Monday, May 21, 2018

The Book that Matters Most

My book club recently read a book titled, "The Book That Matters Most," by Anne HoodThe premise of the story is a book club where members chose their books for the year as the "book that mattered most" to each member of the group.  
I found that idea intriguing and tried to answer the question for myself.  My answer -- The Bible, no contest.  This book describes the life of Jesus, our Saviour. It includes his instructions to us on how to live, loving God and our neighbour, how to pray, how to forgive and how to trust in our Heavenly Father. 
     It contains the writings of early Christian leaders to guide the church as it proclaims Christ in the world today, and it ends with a vision of heaven.

 And that is only the New Testament.  Going back into the Old Testament we find a whole range of terrific stories, heroes of the faith like Daniel, obedient servants of God like Noah. Rahab, who risked her life to help the people of God.  Sarah who became the mother of a nation.
Then there are the beautiful psalms, songs of adoration, supplication, joy, sorrow, fear and thanksgiving.  If you can't find the words to express how you feel, read the psalms. I'm sure you'll find the verse that makes you say, "yes, that's it!"  
Of course, I've only given a few examples of the wonderful words and stories of the Bible.  If you had to choose a "desert island book," the Bible would be it.  You could read it again and again and find something more on each pass through the text.
 In fact, that is how Harry Swiggum, developer of the Bethel Bible Series found his life's work.  Stationed on a Pacific Island during World War II, he read the only book at hand, The Gideon's Bible issued to every serviceman.  When he'd gone from Genesis to Revelations, he started over, and over and over.  The Bible changed his life. When the war ended, he became an ordained minister.  He developed the Bethel Bible Study Series and changed the lives of millions of people.
In Hood's book the readers choose books like Anna Karenina, Pride and Prejudice, and Catcher in the Rye, among authors. According to the author's story, these books were important to particular people at a particular time.  It's a fun concept and we had a great time discussing favourite books at our meeting.
 But even the greatest classics, are a dim flicker of life compared to our Holy Bible.  You can pick up a copy, at SPPC.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Newcomers Lunch


We found another excuse to have cake after church -- actually, we had a whole hot lunch. 

   The occasion was to welcome newcomers and to thank volunteers.  Of course, we welcome newcomers any time, but now and again, the fellowship committee likes to offer a corporate welcome,  That's what happened last Sunday.

    As for the volunteers . . . they made the lunch!  The church, indeed the whole of society, cannot function without those who give of their time and talent.  At SPPC we have people who make coffee, do dishes, cut the grass, visit the sick, bring flowers, sing in the choir, keep the books, count the collection, run the sound
system . . .  Just off the top of her head, our clerk of session (another volunteer) made a list of thirty-six functions filled by volunteers.  She said she was sure there was more and there is.  She left off the blog, and I'm enormously grateful to anyone who contributes, as a volunteer, to this page. 
This year Linda has blessed us with her book reviews every month.  Her offering started as a birthday present to me, but everyone, including Linda, has benefited from her gift. 

   That's the way it is with volunteering.  Most often the one who benefits most is the volunteer him/herself.  I hope our newcomers will soon feel at home and ready to share their gifts with the "oldcomers."  Then our congregation will grow in spirit as well as numbers.

   Welcome everyone, and thank you.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Book Review by Linda Cliff

Confessions of a Prayer Slacker
By Diane Moody

This book was a new venture for me in that I got the book as a free download from the internet.  This did make me wonder if the book would be worth reading since it is “free”.  The good news is you too can download the book from the net because the book is well worth reading!

I have to admit that at the start of this book, I really thought the author came off as a little too casual and flippant for my tastes. I thought I would not like this at all. However, after persevering, I found much that was helpful, in spite of her writing style. I was reminded how important it is to carve out of our busy and distracting days, a special time of devotion. I was challenged to not neglect my personal time of prayer and conversation with the Lord.

Early in the book the author asks the question “just how badly do you want to spend time with God in prayer” I found that this question helped me to change my attitude to subsequent chapters.  If you are serious about spending time in prayer then the "how to" information about setting up a prayer journal and how we can set aside time for prayer will be helpful.  I found the chapters “When God is Silent” and “Prayerlessness” interesting as the topics were discussed in a way that was easy to relate to. 

Moody uses Bible references and references from other Christian authors to illustrate her points witch stimulated my interest in doing some further reading.    She was also very open and honest in sharing her own successes and failures in her pursuit of prayer.  This helped to make the book feel more like a conversation with a friend rather than a "how to" book that had to be followed to the letter.

Well, the book has made a difference to my prayer life.  The biggest take away for me was about finding and taking the time for a regular prayer life, and understanding that this is time spent with God;  time for me to learn more about Him, to grow in His love and to develop a personal relationship with my God and Saviour. 

Good read and only a download away!

Linda Cliff

Monday, April 30, 2018

Lesson of the Hot Water Tank

April Birthdays
 I'm a bit late with the April birthday celebrations because there has been so many other events at the church.  So, here on the last day of the month, are the photos of our April birthday party.  Sorry if I caught you with your mouth open. 

Now on to other things. Thanks to Judith for this week's blog.

The floor in our laundry room had water seeping from under a cabinet, next to the hot water tank.  Hubby saw it first and asked if I had spilled water or touched the nozzle on the tank.  I said I had, so it was probably me.  upon further investigations, it was determined our hot water tank was
leaking.  the sludge that came out of the connectors and water coming out of the bottom of the tank was filthy.  Which brings me to this thought.  We might look clean and new on the outside, but on the inside are filled with rotten thoughts, actions and deeds.  It's only through daily scripture reading and thoughtful prayer and actions can we stay clean inside our hearts and minds.

I've had this little story in my file folder for some time, waiting for the right week to post it here.  I've shared it with you now because I think it's a perfect example of discipleship and our Bible Study is beginning a new session called "Discipleship Explored."  The course is presented by the same ministry that produced "Life Explored," which we used last year.  The session begin with a video presentation that includes Biblical references, real life stories and questions for discussion.  There is also a workbook.
If you've been wondering about joining one of the Bible Study Groups, I encourage you to try this one.  Each session is independent so it won't matter if you miss one here or there.  You can watch it all on the internet but there is great joy in studying the Gospel with others.  Sessions are on Wednesdays 9:30 am or 7:00 pm.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Report from Dominican Republic

Following worship on Sunday, the congregation was treated to a lunch and a presentation from the mission team, newly returned from their trip to the Dominican Republic.
The food was representative of the DR including lots of fruit and salad as well as a very spicy meatball over rice.  As you can see the table was full to overflowing and I saw some people going back for seconds.

The team then presented a report on their time away and how they saw the resources we had sent with them put to good use.  Building is always part of a mission trip to the DR.  Building with fairly primitive tools, including a bucket brigade to transport bricks sand and cement up, down and over rough terrain.  This year, the Big Project was a meeting room, with a cement floor, block walls, plumbing, and wiring, with a prayer room included.  With no compacter to prepare the ground, a truck, full of volunteers was driven back and forth over the gravel bed.

While the building part of the mission is big and exciting and tangible, there were other moments in the trip that left a lasting impression on our team and on the people they met there.  One of the ministers who will be using the prayer room, was a man who'd freely used drugs and alcohol before finally opening a Bible -- a gift that had sat on his shelf for years.  God's Word, led him to Christ and he is now a minister, preaching the gospel and working to save other young lives.
One of the joys of working in the DR is the children.  Our team was swarmed daily, by children who craved hugs.  In families that are too large, too poor, too broken there is often no time for cuddling the little ones.  Those moments of affection portrayed God's love for all His people, both the hugger and the huggee.
We also heard stories of the effectiveness of school sponsorships. The team personally met five people who are going to school because of sponsorships from people in our congregation. House Upon the Rock is a very hands-on organization. If you want to see what happens with the money you give, they'll show you. Our team saw the bricks that were bought with money they'd raised.  They saw the shelves filled to overflowing with the medicines they'd brought and they saw people receiving those medicines.  

And they'll show you how those donations answer prayers.

The last day.  Two weeks looks like a long time when you're on an overnight plane ride.  When you're involved in God's work, the time flies past.  As the team said their good-bye they were able to look upon the work they had done in preparing the floor and staring the walls for the meeting room.  Amazing accomplishments in only two weeks. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Vision 20/20

Sunday morning Roy gave a presentation on Vision 20/20.  This is an initiative from Session aimed at charting a course for the future for SPPC.  Roy called it "looking forward" with the hope that the finished product could also be called "forward looking."

All institutions, including the church, need to examine themselves from time to time to ensure they are relevant to the time and place they inhabit.  A strong church community that seeks to grow the Kingdom of God is always relevant but we can examine the tools we use to achieve that purpose and see if there are better ways.

One of the areas Session has considered,  and asks the congregation to consider as well, is transitions.  The demographic of our community at large and our church in particular is aging.  Eventually we are all going to face a transition from:

  • Good health --- not so good health
  • Life Partner ---- no partner
  • Mobility -------- poorer mobility
  • Independence --- more dependence
  • Confidence/Security -- less confident/secure
  • All these transitions are difficult
As our congregation looks for ways to minister to our own members and to those outside our membership, discussion and assistance with these transitions may be an opportunity for service.

The congregation also needs to consider the question of who and when.  Session cannot implement a new direction, no matter how positive, without the support and commitment of individual congregants.  Now is the time to share that great idea you've been pondering for the past little while.  Now is the time to volunteer your time and talent.  Even if your circumstances limit your physical abilities, Session craves your prayers.  They are always possible -- and powerful.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Book Review - The Great Divorce

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

reviewed by Linda Cliff.

I did not find The Great Divorce an easy read.  I am a literal person and the story is written as a fantasy so it took me awhile to get into the spirit of the book.  The good news is that the book is short so rereading parts of it did not seem to be burdensome. 
Divorce is written in the first person voice—apparently the voice of Lewis himself. We don’t know how long he was in the Grey Town (hell), but he seems to have recently arrived. He observes that Grey Town is a dreary place and the inhabitants are dour, quarrelsome, and cynical. There is no tormenting fire, and in fact no punishment at all; it turns out that they live here because they choose to live here.
Lewis encounters a number of inhabitants on their way to catch a bus for a visit to another place (you might call it heaven), and Lewis joins them. From this point much of the story revolves around conversations Lewis observes between the inhabitants on the bus and him, each other, and the inhabitants of the place they visit. The conversations  are filled with human insight and well worth reading; you might even see yourself in some of the discussions.
Each visitor from the bus meets someone from their previous life and has a conversation with them. These people are seen as solid people while the vistors from the bus are called ghosts.  The solid people try to convince the visitors that they should stay in this new world, that there are glories to be opened to them.  It is through these conversation that Lewis reveals Gods word .  These conversations give the reader a view of what the afterlife could be like.  Since the book is a fantasy, the reader is asked to look at hell in a way they may not have considered prior to reading this book.
Divorce is thought provoking and will change your thinking. Some of the reviews I read of the book stated that readers changed their persepectives on hell.  The book was written in 1957 which is a much different time from today so this book challenged the traditional views of that time.  I would say that if you read this book you will also find your views challenged.  I will leave you with one quote from the book to reflect upon.
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it.