Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – That Lonely Feeling

Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. If you're interested in hearing this devotion, call 1-304-748-7900. You can also find a podcast at Podbean.

Psalm 12

Help, O LORD, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;
          the faithful have disappeared from humankind.
They utter lies to each other;
          with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
          the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongues we will prevail;
          our lips are our own — who is our master?”

“Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan,
          I will now rise up,” says the LORD;
          “I will place them in the safety for which they long.”
The promises of the LORD are promises that are pure,
          silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
          purified seven times.

You, O LORD, will protect us;
          you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
          as vileness is exalted among humankind.

That Lonely Feeling

Sometimes I think we all know that “lonely feeling,” you know, that we’re alone in a hostile world. I mean, we look around, and many of the things that we value are no longer important, having been replaced by ideas and principles that seem shallow and temporary. And in our own lives, stress seems to be the “soupe du jour,” and the harder we work, the farther behind we fall. Even in our personal relationships, for reasons we just can’t understand, many of those on whom we’ve counted are no where to be found, and those who’ve protected us suddenly appear to have feel of clay. I’m telling you, when we’re hit with this kind of stuff, it’s really easy to get that lonely feeling.

And even though it’s natural, before we allow it to define who we are and shape what we do, we might want to remember that we’re never really alone. Jesus is still Emmanuel which means that God is always with us. As a matter of fact, when we feel completely isolated and totally alone, we can always go to God, and we can complain to him as much as we want. We can even blame him for our troubles; that’s really OK. God has broad shoulders; he can take it. And when we’re finished, he’ll still love us.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for September 30, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for September 30, 2014: Today our passages are Isaiah 60:1–62:5; Philippians 1:27–2:18; Psalm 72:1-20; and Proverbs 24:11-12 . The readings are from The M...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sunday’s Sermon – Is the Lord Among Us?

Below is a copy of the sermon I preached on Sunday in Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. You can also find a podcast of this sermon at Podbean or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

Exodus 17:1-7

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Is the Lord Among Us?

Like I do every week, I finished the final draft of the bulletin Thursday morning so that Marcia had plenty of time to print them, fold them and stuff them before she went home for the weekend on Friday. It also gave her time to put the sermon title on the church sign. And that’s what she did this last week.

Anyway, I guess it was on Friday morning, when I was taking Maggie to school, I saw the title right there in front of God and everybody: “Is the Lord Among Us?” And I’ve got to tell you, it kind of sent a chill through me, because, without a little explanation, I think it would be really easy to get the wrong idea about the sermon. You see, I’m not suggesting that we can prevent God from being with us. I mean, I believe that God is everywhere and that he’s in control and that we lack the power to remove God from any place he chooses to be. And so, when I saw the title, it hit me that someone might think that I believe we can control whether or not God is among us, something that I would never suggest.

Instead, the title comes from the very last line of the passage I just read. Right after Moses hit the rock and the water flowed, it says that “he called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’”

You see, in the story, the question really wasn’t about whether or not the Lord was present with his people; clearly he was. As it says a little bit before our passage: “The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” God was with them. And remember, it was the Lord who had led them out of Egypt and as we talked about last week, gave them manna and quail when they complained about being hungry. You see, whether they wanted him to be or not, the Lord was with his people, and it was by his will, not their choice. And I’ll tell you, that’s the way it is with us. Like it or not, the Lord is here.

No, the problem was that in this story they were acting like he wasn’t, you know, that he wasn’t going to take care of them as they crossed the wilderness and that he hadn’t led them out of slavery and he wasn’t among them right there at Rephidim. In other words, the question wasn’t really about whether or not God was present, because he was. Instead, it was all about whether the people were acting like they believed it.

And you know, I think that’s a problem an awful lot of people have now-a-days, whether they’d admit it or not. And I’ll tell you something else; I believe they generally show it in the same way Israelites did. I mean, just think about how the children of Israel demonstrated that they questioned God’s presence and then compare it to how some modern Christians act.

I mean, first, those folks out there in the desert were just plain afraid of the future, and I think that’s probably true of a lot of folks today. My goodness, over and over again, during their Exodus, the people expressed fear as they moved forward. For example, in our story, they were upset because they didn’t have any water to drink but this was in no way an exception to the rule. My goodness, remember, right before they got the manna and the quails, they were sure they were going to starve, because they didn’t see anything to eat. And right before they crossed through the Red Sea, the people “...said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” I’m telling you, these people didn’t believe that “grey skies are going to clear up” nor were they willing to “put on a happy face.” And you know, there seems to be a lot of modern folks, both inside and outside the faith, who would fit right in. I mean, when you listen to them talk about the future, and it doesn’t really matter whether it’s the future of the church or the country or the world, they always have something negative to say and they always assume the worse. And it also doesn’t matter whether it going to be the result of global warming, exploitive capitalism, and rampant discrimination or excessive regulation, creeping socialism, and collapsing morality, for them, we’re going to Hell in a hand basket and we all should be afraid, very afraid as we move into the future. That’s one point of contact.

And second, like the Israelite, I think a lot of these frightened folks long for the past, the good times, the days of wine and roses. That’s sure how they sound, but it’s interesting, often it’s kind of idealized past, you know, not the way it was, but the way they remember it. Sort of like Garrison Keillor says about Lake Woebegon, they remember a time when “...all the women [were] strong, all the men [were] good looking, and all the children [were] above average,” but maybe more important that, when all the children were quiet and well-behaved. Of course, who cares that, in my part of the world, we had separate but equal schools and bathrooms and water fountains. And who cares that when I was a kid there was an air raid tower in our school playground, because when the Soviets launched their missiles, we’d have twenty minutes before they detonated above the naval bases in Norfolk, Virginia and we would be toast. And who cares that same amount of graphite that collected on the windowsills was being inhaled by the children around here. Who cares about the facts, right; those were the days. And if we could only go back, something the Israelites clearly wanted to do when they remembered those wonderful days of slavery. I mean, this is how their lives were described in the first chapter of Exodus: “The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.” That was their lives in slavery. Still, in the wilderness, these former slaves said, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” They longed for a past that was more fiction and fact. That’s another point of contact.

And third, I guess when people are afraid of a dangerous future and longing for an idealized past, the result is going to be a lot of quarreling and complaining in the present. That’s certainly what the Israelites did in the wilderness, and isn’t that what’s happening in our world, our country, and our church today. I mean, I think we’ve got more than enough conflict in our world. And if polls are accurate, most American think our current government is pretty dysfunctional, although the reason differs depending on whether you get your news from Fox or MSNBC. And within the church, within the Body of Christ, I really don’t want to go there. Let’s just say, there’s plenty of conflict to go around. And to make matters worse, it seems as though real solutions are less important than finding a group or person to blame. You see, whether you’re talking about the Jews in the wilderness or people we see every day, I think a lot of folks live as though they really don’t believe that God is with them at all.

But I’ll tell you, that doesn’t have to be the case with us. You see, although there are plenty of folks within our world who’d stand shoulder to shoulder with that group which demonstrated their lack of faith so clearly that it was immortalized with the names Massah and Meribah, we don’t have to be there too. Instead, I think we can demonstrate that we believe that God is with us. And we can do it by looking at the example offered by Israel in the wilderness and then doing the exact opposite.

For example, instead of being afraid of what’s around the corner, we can work as hard as we can to approach the future with confidence, trusting that God is with us and that he’s moving us forward and that he’s going to be there every step of the way. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about becoming a bunch of Polly Annas, you know, a group that refuses to view the future without rose colored glasses and that “always looks at the bright side of life” even if that causes them to deny or ignore the genuine challenges they’re going to face.  No, I’m not saying that at all. Still, with faith directed toward God and trusting that he’s leading us, I believe together we can step forward with confidence, believing that even though the room may be dark, there’s going to be a floor underneath our feet. You see, that’s how we can approach the future.

And as we view the past, well, unlike those Israelites we can be realist as we remember where we’ve been. You see, we can trust that God is with us today just like he was with us yesterday and that he’s taught us all kinds of things, and I’m talking about lessons from the past, that we can apply as we move forward. But you don’t have to back to learn. In fact, since often what we remember isn’t really the way it was, we can’t do it even if we wanted. And I’ll tell you something else, even if we could, you know, even if could go back, given a lot of what’s happened in the day, why in heaven’s name would we want to. For example, I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t want to go back to Jim Crow or to the Cold War. I don’t want to return to the time of smallpox and polio but no penicillin. And you can take it to the bank, I’m glad that, in eight years, I won’t be hoping that I beat the odds and live pass the age of 65, you know, like I’d having been doing if I was my age back when I was born. As a old guy told me, I bet thirty years ago when I was serving my first church in Montana. He said, “Son, you’re going to hear a lot about the ‘good old days.’ Well, I lived through them. They were that good.” I don’t want to go back. Still, as an old history teacher, I know there’s a lot of stuff we can learn from the past. And it makes no sense to reinvent the wheel over and over again. And I agree with the Irish politician, Edmond Burke, who said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” I guess you could say that faithful people can view the past as a mixed bag and are willing to lift out the baby before tossing out the bath water. You see, I think that’s how we can view the past.

And you know, when we do, when we’re confident as we move forward and realistic as we look back, I honestly believe we’ll be able to put aside whatever differences we have so that we can work together to make the world a better place. You see, right here and right now, we can trust that not only is God with us but he’s also given us a job to do. And even though identifying fleshing out the specifics of that job might take some thought and prayer, there’s one thing that’s certain, in one way or another, as individuals and as a community, it’s going to involve loving both God and neighbor. In other words, even though the “how” might not be immediately obvious, the “what” is crystal clear. And you know, when we identify our own gifts and talents and then come together as Christ’s body, I have no doubt that, with his help, we’ll get the job done. And that my friends, is what we can do in the present.

Now, like I said, when Moses asked his question at the end of the passage, I don’t think he was suggesting that Israel could somehow exclude God. They just didn’t have that kind of power, and I’ll tell you, neither do we. Like it or not, God is always with us. That’s just a given. But I’ll tell you, we still have a choice. I mean, we can be like the people of Israel and act like we really don’t believe he’s here. Or we can move away from their example and we can approach the future with confidence and view the past realistically and work together to improve the world right now. And you know, if this is what we choose to do, I don’t think anyone will wonder how we’d answer the question: Is the Lord among us?

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for September 29, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for September 29, 2014: Today our passages are Isaiah 57:14–59:21; Philippians 1:1-26; Psalm 71:1-24; and Proverbs 24:9-10 . The readings are from The Me...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for September 28, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for September 28, 2014: Today our passages are Isaiah 54:1–57:13; Ephesians 6:1-24; Psalm 70:1-5; and Proverbs 24:8 . The readings are from The Message by...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Looks Can Be Deceiving

Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. If you're interested in hearing this devotion, call 1-304-748-7900. You can also find a podcast at Podbean.

Acts 20:7-12

On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight. There were many lamps in the room upstairs where we were meeting. A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul talked still longer. Overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground three floors below and was picked up dead. But Paul went down, and bending over him took him in his arms, and said, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him." Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left. Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Although I think it’s always been true, I believe we’re probably more aware that looks can be deceiving now than people were in the past. I mean, in the day, what you saw more likely than not what reflected reality. But now-a-days, well, we all know that’s not necessarily true. I mean, with the spread of Photoshop and the development of computer generated imagery, all bets are off, and what you see isn’t always true.

But you know, since our God is above and beyond our reason and our control, we really don’t need new technology to force us to look carefully at our assumptions. You see, when Jesus said that all things are possible for God, he meant it. As the story from Acts reminds us, God can restore life to the dead. And God can cause rivers to flow through dry stream beds. God can lead us through the darkest valley, guiding us to the green pastures and still waters which lie on the other side. What seems impossible for us is possible for the one who loves us. In other words, no matter how powerful the opposition appears or hopeless the situation seems to be, since God is on our side and his love is constant, we can be assured that looks certainly can be deceiving.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for September 27, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for September 27, 2014: Today our passages are Isaiah 51:1–53:12; Ephesians 5:1-33; Psalm 69:19-36; and Proverbs 24:7 . The readings are from The Message ...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, September 28, 2014: Below are puzzles for children focused on Exodus 17:1-7. There are two “bulletins,” one for ages 3-6 and the other for ages 7-12. Feel free ...

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, September 28, 2014: Below are puzzles for children focused on Exodus 17:1-7. There are two “bulletins,” one for ages 3-6 and the other for ages 7-12. Feel free ...

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, September 28, 2014

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During the service, we'll focus on how lives change when we trust that God is present with us.

What's Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?

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

(infant thru five years) is open during Sunday School and the Worship Service. We still need some volunteer help.  We thank those of you in advance who help to care for the future members of our Cove Family.

Cove's Reading Group will meet on Monday, September 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.  A Still Life With Bread by Anna Quindlen is the discussion book for the meeting.

we're offering an introduction to the New Testament. Lead by Pastor Rudiger, we'll consider the historical and theological background for the different books within the New Testament. This study will offer an outstanding overview for the part of the Bible that's distinctively Christian, and everyone is invited to come.  During this next session, Tuesday, September 30, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., we'll look at Paul's Letter to the Colossians and his Second Letter to the Thessalonians.

Are you ready to get back to singing praises to our Lord? We will  practice on Wednesday, October 1 at 6:45 p.m. in the choir room. It's important that as many as possible attend practice so we can work on all  the new selections we have planned.  Anyone wishing to join the choir is welcome!

will meet Thursday, October 2, beginning at 12:31 p.m., we'll discuss Acts 20.

will be observed by various Christian denominations around the world next Sunday, October 5.  We as Presbyterians will celebrate World Communion Sunday during the morning worship service.

will hold their monthly meeting on Monday, October 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the

of the Myrtle McHendry Class will be held on Tuesday, October 7 beginning at 12:30 p.m. with a luncheon in Fellowship Hall. Eloise Evans will lead the devotions. Penny Mourat and Darlene Johnson are the hostesses. Following lunch Mrs. Tish Turner will present a dramatization of "A Samaritan Woman" and special music will be included. Mrs. Turner is a member of Shiloah Apostolic Church, Weirton and a member of Church Women United. We encourage all class members to attend this "Special Day." Our telephone committee will be calling with more information. Reservations for the luncheon must be made by
Thursday, October 2,, 2014.

Executive Board will meet on Wednesday, October 8th at 10:00 a.m. in the boardroom.
Monthly Meeting and Bible Study will be held on Wednesday, October 15th at noon in Fellowship Hall.

will meet on Monday, October 13 at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom.

will meet on Tuesday, October 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom.

Cove's Fifteenth Annual Memorial Service to honor deceased members and friends who have died within the past year will be observed on Sunday, November 2 during our morning worship service. If you had a loved one who has passed away within the past year, someone who was not a member of Cove Church, please contact the church office so they may be included in our Service of Remembrance.

a number of dishes, bowls, even a slow cooker have been left in the kitchen after various functions.  We ask that you check the pantry in the kitchen and claim any item that belongs to you as we are in need of the storage.  We thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

$284.89 . . .
is the amount that was recently received as Cove's share of Kroger's Community Rewards Program. The sincerely thank everyone who is participating. Please if you are not registered, consider doing so to raise "Free Money" for Cove Church. The bottom of your register receipt should read: "You requested Kroger to donate to COVE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH." We thank you for your continued support!

can be found by calling 304-748-7900 Cove's Prayer Line. You can call at anytime to hear a message by Rev. Rudiger. The messages are changed every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  You can also hear the devotion at covepresbyterian.podbean.com and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian). You can also read the devotion at www.thecovecommunity.blogspot.com.

regularly. If you wish to add someone to the prayer chain contact the church office.

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 information on  upcoming events we may not have your current and/or correct information.

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

the Cove PodBean page (covepresbyterian.podbean.com) and iTunes (search Cove Presbyterian).

We now have eight 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.
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.
Living the Faith in the Real World (http://livingthefaithintherealworld. blogspot.com/) - Our beliefs shape both our opinions and actions. And even though that's true for everyone, often people of faith struggle to apply their understanding of the divine to both practical and political issues. This becomes particularly challenging when we hear multiple voices, all claiming to represent the truth but coming to different conclusions. This Blog will provide a forum where we might share how our faith shapes our perspectives on some specific issues. We hope that through this sharing, we might all better understand how the sacred impacts the profane. We'll pose a question and invite you to respond. We only ask two things of you. First, we ask that you avoid profanity and demeaning language. Second, we want you to write the truth as you see it.
The Question of Faith (http://thequestionoffaith.blogspot.com/) - I believe that there are basic ideas that all people of faith share, but once you get below those "basics," there are many different ways to understand God and our relationship with the divine. Even within Christianity, Christians disagree about the nature of God, the identity and work of Jesus Christ, and how we might or should respond to his coming. As a matter of fact, some people consider certain things absolutely essential to the Christian faith while other believers are indifferent to the same ideas and actions. We hope this Blog provides us the opportunity to share and to understand better what we believe. We'll offer a question, and you'll have the chance to respond. And even though many of the questions will be distinctively Christian, we hope that you'll still share your insight even if it's from other faith traditions.
O, That's Interesting! (http://cove-talk.blogspot.com/) - The great thing about being part of a community is that you have the chance to share with other folks. Now, there are times when you're dealing with matters of great weight. But other times you may be talking about general plans, special memories, and personal hopes. Through this site, we hope to encourage you to share your thoughts and feelings on a variety of topics that may be meaningful to you. We hope you see this Blog like a water cooler or a kitchen table, in other words, as a place to just share.
Growing in Grace (http://sproutsoffaith.blogspot.com/) - Although we're saved by God's grace, we can grow in our understanding of grace. At Cove Presbyterian Church, we offer a variety of different classes for children and adults, many of which are recorded and the podcasts posted on our PodBean (covepresbyterian). In this Blog, we'll offer the link to the podcast and notes from the particular session. You may also ask any question you might have and enter into a discussion with others.

"like" us on Facebook (Cove Presbyterian Church,  https://www.facebook .com/Covepresbyterian) or join our Facebook group (The Cove Community, https://www.facebook.com/groups/115579235630/). You can also connect with Pastor Rudiger on Instagram (rev_ed).

if you are unable to attend services and would like to arrange for a visit from Rev. Ed Rudiger or to receive communion please contact the church office. Also if you would like to receive copies of the Sunday Bulletin contact the church office.

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  in the Narthex for your contribution. The Deacons thank you for your support of their projects.

drop it in the purple container at the back door so that it can be recycled.

can be purchased for a service. The cost is  $16.00 a vase.  You may also purchase silk flowers or live plants, the choice is yours.  You may  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.

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 used 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’s Essay – Which Will

Below is an essay I sent to those on the Cove Presbyterian Church e-mailing list. If you're interested in hearing this essay, you can also find a podcast at Podbean or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).

The other night I attended what I think you could safely call a meeting of Christian brothers and sisters. And I guess it was appropriate that, as I was listening to something being discussed, I had a thought that reflected a dilemma that I think most Christians face from time to time. You see, we were discussing some activity that sounded good, at least on the surface, but as the situation was presented and explained, I started wondering which will was being addressed. In other words, did the suggested plans most clearly reflect the will of God or our will? Now, I must admit, this thought crossed my mind and as I listened, I wasn’t at all sure about the answer.

And I’ll tell you, not only do I think this something we all probably need to consider, the answer isn’t always easy to determine. I mean, sometimes it’s hard to know whether I’m doing the will of God or the will of Ed, especially since my will almost always makes sense and it’s generally beneficial to humanity. And I think that’s the way it is for most of us. It’s like when a minister moves from one church to another. Although in church lingo, the job is referred to as a “call” and nearly every clergy person will justify the decision by saying something about “the will of God,” it’s amazing; if we buy into their assumptions, God seldom calls a person to a smaller church with a smaller salary; therefore, God nearly always wills that ministers make more money in call number three than they did in call number two. Do you see what I’m talking about when I say there’s confusion about which will is being followed? And when we’re not aware of the confusion and we assume that if we think it, God must will it, we can not only end up doing some things we probably shouldn’t, we also cloak those decisions with so much pseudo-spirituality that any kind of rational discussion is impossible. And for those reasons, I think it’s important that we get a handle on what exactly is the will of God. But of course, that won’t be easy, because we have the distinct disadvantage of not being divine.

But you know, just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean we might not move a closer to God’s will than we are right now. You see, I believe we’re more likely doing the will of God when two things happens, both reflecting a command that Christ gave his followers and both involving a decision we can make. You see, first, I believe we’re doing the will of God when our decision is grounded in a love for God and neighbor. Of course, this is what Jesus called the summation of the law; therefore, if obedience to the Biblical law leads to anything other than love, we’re probably misinterpreting and misapplying the law. Doing God’s will increases our love, and that’s one. And second, I think we’re more likely than not doing God’s will when we’re making disciples. I mean, just like Jesus told his followers, whenever they might go, to make disciples of all nations; he tells us to do the same thing. In other words, we’re doing what God has called us to do when we’re putting those around us in the context where they might hear and respond to the God and not when we’re indulging our own wants and desires. It would seem to me that we can move closer to his divine intention for us when we make the decision to love others and to make disciples.

Of course, having said that, I’m still not one hundred percent sure about the motivation that stood behind that meeting discussion. But you know, just because this doesn’t make all decisions easy or obvious, I believe that we best follow God by loving and making disciples. You see, I think that’s an important part of determining which will we’re actually following.

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

On Sunday, September 28, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift to God the following needs.

Alice Bembow
Andy DiRemigio
Annette Goff
Audrey Vincent
Barbara Maze
Brenda Violet
Cameron Gray
Charles Saffle
Chuck May
Cindi Livingston
Conrad Criss
Dean Allen
Deloris Chesebro
Dick Spencer
Donald L. Billham
Elizabeth Sue Hunt
Emery Edwards
Evan Pulice
Gen Meyer
George Bownlee
Hargun Sandhu
Helen Shivers
Janet Holmes
Jen's Mom
Jo Magnone
Joanie Lawrence
Jodi Kraina
John Guglielmo
John Schlotter
Josh Boyd
Kelly Stephens
Lori Lancaster
Lou Ann Seevers
M'Liz Held
Marcia Cooper
Martha Meadows
Matthew Kirtley
Michael Frank
Michael Hvizdak
Mike Churchman
Paul D. Welch
Peggy Stewart
Phyllis Manley
Reann Daily
Randy Willson
Rob Roy Jones
Ronnie Buffington
Rose Bell
Ruth Ann Oesterling
Sally Marple
Sam Fortunato
Sharon Wheeler
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Susie Kurcina
Thelma Longacre
Tim Bradley
Wink Harner

Aksel Ace
Audri King
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Jeffrey Konovich
Joey Cowher
Jonathan Marte
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Shelby Kamarec

Cory Shumard
Isaac Stephens
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Lisa Burk
Michael Criss

In the Hospital
Richard Spencer – Lifeline Hospital

Church Families
Corinne Ferguson
Elaine Ferrari
Valentine, Crystal, Brianna, Haley, Mason & Emma Fierro

Local Church
Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church

Special Friend
Carl Hamill – 365 Moon Clinton Rd., Moon Township, PA  15108-2455

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations
Ridge Presbyterian Church, Jewett, Ohio – Rev. John Visser
Bethel Presbyterian Church, Key, Ohio – CRE Kurt Turner

Also Remember in Your Prayers
Alice & Kenny Orr – Weirton Geriatric Center, 2525 Pennsylvania Ave., Weirton, WV 26062
Charles Saffle – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Conrad Criss – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Dolores Edwards – 100 Wyngate Dr., Wyngate, Weirton, WV 26062
Eleanor Dueley – Brightwood Center, 840 Lee Ridge Rd., Follansbee, WV 26037

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for September 26, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for September 26, 2014: Today our passages are Isaiah 48:12–50:11; Ephesians 4:17-32; Psalm 69:1-18; and Proverbs 24:5-6 . The readings are from The Messag...

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance - HATS OFF TO VOLUNTEERS!

two people standing by four rows of hats hanging on wall
Team members from Otisco Presbyterian Church, New York, hang their
team's hat on the wall — Photo by Morning Star Presbyterian Church
This October 29, 2014 will be two years since Super Storm Sandy hit the East Coast. The damage and devastation this storm caused was like no other before her. Many of our friends and neighbors lost everything, so many are still homeless in the aftermath. The members of Morning Star Presbyterian Church in Bayville were at a loss, what could we do to help? For a great many in our congregation it was just an inconvenience, for others nearly two years later they would still be living in a nightmare. When Presbyterian Disaster Assistance asked Morning Star if we would be interested in becoming a VolunteerVillage we jumped at the chance. It was an opportunity to help.
With so much to do to get our village up and running a planning+  team met weekly. During one of our weekly meetings we discussed the need for us to document a history of the village. Also, we all agreed that we wanted to give something to the villagers. After much discussion the idea of a painters cap was born.  These volunteers would be working indoors and outdoors. A painter’s hat would be useful and could serve as a memento of their time with us.  More brainstorming and we decided the cap should have Morning Star’s insignia, just a little personal touch.
More discussion led us to the idea that we could ask each group to personalize a hat. The hat could be decorated any way they wanted. It would serve as a visual history of the groups who have brought HOPE to the people who were affected by Sandy.
We started a wall in the entry hall of our church. Each hat reminds us of those volunteers who have come to New Jersey, stayed in our little church and “Out of Chaos brought Hope”.
The first team had it the hardest.  Yet they seemed to know how important this was to us and their hat is beautiful. In fact, each and every hat we have received thus far is amazing! I can’t believe how it makes me feel to look at our wall of hats. Each hat represents more then just a moment in time, you can see a little bit of each and every person who stayed at our church.  The hats tell us who they were, where they came from and expresses their faith in Jesus Christ.
It’s funny but when a group comes they check out the hats on the wall, we get lots of questions about them. When they finish their hat they want to see it hung. They want to be a part of the wall.
The wall affects many of us in different ways. We have one homeowner who has been attending our church since her home was completed by the volunteers. While I am sure she doesn’t think anyone notices she stops at the hat wall, and places her hand on the hat of the group that finished her house. For others it is the knowledge of the sheer volume of volunteers who have come to Morning Star.
The wall is nearly full; our team has decided to pay it forward, when a home owner is finally able to be back in their home we will give them one hat from the wall. The hat will be from one of the groups who helped them return home.  Recently, we were blessed to be able to give a home owner a hat from the wall. The hat was presented at their house blessing!