Thursday, February 28, 2013

What’s Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?


Below are the announcements as they appear in Sunday’s bulletin.

DON'T FORGET SUNDAY SCHOOL  . . .
we meet every Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m.  Think about trying out one of our classes. We have a variety of classes to choose from to fit your needs.

BOARD OF  DEACONS MEETING. . .
will be held on Monday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

THE MYRTLE  MCHENDRY CLASS . . .
will resume their monthly meeting and social  on Tuesday, March 5 at 12:30 p.m. in fellowship hall. All members are encouraged to attend as we begin our new year!

HONORS PRESENTATION, MARCH 6 . . .
by Cove member Justin Taflan who is a Senior at Brooke High School. He is working on an Honors Project which will involve a presentation on the culture of Thailand. This past summer he and his family visited Thailand. Since Justin's maternal grandmother is from Thailand it was an experience for him to go see where she was born and raised and what life was like in another country. The presentation will be held this Wednesday,  at 6:15 prior to choir practice. It will be approximately 20 minutes in length.
Please come and share this experience with Justin. - - - ALL ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND!!

CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, March 6 at 6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary.  We are working on the cantata,  At The Cross, to be presented on Palm Sunday and on our weekly anthems. New member are always welcome!

THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY . . .
will meet on Thursday, March 7, at 12:30 p.m. We're studying the last week of Christ's life, and during this session we'll look at Matthew 23.

GIRL SCOUT SUNDAY . . .
will be observed next Sunday, March 10 during the morning worship.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

BOARD OF SESSION . . .
will meet on Tuesday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN MEETINGS  RESUME. . .
Executive Board Meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 13 at 10:00 a.m. in the board room. The following Wednesday, March 20 will be the regular meeting of the Presbyterian Women at noon in fellowship hall. On March 20 you are asked to please bring a bag lunch, beverages and dessert will be provided. All women of the church are warmly invited and encouraged to an active member of OUR PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN!

AT THE CROSS CANTATA. . .
will be performed by Cove's  Chancel Choir on Palm Sunday, March 24 during the morning worship service.

PANCAKE & SAUSAGE BREAKFAST . . .
Palm Sunday, March 24 sponsored by The Deacons.  The Easter Bunny will make a special visit.

SANCTUARY IS BRIGHTER. . .
Thank You - Dean Allen, Tim Connell and Doug Kerr. Two evenings were spent replacing light bulbs, constructing, moving and disassembling scaffold.
Larry Shane
Building Manager
MUCH APPRECIATED. . .
Joe and I wish to express our sincerest gratitude to everyone for all the get well cards, prayers and telephone calls we have received during my recent illness. Also thank you for the birthday cards Joe has received. It is wonderful to know that we are so warmly thought of.
  Gen & Joe Meyer

"SHARING BRINGS JOY . . .
To Others, to God, and to Us."  This is the theme of our One Great Hour of Sharing Campaign. Currently projects are underway in 100 countries, including the United States and Canada.  The funds are used for ministries of disaster relief, refugee assistance and development aid. Inserts will be included in the bulletins for the next few weeks detailing how monies have been previously spent.  Fish Boxes have been placed throughout the narthex, library and parlor if you would like to use one to collect your contribution over the next few weeks.  Your donations may be returned to the church on either Palm Sunday or Easter.

SPRING IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER. . .
-so is spring cleaning. The deacons ask that you remember their upcoming April Flea Market for your unwanted items. All gently used household items, unwanted collectibles, small appliances, decorations, books, toys and children's clothes will be greatly appreciated. The items may be dropped off at the church or you may call the church to arrange to have your items picked-up.  Money that is earned will be used for the Deacons Outreach Programs.

UNCLAIMED  JACKETS. . .
there have been a few jackets and coats left on the coat racks in the main hallway downstairs. If one belongs to you, please take it with you. If the items are not claimed in the near future, they'll be donated to a local clothes closet.

DOORS . . .
please take a minute when entering or leaving the building to be sure the exterior doors close completely.  This action will ensure the security of the building and also aide us with heating costs.

HAND SANITIZERS . . .
are located on the entrance wall downstairs past the door to the kitchen. Also a hand sanitizer is located on the far wall in the narthex. Using them will hopefully help decrease the spread of germs this winter.

PRAYER CHAIN UPDATE . . .
we will be updating our prayer chain monthly. If you wish to have someone remain on the prayer chain for a longer period of time please contact the church office or Floy Fetty.

DO YOU HAVE A NEW ADDRESS. . .
new phone number or new e-mail ? Please contact the church office so we can update our records. We like to keep everyone informed of our events.  If you don't receive mailings,  we may not have your current and/or correct information.

GREETERS NEEDED . . .
if you would like to serve as a greeter before a Sunday morning worship service, please contact Bonnie Nichols at 304-723-5134.

WE ARE BLOGGING!
We now have five blogs that you can check out for information and on which you can leave comments. They're listed below:
The Cove Community (www.thecovecommunity.blogspot.com) - This is for the whole church. I'll post sermons and announcements. I also invite y'all to send in material that you'd like to share with other members of the congregation. And please feel free to comment on anything you might read.
Cove Kids (www.covekids.blogspot.com) - This is tailored for the preteen young people in our church. Again I'll post announcements. You're also invited to send in any writings, photographs and art work you'd like to post. And they don't have to all deal with the church. We also post artwork from Jesus Time.
Bible Talk (www.cove-bibletalk.blogspot.com) - We've established this blog to give pastors and lay people the chance to discuss Scripture. The weekly passages are from the Common Lectionary, and we're posting the pastor's translation of the  Greek text. We want you to read any or all of the passages and to leave any comment or ask any question that you feel is appropriate. Please include any research you've done. As we share our ideas and insights, we hope that we'll all come to a better and deeper understanding of the Bible. Each passage is linked to a website that offers some informative information.
Let's Talk About It (www.cove-talk.blogspot.com) - Through this site, we hope to encourage a conversation on a variety of topics. Since this blog is sponsored by a church, we expect most of the issues to involve the Christian faith. Still we don't want to limit ourselves or you. If you have a topic that you'd like us to discuss, include it as a comment to a previous issue. Please phrase it as a question and offer a summary of at least two positions. We'll add a new item to discuss every three weeks. We hope this challenges you to apply your faith to issues that are important to you.
The Bible in a Year (www.cove-bibleinayear.blogspot.com) - Each day, we'll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year.

IT IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO HEAR PRAYER REQUESTS . . .
on Sunday mornings. If you would like to have someone added to the prayer chain please drop a short note into the collection plate with their name and any other information you would like to share.  You may also call the church office or e-mail the church with the information.

IN THE HOSPITAL? HOMEBOUND? RECENT ILLNESS?. . .
if you are unable to attend services and would like to arrange for a visit from Rev. Ed Rudiger please contact the church office. Also if you would like to receive copies of the Sunday Bulletin contact the church office.

WE CAN ALWAYS DO A BETTER JOB MINISTERING . . .
to the needs within this congregation, community and world. Please feel free to offer any suggestions as comments.

LOOSE CHANGE OFFERING . . .
Session approved the Deacons collecting a "Loose Change Offering" that will be used to assist the Deacons with their utility assistance outreach program for Weirton residents or Cove Church members. We hope church members can help with the assistance program by donating some of their spare change. A container is placed in the Narthex each Sunday morning before church. The Deacons thank you for your support of their projects.

VASES OF FLOWERS. . .
can be purchased for a service. The cost is  $16.00 a vase.  Silk flowers or live plants can be purchased for an additional cost. The  flower calendar is located on the far wall in the church narthex or you can telephone the church office to place your order. After the service, the flowers will be placed in a plastic vase for you to take with you.

WE'RE UPDATING OUR PRAYER AND DEVOTION LINE . . .
about four times a week. If you would like to call and hear a devotional, please call 304-748-7900.

ONGOING MISSION PROJECTS . . .
Campbell's Labels are being collected by the Presbyterian Women for the Weirton Christian Center.  The labels including the bar code or just the bar code can be dropped off in the container located in the main  hallway downstairs.
Greeting Cards are being collected. Please drop off your Greeting Cards or just the front of the card in the box located in the main hallway downstairs. The cards are being sent to St. Jude's  Ranch to be remade into cards to be sold in their gift shop.  FYI . .. .Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting Cards can not be accepted as they are trade marked.
Can Tabs are being collected for the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown, West Virginia. Deposit your tabs in the container locate in the main hallway downstairs.
We thank you for your participation and support of our mission endeavors.

FOR THIS SUNDAY, MARCH 3 . .
the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery asks that all churches pray for:West Liberty, Federated - Dorcas Conrad & Lori Jones, Co-Pastors
Wheeling, First - J. Robert Willits, Pastor

Cove’s Sunday Bulletin for March 3, 2013


Below is a copy of Sunday’s bulletin. I’ll preach from 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. I’ll be preaching on the nature of love, and the title of the sermon is “God’s Not a Flea Collar.”








A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Under God’s Wings


Psalm 91:1-16 

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;
he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day,
or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
Because you have made the LORD your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place,
no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them.
With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.


A Devotion by Elizabeth Ann Bussey (Ohio, USA)

One afternoon while washing dishes, I watched a mother robin in the holly bush just outside my window. When rain began, she gently settled herself over her hatchlings. The rain soon became a downpour; the robin stood up in her nest and spread her wings wide. She rocked back and forth a few times, stretching her wings to create an umbrella over the nest. The rains pounded harder, yet she did not move. I watched her in amazement as I continued cleaning my kitchen. My chores completed, I hesitated to leave the room. The robin was still standing with wings outstretched, protecting her young.

The beauty of this scene reminded me of Psalm 91:4 and the refuge we have under God’s protective wings. Life’s trials are sometimes only a drizzle and at other times a fiercely pounding storm. But regardless of the intensity of the storms, God will be faithful. Though we may not always see God’s wings spread over us, we can rest assured that they are there to offer us shelter and comfort.

From The Upper Room.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

They're on a mission from God - Brooke County natives helping Africans

February 25, 2013
By SHELLEY HANSON - For The Weirton Daily Times
 
WHEELING - As a missionary in Africa, Wellsburg native Jacob Schwertfeger has endured a roving and hungry lion, getting lost in the bush and being shaken down by crooked cops for money.

But it has all been for a good cause - to serve the Lord by helping people in dire need of basic necessities such as clean water wells.

Wellsburg native Jacob Schwertfeger leads a Bible study class in Zambia
Schwertfeger and his wife, Jessi (Hall) Schwertfeger, both 2002 graduates of Brooke High School, decided to pursue becoming missionaries after graduating from college. Seven years later, they have ministered to and helped thousands in Zambia. The couple has three children: Sunda, 7, who they adopted from an orphanage in Zambia; Kya, 3, who is their first child together born in South Africa; and Noah, 8 weeks old, born in Pittsburgh.

''I had a rebellious season of my life coming out of a Christian home in high school,'' Schwertfeger, the son of Norm and Jeanie Schwertfeger, said. ''The Lord spoke to my heart and my senior year of high school is when I made an all or nothing commitment to Jesus.''

During their senior year of high school, Schwertfeger and his then-girlfriend Jessi Hall decided together they wanted to become missionaries after first pursuing college degrees. While at West Virginia Wesleyan College, Schwertfeger began attending the Way of Holiness Church, which gave him his first opportunity to see Africa through a ministry called Sons of Thunder. With a group of 15 other students, he ventured on a three-month mission to Zambia - the country where he and his future wife decided to begin dedicating their lives to helping others.

After taking a year off after college to raise money for their mission trip, the couple married in 2006 and six weeks later joined Sons of Thunder in Zambia. When they arrived, however, there were problems with the existing missionaries and many were sent home. The couple, new to Africa and the job at hand, had to take over the entire operation.

''There was an orphanage with 54 children under age 5 to manage. There was a 10,000-acre farm with 50 families doing various farming projects. There was a Bible school and primary school and clinic,'' he said. ''It was sink or swim. ... That first week, one of the children died that was really young in the orphanage. That was our first reality check of, we're really here and this is Africa - not everything goes as planned.''

During their two years with Sons of Thunder, the couple and their daughter, Sunda, whom they adopted from that same orphanage, would perform outreach missions, living in a tent for two weeks at a time.

''During that time our hearts really grew and longed for real neglected areas of Zambia. ... We realized people needed to get out into these places. We were watching 70-year-old women carrying 20-gallon buckets of dirty water for two and three miles to bring back to their home,'' he said.

They eventually joined a new group, Overland Missions, in 2008 and were able to stay in Zambia. He noted Zambia is one of the most hospitable areas of Africa despite the residents' hardships.

''We take for granted the ease of turning on a faucet. ... The basic things we expect in our lives are not provided,'' he said.

Nearly two years ago, someone donated a drilling rig to Overland Missions, allowing the group to start drilling water wells. Well kits are installed and the people are taught how to maintain them. To date, about 20 holes have been drilled, though the demand for clean water is greater than they can keep up with.

''That provides clean water to an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people,'' Schwertfeger said of the wells.

Since Overland wants to reach more areas, Schwertfeger was asked to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola and develop a new sector. Last year he made three trips to the Congo. He does not take his family with him during such trips, but he does use interpreters.

''Day one getting in we were grabbed by police and put into a building, interrogated for a number of hours, told we needed to pay various fines and fees and get shots - which we already had. It was all just a scheme for money,'' he said of his initial foray into the Congo.

Several times in the Congo while riding his dirt bike, police stopped him and took his keys until he gave them money, he said.

''Another occasion we were sleeping in a pastor's home, and at midnight we could hear this commotion. It was soldiers who had surrounded the compound, chanting and screaming. That was probably the most danger we had been in because it was a rebel group called the Mai Mai,'' Schwertfeger said. ''That group has been around for a long time. I've just received word that group has taken over the village we were in a few weeks ago. The pastors contacted someone who was able to (contact) me and say, 'Just pray for us because our village is overrun and they have taken over.'''

Schwertfeger said he does have trips scheduled in that area this year and he plans to be very careful. He noted he believes his family will continue to live in Zambia because it's a strategic location that allows them to reach other countries that one can't necessarily live in at the moment because it's too dangerous.

''It's a lifelong commitment in our hearts. We'll have to see how it all plays out. You never know - governments can get overturned and overthrown quick and then it's a whole other situation,'' he said.

While Zambia is relatively safe, their home was broken into once and items stolen. Schwertfeger said the deed was committed by people coming from neighboring Zimbabwe, where the political climate is much less stable.

Before building his home, the family lived in a tent on a concrete slab. Eventually, he bricked in the concrete slab and then about a year ago, Schwertfeger finished building their present home. It has electricity, but since the power often fails they have a back-up generator. They also have an Internet feed from the tourist town of Livingstone.

"When I first got to Africa, we arrived with so much excitement and zeal. You have this hero mentality of meeting the needs of the people. And very quickly you find the need is overwhelming," he said.

The family also periodically must deal with native wildlife. For example, early on a stampede of about 90 elephants came through the village, eating all the crops. Other elephants have tried to charge their vehicles. And while most big cats live on game reserves, a lion once escaped and decided to make its home near Schwertfeger's home.

Before a five-day hunt, the lion ended up killing two cattle. They were able to tranquilize the beast instead of having to shoot it. It took 12 men to lift the animal into a pick-up truck.

"It was a monster," he said.

Hyenas also enter their camp, but are easier to scare away. There also are a variety of snakes that live in Africa. And since Schwertfeger has no fear of the serpents, he often is called upon to take care of them. He estimated to date he's killed 60 snakes including spitting cobras.

"At first we were humbled, that this is far bigger work. The lesson I've learned - we've had to be reliant on the Lord. I believe God gives us creativity and supernatural genius at times to meet certain needs. I'm a nobody. My ability to meet anyone's needs comes through Jesus Christ. ... Millions of dollars have been thrown into good intentioned projects," he said of other groups or companies. "But if we don't impact the heart of the people, the projects are useless. It's people we value, not projects. ... My reward is seeing the people who have been changed, who now live with hope."

Schwertfeger said while he sometimes misses the Ohio Valley, he feels as though Zambia is his true home.

''Seven years in, Zambia is far more home. ... There are certain things you can't talk about here because people don't get it,'' he said. ''My parents have visited us. ... I think they're definitely committed to trying to come as often as they can.''

Schwertfeger said before picking an area to explore, they use Google Earth to spot a village new to them. He then uses GPS navigation to reach the area on his dirt bike and stays in a tent on site, learning what the needs of the people are. They typically also choose a village that already has a church or pastor established.

He added while most of his old friends know he is a missionary and enjoy hearing his tales when he comes back to visit, some people are amazed that he lives in Africa.

"To this day, there still are people who don't believe me," he said, noting he has pulled out his Zambia dirt bike license as proof.


 
 

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Celebrate the Gifts of Women

Lucy C. Laney


On Celebrate the Gifts of Women Sunday, we celebrate faithful women in the church and society. Two of these women trailblazers were Lucy Craft Laney and Mary McLeod Bethune. Laney’s father, David Laney, was born a slave in South Carolina and later became an influential African American Presbyterian pastor.

In 1886 Lucy Laney traveled to Minneapolis to urge the General Assembly (of the United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.) to assist her school, then housed in the basement of Christ Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia. But the Board of Missions for Freedmen pledged only moral support. Later, support was received from Francina E. H. Haines, a Presbyterian women’s leader, in whose honor Laney named her school, the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute. The Presbyterian board later provided funding for salaries and maintenance.

Mary McLeod Bethune, another educator, from South Carolina, attended Trinity Mission School, run by the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen, and later Scotia Seminary, now Barber-Scotia College. She began teaching in 1896 at Haines Normal Institute. Bethune spent only a year at Laney’s school but was influenced deeply by her and adopted many of her educational philosophies designed to improve the conditions of African Americans by educating primarily women. Bethune opened the Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in Daytona in 1905. The school merged with the Cookman Institute for Men, of Jacksonville, Florida, and became the coeducational Bethune-Cookman School in 1923.

Laney was one of the first Women of Faith awardees of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and Bethune is recognized as a historic educational leader. Though they both lacked funds to educate others, they had an abiding faith that God would provide “a way out of no way.”

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Out of the Ruts


Matthew 14:13-33 

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”


A Devotion by Jean Bonin (Alberta, Canada)

It seemed that one winter storm with heavy snow and driving winds would barely end before the next storm blasted in, leaving us homebound and waiting for the skies to clear. Those who lived in town might have enjoyed a brief respite from their usual routine, but here on the farm we either had to get the food to the livestock or the livestock to the food. Horses pastured a mile from the house didn’t seem far away until I had to haul feed to them on a road made invisible by snow drifts. Lucky for me someone had ventured out before me and “broken a trail” that left a narrow, slippery track of ruts. As I was maneuvering that track and praying, “Lord, please keep me in the ruts,” I realized that spiritually I really needed God to do the opposite for me. I was in a spiritual rut. I was unwilling to face new challenges. I had often asked the Lord not only to keep me safe in uncomfortable experiences but to keep me out of uncomfortable experiences. Ruts are a safe place in a blizzard, but in our spiritual life ruts can be hazardous to our relationship with Christ. The passage from Matthew 14 tells us that Peter trusted Jesus enough to get out of the boat during a storm. We too can trust God enough to get out of the ruts that keep us from living more faithfully and abundantly.

From The Upper Room.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunday's Sermon - When Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect


Philippians 3:17–4:1

Together become imitators of me, brothers, and watch those who walk just as we ourselves have as an example. For many walk, of whom often I told you but now I even say with tears, as enemies of the cross of Christ, who’s end is destruction, who’s God is the stomach and [who’s] glory is in their shame; their thoughts are on earthly things. For our citizenship is in the heavens, from where we expect the savior, Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state that it might conform to the body of his glory according to the power that enables him also to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers whom I love and for whom I long, my joy and crown, thus stand firm in the Lord, beloved.


Volkswagen Passat Commercial: Toss When Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect

You know, I think it’s kind of funny the way the mind works, especially what you remember from the past. For example, I remember something Mrs. Stevenson, my third grade teacher said way back in 1965. As a matter of fact, I think it may be the only thing I remember from third grade, outside of the multiplication tables, and she probably only said it only once, but for some reason I’ve carried it with me for almost fifty years. And this is what she said; she said that one of the greatest lies ever spread was the myth that practice makes perfect. She said that was all baloney, because practice would never make a person perfect if he was doing it wrong. As a matter of fact, if he were doing it wrong, practice would probably make him worse. You see, for practice to work at all, a person had to know how to do it right. Then, and only then, would practice have any benefits at all. Now that’s what Mrs. Stevenson told us back in third grade.

And I’ll tell you something, I think the reason I’ve remembered it all these years is because I believe she was probably right. I mean, the only chance that practice will move us into the neighborhood of perfection is if we’re practicing the right stuff. I mean, dah. And to do that, we really need someone to show us how. In other words, even if we’re born with all kinds of natural ability, it doesn’t mean a thing if we don’t have some kind of example we can follow, good night a book we can read or a person who can teach us. Man, we’ve got to have something outside of ourselves, if we want to improve at anything. Because if we don’t, I mean if we don’t have a good example, well, odds are that we’re going to end up like that kid in the Volkswagen commercial. Do you know the one I’m talking about; the one in which the father is showing his son how to throw a baseball. We could end up like him. It’s like asking Dwight Howard or Shaquille O’Neal to teach us how to shoot foul shots. To approach perfection, we’ve got to have a good teacher, a good example to follow, someone who’ll show we what to practice.

And I’ll tell you, I think that applies to our Christian faith just like it does to the rest of life. You see, if we want to move toward perfection, to be more faithful and dedicated, to grow in our relationship with God and our understanding of Jesus Christ and our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, we’re going to need some good examples that we can follow. I mean, how are we ever going to appreciate God’s love unless we have someone who’ll share that message with us? And how are we ever going to apply it in our lives if we don’t know some folks who’ve kind of left us a path that we can follow? And how in heaven’s name are we ever going to find comfort in what we believe if we’re don’t have some real and concrete examples that are able to demonstrate through their lives some of the principles that we see in the Bible? Let’s face it, we can read the eighth chapter of Romans until the cows come home, but it has a new and powerful meaning when we encounter a person who knows, first hand, what Paul was talking about when he wrote, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” I’m telling you, that kind of person can show us how to endure. You see, that’s the sort of example that just might improve our faith.

Of course, there’s the problem. Not only are those folks pretty hard to find, often they’re the ones who get lost amid all the other examples that are vying for our attention. I mean, let’s get real, there’s no shortage of people who will tell us exactly how to live. And there’s no shortage of ideas that promise all kind of benefits. As a matter of fact, there’s no shortage of individuals who certainly sound like Christians, I mean, they use all the right words and they can quote scripture at the drop of a hat and they claim to know far more about what God than you or me, my gosh, there are plenty of self-proclaimed and self-ordained prophets out there who’ll tell you exactly what to do and who to condemn. And even though they may talk a good game and tell us enough of what we want to hear that we kind of get sucked in, how can we know if they’re legitimate, how can we know that what they’re offering is right and helpful, how can we know if they’re really examples worth following? How can we know; I’ve got to tell you, that’s a tough question.

And maybe that’s why I’m so grateful for what Paul wrote in this little passage in Philippians. You see, I’m guessing that Christians living almost two thousand years ago had the same kind of problem we have, and that’s why, in these verses, Paul offered them some guidance about the kind of people they might want to avoid and those they might want to follow.

Of course, in Paul’s mind, there was one bonafide example that the Philippians could trust. He wrote, “Together become imitators of me, brothers, and watch those who walk just as we ourselves have as an example” or, as it says in the Contemporary English Translation, “My friends, I want you to follow my example and learn from others who closely follow the example we set for you.” Now to me, that’s pretty clear; if they wanted to know how to practice the faith, they needed to look to Paul, period. And if he’d stopped there, that would have been O.K., but I want you to notice he didn’t.

Instead, he gave some qualities for which the Philippians needed to look in those they might follow, and I’m talking about qualities that they might avoid and those they might want to embrace. I mean, first, he talked about the one’s whom they’d probably want to avoid. He wrote, “For many walk, of whom often I told you but now I even say with tears, as enemies of the cross of Christ, who’s end is destruction, who’s God is the stomach and [who’s] glory is in their shame; their thoughts are on earthly things.” In other words, Paul knew that there were Christians who were, when you looked beneath the words, actually enemies of the cross, because when you got right down to it, they were really only concerned about themselves. Man, they saw themselves as the center of their universe. They were legends in their own minds. And because of that, their focus was on earthly stuff, on satisfying their own appetites, you know, on what they could shove into their mouths or put into their wallets. In other words, they were the kind of people who are often praised and admired by the world: the beautiful folks, the one’s who glitter when they walk and who “make us wish that we were in [their] place.” These were the examples the Philippians might want to avoid. That’s the first thing he told them.

And then second, he explained why he and others like him might be a better source for direction. Remember, he said this about himself and those who were with him. He wrote, “For our citizenship is in the heavens, from where we expect the savior, Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state that it might conform to the body of his glory according to the power that enables him also to subject all things to himself.” In other words, while the pretenders were obsessed with the immediate and temporal, the examples his beloved Philippians should follow were concentrated on the eternal and heavenly. That was their focus. And their goal, well, it was to become more like Christ, to incorporate some of his qualities into their lives, in other words, to do what Jesus told his disciples to do, again from the Contemporary English Version: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” For Paul, these were the people that should be examples, because they demonstrated the kind of qualities that Christians must put into practice, if they wanted their faith to grow. Now that was what he wrote to the Philippians.

And I’ll tell you, that same thing can apply to us. You see, we can claim these examples of faith, examples we can read about in the Bible but also observe first hand in men and women who have done more than just talk the talk. Man, they’re the ones who have the faith to walk the walk. They live it when times are good. And they live it when times are rough. As a matter of fact, they do exactly what Paul hoped would happen when the Philippians started to practice what he preached. You see, these folks, these saints are able to “stand firm in the Lord.” And when we claim them as examples, so will we. And I’m telling you, this can change everything. I mean, on the inside, I think we’ll become more and more centered. You see, as our focus shifts from the needs of the stomach to the glory of eternal life, I can’t see how our sense of peace and hope and joy won’t grow. And that’s on the inside. Externally, I think we’re going to become stronger than we can imagine. I mean, as we learn more about our savor, how he went toe-to-toe with Satan and how he beat death itself, I’m telling you, we’ll be able to stand firm and stand tall. And in the face of whatever the world can throw against us, we’ll be able to say with all kinds of conviction and faith,  “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, I believe this will happen when we follow the right kind of examples and put into practice the qualities they lived.

Like I said a little while ago, I still agree with Mrs. Stevenson, that practice doesn’t necessarily lead to perfection. In fact, if we’re not careful about the examples we choose to follow, we might end up throwing a baseball like that father in the VW commercial. But here’s the good news, that doesn’t have to be the case with our Christian faith and lives. You see, we can turn away from those folks who are stuck on themselves and on what they can get. And we can follow those saints who are focused on heaven and on the one who holds our destinies in his hands, I’m talking about people who can help us stand firm in the Lord. Now, this we can do. And even though I’d never call it perfection, I certainly think it’ll move us in the right direction.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - I’m Thankful


Psalm 105:1-6 

O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works.
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually.
Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he has uttered,
O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.


A Devotion by John M. Drescher (Pennsylvania, USA)

Many people greet each other by saying, “Hello. How are you?” I noticed that if I reply with the usual, “Fine,” few people seem to notice. So I began to respond, “I’m thankful.” My answer brings interesting responses. My neighbor called across our yards, “How are you?” When I replied, “I’m thankful,” he asked, “Why? What happened?” He assumed that something had gone well in order to cause me to be thankful. Clerks in stores often greet me with “How are you?” My “I’m thankful” causes them to look up and to respond, “That’s great,” “Wonderful,” or “That’s terrific.” Some express appreciation for my positive answer and thank me. This week, the school principal said, “I look forward to your saying, ‘I’m thankful,’ each day.” Some people ask, “Why are you thankful?” and I have an opportunity to tell them about God’s blessings in my life. If we take a moment to reflect, all of us can think of many reasons to thank the Lord. Expressing gratitude is good for us and can be a blessing to others.

From The Upper Room.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Prayer Requests, to be shared during Sunday’s worship service


On Sunday, February 24, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift the following needs to God.

Adults
Alden & Delores Edwards
Alicia Parr
Andrea Vincent
Anthony LaPosta
Bonnie Bowen
Charles Saffle
Christy Cybulski
Conrad Criss
Dale Brant
Dee Campbell
Diane Szymanek
Dick Bonyak
Doug Friends
Eleanor Deuley
Eleanor Williams
Emery Edwards
Faith Bonyak
Gen Meyer
Harman
Holly
Jamie Edwards
Jeanne Stark
Jeff Grant
Joan Gallagher
John Hallenborg
Joy Zaslocke
Linda Caleffie
Lucas Beadling
Marjie Dinger
Michael Hvizdak
Randy Willson
Rhonda Bruich
Rich Hvizdak
Richard Ceraolo
Robert Krupp
Rose Bell
Rose Sanders
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Brody McUmor
Brooke Ash
Daniel Marchione
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonah Becker
Jonathan Marte
Justus Loughry
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Chris Cameron
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Michael Criss
Stephen Mader

In the Hospital
Conrad Criss – Weirton Medical Center

Church Families
John & Norma Tunanidas
Mike & Ruthanne Valiga
Jenny VanGilder

Local Church
New Life Worship Center

Special Friends
Laura Lewis – 138 Patterson Rd., Weirton, WV  26062-4217

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Churches
Riverside Presbyterian Church, Wellsville, OH – Rev. Duane Hetzer
Yellow Creek Presbyterian Church, Wellsville, OH – Rev. Derek Marotta

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Bob Morgan – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Eleanor Dueley – Brightwood Center, 840 Lee Ridge Rd., Follansbee, WV  26037
Harry Hutch – Villa Vista, Room 507, 1800 Sinclair Ave., Steubenville, OH  43953
Kay Manley – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Margaret Heaton – Heritage Place, 608 N 10th Street, Weirton, WV  26062-2423
Mike Valiga – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Thelma Longacre – Chambrel at Montrose, Unit 210, 100 Brookmont Rd., Akron, OH 44333-3091

What's Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?


Below are the announcements as they appear in Sunday's bulletin.
 
DON’T FORGET SUNDAY SCHOOL  . . .
we meet every Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m.  Think about trying out one of our classes. We have a variety of classes to choose from to fit your needs.

BOOKMARKS . . .
Cove’s Reading Group will meet on Monday, February 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.
 
CHANCEL CHOIR WILL PRACTICE . . .
on Wednesday, February 27 at 6:45 p.m. in the sanctuary.  We are working on the cantata,  At The Cross, to be presented on Palm Sunday and on our weekly anthems. New member are always welcome!
 
THE BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY . . .
will not meet on Thursday, February 28.
 
WORLD DAY OF PRAYER . . .
sponsored by Church Women United will be held on Friday, March 1 at the First Christian Church, 3252 Main Street. The program will  begin at 1:00 p.m. The event project will be household cleaning supplies, bleach and paper products for the Weirton Christian Center.
 
BOARD OF  DEACONS MEETING. . .
will be held on Monday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.
 
THE MYRTLE  MCHENDRY CLASS . . .
will resume their monthly meeting and social  on Tuesday, March 5 at 12:30 p.m. in fellowship hall. All members are encouraged to attend as we begin our new year!
 
GIRL SCOUT SUNDAY . . .
will be observed on Sunday, March 10h during the morning worship.
 
HONORS PRESENTATION . . .
by Cove member Justin Taflan who is a Senior at Brooke High School. He is working on an Honors Project which will involve a presentation on the culture of Thailand. This past summer he and his family visited Thailand. Since Justin’s maternal grandmother is from Thailand it was an experience for him to go see where she was born and raised and what life was like in another country. The presentation will be held on Wednesday, March 6 at 6:15 prior to choir practice. It will be approximately 20 minutes in length. Please come and share this experience with Justin. - - - ALL ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND!!
 
AT THE CROSS CANTATA. . .
will be performed by Cove’s  Chancel Choir on Palm Sunday, March 24 during the morning worship service.
 
OUR SYMPATHY . . .
is extended to the family of Virginia Warnock, sister of Darald Channing and Kathryn Michell, who died on Thursday, February 14, 2013.
 
UNCLAIMED  JACKETS. . .
there have been a few jackets and coats left on the coat racks in the main hallway downstairs. If one belongs to you, please take it with you. If the items are not claimed in the near future, they will be donated to a local clothes closet.
 
DOORS . . .
please take a minute when entering or leaving the building to be sure the exterior doors close completely.  This action will ensure the security of the building and also aide us with heating costs.
 
HAND SANITIZERS . . .
are located on the entrance wall downstairs past the door to the kitchen. Also a hand sanitizer is located on the far wall in the narthex. Using them will hopefully help decrease the spread of germs this winter. 
 
PRAYER CHAIN UPDATE . . .
we will be updating our prayer chain monthly. If you wish to have someone remain on the prayer chain for a longer period of time please contact the church office or Floy Fetty.

DO YOU HAVE A NEW ADDRESS. . .
new phone number or new e-mail ? Please contact the church office so we can update our records. We like to keep everyone informed of our events.  If you don’t receive mailings,  we may not have your current and/or correct information.
 
GREETERS NEEDED . . .
if you would like to serve as a greeter before a Sunday morning worship service, please contact Bonnie Nichols at 304-723-5134.
 
WE ARE BLOGGING!
We now have five blogs that you can check out for information and on which you can leave comments. They're listed below:
• The Cove Community (www.thecovecommunity.blogspot.com) - This is for the whole church. I'll post sermons and announcements. I also invite y'all to send in material that you'd like to share with other members of the congregation. And please feel free to comment on anything you might read.
• Cove Kids (www.covekids.blogspot.com) - This is tailored for the preteen young people in our church. Again I'll post announcements. You're also invited to send in any writings, photographs and art work you'd like to post. And they don't have to all deal with the church. We also post artwork from Jesus Time.
• Bible Talk (www.cove-bibletalk.blogspot.com) - We've established this blog to give pastors and lay people the chance to discuss Scripture. The weekly passages are from the Common Lectionary, and we're posting the pastor's translation of the  Greek text. We want you to read any or all of the passages and to leave any comment or ask any question that you feel is appropriate. Please include any research you've done. As we share our ideas and insights, we hope that we'll all come to a better and deeper understanding of the Bible. Each passage is linked to a website that offers some informative information.
• Let's Talk About It (www.cove-talk.blogspot.com) - Through this site, we hope to encourage a conversation on a variety of topics. Since this blog is sponsored by a church, we expect most of the issues to involve the Christian faith. Still we don't want to limit ourselves or you. If you have a topic that you'd like us to discuss, include it as a comment to a previous issue. Please phrase it as a question and offer a summary of at least two positions. We'll add a new item to discuss every three weeks. We hope this challenges you to apply your faith to issues that are important to you.
• The Bible in a Year (www.cove-bibleinayear.blogspot.com) - Each day, we'll post passages so that you can read the Bible in one year.
 
IT IS OFTEN DIFFICULT TO HEAR PRAYER REQUESTS . . .
on Sunday mornings. If you would like to have someone added to the prayer chain please drop a short note into the collection plate with their name and any other information you would like to share.  You may also call the church office or e-mail the church with the information. 
 
IN THE HOSPITAL? HOMEBOUND? RECENT ILLNESS?. . .
if you are unable to attend services and would like to arrange for a visit from Rev. Ed Rudiger please contact the church office. Also if you would like to receive copies of the Sunday Bulletin contact the church office. 
 
WE CAN ALWAYS DO A BETTER JOB MINISTERING . . .
to the needs within this congregation, community and world. Please feel free to offer any suggestions as comments.
 
LOOSE CHANGE OFFERING . . .
Session approved the Deacons collecting a “Loose Change Offering” that will be used to assist the Deacons with their utility assistance outreach program for Weirton residents or Cove Church members. We hope church members can help with the assistance program by donating some of their spare change. A container is placed in the Narthex each Sunday morning before church. The Deacons thank you for your support of their projects.
 
VASES OF FLOWERS. . .
can be purchased for a service. The cost is  $16.00 a vase.  Silk flowers or live plants can be purchased for an additional cost. The  flower calendar is located on the far wall in the church narthex or you can telephone the church office to place your order. After the service, the flowers will be placed in a plastic vase for you to take with you.
 
WE’RE UPDATING OUR PRAYER AND DEVOTION LINE . . .
about four times a week. If you would like to call and hear a devotional, please call 304-748-7900.
 
ONGOING MISSION PROJECTS . . .
• Campbell’s Labels are being collected by the Presbyterian Women for the Weirton Christian Center.  The labels including the bar code or just the bar code can be dropped off in the container located in the main  hallway downstairs.
• Greeting Cards are being collected. Please drop off your Greeting Cards or just the front of the card in the box located in the main hallway downstairs. The cards are being sent to St. Jude’s  Ranch to be remade into cards to be sold in their gift shop.  FYI . .. .Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting Cards can not be accepted as they are trade marked.
• Can Tabs are being collected for the Ronald McDonald House in Morgantown, West Virginia. Deposit your tabs in the container locate in the main hallway downstairs.
We thank you for your participation and support of our mission endeavors. 

My Daughter Is Growing Up


Debbie’s been out-of-town for a couple of days, and so last evening, Maggie and I went out to eat. Every now and then, it’s nice to have a little “father-daughter” time. Of course, because I’m a nice guy (at least that’s what my mother tells me), we went to Maggie’s favorite restaurant, Golden Coral. If given the choice, she’ll choose that buffet 99% of the time, and since young people under 12 can now eat for $2.99, there’s no way I’d object to her choice. And since the restaurant is right across from Robinson Mall, we planned to hit Justice and Aeropostale after we ate.

Anyway while we were eating, Maggie asked, “Dad, do you think the Easter Bunny is at the Mall yet?” Now, since she asked the question, I felt a little thrill pass through me. You see, a couple of months ago, we went to see Santa just like we’d done every year of her life, and each year, well, I’ve been thinking we’re on borrowed time. She won’t want to do it forever. But if she still wanted to see the Bunny one more time, maybe I’d be able to squeeze out one more sign of childhood innocence. And so after I told her that I didn’t know if the Easter Bunny had arrived, I asked, “If he’s there, would you like to see him?” Then it happened. Maggie gave me one of those semi-disgusted looks that she’s been perfecting lately and said, “Dad, don’t you think I’ve outgrown seeing Santa and the Easter Bunny?” I could feel my heart drop. I was crushed. The Bunny I could handle, but Santa, say it ain’t so. But before I started either to probe or debate, I paused and thought; she’s probably right. As a newly minted eleven-year-old, maybe she has outgrown another belief of childhood. She was changing; I can see that every day. And although it’s difficult for a 55-year-old father who wants to hang on to the past with bloody fingernails, change is not only necessary but good. You see, last evening, as I looked at the young lady on the other side of the table, she was growing into the person God had created her to be. And that made he happy.

And as I’ve thought about it, it seems that the same thing is happening within the church. Let’s face it, the world around us is changing which means we might need to change too. And that’s going to be tough for us all. You see, even though I’d love to hold on to the way things have always been, that’s no longer possible, and that’s hard to accept. I grew up in the church; therefore, nothing would make be happier than to sing the songs of my childhood or to follow the order of worship that was meaningful when I was growing up or to preach the kind of sermons I learned to preach when I was in seminary thirty years ago. And even though I can probably gather around me enough people my age and older so that together we can hang on to the past for a while, there’s a huge problem. Jesus called us to “make disciples of all nations” and to do that, we have to recognize that the world has changed in the last 55 years, and the songs, orders and sermons probably need to change too. This change is just the way it is; it’s beyond our control. It’s a little like that poem by one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost:
Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf’s a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay.  

But you know, even though this change is going to happen, we can control how we approach it. You see, instead of seeing change as bad, I think we can see it as a good thing, sort of like my daughter growing up. I mean, if we recognize that God is with us and that he’s in control, making these changes might help us grow into the kind of church God created us to be. And brothers and sisters, that should also make us very happy.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cove’s Sunday Bulletin for February 24, 2013


Below is a copy of Sunday’s bulletin. I’ll preach from Philippians 3:17–4:1. I’ll be preaching on the nature of love, and the title of the sermon is “When Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect.”







Sunday's Minute for Mission - Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico


On October 26, 2011, Professor Juan Bek preached in chapel at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico. He recalled that as he helped his granddaughter one evening with a school project about butterflies, he remembered Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis. The butterfly transforms from a cocoon to a butterfly. In Kafka’s masterpiece, Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning and finds himself transformed into a giant verminous insect. Professor Bek’s sermon was a sober and prophetic call. He described our contemporary human situation, where, instead of changing from cocoons into butterflies, we find ourselves transformed into vermin. We all are Gregor Samsa. He called it “retromorphosis,” turning away from God’s image and purposes and wearing the effects of sin as persons, church, and society.

As I heard the sermon, I remembered the transfiguration story in Mark 9:2–8, where the Greek word for transfiguration is, precisely, metamorphosis. Professor Bek’s sermon was a slowing, introspective moment for students and professors at the dawn of the Reformation celebration. The Reformation, he asserted, was a metamorphosis, a time in history where God’s Word turned our vermin-like lives, our vermin-like church, and our vermin-like society into butterflies. This call to transformation can be extended to theological education and the vocation of our seminaries.

Sometimes we need to go to high places. Sometimes God takes us to high places, as Jesus did with Peter, James, and John. The purpose is not to renounce life but to be transformed by God’s glory and exercise our vocations in the world. Arnaldo Sánchez, a pastor and student at our seminary, goes every week to Culebra, a small island to the east of Puerto Rico, spending days struggling with transportation. He preaches and teaches and then comes to seminary to learn.

As a seminary, we confront the realities around us with honesty and humility and equip our students with the resources to hope against hope. Let us all be witnesses of our Lord’s transfiguration in the midst of our retromorphosis.

—Dr. F. Javier Goitía Padilla, professor, Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Hidden Talents


Romans 12:3-8 

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.


A Devotion by Mary Berger (New Mexico, USA)

As I watched the liturgical dancers, choir members, and musicians during a church program, I was envious that I did not have similar talents. I wondered what talent I had that would create the joy and excitement I saw on the faces of the people around me. I started to check off on a mental list the talents I do not have: I do not dance. I do not have a voice that any choir director would welcome. I am not musically inclined in any way. As my “do not” and “cannot” list grew, my self-esteem plunged. What talent had God given me? Discouraged, I closed my eyes and prayed. Romans 12:6 came to mind: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” In the fog of my doubt, I saw a glimmer of hope. God has given me the ability to listen patiently and to offer encouragement to those who come to me with their problems or concerns. I can also write; and that talent, combined with my eye for photography, allows me to create a variety of multi-media projects to entertain family and friends. I realized that no matter what our gifts, God loves each of us. God’s only request is that we use our talents wisely and fully.

From The Upper Room.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Our Security


Exodus 12:1-28 

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the LORD. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall hold a solemn assembly, and on the seventh day a solemn assembly; no work shall be done on those days; only what everyone must eat, that alone may be prepared by you. You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread, for on this very day I brought your companies out of the land of Egypt: you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a perpetual ordinance. In the first month, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day, you shall eat unleavened bread. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether an alien or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your settlements you shall eat unleavened bread.

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down. You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and your children. When you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this observance. And when your children ask you, 'What do you mean by this observance?' you shall say, 'It is the passover sacrifice to the LORD, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.'" And the people bowed down and worshiped. The Israelites went and did just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron.


A Devotion by Ruth Nussbaumer (Alsace, France)

I accepted Christ as my Savior in my early childhood. However, my life was filled with fear for many years. I believed that if I were in the act of sinning when Jesus came back, I would be lost. This lack of assurance deprived me of the joy of being a child of God. One day as I was reading a passage from Exodus 12, the reason that Israel’s firstborns were spared suddenly became clear to me. God told the people to take some of the slaughtered animal blood and put it on the door frames of the houses. Then God added: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” God did not say, “Here lives Moses. He is a man of God. So I will pass over.” Or “Here, Miriam is not good enough.” God did not decide according to the person inside the house. The blood on the door post caused the destroyer to pass over. This was a reminder to me that Jesus shed his blood for us. Paul wrote, “In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us” (Eph. 1:7-8). The blood of Christ shed for us by grace is the source of our security. When doubts arise about our worth or our salvation, we can trust Jesus’ work and words and not our feelings.

From The Upper Room.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sunday's Sermon - Let’s Get the But Out of Faith

Romans 10:8-13

8But what did he say? "Near to you is the word, on your lips and in your heart." This is the word of trust that we preach, 9because if you might acknowledge on your lips that Jesus is lord and trust in your heart that God caused him to rise from death, then you will be saved. 10For in the heart one trusts into a right relationship [with God], but on the lips, one acknowledges into salvation. 11For the scripture says, "All of those who trust in him will not be put to shame." 12For there is no distinction between Jews and Greeks, for the same Lord of all is rich to all who call upon him. 13For "all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."




fallen man cannot be justified out of works of law but out of faith in Christ
Let’s Get the But Out of Faith
Do you know the most powerful word in the English language? It’s a simple three-letter word, found around every home, that begins with a B and ends with a T, and there’s a nice little U in the middle. But, in my opinion, that’s the most powerful word in the English language, and I’ll tell you why. Those three little letters can almost magically turn good into bad, happy into the sad, confidence into doubt, and the very best of news into something to worry about. All this can be done by that one tiny word, because whatever follows the but almost always cancels out whatever came before it.

For example, I remember, when I was a little boy, going into Ocean View Presbyterian on a typical Sunday morning, my sister in her little dress with a head full of booby pin curls, my brother in a little corduroy jumpsuit with a head full of non-boody pin curls, and me, well, I’d be wearing freshly polished lace-ups, a plaid sport coat, accented by a monogrammed pocket square and a clip-on bow tie. I’m telling you, I looked marvelous. Watch out Cindy Abbot. And you know, I felt as great as I looked. Everything was good. But then, as we were literally entering the building, my mom would nearly always say something like, "Eddie don’t you look nice, but you probably should have done a better job combing your hair." Of course, y’all know where my mind went. Oh my gosh, what’s wrong with my hair? I used Brylcream and everything. I guess, a little dab didn’t do much for me. I should have used the whole tube. Or maybe I used too much. I did notice a lot of flies circling my head. Either way, my distress rose as we walked into church, and the shoes and the jacket and the handkerchief and the bow tie all kind of drifted back into my brain. I’m telling you, at least in my mind, good and happy and confident were all turned on their heads by one, single word: but.

And you know, I think the same kind of thing can happen in our relationship with God and with one another. You see, I believe it’s really easy for negativity to creep into what we believe, and I’ll tell you, often it happens when we decide to shove that wonderful three letter word at the end of what the Bible calls the good news so that it’s not quite so good anymore.

I mean, take for example the passage we just read from Paul’s letter to the Romans. Now, in my opinion, this is just about as good as news can be. Look at your bulletin; in this chapter where Paul explained why he wanted the Jews, his own flesh and blood, to believe in Christ, the apostle described the exact message that he preached and why he preached it. He wrote, "This is the word of trust that we preach, because if you might acknowledge on your lips that Jesus is lord and trust in your heart that God caused him to rise from death, then you will be saved." In other words, if we recognize, if we confess that Jesus is Lord, that he’s someone who’s worthy of both honor and obedience, if we do that and if we also trust in our hearts and believe in our minds that he actually did what he came to do, namely to die and be raised, according to Paul if this is at the center of our confession and faith, then we will be saved. We will be saved from wrath and condemnation. We will be saved so that we can spend the future in the presence of God. We will be saved, period. Now that’s exactly what Paul wrote, didn’t he?

And then he explained what it meant, you know, how trust leads to righteousness and faith to salvation and how this applies to everyone without distinction because we are all equally rich in Christ. You see, as Paul wrote, the bottom line is this: "all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." Now that’s what he said; it’s all positive because it’s all directed toward those who believe, and it says absolutely nothing about those who don’t.

And you know, that’s why I think it’s really sad that some Christians feel the need to tack a but at the end. In other words, for reasons that certainly aren’t consistent with God’s word, they take this positive and spin off a negative. They take this truth that can absolutely fill us with all kinds joy and change it so that most of the joy is replaced with guilt and doubt. I’m telling you, they take a message that’s called Good News and they turn it into what we call fire and brimstone. And they do it by adding a but that just doesn’t belong. Let me show you what I’m talking about.

Take what Paul wrote: "If you might acknowledge on your lips that Jesus is lord and trust in your heart that God caused him to rise from death, then you will be saved." Sounds good, right; it offers lot of comfort and hope and joy. And that’s really all it says, how acknowledging and trusting results in salvation. But let’s not leave it alone. Let’s improve it by adding our own but at the end. Let’s say, "If you might acknowledge on your lips that Jesus is lord and trust in your heart that God caused him to rise from death, then you will be saved" but: but if you don’t, but if you’re like the Jews and don’t acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, but if you’re a sceptic and can’t trust that God raised Jesus from the dead, but if you don’t do it, then...what? Then you’re forever lost, right? Then you’ve separated yourself from God’s ability to save you. Then you’ll be damned to eternal Hell because the one who loved you before the foundation of the world can’t or won’t do anything about it. Talk about tough love. Now that’s what they say; and that’s what they believe; and that’s what they share. All because of what followed a word that they added to the text. You see, how everything changes when you put a but at the end.

And why stop there; let’s sprinkle some a few more buts all around. For example, when Paul wrote earlier in this same letter that nothing "...in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord," let’s say "but." Or maybe when Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," but... Or, and this is a good one, when he said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life," but... "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him," but... Man, that’s a double butter. Now, isn’t it amazing, we’re completely changed the gospel of Jesus Christ by being free and easy with our buts.

And because so many have taken these human alternations as gospel, you know, from God’s mouth to our ears, no wonder so many Christians seem to walk around with a lot of guilt all the time, something they can only seem to lift by constructing and imposing a set of laws that they can follow and that makes them at least feel a little better about their chances. And maybe that also explains why the message of Christ that they take into the rest of the world is so often burdened with a whole bunches of fear and fire, a message that, more and more, seems to fall on deft ears. And that’s a real shame, especially when the problem isn’t with the message but with what’s been done to it. It’s really shocking how their but can drain the gospel of good news. But some Christians just can’t seem to help themselves.

But what if we don’t follow their lead, you know, run with the crowd? I mean, what if we do something really radical and allowed God to speak to us without limiting his promises and his grace and his love. In other words, what do you think would happen if we decided to get the but out our faith? What if we did something like that, just imagine how it might change our understanding of our relationship with God. My goodness, all of a sudden we’d have an incredible reason to feel all kinds of joy and excitement, peace and hope. I mean, when we take this passage and others like it, without any editorial additions or modifications, we have genuine good news, and I’m talking about the kind of news that can cause a guy to smile all day.

My goodness, we can now believe that if we acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ and if we trust that he did what he said he did, we will be saved. We will be saved even if we’re not as good as think we should be. We will be saved even if we fall short and disappoint ourselves and our God. Man, we will be saved regardless of anything those but folks say. We will be saved, because it’s ultimately not up to us, it’s up to the one who does the saving. I’m telling you, we can believe the good news, we will be saved. Which means that we can live in a right relationship with God and never be put to shame, because there’s no distinction between insiders and outsiders. It’s the same Lord who loves us all. Why? "For ‘all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.’" Period. Now, that’s what I call good news, and it’s great to believe it.

And I’ll tell you something else, it’s also great to share it. I mean, we’ve got about forty days before Easter. Suppose we used that time to just experience the credible love of God, shown through Jesus Christ, brought up close and personal by the Holy Spirit. And suppose we allowed that love to shape our relationships with God and with one another and with those outside the church. And suppose we viewed the people around us as men and women who are also loved and saved by that same God,

they just may not know it yet. I mean, instead of following the buts that people have added to the passages, suppose we listened to scripture and believed that the promises apply to them just like it does to us. Maybe, just maybe we’d be more interested in sharing what we have with others, and I’m talking about through our words, if that comes natural, but also through our lives. Look at it as sharing the wealth, because remember we’re all rich through Christ. I’m telling you, it can absolutely change our lives.

I’ll tell you, I think but is a powerful word. It can change of the attitude of a dapper young man entering church, and I’ll tell you, it can change our understanding of faith. In fact, it can cause us to completely miss the good news of the gospel. But that doesn’t have to be the case. You see, we can accept the word of God without editorial improvements or assumptions. And we can accept that ‘...if you might acknowledge on your lips that Jesus is lord and trust in your heart that God caused him to rise from death, then you will be saved," we can accept this because that’s exactly what Paul wrote, and he did it without a single but. And then we can watch as our view of God’s relationship with us and others changes. In other words, I think we’re going to see exciting and wonderful things happen, when we have the courage to get the but out of faith.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - No Breakfast?


Luke 12:22-31 

He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.  Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you–you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.


A Devotion by Cassius Rhue (South Carolina, USA)

We woke up late on the morning of a big event at our church. As we got ready, my wife and I decided to save time by picking up breakfast en route. As the children were getting in the car, their faces looked sad. Finally, one of the younger children began crying. “You didn’t give us any breakfast,” our five-year-old said. As my wife told her that we would be picking up breakfast on the way to church, I chimed in and asked, “Honey, have we ever failed to give you something to eat?” “No,” she replied. Once she realized that we would always feed her, she dried her tears and went happily to church.

Her fear of going hungry and having her needs unmet reminded me of my walk with God. Many times I have been sad or afraid that God has not heard my prayers, seen my need, or realized that I was hungry. Like our daughter, I too have cried out when I felt God had forgotten me. I am learning to trust that God promises never to leave us or to forsake us. God is always working on our behalf whether we can see it or not.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Prayer Requests, to be shared during Sunday’s worship service


On Sunday, February 17, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift the following needs to God.

Adults
Alden & Delores Edwards
Alicia Parr
Andrea Vincent
Anthony LaPosta
Bonnie Bowen
Charles Saffle
Christy Cybulski
Conrad Criss
Dale Brant
Dee Campbell
Diane Szymanek
Dick Bonyak
Doug Friends
Eleanor Williams
Emery Edwards
Gen Meyer
Harman
Holly
Jamie Edwards
Jeanne Stark
Jeff Grant
Joan Gallagher
John Hallenborg
Joy Zaslocke
Linda Caleffie
Lucas Beadling
Marjie Dinger
Matt Keenan
Mellie Poblete Nazaire
Michael Hvizdak
Randy Willson
Rhonda Bruich
Rich Hvizdak
Richard Ceraolo
Robert Krupp
Rose Bell
Rose Sanders
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Brody McUmor
Brooke Ash
Daniel Marchione
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonah Becker
Jonathan Marte
Justus Loughry
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Chris Cameron
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Michael Criss
Stephen Mader

In the Hospital
Conrad Criss – Weirton Medical Center
Jennifer Caleffie – Magee

Bereaved Families
The Family of Ken Gasser

Church Families
Craig, Dawn, Ethan & Tyler Trushel
Kim Trushel & Taelor Costello
Mark & Barbara Trushel

Local Church
Mount Olive Baptist Church

Special Friends
Ron Taflan – 145 Colliers Way, Weirton, WV  26062-4043

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Churches
Covenant Presbyterian Church, Wellsville, OH – Rev. Sam Monte
Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church, Wellsville, OH – Rev. Derek Marotta

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Bob Morgan – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Harry Hutch – Villa Vista, Room 507, 1800 Sinclair Ave., Steubenville, OH  43953
Kay Manley – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Margaret Heaton – Heritage Place, 608 N 10th Street, Weirton, WV  26062-2423
Mike Valiga – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV  26062
Thelma Longacre – Chambrel at Montrose, Unit 210, 100 Brookmont Rd., Akron, OH 44333-3091