After resisting it for more than a year, we gave in and obeyed God's call to this ministry of visitation. We are privileged to worship God where He sends us each Sunday and this is where we try to provide a snapshot from a visitor's perspective.
Please leave a comment if you wish. If you'd like to contact us, Bob is at MarineForJesus@aol.com and Jan is at Jlynnchess@aol.com. Thank you!
We both got
up feeling sick this morning, me with a cough I couldn’t control, and maybe
just a bit more overwhelmed by grandchildren than we are comfortable to admit.
We spent some time beyond our normal devotional time listening to sermons
told the story of Moses’ birth as if it was in our time. He made reference to
something in Moses’ life as being “from the Get Go,” which puts a different
spin on the bull rush story.
sermon referred to our “winning is everything” mentality. He reminded that as
followers of Christ we are called to be servants. I pray that I can be a worthy
I read in a
devotional this morning a poem by Kenneth N. Taylor called “The Cord.” It related
how the things in our lives work when the cord is plugged in, the great power
of the cord. The important part is that we have the greater power plugged in,
that love, joy, etc. grow strong in us.
prayer for the Church: Lord,
we pray we all take up that greater power and grow strong in and for You. We
give You thanks for the myriad of ways that You get Your message across to us.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
worshiped at Northbridge Community Church, 216 Mystic Pine Trail, Cranberry
Twp., PA 16066, 724.371.1180, www.northbridge.org,
Jame Price, Lead Pastor.
Timothy 4:14-15 – Do
not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the
body of elders laid their hands on you.
diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may
see your progress.
Timothy 1:6 –
this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you
through the laying on of my hands.
revisited in part to see how children were handled in the nursery, and I was
impressed with the efficiency and the loving care that our grandchildren received.
There is a computerized check-in system with name tags printed for the child
and adults, including grandparents, authorized to pick up.
is also possible to register children online the night before a visit. My
daughter was given a passcard to scan when they revisit.
were some goal posts around the projection screens, but still no cross.
the announcements some photos of a nursery area were projected on the screens
which made me think it might be fun to project some real-time shots of the
children in the nursery areas. Some churches project the children’s message for
all to see and this always seemed well-received.
we both have experienced a change, we have been investigating our spiritual
gifts. Today’s sermon about the thumbprints of God was Christ’s leading. A
principle was raised that we should hold ourselves only accountable to God.
Many times clergy have stressed using our gifts for God, but this was the first
who brought up how that would affect others. God has blessed you with gifts you
can use to bless others as He directs. You are part of God’s overall plan…don’t
that we have family staying with us temporarily, we pay more attention to the
child care facilities and arrangements when we visit a church.
have attended this church once before, but J & S, our daughter and
son-in-law, wanted to visit and we wanted to lend our support, as well as to
see it from the perspective of someone with little ones.
that perspective, it was efficient, caring, colorful, and safe. Children are
checked in; parents/guardians receive nametags with numbers linking them to the
of the grandchildren was anxious about going into the room even though her
sister was in the same room. But she joined her sister and afterward said she
had lots of fun. And Mom and Dad appreciated the opportunity to worship
together for the first time in a good while.
were privileged to witness an adult baptism, for which the congregation was
encouraged to “cheer loudly for a changed life.” What a terrific approach, and
very different from the staid Presbyterian style with which I grew up. He was
baptized “in the name of the Father Who loves you, the Son Who died for you,
and the Holy Spirit Who lives in you.” I liked that.
current series is entitled “Game Plan” and this, Part 3 called “The Playbook,”
was presented by Jeff Henderson.
visit was another reminder to me that God guides us to the church He wants us
have always been interested in spiritual gifts, and for the last several weeks
have taken several written and online. This message was centered on our unique
gifts, God’s specific plan for each life, and discovering the gifts we have
been given and how God expects us to use them.
equates life with a race, so much the same language was used. He stated that a
common obstacle is running someone else’s race, i.e., living our life based on
someone else’s expectations or lack thereof. He reminded that Scripture tells
us to “run with endurance” and that God will not hold us accountable for someone
referred to gifts as “God’s thumbprints,” and said they “are clues to His plan
for you. We need to lean into them, not turn away from them.”
knowing our gifts, we need to “leverage opportunities to use our gifts.” In
other words, recognize them, acknowledge them, then do something with them,
remembering that they were given to us so we could use them for others’ sake.
It’s not about us. And at the finish line we will hear, “Well done, good and
other point that spoke loudly to me was if we pray for opportunities to use our
gifts, God will show up and provide them. Personally this is encouraging, as
that’s where I am.
came home and took the online spiritual gift assessment on the website (www.northpointministries.org/gameplan).
The results were much the same as the others I had
taken recently, so I think I have a pretty good handle on my gifts; however I
have no idea how God wants me to use them. So I will take his advice and pray,
trusting God to show up and give me an indication of how He wants me to use His
prayer for this church: Father,
we pray this church continues to look for ways to praise and honor You. Awaken
them to the talents with which You have blessed them that they might use these
gifts to glorify You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
worshiped at New Life Presbyterian Church, 2795 Patterson Drive, Aliquippa, PA
15001, 724.378.4389, www.newlifehopewell.org.
– Numbers 6:22-27 The
Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the
Israelites. Say to them:
‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and
be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ‘
they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
learned something about my expectations today. This church had a bright, airy
feel to it with bright-colored stained glass beautifully lit by the sun. I was
remembering some very passionate worship in very dark and humble worship areas,
and I think I was expecting vibrant worship because of the aesthetics.
church recently suffered the loss of their pastor and of his wife a few years earlier,
so they are early in the grieving process. But it made me wonder how often we
are affected by the environment in which we worship. We had thought that we
might help someone there through the grieving process, but I think it may be
only was there a great cross on the wall, but some smaller ones built into the
walls and the ends of the pews. I noticed only door signs on the floors that we
visited. We were welcomed by a number of people, but noticed that questions
were only addressed to me.
preacher serves as a chaplain elsewhere and preached on “The Unexpected
Blessing” from a benediction in Numbers. He made his case for the blessing of
this benediction now.
preacher relayed several personal stories, beginning with the humbling
experience of being prayed for. It reminded me of an older friend who was in
her last days. My wife joined me to lay hands and pray, which went very well.
But when we finished she surprised us by holding on to us firmly so she could
pray for us.
story to which he referred was Aaron explaining how they threw in this gold and
look at the calf that came out!
lastly, driving in challenging conditions and being glad there was no Christian
bumper sticker on the car.
remember feeling chastised because of my driving while there was a Christian
bumper sticker on the rear of my truck, and it helped me to be a better driver.
is a pretty facility, aesthetically pleasing in color and décor. I did not
notice directional signage, but we arrived with just enough time to use the
restrooms before the service began.
sanctuary walls, ceiling, and pews were white/off-white, with light green
padding on the pews. Consequently the stained glass windows on either side were
the bright spots (literally and figuratively) of the sanctuary.
appreciated the user-friendliness of the bulletin, as I was able to fold the
one full sheet containing the Order of Worship and place all the inserts inside
to read later.
early July this church lost its installed pastor after a 1½ year battle with
pancreatic cancer. I had hoped God was directing us there for the purpose of
ministering to them, but the members seem to be in the early stages of grief and
were busy ministering to each other. Ultimately I suppose that’s a sign of a
healthy church, as they are being the church to each other.
message, “The Unexpected Blessing,” was presented by Dr. Bill Johnson, who
serves as Chaplain for LIFE Pittsburgh. While looking at their website to learn
more about the organization, I was astounded to see they reside in the same
building to which our office moved just over a month ago. The world gets
smaller every day.
message wound around the meaning of the Aaronic blessing (above). The most
heartwarming thing to me was to learn that in the Hebrew the blessing is
addressed to individuals, not especially to Israel as a whole. This is further
proof to me (as if further proof were necessary…) of the personal nature of our
God and His love for us. He cares for each one individually. As the preacher
pointed out, God blesses in tangible ways, He blesses with grace, and He blesses
with His peace.
am overwhelmed by His grace.
prayer for this church: Lord,
we lift this church up to You and ask that You walk them through their grief.
We pray You will lead pastors to them to bring them comfort and restore their
joy in You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
worshiped at Fairmount Presbyterian Church, 2535 Fairmount Church Road,
Sewickley, PA 15143, 412.364.7880, www.fairmountarpchurch.vpweb.com,
Anthony Alan Cowley, Pastor.
– Mark 7:24-37 (NIV) Jesus
left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did
not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact,
as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by
an evil spirit came and fell at his feet.
woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the
demon out of her daughter.
let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take
the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s
he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”
went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of
Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.
some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they
begged him to place his hand on the man. After he took him aside, away from the
crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the
man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!”
(which means, “Be opened!”).
this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak
commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept
talking about it.
were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He
even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
church has been on our list to visit for a long time and I am glad He led us
here today. We must have been greeted by most of the church as I think there
were fewer than two dozen of us in worship. The pastor quoted Matthew 18:20 (“Where
two or more are gathered in My Name…”) and I know Christ was there.
sanctuary is white on white with a soft gold trim. The cross is yellow gold looked
small, but against the large white wall it became a good focal point. There was
signage downstairs and the restrooms were marked but a woman led us to the
I have not experienced before: the church was silent before the service
pastor knelt at the Communion table for prayer, which made a powerful
sermon was “He Has Done Everything Well!” Some highlights: “You don’t need the Devil
to sin, he is happy to let you sin by yourself.” We must live through our
trials, we can’t read ahead to see how things work out. We ask God to bless us,
but want Him to bless us our way. We prefer God to be a footnote that we can
apply whenever…to our country, to ourselves. There is no way but to come in
humility and submit to God and plea for His mercy.
the message went a little wide; the pastor brought it back into focus with
Scripture, a good conclusion, and relevance to today.
of us is part of the ongoing story of Christ.
is another church I pass on my commute to work, so it’s been on our list for a
facility is older, decorated simply, and well cared for. I was impressed with
the signage, especially the directional signs to the restrooms. We received a
warm welcome and were able to wander around the premises briefly.
thought we had something of an idea what to expect at a Reformed Presbyterian
church, but found our impressions were not entirely accurate. The music was an
important part of worship, and the songs were all new to me.
appreciated the pastor’s kneeling on one knee to offer the Pastoral Prayer.
There was a fair amount of Scripture reading throughout the service, which was
a treat, as it is often abbreviated.
sermon was entitled “He Has Done Everything Well!” The part that spoke to me
had to do with the woman who asked Jesus to heal her daughter and the
subsequent conversation and, ultimately, the healing.
always found this exchange to be fascinating, as Jesus’ response seemed so out
of character. The pastor pointed out that she was a sub-plot…just as we are. As
important as each person is, we are not the point. Each individual receives
personal attention, but we are still illustrations in God’s story.
just as the woman in this portion of Scripture accepted her position but did
not let it determine the outcome of the encounter, we too should not give up. The
woman did not respond to Jesus with a list of her qualifications, but with a
statement of faith in His goodness.
want God to be a footnote in our lives, but if we submit to God’s plan and join
Him, we can be a real live point in God’s story.
Holy Spirit spoke to me through this sermon and gave me answers to some recent
questions. Again I am grateful for God’s leading.
prayer for this church: Dear
Father, We pray this church realizes and accepts that they are part of the
ongoing story of Christ, and that they go forward boldly, acting for You. In
Jesus’ Name. Amen.
worshiped at Community Bible Church, 4549 Route 151, Aliquippa, PA 15001,
724.375.5800, Dr. Robert W. Kern, Pastor.
– 2 Timothy 1:1-8 Paul,
an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life
that is in Christ Jesus,
Timothy, my dear son:
mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as
night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I
log to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your
sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother
Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you
to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my
God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of
do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But
join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,…
did find the church we had planned to visit but the service started at least a
half hour earlier than the website indicated. They were also miles from where the
online map and the GPS said they should be. We were early for the church we
passed on our travel and stayed there for worship.
were warmly welcomed by a number of people, and most asked where we were from.
We sat in on an adult Bible study where quite a few adults were in attendance
and actively checking Scripture with the leader. The speaker made mention of
men crying or not over various stimuli, and I was hoping to catch him after the
service to tell him that as a Marine I don’t cry but at times my eyes sweat
was disappointed not to find a cross in the sanctuary and somewhat surprised to
find an all male choir, joined later by five brass horns. I don’t know if that
is the norm or special for Labor Day.
was a bittersweet solo rendition of “It Is Well with My Soul.” A beautiful
delivery of a song sung at church the day after our son’s death.
message was delivered by a visiting pastor and dealt with our complacency in
our faith and being faithful servants. The speaker introduced the concepts with
a personal story and developed the sermon with numerous Scriptural references. It
was good to hear the concerns of spiritual warfare addressed. We tend to want
to avoid hearing about or talking about the Devil. The congregation seemed to
was one of those mornings full of adventure…we headed to a particular church,
even using the GPS this time. And when GPS said we were arriving, it turned out
to be an auto repair shop. So we drove, asking God to lead us to where He
wanted us to be today. We found the church we originally planned to attend, even
thinking we were early, but when we walked in they were already partway through
the sermon. So instead we returned to a church we had passed on the way.
were greeted the moment we walked in; we decided to tour the facility and
encountered a friendly couple. The husband had served in the Army in Vietnam,
so he and Bob talked some while his wife and I chatted.
our brief tour, we went back upstairs and, after being greeted by a few more
folks, decided to sit in the sanctuary during the adult Sunday school. We
hesitated even after three invitations as we didn’t want to interrupt, but it
was an interesting presentation by a member who is a police officer who spoke
to the issue of how he reconciles his faith with the requirements of his job.
couldn’t help but notice that the choir was comprised of 12 men and no women,
and they sounded amazing when they sang “Rise Up, O Men of God.” For their
marvelous presentation of “Abide with Me” they were accompanied by two trumpets
and three trombones. The other musical joy was a solo of “It Is Well with My
guest preacher was a friend of the congregation, Pastor Kerry Allen, who
currently serves Fox River Baptist Church, Aurora, IL.
message began and ended with the observation that we often forget we are
fighting a spiritual battle. Among his excellent points: the Bible is the source
God uses to energize us for the battle; we are continually given strength for
the battle…we are not required to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps; the world
hates God and it hates us, and there is supposed to be something different
enough about us for the world to hate us; our personal battle is not lost as
long as we struggle against the desires of our flesh.
assertion I found fascinating was that David danced before the Ark when it was
returned to its rightful home, but after his affair with Bathsheba he did not
dance again. The implication was that that sin was a defining event in David’s
life that removed the spontaneous joy from his relationship with God. How truly
sad to think of that.
totally agree with his statements, though. All who walk this earth most
definitely are in the midst of a spiritual battle, and we do tend to forget
this. We get caught up in the demands of life, in the desires of our flesh (not
only fleshly desires, but those too), and we forget that Satan is constantly
working to erode our relationship with God. We work hard to be liked by those who
hate God and to be strong in our own strength. We need to cease being afraid of
the things the world tells us to fear and turn our weak, helpless, blind selves
toward the God Who loves us, Who fights for us, and Who has already made a way
for us to spend everlasting life with Him. We need to seek and accept His power
through His Word on a daily basis. In Him, the battle is already won.
prayer for this church: Dear
Lord, remind us all that “it is a war out there.” Continue to guide and
reassure us in resisting the demons that so easily draw us away from You; strengthen
our resolve in You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.