February 20, 2019

Words of Encouragement

In the midst of life there are a few moments we remember vividly. Sometimes sparked by a sound or a smell, a photograph or a curve in the road, these memories come at us like a flood. As I watched Brenda struggle to regain some function, open her hand, move her foot, then her leg and last week finally stand, I remembered so many things, like a flood they washed over me: family car rides to see the Christmas lights and coming home to home made chicken pot pie, canning green beans, hundreds of cans, picking rhubarb for strawberry rhubarb pie, the smell of home made bread as I came home from church. All of it came to me in an instant and I realized just how grateful I am for a life well lived. So much joy. And I was reminded how valuable it is to live today to the fullest. Yesterday I took Ezekiel with me to see if we could get Brenda in our car. She got in, what a huge relief. This morning when I got up, Ezekiel was already in the kitchen getting his breakfast. “What are you having?” I asked. He said, “bread dipped in grape juice. I have been doing this ever since Mema went into the hospital and now I am having a Holy time with God because she is getting better.” Be encouraged. God is active in our lives.

~Grace & Peace~
Pastor Ernie

February 13, 2019

Word of Encouragement

We began to talk Sunday about having a Godly voice, one of authority.  I suggested to everyone that it is ineffective to get louder and even called it ungodly.  Then I shared the story of getting my NIV devotional text just as I was about to launch into a tirade.  It read, “be still and know that I am God.”  I was obedient.  Since that time, Brenda has been referred to rehab; Aetna has agreed to pay for the rehab; we have gotten a hospital bed in the apartment, and I am simply overwhelmed with awe and gratitude.  So here is my word of encouragement to you.  The next time you are about to get loud because something is is just not right try this…be still and know God is there.

February 6, 2019

January 21, 2019

Word of Encouragement

I was encouraged Sunday by the number of folks who told me they were fasting and praying for wisdom, and I am sure there are twice as many who just did not want to say anything. As we turn our face to the Lord, I am reminded of Psalm 121, “I lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip–he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you–the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” It is a great comfort to know my Lord is watching over my life, even the little things like waking up and going to sleep. This is the second great promise God gave me as I was fasting. He is watching over me, and Brenda, and Ashley, and the many I love who go thru so much in life, and yes, you. All I need do is look up, at any moment, and any place, under any circumstance, through all time, in joy and sorrow, celebration and grief. All I need do is look up.

~Grace & Peace~
Pastor Ernie

January 15, 2019

Word of Encouragement

John the Baptist sure was a character, simply waiting in the desert till he heard from God that it was time to fulfill his calling. No one really knows how long he waited, for some reason I think it was a very long time. Throughout the Bible, trips to the desert tended to be unpleasant: hot and dry, people were always complaining about not having enough to drink and the Israelites came right out and said they just wanted to “go back.” Of course, going back may be an option for some. The desert can be a tough place. We get through our own desert experiences the same way Moses did and the same way John the Baptist did. We set our hope on God’s promise. God promised Moses He would lead the people out of the desert into the promised land. He promised John he would be the one to prepare the way for the Lord. If you find yourself in a spiritual desert, a place where nothing seems to be going the right way, then it would be a good idea to follow the lead of Moses and John the Baptist: pray, give God time, and cling to a promise God has given you. Start with a really simple promise, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” You are never alone!

~Grace & Peace~
Pastor Ernie

January 6, 2019

Word of Encouragement

Happy New Year Wesley. During this season, many of us look back at all we can celebrate and look forward to what night be in the days ahead. 2019 is going to be a most challenging and exciting year for us. In reading through Luke and preparing for upcoming messages, I know that chapters 9 and 10 are critical to understanding the good news of Jesus as Lord. Jesus tells the very busy Martha, “I discern that you are anxious about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better way.” Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus. While Jesus visited her home, she knew it was time to put aside all business and worship. She sat there like a child at the feet of the rabbi and wanted to learn, to absorb the compassion and the love and the truth Jesus brought to her home. She had no time for housework or cleaning. Her business was with Jesus. I hope and pray we recognize that our priority is to sit at the feet of Jesus. For 2019 we will be focusing on coming into the presence of our Lord through worship and prayer. Sunday I look forward to sharing with you the first red letters in Luke. Bring your Bibles to church and be prepared to come into the presence of the Lord.

~Grace & Peace~
Pastor Ernie

December 18, 2018

Word of Encouragement

So Sunday I talked about Joseph and the phrase “after he considered this…” He was considering his own life and what to do with the news that Mary was pregnant and the child was not his. When he was finished considering how this would affect his future, he was afraid to take her home. There is more than one sort of considering. There is, of course, the sort Joseph undertook, considering how circumstances will affect your future. That really gets people almost nowhere important. It ended up making Joseph afraid. Then there is the sort of considering that takes into account other people and how your life intersects and influences others. Now that is a higher form of considering and often takes divine intervention to practice. And then there is a third sort of considering concerning your relationship to your maker and how He created the lilies of the field. Only when you link the two higher forms of considering will you find fulfillment in life.

As Christmas nears, we consider what gifts to give to one another. It would be wise to consider our giving on a higher plane. What of me can I give to make others feel valued? How can I help my loved ones sense the awe of an immeasurably wonderful God?

~Grace & Peace~
Pastor Ernie

November 27, 2018

Word of Encouragement

When I was in college a lifetime ago, one of the fad psychology trends was centering. Gurus offered seminars and even classes on centering. Of course I took one. Could not resist. So the basic idea was to think your way through the clutter of life, you had to peel back the chaos and confusion and focus on the most important thing: you. And now, 45 years later, I think they almost got it right. All that needs to change is the focus. To focus on self only leads to disappointment and selfishness. And really, how many times does Jesus tell us to focus on ourselves? In reality, there are at least three better things on which we could center.

1. Center on someone else or some other group of people. What do they need? How can I serve her? What is on his mind? Jesus does say, “love your neighbor.”

2. Center on caring for the planet, the seas and the rivers, the beasts of the fields and the birds of the air. The Bible does say God gave us dominion over the planet.

3. Center on Jesus and ask yourself, “Jesus what would you have me do? Or better, who would you have me become?”

All three options are far better than the fad os self-fulfilment through self centering. There is, though, a valuable lesson from the centering fad. To center, we need to eliminate as much of life as is causing the chaos and find what brings order and purpose. To do that, we need to simplify mind and garage, calendar and wallet. And it is not enough to know we need to do this; we then need to do it. At first others will come up against the desire to change. People do not like change. They want to keep stuff, spend money on self, occupy every minute on self satisfaction. In short, they may seem a bit uncooperative. So invite them along. Start with you and invite others to lead a more simple life.

~Grace & Peace~
Pastor Ernie

November 20, 2018

Word of Encouragement

One of the leadership principles I have learned over the years is that when things get a little crazy, just simplify and focus of what you do well and what is most important. I have enacted this principle many times in my personal and professional life. It works. I have simplified the stuff I own; cut down on my calendar appointments; had my children “just pick one thing to do;” eliminated my entire reading list except the Bible; gotten up three hours earlier than normal just to do the one thing that matters most, pray. Like many, I sense a bit of out of control around me, politics have reached a level of negative exhaustion; the changes have pushed us to realize America is becoming an unchurched nation, even moving toward a faithless nation. So I am responding as I have always responded to chaos…zoom in on what is most important, emphasize the critical and celebrate what is working.

To this end, we are beginning our “red-letter study” December 2 so we can zoom in on what Jesus teaches and does. This is not to say the rest of the Bible is less important, just to acknowledge that Christians should know what Jesus says about being a Christian. A red-letter Bible simply puts the words Jesus says in red letters. I use a New International Version study Bible for worship on Sundays. I want to encourage everyone to bring your Bibles with you to church every week. Genuine learning means we take what we heard and read and put it into practice until it becomes an integral part of living. We forget most of what we learned in college because we never put the lessons into practice. So I invite you to church. Bring your Bibles. Come ready to listen and to learn.

~Grace & Peace~
Pastor Ernie

November 13, 2018

Word of Encouragement

After a wonderful Veteran’s Day celebration in church Sunday we got to have a pot-luck dinner. Boy those are really good. I remember as a kid growing up how much I liked those. Good memories. And there were lots of children who joined us for the festivities. Thank you to all who made that possible, to the kitchen staff, those who set up, cleaned up, and everyone who made something for us. Great memories for us and for all the children who were there. In our work for the Lord, it is important for us to remember that the memories we create for one another at Wesley become the memories God uses in the life of a child 30 years from now. What we are doing matters. God is watching Wesley and I can confidently say He is smiling. Well done church!

~Grace & Peace~
Pastor Ernie