Monday, June 30, 2014

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

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 30, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Kings 17:1–18:12; Acts 20:1-38; Psalm 148:1-14; and Proverbs 18:6-7 . The readings are from The Message b...

Sunday's Sermon - Speaking as a C Student

You can also find a podcast of this sermon at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church). You can also find a copy of this sermon and other sermons, devotions and articles athttp://thecovecommunity.blogspot.com/.


Genesis 22:1-14

After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.”

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.

Isaac said to his father Abraham, “Father!”  And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together.


When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order.  He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.

But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him;  for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”


Speaking as a C Student

As you can see, the title of the sermon is “Speaking as a C Student”. Now, when Debbie saw it, she asked, “Why did you use this title, especially since you weren’t a C student?” And I’ve got to tell you,
that was a pretty good question, because even though there are all kinds of things that I don’t do well (and if you want a short list, ask me; but if you want a longer one, ask Debbie or maybe Maggie), I’ve always been a good student.

But I don’t want you to think I’m bragging; Like I said, there are plenty of things that I pretty safe in calling weaknesses. For example, how a machine, any machine works is a mystery to me and I know never to try to fix any plumbing problem around the house because, frankly, I can’t afford to pay a professional to fix not just the original problem, but also my repairs. Let’s just say, around the house, I’m useless, mechanically challenged. But, when it comes to what my mom called “book learning”, I’ve always been pretty good. And so the title confused Debbie.

And so I had to explain that the title really has nothing to do with high school, college or seminary. Instead it has everything to do with how I often feel when I think about my relationship with God and in particular how my faith shapes certain aspects of my life. I mean, even though I know all the right words, because remember, I’ve always been a good student, sometimes I don’t feel it, not to the extent of some other folks I know. For instance, often my vision seems limited. While I can sort of see God working, usually in broad strokes, I think I often miss a lot of the details and I’m fair clueless to those times when God may be moving in ways or directions I don’t already expect. I think I miss a lot.

And when it comes to confidence, well, I generally tend to be fairly cautious and careful. I mean, let’s get really, if I give too much money, we might not have enough to send Maggie to college. And before suggesting changes to the way we do things around the church, good night before we make even small changes to the worship service, I’d better check out who’s going to be upset. As a matter of fact, it would be downright foolish for me to step out in faith without being pretty darn sure that I’m not going to trip over my two left feet, right? Now other people don’t do that. Man, they don’t seem to worry at all, but I do. I’m telling you, when it comes to faith, they seem to be the ones making the As, and me, well, sometimes I feel like a C student, not the worst by any stretch of the imagination but not the best either. But since a “C” is suppose to be the grade given to those who are average, I don’t think I’m alone. As a matter of fact, although I’m not going to ask for a show of hands, I think there’s a better than even chance that most of us here this morning have sort of found a home on the meatiest part of the spiritual bell-curve. I mean, let’s face it, when it comes to living the faith, if we’re really going to honest about it, most of us are probably making Cs; we’re average, right in the middle, something I really have a hard time saying because, being a solid C student myself, I certainly don’t want to offend anybody.

But you know something, I think there’s a real advantage to being spiritually average, and here it is: if we’re able to see ourselves as average, C-students, there’s really a lot of room for us to improve,  you know, for our faith to become stronger and our relationship with God to become more focused and fulfilling. As a matter of faith, with some changes, we could actually approach Abraham’s level of faith, something that I believe is pretty clear in the passage we just read.

I mean, just think about it, without getting into some of the thorny issues in this passage, you know like why God would feel the need to “test” Abraham or how a father could be willing to kill his son regardless of the situation, I think we’d all agree that not only did Abraham pass the “test” but that he experienced some things that only people with a really deep faith seem to experience, attitudes and perspectives we often lack but frankly wish we had. For example, according to this story, he had a confidence in God that I can barely get my head around. I mean, when Abraham was leading his only son up that mountain, he knew exactly what God expected him to do. Good night, the Lord himself told him point blank, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” Now, I’m not sure it can be any clearer than that, and yet, when Isaac asked about what they were going to sacrifice, “Abraham said, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.’” Now, personally, I don’t think he was lying to the boy. No, this is exactly what Abraham believed, because he was confident, in the power and promises of God. And I’ll tell you, I think he was confident when he built the altar. And I think he was confident when he tied up the boy and laid him on the wood. And I think he was confident when he “...reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.” You see, he knew that God would provide a sacrifice. Unlike us, Abraham was confident.

And in the end, he had vision; man, he saw the presence and the providence of God. Remember, after hearing the angel of the Lord tell him to stop, “Abraham looked up and saw a ram, caught in a thicket by its horns. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.” You see, that was the kind of faith that Abraham had, at least according to this passage. In other words, he had a couple of things we often lack. He had both confidence and vision.

And how did he get there, well, I think that’s it’s not only here in this story, but you can see it throughout Abraham’s life. You see, I believe his confidence and vision came from his willingness to do two things we’re not always willing to do. Abraham listened and he obeyed didn’t he? I mean, at the very beginning, when God “...said to him, ‘Abraham!’ [Abraham] said, ‘Here I am.’” Man, he was listening. And then, near the end, when “...the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ [,again] ...he said, ‘Here I am.’” I’m telling you, Abraham listened for and to the voice of God,  even though what God said he didn’t want to hear. He listened. And then he obeyed. He obeyed when he packed up and “...set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him.” And he obeyed when he and Isaac “...came to the place that God had shown him [and he] ...built an altar there and laid the wood in order [and] he bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar...” And he obeyed when he “reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.” Now you may question his parenting skills, but not he willingness to listen to God and to obey him. But this really is surprising. Isn’t that what Abraham did when God called him to leave his home to go to a foreign land? And isn’t that what he did when God told him that his whole household needed to be circumcised, because that would be the sign of the promise? And isn’t that what he did, as we talked about last week, when, in spite of the fact that he was deeply disturbed, he did what God told him to do and sent Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness? Abraham was a man who was willing to listen and to obey,  and as a result his confidence grew and he was better able to see God.

And I’ll tell you something, I believe the same thing can happen to us. You see, if we want to feel more confident as we live out what we say we believe and if we really want to see God moving all around us, if this is what we really want, man, we’ve got to willing to listen and to obey. And to listen, well, we really need to be in a place where we might hear. It’s like winning a raffle. We increase our odds with every ticket we buy, but if we don’t buy at least one, we shouldn’t wonder why we didn’t win. And I think we can say the same sort of thing about hearing the voice of God. I mean, although I believe God is everywhere and he’s speaking through all kinds of people in all kinds of places, I think we can most clearly hear him when we pick up our Bibles and start reading, and if for some reason you can’t read it, I’ve got a website where they read it to you. And we can most clearly hear him when we turn off the television and come to one of the studies offered right here in this church, and again, if that’s a problem, we post a podcast of most of them. And I think we can most clearly hear him, when we just get quiet so that we can hear what’s often a still small voice. If we’re serious about listening, these are some of the things we might do, but that’s not all. You see, to really get the message, we might also want to put aside some of those things that can become distractions. I mean, we’re probably going to miss a lot of good, godly stuff if we make the decision only to listen to things we want to hear or already believe. My gosh, it’s not rocket science. If a conservative wants to broaden his political perspective, it probably won’t happen if all he watches is Fox News anymore than it’ll happen for a liberal who’s stuck on MSNBC. Although it may make us uncomfortable, I think we can best hear God when we decide that we shouldn’t be filtering his message. We can listen.

And as it relates to obedience, I’ll tell you, I think our willingness to obey starts with the decision that God really is in control. You see, if we believe that he’s in control of everything, and he holds our destinies in his hands, it’s a lot easier to do what he’s called us to do then if we assume that we’re in control, you know, that’s it’s ultimately up to us, what we think, what we assume, what we feel. Obedience is grounded in trust, and I’ll tell you, I think this decision to obey, well, it always leads to action. Confidence doesn’t grow and vision doesn’t expand if we never leave our pew or the pulpit. Faith is lived, and that life is shaped by our willingness to obey what we’ve heard.

And you know, that’s pretty good news for a guy like me and maybe like you. You see, even though we may not have the vision and confidence we might like, right here we have a pretty good example to follow, and a man whose confidence was never shaken even in the face a horrible situation and who’s vision was so clear that he could see that his confidence was well placed, I’m talking about a brother who demonstrated over and over again both in this passage and throughout his life a willingness to listen and to obey. You see, I believe we can follow his example and like him, grow in our confidence and vision. And if this is what we decide to do, instead of being a lowly C student, maybe we’ll earn an A just like Abraham.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

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

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 29, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Kings 15:1–16:20; Acts 19:13-41; Psalm 147:1-20; and Proverbs 18:4-5 . The readings are from The Message ...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Freedom from the Past; Freedom for the Future

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 http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church). 


Romans 6:3-11

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.


Freedom from the Past; Freedom for the Future

I know people who are bound to the past, you know, to mistakes made that they can’t forget nor forgive. I know other people who are constantly worried about the future, everything from how the bills are going to be paid tomorrow to where they’ll spend eternity. And there are some that are afflicted by both, and I’m talking about both bondage and worry. But unfortunately, whether you’re talking about how they deal with the past or the future, this kind of focus has a major impact on the present. For example, some feel as their lives are predetermined by their own experiences while others move forward with either petrifying fear or reckless abandon.

And I’ll tell you, what’s truly sad is this: it’s all unnecessary. You see, I think Paul is right on the mark, that through Christ, we’ve been freed from the past. Our sins have been nailed on the cross, and we’ve died to all that mess that can dominate our lives. But more than that, his resurrection reminds us that the future is secure. And even though we might choose to worry about what’s coming, our destinies are as certain as the empty tomb, something that we envision and trust right now. You see, through Jesus, we’ve been freed from a debilitating past and free for a glorious future.

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

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 28, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Kings 13:1–14:29; Acts 18:23–19:12; Psalm 146:1-10; and Proverbs 18:2-3 . The readings are from The Messa...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cove Kids: Children Bulletins for Sunday, June 29, 2014: Below are puzzles for children focused on Psalm 13, one of the passages we'll consider this Sunday. There are two “bulletins,” one for a...

Cove's Bulletin for Sunday, June 29, 2014

Below is a copy of our Sunday bulletin. During the service, we'll focus on the story of Abraham and Isaac and consider how God might test us and how we might deal with times when we fail. We’ll also baptize Rudy Eugene Violet, the son of Kayla and Eric Violet during the service.









What's Happening at Cove Presbyterian Church?

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

WELCOME . . .
Rudy Eugene Violet, son of Kayla & Eric Violet who is being baptized this morning. Rudy is the grandson of Linda Cline and great-grandson of Eleanor Cline.

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.

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

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT THEIR BIBLE. . .
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 the session this Tuesday, July 1, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. we'll look at the Gospel of Mark.

IF YOU'VE EVER WONDERED ABOUT THE DIFFERENT DIVISIONS . . .
within the Body of Christ, we're started a new series on Wednesday mornings from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. It's entitled "Within the Body of Christ" and we'll consider some of the different divisions within the Christian church.

OUR BROWN BAG BIBLE STUDY . . .
will meet Thursday, July 3, beginning at 12:31 p.m., we'll discuss Acts 9:1-43.

FRIDAY, JULY 4TH . . .
the church and office will be closed in observance of Independence Day. Happy 4th of July!!

WE'LL HAVE SPECIAL MUSIC . . .
through the summer months. The chancel choir is taking a much deserved summer break. If you would like to participate in our summer music program contact Janice Torrance at 304-797-1908. All types of music are welcome!

BOARD MEMBERS . . .
please periodically check and empty your mailboxes. Items of importance that need your attention are often placed in them.

CHECK YOUR KROGER'S RECEIPT . . .
if the bottom of your sales receipt does not say, "You requested Kroger to donate to Cove Presbyterian Church," please consider registering or re-registering with Kroger's Community Rewards Program. Registration must be renewed each year after May 1st.  It costs you nothing, you retain all your points, however Kroger will periodically send a dividend check to the church for a percentage of all sales which designate Cove as a Rewards recipient.  It's FREE MONEY for Cove!! PLEASE HELP US WITH THIS ENDEAVOR! If you have any questions please contact the church office.

COVE'S 10TH ANNUAL COMMUNITY BIRTHDAY CALENDAR PROJECT  . .
Is underway. We ask that you please consider participating in this worthwhile and successful project. Have all dates of importance at your fingertips!! - If you have any questions contact the church office. Each year the church makes a wonderful profit on this endeavor. Deadline date for all entries is Tuesday, July 22, 2014.

SUMMER BREAK . . .
just a reminder that most groups suspend their activities for the summer months, if you wish to meet at the church please contact the church to be sure someone will be available.

UNCLAIMED ITEMS . . .
if you leave an item at the church please mark who or what the item is for. If items are not marked, they become the property of the church and will be dealt with accordingly after one week.

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 four 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.

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.

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

On Sunday, June 29, Cove Presbyterian Church will lift to God the following needs.

Adults
Andy DiRemigio
Annette Goff
Audrey Vincent
Barbara Maze
Carol Caston
Carol Mowl
Charles Saffle
Chuck May
Cindi Livingston
Conrad Criss
Dan Tenaglio
Dean Allen
Deloris Chesebro
Dick Spencer
Donald R. Billham
Doug Haller
Emery Edwards
Evan Pulice
Gen Meyer
George Bownlee
Hannah Leasure
Hattie Black Marcum
Jack Hatala
Jamie Edwards
Janet Holmes
Jeanne Buffington Rowland
Jeff Grant
Jen's Mom
Jo Magnone
Joanie Lawrence
Jodi Kraina
John Schlotter
Jonathan Serafine
Josh Boyd
Justin Vogel
Kelly Stephens
Lori Lancaster
Lou Ann Seevers
Manuel Fraga
Marcia Cooper
Maria Drennan
Marjie Dinges
Martha Meadows
Mary Ellen Grove
Marybeth Lewis
Matthew Kirtley
Mbanda Nathaniel
Michael Hvizdak
Mike Churchman
Mike Terri
Paul D. Welch
Peggy Stewart
Randy Willson
Robert Hans
Roger Criss
Ronnie Buffington
Rose Bell
Sally Marple
Sam Bosnic
Sam Fortunato
Sharon Johnson
Shirley Everhart Kirtley
Stacy Jo Vogel
Stanley Smoleski
Steve Zubay
Susan Ponville
Susie Kurcina
The Ingram Family
Tim Bradley
Tom Salvati
Wink Harner

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

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

In the Hospital
Connie Francis – Weirton Medical Center
Don Billingham – Weirton Medical Center

Church Families
Lori Allen, Carly & Danika
Larry & Zachary Bails
Shirley Bails

Local Church
All Saints Greek Orthodox Church

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

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

Friday’s Essay – Broadening Community

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

My daughter and a couple of her friends came back last Friday from spending a week at camp. And of course, when she got home, I wanted to know all about it, especially if any boy had wormed himself into her heart. And praise the Lord, that didn’t happen. Anyway, according to Maggie, she had a wonderful time. I mean, listening to her, there wasn’t anything that she didn’t enjoy. She loved the camp, the games, the cabins, and of course her counselors. She told me all about the great lessons and wanted me to order the book they used, one entitled “Jesus Freaks: Martyrs: Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus”. I’ll tell you, she even liked the food and is now a consumer of grilled cheese sandwiches made with processed American cheese. They’re not something I’d ever choose, but she loves them, if they’re made the way they were made at camp. As a matter of fact, she can’t wait until next summer and looks forward to the time when she can be a counselor herself. Unlike her father who’s never been camping because he likes to be clean and comfortable, my daughter is now a camp follower.

Well, on Sunday, after church, Maggie and one of the girls who went with her to camp were in my study, and I noticed that, even though they’re good friends and were sitting right next to one another, they were both on their iPhones and not saying a word. Now, I found this kind of surprising, especially since they both enjoyed that face-to-face contact for five straight days. In other words, I thought that since they’d experience real community at camp and loved it, she’d recognize the inadequacy Instagram and Facebook. But there they were, thumbs flying as they were either texting or posting. And so, being a concerned, nearly 57-year-old father, I asked what they were doing and of course, why they were doing it. And I remember, Maggie looked up and said in her pre-ner way, “Dad, we playing a game.” “Together?” “Yes Dad, together.” I was relieved that she didn’t say “dah”, but I still knew that she was thinking it. And sure enough, when I went over, they were both moving little people around the same screen with other folks also moving and interacting. They were in what I guess you could call a virtual world. And even though they both loved the community at camp, for them, this was also a community.

And that really got me thinking. I mean, even though I’m fairly active in social media for a man my age, I still carry around a lot of assumptions about the nature of community that aren’t shared by my 12-year-old daughter. And although that kind of “generation gap” is to be expected, if I’m serious about sharing with her and her friends the good news of Jesus Christ, I’m going to have to broaden my sense of community.

And to do that, well, I think I might have to do three things that may just not come naturally. I mean, first, I’m going to have to stop assuming that my definition of community is more valid than hers, you know, that genuine relationships are only possible for people in the same room and that the internet is an inadequate way to bring people together, something that’s especially when you’re talking about the church. You see, for me to grow, I may need to put my prejudices to one side. And then, second, I’m going to need to open my mind so that I can actually learn. Like I said, I do a fair about of work online, but a lot of it involves conveying information. Maybe, if I open my mind and started to really listen to some stuff that different from what I’ve always believed, I’d come to understand how God might used this new form of contact to do things that we’ve never done before. And then, third, I might need to engage, in other words, to apply what I’ve learned. I mean, all the insights and techniques mean nothing, if they’re not used. Trusting in the Holy Spirit, I need to step away from what’s comfortable and safe to share the gospel in a brave, new world.

As I think about the last week or so, I think that I’ve learned that the concept of community is broader than I’ve considered in the past, and that it’s not a matter of which definition is right or best, but that many may be equally valid. And although that’s a little scary, it’s also exciting, because right now God is opening doors and creating opportunities that have never existed in the history of the world. But to claim them, I may need to stop judging and to start listening and engaging.

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

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 27, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Kings 10:32–12:21; Acts 18:1-22; Psalm 145:1-21; and Proverbs 18:1. The readings are from The Message by...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sunday's Minute for Mission - Princeton Theological Seminary

It was in the classrooms and chapel of Princeton Theological Seminary that Mark Elsdon, Erica Lui, Grier Booker Richards, and Peter Hazelrigg experienced confirmation of their calls to ministry. They now minister to other young adults who are exploring vocation: Mark and Erica (a clergy couple) as copastors at Pres House at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and Peter and Grier in North Carolina at UKirk Greensboro.
Mark and Erica are passionate about the impact that ministry on college campuses can make in the church. “College is where young people are making life choices—on issues from vocation to how they approach money, from relationships to habits of their spiritual lives,” says Mark.
Princeton Seminary, through its Institute for Youth Ministry, is committed to providing theological education for people in ministry with youth and young adults. The institute collaborates with congregations and church leaders to promote such ministry and to research programs that nurture young people in thinking about and practicing their faith and in considering vocations in ministry.
Grier Richards came to seminary because she first attended a Princeton Forum on Youth Ministry and was caught by a calling. She went on to earn a certificate in youth and theology, and then an MDiv. Now she helps offer students at Greensboro colleges “a place of hospitality and Christian community.” In fact, both campus ministries have ventured into providing housing for students, to offer an experience of intentional, residential Christian community much like the four pastors experienced at Princeton.
Through their ministries, these Princeton graduates help students experience the grace of Jesus Christ, explore God’s desire for their lives, and ultimately trace the Holy Spirit’s steps out into the world. For some, these may pass through seminary. Either way, Mark, Erica, Peter, and Grier know that as students receive their ministry, they receive the One who sent them.
—Dr. M. Craig Barnes, president, Princeton Theological Seminary

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Wishes Come True, Not Free

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 http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church). 


Matthew 20:20-28

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." But Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?" They said to him, "We are able." He said to them, "You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."


Wishes Come True, Not Free

Last week, my daughter went to camp, and I guess that got me thinking about my youth and particularly, about the kind of stories you used to hear around the camp fire before going to bed. And it seems to me that more than a few of those stories involve a person making some kind of wish or promise only to find that there were some unpleasant strings attached. As a matter of fact, I think a line from the musical “Into the Woods” is right on the mark: “Wishes come true, not free.” But whether you’re talking about camp stories or musicals, the point is the same, you better be very careful in making wishes, because they just might come true.

And I think we see the same thing going on in the passage I just read, you know, the one in which the mother of James and John asked Jesus to give her sons special status, only to find that in God’s kingdom both high status and greatness are turned on their ear. And what was true for them is also true for us. As we look to live as followers of Christ, we might want to readjust our priorities and the way we measure success, because in the sight of God, the first are last and the last are first. And before we make promises to God, we might want to consider whether we’re willing to pay the price.

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

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 26, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Kings 9:14–10:31; Acts 17:1-34; Psalm 144:1-15; and Proverbs 17:27-28. The readings are from The Message ...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bible Talk: The Lectionary Passages for Sunday, June 22, 2014: Below are NRSV translations of the lessons from the Psalms (Psalm 13), Old Testament (Genesis 22:1-14), the Letters (Roman 6:12-23), and the...

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 25, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 25, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Kings 8:1–9:13; Acts 16:16-40; Psalm 143:1-12; and Proverbs 17:26. The readings are from The Message by ...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Viewing Contempt as a Distraction

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 http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church). 


Psalm 123

To you I lift up my eyes,
          O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
As the eyes of servants
          look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid
          to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
          until he has mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us,
          for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than its fill
          of the scorn of those who are at ease,
          of the contempt of the proud.


Viewing Contempt as a Distraction

I think one of the most difficult things to do in the life is to keep your focus in the face of scorn and disrespect. For instance, recently I’ve been hit with a fairly large number of negative, almost hostile comments made by people whom I don’t know personally but who seem to have no hesitation questioning my faith and dedication to Christ. Of course, I recognize that I’m not alone. I think, from time to time, we all face folks who seem intent on undermining what we believe. They seem to take pleasure putting us on the defensive and enticing us into arguments over some specific issue about which they feel passionate. And since their goal is put us on the defensive, I think it’s doubtful that anything constructive will result from the exchange.

And even though we might face this kind of situation at many different times and from many different people, I think it’s particularly hurtful when it involves our faith, in other words, how we see God and our relationship with him. And I’ll tell you, for the reason, I think it’s really important to be clear about our focus and to be willing to label a lot of this other stuff as distractions. For example, today, when someone on Facebook sent me an article that took a hostile and sarcastic position on an issue addressed at our recent General Assembly and then asked me to state where I stood, this is what I wrote: “As always, I stand with the one who said, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”’ I doubt that this answers your specific question, but as a person who’s dedicated his life to sharing the ‘grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit’, that’s the only one I have.” You see, I’m going to keep my focus, because I’ve decided to view contempt as just a distraction.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 24, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 24, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Kings 6:1–7:20; Acts 15:36–16:15; Psalm 142:1-7; and Proverbs 17:24-25. The readings are from The Mess...

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sunday's Sermon - When the Cataracts Are Gone

You can also find a podcast of this sermon at http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church). You can also find a copy of this sermon and other sermons, devotions and articles athttp://thecovecommunity.blogspot.com/.


Genesis 21:8-21

The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. 

But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.” 

So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer- sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink. God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt. 


When the Cataracts Are Gone

Before we get started, let me ask you a question. How many of y’all have had cataract surgery? Now, I’m just curious, because last week, I was talking to a member of the church who’d had that procedure, and I was just wondering if some of y’all could relate to what she said to me. You see, she told me that she hadn’t fully adjusted to the change that the surgery had made. Evidentially her vision had become much worse then she thought, because now, my gosh, not only could she see more clearly, but colors were a lot more vivid and everything seemed so much brighter than it did before. Now, that’s what she said, and since it seems like cataracts are just a part of aging, I was wondering if that’s what I’ll experience some time in the future, the distant future.

Of course, even though I’ve never had cataracts removed, I really can understand some of the experience she described. You see, I got my first pair of glasses when I was eleven years old, although I probably needed them when I was younger. And I can remember as sure as I’m standing here, on the first day I wore them to school, I can remember standing in the athletic field and looking down and being absolutely amazed, because I didn’t know that you could actually see individual blades of grass. I’ll tell you, it was really cool and something I’ve remembered for over thirty-five years: how a pair of glasses could change everything. And I’m guessing that’s sort of like what happens after the cataracts are removed.

And you know, as I thought about it, it seems to me that this kind of thing is not only happening in the passage we just read from Genesis but also in our own lives. I mean, think about it, sometimes our vision can really be distorted by what’s happening around and within us. It’s like we’re walking around with cataracts or that we need glasses. Things just aren’t clear, but we might not even realize how bad it is. As a matter of fact, that distortion can be so great that we sort of miss seeing the presence and care of God. 

And like I said, I think that’s what we see in this story of Hagar and Ishmael, especially near the end, and I’m talking about after “she cast the child under one of the bushes [and] then...went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, ‘Do not let me look on the death of the child.’” Of course, the reason she was in this situation, well, that was clear even though I don’t think it was fair. I mean, as we know from the beginning of the story, her presence and the presence of her son, man, that really ticked off Sarah, who told her husband Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” And after getting the go-ahead from God, again something that doesn’t seem right to me, that’s exactly what he did. According to the passage, “...Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.” Of course when the water was gone, it looked as though it was over, and so Hagar put her child under a bush, absolutely certain of what was going to happen. And she walked away, and after she sat down, “...she lifted up her voice and wept.” You see, at that point, given everything she’d gone through, all she could see was the death of her son. 

And I’ll tell you something, sometimes I think that’s sort of where we are, too. I mean, bad things just happen, and I think we all know they happen to good people. As Jesus said, “[God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” That’s just the way it is. Of course, this kind of thing can come in different ways and can lead to different feelings. For example, we may not get accepted into the program or the company may announce layoffs or the biopsy may come back inclusive, and we end up worrying about where we’re going to go and what we’re going to do and how we’re going to face something we never expected to face. Or maybe it’s like this: we see someone we don’t particularly like get a special advantage or an undeserved benefit or we hear someone say cruel and hateful things about a person who just won’t defend themselves or we have to deal with some kind of pain inflicted on us by a person who never seems to pay any consequences at all; maybe something like that happens and it makes us so resentful and frustrated and angry we can hardly stand it. Or maybe it has everything to do with us. I mean, maybe we knowingly hurt someone whom we thought deserved it at the time but now we’re not so sure or maybe we ignored and avoided a problem that was staring us right in the face or maybe we did something that we just can’t forget and for which we won’t forgive ourselves, maybe that happened and we feel guilty and embarrassed and ashamed. My goodness, it could be any of those things or maybe about thousand others; it really doesn’t matter. Like Hagar sitting there, waiting for her son to die, we can become so focused on that’s happening in our lives that it’s almost impossible to see much else. 

And I’ll tell you, it’s at those times, and I’m talking about those times when all we can see are the reasons we have to feel worry or to be angry or to be ashamed, it’s right then that we might want to remember this: that God can and does open our eyes. He can and does correct our vision so that we can see his presence. In other words, God can and does remove all those things that have become like cataracts so that we can once again see some good reasons to move forward. 

And you know, isn’t that what happened with Hagar. Remember, according to the passage, “And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, ‘What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.’ Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.” You see, God opened her eyes so that she could see. And then, with this new sight, “she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.” In other words, with God’s help, she looked beyond her immediate circumstances and she trusted that what she saw was real and brought water to her son. And the result, well, according to Genesis: “God was with the boy,  and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.” You see, God enabled her to see and she looked. 

And you know, I think God does the exact same thing for us. I’m telling you right here and right now, God is always with us and he’s removing those cataracts that distort our vision and he’s opening our eyes so that we can see. And I think he does this in all kinds of ways. I mean, I believe some folks hear angelic voices and see divine visions. I’ve never had that kind of experience, but I think it happens. And others, you know, guys like me, well, God touches us through Scripture, and I’m talking about the living word of God, something that the Holy Spirit is constantly inspiring so that it continues to speak with authority in a world that’s constantly changing. And still others see God working and speaking through other people, sometimes a person in the pulpit or the guy sitting next to them in a pew but at other times for other people, in the joy of a child to whom they’ve actually listened or the gratitude of someone living on the street to whom they’ve actually offered help. I’ll tell you, a lot of folks know from firsthand experience, that looking into the eyes of the least is like looking into the eyes of Christ. But you know, it doesn’t really matter how it happens. I want you to believe that God is still opening eyes, and giving us the ability to look beyond our circumstances, to look beyond those things that cause us to worry or to become angry or to feel shame, to look out without the stupid cataracts, so that we can see signs of his presence and his love. And even though those signs may not be obvious, I’ll guarantee, they’ll be there, signs that we can decide to trust and that move us to take some kind of action. You see, with eyes wide open, we can move forward. And although it probably won’t result in becoming skilled at archery or moving to scenic Paran or marrying an Egyptian babe, I think we can expect the results to be equally exciting.

As a matter of fact, every bit as exciting as looking at blades of grass in a field beside an elementary school or seeing the world that’s suddenly bright and vivid. You see, just like it did with Hagar, our present situation can really mess-up our vision and distort our ability to see God, and that’s a shame. But here’s the good news: just like he did with her, God can and does correct our vision so that we can see his presence and love. And as it relates to our lives from that point on, well, who knows what will happen to us when the cataracts are gone.

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 23, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 23, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Kings 4:18–5:27; Acts 15:1-35; Psalm 141:1-10; and Proverbs 17:23. The readings are from The Message ...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 22, 2014

The Bible in a Year: Bible Readings for June 22, 2014: Today our passages are 2 Kings 3:1–4:17; Acts 14:8-28; Psalm 140:1-13; and Proverbs 17:22. The readings are from The Message b...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line – Not Too Bad for Grace

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 http://covepresbyterian.podbean.com/ or iTunes (Cove Presbyterian Church). 


Romans 3:9-20

What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written:
“There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one.” 
“Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive.” 
“The venom of vipers is under their lips.” 
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known.” 
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.


Not Too Bad for Grace

Now, for many people, this is a horrible passage, one that’s either bad enough to ruin your day or so bad that it has to be pushed aside and ignored. I mean, if this is true, we’re all terrible. We’re worthless with throats like open graves and lips that spew venom. We dish out cursing and bitterness. We seek to shed blood and spread misery. And frankly, we don’t really care about what God or anybody else thinks. We’re going to do it our way. Now that’s pretty awful . But I’ll tell you, even worse is this: God will hold us accountable for our actions. In other words, when it comes to obedience we all fail, and God knows it. Therefore, if our future is grounded in God rewarding our righteousness living, we can just hang it up, because we’re not going to make it. We can’t be righteous. And no matter how diligent I am in rewriting the rules so that I slip through but you don’t, because my sins aren’t that bad but everyone knows yours are, all that doesn’t mean a bucket of spit in the sight of God, “...for ‘no human being will be justified in his sight’ by deeds prescribed by the law...”

And like I said, for all many people, particularly for those who ground their futures on earning some kind of reward from God, this is so bad that they have to ignore it and either lower God’s standards or pretend they can become something that no human can be. But you know, that should never be the case for us, because we also believe in something called grace, an idea that’s foreign to many “faithful” people. You see, we believe that everything that Paul wrote is true and applies to us just like it does the guy across the street. We are all sinners. But we also believe that sinners are redeemed by God, that our past was cleansed through the death of Jesus and our future secured by the resurrection. And even though we may never be comfortable hearing that we can’t earn a spot in God’s Kingdom, we can trust that this spot has already been established by the one the who finds the lost even when the lost doesn’t want to be found.

The Kroger Community Rewards Program


Cove Presbyterian Church is continuing our partnership with Kroger’s, and it's time to re-register. Remember, it costs you nothing but, a percent of your purchases comes back to the church on a quarterly basis. You keep all your perks, while the church gets money from Krogers. The one requirement is that you renew your registration yearly in the rewards program.

IF YOU HAVEN'T REGISTERED IN THE PAST

  • Go to krogercommunityrewards.com
  • Have your Kroger Plus Card Handy* Click Sign-in Register Click Sign up today, in New Customer Box
  • Enter zip code, click on favorite store, enter e-mail address and create a password, agreeing to terms and conditions. You will receive an e-mail, click on the lick within the body of the e-mail.
  • Enter Cove Presbyterian Church or the church’s NPO number - 80270. Click confirm.
  • To verify, you will see the church’s information of the right side of your information sheet.

IF YOU ARE ALREADY REGISTERED AT

  • Go to krogercommunityrewards.com
  • Click on my account, use your e-mail and password to proceed. Click edit Community Rewards information, input your Kroger Plus card number.
  • Update and confirm the information.
  • Enter Cove Presbyterian Church or the church’s NPO number - 80270. Click confirm.
  • To verify, you will see the church’s information of the right side of your information sheet.

Any questions, please call the church office, 304-748-5980..

The Presbyterian Women of Cove Presbyterian Church

Cove's Women are Looking back! 2013-2014 – Planned for the Upper Ohio Valley Presbyterian Women’s Fall Workshop. More than 50 Presbyterian Women participated in our workshop. Our guest was Margret Mpachika from Malawi - a member of Church Women’s Guild of the Church of Central Africa Presbytery. Cove’s women invited the women of Oakland Presbyterian Church to a Christmas Luncheon. Other endeavors included: collecting items for the Shack in Morgantown; donated a bicycle for a child for Christmas; collected for UNICEF, collected monies from Cove’s Presbyterian Women for the Bread Loaves, Least Coin, Hunger and Leprosy programs; thru a scholarship sent a child to Camp Opportunity; the Thank Offering was collected and given by the Presbyterian Women as our “thanks” for God’s many blessings.

Another one of our offerings, The Birthday Offerings celebrates the birthday of the Presbyterian Women. This offering meets the needs of 5 projects selected to receive this special support. The Birthday Offering will be collected the first Sunday in June, June 1st, 2014.

The Presbyterian Women’s Association strives to keep everyone Informed about “our” church activities.

Your Moderator in Christ
Linda Spencer

From Cove's Myrtle McHendry Sunday School Class

We have all just enjoyed a wonderful, sunny Memorial Day Weekend - no rain! God is so good! And today, May 27th, it started out as a beautiful day again but around 2:00 p.m. a thunderstorm rolled in - heavy rain, wind, lightening - but- God i so good - He waited till Tuesday for the rain to come!

Our class met at the Gathering Place at the Paris Presbyterian Church in April where we learned how to make mats for the homeless. The ladies there have a wonderful ministry with the mats which they also supply with toiletries! Several of our women plan to join them in this endeavor.

We enjoyed a visit from “Minnie Pearl” in May - thanks to a new dear friend, Janet Keller, from the Nazarene Church in Chester. “Minnie” had on her favorite hat, tag included, and a charming old-fashioned apron. She shared lots of home-spun humor and had us all laughing - especially at the end!

Now we are looking forward to a fun afternoon at the Serbian Cultural Center June 3rd. President Bonnie Nichols, Corinne Ferguson and Barbara Losey are working on this final afternoon get-together till September. It makes me think - where does the time go?! It flies - the older I get!

It tells us in Psalm 90:12 “teach us to number our days. Why? That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” So I think - the days are flying by - precious days. As I said earlier, we had 2 special days as our Myrtle Mdllendry Class got together for fellowship and fun. Of course we meet every Sunday morning at 9:45 a.m. for Sunday School with our own Eleanor Cline serving as our teacher. These special days are for learning more of God’s word, His plan for our lives, for sharing our concerns and for prayer. And what of the in between days? My dear friend, Eleanor Clime, made a picture that I have in my kitchen - it is a frame with beautiful flowers in the corner and it says “Today is a gift, unwrap the ribbons.” Each day is a gift - not just to rush around being busy all the time - even doing good things - but to stop and rest - God knows we need that. Time to reflect on the priceless gift of salvation He has given us through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Time to thank Him for our many blessings we so often take for granted. Time to tell God we love Him because He first loved us. Time to tell those in our lives we hold most dear - I Love You.

So - the rain has stopped, it’s getting a little brighter. Time for me to say - come and join us in Sunday School, come when we have our afternoons of fun. Let’s make our days count.

Esten Jezerski