Always There

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”- Hebrews 13:5

I remember one of the first times as a young believer when I didn’t feel God’s presence. I woke up one morning and just didn’t have the great feeling I had before. And being new in the faith and not knowing the Bible very well, I thought, “I think God left me last night. What happened?”

When I talked to a Christian friend about it, he told me, “You’re going through a trial.”

“What? I’m on trial?”

“No, you’re going through a trial.”

“What’s a trial?”

My friend explained there are times in our lives when we don’t feel the presence of God, but He is still there. And in time I came to realize that God will allow us to go through trials.

For instance, you might walk outside tomorrow, and it’s an overcast day. So you say, “The sun was here yesterday. But I don’t see the sun today. I don’t feel its warmth. I guess the sun must have gone away last night.”

No, the sun hasn’t gone away. It has been merely obscured by a cloud covering. And if you don’t believe that, then try going to the beach without wearing any sunscreen. When you return home resembling a ripe tomato, you will realize the sun was out.

In the same way, some people falsely conclude that when they don’t feel God, He is gone. He has disappeared. But He is there, even when you don’t feel Him. The Bible tells us in Hebrews, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ ” (Hebrews 13:5).

It is during these times that we must walk by faith, not by feeling, because God has promised in His Word that He will be with us. That is how we know He is there.

May today you all find that God is as close to you as the air you breathe!


Chaplin Rob

Hiding God’s Word

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

What sorts of things find their way into your heart and mind? If you’re exposing yourself to a constant barrage of ungodly words, music, or images, you’re not taking full responsibility for your life.You can fill your heart and mind with God’s Word, and when you do, you’ll create a defense against some of the evil messages the world so frequently sends your way.

The writer of Psalm 119 declared, “I have tried my best to find you–don’t let me wander from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:10-11). “Hiding” God’s Word in your heart essentially means memorizing and meditating on the Bible. God uses his Word–the Bible—to speak to you and show you how you ought to live.

You’ve been given the responsibility to guard your heart and to keep track of the things you hide inside it. So, what’s in there? Anger? Lust? Ugly images from TV, the movies, or the web? Are you harboring bitterness? Greed? Are you envious of others? If you’re struggling with these things maybe it’s because you have more of the world’s wisdom in your heart than the true wisdom of God.

Are you having a hard time finding God and following his commands? Hiding God’s word in your heart will foster spiritual growth by guarding against those things that hurt you and displease God.


Chaplin Rob

The Go Between!

I still have a vivid memory of being about 21 or 22 and going with a friend to speak with our pastor at the time. We had some “serious questions” about the faith. I don’t think he gave us a really good, satisfying answer but he did open the Bible and read a passage from Romans. It was a good example. I’ve tried to remember that as a pastor and I always carried a Bible with me as a hospital chaplain (but used it only as appropriate to the patient in the moment not as an instrument to always start with)!

This Sunday is known both as Reformation Sunday and Bible Sunday. As Protestants coming out of the 16th century Reformation we are known for the primacy of Scripture in our doctrines and in worship. The church is often reformed when someone or some group re-discover a powerful message within the Bible, e.g. “justification by faith,” or “God is love,” or “the righteousness of God not our righteousness.”

As we listen in on Job and Hebrews and Mark we will hear familiar but life changing verses which capture our attention and strengthen our faith from week to week, year to year. We are indeed “people of the book!”

Open your Bibles and read! And come to worship the God revealed in scripture!

Pastor Barry

Banishing Fear

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. . . – 1 John 4:18a

When we feel threatened in relationships, we tend to become defensive and guarded. On the other hand, when we feel safe, we’re far more willing to be open and vulnerable. This is true of our relationships with other people, and it’s also true in our relationship with God.

The apostle John wrote: “Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that [God’s] love has not been perfected in us. We love each other as a result of his loving us first.”

If Jesus hadn’t paid the price for our sins on the cross, there would be every reason for fear and defensiveness before a holy God. But, God showed His love for us by sending His Son, Jesus, to pay for our sins and free us from them. As a result, it’s safe to open yourself to God.

Jesus has his arms wide open, calling you to come and receive His love. Could there be anything better? His love is real, and waiting to embrace you. His love is ready to transform you and drive the fear from your heart. God is love, and He shows Himself to you in and through His Son, Jesus Christ.

When you open yourself to God’s love, you’ll become open to seeing the truth about God and yourself—and you’ll no longer need to be afraid.

Never take counsel of your fears. – Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson


Chaplin Rob

Staying The Course

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1

If you’re a Christian, God has already transformed your heart. But He also wants you to enter life in him like an athlete enters competition. That’s why the Bible, more than once, likens the Christian life to a race. Our faith in Christ motivates us to run it, and His power provides the strength to finish–despite the many times we all stumble along the way.

This illustration of a race refers to races where the runner would strip off his tunic and robe so he could run without any hindrance. If someone tried to compete in his robes, he would get tangled up and wouldn’t have a chance at winning.

God wants you to finish the race of life well. Set aside the distractions and the sins that entangle you. Pace yourself. Exert yourself. And remember, many have run and finished before you. They’re that “huge crowd of witnesses” Hebrews 12:1 speaks about, and they’re cheering you on!

By perseverance the snail reached the ark. – Charles Haddon Spurgeon


Chaplin Rob

There for You

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33

Studies have found that 85 percent of the things we worry about never happen. This means that of all the things you’re worrying about right now, 85 percent of it won’t happen. But what about the other 15 percent? Well, the Lord will be with you in your time of difficulty.

God has not promised that we’ll live in a pain-free world. Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We need to face facts. Loved ones are going to die, marriages might struggle, days might be hard, and hardship will come into our lives.

But here is the good news: we live in the land of pain and struggle, but we are headed to the land of the living. Yes, death will come, but we have this promise from Jesus: “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:17–18). I’m so glad that He holds the keys. If I had the keys, they would’ve been lost for years now.

Someone asked me not long ago what the most spiritual moment of my life was. In other words, when was the time in my life when I felt God’s presence more than any other? I had to think about it. And then I realized the most spiritual moment of my life, the moment when I felt the presence of God more than any other was when I spent time in rehab for addiction to alcohol. It was one of most trying times of my life, but looking back I am amazed at God’s grace. I was afraid, I was beat down, and I was unsure of what to do next. However God was there and that made all the difference!

We can rejoice in the fact that God is in control. He will be with us, giving us what we need, when we need it.

My prayer for each of you today is that you will turn to the God who knows what you are going through, the God that loves you, and the God that will carry you through!


Chaplin Rob

The Scriptures Question Us

Job 38:1-7, 34-41, Hebrews 5:1-10 and Mark 10:35-45

One question after another! God peppers Job with questions and it seems clear Job has no answer. James and John come to Jesus with a question and it is the wrong question! In Hebrews 5, Jesus “in the days of his flesh, offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears….” Sounds like Jesus had his moments of questioning and agonized appeals to God the Father.

We just can’t go long without asking questions, some of which are from a hurting heart and mind and body. We thank God that questions are allowed before God’s glory and majesty! There seems to be no frown or scold toward us from God for asking hard questions. Nor does God withhold questioning us!! Not in a mean way but to open our eyes to wonder and amazement at the vastness of Creation and our very existence.

This past week I have had a lot of questions and a lot of amazement coming and going with LeNoir’s knee surgery and PT as well as the routine Q & A of the week PLUS the never ending amazement and questions that come with elections in the USA! Top that off with an amazing puzzling hospital food moment and I am left before the presence of God just “looking up” to that which is beyond me!

I am eager to share a number of things from the scriptures and our week behind us with you this Sunday. If you have any questions, bring them with you and be ready to “raise your hand!”

Be there!

Pastor Barry

Living with Limitations

“If you can?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” – Mark 9:23

It is almost as presumptuous to think you can do nothing as to think you can do everything. In other words, be honest about your limitations, but don’t exaggerate them, or use them as an excuse to keep from being a productive person.

Joni Erikson Tada embodies this truth well. Paralyzed below the neck as a result of a diving accident, she has ministered to millions through her speaking, singing, and painting (she holds a paintbrush in her mouth!) What an inspiration she is!

Helen Keller who also embodied this truth expressed such an attitude in this beautiful statement: “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Be hopeful of a man whose limitations are not yet known; maybe he won’t reach them – Unknown


Chaplain Rob

God Helps Us Through Challenges One Step At A Time

Job 23:1-17, Hebrews 4:12-16 and Mark 10: 17-31

So…..these are the scriptures that are before us. Mostly challenging us as the “rich”, at least compared to the majority in Haiti or Malawi or Bangladesh. Jesus sadly sees the rich young ruler turn away. In Hebrews we are told that each of us ” will have to give an account” before God who sees all. And we know what the theme in Job is all about! Pain and loss and all that!

Given a long week of personal stress what with LeNoir’s knee replacement surgery I was hoping for something more along the lines of the 23rd Psalm! Even so, at least the Hebrews passage ends on an incredibly encouraging note in essence saying we will find grace to help us JUST WHEN WE NEED IT. It is up to us to “seek” and be attentive to the Holy Spirit regardless of a good week or a bad week. In that attitude of trust….we find our way.

It is necessary to face up to God who calls us out at times, but just as necessary to realize we are helped in whatever we will face. Anyone listening? Anyone got a testimony?! Yes, most everyone in worship this Sunday! As Jesus says to his disciples (who are beginning to question can anyone be saved), all things are possible with God!

Be there Sunday! Both to listen…and to speak out!

Pastor Barry

Releasing Past Failures

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. – Psalm 37:5–6

Some people go through life excusing their shortcomings because of some disadvantage they’ve had stacked against them. Others have grown up in great families and circumstances of great advantage and privilege. They’ve had less in their lives to overcome and less occasion to stumble.

If you’re one who hasn’t had these benefits and you’ve had a disadvantage or two to overcome, you may feel angry, resentful, and even ashamed as a result. If so, I have two important things to say to you: first, your feelings are certainly understandable. Second, despite the fact that your resentful feelings may be justified, you simply must let go of them–those feelings will slowly eat you alive.

Letting go is so simple and at the same time so hard to do. Daily, we face the same challenge . . . a challenge to surrender. Surrender your will, your power, your bitter, angry feelings of resentment to God. Empty yourself so His Holy Spirit can come and fill the void.

See if God won’t respond to your surrender.

The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender. – William Booth


Chaplin Rob