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Posts from the ‘Food for Thought’ Category

How God’s Word Works – Active Ingredients

Bible 2Key Bible Verse: The word of God is living and active. … It penetrates even to dividing the soul and spirit … it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  – Hebrews 4:12, NIV

Bonus Reading: 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Like any father of three, I’m experienced at dispensing medicine. If he has a fever, give him Tylenol, or maybe Advil. If she has an ear infection, administer an antibiotic. If you’re going on a long plane ride, and really want them to sleep, give them Benadryl.

Medicine labels list active and inactive ingredients. Active ingredients address the problem at hand; inactive ingredients are extras, like flavorings and colorings. (We have a big red stain on the carpet upstairs from an inactive ingredient!)

Ever heard of the active ingredient Guaifenesin? If you’re not a pharmacist and you knew it was an expectorant, chances are you’ve spent bleary-eyed nights reviewing pharmaceutical names on the cold-medicine row at your local drug store.

We fill the rest of our lives with active and inactive ingredients. What better cure for life’s problems than the most active ingredient of all, the Bible?

It has a unique supernatural ability to address any problem you might have. But just like a medicine, it can’t work if it’s left on the shelf. Medicines must be taken to start working on the cells and tissues of the body.

The Bible must be taken—not just read, but consumed—if it is to go to work in the way God intends.

—Mark Geil in Georgia

My Response: I know God’s Word is at work in my life because …

Thought to Apply: Apply yourself totally to the text; apply the text totally to yourself.—Johann Bengel

Prayer for the Week: Lord, give me a fresh grasp of Your truth as I open myself to Your Word.

 

How God’s Word Works – Cyber-Search Results

Bible 2Key Bible Verse: “My word … will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:11

Bonus Reading: Jeremiah 29:11-14a

Spiritual matters had never concerned George Ponsford. But now doctors had determined he had lymphoma and gave him only a few months to live.

Fear awakened concern about his standing with God. He began searching the internet for answers. A key word search using “religion” then “Bible” led him to the Net Bible website (http://www.bible.org). He downloaded passages on heaven, sin, and forgiveness, and memorized several.

Seminary prof Michael Pocock had come to know George and his family through one of his sons. Mike’s son told him that George, now hospitalized, wanted to speak with him.

Though in pain, George was able to talk. He told Mike about his computer search and quoted what he’d memorized. Mike asked George if he believed the promises those passages contained. “Yes,” he replied. As nurses worked on George, Mike led him in a simple prayer of thanksgiving for God’s salvation.

Two days later—with George feeling much better—they talked alone. Mike asked George if he deserved to be admitted into heaven. “No way,” he replied. “I’m a sinner.”

“So that’s it? You don’t get to enter heaven?”

“Oh yes I do,” he said, “because Jesus Christ died for my sin.”

—Douglas McConnell in The Changing Face of Missions

My Response: The way God’s Word invaded my life was …

Adapted from The Changing Face of Missions (Baker, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, give me a fresh grasp of Your truth as I open myself to Your Word.

 

How God’s Word Works – Bible Boycott

Bible 2Who Said It…Kevin Harney

Kevin Harney is the teaching pastor at Corinth Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He and his wife, Sherry, have three teenage boys: Zach, Josh, and Nate.

In the summer Kevin enjoys golfing and in the winter he loves to snowboard.

In his book Seismic Shifts, Kevin has written about “the little changes that make a big difference in your life.” He’s co-authored an Old Testament curriculum and, with Sherry, written or co-written many small group study guides.

What He Said…Bible Boycott

Bill had grown up in a home with no faith but met Jesus and became a new man. He fell in love with the Bible, read it every day, and gave his best effort to following what it taught. Then one day he put down his Bible and refused to read anymore.

When a Christian friend asked him why, he was honest. He said, “I really like reading the Bible, but when I read it, it keeps pointing out things I’m doing that I shouldn’t do. Or sometimes it tells me to start doing things I don’t think I really want to do. I started feeling uncomfortable, even a little guilty, so I thought I’d stop reading.”

Bill’s response is sad because he gave up reading the Bible, at least for a time. But it’s refreshing because Bill said what many people feel but rarely articulate.

He didn’t complain that the Bible was unclear or ambiguous. He admitted that his problem was that the words of Scripture cut like a knife and revealed things he didn’t want to see.

Adapted from Seismic Shifts (Zondervan, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, give me a fresh grasp of Your truth as I open myself to Your Word.

 

Supernatural Animation – Achieving Your Potential

Unlocking Our PotentialRomans chapter 12 begins with an appeal for believers to give themselves to God as living sacrifices.

But the verses that follow make clear that each person’s sacrifice will look different.

As you surrender yourself to God, He’ll help you gauge your strengths and understand what He wants you to do with them. He promises that you’ll find the result “good and pleasing and perfect.”

Interact with God’s Word

Romans 12:4-11

  1. How aware are you of needing every other believer to perform his or her “special function” (v. 4)?
  2. Do you have a feel for what your special function might be?
  3. The list of abilities, in verses 6-8, is far from complete. But who in your group is bold and articulate? Faithful and loyal? A motivator? Generous and trusting? A good organizer and manager? Caring and happy to give his time to others?
  4. Are you aware of a special ability God has given you? How would you describe it?
  5. In what ways does Scripture urge you to exercise this ability (vv. 6-8, 11)?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Thank God for people He has gifted in ways completely different from you. Pray for their strengths to balance your weaknesses, and vice versa.

Romans 12:4-11

4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others. 6 God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you.

7 If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. 9 Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good.

10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.

Prayer for the Week: You designed me, Lord. Show me how my potential can be fully harnessed for Your kingdom.

 

COVID-19 – Beaver County Metrics – 5-17-2022

COVID-19 Integrated County View:

Here are the weekly COVID-19 statistics for Beaver County, PA as of May 17, 2022, showing Beaver County continuing back in the HIGH category.

  • The Incidence Rate was constant from 133.5 to 132.9 (a decrease of 0.6, or 0.4%) in the HIGH category for the second week in a row.
  • The PCR Positivity Rate also increased from 15.6 to 16.5, in the SUBSTANTIAL category.

(Allegheny County’s figures increased dramatically in the HIGH category during the past week, moving from 111.3 to 239.2 and from 13.0% to 20.6).



The new “COVID-19 COMMUNITY LEVEL” index:

Starting on March 3, 2022, for hospitals and healthcare systems, the CDC is also issuing a new “COVID-19 Community Level index that measures the “current potential for strain on the health system” (in other words, the ability of hospitals to take in and treat additional folks with COVID-19.)  

This new index is in addition to the CDC’s “COVID-19 Integrated County View” which they continue to publish each week.

The CDC currently reports that current “COVID-19 Community Level” is LOW, meaning that hospital beds are available for new COVID-19 cases. 


  • At Central Church, in order to look out for our older folks, as well as the unvaccinated or immunocompromised, we are continuing to look to the CDC’s“COVID-19 Integrated County View” to evaluate which protective measures and protocols that we should observe to protect all of the folks who come through our doors for in-person worship or for other reasons, such as to participate in our community feeding ministry outreach.

  • Small Group Meetings (Sunday School, AA, other meetings):

The current guidance on when and how gatherings can take place is based upon the threshold of infection rate.

For Indoor meetings/Sunday School to resume, the 7-day average of daily cases for gatherings that include unvaccinated folks should be:

    • 1.5-2.0 – for everyone except those at high risk; and
    • Less than 1.0 for those at high risk.
    • Our current level is 18.9, so resuming small group meetings may not be feasible for the immediate future.

As the pandemic continues, we are continuing our efforts to:

  • Disinfect Central Church prior to every worship service and feeding ministry event using EPA-registered products in compliance with CDC standards to kill germs and reduce the risk of spreading infection, and in compliance with EPA criteria for use against SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; and

  • We have significantly expanded our new medical-grade HEPA-13 air filtration equipment in our Sanctuary, which is rated to remove COVID-19 from the air, which now provides 10.7 complete air changes every hour in our Sanctuary (every 6 minutes)!

  • In addition, our Parlor, Church Office, Pastor’s Office, UMYF Meeting Room, Fellowship Hall, and Nursery all offer even higher levels of air changes per hour using HEPA-13 or HEPA-14 filtration.

  • (5 air changes per hour is the EPA’s general recommended standard, and the EPA now recommends 8-15 air changes per hour in Churches. )  

Central Church

Supernatural Animation – Conductor or Resistor?

Unlocking Our PotentialKey Bible Verse: “If you believe in me, come and drink! For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within.”John 7:38

Bonus Reading: Matthew 4:18-20Mark 10:28-30

An analogy from electricity can help us think about our response to God.

The difference between a conductor and a resistor can be put like this: A conductor is willing to let go. It’s not generating its own power; it is simply a conduit. It’s open and receptive to the flow of current that can change the world from darkness to light. Every other desire has to take a back seat to this one absolute quest. The conductor prays, “As you wish.”

A resistor, by contrast, doesn’t want to let go. It hangs onto its electrons. It clings to the status quo. It’s afraid to let go because it wants to keep its possessions intact. And so it does. But the resistor never knows much power. The resistor prays, “Leave me alone.”

We live in a spiritually charged universe. The flow of the Holy Spirit is all around us. We did not invent it, but it has now become fully available.

When Jesus uttered today’s Key Bible Verse, John’s gospel explains that Jesus was talking about the Spirit. We do not have much power in our wills, but we can choose whether we will be resistors or conductors. And our prayer will be answered.

—John Ortberg in God Is Closer Than You Think

My Response: Do I lean toward cautious reluctance or joyful surrender?

Thought to Apply: The Gulf Stream can pass through a straw if the straw aligns itself with the Gulf Stream.—Anne Lamott (author)

Adapted from God Is Closer Than You Think (Zondervan, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: You designed me, Lord. Show me how my potential can be fully harnessed for Your kingdom.

 

Supernatural Animation – The Tool for the Job

Unlocking Our PotentialKey Bible Verse: There are different ways God works in our lives, but … does the work through all of us. 1 Corinthians 12:6

Bonus Reading: 1 Cor. 12:4-11

Brian had a passion for Christian camps, but our association had no camping program. As Brian shared his burden with our church, others sensed God speaking.

With them and others from our sister churches, Brian organized our first children’s camp. It was a tremendous success! The volunteers served as counselors, cooks, and nurses, and came back exuberant about how God had worked.

Later God brought another Brian to our church. His passion was barefoot waterskiing! Only God, I thought, can take a passion like that and use it for His kingdom! But God did.

Our children’s camp was held at the lake where this Brian had a cabin. During camp week he brought his ski boat to the camp and with some friends gave a barefoot water-ski demonstration. Then he gave lessons to the kids. It was the highlight of the week!

While teaching the kids how to ski, Brian discovered that he was good at working with kids. When he returned home, Brian volunteered to be a children’s Sunday school teacher. He became popular with the kids and was used by God to bless our church.

—Henry Blackaby in Hearing God’s Voice

My Response: I’ll ask God to show me how He could use a skill of mine.

Thought to Apply: People who never get carried away should be.—Malcolm Forbes (publisher & businessman)

Adapted from Hearing God’s Voice (Broadman & Holman, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: You designed me, Lord. Show me how my potential can be fully harnessed for Your kingdom.

 

Supernatural Animation – Thrill Zone

Unlocking Our PotentialKey Bible Verse: “For I know the plans I have for you” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  – Jeremiah 29:11

Bonus Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:10-14

[continued from yesterday]  Mission field? Rich chuckled. What work of God needs a whiz at budgets and flow charts? World Vision. They called in 1998: Would you become our CEO? Rich knew this ministry championed the cause of the poor. But why did they want him to take a 75 percent pay cut to head, not a business, but a ministry? He declined.

World Vision persisted, persuading Rich to take a day-long skills inventory. The results convinced its board that Rich was made for the job. “This is a chance to marry your gifts with God’s call,” urged board member Bill Hybels. “When you do that, you enter the zone in which you were made to live.” Rich prayed—and took the leap, swapping porcelain sales for relief efforts, marketing meetings for strategy sessions on AIDS.

Has he regretted it? “This is the fulfillment of who I was created to be,” Rich Stearns insists. He quotes today’s Key Bible Verse. “Looking back, I can see the plan. I wonder why I waited 23 years.”

World Vision has no regrets either. In Rich’s first six years, its annual budget jumped from $350- to $807 million, making it the largest relief organization ever. Now the underdog from Syracuse helps the world’s underdogs—and loves every minute.

—Max Lucado in Cure for the Common Life

My Response: How may fulfillment be different from fun?

Thought to Apply: I became my own only when I gave myself to Another.—C.S. Lewis (British scholar & apologist)

Adapted from Cure for the Common Life (W Publishing, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: You designed me, Lord. Show me how my potential can be fully harnessed for Your kingdom.

 

Supernatural Animation – Underdog to Top Dog

Unlocking Our PotentialKey Bible Verse: God has given gifts to each of you … so that God’s generosity can flow through you. 1 Peter 4:10

Bonus Reading: 1 Peter 4:10-11

Ten-year-old Rich trembled as his parents yelled in the next room. Father drinking again. Never enough money or work.

My parents can’t help me, he realized. I’ve got to make it on my own. Education would be his bus ticket out of scarcity. A scholarship got him to Cornell; hard work made the grades. Rich recruited a ragtag team of students like himself to play volleyball. They trounced the prestigious frat squads!

Awarded a scholarship to Wharton, Rich earned an MBA and found the two loves of his life: Reneé and Jesus. Reneé suggested registering their wedding at a department store’s china section. The advocate for the underdog refused. “As long as there are hungry children, we shouldn’t have china or crystal.”

The business world came easily for Rich. By age 33 he occupied the CEO office for Parker Brothers, the game company. Eleven years later he was CEO of Lenox China and Crystal. But something seemed off balance. The groom who’d resisted the china registry was selling fine dinnerware to the wealthy! Rich restlessly considered moving to Boca Raton and playing golf. “No way!” Reneé retorted. “If we retire, it’ll be to the mission field.”  [continued tomorrow]

—Max Lucado in Cure for the Common Life

My Response: I’ll make time to review what my passion is.

Thought to Apply: The giants of faith all had one thing in common: neither victory not success, but passion.—Philip Yancey (author)

Adapted from Cure for the Common Life (W Publishing, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: You designed me, Lord. Show me how my potential can be fully harnessed for Your kingdom.

 

Supernatural Animation – Max’s Lost Max

Unlocking Our PotentialKey Bible Verse: God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well.  – Romans 12:6

Bonus Reading: Romans 12:4-11

“Describe times when you did something you love to do and did it well” was my assignment from organizational consultant Rick Wellock.  My list included:

  • Delivering an election-winning speech to the high school freshman class.
  • Neglecting other homework to write and rewrite short stories for a literature course.
  • Presenting my first Bible lesson. Stunned that the middle schoolers listened.

The counselor studied my list, then asked, “What one word describes your passion?”

“Message,” I replied without hesitation.

“Does your calendar reflect your passion?” he asked. We reviewed six months of meetings, fund-raising, and facility development. “Seems like you are sitting on a lot of planning committees,” he observed.

“I assumed I should since I’m the minister.”

“What do you discuss in these meetings?”

“Paint color. Parking lot size. City building codes.”

“Do you enjoy them?”

“Slightly more than open-heart surgery.”

“Do people turn to you for strategic-planning advice?”

“No.”

My exhaustion made sudden sense. I was operating out of my weakness, doing the most what I do the worst!

—Max Lucado in Cure for the Common Life

My Response: Am I neglecting my strengths?

Adapted from Cure for the Common Life (W Publishing, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: You designed me, Lord. Show me how my potential can be fully harnessed for Your kingdom.

 

Central Church – Online Worship Service – The Fifth Sunday of Easter – 5-15-2022

On this warm and sunny fifth Sunday of Easter, when the coronavirus prevents many of us from gathering in Central Church’s Sanctuary to worship in body, let us join together in spirit with our online worship service.

  • Today’s online worship service includes a favorite HYMN with lyrics so you can sing along!

Our prior online worship services are available in our online library, and can be viewed on demand, and be sure to join us in worship, either online or in person, every week! 

 



AND…

  • Both the video on Facebook and the video on YouTube now have closed captions (if you turn them on) so you can read along with the spoken words during the service!
    •  To activate captions in Facebook, click on the Settings “gear” symbol in the bottom right corner of the image, and then click on the “Off” button to change it to “On” for “Auto-Generated Captions”.
    • To activate captions in YouTube, click on the “CC” icon in the lower right corner of the image to toggle captions On and Off.
      • A brief comment on our new closed caption capability – The closed captions on our videos use voice-recognition software similar to that used on Television broadcasts, and with similar accuracy!  Sometimes, the captions are not entirely accurate, so if you read something incongruous, back up the video a few seconds and listen carefully for what is actually being said. 
      • Also, it takes a while to generate the captions after the videos are published, so if the captions are not available immediately after the video is published, just check back a little later.

To begin, simply click on one of the links below to join with the folks who have already made their way into our digital Sanctuary.  You can find this week’s online worship service on both Facebook and YouTube at the following coordinates:

(If the video doesn’t come up after clicking on the link, just copy and paste the address into your browser search bar.)

Central Church

 

 

Supernatural Animation – Living Color

Unlocking Our PotentialWho Said It…Lee Strobel

Lee Strobel grew up in a Christian home, but turned atheist after encountering evolution in high school. He studied journalism and law, becoming an investigative reporter, then legal affairs editor at the Chicago Tribune.

A chance news assignment renewed his interest in God. After a nearly two-year investigation of the evidence for Jesus, Strobel received Christ as his forgiver and leader. Here he shares what nudged him to a new role as an author and teacher of apologetics.

What He Said…Living Color

One day, out of nowhere, my boss at the newspaper asked me why I was a Christian. I’d never explained that to anybody. But I closed his office door and talked for 45 minutes about the difference Jesus was making in my life and what it means to become His follower.

When I emerged from his office, it was as if my entire life up until that meeting had been a movie shot in very grainy black-and-white film with scratchy sound—but this 45 minutes had been in bright, vivid Technicolor with rich Dolby stereo! Instantly I knew that from that day forward I wanted to develop and deploy my evangelism gift in any way I could.

There’s a unique sense of fulfillment that comes when we submit our gifts to God’s use and ask him to energize them in a supernatural way—and then step back to watch what He does. It can be the difference between merely existing in black and white and living a life in full, brilliant color.

Adapted from God’s Outrageous Claims (Zondervan, 1997, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: You designed me, Lord. Show me how my potential can be fully harnessed for Your kingdom.

 

COVID-19 – Beaver County Metrics – 5-10-2022

COVID-19 Integrated County View:

Here are the weekly COVID-19 statistics for Beaver County, PA as of May 10, 2022, showing Beaver County move up in the HIGH category.

  • The Incidence Rate increased from 94.5 to 133.5 (an increase of 39.0, or 41.2%) moving up into the HIGH category for the first time in nine weeks.
  • The PCR Positivity Rate also increased substantially from 10.2 to 15.6, in the SUBSTANTIAL category.

(Allegheny County’s figures also increased slightly in the SUBSTANTIAL category during the past week, moving from 94.2 to 111.3 and from 10.8% to 13.0).


Pandemic Death Toll:

Almost 15 million deaths, including just over 1 million in the United States, have been directly or indirectly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new estimate from the World Health Organization on May 5. The report measures a metric known as excess deaths—the number of deaths above what would be statistically expected under normal circumstances during a given year. 

Officials say the analysis paints a more holistic portrait of the virus’s impact, including increased overdose deaths, deaths by suicide, and more. (Also, for political reasons, many governments under-report their deaths.)  For context, the current reported death toll directly attributed to the coronavirus is around 6.25 million according to Johns Hopkins University, or less than half the estimated excess death total.

In the US, new cases have doubled in the past month to just over 60,000 per day, though the figure remains the lowest since last summer.  Daily deaths have jumped to over 550 per day, after remaining under 400 per day for the past two weeks.  


The new “COVID-19 COMMUNITY LEVEL” index:

Starting on March 3, 2022, for hospitals and healthcare systems, the CDC is also issuing a new “COVID-19 Community Level index that measures the “current potential for strain on the health system” (in other words, the ability of hospitals to take in and treat additional folks with COVID-19.)  

This new index is in addition to the CDC’s “COVID-19 Integrated County View” which they continue to publish each week.

The CDC currently reports that current “COVID-19 Community Level” is LOW, meaning that hospital beds are available for new COVID-19 cases. 


  • At Central Church, in order to look out for our older folks, as well as the unvaccinated or immunocompromised, we are continuing to look to the CDC’s“COVID-19 Integrated County View” to evaluate which protective measures and protocols that we should observe to protect all of the folks who come through our doors for in-person worship or for other reasons, such as to participate in our community feeding ministry outreach.

  • Small Group Meetings (Sunday School, AA, other meetings):

The current guidance on when and how gatherings can take place is based upon the threshold of infection rate.

For Indoor meetings/Sunday School to resume, the 7-day average of daily cases for gatherings that include unvaccinated folks should be:

    • 1.5-2.0 – for everyone except those at high risk; and
    • Less than 1.0 for those at high risk.
    • Our current level is 19.0, so resuming small group meetings may not be feasible for the immediate future.

As the pandemic continues, we are continuing our efforts to:

  • Disinfect Central Church prior to every worship service and feeding ministry event using EPA-registered products in compliance with CDC standards to kill germs and reduce the risk of spreading infection, and in compliance with EPA criteria for use against SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; and

  • We have significantly expanded our new medical-grade HEPA-13 air filtration equipment in our Sanctuary, which is rated to remove COVID-19 from the air, which now provides 10.7 complete air changes every hour in our Sanctuary (every 6 minutes)!

  • In addition, our Parlor, Church Office, Pastor’s Office, UMYF Meeting Room, Fellowship Hall, and Nursery all offer even higher levels of air changes per hour using HEPA-13 or HEPA-14 filtration.

  • (5 air changes per hour is the EPA’s general recommended standard, and the EPA now recommends 8-15 air changes per hour in Churches. )  

Central Church

Face Down Your Fears – Peace from God

PeaceWhen David wrote this psalm, his courageous slaying of Goliath was a distant memory. That victory aroused King Saul’s jealousy, and he’d deliberately placed David in harm’s way. When that failed, he ordered his capture.

So David, on the run, escaped into the Philistine territory of Gath for sanctuary (see 1 Samuel 21:10-15).

But King Achish’s officers were suspicious. So, in a desperate ploy to save his skin, our hero stooped to faking insanity.

Interact with God’s Word:  Psalm 56:1-13

  1. Viewed from ground level (vv. 1-2, 5-6), how grim is David’s situation?
  2. What is David’s natural reaction to this (v. 3)?
  3. What is David’s gut-level reaction (v. 7) to his enemies’ treachery?
  4. How would David’s previous experience (v. 13a) bolster trust now?
  5. How does David say he’ll respond (v. 12) to the Lord’s past protection?
  6. Does David see God as remote or uncaring (v. 8)?
  7. What is his basis (vv. 4, 11) for shaking off fear?
  8. How confident is he (v. 9) of God’s future protection?
  9. What stance (v. 13b) does David’s God-is-on-my-side review lead him to?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for a growing freedom from your fears as you verify God’s ability to shield you from harm.

Psalm 56:1-13

1 O God, have mercy on me. The enemy troops press in on me. My foes attack me all day long. 2 My slanderers hound me constantly, and many are boldly attacking me. 3 But when I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

4 O God, I praise your word. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me? 5 They are always twisting what I say; they spend their days plotting ways to harm me. 6 They come together to spy on me— watching my every step, eager to kill me.

7 Don’t let them get away with their wickedness; in your anger, O God, throw them to the ground. 8 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. 9 On the very day I call to you for help, my enemies will retreat. This I know: God is on my side.

10 O God, I praise your word. Yes, LORD, I praise your word. 11 I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me? 12 I will fulfill my vows to you, O God, and offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help. 13 For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.

Prayer for the Week: Heavenly Father, You know what I fear. Help me to give you that fear today. May I rest in your peace and strength no matter what happens.

Face Down Your Fears – Fear’s Shackles

PeaceKey Bible Verse: But when I am afraid I put my trust in you.  – Psalm 56:3

Bonus Reading: Psalm 56:1-13

Facing two death sentences in 1997, I was brought from prison into an Iranian courthouse to make them official. As I took my place before the judge on the witness stand, he looked at me intently and said, “Mr. Baumann, tell us why you came to Iran.”

Scared and intimidated by the fear of man, I took a long pause as I considered what to say. The judge waited for my answer. The video cameras also waited.

I knew that this judge had the power to order my execution right then and there. I knew that he might do just that if I answered honestly. But I also knew I had to tell the truth about why I came to Iran.

As I opened my mouth, the truth is I struggled to speak and was much afraid.

But then something stronger than fear rose up within me. The Spirit of God gave me courage and confidence. I looked directly at the judge and said, “I came to Iran to tell people like you about Jesus Christ.”

God gave me strength to share my heart. The more I shared my faith, the bolder I became, and the less my fears beset me.

On that day in the Iranian courtroom, I realized I was free. My fear had been overcome! [Baumann was released after 63 days of incarceration.]

—Dan Baumann in A Beautiful Way

My Response: A fear that has me intimidated is ____. To overcome it, I need to …

Thought to Apply: It is only the fear of God that can deliver us from the fear of man.—John Witherspoon (colonial president of Princeton University)

Adapted from A Beautiful Way (YWAM, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Heavenly Father, You know what I fear. Help me to give you that fear today. May I rest in your peace and strength no matter what happens.

 

Stewardship Focus – Electric – Switch Now to the “Standard Offer Program” to Save Money for the Next 12 Months

Effective June 1, electric rates will increase substantially in PA.

  • Penn Power’s rate will increase 23%;
  • West Penn Power’s rate will increase 45%;
  • Duquesne Light’s rate increase has not yet been announced, but is forecasted to increase substantially as well from its current 98 cents per KwHr rate.  (For example, a 23% increase, like Penn Power’s increase, would move the Duquesne Light rate to 9.81 cents.); ;
  • The rates on papowerswitch.com currently being offered range from 8.99 cents to 19.8 cents.
  • The rate under the Standard Offer program today is 7.42 cents. 

That rate will remain fixed for 12 months and you can switch to another plan at any time without fee or penalty. Given the 23-45% rate increases taking effect on June 1, it is unlikely that any other plan will offer a lower rate in the next 12 months.

You will receive information in the mail 2 billing cycles before the end of the 12-month period as a reminder so you can select a new provider.  (Otherwise, the rate will transfer to a variable monthly rate.)

  • To start the process, get your last electric bill in your hand and call Duquesne Light at (412) 393-7100. After waiting on hold for about 30 minutes, tell them that you want to switch to the Standard Offer Program.  They will take information and transfer you to All Choice (the company Duquesne Light has outsourced this task to), who will complete the process in about 10 minutes.

To paraphrase the old J. G. Wentworth commercials, “It’s your money.  Why let the electric company take it when you can use it for extravagances, like buying food?”

Central Church

Face Down Your Fears – Here’s the Drill

PeaceKey Bible Verse: “See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

Bonus Reading: Isaiah 41:10,13

I am a wimp when it comes to the dentist. The word macho is nowhere in my vocabulary or personality when I walk into the dentist’s office and settle myself into his chair. You’ve heard stories of guys telling the dentist, “No pain medication, Doc. Just go ahead and drill.” That’s not me! I ask for everything possible to keep me from feeling any nerve twinges.

I’ve faced down a drunk who was threatening to kill his family, offering myself as a substitute hostage. I’ve sat with a potential suicide victim as he waved his gun around, saying he’d take me with him. But when the dentist’s drill starts toward my mouth, sweat breaks out.

Of what—or whom—are you afraid?

Maybe you can face a hostile situation without fear, but wondering what will happen to your children as they grow older keeps you awake at night. Perhaps the state of your marriage paralyzes you emotionally and keeps you from trusting in God as you should.

The Lord knows the situation you’re facing right now. He promises to give you both the wisdom and the strength to make it through your trials. And in the middle of those trials, God also promises to give you his peace.

—Mark Sutton in Still God’s Man

My Response: I’ll memorize today’s Key Bible Verse—and repeat it as needed.

Thought to Apply: He who is afraid of a thing gives it power over him.—Moorish Proverb

Adapted from Still God’s Man (Kregel, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Heavenly Father, You know what I fear. Help me to give you that fear today. May I rest in your peace and strength no matter what happens.

 

Face Down Your Fears – …and Contrasting Cool

PeaceKey Bible Verse: Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear.  – 1 John 4:18

Bonus Reading: 1 John 4:13-18

[continued from yesterday]  I glanced across to check on my fourth passenger in the front seat. In contrast with the three in the backseat, he was staring ahead, contemplative and detached. Even casual. “Yu no gat pret?” I asked him. (“Aren’t you afraid?”)

He looked me in the eyes and responded deliberately. “Skin bilong mi tasol I pret.” (“Only my skin is afraid.”)

“What about the rest of you?” I asked.

Pointing out of the window, he answered in his pidgin English. “I see the mountains. They are so close. I see the trees and the rocks as they rush by. I see the rain, and I hear it beating on the glass. I see the clouds all around us. I didn’t know that this big bird of yours shook like this. There is much to be afraid of here. But,” he continued with a smile, “my fear is only as deep as my skin.”

“What about under your skin?” I asked.

“I’m not afraid under my skin,” he said. “I know the One who made the mountains. I know the One who made the rocks and the trees. I know the One who made the clouds and the rain. He’s told me that I don’t need to be afraid? Why? Because He lives inside my skin. And He promised never to leave me. Because of that, I am not afraid.”

—Max Meyer in Riding the Heavens

My Response: What circumstance beyond my control is testing my trust in God?

Thought to Apply: Do you know what the most frequent command in the Bible turns out to be? “Don’t be afraid. Fear not. Don’t be afraid.”—N.T. Wright (British scientist turned cleric)

Adapted from Riding the Heavens (Zondervan, 2000)

Prayer for the Week: Heavenly Father, You know what I fear. Help me to give you that fear today. May I rest in your peace and strength no matter what happens.

 

Stewardship Focus – Pennsylvania electric generation costs increasing up to 45% on June 1, 2022 – Use the “Standard Offer Program” to Lock in Your Current Low Rate

FYI – Substantial electric rate increases next month (see the May 9 article below from the Trib Review).

The PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) launched a special program in August 2013, called the “Standard Offer Program.”  A Duquesne Light customer can enroll in the Standard Offer Program by contacting their utility (at (412) 393-7100) and requesting enrollment.

Under the Special Offer Program, your electric Duquesne Light will assign you a randomly selected electric generation supplier. The supplier will provide a Standard Offer, which includes a fixed-rate price, 7 percent below the electric utility’s current Price to Compare (PTC, the price the utility pays for electricity), for a term of one year with no cancellation or termination fees. A Standard Offer customer can cancel the agreement at any time.

  • In other words, electric supply prices are going up substantially in 3 weeks. If you enroll in the Special Offer Program, your rate for the next year will be Duquesne Light’s current Price to Compare (currently $0.0798 per KwHr) less a 7% discount (or $0.0742).
  • If you look on papowerswitch.com for a listing of alternative electricity suppliers, Verde Energy USA, LLC is currently the lowest alternative supplier, with a rate of $0.089900. That’s 21% more than the Standard Offer Plan being offered in May 2022.

If you would like to explore enrolling in the Standard Offer Plan, your first step is to call Duquesne Light at (412) 393-7100 and make the request.  (Online enrollment is not an option, and, be warned that Duquesne Light hold times tend to be very long.)

After talking to a Duquesne Light representative, they will randomly transfer you to an independent electric supply company who has agreed to offer the Standard Offer Plan.  You then complete the sign-up process with them.

It can be a painful process, but the reward for completing it is that you will lock in a special low electric supply rate for the next year while everyone else is suffering under monthly electric bills that are over 20% higher for the same amount of electricity.  Why pay a price 20% higher when you can lock in a low rate today?


At:  https://triblive.com/local/regional/pennsylvania-electric-generation-costs-increasing-up-to-45-on-june-1/

Pennsylvania electric generation costs increasing up to 45% on June 1

Brian C. Rittmeyer | Monday, May 9, 2022 5:28 p.m.

Ask key questions

Pennsylvania residents shopping for electric generation supply rates should consider:

  • How do competitive suppliers’ rates compare with the utility’s price to compare?
    • Is the supplier contract for a fixed or variable rate and, if the rate is variable, what are the conditions of changes in the price for electricity?
    • Does the contract provide for additional fees, such as membership or early contract termination fees?
    • When will the contract expire and what are the options for consumers as the contract end date approaches?

Source: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

Pennsylvania regulators are warning consumers that most utilities will be increasing their prices for electric generation on June 1.

Energy supply costs will increase between 6% and 45% across the state for consumers who aren’t under contract with a supplier, according to the state’s Public Utility Commission.

Most electric utilities in Pennsylvania reset rates on June 1 and Dec. 1, commission spokesman Nils Hagen-Frederiksen said. First Energy, which includes West Penn Power and Penn Power, does so quarterly.

West Penn Power’s “price to compare” will increase by about 45%, from 5.667 cents to 8.198 cents per kilowatt hour.

For the typical West Penn customer using 750 kilowatt hours per month, the bill would increase by about 25%, from $74.91 to $93.89, spokesman Todd Meyers said.

Penn Power customers will see a nearly 23% increase, from 7.082 cents to 8.694 cents per kilowatt hour.

For a typical Penn Power residential customer using 750 kilowatt hours per month, the total bill would increase by about 12%, from $103.12 to $115.21, Meyers said.

For both, Meyers said about half of the bill is for the electricity itself, while half is the charge to deliver it.

Duquesne Light is among several utilities for which price changes are still being calculated but are expected to rise, according to the commission. Final prices will be available later in May.

According to the commission, higher wholesale market prices for electricity are being caused mostly by shifts in supply and demand for natural gas.

“The global energy market has been extremely volatile since the fall of last year,” Hagen-Frederiksen said. “There continues to be an upward movement in prices, and not just for electricity. Every form of energy is seeing an upward push in prices.”

By law, utilities can’t make a profit on electric generation. The cost is passed through to customers. The “price to compare” averages 40% to 60% of a customer’s total utility bill.

The commission does not regulate prices for the generation part of electric bills. Generation prices are separate from the regulated rates that utilities charge for delivering electricity to homes and businesses.

How to save

There are things consumers can do to save money, and that includes shopping for a supplier, Hagen-Frederiksen said.

The commission is encouraging consumers to review their electric bills to understand the rates they will be paying and explore its electric shopping website, papowerswitch.com.

In most parts of the state, consumers can choose their electric supplier.

“If you can find a good deal now and you want to go into the competitive electric market and remain diligent, you can probably save some money,” said Patrick Cicero, acting consumer advocate with the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate.

The office is an independent agency that is part of the state Office of Attorney General and represents consumers before the PUC, Cicero said.

To help consumers, the office provides an electric shopping guide on its website. It can be mailed upon request; the office can be reached at 717-783-5048 and by email at consumer@paoca.org.

Shopping for electric isn’t difficult, but consumers have to stay on top of it, Cicero said.

“Consumers need to be careful about the energy marketing that’s out there,” he said. “There are going to be deals and offers that may save consumers money. Our office’s view is that folks need to shop smart. They need to know what it is they are shopping for.”

The commission said consumers not shopping for a supplier might want to look into their utility’s Standard Offer Program. It gives customers the option of receiving service from a competitive supplier at a fixed price that is 7% below the utility’s current price to compare.

If available, consumers who sign up for that program before prices increase June 1 could realize a substantial savings, Hagen-Frederiksen said.

“It was designed as a way for consumers who hadn’t shopped or weren’t interested in doing a lot of comparison shopping to dip their toes into the shopping market,” he said.

Advantages of the program are that it’s good for a year with no early termination or cancellation fees, Cicero said.

But he cautioned that because of uncertainly in the wholesale markets, a supplier may not be able to honor a rate for a full 12 months, Cicero said. If that happens, customers would return to their utility’s default service rate.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@triblive.com or via Twitter .

 


Central Church

Face Down Your Fears – Terrified Tribesmen…

PeaceKey Bible Verse: Death had its hand around my throat; the terrors of the grave overtook me. Psalm 116:3

Bonus Reading: Psalm 116:1-9

The four brown-skinned men of Papua New Guinea’s southern highlands were sick and needed treatment. The small mission clinic at Samberigi was insufficient. And knowing that I was planning to fly my Cessna across the mountains to the north coast, the station nurse asked me to drop these men off along the way. Mendi, a 20-minute flight to the northwest, had a regional hospital.

As I fastened their seatbelts, I explained as best I could what they should expect on this short flight. I noticed the deteriorating weather and thought it could be a daunting experience for me, let alone for these warriors who’d grown up in the Stone Age and never flown.

Soon after takeoff, rain began to fall and the clouds grew ominous atop the mountain peaks. If I climbed above them, it would be difficult to find a way down again. So I concentrated on threading the inhospitable gray tunnels formed by the narrow valleys. Totally absorbed, I paid no attention to my passengers.

Suddenly I heard a low, drawn-out moan coming from the backseat. I turned back. Staring back at me were three terror-filled pairs of eyes. Three of my mountain men were locked in a speechless embrace of abject fear. [continued tomorrow]

—Max Meyers in Riding the Heavens

My Response: A time when I felt paralyzed by fear was …

Thought to Apply: Fear has the largest eyes of all.—Boris Pasternak (Russian author)

Adapted from Riding the Heavens (Zondervan, 2000)

Prayer for the Week: Heavenly Father, You know what I fear. Help me to give you that fear today. May I rest in your peace and strength no matter what

happens.

Face Down Your Fears – Elephant in the Workplace

Peace0Key Bible Verse: Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but to trust the Lord means safety. Proverbs 29:25

Bonus Reading: Isaiah 51:12-13

As a leadership development consultant, I’ve seen an entire executive committee change strategies based on fear of the competition. I’ve seen a talented salesperson throw away a career because he “fudged” his sales numbers out of fear of not meeting his monthly quota. I’ve seen a marketing executive run around like Henny Penny, screaming “The sky is falling!” every month as the sales deadline approached.

At a corporate planning retreat in Detroit that I was facilitating, a board member asked the CEO a challenging, yet fair, question about a past initiative. The CEO paused, reached down into his briefcase, took out an extra-large bottle of antacids, twisted the cap off, tilted his head back, and downed Tums like a cold glass of water on a hot summer day.

He crunched away at a mouthful of the chalky tablets, took a sip of water, and then calmly answered the board member’s question. He went through the same process four of five times that day. And he didn’t even notice how ridiculous he looked because it was a normal daily occurrence! This guy had accepted that fear, worry, and heartburn were parts of his job description.

—Larry Julian in God Is My Success

My Response: Is fear a factor for others where I work? For me?

Adapted from God Is My Success (Warner Faith, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Heavenly Father, You know what I fear. Help me to give you that fear today. May I rest in your peace and strength no matter what

happens.

Central Church – Online Worship Service – The Fourth Sunday of Easter – Mother’s Day – 5-8-2022

On this warm and sunny fourth Sunday of Easter, when we celebrate Mother’s Day, and when the coronavirus prevents many of us from gathering in Central Church’s Sanctuary to worship in body, let us join together in spirit with our online worship service.

  • Today’s online worship service includes a favorite HYMN with lyrics so you can sing along!

Our prior online worship services are available in our online library, and can be viewed on demand, and be sure to join us in worship, either online or in person, every week! 

 



AND…

  • Both the video on Facebook and the video on YouTube now have closed captions (if you turn them on) so you can read along with the spoken words during the service!
    •  To activate captions in Facebook, click on the Settings “gear” symbol in the bottom right corner of the image, and then click on the “Off” button to change it to “On” for “Auto-Generated Captions”.
    • To activate captions in YouTube, click on the “CC” icon in the lower right corner of the image to toggle captions On and Off.
      • A brief comment on our new closed caption capability – The closed captions on our videos use voice-recognition software similar to that used on Television broadcasts, and with similar accuracy!  Sometimes, the captions are not entirely accurate, so if you read something incongruous, back up the video a few seconds and listen carefully for what is actually being said. 
      • Also, it takes a while to generate the captions after the videos are published, so if the captions are not available immediately after the video is published, just check back a little later.

To begin, simply click on one of the links below to join with the folks who have already made their way into our digital Sanctuary.  You can find this week’s online worship service on both Facebook and YouTube at the following coordinates:

(If the video doesn’t come up after clicking on the link, just copy and paste the address into your browser search bar.)

Central Church

 

 

Biblical mothers: not a job for the faint of heart

Mother's Day 3It has been 100 years since U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May as a special day to honor mothers, especially those who had lost their sons to war.

Did you know Anna Marie Jarvis and fellow members of the Methodist Episcopal Church led the charge to make Mother’s Day an official observance?

The church still plays a prominent role in Mother’s Day.  So how do we keep the focus on worshipping God, while celebrating and honoring the gifts of mothers?

The answer seems obvious:  Just turn to the Bible.

For quick capsules on Eve, Sarah and Hagar, Rebekah, Mary (mother of Jesus), and Ruth, click on Just turn to the Bible.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

The Founding Mothers of Mother’s Day

Mother's Day 1In the late 1860s, before there was an official Mother’s Day holiday in the U.S., a Methodist mom organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

When Ann Jarvis was working to establish Mother’s Day as a national event, and when her daughter picked up the mantle from her, they were not thinking about greeting cards and flowers.  Instead the Methodist women who invented the idea in America wanted to honor mothers in a deeper way.

They were thinking about the work of women and the significant testimony that women could give about the need for peace.  Ann Reeves Jarvis organized women’s clubs in the 1860s to serve suffering mothers and children.

Women came together with their sisters in their locations to respond to the needs that they could see. For Ann, she was in a coal mining part of what is now West Virginia. And she could see the needs of women and children. And she could see the effect of the economy of her day on the people that she cared for most directly.  She started mothers clubs. And she talked to them about hydration for fevered babies, about sanitation and nutrition. And then the Civil War came along and they put a field hospital right outside Grafton.

Ann recruited nurses for military hospitals, and after the war formed friendship clubs to promote reconciliation.  Ann Jarvis was convinced that mothers, women, but especially mothers, had to work for peace because they could see the ravages of war in their husbands and in their sons, in a way that was so focused and so clear that their voices would be powerful. And that’s what’s at the genesis of the current Mother’s Day.

In May 1908, Anna Jarvis organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia.  There was also a Mother’s Day event at one of Wanamaker’s retail stores in Phila00delphia on the same day.

Mother's Day 2In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in the USA. Others like Julia Ward Howe and Juliet Calhoun Blakely also advocated for a Mother’s Day type recognition in the U.S. in the late 19th century also.

Mother’s Day is celebrated in a variety of countries.  In Thailand, Mother’s Day is celebrated in August on the birthday of the current queen, Sirikit.  In Ethiopia, families gather each fall to sing songs and eat a large feast as part of Antrosht, a multi-day celebration honoring motherhood.

In the United States, Mother’s Day in 2015 will be celebrated on Sunday, May 10.

Face Down Your Fears – What Fear Does to Us

PeaceWho Said It…John Ortberg

John Ortberg is a teaching pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. His teaching brings Scripture alive and invariably includes practical applications and warm humor.

Earlier he pastored a church in Southern California, then for several years he filled a teaching role at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois.

John has written several books. The latest is God Is Closer Than You Think. He and Nancy have three teenage children.

What He Said…What Fear Does to Us

A friend asked me a question about an area in my life for which the true answer would have been embarrassing, and I didn’t want to be embarrassed. So I just lied.

I had to go back and do repair work that was very painful for me. When I look back on it, I wonder, Why did I lie? Why do I ever lie? Usually to avoid pain. I’m afraid of what will happen if I tell the truth. Fear prompts me to lie.

And it’s not just deceit. When people are gossiping, I join in even though I know it’s wrong because I’m afraid of being left out. I hoard possessions because I’m afraid I’ll be bored or insecure if I don’t have a lot of stuff. I flatter someone because I’m afraid he or she won’t like me if I don’t.

Look at most sin and underneath it you’ll find fear. I’m afraid that if I risk obeying God, He won’t take care of me. I won’t be all right and something will happen that I can’t handle.

Adapted from If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat (Zondervan, 2001)

Prayer for the Week: Heavenly Father, You know what I fear. Help me to give you that fear today. May I rest in your peace and strength no matter what happens.

 

Sierra Leone: A Mother’s Day Story

Mother's Day 1A Hallmark card rarely makes it into the hands of a mother in Sierra Leone.  In fact, across a very wide world, messages of gratitude aren’t delivered via mail.

Mother’s Day for most of in the developed world is usually a time of celebration.  But, in Sub-Saharan Africa where nearly half of the world’s maternal deaths occur, giving birth can be very dangerous.  This is especially true in rural, underserved areas where health care is often lacking and preventable complications during childbirth are often undiagnosed and untreated.

In West Africa, Sierra Leone’s First Lady is addressing the issue of maternal and child mortality and she’s turning to The United Methodist Church and other faith communities to help.  In Africa and beyond, United Methodists reach out to mothers and mothers-to-be by bringing life to their children – vulnerable children whose lives are fragile and short-lived because of malaria and other diseases.

Your heart will be touched when you take a moment to watch love in action in a special Mother’s Day video feature from United Methodist Communications.

Mom, This Is for You

Mother's Day 2This is the special occasion little ones use crayons to write “I Love You Mommy,” Dad slips mom a mushy card on her pillow, and the family gathers for an all-you-can-eat buffet honoring Mom.

On this Mother’s Day, we encourage you to “grab a hankie” and watch a video greeting card featuring real moms, real families and real stories about moms who have chosen to help the world by raising children to be good human beings.

As the photographer flips between a myriad of memories, you’ll hear these words repeatedly, “Without my mom, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”  

Share this Mother’s Day tribute with the whole family.

Enjoy “ A Mother’s Blessing: Real Life Reflections Message.

This Mother’s Day, give Mom something better than flowers or chocolate

Mother's Day 3Better than flowers or chocolate-how can that be?  Flowers are a treasured tradition and chocolate is, well  – chocolate – what more needs to be said?

You know Mom will appreciate these things, but there is something that would mean even more.

You already know what that is.  You know she would love it if every Sunday you were with her in Church.

It isn’t simply your physical presence that is meaningful, although she loves to be with you.  What would make it meaningful is if you were coming as a faithful follower of Jesus.

There may be many reasons why “faithful follower of Jesus” does not describe your life today. Maybe:

  •  When you were young, you were excited about the Church and Jesus, but you feel you’ve outgrown it.
  •  You had questions the Church couldn’t answer, so you went looking elsewhere and never came back.
  •  Life is simply too busy and Church never was much of a priority.

Whatever the reason, take some time to consider Jesus.  Here are some websites that might be useful:

http://www.whoisjesus-really.com

http:1lwww.allaboutjesuschrist.org/who-is-jesus-n.htm

http:1lwww.christiananswers.net/jesus/home.html http://www.whosjesus.com

Mother's Day

 

 

After doing that-tell Mom about it, talk about it and give her joy that won’t fade like even the most beautiful flowers do.

Central Church

Downsizing with Class – Possessions and Priorities

PossessionsFrom start to finish, the thrust of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was that God’s way of living contradicts the world’s way.

If you want to live for God, He warned, you must be ready to say and do what seems strange to the world. His first-century words about what people work for read as if they were specifically spoken for the benefit of our consumer-driven age.

Interact with God’s Word

Matthew 6:19-21, Matthew 6:25, Matthew 6:31-33

  1. What is the answer to Jesus’ question in verse 25b? What else is there?
  2. Why don’t we need to be preoccupied by these things, according to verses 26-30?
  3. What are typical “treasures” for upwardly mobile people in our society?
  4. Why did Jesus say that majoring on accumulating these things is a mistake?
  5. Verse 21 says that our thoughts will gravitate toward whatever our treasure is. How can we shift our focus, according to verses 20 and 33?
  6. What is the divine guarantee (v. 33) for those who make following His will their priority?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to help you trust Him for your basic needs and to keep your focus on Kingdom concerns.

Matthew 6:19-21, 25, 31-33

19 Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.

25 So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing?

31 So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. 32 Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, 33 and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to hold my belongings loosely so that I’m not diverted from Your Kingdom priorities.

 

COVID-19 – Beaver County Metrics – 5-3-2022

COVID-19 Integrated County View:

Here are the weekly COVID-19 statistics for Beaver County, PA as of May 3, 2022, showing Beaver County  in the SUBSTANTIAL category.

  • The Incidence Rate increased from 71.9 to 94.5 (an increase of 22.6, or 31.4%) remaining in the SUBSTANTIAL category for the seventh week in a row.
  • The PCR Positivity Rate remained roughly constant at 10.6 to 10.2, in the SUBSTANTIAL category.

(Allegheny County’s figures also increased slightly in the SUBSTANTIAL category during the past week, moving from 94.2 to 111.3 and from 10.8% to 13.0).


Pandemic Death Toll:

Almost 15 million deaths, including just over 1 million in the United States, have been directly or indirectly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new estimate from the World Health Organization on May 5. The report measures a metric known as excess deaths—the number of deaths above what would be statistically expected under normal circumstances during a given year. 

Officials say the analysis paints a more holistic portrait of the virus’s impact, including increased overdose deaths, deaths by suicide, and more. (Also, for political reasons, many governments under-report their deaths.)  For context, the current reported death toll directly attributed to the coronavirus is around 6.25 million according to Johns Hopkins University, or less than half the estimated excess death total.

In the US, new cases have doubled in the past month to just over 60,000 per day, though the figure remains the lowest since last summer.  Daily deaths have jumped to over 550 per day, after remaining under 400 per day for the past two weeks.  


The new “COVID-19 COMMUNITY LEVEL” index:

Starting on March 3, 2022, for hospitals and healthcare systems, the CDC is also issuing a new “COVID-19 Community Level index that measures the “current potential for strain on the health system” (in other words, the ability of hospitals to take in and treat additional folks with COVID-19.)  

This new index is in addition to the CDC’s “COVID-19 Integrated County View” which they continue to publish each week.

The CDC currently reports that current “COVID-19 Community Level” is LOW, meaning that hospital beds are available for new COVID-19 cases. 


  • At Central Church, in order to look out for our older folks, as well as the unvaccinated or immunocompromised, we are continuing to look to the CDC’s“COVID-19 Integrated County View” to evaluate which protective measures and protocols that we should observe to protect all of the folks who come through our doors for in-person worship or for other reasons, such as to participate in our community feeding ministry outreach.

  • Small Group Meetings (Sunday School, AA, other meetings):

The current guidance on when and how gatherings can take place is based upon the threshold of infection rate.

For Indoor meetings/Sunday School to resume, the 7-day average of daily cases for gatherings that include unvaccinated folks should be:

    • 1.5-2.0 – for everyone except those at high risk; and
    • Less than 1.0 for those at high risk.
    • Our current level is 13.5, so resuming small group meetings may not be feasible for the immediate future.

As the pandemic continues, we are continuing our efforts to:

  • Disinfect Central Church prior to every worship service and feeding ministry event using EPA-registered products in compliance with CDC standards to kill germs and reduce the risk of spreading infection, and in compliance with EPA criteria for use against SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; and

  • We have significantly expanded our new medical-grade HEPA-13 air filtration equipment in our Sanctuary, which is rated to remove COVID-19 from the air, which now provides 10.7 complete air changes every hour in our Sanctuary (every 6 minutes)!

  • In addition, our Parlor, Church Office, Pastor’s Office, UMYF Meeting Room, Fellowship Hall, and Nursery all offer even higher levels of air changes per hour using HEPA-13 or HEPA-14 filtration.

  • (5 air changes per hour is the EPA’s general recommended standard, and the EPA now recommends 8-15 air changes per hour in Churches. )  

Central Church

Downsizing with Class – God’s Combo

PossessionsKey Bible Verse: You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  –  Acts 20:35

Bonus Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:9-13

Recently my adult daughter decided that she was no longer going to play her drum set because she’d acquired other interests. We agreed to get rid of the set since it cluttered our family room.

Initially we talked about selling the set, but we decided that we’d take a few days to think about other options. We prayed for inspiration.

Eventually we came up with the idea of giving the drums to a percussion student at an inner-city school. I called the school on Friday and told the secretary that we’d like to donate the instruments to a student. She promised to explore the possibilities.

The following Monday I received a call from the school’s music director. “You’re not going to believe this,” he said. “We were talking last week about starting a band and wondering where we’d get a saxophone and drums. When I came into the office today, I discovered a donated sax and a note from you about drums.”

That day my daughter and I delivered the set to the school. Initially we thought we were doing a good deed by giving away the drums. We discovered instead that God had called us to be caretakers of His drums.

—Quentin Schultze in Here I Am

My Response: I sensed I was “caretaker” of what God had entrusted to me when …

Thought to Apply: We have been called to stretch out the hands of God to a lonely, needy world.—Source Unknown

Adapted from Here I Am (Baker, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to hold my belongings loosely so that I’m not diverted from Your Kingdom priorities.

 

A Prayer in Song for Ukraine – “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”

Precious Lord, protect our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in Christ,

Let them be unified by your spirit.  You are their Rock and their salvation.

“Rescue me from my enemies, on Lord, for I hide myself in you.”  – Psalm 143:9.

 

 

About the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus:

 

The Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (KSOC) was founded and began performing sacred masterpieces of classical music in 1993.  These pieces—including Handel’s Messiah—were banned under Communist rule.

 

As the Iron Curtain lifted and this music became known to Ukrainian musicians, they described it as “an explosion of light.”  These time-honored compositions powerfully communicate texts that come directly from Scripture, declaring God’s glory to the nations.

 

For the musicians of the KSOC, music is both profession and calling. Its members are graduates of the world-renowned Tchaikovsky National Music Academy and now regularly perform in Ukraine and tour the U.S. and Canada. They have appeared at National Opera Theater in Kyiv and played in numerous churches, colleges, and concert halls throughout the world. 

 

Downsizing with Class – Beat the System

PossessionsKey Bible Verse: Doesn’t life consist of more than food or clothing? … Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things. Matthew 6:25-32

Bonus Reading: Matthew 6:19-21, 25, 31-34

My wife and I enjoy finding ways around the economic pressures of our world. Bargain hunting, using coupons, and looking for deals can help us acquire the things we need without being extravagant.

When we were engaged, Christie started looking for a wedding gown. Several of our friends had spent in excess of $1,000 for theirs, but no matter how romantic we felt, we simply couldn’t rationalize such an expenditure for the sake of a six-hour afternoon.

We prayed about it, and she went bargain hunting. The end result? A beautiful gown in Filenes’ Basement in Boston for $29.

During my seminary days, I needed a suit for leadership in Sunday worship, but I had no suit and little money. Again, we prayed. Then we headed off to a “railroad salvage” warehouse to start shopping. For only $25 I got a Pierre Cardin suit that looked tailored to me and perfectly met my needs.

Beat the system. Used cars, discount outlets, buying in volume through cooperatives, and taking the time to research before purchasing can enhance our stewardship and cut back our spending. In the process, we can have fun.

—Paul Borthwick in How to Be a World-Class Christian

My Response: One way I’ve found to “beat the system” is to …

Thought to Apply: Resolve not to be poor; whatever you have, spend less.—Samuel Johnson (English writer)

Adapted from How to Be a World-Class Christian (OM Literature, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to hold my belongings loosely so that I’m not diverted from Your Kingdom priorities.

 

Downsizing with Class – When Less Is More

PossessionsKey Bible Verse: You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and wine. Psalm 4:7

Bonus Reading: Job 31:24-28

Because we’ve lived on a modest income through most of our marriage, my wife wondered out loud one day if she should get a job to ease financial pressures. Yet if she worked even part-time, we realized, we’d pay more income tax and the net financial benefit would be minimal.

We reviewed the benefits of Donna remaining a stay-at-home parent. We eat nutritious meals because she invests time in planning and preparing meals. At the same time we save money because she makes time to be an excellent purchaser, not relying on packaged meals or fast food.  Her creative gifts are obvious through how she cares for and decorates our home.

The greatest advantage has been her availability to our children. She involved them in projects for both work and play when they were younger so that creativity, instead of television, nurtured their development.

Though we’re closing in on the empty nest, the kids thrive on knowing that she’s available when one of them needs reassurance, help, or advice. We’re able to plan our schedules without considering another job commitment. And her involvement in teaching small group Bible studies has changed other women’s lives.

—Grant McDowell in Alberta

My Response: Is a second family income required for subsistence or elected to support lifestyle choices?

Thought to Apply: One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.—Sidney Coe Howard (playwright)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to hold my belongings loosely so that I’m not diverted from Your Kingdom priorities.

 

Downsizing with Class – Staying Freed Up

PossessionsKey Bible Verse: If your wealth increases, don’t make it the center of your life.  – Psalm 62:10

Bonus Reading: Luke 12:16-21

How do you decide what you’ll buy and own?

For seven years my wife and I owned a weekend lake house just outside of town. Virtually every Friday afternoon we’d “kidnap” our children and spend the weekend doing country things.

When our daughter turned 11, though, her in-town friends became very important to her. We only went to the lake house once that year, so I decided to sell the property to a neighbor who’d expressed an interest in purchasing it. That decision, and similar ones I’ve made since—to not own anything we don’t use on a regular basis—has kept my wife and me lean and responsive to God’s leading in our lives.

A neighbor of mine owns a 1957 Chris Craft Sportsman inboard boat. It’s magnificent. He’s completely restored the mahogany to its original luster. I love the throaty purr of its engine when he drives by.

Three years ago I told him that I’d be interested if he ever wanted to sell the boat. He recently decided to take me up on that offer. But as we prepared to close the deal, I had second thoughts. I concluded that I shouldn’t buy something just because I can, that denying myself the boat would be a good lesson in self-restraint and personal discipline.

—Patrick Morley in New Man

My Response: How can I tell whether I own my things or they own me?

Thought to Apply: He has much who needs least. Don’t create necessities for yourself. —Jose Escriva (Spanish founder of Opus Dei)

Adapted from New Man (7-8/00)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to hold my belongings loosely so that I’m not diverted from Your Kingdom priorities.

 

Downsizing with Class – The Good Old Days

PossessionsKey Bible Verse: Enjoy prosperity while you can. But when hard times strike, realize that both come from God.  – Ecclesiastes 7:14

Bonus Reading:  Deuteronomy 8:7-18

“When you are my age,” wrote James Michaels in Forbes magazine, “You don’t have to ask: Are Americans really materially better off than they were in the recent past?

Those of us born in the 1920s and with vivid memories of the Depression simply know how much better things are today. … If he was fortunate enough to have central heating (less than one third of the population did in 1920), the middle class dad had to pull himself from bed at 4:00 a.m. on cold winter mornings to unbank the furnace and shovel coal; if he overslept, the pipes froze.

But he usually didn’t have to rake leaves or shovel snow. Not in the 1930s. That was done by shabby, humble men who knocked at the back door in the mornings asking for a warm meal in return for doing chores.”

Michaels goes on to remind us that:

  • 80 years ago the typical workweek was at least 60 hours.
  • The leisure industry didn’t exist because no one had leisure.
  • For half of the population, the family toilet was a hole in the backyard.
  • Life expectancy was about 54 years, which was just as well, because there were few pensions beyond what a gold watch may have brought at a pawnshop.

—M. Craig Barnes in Hustling God

My Response: I’ll thank God for the prosperity I enjoy compared to other times and places.

Adapted from Hustling God (Zondervan, 1999)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to hold my belongings loosely so that I’m not diverted from Your Kingdom priorities.

 

Downsizing with Class – Bucking the Trend

PossessionsWho Said It …Cliff Denay

Clifford E. Denay Jr. is an outdoorsman who loves running, walking, hiking, bicycling, and kayaking with his wife Jane. They have camped and traveled regularly with their children Nathaniel and Emily, now young adults.

Cliff teaches psychology at the community college in Petoskey, Michigan, and also provides its students with mental health counseling. He’s involved in the leadership of his church.

What He Said …Bucking the Trend

I had been out of the real estate market for 17 years. Recently I walked back in—and quickly discovered that you can’t always have what you want.

I’m not talking about affordability. Sure, cost is always an issue. But I’m talking about size—the restrictions that developers place on the size of dwellings. I examined the restrictions on the lot we were considering. The homes on either side were big. “This may not be the property for us,” I told our realtor.

“Why not, Cliff?” she asked. “You said it’s what you’re looking for.”

“The square footage requirement. It’s too big.”

“How big were you thinking,” she asked.

“Small,” I answered. “Smaller than you think.” I sighed.

My wife and I are clearly out of step with the times, but in step with Solomon who said, “have the wisdom to show restraint” (Proverbs 23:4, NIV).

Neither of us believes that “trophy” homes are a good use of the earth’s resources. It’s hard to think small in a “super-sized” culture. Hard, but not impossible.

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to hold my belongings loosely so that I’m not diverted from Your Kingdom priorities.

Success? By Whose Yardstick? – True Success

SuccessProblems, like the inheritance dispute brought to Jesus here, were often submitted to rabbis to settle.

Jesus’ response to this unnamed questioner sidestepped his surface issue. But it zeroed in on his heart.

Similarly, when we bring a problem to God in prayer, instead of providing the surface solution we’ve requested, He may reveal what we need to change.

 

 

Interact with God’s Word

Luke 12:13-21

  1. The prosperous farmer of Jesus’ hypothetical illustration was well positioned (v. 19) for retirement. Was this what Jesus was criticizing?
  2. What attitude, implied in verse 15b, made this landowner a fool?
  3. What, judging from verse 21, was omitted from the farmer’s priorities?
  4. How does the advertising industry work at cross-purposes to the admonition of verse 15a?
  5. Are you taking Jesus’ warning seriously? Have you found a way to tune out the constant enticements to buy?
  6. How can you concentrate more on your relationship with God and on doing His work?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God to work on your dreams, bringing them into alignment with His “good and pleasing and perfect” will for your life.

Luke 12:13-21

13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” 15 Then he said, “Beware! Don’t be greedy for what you don’t have. Real life is not measured by how much we own.”

16 And he gave an illustration: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 In fact, his barns were full to overflowing. 18 So he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store everything.

19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?’ 21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Prayer for the Week: I realize, Lord, that I can only become a success in Your eyes if I understand what true success looks like. Please show me.

Why Go to Church?

Church attendance is down. Even with most churches gathering physically again, it hasn’t reached pre-pandemic levels.
 
Church Humor was wrestling with the question about how we can inspire people to return to church. So, they turned to that vast reservoir of truth and wisdom: Twitter dot com.
 
They put out the question:
 
Why should people drag their butts outa bed and go to church on Sunday mornings?
 
* One person responded that butts are sinful and shouldn’t be in church at all A fair point.
 
* Another said, “Those bulletins aren’t going to read themselves.”
 
A few more responses:
 
* “Because podcasts can’t give hugs or the Lord’s Supper.”
* “Not for the coffee.”
* “Because it’s free.”
 
There were other reasons given, including the fact that there’s something transcendent and beautiful about gathering as a body of believers to worship the living God. People talked about the obligation we have to each other and to ourselves. “When you want community the least is when you need it the most,” one woman wrote.
 
All great reasons. Whichever one resonates with you, Church Humor hopes that it will inspire you to ditch the pajamas this Sunday and get your butt to church.
 

COVID-19 – Beaver County Metrics – 4-28-2022

COVID-19 Integrated County View:

Here are the weekly COVID-19 statistics for Beaver County, PA as of April 28, 2022, with both indexes  indicating the start of another surge.

 

  • The Incidence Rate decreased slightly from 54.2 to 71.9 (an increase of 17.7, or 32.6%) remaining in the SUBSTANTIAL category for the sixth week in a row.
  • The PCR Positivity Rate increased from 8.4 to 10.6, moving into the SUBSTANTIAL category.

(Allegheny County’s figures also increased slightly in the SUBSTANTIAL category during the past week, moving from 79.8 to 94.2 and from 9.5% to 10.8).


The new “COVID-19 COMMUNITY LEVEL” index:

Starting on March 3, 2022, for hospitals and healthcare systems, the CDC is also issuing a new “COVID-19 Community Level index that measures the “current potential for strain on the health system” (in other words, the ability of hospitals to take in and treat additional folks with COVID-19.)  

This new index is in addition to the CDC’s “COVID-19 Integrated County View” which they continue to publish each week.

The CDC currently reports that current “COVID-19 Community Level” is LOW, meaning that hospital beds are available for new COVID-19 cases. 


  • At Central Church, in order to look out for our older folks, as well as the unvaccinated or immunocompromised, we are continuing to look to the CDC’s“COVID-19 Integrated County View” to evaluate which protective measures and protocols that we should observe to protect all of the folks who come through our doors for in-person worship or for other reasons, such as to participate in our community feeding ministry outreach.

  • Small Group Meetings (Sunday School, AA, other meetings):

The current guidance on when and how gatherings can take place is based upon the threshold of infection rate.

For Indoor meetings/Sunday School to resume, the 7-day average of daily cases for gatherings that include unvaccinated folks should be:

    • 1.5-2.0 – for everyone except those at high risk; and
    • Less than 1.0 for those at high risk.
    • Our current level is 10.2, so resuming small group meetings may not be feasible for the immediate future.

As the pandemic continues, we are continuing our efforts to:

  • Disinfect Central Church prior to every worship service and feeding ministry event using EPA-registered products in compliance with CDC standards to kill germs and reduce the risk of spreading infection, and in compliance with EPA criteria for use against SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; and

  • We have significantly expanded our new medical-grade HEPA-13 air filtration equipment in our Sanctuary, which is rated to remove COVID-19 from the air, which now provides 10.7 complete air changes every hour in our Sanctuary (every 6 minutes)!

  • In addition, our Parlor, Church Office, Pastor’s Office, UMYF Meeting Room, Fellowship Hall, and Nursery all offer even higher levels of air changes per hour using HEPA-13 or HEPA-14 filtration.

  • (5 air changes per hour is the EPA’s general recommended standard, and the EPA now recommends 8-15 air changes per hour in Churches. )  

Central Church

Downsizing with Class – When Less Is More

PossessionsKey Bible Verse: You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and wine. Psalm 4:7

Bonus Reading: Job 31:24-28

Because we’ve lived on a modest income through most of our marriage, my wife wondered out loud one day if she should get a job to ease financial pressures. Yet if she worked even part-time, we realized, we’d pay more income tax and the net financial benefit would be minimal.

We reviewed the benefits of Donna remaining a stay-at-home parent. We eat nutritious meals because she invests time in planning and preparing meals. At the same time we save money because she makes time to be an excellent purchaser, not relying on packaged meals or fast food.  Her creative gifts are obvious through how she cares for and decorates our home.

The greatest advantage has been her availability to our children. She involved them in projects for both work and play when they were younger so that creativity, instead of television, nurtured their development.

Though we’re closing in on the empty nest, the kids thrive on knowing that she’s available when one of them needs reassurance, help, or advice. We’re able to plan our schedules without considering another job commitment. And her involvement in teaching small group Bible studies has changed other women’s lives.

—Grant McDowell in Alberta

My Response: Is a second family income required for subsistence or elected to support lifestyle choices?

Thought to Apply: One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.—Sidney Coe Howard (playwright)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me to hold my belongings loosely so that I’m not diverted from Your Kingdom priorities.

 

Success? By Whose Yardstick? – Caught Up in the Game

SuccessKey Bible Verse: “Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it!” Jeremiah 45:5

Bonus Reading: Philippians 3:7-9a

They couldn’t have been more than 15 years old, parentless boys in an orphanage outside of Moscow. My traveling companions and I spoke at their assembly.

Afterwards several boys challenged us to a soccer match on the snow-crusted field. It was a rousing game. Toward the end, though, I began to push my teammates. I didn’t want just to play; I wanted to win. I goaded them on, and even got a bit rough in my play.

That evening one of my friends called me on it. “What were we there for?” he asked. “It seemed like you were more fixed on winning a game than on connecting with the kids or caring for them.” He was right. Our purpose for visiting the orphanage was to show love to the children there. But caught up in the game, my actions were guided by an entirely different goal.

I articulate Jesus’ definition of success (“Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant”) to myself. But then, more often than I’d like to admit, I get caught up in the game and indulge in silliness like this—not so much in sports now, but in regards to career, financial resources, or reputation.

That’s why I must consistently take time to question myself and refocus, and to be accountable to others pursuing a similar path.

—Jedd Medifind in The Revolutionary Communicator

My Response: How can I stay focused on what’s really important?

Thought to Apply: Ever notice that people never say “It’s only a game” when they’re winning?—Ivern Bell (writer)

Adapted from The Revolutionary Communicator (Relevant Books, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: I realize, Lord, that I can only become a success in Your eyes if I understand what true success looks like. Please show me.

 

Success? By Whose Yardstick? – Goal to Go

SuccessKey Bible Verse: Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us. 2 Corinthians 10:13

Bonus Reading: James 4:13-16

I recently heard an interview with a football player ready to start the NFL season. He said, “Anything short of winning the Super Bowl will be considered a failure.”

Hmmm. That’s all well and good, but what about the successes along the way? What about the relationships that he could enjoy, the people he could help, the honor he could bring to God by being a good man instead of just being a good athlete?

This NFL player probably made his coach and team owner happy by thinking this way. But when the season is over and he looks at himself in the mirror, he’s probably still asking himself, “Why am I here?”

We’re not in control of the outcome; God is. So why do we base our success on something that isn’t in our control? Why do we allow some other person to dictate our success? Why do we allow some goal to determine our joy?

Unless we surrender the outcome to God, the goal will become our god, and we will bow down to that.

God designed you to live fully and to celebrate life regardless of your circumstances. Part of success is surrendering the outcome to God and being content that God has you exactly where He wants you.

—Larry Julian in God Is My Success

My Response: How could I focus less on career goals and, instead, celebrate more little successes along the way?

Thought to Apply: To find his place and fill it is success for a man.—Phillips Brooks (New England minister)

Adapted from God Is My Success (Warner Faith, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: I realize, Lord, that I can only become a success in Your eyes if I understand what true success looks like. Please show me.

 

Success? By Whose Yardstick? – Whose Dream?

SuccessKey Bible Verse: Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed. Joshua 1:8

Bonus Reading: Psalm 1:1-3

I had been sold a bag of goods. I’d embraced the American Dream as the way to happiness, and come up empty. All the outward signs of success were mine: a beautiful home, nice car, blooming career, and lovely wife. But inside I felt like a desert. Something was missing.

I began to search the Scriptures and talk to God about my emptiness. My eyes soon came to rest on today’s Key Bible Verse. Joshua had been given the huge task of leading his people in occupying the land God had promised them. They’d have to fight for it. But God assured Joshua that he’d succeed if he made sure to do things His way.

Suddenly it hit me: I’d let culture define success for me. But God’s idea of success is to pursue His plans for our lives, obey His Word, and use our lives for the good of others. Joshua got the message, and he and his people won big.

I decided to do life God’s way. I filled my mind with Scripture and sought God’s plans for my life. Good things happened. Like Joshua, I saw God work through me in wonderful ways. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction I never found while pursuing the American Dream became mine.

—Mike Raether in Montana

My Response: Which take on success is more motivating to me? Why?

Thought to Apply: Don’t be grieved if you don’t enjoy popular favor; grieve rather that you don’t live as well and carefully as befits a servant of God.—Thomas  à Kempis

Prayer for the Week: I realize, Lord, that I can only become a success in Your eyes if I understand what true success looks like. Please show me.

 

Success? By Whose Yardstick? – Speechless in Seattle

SuccessKey Bible Verse: How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness! Ecclesiastes 5:10

Bonus Reading: Psalm 128:1-4

A corporation president called to offer me a job. He’d triple whatever I was making now. I’d never heard God’s voice so clearly! As my wife and I climbed on a plane, I envisioned a bigger house, newer car, security, success.

During the job interview I asked how much time I’d be on the road. “Most of the time,” admitted the president. As we began the flight home my wife said, “The kids and I want to remember you for more than your rear end going out the front door.” But I was determined to take that job.

During a short layover in Seattle, suddenly the restroom I was in began to shake. Knowing I was going to die, images flashed before me of friends and family—but not one of a car, home, or bulging bank account. It took an earthquake to teach me that a hundred years from now, no one will remember what my house looked like, the model of my car, or the thickness of my wallet.

Back on the plane I scribbled these words on a napkin: “I’ll consider myself a success when I’m walking close to Jesus every day, building a strong marriage, loving my kids, performing meaningful work, and making others homesick for heaven.”

—Phil Callaway in Alberta

My Response: To me, real success is …

Thought to Apply: The man who lives for himself—even if he gains much wealth, position, or power—is a failure. The man who lives for others has achieved true success.—Norman Vincent Peale (minister & author)

Prayer for the Week: I realize, Lord, that I can only become a success in Your eyes if I understand what true success looks like. Please show me.

 

Success? By Whose Yardstick? – Keeping Up Appearances

SuccessKey Bible Verse: Most people are motivated to success by their envy of their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless. Ecclesiastes 4:4

Bonus Reading: Philippians 3:17-19

To most people, according to author Denis Haack, “Success means attaining some measure of money, fame, power, and self-fulfillment—and then looking the part.”

I’d say that’s a pretty accurate definition of our society’s version of success. I mean, think about it. Why are you wearing the clothes you have on? Or why do you drive the car you do? Why do you live in the house or the neighborhood you do?

“But Steve,” you say, “I can’t afford a nicer car or a better house.”

That’s right. But if you had the money to get a better car, nicer clothes, or a bigger home, you’d buy them, right? Most of us would. Why? So people will notice and think we’re successful. After all, in our society, how successful are we—really—if no one notices?

Once, when Socrates saw a woman all dressed up for a trip to the city, he remarked, “I suspect that your trip is not to see the city, but for the city to see you.” It’s sobering, even heartbreaking, to realize how much of our lives we spend on the futile and frantic attempt to become and appear more successful than the very people Jesus has called us to serve and to honor above ourselves.

—Steven James in Becoming Real

My Response: How have I sometimes let concerns about image trump substance?

Adapted from Becoming Real (Howard, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: I realize, Lord, that I can only become a success in Your eyes if I understand what true success looks like. Please show me.

 

Central Church – Online Worship Service – The Second Sunday of Easter – 4-24-2022

On this very warm, sunny second Sunday of Easter, when the coronavirus prevents many of us from gathering in Central Church’s Sanctuary to worship in body, let us join together in spirit with our online worship service.

  • Today’s online worship service includes a favorite HYMN with lyrics so you can sing along!

Our prior online worship services are available in our online library, and can be viewed on demand, and be sure to join us in worship, either online or in person, every week! 

 



AND…

  • Both the video on Facebook and the video on YouTube now have closed captions (if you turn them on) so you can read along with the spoken words during the service!
    •  To activate captions in Facebook, click on the Settings “gear” symbol in the bottom right corner of the image, and then click on the “Off” button to change it to “On” for “Auto-Generated Captions”.
    • To activate captions in YouTube, click on the “CC” icon in the lower right corner of the image to toggle captions On and Off.
      • A brief comment on our new closed caption capability – The closed captions on our videos use voice-recognition software similar to that used on Television broadcasts, and with similar accuracy!  Sometimes, the captions are not entirely accurate, so if you read something incongruous, back up the video a few seconds and listen carefully for what is actually being said. 
      • Also, it takes a while to generate the captions after the videos are published, so if the captions are not available immediately after the video is published, just check back a little later.

To begin, simply click on one of the links below to join with the folks who have already made their way into our digital Sanctuary.  You can find this week’s online worship service on both Facebook and YouTube at the following coordinates:

(If the video doesn’t come up after clicking on the link, just copy and paste the address into your browser search bar.)

Central Church

 

 

Success? By Whose Yardstick? – Distinction by Device

SuccessWho Said It…Tom Petersen

Young Tom first darkened a church door when he needed a pastor’s signature on his Eagle Scout application. That started him on the path to faith. He followed his grandfather and mother into the newspaper business.

Now in the corporate world, Tom looks for the humor in work to ensure that it doesn’t become an idol. A founding elder in his church, he’s developed a passion for encouraging others who, like him, struggle to balance jobs, family, and faith.

What He Said…Distinction by Device

The work world has dozens of ways to measure your success: your salary, your title, or the number of people who report to you. These days, even electronic gadgets can confer status.

The competition to have the latest things can become a virtual electronic arms race. One guy (they are always guys when it comes to technology one-upmanship) shows up at a meeting with a color screen cell phone. Someone brings a camera phone that connects with the Internet. Someone else shows up with the combination cell phone and PDA (Precocious Demanding Accessory) with built-in GPS (Gratuitous Place Specifier). It finally gets out of hand when the boss arrives with his combination laptop, photocopier, espresso machine, and electronic fish finder.

We mustn’t let trivial things define our success. It’s good to be recognized for our good work. But beyond that, a lasting, beautiful way of defining ourselves should be to center our identities in Jesus Christ. We’re to set our hearts and minds on things above.

Prayer for the Week: I realize, Lord, that I can only become a success in Your eyes if I understand what true success looks like. Please show me.

 

From Career to Calling – What Is My Calling?

From Career to CallingJeremiah’s 40-year career was an assignment from God. As a prophet to Judah, he never achieved material success or influence, and often became discouraged.

But he remained faithful to his depressing task through imprisonment, the fall of Jerusalem (which he had warned about), and deportation.

Interact with God’s Word

Jeremiah 1:4-10

  1. What words did God use (vv. 5, 10) to describe His action in giving Jeremiah his life’s work?
  2. Do you see this assignment as arbitrary or based on God’s intimate knowledge of Jeremiah’s potential?
  3. What was the nature of Jeremiah’s assignment?
  4. What did Jeremiah say (v. 6) made him unqualified for this assignment?
  5. How did God deal with Jeremiah’s objection?
  6. Do you respond to new challenges with self-confidence?
  7. Are you confident that if God gives you a job to do He will provide all you need to do it?
  8. Did God’s promise to protect Jeremiah (v. 8) insulate him from trouble?
  9. Do you believe God has given you a specific call or assignment?
  10. If not, what mission, common to all believers, should you pursue—unless or until His guidance becomes more specific?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for an understanding of what His calling for you is, and for your ability to reflect glory on Him as you fill it cheerfully, competently, and diligently.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

4 The LORD gave me a message. He said, 5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.” 6 “O Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”

7 “Don’t say that,” the LORD replied, “for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you. I, the LORD, have spoken!” 9 Then the LORD touched my mouth and said, “See, I have put my words in your mouth!

10 Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms. You are to uproot some and tear them down, to destroy and overthrow them. You are to build others up and plant them.”

Prayer for the Week: Lord, let me know clearly the work You are calling me to do in life. And grant me the courage, love, and lasting dedication to answer Your call. —Saint Meinrad

 

From Career to Calling – Career Path

From Career to CallingKey Bible Verse: Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t!  – Jeremiah 45:5

Bonus Reading:  Jeremiah 1:4-10

Too often we make our career decisions strictly based on salary, benefits, position, influence, and titles. But Jesus warned that you can have all those things and still lose your soul.

The question isn’t, what are you doing for a living? The deeper issue is, what are you doing with your life? Why did God put you here on the earth? We need to move beyond a career orientation to a mission focus.

A friend took me out to lunch to share what God was doing in his life. He’s worked for about ten years as a business consultant with multinational corporations in England, Brazil, and Italy. Now he’s starting his own consulting firm in the Midwest. “If you’re happy and productive in your current job,” he remarked, “the only reason to take a promotion is to leverage your position for the Kingdom of God.”

That’s a tremendous insight. Don’t just climb the ladder to get to the top. Use the higher position to impact the world for Jesus Christ. Realize that God has put you where you are “for just such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

Understand that behind every open door stands the Lord God who rules heaven and earth. What a huge difference it makes to see all of life as belonging to Him!

—Ray Pritchard in The Incredible Journey of Faith

My Response: Shifting from a career to a mission focus would involve …

Thought to Apply: Life is not just a few years to spend on self-indulgence and career advancement. It is a privilege, a responsibility, a stewardship to be lived according to a much higher calling, God’s calling.—Elizabeth Dole

Adapted from The Incredible Journey of Faith (Crossway, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, let me know clearly the work You are calling me to do in life. And grant me the courage, love, and lasting dedication to answer Your call. —Saint Meinrad