Sunday, March 9, 2014
Today we worshiped at Four Mile Church, 6078 Tuscarawas Road, Beaver, PA 15009, 724.495.6520, www.fourmile.org, Pastor Martin Williams.
Scripture – Philippians 3:10-4:1
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
I looked forward to revisiting Four Mile because I thought it an interesting group of buildings comprising the facility, and I remembered the large back-lit cross over the curtain.
We were greeted by the usher when we came in and a couple during the time of greeting, but they were the only ones.
The dual screens make it easy to follow the music. The bass was too strong for me but I had brought my earplugs. My knees gave out before I could stand very long to sing anyway. I enjoyed the female singer’s voice.
The sermon called us to live up to what we believe. I often talk about getting a few red bricks to the head before I hear God’s call so I appreciated the reference to a “Holy Spirit whack in the head.”
The message was likened to a stone that we put in our way that keeps us from acting on what we know to be true of God. We easily accept the first road block the devil offers us.
I found this message a wonderful call from Christ to get back to the things He has called me to. No excuses, He has rolled away my stone, no more detours. Marines are known for not backing from the fight, no more demonic stones to hold me back.
I was pleased that there were elders willing to be available for prayer after the service.
I recalled no details of our last visit here 4 years ago, but as we pulled into the parking lot I recalled the excellent outdoor directional signage. The building identifiers are helpful for visitors who have no idea of the purposes for the various buildings. The interior signs match and are just as abundant.
Upon entering we were greeted and handed a bulletin. We would have looked around downstairs but we did not want to intrude on whatever was going on. It turned out to be work for a worthy cause: preparations for an all-afternoon spaghetti luncheon fundraiser.
The building and grounds were tidy. The huge cross in front was suspended in front of a drape and backlit and the effect was stunning.
We found seats in the sanctuary in the very back next to the door. There were plenty of people back and forth, but no one spoke to us, which is typical at a church with more than one service.
The music was bass-heavy but well done.
The message was part 4 of a series about our responsibilities in our faith walk, this week specifically focusing on living up to and standing firm in what we believe. The pastor asserted that if someone were to try to steal our material possessions, we would fight to keep them, and we must fight to keep our spiritual blessings also. God has graciously given us all we need to live a God-honoring life, but the Enemy will do his best to take it from us and prevent us from living the life God has planned for us. We must reclaim whatever the Enemy has stolen from us…we must not give him an inch.
Scripture tells us the struggle is a constant one. The battle may belong to the Lord, but our part is important or God would not have instructed us about such mundane details as how to dress (Ephesians 6:10-17).
The congregation was invited to come to the front during the final song for individual prayers with elders, a wonderful and important ministry.
Our prayer for this church:
Dear Lord, help us all to roll away the stones we hold in place that keep us from boldly serving You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Today we worshiped at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, 399 State Street, Baden, PA 15005, 724.869.7635, www.lutheransonline.com/christoursaviors, Rev. Jill E. McGregor, Pastor.
Exodus 24:12-18 –
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.”
Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.
2 Peter 1:16-21 –
We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.
So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Matthew 17:1-9 –
Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
We revisited Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church today in part because it is close and to see what has changed since the last time we worshiped here. The pastor is a joy to talk to; she has a passion for Christ that barely lets her touch the ground.
Some things that come to mind from a visitor not well versed in Lutheran liturgy: the service was nearly over before I realized the hymns were not among the printed ones included in the bulletin. (I didn’t see anyone using a hymnal until the last selection.)
Directional signs to the restrooms and nursery from the sanctuary would be helpful.
The renovations are being done as the money is raised for each project. I would normally recommend against this as it seems to leave no room for Christ, but what this has done is give everyone time to refine their thinking on each project. This is a most important part of renovating an older church as this time of acceptance helps the members take ownership and makes for a smooth transition.
This cold snowy morning seemed like a good time to visit with our Lutheran friends nearby.
This lovely church (by which I mean the people) has made noticeable attempts to reach out into the local community over the last few years, and I always enjoy their bold signs in the front lawn, visible reminders of God’s presence in the area.
Some interior changes have been made since our last visit, including painting. I don’t recall if there was signage the last time we were here, but there is some now, in spite of an obvious state of transition.
Before we could even sit down some folks stopped to welcome us.
As today is Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday, the untitled sermon centered on light. However the part that touched me was the pastor’s statement about the event on the Mount of Transfiguration.
When the disciples heard the voice of God telling them to listen to Jesus, they fell prostrate in fear. That was when Christ touched them. This was her point: Jesus touches the fearful…a simple and comforting thought, that when I am afraid, Jesus will comfort me and give me courage. I must listen for and to Him and depend on Him, but “the light will always prevail.”
The final three points included: we need to ask ourselves how we can listen better and where do our fears rule us, and then let Him touch us in those fear-filled places. Amen.
Our prayer for this church:
Father, we pray You open this church to all they can be for You. Empower them to go boldly forward in Your Name. Amen.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Today we worshiped at Fountain Park Church, 8533 Peters Road, Cranberry Twp., PA 16066, 724.779.2003, www.fountainparkchurch.com, R. Mark Plumb, Pastor.
Scripture – Philippians 4:14-20 (NLT)
Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.
At the moment I have all I need – and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.
We were called to return to Fountain Park and I thought we wouldn’t need to blog, but Jesus had a message for me which He delivered through Pastor Mark Plumb.
The message was based on the generosity of the church at Philippi, and the personal message for me was that the things I think I need to hang on to are keeping me from God’s blessings. The overwhelming joy I have experienced when giving away the excess is a great incentive to clean out again. I don’t know what God will lead me to next; I do know that the excess of things is a burden, not a blessing.
Our prayer for this church:
Lord, we pray You would cleanse us of the worldly things we hold on to and make room for the blessings You wish to bestow on us. Guide us that we may store up our treasures in Heaven. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Today we worshiped at Southminster Presbyterian Church, 799 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon, PA 15228, 412.343.8900, www.spchurch.org, Rev. Daniel B. Merry, Pastor.
We acknowledge your prayers with heartfelt thanksgiving. Jan’s shoulder surgery was successful, and she is on the mend. We never doubted the Great Healer’s Presence throughout the ordeal. We serve an awesome God, and we have felt your prayers.
We don’t know when we will be able to resume our visitations, as even note-taking is all but impossible. As my typing skill is nonexistent, our daughter agreed to type this for me.
May our Lord continue to bless you all, and we pray He will open our eyes to more of His purpose for this time in our lives.
Today we worshiped at Southminster Presbyterian Church and heard an enlightening sermon. I enjoyed the choir and the young woman on the organ. We were graciously invited to join the spaghetti luncheon which was delicious. We appreciated the hospitality and greatly enjoyed the fellowship.
This time of healing for Jan has made us more aware of the phenomenal way some disabled people handle everyday challenges.
Our prayer for this church:
Lord, we lift up to You the differently-abled around us and ask that You show us how best to minister to others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.