Friday, February 28, 2014

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, March 2, 2014

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During we’ll recognize our Cub and Boy Scouts troops.









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

On Sunday, March 2, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift to God the following needs.

Adults
Annette Goff
Audrey Vincent
Barbara Maze
Carol Mowl
Charles Saffle
Cindi Livingston
Conrad Criss
Dee Campbell
Diane Szymanek
Doug Haller
Emery Edwards
Evan Pulice
Gen Meyer
George Bownlee
Hannah Leasure
Hattie Black Marcum
Jack Hatala
Jamie Edwards
Janet Holmes
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jen's Mom
Joanie Lawrence
Jodi Kraina
John Schlotter
Jonathan Serafine
Justin Vogel
Kelly Stephens
Lou Ann Seevers
Manuel Fraga
Maria Drennan
Marjie Dinges
Mary Ellen Grove
Marybeth Lewis
Matthew Kirtley
Mbanda Nathaniel
Mike Churchman
Mike Terri
Paul Walch
Randy Willson
Robb Starck
Robert Krupp
Roger Criss
Ronnie Buffington
Rose Bell
Sally Marple
Sam Bosnic
Sharon Johnson
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Stanley Smoleski
Steve Zubay
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
The Ingram Family
Tim Bradley
Tim Connell
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Eliza Mazezka
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonathan Marte
Josh Bonyak
Justin McKinney
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Robbie Lucas
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Isaac Stephens
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Lisa Burk
Michael Criss

Hospital
Richard Spencer – The Laurels
Virginia Welch - The Laurels

Bereaved
The Family of Al Lauttamus

Church Families
Jim, Donna & Derrick Paul
Shana  Pepper
Sherry & Frank Pierce, Tori & Cameron

Local Church
Christian & Missionary Alliance

Special Friend
Doris Lord – 196 Jenny Lane, Danville, VA  24541-6648

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations
Federated Presbyterian Church, West Liberty – Dorcas Conrad & Lori Jones
First Presbyterian Church, Wheeling, WV – Rev. Robert Willits

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

What's Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?

Below are the announcements as they appear in Sunday's bulletin for Cove Presbyterian Church.

DON'T FORGET SUNDAY SCHOOL  . . .
we meet every Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m.  Think about trying out one of our  classes.

OUR NURSERY FOR CHILDREN . . .
(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.

BOY SCOUT SUNDAY . . .
Is being observed this  Sunday, March 2. The boy and cub scouts along with their leaders will participate in our Worship Service this  morning.

BOARD OF DEACONS . . .
will meet on Monday, March 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

MYRTLE MCHENDRY . . .
will hold their first meeting of 2014 on Tuesday, March 4 at 12:30 p.m. in fellowship hall. This will be a combined social and upcoming year planning meeting. We
encourage all members to attend. Devotions will be led by Esten Jezerski. Hostesses for the meeting will be Betty Virtue and Bonnie Nichols. A light luncheon will be provided.

ASH WEDNESDAY. . .
this Wednesday, March 5 will begin our Lenten Journey. At 7:00 p.m. we will hold a  service of Prayer and Meditation. Lenten Devotionals, Prayer Boxes and Lenten Reflection Nails will be available to assist you in your preparation for Easter.

CHANCEL CHOIR . . .
will not  practice this Wednesday evening, March 5, they will sing for the Ash Wednesday Service.  They  will resume practice on March 12 at  6:45 p.m. in the choir room.  We are working on the weekly hymns, the anthems  we perform each week and our Palm Sunday Cantata.  If you like to raise your voice in song and are high school age or older you are invited to join us.

WORLD DAY OF PRAYER . . .
celebration will be observed at 1 p.m. March 7 here at Cove Church.  The Egyptian World Day of Prayer Committee developed the theme "Streams in the Desert."   World Day of Prayer is an international movement taking place in 170 countries, with the goal of having public group prayers follow the sun across the globe the day of the celebration.  The Weirton Church Women United's first year delegates will participate in the worship service. President Karen Tate is the coordinator, and Mary Ellen Groves is the music director.  As part of the celebration, those attending will be asked to bring a donation of snack food for the Weirton Christian Center's after school program. A tea will follow the celebration in the church's fellowship hall.  The Presbyterian women will host.  Local pastors and the public are invited to attend.

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME . . .
returns on Sunday, March 9. Please turn your clocks ahead one hour that day.

BOARD OF SESSION MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the church library.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, March 10  at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN'S MEETINGS RESUME. . .
the Executive Board will meet on Wednesday, March 12 at 10:00 a.m. in the board room. Presbyterian Women's  Regular Monthly Meeting with Bible Study will be held on Wednesday, March 19 at noon in fellowship hall.

A FREE DIABETIC SELF MANAGEMENT WORKSHOP . . .
will start weekly on Monday, March 3 through Monday April 7 from 6:00 pm to 7:45 pm at Mary H. Weir Library in Weirton.  This workshop is designed to teach persons and their caregivers how to better manage their diabetes. To register contact the Hancock County Health Department at 304-564-3343 by February 28, 2014.

FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH . . .
West Street at Lee Avenue, is holding a luncheon/fashion show on Sunday, March 23, featuring the 2014 spring/summer collection from Phyllis' Fashions, Washington, PA. Doors open at 12:15 p.m. and lunch starts at 1:15 p.m. $10 thickets are available by calling First Church at (304) 748-6680 and Judy Pievach at (304) 748-4108.

THERE ARE TWO HAND SANITIZERS . . .
for your usage, one is located in the main entrance hallway downstairs and the other is on the side wall in the narthex.

WINTER WEATHER. . .
Please remember - that the church follows Hancock County School's schedule during the winter months. If school is canceled due to inclement weather the church will be closed that evening. Please call the church office to reschedule your meeting or activity.

SCHEDULING . . .
there are a number of different groups and organizations that use our church and facilities. We ask that you call the church office to confirm a date before scheduling any activity. We try to accommodate everyone, however scheduling is done on a first come basis.

2014 OFFERING ENVELOPES . . .
have been moved to the church library. If you do not locate yours and would like a box please contact the church office.

DOORS . . .
with the change in the weather we ask that you please check to be sure the doors are closed when you enter or leave the building.  Hopefully this will help with the heating costs and also keep our building secure.

A SPIRITUAL MESSAGE . . .
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.

WE WILL BE UPDATING OUR PRAYER CHAIN . . .
regularly. If you wish to add someone to the prayer chain contact the church office.

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

IF YOU DON'T PLAN TO TAKE YOUR BULLETIN HOME . . .
feel free to drop it in the purple container at the back door so that it can be recycled.

VASES OF FLOWERS. . .
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.

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 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 - Our Relationship with God

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

Yesterday I got a call from a friend who’s been out-of-town for a couple of months, and he told me that he’s back in the area. Of course, that made me very happy, because he and I enjoy getting together and talking about all kinds of stuff. He’s one of my lunch buddies, guys with whom I can have lunch for no particular reason. I can tell you, that’s something I really enjoy, that wonderful combination of friend and food.

Well, the fact that he’s back home, well, it’s caused me to spend a little time thinking about the relationships we have with one another and how they relate to our relationship with God. And even though I think how we relate to our friends and family have one important similarity with how we relate to God, there’s one enormous difference. In fact, it’s a difference that’s so great and profound, I believe it really makes all the difference.

I mean, in terms of similarity, I think all our relationships have what I call “two legs”. In other words, there’s always two sides and both are necessary for the relationship to be complete. For example, I love my wife and daughter (that’s one leg) and they love me (that’s the other leg); therefore, our relationship is mutual. But if it were one-sided, much like some of the loves I had back in high school, there’s just something missing. It’s not complete; it’s not really a relationship at all.

And I think the same thing can be said about our relationship with God. It also has two legs: God’s relationship with us and our relationship with God. And when both are grounded on love, that relationship is complete. I think that’s why faith and trust are so important. We can’t have a full or righteous relationship with God, if we don’t trust or have faith that he loves us. And for us, Jesus Christ is the defining sign of that love. It’s in this way that our relationship is two-sided.

But right here is also a profound difference. In my relationship with others, either or both sides can falter and break the relationship. For example, I believe it’s possible that my relationship with either my wife or daughter could diminish because of something that might happen from either my side or theirs. In other words, I could do something that could interfere with their love for me, and I believe it’s possible that they could do something that might interfere with my love for them. Although I don’t think it’s likely, I think it’s possible.

But with God, I stand with the Apostle Paul and believe that “nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In other words, although I might choose not to love God or to believe that he loves me, there’s nothing I can do to stop that divine love. And that’s really not hard to understand. My love is always conditional, based on the qualities of the object loved. And it’s always based on a decision. But God’s love is unconditional, because it’s based on the very nature of God. And because God is love, this isn’t a decision he makes. I guess the bottom line is that God’s love is constant and his side of the relationship with us is always secure; therefore, irregardless of where we go, we can always return.

I’m glad my friend is back in town, just like I’m glad to have both my daughter and wife in my life. But I’m even more glad that I have a relationship with God, one that’s so secure that even when I fail miserably to be the kind of person he would have me be, nothing can interfere with his love for me. And that my friends, makes all the difference.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - Showing Our Love for Christ

If you’re interested in hearing this devotion, call 1-304-748-7900. You can also find a podcast at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church).


John 12:1-8

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."


Showing Our Love for Christ

I think this is one of the most misunderstood passages in the Bible. I mean, I’ve known Christians who use it to accept the unchanging reality of poverty and then to justify doing nothing for the poor. They seem to set up a conflict between faith in Christ and service within the world. As a result, for them, following Jesus involves far more words than work.

As I said, I think that’s a false and unfortunate interpretation of this passage. What Mary offered Jesus was part of his preparation for the crucifixion and resurrection, an event that will never be repeated. And value of her gift reminds us of how important this event is for us. I believe to suggest that this passage justifies the church spending extravagant amounts of money for ornaments and individual Christians accumulating toys in the midst of a hungry world is both a bad reading of the passage and an affront to the life of Jesus. A better application might be to show our love for Christ by loving one another.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Three Critical Issues: Evangelism

A handless man experiencing homelessness roams Hollywood Boulevard, sometimes asking for money, sometimes catching his breath in a doorway. The details of the accident causing his physical disability are uncertain, and it’s evident that Sean* resists assistance that might get him off the streets. But he doesn’t resist being shown affection and God’s love from someone who really cares.

Sarah has a heart for people living on the streets and the remarkable ability to see the face of Jesus in each person she engages in sidewalk conversation. She had already developed a relationship with Sean and felt more than comfortable offering him a sandwich. Remembering from a previous conversation that Sean liked to pray before a meal, Sarah offered to give thanks with him. The sandwich was placed to the side, and Sarah grasped where his hands once were, the two resting their foreheads against one another’s.

The prayer concluded, but Sean remained in a posture of prayer, and Sarah immediately understood that they weren’t finished basking in the presence of the Lord together. For 15 minutes they sat together silently with the Lord in a beautiful expression of caring for one another. Sarah was not thinking about the last time this gentleman had showered or the meeting she was late for—she was focused on this holy moment with Sean.

Sarah then offered to help Sean enter a shelter and start the process of getting off the street, which he declined. He wasn’t ready to find refuge in a shelter, but he has already found refuge in the Lord.

—Karena Malmgren, Young Adult Volunteer, Hollywood DOOR site, 2012–13

*All names have been changed.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – His Pain, Our Gain

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


Psalm 146:5-10

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
          whose hope is in the LORD their God,
   who made heaven and earth,
          the sea, and all that is in them;
     who keeps faith forever;
        who executes justice for the oppressed;
          who gives food to the hungry.
     The LORD sets the prisoners free;
        the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
     The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
          the LORD loves the righteous.
   The LORD watches over the strangers;
          he upholds the orphan and the widow,
          but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
  The LORD will reign forever,
          your God, O Zion, for all generations.
     Praise the LORD!


His Pain, Our Gain

At one point in my life I was really involved in exercising. Back then, you’d have seen me in the gym at least three times a week, and I was very intense in my workout. I didn’t like to talk to people; that was just a waste of time. It got in the way of the “burn”. At the core of my exercise philosophy were these words, “No pain, no gain.”

Now that was a while ago. And I’m not nearly as focused on exercise as I once was. In fact, I’m a shamed to admit that I do very little exercise at all. Now although I believe that what I did was good and I really wouldn’t trade that part of my life for something else, I now recognize that there’s a source of strength and power fair greater than anything I could get in a gym. Of course, I’m talking about the Lord, who both supplies needs but also protects the vulnerable. He’s the source of ultimate strength. And even though I believed this when I was pumping iron, as I’ve aged, I think I appreciate it more now than I did. And when I think about how Jesus Christ is the ultimate demonstration of God’s power and love, I now understand better what has become the core of my faith: “His pain, our gain.”

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sunday's Sermon - Take Time to Be Holy

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


Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18

And the Lord spoke to Moses saying: “Speak, to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, because holy am I the Lord, your God. ...And when you harvest the harvesting of your land don’t finish to the edge of your field to harvest and the gleaning of your harvest you will not glean. And your vineyard you will not glean and the loose berries of your vineyard you will not glean; for the poor and the sojourner you will leave them; I am the Lord, your God. You will not steal nor deceive nor deal falsely with one another. And you will not swear in my name falsely nor pollute the name of your God; I am the Lord. You will not oppress your friend nor rob him; the wages of a hired person will not stay with you until morning. You will not slight those who are deaf, and before the faces of those who are blind, you will not put a stumbling block, and you will fear your God; I am the Lord. You will not do injustice in judgement; you will not lift up the face of the poor nor honor those who are great; in righteousness, you will judge your champions. You will not go as a slanderer of your people nor will you stand by the blood of your neighbor; I am the Lord. You will not hate your brother in your heart; you will not reprove one of your people, and not lift upon him sin. You will not avenge nor keep a grudge against the sons of your people, and you will love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.’”


Take Time to Be Holy

Now, I’ve been around the church for my entire life. And I’ve always really enjoyed hymns, especially the ones that are considered “old favorites”. But I’ve got to admit, there are three hymns about which I’m really not crazy. For example, I don’t care for “Sweet Hour of Prayer.” Now I recognize that might be one of your all-time favorites, but it’s not one of mine. You see, it’s that first line with which I have trouble: “Sweet hour of prayer, sweet hour of prayer, that calls me from a world of care.” Now I don’t know about y’all, but that sounds like prayer is sort of an escape, you know, a way to get away from the real world for a little while. And I’ve got to tell you, that’s not how I see prayer at all. And so it’s not one of my favorites. And another, oh my goodness, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Of course, that should be fairly obvious. I mean, even though I’m not the kind of guy who has a Confederate flag stuck to his Mini Cooper, I’m still a child of Dixie and when I was growing us, we used to say that you couldn’t go further south than Richmond. There’s something about “I have seen Him the watchfires of a hundred circling camps,” well, for me, it’s just a painful reminder of that unfortunate disturbance properly called “The War Between the States.” That’s another one I don’t like.

But I’ve got to say, it’s not on the bottom of my list. In fact, there’s another hymn that I like even less. As a matter of fact, in the six and a half years I’ve been at Cove, we’ve only sung it once, in October of 2009, on a Sunday when I wasn’t in the pulpit. The hymn about which I’m talking, number 384, “Take Time to Be Holy.” I just don’t like it. It’s like we should squeeze a little holiness into our busy, unholy schedule, you know, “I think I’ll be holy from 2:00 to 2:45 on Tuesday afternoon, and maybe I can work it in on Friday evening, that is, if me and guys don’t go bowling.” “Take time to be holy,” man, it just rubs me the wrong way.

But you know, having said that, I recognize that holiness is really important. In fact, I think it’s what the writer of Leviticus is talking about in the passage we just read, not love, but holiness. And it seems pretty clear that holy is something that God wants us to be. I mean right at the beginning it says, “And the Lord spoke to Moses saying: ‘Speak, to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, “You shall be holy, because holy am I the Lord, your God.”’” Now that seems pretty clear. And even though I don’t know whether or not God would tell us to “take time to be holy”, it sure seems to me that holiness is something God really wants his people to have.

Of course, right here there’s a problem. What does holiness mean? And how can we do it; how can we be holy? Now, to me that’s the Sixty-Four Dollar question, because even though I may want to be holy, I’m not sure I know how. And the fact that the Lord our God said, “You shall be holy, because holy am I...”, I’ve got to tell you, that doesn’t help very much, at least it doesn’t help me. Does it mean I’m suppose to be more like God? Well, not only am confused about how I’m going to pull that little thing off, I’ll guarantee, I’m going to have to do a heck of a lot more than to take a little time to do it. Good night nurse, I believe Jesus was right on the mark when he said, “...the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And there’s the problem. Man, he was talking about me. And so although we may want to be holy, we may not know how.

But you know, it’s right here where this passage offers some genuine good news, because I think, in these verses, we can see how we might actually become holy in God’s sight. And I’ll tell you, I think it’s all matter of making the decision to work five attitudes into our actions, into our words and our work.

You see, first, if we want to become holy, I think we may need to be more sacrificial, in other words, to become more willing to sacrifice what actually belongs to us for someone else. Again, listen to what it says in the passage we read, “And when you harvest the harvesting of your land don’t finish to the edge of your field to harvest and the gleaning of your harvest you will not glean. And your vineyard you will not glean and the loose berries of your vineyard you will not glean; for the poor and the sojourner you will leave them; I am the Lord, your God.” Now, those are some great examples of what sacrifice is all about. And for us, it may mean giving up a personal right to address a human need and putting ourselves second even though we want to be first. That’s sacrifice. And isn’t that what Jesus, the one who offered his life for our sakes, isn’t that what he had in mind when he said, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”? If we want to move toward real holiness, we really need to be willing to sacrifice. That’s one.

And second, we also need to be honest, honest in how we relate to others, honest even if that puts us at a disadvantage. Remember, according to Leviticus, “You will not steal nor deceive nor deal falsely with one another. And you will not swear in my name falsely nor pollute the name of your  God; I am the Lord.” You know, integrity does matter. And in the sight of God, a person really is only as good as his or her word. Of course, often that’s not the way it is now-a-days. I heard a person say, “I only lie when I think I can get away with it.” Sadly, that seems to be the way it is for a lot of folks. But even though we live in a world where lying is just “par for the course” and we’ve come to expect our leaders to spin the truth, that should never be the case with us. What we say, we need to mean, because if the world can’t trust us, we’re all lost. In fact, Jesus put it even stronger when he said, “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all... Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” I’m telling you, holy people are honest people. And that’s two.

And third, they’re also considerate and compassionate. They’re sensitive to the needs of others, and they don’t shrink when folks, especially the weak, are put down. As it says right here, “You will not oppress your friend nor rob him; the wages a hired person will not stay with you until morning. You will not slight those who are deaf, and before the faces of those who are blind, you will not put a stumbling block, and you will fear your God; I am the Lord.” I’ll tell you, in our world, I think bullying is a real problem, and it’s not just on the playground. As a matter of fact, often this kind of behavior is not only tolerated but considered entertaining. I mean, I’m kind of a shamed to admit it, but around the Rudiger house, two of the people who seem to occupy a lot of television time are Abby Lee Miller and Gordon Ramsey. Now you tell me that they aren’t bullies. And according to sports radio, there’s a lot more controversy and uproar about whether a gay defensive lineman will be accepted by the locker room than a veteran running back who knocked out his finance. My gosh, Richie Incognito was consider a team leader. And why not. I mean, in our society, no one wants to be seen as soft, as a “bleeding heart”; those are signs of weakness. Love is suppose to be tough, right? Well, our world seems to think so. But according to God, it sure appears as though we become more holy as we become more compassionate. And that’s three.

And fourth, I think you can say the same about being equitable, by being fair, by being just. And that’s crystal clear in these verses: “You will not do injustice in judgement; you will not lift up the face of the poor nor honor those who are great; in righteousness, you will judge your champions. You will not go as a slanderer of your people nor will you stand by the blood of your neighbor; I am the Lord.” Now I’m not stupid nor am I naive. I know, success is a ladder. And I know it’s helpful to have friends in high places. And I know sometimes it seems that who you know is more important than who you are. I know all that stuff. But I also know that the Prophet Amos wrote, “I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. ...Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” And later, Jesus himself said, “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others.” Justice is important, and the holy are also just. That’s four.

And last but by no means not least, holy people are able to forgive. They don’t hold grudges. They don’t allow hurt feelings to fester and abscess. Instead, they’re willing to put aside the past so that they can love others in the same way they’d like to be loved themselves. “You will not hate your brother in your heart; you will not reprove one of your people, and not lift upon him sin. You will not avenge nor keep a grudge against the sons of your people, and you will love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.” I’ll tell you something, if I want to be holy, and I’m talking about holy as God is holy, man, I’ve got to let it go. I can’t be fixated on the past. And I can’t spend my life looking to even the score. I’ve got to let it go. And even if I never get to a point where I like those who’ve hurt me or want to spend my free time with them, I sure can decide to love them, in other words, to treat them with the same respect and compassion I’d like them to treat me. Remember, according to Paul, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” A holy person is one who forgives. And that’s number five.

Now, having said all this, I still don’t particularly like the hymn “Take Time to Be Holy.” If you do, that’s fine; but it will never be one of my favorites. But that doesn’t mean that holiness isn’t important. As a matter of fact, it’s really what God wants us to become, something that I believe is possible when we decide to become sacrificial and honest, compassionate and just, and of course more forgiving in all our relationships. And if it means taking some time or maybe even a lifetime, I certainly believe this is something we all need to do.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - Love Is the Sign

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


1 John 3:11-18

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.


Love Is the Sign

Last evening my wife and I took our daughter to a birthday party for a friend who’d moved to a town about twenty miles from where we live. Now, we’d never been to her new home, and we really weren’t familiar with the area, and so I set my GPS before leaving. The problem, though, was that she lived in a new development, on a street that wasn’t yet in the system. And so, as we got closer, we started to look for the street sign that would tell us were to turn. After diving around the place where my GPS told us that we’d reached our destination, we finally found the sign, and our daughter got to her party.

Signs are pretty important to us. They help us get to where we want to go, and they also let us know when we’ve gotten there. In this passage from John’s first letter, we have a sign for eternal life. He wrote, “We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another.” Although it’s not the way we obtain life, our love for God and for others is sign that we’ve arrived. Therefore, if you have any question about your relationship with God, you might want to look at how you treat others.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, February 23, 2014

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During the service, we’ll consider what’s included in the command: “Love your neighbor as yourself”.









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

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

Adults
Annette Goff
Audrey Vincent
Barbara Maze
Carol Mowl
Charles Saffle
Cindi Livingston
Conrad Criss
Dee Campbell
Diane Szymanek
Doug Haller
Emery Edwards
Evan Pulice
Gen Meyer
George Bownlee
Hannah Leasure
Hattie Black Marcum
Jack Hatala
Jamie Edwards
Janet Holmes
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jen's Mom
Joanie Lawrence
Jodi Kraina
John Schlotter
Jonathan Serafine
Justin Vogel
Kelly Stephens
Manuel Fraga
Maria Drennan
Marjie Dinges
Mary Ellen Grove
Marybeth Lewis
Matthew Kirtley
Mbanda Nathaniel
Mike Churchman
Mike Terri
Paul Walch
Randy Willson
Robb Starck
Robert Krupp
Roger Criss
Ronnie Buffington
Rose Bell
Sally Marple
Sam Bosnic
Sharon Johnson
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Stanley Smoleski
Steve Zubay
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
The Ingram Family
Tim Bradley
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Eliza Mazezka
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonathan Marte
Justin McKinney
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Robbie Lucas
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Isaac Stephens
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Lisa Burk
Michael Criss

Hospital
Richard Spencer – The Laurels
Virginia Welch - The Laurels

Church Families
Kristin, Anthony, Kiara, Melia & Nikos Palavis
Patty & Beth Patsch
Ruth Ann Oesterling

Local Church
All Saints Greek Orthodox Church

Special Friend
Virginia Welch – 3721 Morgan Dr., Weirton, WV  26062-4418

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations
Riverside Presbyterian Church, Wellsville, OH – Rev. Duane Hetzer
Yellow Creek Presbyterian Church, Wellsville, OH – Vacant Pulpit

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

What's Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?

Below are the announcements as they appear in Sunday's bulletin for Cove Presbyterian Church.

DON'T FORGET SUNDAY SCHOOL  . . .
we meet every Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m.  Think about trying out one of our  classes.

OUR NURSERY FOR CHILDREN . . .
(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.

MISSION ADVOCATES MEETING. . .
Karen Edwards is having a Malawi Mission Meeting today, Sunday, February 23 at 10:00 a.m. in the church parlor. The meeting is open to anyone who wishes to assist with our "Sister Congregation."

BOOKMARKS . . .
Cove's Reading Group will meet on Monday, February 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

CHANCEL CHOIR . . .
will be practicing on Wednesday evening, February 26 at  6:45 p.m. in the choir room.  We are working on the weekly hymns, the anthems  we perform each week and our Palm Sunday Cantata.  If you like to raise your voice in song and are high school age or older you are invited to join us.

BOY SCOUT SUNDAY . . .
will be held next  Sunday, March 2. The boy and cub scouts along with their leaders will participate in our Worship Service that morning.

BOARD OF DEACONS . . .
will meet on Monday, March 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room.

MYRTLE MCHENDRY . . .
will hold their first meeting of 2014 on Tuesday, March 4 at 12:30 p.m. in fellowship hall. This will be a combined social and upcoming year planning meeting. We encourage all members to attend. Devotions will be led by Esten Jezerski. Hostesses for the meeting will be Betty Virtue and Bonnie Nichols. A light luncheon will be provided.

ASH WEDNESDAY. . .
March 5 will begin our Lenten journey. At 7:00 p.m. we will hold a  service of Prayer and Meditation. Lenten Devotionals, Prayer Boxes and Lenten Reflection Nails will be available to assist you in your preparation for Easter.

WORLD DAY OF PRAYER . . .
sponsored by Weirton's Church Women United will be held on Friday, March 7 here at Cove Presbyterian Church beginning at 1:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. After the meeting a "tea" will be held in Fellowship Hall. Everyone is invited!!

BOARD OF SESSION MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the church library.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING . . .
will be held on Monday, March 10  at 6:30 p.m. in the church parlor.

PRESBYTERIAN WOMEN'S MEETINGS RESUME. . .
the Executive Board will meet on Wednesday, March 12 at 10:00 a.m. in the board room. Presbyterian Women's  Regular Monthly Meeting with Bible Study will be held on Wednesday, March 19 at noon in fellowship hall.

THERE ARE TWO HAND SANITIZERS . . .
for your usage, one is located in the main entrance hallway downstairs and the other is on the side wall in the narthex.

WINTER WEATHER. . .
Please remember - that the church follows Hancock County School's schedule during the winter months. If school is canceled due to inclement weather the church will be closed that evening. Please call the church office to reschedule your meeting or activity.

SCHEDULING . . .
there are a number of different groups and organizations that use our church and facilities. We ask that you call the church office to confirm a date before scheduling any activity. We try to accommodate everyone, however scheduling is done on a first come basis.

2014 OFFERING ENVELOPES . . .
have been moved to the church library. If you do not locate yours and would like a box please contact the church office.

DOORS . . .
with the change in the weather we ask that you please check to be sure the doors are closed when you enter or leave the building.  Hopefully this will help with the heating costs and also keep our building secure.

A SPIRITUAL MESSAGE . . .
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.

WE WILL BE UPDATING OUR PRAYER CHAIN . . .
regularly. If you wish to add someone to the prayer chain contact the church office.

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

IF YOU DON'T PLAN TO TAKE YOUR BULLETIN HOME . . .
feel free to drop it in the purple container at the back door so that it can be recycled.

VASES OF FLOWERS. . .
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.

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’s Essay – A Thaw Is Coming

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

This morning, as I was driving Maggie to school, we noticed a lot of water running down the hill on which we live. Of course, that’s a good thing. You see, we’ve had snow on the ground for a couple of month, and the weather has been cold, rarely getting above freezing. But for the last couple of days it’s been warmer, and last night we had some rain. And so a lot of the snow and ice have started to melt and to run down the hills into the all the streams we have in town. And even though we all know that we’ll probably have some more cold weather, we also know that a genuine thaw is on the way.

And you know, that can also apply to some of our personal relationships. I mean, it’s easy for people to hold on to grudges. It’s often it’s hard to shake off jealousies and hurt feelings even if the causes go back years. Personally, I know families who haven’t talked in decades because of something that was said or done back in the ancient past. And sadly, this even happens in the Body of Christ, the one place where unity isn’t just a practical concern but also a spiritual responsibility. Brothers and sisters in Christ use past pain to justify current anger and dislike. And often, as the years past, instead of these feelings dissipating, they fester and abscess, infecting the entire body and preventing us to doing what we’re been called to do, namely “to love one another as we’ve been loved.” It’s like that wonderful poem by Robert Frost:
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

And for that reason, maybe it’s time so allow that ice to thaw. In other words, maybe as we watch the melt run down the hills, we can turn loose of those past hurts so that they can roll away from us. And this is something we can do, if we that’s our desire. You see, I think love is a decision and so is anger, bitterness and hate. With the help of God, we can turn from whatever it was that caused us to turn away from some folks whom God placed in our lives. And we can forgive them for wrongs we believe they’ve done. And then we can decide to treat our neighbors with respect and kindness, even generosity. In other words, even if we never hit a point when we enjoy their company or trust them with our deepest secrets, we can love them in the same way we’d like them to love us.

Now, like I said, in terms of our weather, this thaw may be temporary, but still, we all know it’s coming. And as we look at our personal relationships, maybe it’s time we allow the ice of hurt feelings to melt so that we can become the men and women Christ created us to be. If this is what we decide to do, I don’t think this thaw will be temporary at all.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - Without Obligation or Exchange

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


Psalm 147:12-20

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
          Praise your God, O Zion!
For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
          he blesses your children within you.
He grants peace within your borders;
          he fills you with the finest of wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth;
          his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
          he scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down hail like crumbs —
          who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
          he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,
          his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
          they do not know his ordinances.
     Praise the Lord!


Without Obligation or Exchange

We all receive gifts at special times of the year. I mean, we can generally expect to get something on our birthdays and at Christmas. And even if it’s not a bribe, we’re often given a present by folks who want to be given something by us, sort of like a wage for anticipated work. And this certainly includes times when forgiveness is what we’re expected to give back. Now, don’t get me wrong, all these gifts can be meaningful in their own way. But, for me, the most special presents are offered for no apparent reason at all. They’re not motivated by obligation, and they come with no strings attached. Rather, they’re expressions of thanks and love. For example, earlier today, a friend asked me out for lunch just because we’re friends.

Well, I think the same thing applies to God. Often, we approach him at certain times, because that’s what we’re expected to do. Or we come before him because we really want him to give something back to us. But as the psalmist reminds us, maybe we should consider offering God our thanks and praise simply because of who he is and what he continues to do. You see, I believe when we free our praise from obligation and exchange, suddenly our relationship with God will become far deeper than we could have imagined.

Sunday Minute for Mission - Three Critical Global Issues: Poverty

Guatemala City dump Photo by Annie Aeschbacher
Guatemala City dump. Photo by Annie Aeschbacher
We stood staring silently into an abyss of trash. The hillside slid steeply downward; mountains of garbage sat piled below. Dozens of black buzzards circled overhead, searching for anything salvageable. Looking farther we saw people everywhere, scavenging just like the birds. For them, the garbage was a different type of lifeline: salvaged items are cleaned, repaired, and resold to provide income for their families. Often, it’s all they receive.
This is the Guatemala City dump—one of the largest in Central America and a place that over 1,000 people call home. I was there with a group of university students who had come for a week of learning and immersion, but even after spending six months here as a Young Adult Volunteer, I felt as though my eyes were being opened anew. Staring into the dump, I realized that I had become accustomed and blind to many of the injustices like this that are woven into daily realities in Guatemala. By his grace, God let me see with new eyes how his people are suffering and how this is unacceptable.
In our lectionary readings today, we see God’s heart for justice in his commandments in Leviticus 19 and in the radical new system of justice and love that Jesus calls us to in Matthew 5. Psalm 119 celebrates the beauty of God’s word and commandments, and 1 Corinthians 3 speaks of how we are all temples of the Holy Spirit. Temples should not be found living among trash, invisible. We are all loved and dignified children of God and should not live oblivious to our brothers and sisters.
Annie AeschbacherYoung Adult Volunteer, Guatemala, 2012–13

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - A Little Self-Evaluation

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


1 John 2:1-11

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. Whoever says, "I have come to know him," but does not obey his commandments, is a liar, and in such a person the truth does not exist; but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says, "I abide in him," ought to walk just as he walked.


A Little Self-Evaluation

In my life, I’ve been evaluated many times by many different people. For example, when I taught high school history, I was evaluated based on how well my students passed their state tests. And as a pastor, I’m evaluated by all kinds of folks who believe different aspects of ministry are most important. And in my life, I’ve been in the position to evaluate others. Now the purpose of these evaluations should be to help the person being evaluated improve in their performance, in other words, to become better at their particular job. Sadly, it can become an opportunity to dump our frustrations on someone else or to exalt our triumphs to the entire group. In either case, the evaluation has lost any positive function.

What’s often missing, though, is self-evaluation, the ability and willingness to look into ourselves so that we can better understand how we might improve. And I think that’s what John is challenging us to do in this passage. Although we know that we have an advocate with the Father, constantly pleading our cause, and that won’t change, we also have the responsibility to obey Christ’s commandment, namely to love one another as we’ve been loved. If this shapes how we live our lives, we are truly following Jesus. But if we’re not loving others, we might want to look at the depth and sincerity of the faith we claim. You see, this is the kind of self-evaluation that just might help us grow.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sunday's Sermon - Free to Be Stupid

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


Deuteronomy 30:15-20

See, I’ve set before your faces this day life and good and death and evil. I’m commanding you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways and to observe his commandments and the things he prescribed and his judgements, and you will live and become many, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land into which you’re going to possess. And if your heart turns away and you don’t listen and you are drawn away to bow yourselves down to other Gods and serve them; I tell you this day that you will surely perish, you will not prolong your life upon the ground which you are crossing the Jordan to possess. 

I call heaven and earth to bear witness to you this day, life and death I’ve set before your faces, blessings and curses, and choose life so that you and your descendants might live. To love the Lord your God, to listen to his voice and to cling to him because he is life to you and the length of your days that you might dwell upon the ground which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob, to give them.


Free to Be Stupid

This morning I have good news and bad news. First the good news; through Jesus Christ, God has set us free. And now, the bad, this means we are free to be stupid. In other words, God doesn’t protect us from making really dumb decisions nor does he guard us from the consequences of those decisions. I’m sorry. I wish I didn’t have to saying it, but I think, deep down, we all know it’s true. We are absolutely free to be a stupid as we want.

And I can say that with absolute certainty, because, in my past, I’ve made some really, and I mean really stupid decisions. Let me give you just one example, not the biggest by any stretch of the imagination, but one that I feel comfortable sharing with y’all. Back, oh I guess about ten years ago, I was teaching school full-time in Virginia and working in a little, bitty church about an hour away from where we lived. Well anyway, one Sunday we were driving home from church; Maggie was just a toddler and Debbie and I were in the front seats, and we were talking. And as I was driving, Debbie asked me, “Ed, do you think this is a “What Not to Wear” dress?” Of course, this wasn’t the first time I’d heard that question, in fact, I think she asked it every Sunday. Now, if you don’t know its significance, let me explain. Back in the day, there a BBC show called “What Not to Wear”; that was before the American version. And on the show, two British women, Trinny and Susannah, would take a woman, usually a heavy-set gal, who was a real fashion mess and transform her into a swan. And when Debbie asked, “Do you think this is a “What Not to Wear” dress?”, she wanted to know if her outfit looked like the kind of thing the woman would be wearing at the end of the show. Therefore, the right answer was always, “Yes, dear.” But this Sunday, instead of taking the easy route, I decided to give an answer that I thought was even better, something that I was sure would make her incredibly happy and would result in a huge deposit in the old Love Bank. Now the fact that I though this decision was smart makes it even more pathetic. And so, there we are, in the car, Maggie in her car seat, Debbie beside me. She asks, “Ed, do you think this is a “What Not to Wear” dress?” I smile because I’ve got something good. And I sort of turn to her and say words I’ll never forget. I say, “Darling, it’s so hard to tell. You’re not nearly as big as the women on that show.” Yep, I said it. And you know, after I did, Debbie didn’t say a word...for the next forty-five miles. And although I didn’t know it until we’d gotten to Dilwyn, I discovered that I’d made a stupid decision, one that God did not stop me from making.

And I’ll tell y’all something, I think we’ve all been there. And often it’s a whole lot bigger than saying something stupid to a spouse, right? And I’ll tell you something else, I think we’ll continue to do it, because when you get right down to it, whether we’re Christians or not, God just doesn’t enable us to avoid the stupid decisions that we make. I wish he did, but he doesn’t. And you know, frankly, I don’t think he ever did. I mean, just think about the passage we read from Deuteronomy. Now understand, this is Moses speaking to the people right before they crossed the Jordan and entered the Promise Land. And in these verses he seems to be giving it to them straight: “See, I’ve set before your faces this day life and good and death and evil. ...I call heaven and earth to bear witness to you this day, life and death I've set before your faces, blessings and curses”. You see, this is going to be their decision, something that ultimately they’re going to have to make on their own. 

On one hand, they can “choose life”, and if they do, they’re going to live and, what does he say, God will be “...life to [them] and the length of [their] days that [they] might dwell upon the ground which the Lord swore to [their] fathers, to Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob, to give them.” You see, that’s what they could decide to do. Or, on the other hand, they could choose “death and evil.” I mean, they could “turn their hearts away and...not listen and [they could allow themselves to be] ...drawn away to bow...down to other Gods and serve them.” That route was open to them too. And if this was the way they decided to go, the consequences weren’t going to be very good. As Moses said, “I tell you this day that you will surely perish, you will not prolong your life upon the ground which you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” You see, as they listened to Moses, the people of Israel were free: free to be wise and free to do be stupid. And just like it is for us, irregardless of what they decided, they were going to face the consequences, consequences that they may not have fully appreciated at the time but that were coming, whether they liked it or not. And if it was stupid, God wasn’t going to give them a Mulligan or a free pass.

But you know, even though their freedom and our freedom is affirmed, I think Moses did more than just issue the challenge. I mean, as I read this passage, he seemed to offer them and us a way both to make better decisions as well as some advice about what they might do after a really stupid decision had been made. I mean, just think about what he said. I’ll tell you, right here in these verses, I think he offers some real direction on how we can make better decisions. Just listen to what he said. “I’m commanding you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways and to observe his commandments and the things he prescribed and his judgements, and you will live and become many, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land into which you’re going to possess.” And then he said, “To love the Lord your God, to listen to his voice and to cling to him because he is life to you and the length of your days that you might dwell upon the ground which the Lord swore to your fathers...” 

You see, I think our decisions will really improve if we do three simple things that are right here in this passage. I mean, one, we can love. As Jesus said, we can “...love the Lord [our] God with all [our] heart, and with all [our] soul, and with all [our] strength, and with all [our] mind and [our] neighbor as [ourselves].” You see, we can make the intentional decision to shift our minds from self and stuff, and love God. That’s one. 

And two, we can listen. My gosh, we can listen to what God has to say, first and foremost, in his word but also through the voice of his people. And of course, that may mean finding and dusting off a Bible and then starting to read it, maybe even taking a look at the Bible passage I e-mail out and post in one of our blogs every single day. And that may also mean, dropping some of our assumptions and prejudices, and listening to what other folks have to say. Now we don’t necessarily have to buy what they’re selling, but we really can’t make that decision unless we hear what they’re offering. We need to listen, that’s two. 

And three, after the loving and listening, we really then need to walk. And I guess you could say that’s where the shoe leather hits the road. I mean, we can love and listen until the cows come home, but if we’re not willing to do something about what we hear and to respond to the one we love, well, it just doesn’t make any difference, does it? Man, I’m telling you, if we want to make better decisions, I think we need to be willing to love and to listen and to walk.

But you know, even if we do, I mean, even if the choices before us are as clear as the one that confronted the people of Israel, and even if we’re really focused on loving God and we’re listening to what he’s got to say and we’re ready to walk in the direction we think he’s leading us, well, I still think a few stupid decisions are still going to slip through the cracks. I mean, it’s like the prophet Jeremiah said, “Can an African change skin? Can a leopard get rid of its spots? So what are the odds on you doing good, you who are so long-practiced in evil?” Let’s face it, nobody bats one thousand and even Peyton Manning only completed 68.3% of his passes last year. We’re going to do dumb stuff. And when we do, when we screw up and face the consequences, I think there’s something really important for us to remember. And I’ll tell you, it relates directly to the people of Israel, because even though they made some incredibly stupid decisions after they entered the Promised Land, they were always God’s people. As Paul wrote about the Jews of his day, "They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” And I’ll tell you, that’s something I think we need to remember when we prove to be part of the half that’s stupider than the average person. You see, even though we may act like a bunch of idiots, Paul is clear: “In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love – not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!” And even though this may not negate the dumbness of the decision or the harshness of the consequences, I think it does offer hope as well as the opportunity to make a better decision next time.


Something I’ve had to rely upon, because no matter how hard I try, I still make some less than wise choices. But let me assure you, I’ve never said what I said in that car trip between Prospect and Fork Union. But I will say that just the other day, when I signed Maggie’s Valentine Day card, I wrote “Ed” instead of “Dad”. Dah. No, I think making dumb decisions, and I’m talking about decisions that we regret later is just part of living, it was when Moses was around and it still is now. And although we might wish it weren’t so, God doesn’t allow us to avoid the consequences. But you know, if we’re willing to love and to listen and to walk, we just might make better decisions in the future. And when we slip, we need to remember that we’re still loved by God. And that may be necessary, because I think this will always be a fact of life; we were and are and will continue to be free to be stupid.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - Before We Judge

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


Romans 14:1-6

Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgment on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honor of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honor of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honor of the Lord and give thanks to God.


Before We Judge

I’ve become convinced that the most powerful ammunition in Satan’s arsenal is within Christians themselves. You see, most of us assume that what we believe is right; if that weren’t the case, we’d probably believe something else. Well, I think Satan uses that assumption against the Body of Christ by convincing us that, since we’re right, everyone who disagrees with us must be wrong and that we’ve been called to change their minds. I’ve heard Christian brothers and sisters judge, convict and condemn the faith of others based on which day they choose to worship or the name they use to identify their savior. Personally, I believe these often silly arguments put a smile on the tempter’s face, because he’s effectively distracted us from doing what we’ve actually been called to do: love God and love neighbor.

I think this passage from Paul challenges us all to put aside our arrogant “rightness” and to listen to the faith articulated and lived by those around us. Not only will that unify us as a body but it might actually enable us to grow in ways we hadn’t considered before.

Friday, February 14, 2014

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

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

Adults
Annette Goff
Audrey Vincent
Barbara Maze
Brett Hannah
Bruce Oiler
Carol Mowl
Charles Saffle
Cindi Livingston
Conrad Criss
Dee Campbell
Diane Szymanek
Doug Haller
Elisa Archer
Emery Edwards
Ethlyn Dellaria
Evan Pulice
Gen Meyer
George Bownlee
Hannah Leasure
Hattie Black Marcum
Jack Hatala
James Woolfolk
Jamie Edwards
Janet Holmes
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jen's Mom
Joanie Lawrence
Jodi Kraina
John Schlotter
Jonathan Serafine
Justin Vogel
Kelly Stephens
Manuel Fraga
Maria Drennan
Marjie Dinges
Mary Ellen Grove
Marybeth Lewis
Matthew Kirtley
Mbanda Nathaniel
Megan Dughton
Mike Churchman
Mike Terri
Patricia Mitchell
Paul Walch
Pauline Oiler
Randy Willson
Robb Starck
Robert Hans
Robert Krupp
Roger Criss
Ronnie Buffington
Rose Bell
Sally Marple
Sam Bosnic
Sharon Johnson
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Stanley Smoleski
Steve Zubay
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
The Ingram Family
Tim Bradley
Wink Harner

Children
Aksel Ace
Audri King
Daniel Marchione
Devon Bragg
Eliza Mazezka
Jeffrey Konovich
Jonathan Marte
Justin McKinney
Kade Haines
Kya Schwertfeger
Lily Ghrist
Michael Liptak
Robbie Lucas
Shelby Kamarec

Military
Isaac Stephens
Jason Kerr
Jonathan Criss
Lisa Burk
Michael Criss

Hospital
Richard Spencer – The Laurels
Virginia Welch - The Laurels

Bereaved
The Saver Family, with the passing of Bob Saver

Church Families
Nick & Penny Mourat
Red & Bonnie Nichols
Susan O'Neill

Local Church
Weirton Covenant Church

Special Friend
Thelma Longacre – Unit 210, Chambrel at Montrose, 100 Bookmont Rd., Akron, OH 44333-3091

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery Congregations
Covenant Presbyterian Church, Wellsville, OH – Rev. Sam Monte
Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church, Wellsville, OH – Vacant Pulpit

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