Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hello from Lithuania

Dear Ed and Church family:

Arrived safely.This week we are participating in an orientation session.
I am healthy and happy.

Praise the Lord.
Shirley Deluca

I will contact you later.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sermon: Suppose We Get It All Right

Luke 9:51-62 - 51And it happened, when the day of his assumption was always complete, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers before his face. And after they went, they went into a Samaritan illage to make things ready for him. 53And they didn’t welcome them, because his face was set to go to  Jerusalem. 54And when his disciples saw, James and John said to him, “Lord, do you want us to order fire to come down from heaven and to annihilate them?” 55But Jesus turned and rebuked them sternly. 56And they went into another village.

57And when they were going on the road, a certain person said to him, “I will follow you wherever you might go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have burrows and the birds of the heavens nests, but the son of man has no where to rest his head.” 59And he said to another, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, allow me to go first and bury my father.” 60But [Jesus] said to him, “Let the dead bury themselves, but you go and spread the news of the Kingdom of God. 61And also another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first allow me to say goodbye to my household.” 62But Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand upon the plough and who’s looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

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Now, as y’all who’ve been coming to services for the last couple of months probably know, lately most of my sermons have dealt with one very definite question: How can we as a congregation share the good news of Jesus Christ to all those people on the other side of the stained glass? Now that’s been our focus, and as we’ve talked about it, we’ve considered some of the things that we might have to change to accomplish that, and I’m talking about changing some of the songs we sing and some of the words we use and some of the structure we follow, even the priorities we set, we may need to change some of that stuff so that we might communicate better with folks outside our group. And doing that, well it won’t be easy, because we’ll be changing some of the very things with which we’ve been comfortable for years, things that a lot of us don’t want to see changed until we die, right?

Now, that’s what we’ve been talking about. Now suppose we do it. I mean, suppose we get all inspired by the Holy Spirit and literally fired up about telling as many people as we can about the love and grace of Jesus in a language that they can actually understand. Suppose we as a congregation make maybe the most important decision we could make, that’s it’s no longer enough to invite people in here; instead that we need to do what Jesus and his disciples did, we need to take the church out there. Suppose we do all this and suppose we get it all right; we do exactly what God wants us to do. We change. We reach out. Man, we start doing it.

And then, nothing happens. Nothing happens in our community. Nothing happens with the people for whom we’ve made all these painful changes. And nothing happens within our church, outside of two things that aren’t so hot. First, some of our members simply decide to stop coming anymore, because they don’t like the changes we’ve made. You see, they wanted to keep things the way they’ve always been and so they decide to go to a more “traditional” place. That’s one. And second, some of the other people, and I’m talking about some who don’t leave but who are also very unhappy, again by the changes, they decide to share their unhappiness with anyone who’ll listen, creating a negative atmosphere and a lot of “drama” that no one likes.

Now, suppose these are the only things we can see as a result of the changes we make, now, how are we going to feel? Discouraged, frustrated, irritated, maybe angry, probably. And with those feelings churning around, what are we going to do, of course after we erase all the changes and go back to the way church is suppose to be? Well, we’re probably not going to do much outreach. Of course, we’ll still be inviting and welcoming, but from now on, the goal will be to get people to come here, right, and when or if they come, they’re going to need to learn our ways, our language, our prayers, our responses, if they plan to stay: no more changing for them, they should change for us. That’s one thing we’ll do. And of course, we’ll probably also look for someone to blame for this mess. I mean, right along with those who pushed for this kind of thing, we can certainly blame those who didn’t respond to our help. It’s their fault too. And so, in response to our failure, it’s going to be really, and I mean really tempting to pull inside and become an island, or better a refuge for those who want to get away from the rat race for a while. Now, I honestly think this is the kind thing that may happen when we change so that we can take the gospel out into the world, and we don’t see the results we expect. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

And if that happens, you know what it’ll show? It’ll show that the world really hasn’t changed all that much in the last two thousand years. I mean, look at the passage we just read from Luke. Here we’ve got Jesus Christ and his disciples going out to the people, you know, going out to where they lived and they started to share something that was new and exciting. And he did it in a new way, using language and images that were different. In fact, it was so different that he ticked off the Pharisees and the scribes and the priests. In other words, what Jesus said and did was so unlike anything you’d expect to hear in a synagogue that the most traditional people in God’s creation decided that this guy needed to be shut up. Now, that’s what Jesus and his group were doing.

I’ll tell you, they were challenging people to change a whole lot more than their of songs or words or structures: man, they were calling people to change the fundamental way they related to God. Now, that’s radical, but that’s exactly what Jesus did. And just think about the response, just think about the results. Outside of picking up a few followers, by in large, it was not very impressive by any standard. As a minister told me once, at the end of his ministry, Jesus had twelve people left: one betrayed him, one denied him, and the rest ran away. Not what you’d call successful ministry.

As a matter of fact, when he was out there, doing his work and I’m sure facing the criticism, he ran into a lot of the same folks we’re going to see when we reach beyond ourselves. For example, he faced people I like to call, the “no wayers,” you know, folks like the ones in the Samaritan village
who wouldn’t welcome him because he was heading to Jerusalem. And I’ll tell you, we know the type ourselves, because we see them every day. They’re the people who, for whatever reason, have already decided that they want nothing to with Jesus or the church or Christians. Therefore, regardless of what we do or how we do it, there’s no way in heaven or on earth that they’re going to welcome us. They just don’t like us: no way, no how.

And I’ll tell you, those are some of the ones who are going to frustrate us the most; because we’re going to feel that they don’t appreciate all the good we’re trying to do for them. And because of that, although we may not pray that God send down fire from heaven, we’re probably going to judge them and convict them and dismiss them. You see what I mean? There’s all kinds of “no wayers” out there.

But to tell the truth, there may be even more “yes, butters,” men and women who are exactly like the three people Jesus met as he was heading down the road. For instance, the more we reach out into the world, the more folks we’re going to run into people who’ll say, “I will follow you wherever you might go.” And that’s going to feel really good, until we hear them say the same thing to the guy who drives the ice cream truck. You see, they’ll follow anyone who promises to give them something, whether it’s a nutty-buddy or eternal salvation. And right beside them will be all the people who may express an interest in what we’re selling, but really have some priority issues. I mean, they’ll say things like, “I’d like to be involved in the church, but you know I play softball Saturday evening and Sunday’s the only day I have to sleep-in.” Or they say, “I’d like to be a Christian, but that stuff about sin really makes me uncomfortable.” Or “I’d like to follow Jesus, just so long as he does walk too fast or go too far.” In other words, “if you leave my priorities and my values and my prejudices alone I’ll be right with you, brother.” And of course, beside them are the ones who seem ready to back into the future. For them, faith is reliving their past, you know that time when all the women were strong, all the men were good looking and all the children were above average. You see, what I mean by “yes, butters?” And take it to the bank, along with the “no wayers,” these are some of the people we can expect to meet when we go out into the world.

And that’s something I can say with as close to certainty as I can come, because like I said, these are the same people that according to Luke, Jesus met. And for that reason, how he dealt with them just might offer some direction to us. For example, when he came across some “no wayers” in that Samaritan village, I think it’s really important for us remember what he did. I mean, when those ticked off disciples wanted to turn their village into toast, first Jesus rebuked them, in other words, told them to shut-up, and second, he just went to another village. And that’s something we can sure do too. When people are less than welcoming to our outreach, instead of getting all bent out of shape and start talking about them and judging them, maybe we should calmly move on to someone else. Good night, I think we’ll find plenty of other people in town who could use a little good news and who knows, maybe the folks who rejected us, maybe they weren’t ready to receive what we have to offer. But tomorrow, after the spirit has prepared the soil...who knows. Now, that’s how Jesus handled rejection and so can we.

And what about the “yes, butters,” you know, the ones who’s ability to dedicate themselves may have become confused and distorted by their desires and their priorities and their past? Well, I think Jesus gives us some direction here too. I mean, to the one who’s dedication may have been a little more focused on self than on Christ, I mean he was the only one of the three who didn’t call Jesus “Lord,” to him, Jesus was remarkably honest. He laid it right on the line, and he told it exactly the way it is. “The foxes have burrows and the birds of the heavens nests, but the son of man has no where to rest his head.” Man, he didn’t make any promises that God would have to fulfill. Instead, he told the man the truth. He didn’t blow smoke. He didn’t make any deals. And he didn’t tell him a lot of stuff that he wanted to hear. He was honest, something that we can be too.

And to the one who’s spirit was willing but whose priorities were fixed, Jesus was very clear. “Let the dead bury themselves, but you go and spread the news of the Kingdom of God.” You know, the uncomfortable reality is this: if we’re going to follow Jesus our priorities are going to have to change. And so will our values and assumptions and prejudices. In other words, according to Jesus, what we think, feel and want don’t automatically become Christian when we believe. And he sure didn’t say otherwise just to make this guy feel good. They may need to change, something about which Jesus was clear and so can we.

And finally, just think about what he said to the guy who couldn’t shake the past. “No one who puts his hand upon the plough and who’s looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Of course, when you think about it, that guy’s not fit for plowing either. It’s like driving a tractor facing backwards, not the most productive way to prepare your field. You see, Jesus never lost his focus. Even when this potential followers wanted to look back, maybe even go back to the past, our savior was focused on the future. Honesty, clarity and focus, that’s how Jesus dealt with those who said “yes, but,” and friends so can we.

Of course, even if we do all this stuff, we’re still going to be disappointed if the changes that we make don’t seem to have the impact we expect. In fact, when it happens, I think we may be really ticked and ready to abandon the road we know Christ has called us to walk. But before we do that, I think it’s important to remember that not only did Jesus face the same kind of situation himself, but he also left some things that we can apply and follow. For example, when some reject what we offer, we can decide to just move on to someone else. And when folks put conditions on their willingness to accept and follow, we can be honest and clear and focused. You see, those are some things we can actually do, even when we get everything else right.

Friday, June 25, 2010

But I Followed the Instructions

There are few things that frustrate me more than following the instructions and then having the thing being assembled look like a mess. And as Debbie can tell you, I'm frustrated a lot. As a matter of fact, Maggie has a mess of misshapen toys that should look just like what's pictured on the box but don't. If there was any justice, I should get something for trying, but that's not the way it is. If you confuse part "6" with part "9," the doll house is probably not going to come out right.

Of course, this situation doesn't just apply to toys. In life sometimes it seems that things go wrong even when we've done everything right. But even though we know this kind of thing is going to happen, it's still frustrating. And you know, if it happens enough in any one particular area, it's pretty easy just to give up trying. I mean, how many plastic pieces do you have to break because you tried to force them into a space where they don't belong or how many times can you ask for help only to be ignore, how many times does that kind of thing need to happen before you say the heck with it and go on with your life. It's amazing; failure has the remarkable ability to prevent progress.

And if we're not careful, it can happen within our church and our spiritual lives as well. For example, it's easy to get ticked off when we, as a congregation, try to reach out or as individuals, engage in some spiritual discipline and then see no positive result. Not only can that leave us confused and frustrated, it can actually lead us to circle the wagons and pull within. Of course, when we do this, we are moving away from what Christ has called us to do and to be. And for that reason, during the services on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, we're going to consider how we can deal with situations when things just don't go as planned.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cove Proud of Scholarship Winners

Cove Presbyterian is proud of her scholarship winners. The Chad Pickens Scholarship Recipients were Amy Cattrell, Molly Cline, Christine Cummings, Joshua Cummings, Brandi Fish, Jenna Maine, Chad Marsh, and Eric Shaw. The Helen Hamill Scholarship Recipient is Douglas Kerr Jr.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Reasons for Thanks - Sunday, June 20, 2010

The following were shared during Sunday's services:
  • We are thankful for Kayla Cline who has attended church camp as a camper, counselor or director since she was in 3rd grade.
  • In spite of the "bumps in the road" that are upsetting and makes one nervous, I thank God for my many blessings.
  • For my wonderful dad John Hamp and for the single fathers. God bless!
  • Thanks to everyone who supported the youth group's car wash and bake sale. Approx. $300 was raised. AMEN

Sermon: Scarier than Frankenstein

Luke 8:26-39 - 26And they sailed to shore in the country of Gerasenes, which is on the shore opposite Galilee. 27And when [Jesus] went out upon the earth, a certain man from the town who had demons met him. And for a considerable time, he hadn’t worn clothes, and in a house he didn’t stay but in the tombs.


28And when he saw Jesus, he called out and fell down before him, and in a great voice, he said, “What have we to do with you, Jesus, son of God most high? I beg you, don’t torture me.” 29For he was already commanding the unclean spirit to come out from the person. For a long time it had held him, and he was bound in chains and fetters in order to guard him. And he’d break the bonds and be driven into the wilderness. 30And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him.

31And they urged [Jesus], so that he might not command them to go into the abyss. 32And there was a great herd of pigs feeding on the hillside. And they urged him so that he might command them to go into these. And he commanded them. 33And after the demons went out from the person, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the cliff into the lake, and they were drowned. 34And when the herdsmen saw what happened, they fled and reported in the town and in the fields.

35And they went out to see what had happened, and they went to Jesus, and they found the person from whom the demons went out, and he was clothed and of sound mind and he was sitting at the feet of Jesus, and they were afraid. 36And those who saw reported how the one who had been possessed by demons was saved. 37And the whole multitude from the country surrounding Gerasenes asked [Jesus] to go from there, because they were seized with great fear. And he went on board a boat and returned. 38And the man from whom the demons had gone out begged him to be with him. But [Jesus] sent him away, saying, 39“Return to your house and recount what God did for you.” And he went throughout the whole town, proclaiming what Jesus did for him.

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Of course this is Father’s Day, and for me, it’s pretty special, especially for the last eight years. You see, Maggie changed everything, and even though I think it’s blatantly unfair that the day for mothers is during the school year and when groups like Daisies and Brownies and Cub Scouts are still meeting so that kids can make all kinds of cute, crafty-kind-of-things for mom, I still look forward to this Sunday. You see, it gives me the chance to think about my relationship with my daughter.

And I’ll tell you, recently, it’s taken, well, you might say is an unusual turn. You see, in the last couple of months, Maggie and I have started watching horror movies together, but not the blood and guts stuff that’s out now-a-days, but the classic films, and I’m talking about the 1931 Frankenstein, you know the one with Boris Karloff. As a matter of fact, together we’ve seen Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, and House of Dracula, which also starred...the Wolf Man and Frankenstein. The only one we’re missing is Abbott and Costello Meets Frankenstein. Now, that’s what we’ve been watching, and we’ve had a great time. But of course before we started, Debbie thought that watching these movies might not be a great idea. You know, she was worried that they would give Maggie nightmares, because they might be too scary for her.

But I’ll tell you, if you want to talk about scary, each and every day Maggie is exposed to something a whole lot scarier than Frankenstein. In fact, it really doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve seen, there’s something that’s absolutely terrifying that we all face and it really comes down to one word: change. I’m telling you, change seems to scare the puddin’ out of folks. But of course, why shouldn’t it? I mean, think about Weirton, can you say this community has changed for the better in, oh let’s say, the last fifteen years? And what about Cove Presbytery Church? A couple of weeks ago, I had a person tell me that she’d had a conversation with a woman who doesn’t come here anymore, and as they were talking, the woman told her why she won’t come back. She said, “It’s just not the way it was twenty years ago.” Now, I don’t know about you, but that sure gives me a warm feeling inside, one of those affirming moments. But I’ve got to admit, I see where she’s coming from. Man, I had major surgery about three months ago, and although I’m a whole lot better than I was four months ago, my body just doesn’t work the same way it did for the last fifty-two and a half years and never will. You see, I don’t care if you’re talking about communities or churches or people, change is just plain scary.

But you know, there’s nothing new about this. As a matter of fact, that’s really what the passage we just read is all about, and I’m talking about how scared people are with change. I mean, just think about this story, you know, the one about the guy who had a whole bunch of demons that Jesus sent into a herd of pigs. Let me ask y’all, when did Luke write that the people became afraid? Was it when that demon-possessed man was running around, buck naked in a graveyard; were they afraid? Not according to Luke. How about when they saw something that could’ve come from The Exorcist, you know, when the demons said, “What have we to do with you, Jesus, son of God most high? I beg you, don’t torture me;” even if the guy’s head didn’t do a 180, did that scare them? Nope. Maybe it was when they’d try to restrain him but he’d break the chains and strip down and run off, did that send a chill through the town? That’s not what it says. No, so long as this guy was acting like he was crawling with demons, they were O.K. with that. They may have even gotten comfortable with it, because who know, when he streaked about Uncle Modecie’s tomb, maybe that meant it was time to put supper on the table.

Listen again to what Luke wrote: “And when the herdsmen saw what happened, they fled and reported in the town and in the fields. And they[, namely the people from town] went out to see what had happened, and they went to Jesus, and they found the person from whom the demons went out, and he was clothed and of sound mind and he was sitting at the feet of Jesus, [and what did Luke write?] and they were afraid. And those who saw reported how the one who had been possessed by demons was saved. And the whole multitude from the country surrounding Gerasenes asked [Jesus] to go from there, because they were seized with great fear.” You see, this is amazing, those folk didn’t become scared until the man changed, and I’ll tell you, based on how we feel about change too, if we’d been there, I think we’d have done the same thing.

But you know, before we just shrug our shoulders and decide that we’re stuck with the scared crowd, I think there are three things also mentioned in this passage that just might us do a little better in dealing with change, and let me briefly share them with you now. You see, first, as we try to come to grips with changes that scare us, I think we need to remember that no matter how much we may want to, we just don’t control the power of God. In other words, the will of God is going to be done whether we like it or not, whether it scares us or not.

And we see that in this passage. You know, I think it’s fascinating that Jesus cast out those demons even though no one asked to do it. I mean, before he did the deed, nobody had shown faith; nobody had made a request; nobody had done anything. In fact the only begging was made by the demons. No, Jesus acted on his own. And I’ll tell you something, whether we want to recognize it or not, he still does. I mean, I believe God is alive and active in Weirton, West Virginia and in Cove Presbyterian and in the lives of every man, woman and children here this morning. Now, that’s the good news. But here’s the stuff we may not want to face. God may not be in Weirton to rebuild in the mill. And he may not be at Cove to lead us back to a worship style that’s downright confusing to most folks born in the last thirty years. And I’ve got to face the fact that he’s not in my life to give me the body I had when I was thirty-five. It ain’t going to happen. But if that’s what I expect, well, I’m going to be pretty disappointed. I’ll tell you, if change has scared us so much that the past is all we can see, man, we are going to miss the Spirit of God moving and touching people right here in ways that are new and exciting. And wouldn’t that be a shame? Wouldn’t that be a crying shame if we let fear cause us to miss the power of God? And I’ll tell you, that’s why, when change is happening all over the place, I said that we need to remember is that we don’t control God’s will. And that’s one.

And second, we also need to remember that right now, we have a choice. And you know, it’s the exact same choice faced by those frightened people in the passage. When they saw that guy sitting there, all calm and dressed, man, they were scared, but they still had a choice. In spite of their fear, they could have talked with him and Jesus, and they could have found out what happened, and they could have come to a deeper understanding of God’s absolute power and his infinite love. In other words, their lives could have been transformed if they’d gotten past the fear. But that’s not what they did, was it? Instead, according of Luke, “the whole multitude from the country surrounding Gerasenes asked [Jesus] to go from there, because they were seized with great fear.” Man, that’s pitiful, isn’t it?

But don’t we end up doing the same thing? I mean, instead of choosing to see and to accept and maybe even to rejoice that God just may be doing some new and different stuff in our community and in our church and even in our own lives, instead of doing that, way too often we decide to turn around so that all we can see is the past and wonder why things can’t go back to the way they were. You see, right now, we can decide either to confront or to give in to our fears. And if we choose to give in, we just may be doing the same thing to Jesus that those scared people did two thousand years ago; we may be hustling him out of our town, and out of our church, and even out of our lives. I’m telling you, we’ve got a decision to make, and that’s something else we need to remember.

And finally, I think we need to remember that regardless of our decision, the word of God is going to spread. In other words, just like we can’t control the power of God, our decision about how we’re going to handle change isn’t going to stop the spread of the good news. It’ll just shape whether we’re going to be a part of it or not.

And again, that’s exactly what we see in the passage. I mean, after those folks told Jesus that it would probably be better if he moved on, naturally the one person who was changed the most wanted to go with him. I mean, why would he want to stay in a place, surrounded by people who seem more comfortable with him possessed by demons than saved by Christ? Daaa. Remember, Luke wrote, “And the man from whom the demons had gone out begged him to be with him. But [Jesus] sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your house and recount what God did for you.’ And he went throughout the whole town, proclaiming what Jesus did for him.”

Brothers and sisters, I sincerely hope that right now we’ve all decided to praise God for his power and his love and to dedicate ourselves to him even if he’s calling us to make some changes. Now I hope we’ve got the guts to do that. But even if we all aren’t willing to do that, I mean, even if some of us have already decided this is all too scary and that we should be holding onto the past even though that’s really like trying to hold onto a fist full of sand, I mean, even if some folks here may be willing to ask Jesus and those men and women who’ve been changed to leave because they just don’t fit in, even if that happens, I will promise you, take it to the bank, in one way or another, what God has done and can do will be shared in our community. And his good news will be proclaimed from this pulpit. And Jesus Christ will continue to heal the sick and to cast out demons and to find the lost. We need to remember, that’s going to happen with or without us, and that’s number three.

On Friday, I got The Invisible Man, starring Claude Raines, and Bela Lugosi’s Dracula and The Wolf Man, with Lon Chaney, Jr. should be on their way. And just like my dad and I would watch these on Chiller Theater, Maggie and I are sharing them on VHS and DVDs. But you know, they really aren’t scary, at least not to her. No, they’re not nearly as scary as change, something that we’re going to have deal with whether we like it or not. But you know, as we do, I think we need to remember that one, the power of God is beyond our control and that two, we have a decision about whether or not we’re going to accept the change that God may be bringing and that three, regardless of what we decide, God’s word will still be shared. I’ll tell you, those are some of the things I think we all need to remember, because when you get right down to it, change really is scarier than Frankenstein.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Changing the Pirates

Well, major league baseball is nearing the mid-point of the season, and there's been some real surprises. For example, I doubt that many people would have expected Atlanta, Texas and Cincinnati to be leading their divisions. And Boston's slow start caught some folks off guard. Of course, there are some other things that haven't been surprising at all. I mean, the Yankees are out-spending everyone else. The Minnesota Twins continue to demonstrate that small markets can be competitive. And the Pittsburgh Pirates..., well, thank heaven for the Baltimore Orioles. Unfortunately, the Pirates aren't surprising anyone.

And the other day, I talking with a guy who had some very strong opinions about what the Pittsburgh braintrust should do to right the ship. He said the best thing they could do is to change everything, you know, to wipe the slate clean and start over. Now that was his opinion, and although he may be right, I'm not sure that the American baseball public could handle it. I mean, just think about what would happen if this worked. Fans all over the country wouldn't know what to expect. The Pirates are suppose to start proving players to other teams by mid-season not the other way around. I'll tell you, it would send shock waves through the whole sporting world that would make the hand-wringing that surrounded the possible break-up of the Big 12 (or is that now the Big 10) and the expansion of the Big 10 (or is that now the Big 12) look like nothing.

And the reason, well, it would represent change, and change is the one of the last things we want to see. You know, it's fascinating, even when life stinks, we tend to resist situations that are different. And this attitude affects communities, churches and individuals. And although this is understandable, it limits our Christian growth and ability to share the gospel within a changing world. And so, on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, we'll focus on Luke 8:26-39 and discuss how and why we might grow and change.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sermon: I Wasn't Bad Enough

Luke 7:36 – 8:3 - 36And one of the Pharisees asked him so that he might eat with [Jesus]. And when he went into the house of the Pharisee, he reclined [at the table]. 37And behold there was a woman in the city who was a sinner, and when she came to know that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee, she brought a jar of perfumed ointment, 38and she stood at his feet, and she was weeping. With tears, she began to wet his feet, and with the hair of her head, she wiped them dry. And she began to cover with kisses his feet and began to anoint them with the perfumed ointment.

39When the Pharisee who’d invited him saw, he said to himself, saying, “If he were a prophet, then he’d know what kind of woman was touching him, that she is a sinner.”

40And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

And he said, “Teacher, speak.”

41“There were two people who owed a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii but the other fifty. 42When they were not in the position to repay, he granted favor to both. Now, who would love him more?”

43Simon answered and said, “I suppose that the one to whom he favored the most.”

And [Jesus] said to him, “Correctly you judged.”

44And after he turned to the woman, [Jesus] said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, water for my feet, you didn’t give. But her, with tears, she wet my feet and with her hair, she wiped them dry. 45Kisses you didn’t give me. But her, from the time I entered, she hasn’t stopped covering with kisses my feet. 46With olive oil my head you didn’t anoint. But her, with perfumed ointment, she anointed my feet. 47For this reason, I say to you, her many sins have been forgiven, hence she has loved much. But he who is forgiven little, little he loves.”

48And [Jesus] said to her, “Forgiven are your sins.”

49And those who were gathered began to say among themselves, “Who is he who even forgives sins?”

50And he said to the woman, “Your trust has saved you. Go in peace.”

1And it happened, shortly after, he made his way through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God, and the Twelve were with him 2and certain women who’d been cured of evil spirits and illnesses: Mary, who is called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,3and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna and many others, who ministered to him from their resources.

**********

“But I wasn’t bad enough.” Now that’s what a young lady said to me about twelve years ago, back when I was in Indianapolis. But before anybody gets the wrong idea, let me explain. Now, she was a student at Indiana University, but I’d known her and her family several years before that. You see, they were all members of my church, and I think I’d be safe in saying that their involvement had been active. Anyway, one afternoon she came into my office, and she wanted to talk about a problem she was having at college. During the last semester, she’d gotten involved in one of the Christian organizations there on campus, and it was right there where she had her problem. You see, she said that it was about time for her to give her testimony to the group, and she just didn’t have anything to say. Now, I’ve got to tell you, that kind of surprised me. From what I knew about her and the family, she’d been raised in the church, and there may have never been a time in her life when she didn’t believe in Jesus and know that he was the Lord and her savior. And as she got older, I knew first hand that she’d been involved in the church’s youth programs and church camp and all that kind of stuff. What’s more, I knew she’d always been what you’d all a “good girl” and that she had a real and growing faith in Christ. And so that’s what I said; I told her that this was the kind of thing she could share. But this didn’t make her happy. In fact she got kind of irritated with me (imagine that, someone getting irritated with me.) No, she kind of shook her head and said, “You don’t understand. They want me to talk about what God has done in my life, you know, in my past, but I wasn’t bad enough. I just wasn’t bad enough to have a good testimony.” And so there it was, and I’m sure that I probably just sat there for what seemed like about thirty minutes trying to come up with something to say. Now I had the problem. And what made my problem particularly tough was that I knew she was right. Good testimonies involved God saving people from prostitution or drug addiction, you know, something like that. It generally doesn’t involve sharing what you did at church camp. In her new circle, it was better to be saved from a lot than from a little. It’s bad to have been too good.

And you know, this difference, when you think about it, well, it applies to more than just testimonies. I mean, how you feel about God right now, and I’m talking about right this minute, the gratitude, the joy, the excitement you feel knowing that you’ve been forgiven through Jesus Christ, that’s probably shaped by how bad you were and how much forgiveness you needed to receive. In other words, although we may all agree with the prophet Isaiah, that through the grace of God “...though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Even though we believe that I’m probably going to be more excited believing it if I’m a murder or a thief or an adulter, than if the worse thing I’ve done is to covet my neighbor’s donkey. How bad I was before is going to make a difference.

And that difference, that’s going to shape every aspect of my life. For example, it’s got to affect the way I worship, right? I mean, if I’ve received a lot of forgiveness, I’m probably going to want to praise God with energy and enthusiasm; my goodness, this is the time to offer praise and thanks to the one who forgives and frees and to do with joy. Man, I may even want to put up my hands and say “praise God” every now and then. Now that’s if I feel I’ve been saved from a lot. But what if I haven’t, what if the Christian faith has always been a part of my life, what if I’ve always been good, then I may not need to bounce of the walls to worship God. In fact, I may get more out of worship that’s kind of serious and calm and formal. And even though one isn’t better than the other, the services aren’t the same, which means that if we try to blend the two somebody, maybe everybody is going to be uncomfortable. And let’s face it, when it comes to worship, it’s all about being comfortable, right?

And I’ll tell you, that probably explains why there are churches and services that cater to a specific clientele: one for the enthused and another for the meditative, a service that’s what we often call the contemporary and another that’s traditional.

And although that certainly offers both groups what they want, namely to be away from the other group, therefore, it’s really and I mean really tempting to do, when we make that kind of separation, we neatly split Christ into two separate bodies, don’t we: one with roots but little growth and the other with all kinds of growth but awfully shallow roots. But I’ll tell you, sadly that’s what happens all the time now-a-days, because we’ve gotten it in our minds that somebody either hasn’t been bad enough or either too bad to be one of us.

But before we assume that this is something new, I think it’s important to recognize that this was exactly what happened when Jesus visited the Pharisee. I mean in this story, we have two people: Simon, a Pharisee, who invites Jesus into his home for dinner and a woman who was described as a sinner who, from Simon’s perspective, was over-the-top in her treatment of his guest. And although it’s really tempting to simply condemn Simon (I mean, he’s a Pharisee for crying out loud), Jesus explained exactly what had happened when he told a parable and then asked a question anyone could answer. “He said, ‘There were two people who owed a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii but the other fifty. When they were not in the position to repay, he granted favor to both. Now, who would love him more?’ Simon answered and said, ‘I suppose that the one to whom he favored the most.’” I’m surprised Jesus didn’t say, “Daaa.”

But you know, this parable was more than a dinner time game. According to Jesus, it actually explained why Simon had done so little and the woman had done so much. It wasn’t that the Pharisee was a bad person or the woman particularly good. The simple fact was that “...her many sins have been forgiven, hence she has loved much. But he who is forgiven little, little he loves.” In other words, the great forgiveness she received filled her with so much enthusiasm and joy it made a person who didn’t need a lot of forgiveness feel really uncomfortable and even to find fault with Jesus and her.

And you know, I think this is something we all need to remember, because it really has a lot to do with the modern church. You see, instead of finding fault with Christian brothers and sisters for the amount of joy and excitement they feel and want to express it when they approach God and instead of trying to force or to guilt or to shame them to feel more or less depending on what we may want, maybe it would be better and certainly more in line with what Jesus taught simply to accept them and ourselves for who and what we are.

In other words, maybe we need to recognize that there’s nothing wrong with not needing a lot of forgiveness, you know, that we’ve always lived a pretty good life, and we’ve been Christians for as long as we can remember. Man, that’s a good thing. And for that reason, we just may not feel the same kind of spontaneous joy that someone else might feel. We shouldn’t feel guilty about that, so long as we also recognize that this could, if we’re not careful, limit our desire to express our love to Christ. We could become God’s frozen people. On the other hand, those who just can’t contain their enthusiasm about God’s love and mercy, well, they really should never be made to feel embarrassed or to keep it calm because we don’t like too much joy around here. And they certainly shouldn’t put people who have their own wonderful if less dramatic Christian story to tell, those folks shouldn’t be put in the position of feeling second-rate or less spiritual or worst of all, pushed to fake something just to fit in.

In fact, maybe we all need to learn from one another, because people like the woman in the passage, men and women who feel the love of Christ up-close and personal, I’m talking about brothers and sisters who know exactly what it means to say “I was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see,” maybe folks like Simon need them around, because, who knows, maybe some of their joy and freedom just might rub off. And for people like the woman, well, walking with Jesus is more than just emotions, it’s more than just something you feel at the moment, it’s more than something that may come and go. Instead it’s a way of life that needs to take root and grow; therefore, we all need folks around who’ve had the dedication to walk the walk year after year after year.

You see, recognizing that for good reason we may not all feel the same level of forgiveness and so we won’t all want to express our faith in the same way, maybe recognizing this will enable us to do what Luke described immediately after the story we’ve been discussing. You see, I don’t think there’s any accident that right after he stated that there’s a link between the amount of love seen and the amount of forgiveness felt, he wrote about how “...[Jesus] made his way through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God, and the Twelve were with him and certain women who’d been cured of evil spirits and illnesses.” You see, both his established inner group and those women who’d experience grace in dramatic ways, both groups worked together with their Lord to announce the coming the Kingdom and to share the good news of God. And brothers and sisters, we can do the same thing.

Once we stop isolating ourselves in little monolithic communities and protecting ourselves from anything that we personally find uncomfortable and once we start accepting ourselves and others and the strengths we all offer, then and only then will we begin working together to do great things for the kingdom. Then and only then will we be willing to put aside our tendency to focus on what divides rather than on what unites. You see, brothers and sister, then and only then will we be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with one another and to confront the very real evil found within our community and our world. I’ll tell you, nothing make Satan happier than a divided church. Together let’s show him that we’re nothing to laugh at.

“I wasn’t bad enough to have a good testimony.” Now that’s what the young woman said in my office. But what she actually meant was that she hadn’t done the necessary evil for her to be accepted as a first-rate Christian. She hadn’t been saved from enough. And sadly, from what I heard later, she also didn’t have the courage to confront this foolishness. Instead, without actually lying, she ended up exaggerating a lot of stuff that I guess made her bad enough to fit in. But no one should feel as though they have to do that kind of thing, not within the Body of Christ. I mean, within this community, we should be willing to accept ourselves and one another for who we are, to appreciate our unique experiences and gifts, and to learn from one another so that we can all grow into the church Christ has called us to be. And then, as one body that has the strength and courage and character to express our faith in more than one way, we can move out into a world that’s just waiting to hear the good news proclaimed and lived.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Through Her Eyes

Last Tuesday, we finished another school year. In September, Maggie will be going into the third grade. And even though that's wonderful and Debbie and I are proud of her, there's a part of me that's a little sad. You see as she gets older, Maggie's view of the world is changing and becoming more mature. I mean, it seems like only yesterday that we were taking her for her first day of kindergarten. She's growing up. For example, a couple of days ago she told us that, this year, she was going to ask Santa for a cell phone and a laptop. I guess "a kitchen like Claire Marie's" is a thing of the past.

And although I'm enjoying all the changes I see in my daughter, there's one thing that I'm really going to miss. You see, when she was little, everything was new and exciting. And I can remember just watching her as she took in things that she'd never experienced before. Her eyes would become wide, and sometimes she'd be so excited, she'd just kind of jump up and down. Now when that would happen, in a very real way, I could experience it too. I mean, even though I'd encountered or done something hundreds of times, I could share some of Maggie's first time excitement. If only for a moment, I could see the world through her eyes.

And you know, as we'll talk about on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, we can do the same kind of thing with new Christians. I mean, for us who've been around Christianity for a while, we may have experienced the love and grace of God hundreds of times. And although we may say it's still new and exciting, it's natural for it to seem a little routine. Our worship may become a little less joyful and our relationship with God a little more comfortable. Like my daughter, we mature.

And yet, we can still experience the energy we may not have felt for a long time by seeing the faith through the eyes of new believers. You see, if they're part of our community and if we give them the opportunity to express their faith, then vicariously we can feel the joy that comes from suddenly realizing that we're loved by the Lord and creator of the universe. And that's what we'll talk about this weekend.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Artwork from the Weekend

During our worship services, we focused on Jesus causing a dead man to rise from the dead. In doing this, he showed God's love and power. Below are some of drawings related to the story:

Maggie Rudiger

Sierra Huey

Jacob Edwards

Ella Dietz

Sermon: A Kitten on a Road

Luke 7:11-17 - 11And it happened, soon after, [Jesus] went into a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12But as he was near the gate of the town, behold a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother and she was a widow. And a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13And when the Lord saw her, he was moved to pity for her, and he said to her, “Don’t weep.” 14And after he went in, he touched the bier, and those who were bearing him stood, and he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15And the dead man sat up and started to speak. And [Jesus] gave him to his mother.

16And many people were taken with fear. And they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us,” and “God has visited his people.” 17And this word went out in the whole of Judea concerning him and in all the surrounding district.

**********

Last week, I heard a story from a member of the congregation that has a lot to do with the passage we’re looking at this morning. And as you can tell from the sermon title, it was all about a kitten on a road. And this is what the woman told me. One morning, a few weeks ago, she was out in the front of her house when she noticed something very small on the road. Now, at first glance, she though it was probably a vole or something like that, you know, some tiny animal that had crawled out of the grass and died. But as she got closer, she saw that not only was it not a vole at all, it also wasn’t dead. Instead it was a newborn kitten, so small that it could fit in the palm of your hand and so new that the fur was still kind of damp. Well anyway, when the woman saw this tiny kitten, she fell in love. And knowing that if she left it out there on the road there was absolutely no chance of it surviving, she picked it up, held it close so it would get warm and took it into her house. She called a friend who works for a vet, and she told the woman how she could take care of the little thing. And so carefully, she feed the kitten milk, I guess from an eye dropper or some kind of small bottle. And she continued to keep it warm and protected. And as of last week, you know, when she told me the story, the kitten was still alive. You see, what she said, well, it was all about love and power: the love she felt and the power she had to make a difference.

And I’ll tell you, after reading this passage, I thought about that woman, because I think she’s a lot like the one we see revealed in these verses. I mean, just think about what happened in this little story from Luke. Jesus went into a walled town called Nain with his disciples and a really big crowd. But as we was getting close to the gate, he also noticed something on the road, didn’t he? But of course it wasn’t a kitten. No, it was a dead man that some people were carrying.

And a woman was also there, maybe following behind, and she was crying, because that’s what a mother does when she’s lost her only son, especially a mother who is also a widow which meant she had absolutely no other person to take care of her. This woman was now totally alone, having just lost her only source of support. Now that was what Jesus saw on the road, and just like that woman with the kitten, he was also moved to pity, moved by compassion. I guess you could say he felt her pain. And so, when he saw her, he said, “Don’t weep.”

But you know, he didn’t just stop with feeling sorry for her. No sir, just like the good Samaritan who helped the man who’d been beaten up by robbers and the loving father who ran out and welcomed home his prodical son, right there Jesus took action. I mean, he used his power, his authority in response to the feelings that he had. And so, he touched the bier, probably in the same way he’d already touched the leper and made him clean or a little later would touch the slave of the High Priest and restored his severed ear. Luke wrote that Jesus “...touched the bier, and he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ And the dead man sat up and started to speak. And [Jesus] gave him to his mother.” You see, Jesus acted from compassion with authority.

And you know, when he did that, he was revealing to his disciples and that great crowd the very nature of God. And I’ll tell you, that’s why, when they saw it, those people “...glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us,’ and ‘God has visited his people.’” Those people knew exactly what they saw. You see, as this story reminds us, God is the one who’s love and power are unlimited.

And you know, I think that’s something we all need to remember, and I’m saying that for two very basic reasons. First, when we understand and appreciate this love and power, it can offer us more comfort than we can even imagine. I mean, I think we all know that life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. Let’s face it, there’s also a lot of pits. Trouble is just a fact of life. As a matter of fact, at our Friday morning men’s meeting, we talked about how we might be a friend to someone who’s in the middle of a disaster, you know a crisis that they neither expected nor probably understand.

And you know, it’s a good thing we had that little discussion, because I bet you right now, right this minute, I bet everybody here probably knows someone who facing this kind of thing; my goodness, some of y’all may be facing it yourselves. Man, it happens all the time. A person goes into work only to hear the boss say that it was nice knowing you and don’t let the door hit you when you leave. A man reads a note from his wife saying that she can’t take it anymore, that it’s over and she’s gotten her own place. A couple sits in a doctor’s office and listens as she explains what they can expect now that the cancer has spread to the liver. And these are some of the big things. But even the little stuff can throw us off. I think from time to time, we all face situations that unleash our emotions and cloud our minds, that destroy our appetites and strain our relationships, that almost paralyze us and may even cause us to question whether there’s any thing out there at all.

And we feel hopeless, helpless, alone; but I’ll tell you, it’s when we’re right there with that widow woman on the road it’s right at that time we need to remember that God has both love and power. My goodness, we need to remember that he just plain loves his children; he just plain loves us. What did Jesus say in John? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” I’ll tell you, sometimes you just can’t beat the King James. And that love will never change or fade or vanish. It’s like Paul wrote to the Romans: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

You see, when times are tough, we need to remember that God loves, but that’s only half of it. Because, you know, if love was the only thing he had going for him, he’d really be a pathetic excuse for a god. He would love us but couldn’t do anything to help; man, that’s pitiful. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s not the one I worship. The one I trust is the one we read about in Psalms, and I’m talking about the one “who executes justice for the oppressed [and] gives food to the hungry,” the one “who lifts up those who are bowed down [and who] loves the righteous,” the one who “watches over the strangers [and] upholds the orphan and widow.” You see, that’s one that Jesus revealed on that road into Nain, the one we need to remember when times gets rough.

But there’s a second reason we need to remember that our’s is a God of love and power, and I’ll tell you this reason has nothing to do with our own personal comfort. You see, understanding this about God really presents a challenge to us, a situation that we as Christian really can’t avoid even if we want to, and I’ll tell you exactly what it is. That love which God has already shown us, man, we’re called to show it to others, but not just the people sitting around us in the pew but also the folks who live on the other side of Main Street.

And isn’t that exactly what Jesus had in mind when he said to the lawyer, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself?” We are told to love, to love God by loving others and to love others because we love God. It’s as simple as that.

But if that’s where we stop, we haven’t really done enough, because love without action is worthless. In fact, it may be a insult to the one cleansed the leper and who healed the slave and who told the dead man to rise. You see, just like Peter in the Book of Acts, who “said to a man lame from birth, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk,’ and [then] took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong,” just like Peter did this long after Jesus had gone back to his father, God has given us the power to put into action the love that we feel. And let me tell you how. Through the Holy Spirit, he’s called us together and he’s given us all the time and the talents and the money we need to do his work. Therefore, right now, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and to get busy, something that we’re going to do if we have the will. You see, the fact that through Jesus, God revealed his love and power, man, for us that’s a challenge.

Now, I hope that kitten found on the road, I hope it grows up to be a happy cat. If it does, it’ll be because of that woman who felt love and had the power to do something about it. Of course, whether it survives or not, I can’t be sure. What I do know, though, is this. On another road about two thousand years ago, Jesus was moved to compassion for a widow who’d lost her son and he touched the bier and that person sat up. In other words, I know that through Jesus, God revealed his love and his power. But that’s not all. I also know that this can offer a whole lot of comfort when times get tough and a very clear challenge as I look out into the world.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Something Special for Children

During the Summer, we're going to have something special for the children. Starting this Sunday, during the service, the children will have their own worship experience, with both services focusing on the same Bible story from Luke. Along the story, with a real-life application, the children will also worship God through songs, prayers and crafts. Below I've printed the some information about the program and the passages on which we'll focus during the Summer.


Jesus Time

Purpose:
Jesus Time is a unique worship opportunity for children. While parents are engaged in worship, the children will consider the same passage in a child-friendly environment.

General Goals:
1. The children involved in this program will learn Bible stories and apply those stories to their lives.
2. The children involved in this program will approach Bible stories from different perspectives.
3. The children involved in this program will learn certain elements of adult worship.
4. The children involved in this program will focus on the same passage their parents will hear during the worship service.

Specific Objectives:
1. Given their involvement in Jesus Time, the children will be able to retell selected Bible stories and offer at least one way the story might relate to their lives.
2. Given the opportunity, the children will be able to discuss Bible stories and to complete a craft related to the story.
3. Given the opportunity, the children will be able to recite The Lord’s Prayer and sing the Song for the Children that we’ll sing during next week’s service.
4. Given coordination between the Jesus Time and the adult worship experience, the children will be able to answer questions related to how the passage discussed might relate to their lives.

Session Structure:
Jesus Time will follow a set structure:
  • Gathering - 5 minutes
  • Prayer & Song - 10 minutes
  • Story - 10 minutes
  • Craft - 15 minutes
  • Dismissal - 5 minutes
The sections will accomplish the following:
  • Gathering – After the Time for Children, the children will be dismissed to Jesus Time.
  • Prayer – The children will offer prayers related to the topic of the session. They’ll also learn The Lord’s Prayer and the Song for the Children that we’ll sing during next week’s service..
  • Story – The children will hear the story read in the Contemporary English Version. They’ll also answer and discuss some questions related to the story.
  • Craft – The children will do a craft related to the story.
  • Dismissal – The children will rejoin their parents at the end of the service.
Group Divisions:
Jesus Time is intended for children from the 4-12. Each group should be between 5-8 children, which may be divided by age.

June 6, 2010 – Luke 7:11-17
11Soon Jesus and his disciples were on their way to the town of Nain, and a big crowd was going along with them. 12As they came near the gate of the town, they saw people carrying out the body of a widow’s only son. Many people from the town were walking along with her.
13When the Lord saw the woman, he felt sorry for her and said, “Don’t cry!”
14Jesus went over and touched the stretcher on which the people were carrying the dead boy. They stopped, and Jesus said, “Young man, get up!” 15The boy sat up and began to speak. Jesus then gave him back to his mother.
16Everyone was frightened and praised God. They said, “A great prophet is here with us! God has come to his people.”
17News about Jesus spread all over Judea and everywhere else in that part of the country.

June 13, 2010 – Luke 7:36 – 8:3
Simon the Pharisee
36A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him. So Jesus went to the Pharisee’s home and got ready to eat. 37When a sinful woman in that town found out that Jesus was there, she bought an expensive bottle of perfume. 38Then she came and stood behind Jesus. She cried and started washing his feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. The woman kissed his feet and poured the perfume on them.
39The Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this and said to himself, “If this man really were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him! He would know that she is a sinner.”
40Jesus said to the Pharisee, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”
“Teacher, what is it?” Simon replied.
41Jesus told him, “Two people were in debt to a moneylender. One of them owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other owed him fifty. 42Since neither of them could pay him back, the moneylender said that they didn’t have to pay him anything. Which one of them will like him more?”
43Simon answered, “I suppose it would be the one who had owed more and didn’t have to pay it back.”
“You are right,” Jesus said.
44He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Have you noticed this woman? When I came into your home, you didn’t give me any water so I could wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46You didn’t even pour olive oil on my head, but she has poured expensive perfume on my feet. 47So I tell you that all her sins are forgiven, and that is why she has shown great love. But anyone who has been forgiven for only a little will show only a little love.” 48Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49Some other guests started saying to one another, “Who is this who dares to forgive sins?”
50But Jesus told the woman, “Because of your faith, you are now saved. May God give you peace!”

Women Who Helped Jesus
8Soon after this, Jesus was going through towns and villages, telling the good news about God’s kingdom. His twelve apostles were with him, 2and so were some women who had been healed of evil spirits and all sorts of diseases. One of the women was Mary Magdalene, who once had seven demons in her. 3Joanna, Susanna, and many others had also used what they owned to help Jesus and his disciples. Joanna’s husband Chuza was one of Herod’s officials.

June 20, 2010 – Luke 8:26-39
A Man with Demons in Him
26Jesus and his disciples sailed across Lake Galilee and came to shore near the town of Gerasa. 27As Jesus was getting out of the boat, he was met by a man from that town. The man had demons in him. He had gone naked for a long time and no longer lived in a house, but in the graveyard. 28The man saw Jesus and screamed. He knelt down in front of him and shouted, “Jesus, Son of God in heaven, what do you want with me? I beg you not to torture me!” 29He said this because Jesus had already told the evil spirit to go out of him.
The man had often been attacked by the demon. And even though he had been bound with chains and leg irons and kept under guard, he smashed whatever bound him. Then the demon would force him out into lonely places.
30Jesus asked the man, “What is your name?”
He answered, “My name is Lots.” He said this because there were ‘lots’ of demons in him. 31They begged Jesus not to send them to the deep pit, where they would be punished. 32A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. So the demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and Jesus let them go. 33Then the demons left the man and went into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.
34When the men taking care of the pigs saw this, they ran to spread the news in the town and on the farms. 35The people went out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they also found the man. The demons had gone out of him, and he was sitting there at the feet of Jesus. He had clothes on and was in his right mind. But the people were terrified.
36Then all who had seen the man healed told about it. 37Everyone from around Gerasa begged Jesus to leave, because they were so frightened. When Jesus got into the boat to start back, 38the man who had been healed begged to go with him. But Jesus sent him off and said, 39"Go back home and tell everyone how much God has done for you.” The man then went all over town, telling everything that Jesus had done for him.

June 27, 2010 – Luke 9:51-62
A Samaritan Village Refuses To Receive Jesus
51Not long before it was time for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, he made up his mind to go to Jerusalem. 52He sent some messengers on ahead to a Samaritan village to get things ready for him. 53But he was on his way to Jerusalem, so the people there refused to welcome him. 54When the disciples James and John saw what was happening, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy these people?” 55But Jesus turned and corrected them for what they had said. 56Then they all went on to another village.

Three People Who Wanted To Be Followers
57Along the way someone said to Jesus, “I’ll go anywhere with you!”
58Jesus said, “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man doesn’t have a place to call his own.”
59Jesus told someone else to come with him. But the man said, “Lord, let me wait until I bury my father.” 60Jesus answered, “Let the dead take care of the dead, while you go and tell about God’s kingdom.”
61Then someone said to Jesus, “I want to go with you, Lord, but first let me go back and take care of things at home.”
62Jesus answered, “Anyone who starts plowing and keeps looking back isn’t worth a thing to God’s kingdom!”

July 4, 2010 – Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
The Work of the Seventy-Two Followers
10Later the Lord chose seventy-two other followers and sent them out two by two to every town and village where he was about to go. 2He said to them: A large crop is in the fields, but there are only a few workers. Ask the Lord in charge of the harvest to send out workers to bring it in. 3Now go, but remember, I am sending you like lambs into a pack of wolves. 4Don’t take along a moneybag or a traveling bag or sandals. And don’t waste time greeting people on the road. 5As soon as you enter a home, say, “God bless this home with peace.” 6If the people living there are peace-loving, your prayer for peace will bless them. But if they are not peace-loving, your prayer will return to you. 7Stay with the same family, eating and drinking whatever they give you, because workers are worth what they earn. Don’t move around from house to house. 8If the people of a town welcome you, eat whatever they offer. 9Heal their sick and say, “God’s kingdom will soon be here!” 10But if the people of a town refuse to welcome you, go out into the street and say, 11"We are shaking the dust from our feet as a warning to you. And you can be sure that God’s kingdom will soon be here!”
16My followers, whoever listens to you is listening to me. Anyone who says “No” to you is saying “No” to me. And anyone who says “No” to me is really saying “No” to the one who sent me.

The Return of the Seventy-Two
17When the seventy-two followers returned, they were excited and said, “Lord, even the demons obeyed when we spoke in your name!” 18Jesus told them:
I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. 19I have given you the power to trample on snakes and scorpions and to defeat the power of your enemy Satan. Nothing can harm you. 20But don’t be happy because evil spirits obey you. Be happy that your names are written in heaven!

July 11, 2010 – Luke 10:25-37
The Good Samaritan
25An expert in the Law of Moses stood up and asked Jesus a question to see what he would say. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to have eternal life?”
26Jesus answered, “What is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them?”
27The man replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ They also say, ‘Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.’ “
28Jesus said, “You have given the right answer. If you do this, you will have eternal life.”
29But the man wanted to show that he knew what he was talking about. So he asked Jesus, “Who are my neighbors?”
30Jesus replied:
As a man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, robbers attacked him and grabbed everything he had. They beat him up and ran off, leaving him half dead.
31A priest happened to be going down the same road. But when he saw the man, he walked by on the other side. 32Later a temple helper came to the same place. But when he saw the man who had been beaten up, he also went by on the other side. 33A man from Samaria then came traveling along that road. When he saw the man, he felt sorry for him 34and went over to him. He treated his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put him on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35The next morning he gave the innkeeper two silver coins and said, “Please take care of the man. If you spend more than this on him, I will pay you when I return.” 36Then Jesus asked, “Which one of these three people was a real neighbor to the man who was beaten up by robbers?”
37The teacher answered, “The one who showed pity.”
Jesus said, “Go and do the same!”

July 18, 2010 – Luke 10:38-42
Martha and Mary
38The Lord and his disciples were traveling along and came to a village. When they got there, a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat down in front of the Lord and was listening to what he said. 40Martha was worried about all that had to be done. Finally, she went to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it bother you that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!”
41The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha! You are worried and upset about so many things, 42but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best, and it will not be taken away from her.”

July 25, 2010 – Luke 11:1-13
Prayer
1When Jesus had finished praying, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his followers to pray.”
2So Jesus told them, “Pray in this way:
‘Father, help us
to honor your name.
Come and set up
your kingdom.
3Give us each day
the food we need. 4Forgive our sins,
as we forgive everyone
who has done wrong to us.
And keep us
from being tempted.’”
5Then Jesus went on to say: Suppose one of you goes to a friend in the middle of the night and says, “Let me borrow three loaves of bread. 6A friend of mine has dropped in, and I don’t have a thing for him to eat.’” 7And suppose your friend answers, “Don’t bother me! The door is bolted, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up to give you something.”
8He may not get up and give you the bread, just because you are his friend. But he will get up and give you as much as you need, simply because you are not ashamed to keep on asking.
9So I tell you to ask and you will receive, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you. 10Everyone who asks will receive, everyone who searches will find, and the door will be opened for everyone who knocks. 11Which one of you fathers would give your hungry child a snake if the child asked for a fish? 12Which one of you would give your child a scorpion if the child asked for an egg? 13As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks.

August 1, 2010 – Luke 12:13-21
A Rich Fool
13A man in a crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share of what our father left us when he died.”
14Jesus answered, “Who gave me the right to settle arguments between you and your brother?”
15Then he said to the crowd, “Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe.”
16So Jesus told them this story:
A rich man’s farm produced a big crop, 17and he said to himself, “What can I do? I don’t have a place large enough to store everything.”
18Later, he said, “Now I know what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. 19Then I’ll say to myself, `You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.’ “
20But God said to him, “You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?”
21 “This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the sight of God.”

August 8, 2010 – Luke 12:32-40
Treasures in Heaven
32My little group of disciples, don’t be afraid! Your Father wants to give you the kingdom. 33Sell what you have and give the money to the poor. Make yourselves moneybags that never wear out. Make sure your treasure is safe in heaven, where thieves cannot steal it and moths cannot destroy it. 34Your heart will always be where your treasure is.

Faithful and Unfaithful Servants
35Be ready and keep your lamps burning 36just like those servants who wait up for their master to return from a wedding feast. As soon as he comes and knocks, they open the door for him. 37Servants are fortunate if their master finds them awake and ready when he comes! I promise you that he will get ready and have his servants sit down so he can serve them. 38Those servants are really fortunate if their master finds them ready, even though he comes late at night or early in the morning. 39You would surely not let a thief break into your home, if you knew when the thief was coming. 40So always be ready! You don’t know when the Son of Man will come

August 15, 2010 – Luke 12:49-56
Not Peace, but Trouble
49I came to set fire to the earth, and I wish it were already on fire! 50I am going to be put to a hard test. And I will have to suffer a lot of pain until it is over. 51Do you think that I came to bring peace to earth? No indeed! I came to make people choose sides. 52A family of five will be divided, with two of them against the other three. 53Fathers and sons will turn against one another, and mothers and daughters will do the same. Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law will also turn against each other.

Knowing What To Do
54Jesus said to all the people:
As soon as you see a cloud coming up in the west, you say, “It’s going to rain,” and it does. 55When the south wind blows, you say, “It’s going to get hot,” and it does. 56Are you trying to fool someone? You can predict the weather by looking at the earth and sky, but you don’t really know what’s going on right now.
August 22, 2010 – Luke 13:10-17
Healing a Woman on the Sabbath
10One Sabbath, Jesus was teaching in a Jewish meeting place, 11and a woman was there who had been crippled by an evil spirit for eighteen years. She was completely bent over and could not straighten up. 12When Jesus saw the woman, he called her over and said, “You are now well.” 13He placed his hands on her, and right away she stood up straight and praised God.
14The man in charge of the meeting place was angry because Jesus had healed someone on the Sabbath. So he said to the people, “Each week has six days when we can work. Come and be healed on one of those days, but not on the Sabbath.”
15The Lord replied, “Are you trying to fool someone? Won’t any one of you untie your ox or donkey and lead it out to drink on a Sabbath? 16This woman belongs to the family of Abraham, but Satan has kept her bound for eighteen years. Isn’t it right to set her free on the Sabbath?” 17Jesus’ words made his enemies ashamed. But everyone else in the crowd was happy about the wonderful things he was doing.

August 29, 2010 – Luke 14:1, 7-14
How To Be a Guest
1One Sabbath, Jesus was having dinner in the home of an important Pharisee, and everyone was carefully watching Jesus.
7Jesus saw how the guests had tried to take the best seats. So he told them:
8When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the best place. Someone more important may have been invited. 9Then the one who invited you will come and say, “Give your place to this other guest!” You will be embarrassed and will have to sit in the worst place.
10When you are invited to be a guest, go and sit in the worst place. Then the one who invited you may come and say, “My friend, take a better seat!” You will then be honored in front of all the other guests. 11If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.
12Then Jesus said to the man who had invited him:
When you give a dinner or a banquet, don’t invite your friends and family and relatives and rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return, and you will be paid back. 13When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14They cannot pay you back. But God will bless you and reward you when his people rise from death.

Let's Celebrate Our Graduates

During the service on Sunday, we'll be recognizing both our 2010 scholarship recipients and our college and high school graduates. Please plan to support these young people by sharing in this celebration Sunday morning at 11:00.

The recipients of our 2010 scholarships are as follows:
  • The Chad Pickens Scholarship recipients are Amy Cattrell, Molly Cline, Christine Cummings, Joshua Cummings, Brandi Fish, Jenna Maine , Chad Marsh, and Eric Shaw
  • The Helen Hamill Scholarship recipient is Douglas Kerr Jr.
Below are our college and high school graduates:

From College -
  • Staci Jo Cline, daughter of Linda Cline and the late Douglas Cline graduated Cum Laude from Marshall University will a BBA in Healthcare Management. She plans on attending Franciscan University this fall to pursue her masters degree.
  • Derrick Paul, son of James and Donna Paul, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology with an emphasis in Aquatic Therapy. He currently works for Lakeside Physical Therapy and Life Enhancement Center in Cheat Lake, Morgantown, West Virginia. Derrick is planning to further his education by attending either a physical therapy or a chiropractic school.
From High School -
  • Joshua Earl Cummings, son of Mark and Jenny Cummings, is a 2010 honor roll graduate of Brooke High School. He has been involved in many activities in school including Future Business Leaders of America and Interact Club. Out of school, Josh has continued to be active by participating in karate, basketball, and baseball as a child and continues to bowl with his mother, grandmother, and sister in a summer league. He was also an active member of the church’s Sunday School classes and took part in the plays performed by Cove church for many years. Josh plans to continue working at the Williams Country Club in Weirton during the summer until August when he will attend West Virginia University majoring in Business Administration.
  • Brandi Fish, daughter of Brain and Cindy Virtue, graduated from Brooke High School. During her years at Brooke, Brand was involved im many activities both scholastically and in sports. Brandi maintained good academic standing throughout her years at Brooke earning her a variety of achievement awards. She was inducted into the National Honor Society and was chosen as one of the “Bruin’s Best.” Brandi was also a peer mentor through the Bruin Leadership program. She was actively involved in many organizations including RAZE, Grapple Gals, and History Club. Brandi also kept statistics for the Brooke Wrestling Team. In sports, Brandi was the short stop for the Brooke Softball Team earning two varsity letters. She was also chosen to be a member of the OVAC All Star Softball Team in 2010. Brandi will be attending West Virginia University in the fall majoring in Exercise Physiology with a minor in Biology. Brandi’s goal is to be accepted into Medical School with the hopes of one day becoming a Pediatrician.
  • Alec K. Lulla, son of Karen Vida and Edward Lulla, Jr. Is graduating from Steubenville Big Red. He played soccer and tennis and was a member of the Key Club. He was also a member of the Big Red Marching Band and Concert Band. Alec was a recipient of a band scholarship from the Big Red Band. Alec will be attending West Virginia University majoring in History and Secondary Education.
  • Eric Casey Shaw is graduating on June 15, 2010, from Burgettstown High School. Eric is the son of Butch and Colleen Shaw. His siblings are Kristen Shaw Palavis, Craig Shaw and Ryan Shaw. Eric has been accepted into the Air Traffic Terminal program at the Community College of Beaver County. He plans on graduating with an Applied Science degree, certified private pilots license, and air traffic certifications. He begins his education in the fall of 2010. Eric received the senior Athletic Baseball award for 08-09-10, the Academic certificate of Honor and the President’s Education outstanding academic achievement award. He is in Who’s Who Among Honor High School students, participates in the Leo club and ski club. Eric is a black belt in karate and holds many karate awards including the United Fighting Arts Federation World Championship fighting award. He also participates in the High Rollers dance hip-hop crew. Eric would like to thank the members of Cove Presbyterian Church for their continued support.