Friday, August 31, 2012

Presbyterian Visit

Finding Church

If you wish, you can read
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
and
Part 4

I've discovered that while I think of myself as being contemporary in my heart....I'm really traditional in my soul. I must admit I'm a bit disappointed in that lesson.

Live and learn.


As a reminder, I am currently a member of a Presbyterian church. So you shouldn't be surprised that the next church we visited was....

wait for it

....a Presbyterian church!

During the summer, my church had Adult Vacation Bible School led by a guest pastor from a local Presbyterian church. One of my Bible Study buddies sent me his outlines from each of the five days he taught the group. She liked his message and said she'd like to go and visit his church sometime. The seed was planted.

Wonderful Husband, our son and I went to the church and it was quite a driving adventure. Windy, narrow, Pennsylvania roads and all I could think of was that there would be no way for me to drive there during a heavy rain...or snow, but Wonderful Husband did a great job on finding the Presbyterian church which was founded in 1811.

We parked and walked into the sanctuary where we saw a plaque that said it had been renovated in 1875. The pews had cushioned seats but in the center of each pew were wooden dividers. I had never seen anything like it before. I was seated with a divider on my left and on the other side of it was "a little old lady." (Actually there were three.)

Confession: I told Wonderful Husband and our son on the walk from the parking lot that there was going to be a short meeting after the service. There may have been some moans and groans from the men-folk. I then explained that we could have an escape plan: immediately after the benediction, we could quickly exit.

My thoughts:
  • A small church.
  • A traditional Presbyterian service like we have at our church.
  • A treat when the pastor introduced 3 new members and seemed to personally know them.
  • The usual, yet unusual choice of summer music: a marimba (instrumental) solo.
  • The sermon entitled "Keeping a Good Man Honest." I don't have a clue why he chose that title.
  • A difference by being instructed to hold hands during the benediction. Then the funny thing happened. I was holding the little old lady's hand on my left and Wonderful Husband's hand on my right. After the benediction, the lady didn't release my hand but leaned over and said, "You're a first time visitor today?" (Please note that I had signed the Act of Friendship pad and checked off "First Time Visitor.") Yet I am always respectful of my elders. After all, I am an elder to many younger people now! I answered, "Yes and it was a blessing to worship with you today." I squeezed her hand gently and she released me. I turned to nudge Wonderful Husband and our son out of the pew and they were long gone! I had to jog to catch up with them in the parking lot! Ha!
Thoughts from me, Wonderful Husband and our son:
The sermon had a couple good points.
1. Peace can't be found externally but internally through the Holy Spirit, and
2. Be open to God's gifts.

Wonderful Husband helped me figure out that the pastor was a prefacer, a preambler, a prologuer. (My bad for making up these words.)

prologue - a preliminary discourse; a preface or introductory part of a discourse, poem or novel
from Dictionary.com

I thought he was beginning his sermon but it was a preface to the sermon. In fact, every time he spoke it was a prologue to what was going to be said next.

Have you ever known anyone who prefaces almost everything they say?
Here's an extreme example: "I know you don't care but what do you want for dinner tonight?"
If someone said this to me I would be thinking, "Why do they think I don't care?" instead of what I want for dinner. So my mind is processing the first part and missing the second part for a while. I'm playing catch-up when I realize what is happening next is the important part.

That's how we felt during the sermon and other parts of the service. We were processing the wrong thing(s) and not catching up very quickly to the points the pastor was trying to make.

Let me end on an up-note though. It was the friendliest church we had visited so far. You could feel the love the people had toward each other and toward us visitors too. A member got up to share how thankful he was for the congregation's support and gave details of his family's struggles with health issues. The pastor was patient and listened as did the entire congregation. It was very touching.

Recently I was watching Dr. David Jeremiah on TV and he pointed out that one cure for immaturity in faith is "exposure to teaching that goes beyond the basics."

Yes.

to be continued....

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (893-902)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....


I'm reading Debbie Macomber's book, One Perfect Word: One Word Can Make All the Difference.

My word for 2012 is "fellowship," and I am beginning to see it unfold. In looking for a new church and attending a Sunday luncheon in honor of a former Bible Study buddy. Fellowship, relationship, community.

893-902 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

893. visiting a new (to me) Lutheran church

894. a Sunday luncheon in honor of Karen visiting from Colorado



895. a full-time job for our daughter

896. signing up for a new Bible Study Group beginning on September 18th

897. our granddaughter while I sing "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands"



898. Sesame Street On Demand

899. our son-in-law who appreciates my home cooking

900. our son finishing his first week of teaching in this new school year

901.Wonderful Husband finding a new recipe and cooking the main course (Honey Mustard Chicken). Yummy!

902. journaling throughout the weekend

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: One Thousand Gifts, Multitudes on Mondays.

Have you watched Sesame Street lately?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Non-Denominational Visit

Finding Church

If you wish, you can read:
Part 1
Part 2
and
Part 3

From a post at Her.meneutics:
"As Christians, we must seek after a personal relationship with Jesus Christ without neglecting the importance of a faith community providing discipleship and accountability along the journey." Lesley Sebek Miller 

I need life application from the sermon, stronger leadership, more Christ. I am adding to my list my need/desire for a faith community.

The next church we visited was a non-denominational church.
A very large church. 
We found our way to the auditorium, took our seats and the service began.

My thoughts:
  • Very different from my more traditional experience.
  • No cross to be seen. Overhead spotlights. Looking at a stage.
  • Large auditorium with stadium seating, upstairs balcony too.
  • Standing to sing praise songs with the words on the big screen. 
  • A Praise Band.
  • Interesting use of technology in that during the offertory song the pastor asked for people to text what problem they have with forgiving others....and the texts appeared on the screens for us to read and the pastor adapted some into his sermon.
  • The sermon "Why I Can't Forgive." A good topic and brought up The Lord's Prayer, Jesus teaching us to  "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," but then he goes on to say that they don't say The Lord's Prayer very often during their services.
  • Uh oh. Stop the train. I've always said The Lord's Prayer at church. (My Presby side is showing again.)
  • A true multi-generational church. People with young kids, single people, couples our age...and older people too.
Wonderful Husband's words when I asked what he thought:
"I liked it."
(Still a man of few words:)

My closing thought(s):
  • A nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want "to live there."
  • Our son pointed out that I wouldn't have to join. Which is a valid point. Yet my purpose in looking for a new church is to make a commitment to the place and find a community. To me, that means to join.
  • I've discovered that while I think of myself as being contemporary in my heart....I'm really traditional in my soul. I must admit I'm a bit disappointed in that lesson.

Live and learn.

To be continued....

Saturday, August 18, 2012

United Methodist Visit

You can read Part 1 here
and
Part 2 here.

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim,[a] where our ancestors worshiped?”

21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:19-24 NLT (emphasis mine)


(NIV Study Bible Notes on John 4:24:
"God is spirit...worship in spirit and in truth. The place of worship (see vv.20-21) is irrelevant, because true worship must be in keeping with God's nature, which is spirit. 'True worshipers' (vs. 23) must worship God in the power (enablement) of his Spirit (reading 'in the Spirit') and in accordance with truth. In John's Gospel, truth is associated with Christ, a fact that has great importance for the proper understanding of Christian worship.")

What captured my attention was reading that the place of worship is irrelevant since true worship isn't defined by the geographical place/location. (And dare I say a specific denomination too? It actually took me many years to come to that conclusion.)

I need life application from the sermon, stronger leadership, more Christ.

Wonderful Husband and I visited a local United Methodist Church:


My thoughts:
  • Different order to worship (I'm such a Presbyterian! Ha!).
  • But I liked it better. 
  • Getting all the church "stuff" (announcements, offering, etc. "out of the way"), then moving on to full worship mode (sermon, closing hymn, benediction, postlude).
  • The use of technology was good/different too. There were hymnals in the pews but the lyrics were also projected onto two large screens. The pastor showed a film clip from "The Ten Commandments," then he moved into his sermon about facing the "pharaohs" in our lives.
  • The pastor? Very good. I took notes!
  • Scripture was read from the both the Old Testament and New Testament.
  • He also used a Youtube clip from the song "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." (Do you remember that song? I do!)
  • Bottom line, God never promised that facing our "pharaohs" would be easy but a broken spirit can be rebuilt into a whole soul through our relationship with Christ.

Wonderful Husbands words when I asked what he thought:

"They had me at the Doxology."

(We used to sing the Doxology every week at our church, but haven't in a long time.)
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Amen.

My husband is a man of few, yet meaningful words.

I have a friend who attends this church and some neighbors too. We didn't see anyone we knew, maybe because we like attending the early service which in this case begins at 8:15 a.m.

We picked up a Visitor's Bag on our way out which was very informative. It contained the latest newsletter, information about the church, worship, different ministries/opportunities, and one thing that really caught my eye is that they have a Card Ministry where "cards are sent to acknowledge both the cares and concerns of our members, to recognize their joys and special occasions."

Oh that made my heart happy! (In case you didn't know, years ago my friend Charlotte commented on my card ministry. I sent cards out for various reasons but must admit that I've hit a bit of a dry spell lately.) 

Wonderful Husband was out of town the following Sunday so I went to the church by myself. Another good worship experience and we'll visit this church again.

From a post at Her.meneutics:
"As Christians, we must seek after a personal relationship with Jesus Christ without neglecting the importance of a faith community providing discipleship and accountability along the journey." Lesley Sebek Miller 

I need life application from the sermon, stronger leadership, more Christ. I am adding to my list my need/desire for a faith community.

To be continued....

Monday, August 13, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (885-892)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....


I had a lot to celebrate this week!

885 - 892 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

885. co-workers who assist me when I'm overloaded with work

886. our nephew's outdoor wedding and reception in August? Very warm...but no torrential rain!



887. witnessing the beginning of their marriage with Wonderful Husband, our son, daughter and son-in-law

888. breakfast with Maria and Paula

889. visiting another new (to us) church

890. fresh brewed iced tea

891. a post by Logan at Allume called, "Bless Her Heart." A new concept for my prayer life.

892. The Teacher (our son) going back to work after a rest-full summer

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

Will you add something you celebrated this week?


Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Nephew's Wedding

I've complained about mentioned the outdoor wedding and reception before.

In August.

We had severe weather on Friday morning and the chance of scattered thunderstorms throughout the day.

Here's what the sky looked like when the ceremony began....


a bit iffy.

We were sprinkled with a bit of rain during the ceremony.

The sun broke through the clouds intermittently.

It was a tad bit warm.

And yet when all was said and done,





it was a joy-filled and beautiful celebration.

Blessings to our nephew and now niece-in-law as they begin their married life together!

Have you attended an outdoor wedding?

Monday, August 6, 2012

One Thousand Gifts (872-884)

Continuing on my journey toward one thousand gifts....


My Friday ended on a low note. I left work frustrated and angry. Not a good way to begin a weekend to say the least.

Three things turned my negativity around and probably salvaged my weekend:

  • A new e-book from J.B. Wood called At Work As It Is In Heaven: 25 Ways to Re-Imagine the Spiritual Purpose of Your Work.
  • A post recommended by Mary with a link to The Value of Working for a Bad Boss by Michael Hyatt.
  • A visit from our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter....


such blessings!

872 - 884 on my list of One Thousand Gifts. I'm thankful for:

872. a patient husband when I am soooo tired

873. sleeping in on a Saturday morning

874. laying out in the sun for an hour. Perfectly timed between the morning fog and morning clouds.

875. Wonderful Husband pulling weeds during that same hour. It was a win-win!

876. being called an angel by a stranger

877. our son being accepted into a graduate program

878. beginning to read  At Work As It Is In Heaven: 25 Ways to Re-Imagine the Spiritual Purpose of Your Work.

879. Mary Carver and her Saturday recommendations with links included

880. a visit with our son, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter

881. six hours of shopping with Wonderful Husband and our son. We knocked all of the errands off our list.

882. a helpful salesperson at Bed Bath and Beyond. I ordered a wedding gift from them online and couldn't find a big enough gift bag. At the store, I explained my problem to the salesperson and she gave me a large gift bag with ribbon for free! Hooray!

883. visiting a new church and the sermon was on 'forgiveness'

884. "A Study of the Psalms" by Wendy Pope. Her vlog topic on Monday? 'Forgiveness.'

Yes Lord, I'm receiving the message loud and clear :)

This post is linked to A Holy Experience: Multitudes on Mondays, One Thousand Gifts.

What or who can turn around your bad attitude?

Friday, August 3, 2012

An Ordinary Tuesday


I arrived to work early, read my devotional and was waiting for 8:28, when an SUV pulled into the parking lot. I heard a woman's voice say, "We'll ask this lady," then I saw her and maybe a six year old boy walking toward me.

She had a piece of paper in her hand and I asked, "Are you looking for CHOP?" (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia)

She looked surprised and said, "Yes. How did you know?"

I told her that the GPS directs people here all the time and then gave her my standard directions, "Make a right out of the parking lot. At the light, made a left. Go down 6 lights and make a left."

She started to repeat it back to me incorrectly so I said, "No," and repeated the directions which she then understood.

She said, "Thank you. You are an angel!" She looked down to her son and said, "That lady is an angel!"

As she walked away I said, "You're welcome and good luck!"

I said a prayer as they left the parking lot asking for God's guidance to CHOP and His healing for her son. I gave Him thanks for my being in the parking lot to assist them with directions and thanked Him for the blessing of being called an angel on an ordinary Tuesday morning.

Yet what started out as ordinary for me became extraordinary. I don't think I've ever been called an angel. And thinking about the mother being lost, probably running close to the appointment time, worried about her son's health, I'm sure she would have said it was not an ordinary Tuesday morning for her either.

Because I can remember 25 years ago, driving our son to Children's Hospital in Washington, DC for doctor's appointments and surgeries. I remember the nurse carrying our son to surgery and him smiling at us over her shoulder. I remember sitting in a waiting room filled with anxious parents and sometimes when their doctor arrived, he would lead them away to tell them that their child had died.

When I begin to think that my day is ordinary, God shows me that it isn't and I'm surrounded by others who aren't living ordinary days either.

What's the nicest name you've been called lately?