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Category Archives: Newsletter Article

First Service

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them”-Dietrich Bonhoeffer-Life together

How many of us listen to each other?  Really listen.  We might hear what someone else is saying to us, but do we hear them, or do we think we know what they said?

Most of us will hear 3 – 4 words of someone speaking to us and then start formulating what we are going to say.  We will hear where a sentence starts and then begin working on our come back, what we will respond with. In doing this, you are no longer listening, but are paying attention to yourself.  This is one of the first things I work on with couples that I am working through premarital counseling with.  Communication is the basis for every relationship, and if you are not communicating there is no basis for that relationship. This is why we pray, to communicate with God.  Part of this should be silence to listen for what God has to say to us.  We need to listen not only to get to know the other person, but we need to listen, because that is what we have to do in order to communicate.  In order to know how we need to respond we have to listen, and hear what is said to us. Then and only then can we respond with a response that is one that will build the relationship. It may not always be what the other person wants to hear, but it will build the relationship if it is spoken in truth and love after listening and hearing what was said. If we listen and hear, then we will get to know more about the person and grow deeper in relation to them.

That is what Bonhoeffer tells us in the quote above.  We owe it to others to listen to them. We need to hear them and to love them by being quiet and not formulating a response while they are talking.  To hear them as we hear His word.

So the next time you are listening, listen and hear. Grow in relation to others.

 

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Open and welcoming

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
This past month I was involved in Footloose the musical at Abrams Spotlight Productions. “It was a terrifying experience and it was exhilarating,” to quote my character Reverend Shaw Moore. I have been thinking about doing a production for a while now as several of St. John’s members had been involved and I know a few people who have been in productions and are involved with the theater. Plus I also know several colleagues who do theater. I have played for musicals in the past and will in the future, but this was my first venture onto the stage to have a role in a production. I was worried about how I would do and how I would be accepted.
What I learned at Abrams Spotlight Productions is the theater is what the world show be like. You see the world is made up of all kinds of people. Some are funny and some are serious. Some are short and some are tall. Some can sing and some can sing in their cars. Some can dance, and then there is me. Some of them believe in God and some of them don’t. But the world is full of people who are different. And we should, as followers of Christ, be accepting of others where they are and not try to make them fit into any mold or act a certain way. We should look on them with love and as more significant than ourselves. And to be honest, the theater is one of the first places I have found this.
Everyone at the theater didn’t judge me because I was a pastor, or an outsider. They welcomed me as a co creator in the world we were becoming so that everyone could forget about their troubles for a couple hours. They didn’t worry about if I was good enough, they gave me my part and helped me along the way. They didn’t think I would pull the down because it was my first time, they empowered me to be the best I could be. They didn’t judge me, they accepted me and made me a better version of myself. And that my friends is what we should be doing as the church.
So let us accept everyone as they are, because that is what God did for you, and let us take a look at how we act towards others, and be a bit more like the theater, open and welcoming of every one, because we all are made in the image of God and we all have a gift to give.
I offer you the opportunity I had at the theater, to welcome as God welcomed you, without judgement and openly as people are.

 

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Gather ~ Grow ~ Go

Now is the time to GROW!

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

According to Charis’ seventh-grade teacher, it is past time to be planting here, “if this was a usual May.” We all know this was not a usual May…

So maybe we are behind doing what we need to be doing…

But my thoughts are to warmer days ahead and a wonderful time of vacation from school and a summer full of fun and time in the sun!

This is not a bad thing to have on the radar screen as we head into the months ahead. But it could be bad if we forget what we are about, people of St. John’s…

You see I have our mission statement at the top of this, Gather ~ Grow ~ Go.  This summer we might miss some gathering, and that is ok. We all need time away and I will be away some times during our gatherings. That is life and we need that time with our families.

We will be going this summer to many places, and hopefully being true witnesses to the love we have received.

But in the midst of all this going, we can still be growing! Now is the time to set our sights upon God and to discover how we will stay connected as we work towards being disconnected!

We need to always be seeking how we will be growing in the grace and knowledge of God. If you need some help see me before you go this summer! But I pray you will be connected to God as you disconnect to recharge in these months ahead!

 

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I Can Do all Things…

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength is one of my favorite verses in the bible.

Paul wrote it to the Philippians as he was thanking them for their concern for him and his ministry. They have financially supported him as he traveled to spread the gospel. He thanks them for their financial support and for their prayers.

He then goes on to explain to them that he has learned to live in any circumstance because he knows that God is always with him and his Savior will give him strength. “for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11b-13)

I was reminded of this verse, because it is on my desk, given to me by my wife in the midst of strife at a previous call to remind me it is not about me, or my situation, it is about who I serve…

This verse does not mean that all of the bad stuff will just go away. It does give us the assurance that no matter what we face that God will always be with us. No matter what trials might be in front of us, or what valley we might be walking through, God is always there with us, giving us the strength to go on. We have been through a lot here at St. John’s since I arrived over 5 years ago, and as a congregation, you went through a lot more in your history before that. We are a testimony to being able to make it through with God. Easter reminded us of the love God has for all of us and how God has given us lives to share. We are a group of people ready to go where God is leading us, relying on Him to see us through. We may not be able to see the end, but we know who is leading us, and walking with us, and because of that, we are able to step out in faith!

I see a body of believers who are prayerful and committed to the mission God has called us to. So let us come together and support each other and pray for each other, and walk boldly with our God into this place and be His hands and feet. Knowing that we do not go alone, but together as brothers and sisters, and with Christ who will be our strength, and give us everything we need.

So let’s step out in faith, knowing that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength!

 

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Alle…

Alle…

Oops. Hold on…

As you are reading this article it is still Lent. But it is April and Spring and it should be Easter!

And yes that celebration is coming. This year Easter is almost as late as it can be. The latest Easter can be is April 25.

We are in that already but not yet, we already know that Jesus will rise from the dead, or has risen. Even though now we are in the waiting of Lent.

And isn’t that really the life of the Christian, the disciple of Jesus. We are already living eternally with God through our baptism, yet we are still here stuck in our sinfulness.

Already, but not yet.

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known, Paul tells the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 13:12) We are there but can’t see it all around us, and yet we are not quite there yet. We know that we are a part of the kingdom, but we can’t fully understand it yet.

Just like St. John’s here and now moving forward following the path God has put before us. Seemingly unsure about what has happened and what might happen next. But I have been there several times, where you really can’t see that next step because of the fog or the haze or your vision is unclear. And that is the time we come together and step out in faith.

So hold on, and know the promises are true, just as we know in a few days we can again say Alleluia!

Christ is Risen!

 

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Plans for a future and a hope…

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Have you ever wondered if there was a plan for your life? Or how about a plan for us here at St. John’s?

Like there seems to be a road map that your life is following only you have never seen it…

Jeremiah is an interesting book that starts with a calling to a boy who says he is too young and unable to speak, leading through to many conversations with him and many peoples for God. All of this leads to the verse above in chapter 29.

God knows the plans He has for each and every one of us and for this place, plans for us to prosper and not fall, plans for a future and a hope. That hope is Jesus Christ! He is the future and the hope each of us can base our lives on, He is the map that will lead us to where we need to go. If we will follow where He is leading us our lives and the path for St. John’s will be clear. It may not always be easy but it will be clear for us.

St. John’s has a future and a hope. Let us focus together on where God is leading us and let us pull together and follow after Him.

So remember to notice where Jesus is working, to share that and invite others to come and see and to always keep Jesus in view, and be ready for the ride of your life as we continue to His wonderful mission here in this place!

 

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How might God work through this…

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I’m sitting at my desk as 2018 is coming to a close and I am thinking about all the things that happened this past year. Even the night before I write this article, we lost a council member who resigned their position early and transferred to another congregation. And it is so easy to get into the bog of why did I mess that up. What if I had only done this. Maybe if I had done that things would have been different. I should have done that and I could have done this. In the words of my Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor most times we should and could ourselves to death!

You see we can wonder how things would or could be different if we had done things differently, or they might have happened the same way anyhow. That is not to say to not be focused on what God wants us to do, but that is really the focus. You see last night I also had a very wise woman, one who has helped me look back to God many times before said to me, “Let’s not look at how bad we might have messed this up, let’s look at how God might work through this.”

You see as Romans states above, God works through all things to bring about good. That doesn’t mean that all things will be good, but that God works through all things to bring good. So how can God use your current situation or this coming year to work through for His good?

Lay this coming year in His hands and know that everything will be good in His time. So let’s look at how God might work through this!

 

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