WWE Moments In Scripture

Genesis 32:22-31, Romans 9:1-5 and Matthew 14:13-21

Several will note the professional wrestling reference in the sermon title. WWE (WWF) is one of the most famous wrestling corporations in US history. It struck me that all three of these Bible passages are about “wrestling” (struggling) with someone or something pertaining to the spiritual life.

Jacob wrestles with a “man” (angel?), (God) until Jacob is blessed. But he is also wounded. Paul wrestles and agonizes in Romans with his Jewish heritage, the Old Covenant, his family of origin. Jesus struggles with both the execution of John the Baptist and the demands of the crowds who now flock to Jesus the healer. He needs to be alone for a while in a remote place but the crowds unrelentingly seek him out.

These are examples of “spiritual wrestling.” Wrestling may be the oldest “sport” referred to in the Bible! But here it is not a sport but an intense soul struggle with God and Gods people in a fallen world.

So, this Sunday we will hear references to wrestling entertainment in popular culture as familiar background for far more important spiritual struggles that Jacob, Paul, and Jesus were engaged in. And before we leave worship we will be called to remember our own “soul wrestling” in both our past and in our present.

So, as you know full well John 3:16, some of you will also recall a famous wrestling catchphrase from the Nineties WWE: Austin 3:16 (!). If you are a certain age or had children growing up in that era you may have had to listen and do your best to explain the differences between the Bible passage and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s borrowing 3:16 for his wrestler image. I did!

Read these passages in preparation for worship and consider you own “spiritual wrestling.”

Blessings in your struggles!

Pastor Barry

A Treasure, a Gideon, Share!

Genesis 29:15-28, Romans 8:26-39 and Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Jacob falls in love, is himself tricked and winds up with two wives and a 7 year work commitment! Jesus speaks in parables about the greatest thing to see or to find. And Paul gives us the utmost confidence in God’s everlasting commitment to us in Jesus Christ!

This Word of God is to be shared and that takes people and print. This Sunday the sharing of God’s Word continues in worship and how that same Word can be found in hospitals, schools, hotels, workplaces, chapels, foreign countries, and hundreds of other locations. Our Gideon friends will be with us to share their laity driven ministry of getting the Word in print into all the world. The stories of Jacob and Paul and above all Jesus are ever fresh and lifesaving! How we share these stories is important and creative and involves the ongoing act of distribution.

Bring your own Bible this Sunday, the one you read daily, maybe the one you have marked and underlined for years! It could be a Gideon Bible! It could be a detailed study Bible. KJV, RSV, NIV, NLT or another translation. But, whichever one it is, I am sure it has and still does make a difference in your life. Feed upon the Word for good health for your soul! Break bread with others!

See you Sunday in person or “on line!”

Blessings!

Pastor Barry

The World, The Flesh, The Devil

Genesis 28:10-19a, Romans 8:12-25 and Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

In Genesis 13, we see the ongoing story of a scoundrel, a family member known for trickery, and having to be “on the run” as a result of his misbehavior. Yet, our text says God shows up for that son-of-a-gun Jacob!

Here one could say the world and the flesh are having a huge impact on family! The devil’s role is subtle to say the least! Jesus speaks about Satan’s work in Matthew 13. Last but not least, Paul calls us all out and says we all walk according to the flesh if we don’t walk by the Spirit.

The terrible trio: the world, the flesh, the devil. No wonder no generation under the sun escapes tribulation! Like Pogo says, “we have met the enemy and it is us!” He’s a third correct! Two thirds correct?

All the more important is the role of the Church and what it offers in contrast to the Three Big Opponents. The Church tells of what the Scriptures say and points to a Savior and to the brothers and sisters of the Savior. All the more reason to Re-examine every Sunday what we the church are all about. We are reminded of our foes and our “weapons and resources” to meet the perpetual challenges that haven’t gone away! Much weaker, yes, but still around!

Let’s show up Sunday and hear the stories of those foes and what God is still up to when we are Christ followers! Who knows….we might become a “Bethel” for ourselves and those we come into contact with!

Come to worship this Sunday either in person or on the “airwaves!” Who knows when God will show us a Jacobs ladder!

Pastor Barry

The Seed, The Soil, The Good and Not So Good!

Genesis 25:19-34, Romans 8:1-11 and Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Jesus is incredibly patient! He invests in his disciples for a good number of years only to see them falter, fail, flourish, and eventually forgiven. And the “harvest” of that first century planting is going on 2000 years now! The Church of Jesus Christ is still ministering, failing, forgiven, and going forward. It’s a wonder to behold!

The Church has a message of “planting the Gospel seed” here and yon and waiting on the various “soil and souls” to give increase….or not.
It’s both exciting and frustrating.

With six months to go in a rough and questionable 2020, will we the Church keep doing our ongoing “field work” in sharing good/Gospel seed for “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?” How much of a difference will it make in the USA and the world? We can’t say. The “soil” varies from person to person, place to place. We plant, people respond or don’t, and God’s bountiful harvest will still come about in each generation. Until the End.

So, let’s worship the God who is patient with us and with the many, and will bring to pass the Kingdom with “whosoever will!”

See you Sunday in worship!

Pastor Barry

Never Give In And Never Give Up

What, then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

World War II ravaged through Europe for more than two years. The Axis forces looked invincible. England had suffered massive air raids by German forces in late 1940, and again in the spring of 1941.

On October 29, 1941, Great Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, visited the Harrow School for boys, his alma mater-to speak to its students. What message did the times demand? What could Churchill say to these young men in the face of the Blitzkrieg that seized Europe, leveled London, and cast their lives and futures into a thick fog of uncertainty? His words were simple, moving, and unforgettable: “Never give in—never, never, never, never, never give in.”

Are you tired, have you grown weary from the “Blitzkrieg” in your life? Are you weary from the COVID-19 situation or the political unrest that seems to be in our news every day? Are you personally struggling with something that has worn you down? Well, There is hope at the cross for you. God is in the business of turning hopeless situations around. Remember, Lazarus had been in a grave for four days, his family was in mourning when Jesus showed up and called him back from the place of the dead.

God can make something of the ashes that we bring to Him—Isaiah 61:3 tells us that “He will give us beauty in exchange for ashes.” We need to stand firm in our faith and never give up or give in to the belief that He cannot redeem us or the situations we find ourselves in.

Perseverance—it’s born of faith, it’s nourished by hope and it’s a sure sign of strength of character. What role does it play in your Christian life?

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9

The greatest glory in living lies not, in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Nelson Mandela

May God give each of you strength today. May God bless your journey and remind you that you are never alone.

Praying for each of you today,

Chaplain Rob

Trusting God With Your Tomorrows

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” – Psalm 31:14

Do you recall an advertisement that captured your attention?

No matter which medium . . . television, radio, print, or the web, advertisements are created to arrest our attention. Recently, I was caught off guard with a newspaper ad. It pictured a gray-haired senior citizen in a wet suit. The woman was holding up her surf board along the edge of the beach. The ad began, “No matter where life takes you, your health care coverage goes along.”

The ad was designed to have you think about your future. No one knows what crisis tomorrow may bring. The life of faith involves living each day trusting God to guide and direct your future. That doesn’t mean that you are naïve and ignore things like health care coverage. But for the bigger picture of life, you can trust God. In the unexpected events of life, you can trust God. The Bible describes faith as “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

You may not know where your life is taking you. But you can be sure that tomorrow, God has something prepared for you that you can’t see or imagine. That’s why we need to learn to trust God each day, no matter what the day holds.

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. – Corrie ten Boom

God’s promises are like the stars; the darker the night the brighter they shine. – David Nicholas

. . . it is presumptuous of me to wish to choose my path, because I cannot tell which path is best for me. I must leave it to the Lord, Who knows me, to lead me by the path which is best for me, so that in all things His will may be done. – Teresa of Ávila

May you and your families have a blessed week.

In grace,

Chaplain Rob

Prisoners of Hope in a Time of Name Calling

Zechariah 9:9-12, Romans 6:15-25a and Matthew 11:16-30

What a great expression from Zechariah: “prisoners of hope.” We can’t really escape from Hope or another way of saying, “don’t be afraid!” This is a theme throughout the Bible and we hear it in each generation with its unique troubles and challenges.

July 4th in the USA is now one of celebration and community enjoyment. In 1776 the celebration was tempered by the armed conflict with England. Sic semper tyrannis! The patriots then were very hopeful in spite of going up against British government and its armies! Revolutionary colonists as “prisoners of hope!”

We also find the same theme of hope in Paul’s wrestling with his Sin nature and in Jesus being called a “glutton and drunkard.” Sadly, name calling today is nothing new. We hear or see something in others or in ourselves and we give it a “name” for better or worse! But, the Bible leans toward finding the “positive” name for us and proclaiming the Name that is above every other name!”

Come together this Sunday July 5 and hear your name calling from God. No escape here! You will discover you are a “prisoner of hope.” The rough, troubling Friday arrives, but….Sunday is coming!”

Blessings!

Pastor Barry

June 25th Devotional

If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:3-5 NIV

As we begin to resume gathering together in some in-person ways as the church, it doesn’t take long to realize what we’ve been missing. Worshiping together, serving together, and studying together. None have gone away completely, but just some MIA!!

We’re one Sunday into a new season of worship with temporary safety precautions in place during the pandemic. Hopefully we can continue safely until a vaccine or other measures emerge to release us from these restrictions of interactions with each other and the broader public.

As to study…..how are we doing in our lifelong call to “seek, knock, and the door being opened” to Kingdom living? Sunday School at both congregations is soon to find ways to regroup and study Scripture, reason together, share experiences, and build on what others have taught for generation after generation. Kedron’s adult class will resume this Sunday 8:45am June 28. Locks will do likewise before long.

The Tuesday Bible study at Travis Perry’s home will need to completely reconsider time and place since Travis’ is relocating with family. Bless him for his hospitality and teaching over the years!

During the month of July there will be considerations underway as to other options for study together. It feels as though the need is great to be encouraged through the Word and to find inspiration for service and witness!

Ideas and offers are welcome as to times and places. Until then, make it a daily habit to open your Bible and other devotional readings in your home. Share with someone “nearby” and give thanks for that which comes from God! “Call out,” “cry aloud,” “look” and “search” as Proverbs insists! We need that kind of help to continue forward together in this very unusual time.

Blessings in your readings and studies! Bear witness as you can with others!

Pastor Barry

A Father and Son Experience? Listen and Learn

Genesis 22:1-14, Romans 6:12-23 and Matthew 10:40-42

The experience of father Abraham and son Isaac’s near death by sacrifice moment is both inspiring and disturbing. Not something you would wish upon anyone nor legally would go unpunished today! But, being at the very heart of God’s promise to bless all generations through Abraham, there it is for all to ponder and pray through.

It just so happens that John Wesley’s birthday falls on this Sunday as well as this Genesis text. A birth in 1703 that only became truly momentous some 35 years later when Wesley’s heart was so moved by God that the spiritual movement known as Methodism sprang forth and continues into the 21st century!

Which one of these stories is more appealing and one you can relate to? Even so, in sermon, prayer, song, and witness we will attempt to share both in worship! Who ever said faith was an easy walk! We are asked to hear these stories of faith and to look inward and outward ourselves and to ask, “what saith the Lord to me?!”

We should pray to be challenged and to hear rightly what is good and helpful for each one in a troubled world. How might we be inspired to step up our faith for a full life offered in commitment to God in Jesus Christ!

Perhaps as the week’s unfold in Summer “by our fruits will we be known” as Christians! Let’s do this together not unlike Abraham and Isaac going up Mt Moriah and John Wesley being “strangely warmed in his heart at a prayer meeting on Aldersgate Street in London!

Pastor Barry

I’m Glad God Cares

Psalm 86:1-10, Romans 8:31-39 and Matthew 10:24-39

This Sunday has the highlights of our “coming back from a mini-exile,” a recognition of Fathers in our lives, and the official first day of Summer 2020! Cause for celebration! Our return to the sanctuary will be less like a “celebratory parade” but more like a cautious stepping “inside” after an extended absence! We will still be staying “safe” during a time of public health concerns. Some will not be able to join us and will hopefully still be watching our “live streaming” broadcast. It is all a work in progress. It is a walk by faith not by a lot of sight!

And our scriptures and sermon focus on a caring God whatever we are going through. Life can be hard and difficult. The Bible is clear in agreement on that! But nowhere are we to “fear” or feel as though there is no hope. The Psalmist, Paul, and Jesus resoundingly declare God CARES!

Yet, being human as we are…..we have our “moments.” And we seem to be going through a universal “moment” when the path before us and the road ahead are not as clear as we would like.

All the more reason to hear “what saith the Lord.” All the more reason to gather together as we can in person or in whatever means keep us connected! So, “come on in” or “tune in” this Sunday! God has a Word for all of us together in this moment!

“See” you Sunday!

Pastor Barry