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.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Easter 2018

Easter Sunrise Service

There was a cold wind and a glimmer of sunlight.

The bird came, as usual.

Finally, the sun burst through, bright and warm, just as we said, "Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed, Hallelujah!"

Our annual picture.

Later, after worship, we celebrated a birthday.