Monday, August 28, 2017
Bob: Our trip to help our daughter move to her new place ran a little long and I was lamenting that we would miss church. A neighbor had stopped to chat and let me witness to her, and later another neighbor did the same. As I was finishing up the last load of odds and ends, a third neighbor stopped by with a prayer request. It made me think, maybe I didn’t miss church after all.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Today we worshiped at Shannopin United Methodist Church, Jordan Street, South Heights, PA 15081, 724.375.2239, www.shannopinumc.org, Rev. Dennis L. Bouch, Pastor.
Scripture – NIV
John 13:34 –
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
1 Corinthians 13:13 –
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
James 2:15-17 –
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Ephesians 5:24-28 –
Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Deuteronomy 6:13-15 –
Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.
We were talking about where to worship today with regard to a family celebration later. I mentioned Glenwillard, Jan mentioned it was enjoyable to worship with other Marines, and I was already thinking we had just been there recently, still thinking it had been my idea.
As we drove past Glenwillard’s sister church, Shannopin, I reflected silently that they should join the two churches; however, I did not read the sign indicating that worship was at Glenwillard for July and Shannopin for August. It was a short drive back and we were early.
We were welcomed by many and the pastor and his wife were glad to see us.
A young girl had asked if she could read the Scripture today but was not in the sanctuary when it was time so I believe it was her sister who was serving as the acolyte who did the reading. Her smile was ear-to-ear when she finished, which made my day.
We were pleased to be able to pray with the pastor before and after the service.
The message was simple: love one another. He told a story of how a new pastor preached a great message on it, and then preached the same message again the second Sunday, and still again the third Sunday. When the congregation complained and asked when he would deliver a new message, his answer was simply, “When you get this one.”
I used to wonder why so many sermons were “mother’s milk” messages. We listen, we hear, but we don’t absorb, much like today’s message. We can’t love one another without God’s help, never mind loving our enemy.
The mention of wearing a t-shirt with a Christian message brought back a pleasant memory. I used to always wear a Christian message in public places while wearing sunglasses. A favorite was Kennywood Park, which was where I learned it was of no importance whether I saw a reaction…God could use it as He saw fit.
The idea to worship here came to Bob out of the blue this morning; we did not know why until partway through the service.
We attended here once before, but have worshiped with this congregation’s sister church a couple of times. This turned out to be a joint service, so we were greeted by people from both churches.
Apparently last week’s joint worship was followed by a picnic at which first responders were recognized. As the pastor’s son is a state trooper, this was close to his heart.
The joys and concerns seemed like a touching and important time for these worshipers.
The pastor’s strong feelings for these congregations were evident in his sermon topic: loving one another. He commended the members for the love they have shown each other, reminding them that love is the basis of the Christian life and that unconditional love is possible only with God’s help. He also reminded that loving each other means wanting what’s best for them and being there for them.
These congregations may worship in different buildings but their love for each other is clear and inspiring.
Our prayer for this church:
Lord, we pray Your church will be prayer warriors who love one another. Amen.
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Today we worshiped at Hope Assembly of God, 3008 Cleveland Avenue, Hopewell Township, PA 15001, 724.378.7864, www.thehopepage.com, Janet Giles, Pastor.
Scripture – John 11:1-44 NIV
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
It always surprises me what I remember when we revisit a church. I remembered the pastor and worship leader, but little else; nothing outside looked familiar. When we sat down almost in the same pew where we sat four years ago, I remembered a couple with a baby who had a host of serious problems; I felt a strong call to go to the narthex and lay hands and pray for this little girl. My wife joined me to pray for complete recovery. When I tried to check on her condition sometime later, we learned the couple were also first-time visitors. The call to pray was so strong that I don’t doubt God answered prayers and healed her.
When the praise worship was to begin, there was the sounding of a ram’s horn and a long brass horn that caught us both off guard. I had some trouble hearing after that.
The message was about Christ’s raising Lazarus. A thought that stuck out for me: “with the resurrection, we will realize no joy in sin.”
A highlight for me was the call to pray in gratitude before receiving a blessing.
It has been nearly 4½ years since our last visit here. It is still a pretty sanctuary, decorated much the same as I recalled. The windows were clear glass block with pink glass block in the shape of a cross.
A gentleman greeted us and kindly held the door for us to enter, and we were welcomed by several folks prior to and after the service.
The first 45 minutes or so consisted of worship through music. Though I was unfamiliar with the songs, I enjoyed the impromptu use of bells and tambourines by members of the congregation.
I do not recall hearing a shofar or trumpet used in worship before, so the volume surprised me, though they were intriguing.
The message was entitled “Jesus’ Perfect Timing” in which the pastor taught through the Scripture about the death and raising of Lazarus.
She stated that Thomas, also known as “the twin,” is believed by some to have been called that because he looked so much like Jesus. This is the first time I’ve heard this. I always supposed Thomas must have had a twin. She pointed out this would have put him at special risk…a remarkable perspective.
The pastor told a personal story about an issue faced by her late husband. Some time after they had buried two of their children, her husband was losing his eyesight. One day he heard God urge him to praise Him. Her husband obeyed and his sight was restored. The pastor pointed out that when we pray for things, we should be thanking God in faith even before we see His response.
She pointed out a striking detail of the story of Lazarus also: when Lazarus walked out of the tomb, Jesus instructed those nearby to remove his graveclothes, knowing at some point Lazarus would need them again. But when Jesus left His tomb, He left His graveclothes behind as He would never need them again. A nice touch, I think.
Our prayer for this church:
Heavenly Father, we pray Your continued blessing on Your small church full of prayer warriors. Amen.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
Today we worshiped at Mayfield Bible Baptist Church, 521 37th Street, Beaver Falls, PA 15010, 724.846.8738, Pastor Ken Manypenny.
Scripture – James 1 NKJV
James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
We had some confusion today on worship but understood it was His plan.
We tried a second time to visit a church nearby, with enough time in between attempts to forget that no one was home. Looking in the windows it appears to still be in use, so we’ll check with other nearby churches.
We drove past a few neighboring churches before finding this one, which we were certain we had not visited before. It was about 10 a.m. and the sign indicated an 11 a.m. start time. We talked for a while and decided to go for a coffee and wait.
But on our way past, we heard singing and, deciding the 11 a.m. signboard must be in error, went in for worship. We didn’t know we were attending Sunday School, not worship, until it was over.
The building is a small chapel with painted white panel walls and a high arched ceiling. The natural wood beams framed the room well. I noticed a cross leaning against the rear chancel wall. I saw no signage but found the restrooms downstairs.
Hanging on the chancel wall was a large painting on velvet of a cross spanning a chasm showing the way to cross over to God. This is the only velvet painting I’ve seen bearing a Christian message; I hope it’s one they heed.
We were sitting in the best seats for cross ventilation, with doors open on either side, but probably the poorest for audio for the same reason. Consequently I missed a lot before the youth pastor picked up a hand microphone.
The pastor had an opening prayer and offered a report on his wife’s hospitalization: she had a very high sugar reading and some other problems I didn’t catch. At the hospital, there was a point where it was announced her sugar was at 700 and they praised the Lord (her numbers were coming down).
I was reminded of a time when I was in the sanctuary praying for the pastor search committee of what was then our church. The daughter of a member had been ill and they had been searching for answers for some time. The mom came in exclaiming with joy that it was whooping cough, not normally joyful news, but they had an answer and it was treatable.
The pastor had to leave to minister to his wife and I knew then that was why God had us there. I followed him out and reassured him to pray boldly for complete healing for his wife, not just the nice church prayers we use but with the power of Christ Jesus that is ours. Whatever the problem, to pray that errant cells or demonic presence be gone from her body and she experience complete healing.
The youth pastor delivered a message dealing with the rich coming to Christ, that God has no problem with wealth but what you do with your wealth. I have never had anyone who was having financial problems that I convinced to tithe come back to me and complain. This was true for individuals and churches, God will bless you.
It took us some time and exploring to locate the church God wanted us to attend today. We arrived by accident some time into what we thought was the worship service…only afterward did we learn it was not worship but Sunday school.
This is definitely a small country church with the atmosphere of a large extended family, and they operate on a fluid schedule.
We entered because we heard a hymn as we walked past, and we found seats during a prayer. The pastor spoke about his wife, who we gathered had been dangerously ill and in the hospital most of the past week. After a brief prayer, he turned over the microphone to the Youth Director, Tim Winkle.
They were in the first chapter, working their way through the book of James. Tim explained that the problem was not that the recipients of James’ letter were rich, but that they were hoarding their wealth and not using it to bless others.
He stated that when we have less, we need to view it as an opportunity to glorify God and His faithfulness. That even temptation can be viewed as a blessing if we keep in mind that those who are faithful in temptation are promised crowns in heaven. Of course, as he also pointed out, when we are presented with these crowns, we will acknowledge that they belong to Jesus because we will know we are not responsible for getting through our trials and temptations ourselves.
We were greeted afterward by several folks who invited us to return next week if we don’t come back this evening. We do plan to return one Sunday to hear the pastor preach.
Our prayer for this church:
Lord, we pray in the power of Christ’s name Your healing touch to the pastor’s wife and Your continued guidance for Your Church. Amen.