusalem from faraway lands. So “God-fearing Jews from ¬every nation” are present for this event. A blowing, violent wind is followed by what appears to be tongues of fire separating and resting on the disciples. People from many nations gather to see what is going on. And something bewildering and wonderful occurs. Everyone can understand what is being said! The words of the disciples find their mark because those who are listening can hear the message in their own language. The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), where God confused the people’s language, is reversed by the Holy Spirit so that people can understand one another. And throughout the crowd, people are wondering, “What does this mean?” A harvest of souls is being gathered. This is an example of what Jesus meant when he taught his disciples: “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for the harvest” (John 4:35). Prayer. Lord of the harvest, thank you for sending your Spirit to empower us to be your witnesses in word and deed. May our words be guided and even translated by your Spirit. Amen.

June 2, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog June 2, 2019 How many of us know that life does not always come up roses? I think we all do simply because of life experience. It would be great if it did, but it doesn’t. The Bible also tells us that life doesn’t always come up roses where everything works out just the way we want it. Sometimes, life finds a creative way to discourage us. God, knowing that, has given us some Scriptures to encourage us. Here are a few. “We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us hope that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5. “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” I Corinthians 13:7. Remember God loves you, even when you are discouraged. “Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12. A thought to go with these Scriptures is taken from “God’s Little Lessons for Leaders: Honor Books, Tulsa, OK. “Prizefighter James J. Corbett made many memorable statements during his colorful career, but perhaps his most famous was when he was asked, ‘What is the most important thing for a man to do to become a champion?’ Corbett replied, ‘Fight one more round.’ Many successful people have had that perspective. Thomas Gray wrote seventy-five drafts of ‘Elegy Written in a Country Chruchyard’ before he was satisfied with his poetic masterpiece. S.N. Behrman, an American playwright, wrote plays for eleven years before he sold one. Somerset Maugham earned only $500 in his first 10 years as a writer. While working full-time in a factory, Enrico Caruso studied voice for 12 years before he became a successful performer. George Gershwin composed almost one hundred melodies before he sold his first one…for $5.00. During his first five years as a writer, Zane Grey couldn’t sell a single story. Don’t be discouraged if your dream doesn’t come true immediately. Continue to pursue your craft or talent. Study and learn. Grow by experience. Keep working. The victory goes to those who are willing to fight, ‘One more round!’”

May 26, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog May 26, 2019 Memorial Day When we have special days, such as Memorial Day, I like to turn to my Uncle’s “Strength for Service to God and Country” which he received during his time in the military during WWII. It was given to him by The First Methodist Church of Clarksburg, WV dated December 25, 1943. As someone who likes history, I find it fascinating to look back and see what and how people were thinking in an earlier time. You will notice that this devotion was influenced during a time of great national stress caused by our participation in WWII. Here is the devotion for Memorial Day dated for May 30 by William Everett Roberts, Community Presbyterian Church, Beverly Hills, CA. “Memorials and Their Meaning. ‘This day shall be unto you a memorial.’ Exodus 12:14. The memorial idea has prevailed among all kinds of people from the earliest times. The Old Testament contains the record of many memorials. The greatest of these was the day set apart to commemorate the safety of the people of Israel from the destroying angel and their deliverance from bondage to the oppressor. Year by year, generation by generation, this occasion was ordered set apart as a time of joyous gratitude to God. We too have a Memorial Day. We as a people are also summoned to remember. Ours is not primarily a religious institution, yet is has for us a profound spiritual significance. While we separate the functions of church and state, we do not separate religion from the total life of the nation. As a people we have reason to be profoundly grateful to the Father of nations because we have been delivered from fear and oppression and been given opportunity for the freest life any citizens have ever known. Now we are engaged once again in a struggle to set our planet free from bondage to an order of life intolerable to free spirits. Once again the making of history is upon us. Under God and with faith in the ultimate triumph of righteousness we can make the days to come memorable beyond all comparison; for our aim is not the release of a single people, but of the whole race of men. For such a cause we need the full devotion of the entire nation and full trust in God who has made and kept us as a nation. Prayer: Father of Eternity, we come to Thee in Thy greatness; we look to Thee for strength in this time of overwhelming need. Grant us the power to accept and to stand up to all our tasks. Give us wisdom to plan with clear mind and understanding heart. Beyond our sense of power may we have the spirit of righteousness and love. We ask it in Christ’s Name. Amen.”

May 19, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog May 19, 2019 I read this devotion this week and it struck me how true this devotion is when we get recordings stuck in our heads and they seem to play over and over. And “only if” is one of those. Let’s take this Scripture to heart and head and change the script and music when it becomes redundant…in a not so good way. Blessings! “If Only I Had…” by Lysa TerKeurst “There’s a simple, yet incredibly dangerous little script many of us play in our minds. It might even be one of the biggest things holds us back from feeling fulfilled in our relationship with God. It’s a script tangled in a lie that typically goes something like this: I could really be happy and fulfilled if only I had… …a skinnier body …more money …a better personality …a baby I don’t know what your ‘If only I had’ statements are, but I do know this: none of them will bring fulfillment. They might bring temporary moments of happiness, but not true fulfillment. Apart from a thriving relationship with God, even if we got everything on our list, there would still be a hollow gap in our soul. So instead of saying, ‘If only I had’ and filling in the blank with some person, possession, or position, we must make the choice to replace that statement with God’s truth. Psalm 19:7-8 confirms just how powerful and beneficial the truth of God’s word is: ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.’” (Lysa TerKeust. “Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God Is Holding You Close.”)

May 12, 2019

Happy Mothers Day!

May 5, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog May 5, 2019 I saw this headline online so I stopped to read the article: “GALLUP: NUMBER OF AMERICANS WHO BELONG TO A CHURCH OR HOUSE OF WORSHIP PLUMMETS.” I know this headline will probably not shock anyone, but perhaps it should. As we have said before the days of just opening the doors and expecting people to come and get involved in church are over. Society has changed and this article helps to point out just how much and why. There is a real need for revival and evangelism in America. A real need to share the good news of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If they don’t come to us anymore, how do we reach out to them? April 24th, 2019 By Bob Smietana / Religion News Service (RNS) — Most Americans still say they believe in God, but their involvement in organized religion continues to wane. A new Gallup report found that only half of Americans say they belong to a church or other religious body, down from 69% two decades earlier. Most of the decline is tied to the rise of the so-called “nones” — those who claim no religious affiliation. Gallup found that the share of Americans who claim a religious identity declined from 90% to 77% in recent decades. But even those who claim a faith tradition may not belong to a religious congregation or community, according to the report, which compared data from 1998-2000 to data from 2016-2018. At the turn of the century, Gallup said, 73% of religious Americans belonged to a house of worship. That’s dropped to 64% today. “The still-sizable proportion of religious Americans also contribute to declining church membership, as fewer in this group belong to a church than did so two decades ago,” the report states. Being part of a house of worship is no longer necessary for a growing number of religious Americans, said Tim Carney, author of “Alienated America.” “This data confirms what we’ve been seeing for decades: American life is becoming deinstitutionalized,” Carney said. “Americans are less likely to belong to anything. In America, historically, the thing most people have belonged to has been the church, and now more and more people are losing that.” Age and generational differences appear to play a role in whether Americans join a house of worship. “Just 42 percent of millennials are members of churches, on average,” according to the report. “By comparison, 20 years ago, 62 percent of members of Generation X belonged to a church, when they were about the same age as millennials are today.” The poll found that 68% of “traditionalists” — which Gallup identifies as those born before 1945 — are part of a church or other religious body. That percentage has declined from 78% two decades ago. Gallup’s study also found that 89% of traditionalists have a religious identity, compared with 68% of millennials, which it defines as those born between 1980 and 2000. “Not only are millennials less likely than older Americans to identify with a religion, but millennials who are religious are significantly less likely to belong to a church,” according to the report. “Fifty-seven percent of religious millennials belong to a church, compared with 65 percent or more in older generations.” “The vast majority of us think we should believe in something, that we should have some religious affiliation,” he said. “They’re not afraid of the label of religion, they’re just reluctant to engage in the activity. That ties into the larger problem in America where people aren’t joining stuff as much as they used to.” That lines up with an overall lack of interest in belonging, according to Harvard University political scientist Robert Putnam, whose 2000 book, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,” argued that Americans have been engaging less and less in communal social activities – bowling leagues, Rotary clubs, Boy Scouts, gardening clubs, book clubs and more — since the 1960s. Church attendance, Putnam told Religion News Service, has simply followed this downward trend. In fact, the data on the decline in church membership shares “almost exactly the same pattern of ups and downs” as engagement in secular civil society, he said. The Gallup study was based on telephone interviews of American adults from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Trend data on membership came from surveys of 2,000 adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. Results for 2016-2018 are based on interviews with 7,688 Americans. Results from 1998-2000 are based on interviews with 7,184 Americans. Both have a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point.

April 28, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog April 28, 2019 Well, it’s the Sunday after Easter. In my reading this week, I saw this online article about how you can tell it’s the Sunday after Easter. By the way #1 is not true this year. I am not taking the Sunday off. In fact, I am beginning a great new series on the Gospel of Mark. I hope you had a great Easter. Look forward to seeing you in church as we spend some time at the feet of Jesus as revealed by Mark. “How can you tell it's the Sunday after Easter? By Ken Sehested. Answer #10: There's not a lily in sight. #9: Walgreen's and K&B rotate the Easter candy to the sale tables and bring out the Mother's Day cards and gift ideas. #8: You'll have no trouble finding a seat (even if you're late for worship). #7: You'll have no trouble finding a parking place (even if you're late for worship). #6: There is a very noticeable relaxing of the dress code. #5: The number of visitors drops dramatically. #4: The number of people who look like visitors but are actually church members who haven't been here for a while drops dramatically. #3: Everyone is glad to wait another 12 months before singing "Up From the Grave He Arose." #2: The choir recycles an old anthem. #1: The preacher takes a Sunday off.”

April 21, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog Happy Easter April 21, 2019 I want to begin my blog by wishing everyone a HAPPY EASTER. Easter is the high point of our Christian year and it is no exception this year. I am writing my blog on Monday, April 15. As I sit here in my church office, there are three things that I am struck by from this past weekend: The first one for me is Palm Sunday and Holy Week. The other two are Tiger Woods and Game of Thrones. I can pretty much bet that the world is focused on Tiger Woods and Game of Thrones rather than it being Holy Week. I have a few thoughts on these three. First, for us golf fans, the Masters Tournament will be celebrated in the decades to come as one of the greatest comebacks, not just in golf, but in sports history. Americans love a great comeback story, particularly when there was a great deal of doubt that Tiger could ever win again, let alone win a major golf tournament again. The nay-sayers kept nay-saying right up until the conclusion of the 18th hole in the final round on Sunday. Then the expression was, “I can’t believe this happened…even though Tiger Woods has been saying “I’m going to win again” for a while now. The golf analysts put up all the stats yesterday: 15 Majors, 5 Masters Titles, and 81 Tour Victories. Quite the golf and sports resume. But as I was celebrating all of this Sunday afternoon, along with so many others, the Holy Spirit began speaking to me and drawing parallels with Jesus and Holy Week. The greatest comeback story for us as Christians is certainly Jesus Christ after what happened to Him on Friday and the outcome on Sunday morning. Holy Week weekend will be remembered eternally. Let a golf tournament top that. After Good Friday, many doubted Jesus would rise from the dead, even though Jesus had been saying for a while that He would. And even after Sunday morning, the nay-sayers said, “I can’t believe this happened.” Sound familiar. And these included those closest to Him, His disciples. As for stats. Check these out two. The greatest of all time. One Crucifixion. One Resurrection. Now, as for all the hub-bub around HBO’s television series “Game of Thrones,” there is much gossip and speculation as to who will win the “Iron Throne” in the final season. There was a big article about all of it in the Life Section of the Sunday edition of the Jacksonville Times-Union paper. I must confess that I have not watched the series, but according to the paper, here is what I missed: Andrew Dalton writes “Living in Westeros can really change a person. Those who survived the first seven seasons of ‘Game of Thrones’ have seen their parents, children, and even pets stabbed, disemboweled and beheaded. They’ve been burned and frozen. They’ve lost essential body parts. Some have been through death and back, others suffered the horrors of puberty. Occasionally, they’ve been allowed some triumph.” After reading all of that and thinking…humorously…just what I want on my mind when I am getting ready for bed, the Holy Spirit turned my mind away from all the human imaginations and intrigue of which we are capable and back to Holy Week and the reality of the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords. As Christians, we don’t have to speculate about who will sit on the Throne of Heaven in the end. We know. But I must say…it was quite a weekend…and I can share all the spiritual stuff…however, on a human level, I really enjoyed the golf.

April 14, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog April 14, 2019 Palm Sunday As you know, I’m always looking for interesting stories that help illustrate pertinent and instructive points and ideas that can assist us in our faith journey. I found a story that gives us food for thought, so I thought I would share it with you for Palm Sunday. Claire McGarry who wrote a Devotional titled “With Our Savior: Family Devotions for Lent,” shared this story in regard to Palm Sunday. “In Antigua, Guatemala, the people line the cobblestone streets with sawdust during Holy Week. They don’t just dump the sawdust in piles and spread it out. They dye it all different colors and painstakingly place it in the most intricate patterns. They invest so much energy and love in the process, it takes them from sunset on Holy Thursday to sunrise on Good Friday to finish. When they’re done, it’s the most stunning site! Every street looks like it’s lined with the most exotic oriental carpets, from one end to the other. It’s their way of reenacting Palm Sunday. Like the people in Jesus’ time lined the road with cloaks and palms for his entrance into Jerusalem, the Guatemalans create a pathway worthy of a king. It makes what comes next all the more shocking. In an instant, the Good Friday Posadas (Processions) tromp through the sawdust carpets, destroying all the hard work and beauty in their wake. This part reenacts how, in an instant, the people went from hailing Jesus a king, to abandoning him and demanding he be crucified.” My how quickly things in life can change depending on circumstances. One day the crowd is with Jesus, the next day they are not. One day our faith in Jesus is at an all-time high, the next day, it is at an all-time low. God calls us to be steady and constant in our faith and witness to Christ. God calls us to not be like a boat that is blown here and there in the wind. This Holy Week, let our faith in Christ be firm and unshakable.

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.”

March 31, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog March 31, 2019 As we work our way through “40 Days to Rock our Church” one of the important aspects of these 40 days is improving our relationship with God and how we can better communicate with Him through prayer. I read an article this week in another Lenten Devotional titled “Turning In” found in “With Our Savior: Family Devotions During Lent” by Claire McGarry. It talks about prayer and makes a great, but very simple point and I thought I would share it with you. “But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6. “If my kids watch too much TV, their imaginations get drowned out by the babble of their shows. After the TV is turned off, that deafness has them wandering around complaining their bored. Yet when a recent snowstorm knocked down the power lines, the silence had them immediately turning to their creative sides. They built amazing Lego structures and vehicles, and spun a storyline so intricate, that it lasted for hours. It can be the same with our prayers. If we’re just shouting them out to impress others, we’re drowning out our ability to tune into our Savior. It’s not until we go someplace quiet, and open our ears and hearts, that we’re rewarded with the blessing of hearing His voice.” With our Savior let’s pray: “Dear God, quiet my mind so I can hear your whispers in my heart.” Amen.

March 24, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog March 24, 2019 Let me share another thought from our Lenten Devotional “40 Days with Jesus: Celebrating His Presence” by Sarah Young. She wrote this devotional as if Jesus is speaking to you personally. “SEEK MY FACE, and you will find all that you have longed for. The deepest yearnings of your heart are for intimacy with Me. I know, because I designed you to desire Me. Do not feel guilty about taking time to be still in My presence. You are simply responding to the tugs of divinity within you. I made you in My image, and I hid heaven in your heart. Your yearning for Me is a form of homesickness: longing for your true home in heaven. Do not be afraid to be different from other people. The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading, the more fully I can develop your gifts. To follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your desire to please other people. However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world. As the deer pants for the streams of water; so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5. For Reflection: Philippians 2:15”

March 17, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog March 17, 2019 A Thought from our Lenten Devotional “40 Days with Jesus: Celebrating His Presence” by Sarah Young. The author wrote this devotional as if Jesus was speaking to you personally. “Thankfulness opens the door to My presence. Though I am always with you, I have gone to great measures to preserve your freedom of choice. I have place a door between you and Me, and I have empowered you to open or close that door. There are many ways to open it, but a grateful attitude is one of the most effective. Thankfulness is built on a substructure of trust. When thankful words stick in your throat, you need to check up on your foundation of trust. When thankfulness flows freely form your heart and lips, let your gratitude draw you closer to Me. I want you to learn the art of giving thanks in all circumstances. See how many times you can thank me daily; this will awaken your awareness to a multitude of blessings. It will also cushion the impact of trials when they come against you. Practice My Presence by practicing the discipline of thankfulness. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18”