Saturday, June 29, 2013

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Confidence In God

You can also find a podcast of this devotion at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).


Exodus 3:7-12 

Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”



A Devotion by Shannon L. Brophy (Texas, USA)

Our baby has dealt with severe eczema since he was about three months old, and it has been difficult to see him live with such an irritating and often painful condition. At times when the inflammation and itchiness of his skin are so agonizing that he looks at his father and me with tear-filled eyes, all we want to do is hold him close and let him know that we hear his cries. We want him to know we understand that he is in pain and that we are doing all we possibly can to alleviate it. This experience has given me a new perspective on the love of God. We all go through seasons of life that are especially difficult and painful. In those times I find indescribable reassurance in knowing that just as God heard the cries of the Israelites and knew about their pain as captives in Egypt, God hears our cries of pain, frustration, and desperation. Not only does God hear us and know us, God wants to bring us comfort and peace. 


From The Upper Room.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday's Essay - Alone in a Crowd

You can also find a podcast of this essay at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

Have you ever felt lonely in the middle of a crowd? It’s an odd feeling, I can tell you. There you are, with people all around you, and they’re talking and laughing and engaging with one another. And there you are, like you’re outside the circle, trying to look like it doesn’t bother you but of course it does. You’re the third wheel, the one who causes the company to be a crowd, the expendable part. As a matter of fact, you feel like you’re kind of a drop in the ocean and that if you left, no one would know that you’d gone...or care. Have you ever felt like that?

Now if you haven’t, I think you’re really lucky, because I believe this kind of loneliness is growing in our society. You see, as we become increasingly detached from one another, interaction becomes more and more awkward and strained. And even though advertisers constantly bombard us with commercials with beautiful people having a wonderful and relaxed time at these huge parties, I think this is an image that just distorts the world as it really is. Frankly, I think we’re surrounded by lonely people, people who feel isolated and have no idea what to do about it.

And I’ll tell you, I think it’s for those folks that the church can make a big difference. I mean, we can offer comfort and support for those who feel lost, but I believe to do that, we have to be willing to do three things. You see, first I think we need to open our eyes so that we can see them. Often, we’re more comfortable looking only at one another, and we only take in what we want to see. Even though there’s real pain around us, even within our communities and churches, we never move the blinders so that we can see. And I can tell you, sometime those who are hurting the most are the ones we least expect. We’ve got to be willing to look. And second, we need to open our ears so that we can hear. Sadly, a lot of Christians believe the gospel is like an headband, one size fits all. Of course, that’s not the way it is, and that’s certainly not the way Christ related to people. No, before we begin telling folks how to solve their problems, it might be a good idea to listen so we can know what they really need and want. We must be willing to listen. And finally, I think we should be willing to open our arms and embrace them. And I’ll tell you, that might be the most important thing we can do. Often the lonely don’t want our advice, they want our presence. And they don’t want us to stand behind them for support, but beside them for comfort. And they don’t want us to carry them but rather to walk beside them. But that can only happen when we open our arms.

Loneliness is all around us. Every day we encounter people who may be on the verge of giving up, because they just don’t know what to do or where to turn. But that doesn’t have to be case. You see, we can step forward with our eyes and ears and arms wide open, and we can share the good news of Jesus Christ with those who certainly feel as though they are the least of our brothers and sisters.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What’s Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?

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

IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN LEARNING ABOUT OTHER RELIGIONS . . .
Pastor Rudiger will lead a class on some of the great world religions. During the seven-session series, we’ll look at the following:
Session 5 - Hinduism
Session 6 - Buddhism
Session 7 - Religions of the East
The course will held on Wednesdays , at 10:00 a.m., in Cove Presbyterian Church’s Fellowship Hall. It’s free of charge and open to the community.

PASTOR RUDIGER WILL LEAD A CLASS FOR YOUTH . . .
after worship, beginning at 12:30. We’ll talk about the Christian faith and how that faith might be lived as member of the Presbyterian Church. We’ll consider the following questions:
Session 4 - Why is the Holy Spirit important?
Session 5 - How can we respond?
At the end of the series, those involved will be offered the opportunity to accept the love and grace that God offers.

CLOSED. . .
the church and office will be closed this Thursday, July 4th in observance of Independence Day. Happy Holiday!!

A PLANNING MEETING . . .
for the upcoming year of the Presbyterian Women will be held on Wednesday, July 10 at noon. Installation of officers will take place during the meeting.

CHRISTMAS IN JULY . . .
Is being sponsored by Cove Deacons during the month of July. Christmas in July is being spearheaded to aide in Project Christmas Smile. We are asking anyone willing to donate toys, books, games, cars, trucks or baby dolls that will be used as gifts for children who will be the  recipients of our 2013 Project Christmas Smile. You can bring in your contributions anytime during July and place the items under the Christmas Tree in the narthex. Last year, 22 children enjoyed a special Christmas with the help of the congregation and various fund raisers. If you have any questions please contact Tina Viakley at 304-723-5558.

HOT DOG LUNCHEON. . .
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Cove’s Fellowship Hall
Menu:   Hot dogs, chips, cake & beverage
Immediately following worship

MARK YOU CALENDAR . . .
Sunday, August 11 will be Cove’s Annual Church Picnic at Marland Heights Park in Shelter 2.  The day will begin with worship at the park at 11:00 a.m. Details will be forthcoming in future bulletins.

THANK YOU . . .
so much, our dear, long time friends at Cove, for your beautiful cards, encouraging notes, prayers and calls when Johnny was in the hospital and later as he continues to recover at home. The Myrtle McHendry Class was and is so faithful sending cards and special notes - I really can’t begin to tell you what all this has meant to us. You will always have our gratitude and our love.
John & Esten

SUMMER CAMPS . . .
are being held at Beaver Creek and Camp Presmont for children of all ages.  There are also camps available for children accompanied  by an adult.  If you are interested there are brochures posted on the main bulletin board downstairs or contact the church office to receive a copy of the various camps being offered. Scholarships can be obtained to help defray the cost.

COVE’S NINTH ANNUAL COMMUNITY CALENDAR. . .
project is underway. See your special dates in print! If you have not received your listings in the mail please contact the church office. If you would like to become a new participant, please fill in the blank order form here in the bulletin and return to the church office. The cost is - $4.00 per calendar and $.15 a listing. We would like all listing information including  corrections and additions turned into the church office by Monday, July 15. If you have any questions contact the church office.

SPECIAL MUSIC . . .
if anyone would like to sing a solo, duet, trio or share another musical talent during the months of July or August, please contact Janice Torrance at 304-797-1908. There is also a sign up sheet on the choir room bulletin board. All special music is welcome and will be greatly appreciated while the choir takes a much deserved break.

COVE’S WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION . . .
needs your help for Laughlin Chapel in Wheeling, West Virginia. The chapel is in need of  school supplies for the year 2013-2014.  We annually ask for supplies from  our congregation for this mission project.  Boxes will be available in the main hallway downstairs thru the end of July for this need.

DEACONS USHERING SCHEDULES...
for the months of July thru September have been posted on the far side in the narthex (next to the Flower Calendar), if you are available to usher for a service,  we are  asking you to please sign-up.

WE HAVE SEVERAL FOSTER FAMILIES . . .
within our church family and community, and God has given us the chance to help them in this very special ministry. If you’re interested in offering help, please contact either  Chris Connell, Ed Rudiger or the church office.

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.

OUR SERMONS ARE NOW AVAILABLE ON . . .
covepresbyterian.podbean.com and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian).

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.

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.

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.  Or you may purchase silk flowers or live plants, the choice is yours. 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.

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.

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

On Sunday, June 30, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift the following needs to God.

Adults
Aaronlee Archer
Andrea Vincent
Anthony LaPosta
Barbara Maze
Bill Phillips
Bonnie Bowen
Bonnie Kirtley
Charles Saffle
Cindi Livingston
Conrad Criss
Dale Brant
Dee Campbell
Diane Szymanek
Dick Bonyak
Dino Buffington
Eleanor Williams
Emery Edwards
Harman
Hattie Black Marcum
Holly
James Mitts
James Woolfolk
Jamie Edwards
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jeanne Starck
Jeff Grant
Jen's Mom
Joan Gallagher
Joan Pohlman
Jodi Kraina
John Jezerski
John Schlotter
Justin Vogel
Manuel Fraga
Maria Drennan
Marjie Dinges
Matthew Kirtley
Penny Mourat
Randy Willson
Rhonda Bruich
Robert Krupp
Rose Saunders
Ryan
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Steve Zubay
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
Teresa Brown
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Brody McUmor
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonah Becker
Jonathan Marte
Justin McKinney
Kade Haines
Kinsley Peppler
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Chris Cameron
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Michael Criss
Stephen Mader

In the Hospital
Manuel Fraga – Trinity East
Eleanor Williams – Weirton Medical Center

Church Families
Drew, Mindy, Dustin & Cole Coates
Ruth Coates
Tim & Chris Connell

Local Church
Weirton Covenant Church

Special Friends
June Virtue – Grace Cottage, 195 Eden Dr., Weirton, WV  26062-3664

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Groups
Annapolis Presbyterian Church, Bloomingdale, Ohio – Vacant Pulpit
Bloomingdale Presbyterian Church, Bloomingdale, Ohio – Vacant Pulpit

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alden & Dolores Edwards – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Alice Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Bob Morgan – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Charles & Dorothy Saffle – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Conrad Criss – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, 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
June Virtue – Grace Cottage, 195 Eden Dr., Weirton, WV 26062-3664
Margaret Heaton – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Mike Valiga – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Penny Mourat – Valley Haven Geriatric Center, RR2 Box 44, Wellsburg, WV  26070
Thelma Longacre – Chambrel at Montrose, Unit 210, 100 Brookmont Rd., Akron, OH 44333-3091

Cove’s Bulletin for June 30, 2013

Below is a copy of our bulletin for our 11:00 worship service. We’ll talk about how we might better get along with one another.









Sunday's Minute for Mission - Medical Benevolence Foundation

Happy 50th Birthday, Medical Benevolence Foundation! The idea for a group to support Presbyterian medical missions was conceived in 1962 by the Board of World Missions of PCUS at the suggestion of Dr. Paul Crane, a medical missionary. In good Presbyterian fashion, a committee was formed, which then met and recommended the approval of a foundation for medical work, especially the financial support of hospitals. In 1963 a letter was sent to all Presbyterian doctors announcing the formation of Medical Benevolence Foundation (MBF). MBF proceeded to engage with medical mission co-workers and to develop lasting partnerships with the international churches and their mission hospitals. MBF began raising support to help mission hospitals provide care for people in desperate need and training for their medical staff and community health workers.

One Step at a Time Toward Long-Term Goals
Over the years, MBF activities expanded to include shipping medical supplies, volunteer mission service, and raising funds to upgrade facilities and support a growing number of community health programs. As a nonprofit organization, MBF made good use of access to government grants through ASHA (American Schools and Hospitals Abroad), effectively leveraging millions of dollars to build nursing schools and renovate hospitals.

Poverty-related diseases, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, nursing shortages, seasons of drought, and political upheavals presented no shortage of challenges and continue to do so. By God’s grace, and through the faithful support of churches and individuals, the staff and board of MBF have frequently found innovative ways to support partners in their mission to demonstrate God’s love for all people through healing ministries.

The original founders had great dreams of what God would do with their five loaves and two fish, but God through his grace and bountiful blessings has helped us do more over the past 50 years than we could ever have imagined. I wonder what God has planned for the next 50 years!


E. Andrew Mayo, executive director, Medical Benevolence Foundation

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - True Value

You can also find a podcast of this devotion at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

Psalm 119:33-40 

Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways.
Confirm to your servant your promise, which is for those who fear you.
Turn away the disgrace that I dread, for your ordinances are good.
See, I have longed for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life.



A Devotion by Adele Jones (Queensland, Australia)

I am privileged to work with remarkable people in a workplace that is largely focused on academic reward. Yet this highly intellectual environment brings the risk of allowing academic achievement to become the measuring stick of a person’s worth. Adopting such a value system is easy. Society often measures our worth by our success, knowledge, or wealth. But what are these achievements if they are not attained while seeking after God and God’s purposes? Does any of them make us more important in the Lord’s eyes? No. God loves us unconditionally. Jeremiah wrote,  “‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.” In these verses, we see that strength, riches, and wisdom are not negatives. But first and foremost, God longs for us to be people who devote ourselves to seeking God and understanding

From The Upper Room.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - See The Whole


You can also find a podcast of this sermon at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

Psalm 103:1-14 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits–
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.


A Devotion by Steve Messer (Indiana, USA)

My mother committed suicide when I was six years old. I found her body. No one spoke to me about her after her death, so I grew up not knowing her as a whole person. I remembered her most vividly at her worst moment. On the fiftieth anniversary of her death, the Lord nudged me to get to know my mother. In response, I spent six months researching her life and traveling to places where she had lived, studied, and worked. With the support of my wife, my dad, and many other people, I was able to “meet” my mother. I learned about her life and how much she loved me. Instead of a distant, unknown, and traumatic figure, she became my mom. During this healing process, God showed me that as I strive to see others in the way God views them, I must see beyond their worst moments. Jesus did not reduce Peter to the lack of faith Peter revealed when he sank beneath the waves or when he denied his Lord. Instead, Jesus saw Peter as a flawed follower who loved him deeply and who had gifts that transcended his sins. We can extend the same healing grace to those around us and to those who have come before us.

From The Upper Room.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday's Sermon - When We Grow Up

You can also find a podcast of this sermon at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

Galatians 3:23-29

And before trust came, under law, we were held, imprisoned until trust which was destined to be revealed, so that the law became our guardian until Christ, so that from trust we might be put in a right relationship with God; but since the trust has come, we’re no long under the guardian. For you are all sons of God through trust in Christ Jesus. For as many of you into Christ were baptized, you put on Christ. No one is Jew nor Greek, no one is slave nor free, no one is male and female, for you yourselves are one in Christ Jesus. But if you belong to Christ, then so you are Abraham’s offspring, according to the promise heirs.


When We Grow Up

You know, I think June is the month when we’re all reminded that our young people are growing up. I mean, we’ve got graduations all over the place: from pre-school to elementary school, from elementary school to middle school, from middle school to high school, from high school to either college or life. I’ll tell you, sometimes it seems like half the people under the age of twenty are graduating from something, and there’s nothing like a cap and gown to remind you that you’re growing up.

And you know, the other day that’s exactly what Maggie and I talked about, or at least started to talk about. I was taking her to tennis camp over at Stavargi’s, and we were talking about graduation parties. And I made some kind of comment about what she was going to be like when she graduated from Weir. Well, after I said it, Maggie turned and looked at me, you know, with her forehead all furrowed and she said, “Dad, I really don’t want to talk about this.” “But why, you know, it’s going to be here before you know it.” “I just don’t want to talk about it.” “But this is going to be such an exciting time in your life.” “Dad, I don’t want to talk about it because I don’t want to think about it.” “But Maggie, why not?” “I don’t want to grow up.” I’ll tell you, that stopped me in by tracks. And although, at that moment I wanted to say something cute and/or clever, you know, to kid her a little bit, I could tell by the look on her face that she was as serious as a heart attack. And so I backed off, shifting our conversation to something else.

And you know, it’s interesting, there’s a part of me that knows exactly what she’s feeling. I’ve got to tell you, there’s plenty of times that I don’t want to grow up either, although for me, it’s more like growing out than growing up. I mean, I like things the way they are, more or less. Everybody is in the Rudiger family is healthy. Debbie seems happy, particularly when she’s at Kohl’s. And Maggie’s still at the age when she’s fun to be around and doesn’t view me as the idiot or tyrant she will in about three years. I mean, growing up means change. And when you’re about a week away from being fifty-six, there’s every possibility that the changes I’ll be facing are going to be less than great. Growing up can be tough.

And you know, I think that’s true for most people and maybe that explains why some Christians try so hard to fight it. I mean, I think there are plenty of believers who actively resist growing up spiritually, and I’m talking about what they believe about and how they relate to God. They want to hang on to something they believe is simple and pure and innocent, I’m talking about the kind of faith a child might have. And I’ll tell you, you can see this resistance to change happening all the time. I mean, just think about all the controversy that comes up in some congregations when the worship service is changed even a little bit or new hymns are sung or some programs are changed. Good night, people get really upset, and I think I understand why. It’s the same reason Maggie’s doesn’t want to grow up. To grow up, she’ll have to change. And change just isn’t comfortable. And let’s face it, we don’t like to be uncomfortable. I know I don’t. You see, in my opinion that’s why some Christians fight change so hard. And so, instead of risking a change in the way they see themselves and others and even God, they actively fight any kind of genuine spiritual growth. You see, they don’t want to grow up because they think they’ll lose too much. They’ll lose the innocence; they’ll lose the ease; they’ll lose the comfort of a faith they believe is childlike, but which is really more childish.

And even though they may think they’re right doing it, these otherwise sincere and dedicated believers face the same problem Maggie or me or you would face if we decided that we wanted to stay the same; it can’t be done. In spite of our desires, in spite of our fears, in spite of our effort, we’re going to grow and change. The only alternative is to die and decay or to pretend it isn’t happening. But I don’t think we really want to do that. I mean, let’s face it, there’s nothing sadder than a middle aged man who tries to act like a teenage, you know, who let’s his hair grow long and who loves to be the center of attention and who tries to use modern, teenage slang. That’s just whack, dog; not groovy at all, dog. I guess you could say growing up happens, whether you fight it or not.

And you know, that can make us sad, if we let it, but it doesn’t have to, not when we think about all the benefits of growing up spiritually. And if you want to know what they are, just take a gander at the passage we just read, you know, the one where Paul challenged those Galatians to recognize that a change had occurred and that it was time for them to grow up. I mean, just think about what he wrote.

I mean, Paul neatly contrasted the past with the present. You see, in the past, all we had was law, all we had were rules, all we had was black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. And if we did what was right, we got a reward but if we did what was wrong, a trip to the wood shed. Now, for Paul, that was the way it was and, in it’s own way, it kept us safe, it kept us secure, it kept us out of trouble, but it never enabled us to enter into a mature relationship with God. It was comfortable, but it never was intended to be permanent. Because with the coming of Christ, everything changed. You see, for Paul, through Christ, God brought us into a right relationship with himself, something that we can experience the minute we trust that it’s there. And once we do that, once we trust, once we have faith, that’s when things really change, and I’m talking about changing for the better. You see, all of a sudden we don’t need the security offered by following the rules, because now we can believe that, thanks to God himself, we’ve put on Christ and we’ve entered a community in which the old distinctions no longer matter and we’ve become part of God’s chosen people. You see, even though all the “dos” and don’ts” helped in the past, as it comes to our relationship with God, we’ve entered a new phrase in our spiritual lives and all that obedience jazz just isn’t as important as it once was, because without our permission or help, God has made us heirs of the promise and all we needed to do was trust that it had been done. Now, that what Paul wrote.

And I’ll tell you, I think that’s just as true today as it was then. You see, with Paul, I think it’s time for all Christians to understand  that we’ve outgrown nannies and guardians and the childhood rules and that we’re now adults for whom trust is way more important than obedience. In other words, I think it’s high time for us to we grow up spiritually, because when we do, man, our lives are going to change.

You see, right now we can decide to do what we talked about in the sermon last week. And if you weren’t here, it’s really simple. We can start to grow up when we recognize that we really don’t have control. We don’t have control over grace. We don’t have control over salvation. We don’t have control over righteousness. In fact, we don’t have control over our ultimate destinies. That’s beyond our control, but not God’s. You see, we can accept that God holds our future in his hands, in his loving and merciful hands. And we can accept that for reasons we may never understand, he chose to bring us into a right relationship with himself. And we can accept that through the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ we right now are being saved from bondage to sin and fear of death and isolation in spirit. And we can accept that through the Holy Spirit, and I’m talking about the one who’s alive and well and flowing around us, we can comprehend divine grace. You see, we can begin growing up when we recognize our limited abilities and accept God’s unlimited love.

And I’ll tell you, when we do, when we decide to recognize and accept, when we decide to stop resisting and believe that growth is happening, we will be changed. I mean, I’m convinced it’ll change the way we see ourselves. No longer will we be bouncing between the occasional pride when we think we’re doing enough right and the more constant worry when we’re sure we’re not. Instead, when we look into the mirror, we’ll be able to see ourselves for exactly who we are. We’re sinners who, even when we give it our best shot, fall short of the ideal for which we strive. But we can live with that, because we’re also children whom the Father adopted and for whom the Son died and rose and in whom the Holy Spirit lives. You see, we are simply men and women whose past has been cleansed and who’s future has been made secure. When we grow up, that’s who we’ll see, but that’s not all.

We’ll also see one another in a way that’s different. When we were too immature to live without that old guardian, and I’m talking about the law, telling us exactly what we had to do, we tended to divide up the world. You know what I mean, we were always looking for ways to separate people: women from men, blacks from whites, good from bad, insiders from outsiders, Jews from gentiles, Virginians from everybody else, sort of like choosing up teams to play basketball, shirts and skins. But that’s what kids do. Once we grow up and understand who God is and what he’s done for us all, things change. Now there’s a sense of unity within humanity, a unity forged by a shared sense of guilt and grace. And that’s why Paul wrote that for Christian adults, spiritually “no one is Jew nor Greek, no one is slave nor free, no one is male and female, for you yourselves are one in Christ Jesus.” When we grow up our view of others change.

And finally, so does our view of God. Maybe, when we were small, a God who tells us what to do and then rewards us when we do it and punishes us when we don’t, maybe there was a time when that was enough. But as we grow into the complexities of adulthood, living in a world that’s not quite so cut and dry, well, the God of rules is just too small. I mean, if Weirton were Mayberry, then Andy Taylor would be enough, but it’s not. But our God isn’t the sheriff of a small town, instead he’s the creator of the universe, who loved us before the foundation of the world and who made us heirs of the promise. And this is something we can hold on to even when life becomes difficult and demanding. With maturity, our view of God changes.

When Maggie said that she didn’t want to grow up, there was a part of me that wanted to say, “I don’t want you to either.” You see, I’d like to keep her dependent on me, living a life that’s probably more complicated than I realize but certainly more simple than it will be. As a matter of fact, on a particularly tough day, I’d kind of like to go back and join her. But that’s not going to happen. Let’s face it, the only way not to grow old is to die young, and few of us want that. No, growing up is just a fact of life. And I think that applies to our spiritual lives just like it does everything else. Therefore, let’s have the courage to leave behind childhood and recognize who we are and accept what God has done. And I’ll tell you, at that point, I believe we’re going to see our lives change, and I’m talking about when we grow up.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Fulfilling The Law

You can also find a podcast of this devotion at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).


Matthew 5:17-20 

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”


A Devotion by Christopher McKenna (South Lanarkshire, Scotland)

The people I work with in the foreign-language department of a university all communicate in English, though not always the same English. We argue so much about British and American English that I sometimes start to wonder if it is the same language at all. The other day, instead of wading into the debate, I found myself thinking of Matthew 5:17. The passage seems straight-forward enough: The old laws would stand. But Jesus might have been saying that he wasn’t as concerned about the law as about people’s actions. In my work, we get caught up in the interpretation of words and phrases. What is more important is the substance of the documents. In our religious lives, we can become engrossed in the small details and nuances of Bible passages. What is more important is the life we are supposed to live. Maybe when Jesus talked about fulfilling the law, he was talking about living according to its deeper meaning. His message of compassion, peace, and understanding and his life show us how to live. Next time an argument breaks out among my colleagues, I’ll try to bring them back to the importance of what we are writing. And in my spiritual life, I will spend less time focusing on the nuances of Bible passages. Instead, I am going to focus on living as Jesus did.

From The Upper Room.

Friday, June 21, 2013

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

On Sunday, June 23, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift the following needs to God.

Adults
Aaronlee Archer
Andrea Vincent
Anthony LaPosta
Barbara Maze
Bill Phillips
Bonnie Bowen
Bonnie Kirtley
Charles Saffle
Cindi Livingston
Conrad Criss
Dale Brant
Dee Campbell
Diane Szymanek
Dick Bonyak
Dino Buffington
Don Agnew
Eleanor Williams
Emery Edwards
Harman
Hattie Black Marcum
Holly
James Mitts
Jamie Edwards
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jeanne Stark
Jeff Grant
Jen's Mom
Joan Gallagher
Joan Pohlman
Jodi Kraina
John Jezerski
John Schlotter
Justin Vogel
Manuel Fraga
Maria Drennan
Marjie Dinges
Matthew Kirtley
Penny Mourat
Randy Willson
Rhonda Bruich
Robert Krupp
Rose Saunders
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Steve Zubay
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
Teresa Brown
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Brody McUmor
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonah Becker
Jonathan Marte
Justin McKinney
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Chris Cameron
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Michael Criss
Stephen Mader

In the Hospital
Manuel Fraga – Trinity East
Eleanor Williams – Weirton Medical Center

Church Families
David, Terri, Preston & Sarah Cline
Eleanor Cline
Linda & Molly Cline

Local Church
Weirton Heights Memorial Baptist Church

Special Friends
Connie Francis – 125 Joseph Blvd., Weirton, WV  26062-3017

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Groups
United Presbyterian Church, Bethlehem, West Virginia – Rev. Philip Keevil
Pleasant Valley Presbyterian Church, Blaine, Ohio – Vacant Pulpit

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alden & Dolores Edwards – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Alice Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Bob Morgan – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Charles & Dorothy Saffle – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Conrad Criss – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, 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
June Virtue – Grace Cottage, 195 Eden Dr., Weirton, WV 26062-3664
Margaret Heaton – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Mike Valiga – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Penny Mourat – Valley Haven Geriatric Center, RR2 Box 44, Wellsburg, WV  26070
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.

IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN LEARNING ABOUT OTHER RELIGIONS . . .
Pastor Rudiger will lead a class on some of the great world religions. During the seven-session series, we’ll look at the following:
Session 4 - Islam
Session 5 - Hinduism
Session 6 - Buddhism
Session 7 - Religions of the East
The course will held on Wednesdays , at 10:00 a.m., in Cove Presbyterian Church’s Fellowship Hall. It’s free of charge and open to the community.

PASTOR RUDIGER WILL LEAD A CLASS FOR YOUTH . . .
after worship, beginning at 12:30. We’ll talk about the Christian faith and how that faith might be lived as member of the Presbyterian Church. We’ll consider the following questions:
Session 3 - What did Jesus do?
Session 4 - Why is the Holy Spirit important?
Session 5 - How can we respond?
At the end of the series, those involved will be offered the opportunity to accept the love and grace that God offers.

CLOSED. . .
the church and office will be closed, Thursday, July 4th in observance of Independence Day.

SUMMER CAMPS . . .
are being held at Beaver Creek and Camp Presmont for children of all ages.  There are also camps available for children accompanied  by an adult.  If you are interested there are brochures posted on the main bulletin board downstairs or contact the church office to receive a copy of the various camps being offered. Scholarships can be obtained to help defray the cost.

COVE’S NINTH ANNUAL COMMUNITY CALENDAR. . .
project is underway. See your special dates in print! If you have not received your listings in the mail please contact the church office. If you would like to become a new participant, please fill in the blank order form here in the bulletin and return to the church office. The pricing remains the same- $4.00 per calendar and $.15 a listing. We would like all listing information including  corrections and additions turned into the church office by Monday, July 15. If you have any questions contact the church office.

$182.77 . . .
is the amount of money that Cove received from the Kroger Company recently.  That is our quarterly share of their Community Rewards Program.  THANK YOU to all who participate!! If you do not participate, please consider singing up. It costs you nothing, while raising money for your church.

SPECIAL MUSIC . . .
if anyone would like to sing a solo, duet, trio or share another musical talent during the months of June, July or August, please contact Janice Torrance at 304-797-1908. There is also a sign up sheet on the choir room bulletin board. All special music is welcome and will be greatly appreciated while the choir takes a much deserved break.

COVE’S WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION . . .
needs your help for Laughlin Chapel in Wheeling, West Virginia. The chapel is in need of  school supplies for the year 2013-2014.  We annually ask for supplies from  our congregation for this mission.  Boxes will be available in the main hallway downstairs thru the end of July for this need.

DEACONS USHERING SCHEDULES...
for the months of July thru September have been posted on the far side in the narthex (next to the Flower Calendar), if you are available to usher for a service,  we are  asking you to sign-up.

WE HAVE SEVERAL FOSTER FAMILIES . . .
within our church family and community, and God has given us the chance to help them in this very special ministry. If you’re interested in offering help, please contact either  Chris Connell, Ed Rudiger or the church office.

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.

OUR SERMONS ARE NOW AVAILABLE ON . . .
covepresbyterian.podbean.com and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian).

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.

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.

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.  Or you may purchase silk flowers or live plants, the choice is yours. 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.

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.

Friday Essay - The Past, the Future, and the Present

You can also find a podcast of this essay at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

Last week I had a conversation with a woman who needed some advice as she thought about how she might better live her life. And as she talked, I heard two things. First, she was terrified of the future. I mean, that’s why she came to talk with me. All she could see were dark clouds without any trace of a single silver lining. The future was a threatening place into which she had no choice but to move. And second, she also seemed bound by her past. I mean for every idea she offered, she almost immediately came up with all kinds of reasons why it wouldn’t work, all grounded on some missed opportunity or mistake she’d made. And so, as we talked, she was almost paralyzed by her fear and bondage. 

Now, I think a lot of us know exactly what that woman was experiencing. I know, for myself, the future makes me apprehensive. Professionally, I’m watching involvement in and contributions to the church go down, and I worry that I’m not going to have a job in ten years. And let’s face it, starting over at my age, 55, isn’t a comforting prospect. And personally, I see my daughter grow up a little bit each and every day, and since she been a divine blessing for these last eleven years, I wonder what will happen as she moves into a future where her father is no longer “the man in her life.” Looking into the future doesn’t cause little tingles of excitement to go up and down my spine. And as I look at my past, I know that I’ve made decisions that will always impact me, decisions that cause me to cringe every, single day, decisions that, like it or not, limit my options. I’ve made plenty of mistakes that frankly make me ashamed. And so I could and I can identify with that woman in my office, but I don’t think I’m alone. I think most of us understand how the future and past can affect the present.


And although I believe that this is and will always be a reality, I don’t think it has to paralyze us, not if we trust in God and remember two very important things that he’s done for us. First, I think we need to remember that God has cleansed our past, freeing us from the shame that we might feel as we look into what we’ve done and how we’ve lived. Although I believe there are consequences for behavior and those consequences may be harsh, our sins were cleansed when we died in Christ on the cross. No longer are we obligated to live or to serve the past. We’ve been set free from sin and are now enslaved to God, and he’s the master we’re now called to serve. Our past is clean. And second, I think we need to remember that God has secured our future. Just like Christ’s tomb was empty, we have good reason to trust that ours will be too. Regardless of how difficult things appear, the problems and pain we face are only temporary. Our future is in his hands. And I’ll tell you, trusting that our past has been cleansed and our future will be secure, that can give us confidence as we live in the present. Now we can do what God has called us to do without shame or fear. Now we can become the men and women we were created to be.


I’m not sure what the woman with whom I talked, I’m not sure what she’ll do. I pray she realizes that she’s been cleansed and that her future is secure, but I don’t know. Regardless of what she does, though, we can remember these two truths, these two gifts from God. And we can live our lives right now with confidence.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cove’s Bulletin for June 23, 2013

Below is a copy of our bulletin for our 11:00 worship service. We’ll talk about how life improves when we decide to live in grace rather than under the law.








Sunday's Minute for Mission - Disability Inclusion

Jon Barckholtz, a member of the Arc Faith Group,
 collects the offering during a Wednesday night service.
Parents started it! The Arc of Midland, Michigan, a nonprofit organization that promotes the general welfare of people with developmental disabilities and increases their presence, participation, and inclusion in the community, invited speakers to train those who conduct person-centered plans. Afterward, they met with parents to discuss the needs of their children. Many positive things were shared. And then the theme of worship came up. It was discovered that staff assigned to Sunday morning either took individuals to their own churches or did not go at all! As other barriers were identified, the Arc Faith Group was born.

The parents invited clergy to join in, and other community agencies got involved too. The Arc Faith Group developed AFIRE (Accessing Faith in Religious Environments), an experiential program designed to help faith communities become aware of the barriers that prevent full participation of people with disabilities. If your congregation would like to conduct an accessibility audit, please go to www.pcusa.org/congregational-audit.

The message of the Arc Faith Group is simple: “All are one in Christ.” All are part of the body of Christ. Including people with disabilities in the life of a congregation involves more than money; it involves a mindset that says, “This is what God calls us to do.”


—Rev. David E. Young, interim pastor, Madison (Indiana) Presbyterian Church, and Carol K. Brown, past elder, Chapel Lane Presbyterian Church

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Move It!

You can also find a podcast of this devotion at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

James 1:19-24 

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God's righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.


A Devotion by Thomas Buice (Tennessee, USA)

I am not a frequent flyer, so I was unfamiliar with the “people-mover” contraption at the airport. Stepping onto the large human-conveyor belt, I relaxed as it carried me across the airport. Then, without warning, the machine stopped. Conversations hushed. We all stood, waiting to start moving again. Finally, someone behind me said, “Walk!” Somehow that idea had not occurred to us. As the person in front got the message, we all began to move forward again — the old-fashioned way. Sometimes the church is like that moving sidewalk. Saved by God’s grace, we find a fellowship of like-minded people. But sadly many times we do not move forward. Only as each member exercises his or her gifts can we together make progress, serving the world that Christ died to save. The urgent mandate of that airport traveler is the same mandate our Savior utters to every Christian. When we are paralyzed by a status-quo, stand-still mentality, Christ says, “Walk!”

From The Upper Room.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Freely Receive, Freely Give

You can also find a podcast of this devotion at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

Ephesians 2:1-10 

In the past you were dead because you sinned and fought against God. You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil. He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn't obey God. Once we were also ruled by the selfish desires of our bodies and minds. We had made God angry, and we were going to be punished like everyone else.

But God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that he made us alive with Christ, and God's wonderful kindness is what saves you. God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven. God did this so that in the future world he could show how truly good and kind he is to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God's gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn't something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about. God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That's why he sent Christ to make us what we are.


A Devotion by Steffanie Berlian Simatupang (Jakarta, Indonesia)

“There are no free lunches!” I often hear this common expression in my daily life. Because I grew up in a merit-based society, I was taught to work for what I want to achieve. Study diligently for good grades, work hard for high wages, and dress to impress were some of the expectations set before me. Yet our Father in heaven offers a totally different standard. God freely gives us the best gift in this world — God’s Son, Christ Jesus. People like me, and perhaps like you, who were taught to earn and not merely receive, have a tendency to try to earn everything — including our salvation. We may think that we need to be good, kind, pleasant, and charitable people. Yes, we may be good people according to this world’s standard. But one sin makes us sinners, and so we can never be good enough. Even so, God loves us and wants to be in relationship with us. God gave the one Son to make all of us sons and daughters.

From The Upper Room.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday's Sermon - Letting Go

Galatians 2:15-21

We ourselves, by nature, are Jews and not from the gentiles who are sinners, but we know that a person isn’t put in a right relationship with God from works of law, but through trust of Jesus Christ, and we ourselves, in Christ, trusted so that we might be put in a right relationship with God from trust of Christ and not works of law because from works of law no one is put in a right relationship with God according to flesh.

But if, as we seek a right relationship with God in Christ, we are found also as sinners, then is Christ a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I, the one who destroyed these things, again build them up, then I show myself to be a transgressor. For I, through law, died to law, so that to God I might live. In Christ, I have been crucified but it’s no longer I who lives, but in me Christ lives and the life I now live in the flesh, in trust I live in the son of God, who loves me and gave himself for my sake. I don’t nullify the grace from God. For if through law I might be put in a right relationship with God, then Christ in vain die.


Letting Go

A couple of weeks ago, Maggie and I went to The Children’s Academy pre-school graduation here in the sanctuary, and as part of the decorations, they had some balloons. Well after it was over, Chris and Jessica gave Maggie a bunch of them to take home, which kind of concerned me because the Mini Cooper pretty small and I wasn’t sure that we’d all be able to fit in the same the car at the same time. But you know, my concern didn’t last long, because as soon as we’d cleared the awning, Maggie let go of the balloons, and they started drifting up into the sky. Now, I’ve got to tell you, that kind of surprised me. I mean, this kind of thing had happened before but not intentionally and never without tears. But there she was, my eleven year-old-daughter watching the balloons go over the Millsop Center. And so I asked her, I said, “Maggie, why did you let go of your balloons?” And without looking away, she said, “I just wanted to see how high they’d fly.” And so there we stood, right on the sidewalk beside the parking lot, watching those balloons that Maggie had released from her control, floating up toward the clouds all by themselves, without my help or permission.

And you know, it’s interesting, I thought about that evening right after I read this passage from Paul’s letter to the Galatians and started thinking about how most Christians see their relationship with God. I mean, it sure seems to me that a lot of believers can’t seem to let go of the assumption that they’re in control; in others words, that they determine, that they establish, that they shape their relationship with God, and they do it by what they do and say. Good night, just think about it, suppose you went up to your typical, church-going Christian and asked, “How can I get saved?” or “How can I become righteous?” or “How can I enter into a relationship with God?” Now suppose you asked one or more of those questions, what would you expect them to say? Now I don’t know about y’all, but I’d bet a dollar on a donut that you’d hear about all the things that you need to do, you know, words that you need to say, promises that you need to make, actions that you need to take. You see, I think they’d challenge you to take control of your salvation, your righteousness, your relationship with God, because they assume that we are in control. My goodness, they even talk about letting go and letting God. Now I find that fascinating, because for me to say that, I have to believe that I’m in charge and that’s why I’m letting go of something, obviously something that’s beyond God’s control. As a matter of fact, part of that control even extends to God himself, because I’m now going to let God do something, you know, as though if I didn’t, he couldn’t. Now you see, what I’m talking about with control? Sadly, they’ve been taught that the reins in their own hands, that they are captains of their fate, that they control their ultimate destinies.

And even though that may be a real boost to their ego when things are going well, it can really slam us when life turns a little bit. I mean, think about it, if it’s all up to me; if it’s all based on what I do and what I say, my gosh, even what I think and feel, if that’s the way it is, man, I’m now under a lot of pressure. It’s only a matter of heaven or hell, right? What if I don’t say the right words? What if I don’t make the right promises? And let’s face if, what if all that stuff I know I’m not suppose to do becomes so tempting I can hardly stand it? I mean, right now, don’t think about a purple monkey or you’ll go to Hell. How many of y’all will be heading south for the summer? That’s pressure. To say nothing of fear. If he leaves it all to us, it sure looks as though God is looking for us to blow it. “I’m sorry, Ed. As I look at your application for Heaven you didn’t list your heart as something you promised to give me. And I see you made Jesus ‘Your Lord and Savior’ but not ‘Your personal Lord and Savior.’ I’m sorry. Just take this rejected form to the elevator marked ‘DOWN.’” Man, if this is who God really is, then we should be afraid, very afraid. And what he does, I’m talking all this stuff about grace, well if we’re in control, all of a sudden that’s real hard to understand. I mean, think about it, if it’s all up to us, to our decisions and actions, how does God handle babies before they can talk? Does God give them a pass? What about children? At what age do they take control? Is a immature adult in less jeopardy than a ten year-old who’s mature for her age? And what about people who live in areas where the gospel is illegal to share? In other words, does God eternally damn a young man because he didn’t give his life to a person who’s name he never heard, or does that guy draw a “Get Out of Hell Free” card from the “Chance” pile? What if he heard about Jesus once? How about twice? You see, when we assume that we’re in control, not only is there pressure and fear, the whole thing gets really confusing.

But I’ll tell you, there’s one person who didn’t experience pressure nor did he feel fear and he certainly wasn’t confused, and that guy was the Apostle Paul. You see, he was crystal clear about our relationship with God, and I can tell you, it wasn’t based on what we do or say or think. You see, according to the Contemporary English translation of the passage we just read, Paul wrote, “We are Jews by birth and are not sinners like Gentiles. But we know that God accepts only those who have faith in Jesus Christ. No one can please God by simply obeying the Law. So we put our faith in Christ Jesus, and God accepted us because of our faith.” You see, it really wasn’t about what we do, instead it was all based on what God had already done. Again from the same translation: “I have been nailed to the cross with Christ. I have died, but Christ lives in me. And I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me. I don't turn my back on God’s undeserved kindness. If we can be acceptable to God by obeying the Law, it was useless for Christ to die.” I’ll tell you, for Paul it was simple. People were not in charge, they never were nor would they ever be. It was all about God.

And you know, I think that’s as true now as it was then. And for that reason, it might be time for us to let go of the assumption that we’re in control and simply to trust God. You see, with Paul, we can recognize that God doesn’t depend on us. He doesn’t wait for us to be obedient. And he sure doesn’t withhold his love until we’re doing what he wants us to do. No sir. Instead, just like Paul wrote, without our permission or help, we were crucified with Christ almost two thousand years ago. Man, we shared in his death, and because of that, we can now trust that we’re also going to share in his resurrected life. You see, God has put us in a right relationship with himself, something that we can believe, but not earn or deserve. That it’s in our hands, man, that’s an assumption that we’re going to have to let go.

And when we do, when we accept that it’s not about us but instead it’s about God, when we recognize that all the control we think we have is just a bad pipe dream, in other words, when we stop looking in the mirror and start looking toward heaven to understand better our relationship with God, I believe we’re going to change in three important ways.

I mean, first, instead of experiencing pressure, we going to feel all kinds of freedom. Suddenly it’s no longer about doing and saying and promising the “right things.”  Instead, we can trust that the relationship is already there, all we have to decide is what we’re going to do about it. I’ll tell you, it’s moving from being obsessed with getting all the “i’s” dotted and “t’s” crossed to claiming and using the unique gifts and talents God has given us and doing it a way that brings glory to the giver. In other words, when we let go of that sense of control that we really never even had, we’ll be free to push aside cookie cutter faith and to respond in a way that is unique. Now, that’s what I’m talking about when I say freedom.

And second, I think we’ll feel love like we never felt before. I tell people all the time that God couldn’t love them more than he does right this minute. But that love isn’t offered because we do good things or because we’re spiritual and holy or because we’re just so darn loveable. In fact, God doesn’t love us because of us. God loves us because of God. You see, God is love. He loved us so much that he gave himself for us. When we let go of the illusion of control and simply trust God, the fear goes as the feeling of being loved grows.

And finally, once we get past our own self-importance, we’ll finally be able to understand grace. You see, we’ll understand that grace isn’t a wage to be earned or a prize to be won, but rather a gift to be received. And with grace, comes salvation, relationship and eternal life. You know, it’s really not difficult and it’s certainly not complicated. It’s like Paul wrote to the Romans, “If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 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. 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.” I’m sorry, although this maybe difficult for us to accept, it’s not complicated. This is grace.

Now remember I was telling you about Maggie and the balloons. Well, we stood there for a while and watched them disappear into the clouds. You see, they were made to fly and all we did was let go and they did what they were created to do. And I think the same thing can be said about our relationship with God. We can pretend that it’s all up to us, that we’re in charge, that we have control. And then we can live with pressure, fear and confusion. Or we can let go of this illusion and recognize that it’s all really about God, that he holds our destinies in his hands, and that we have the opportunity to trust him, something that I think will lead to freedom and love and understanding. You see, I believe that’ll come when we do with our false assumptions what Maggie did with her balloons and simply let go.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

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

On Sunday, June 16, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift the following needs to God.

Adults
Andrea Vincent
Anthony LaPosta
Barbara Maze
Bill Phillips
Bonnie Bowen
Bonnie Kirtley
Charles Saffle
Cindi Livingston
Conrad Criss
Dale Brant
Dee Campbell
Diane Szymanek
Dick Bonyak
Dino Buffington
Don Agnew
Eleanor Williams
Emery Edwards
Harman
Hattie Black Marcum
Holly
James Mitts
Jamie Edwards
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jeanne Stark
Jeff Grant
Jen's Mom
Joan Gallagher
Joan Pohlman
Jodi Kraina
John Jezerski
John Schlotter
Justin Vogel
Manuel Fraga
Maria Drennan
Marjie Dinges
Matthew Kirtley
Penny Mourat
Randy Willson
Rhonda Bruich
Robert Krupp
Rose Saunders
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Steve Zubay
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
Teresa Brown
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Brody McUmor
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonah Becker
Jonathan Marte
Justin McKinney
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Chris Cameron
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Michael Criss
Stephen Mader

In the Hospital
Manuel Fraga – Trinity East

Church Families
Cathy Cattrell
Bill, Marian & Amy Cattrell
John & Pat Chihocky

Local Church
Trinity Lutheran Church

Special Friends
Dorothy & Charles Saffle – Room 129, 100 Wyngate Dr., Weirton, WV  26062-5048

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Groups
Rock Hill Presbyterian Church, Bellaire, Ohio – Rev. Stan Fedyszyn
Trinity Presbyterian Church, Bergholz, Ohio – Rev. Alan Jeffries

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alden & Dolores Edwards – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Alice Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Bob Morgan – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Charles & Dorothy Saffle – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Conrad Criss – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, 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
June Virtue – Grace Cottage, 195 Eden Dr., Weirton, WV 26062-3664
Margaret Heaton – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
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

A New Devotion on Cove's Prayer Line - Persevere!

You can also find a podcast of this devotion at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

Isaiah 40:29-31 

The LORD gives strength
to those who are weary.
Even young people get tired,
then stumble and fall.
But those who trust the LORD
will find new strength.
They will be strong like eagles
soaring upward on wings;
they will walk and run
without getting tired.


A Devotion by RoxAnn Henry (Pennsylvania, USA)

For many years, the care and supervision of my aging parents has been my responsibility. Although they live in their own home, I deliver groceries, plan and prepare meals, organize and order medicines, and drive them to doctors’ appointments. I have put my life on hold and am often not available to my husband or children. I pray daily for physical strength, wisdom in decision-making, and protection for my family. One day, feeling overwhelmed, I pleaded with God for help. Minutes later, I switched on the radio and heard a speaker who seemed to be talking directly to me. He said, “We all have times when we want to give up. But I am here to tell you one thing: God is present in our troubles. God loves us. And God offers us strength to persevere.” In that moment, I was reassured that God had heard my cries and would see me through this phase of my life. Often God speaks to us through people who give us hope to move forward when the stress of living seems too much. We are called to honor our parents. With God’s strong hand on me and by abundant prayer, I will find the support I need to honor them with grace and love.

From The Upper Room.