Unlimited Generosity

Yesterday’s Commissioning service was an act of unlimited generosity full of unbounded love and joy in the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Thank you to my church family and friends for bearing witness to my servant vows, for your prayers, encouragement and support.   I am truly humbled in my position to serve as Worship and Outreach Minister to the Parishes of Coniston and Torver.  In His grace and love and light we stand together.  Bless the Lord your souls.  Love, Pamela

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A New Beginning

At St. Andrew’s Church we follow the lectionary and what better place to enter the new year than the baptism of Jesus.  Peter chose this opportunity to bring us back to foundations with a talk that really spoke to me.

For one thing, I was reminded of the fact that God’s time is completely outside of the world’s time.  Can you imagine establishing a life changing, world changing, mission in three short years?  Just like God took Abraham when he was a good old age and asked him to walk to an unknown destination, those who listen and walk in faith will be able to move mountains.  Nothing extraodinary will take place by being bound to the norm.  No matter where we are, no matter how few or many years are in front of us, there will be something that we are being called to do or be which may defy all normal human conventions.  When we receive the call, we are to move and act in faith.

We are going to focus on these revelations and Peter’s points in our beginning prayer and praise service for the new year on Wednesday.  Our opening hymn in the words and music of Graham Kendrick says it all, ‘All heaven waits with bated breath for saints on earth to pray.’

 

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Pray in Confidence, Pray in Power, Pray Often

I don’t think any of us would argue that we are supposed to pray. I don’t think any of us would say we pray enough. I don’t think any of us would say that prayer is ineffective. However, some of us might be tempted to say my prayer is not powerful or effective.

It is easy to come to that conclusion. After all there are many verses similar to Proverbs 15:29. The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. How about James 5:16? Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. We are also reminded that we all sin and fall short of God’s glory. We know prayer is effective… when offered up by a righteous person. I don’t know about you, but I often don’t feel like I belong in that class very often, the class of the righteous.

This is where the grace of God comes in. It is part of the mystery of God that we who are unrighteous can be considered as righteous before God’s throne because of Jesus. Listen to what Paul said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 1:30. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. You see, righteousness is required for God to hear and respond to our prayers, but the good news is, it is not a righteousness that we have to achieve through our own actions. The righteousness acceptable before God is the righteousness of Christ which has been imparted to us.

Have you ever been part of, or overheard a conversation, where some imagine what they would do if they were God? Well, think of this. Jesus is God. As we approach the Heavenly Father in prayer we do so covered in the righteousness of Jesus. With that kind of access and power, is it any wonder that prayer is referred to as the greatest tool of the Christian?

So what is our take away? Pray! Pray in confidence. Pray in power. Pray often. Even though we are aware of our shortcomings and unrighteous behavior, approach the throne in boldness and ask the Spirit to bring your prayers in line with the Divine will. If we can accomplish that, no door will remain closed to us and no enemy can stand. May you find new energy and confidence in your prayer life and may God’s power flow through your faith to the glory of God.

Faith Walk, Faith Presbyterian Church, Mike Martin, Pastor

November 2013

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

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Discerning God’s Will

This is another great letter from Pastor Mike Martin in Ohio

Someone asked me recently, How do you know Gods will? They were facing a major personal decision and wanted to make sure their decision was in concert with God’s plans for them. It is a great question and an important one. There is no hard and fast method for determining God’s will, but there are some key ingredients.

First, we can judge by God’s word. God will not ask us to do something contrary to the Scriptures.  Another key step is to actually talk to God and listen for the answer. You know that as prayer. The answer may come in many different forms, some of which are listed below.  Make sure to ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God’s great communicator, comforter and guide.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit doesn’t speak but you feel a nudge in a certain direction. At other times the Spirit speaks loudly and clearly! As you begin to make a decision, you will either feel a sense of peace or still be ill at ease. Simple peace just means the conflict is over. You can be at peace with the world which means you are in conflict with God. You are looking for God’s peace. You know it is God’s peace if the decision doesn’t make sense in the world’s terms but you still, inexplicably, have peace (e.g. leaving a six figure job to do a menial, low paying mission job).

Godly counsel is another voice God uses. This needs to be from people qualified in determining God’s voice in whom you have trust. The more people you have to counsel with, the better it is. As you ask and listen you will hear an emerging theme. Pay close attention to that leading.  Circumstances can play a part but should never be taken exclusively. God opens and closes doors. If a door is closed, perhaps you are being lead to self-examination in order to deal with something that God wants you to resolve. It may be unresolved sin, the conquering of a habit or attitude or the subjugation of your pride. Conversely, if a door looks closed and it suddenly opens, especially through miraculous provision, it can be an indicator of God’s guiding.

There are also some introspective questions to ask. Is there an option which will clearly bring more glory to God than another? Am I running from something or running toward something? I find that God has never asked me to do something easy that I am comfortable with. After all, I am already doing what I am comfortable with or else I wouldn’t be doing it! If the path outlined contains risk and/or sacrifice that is a good indicator. I am not talking about being irresponsible or reckless, but following God’s will is always a little scary and exciting at the same time. Will following one path cause me to abandon commitments and leave others high and dry? If so, is God asking you to sacrifice by staying, or asking you to leave them in God’s holy hands so they, too, can discern the divine will?

I have two final thoughts on discerning God’s will. Sometimes, even after going through a lengthy process covering all the items mentioned above, it seems like you are not getting any answers back. In reality sometimes it doesn’t matter which course of action you choose. God may not be indicating a preference because BOTH choices will be blessed. In such a case just make a choice and go for it with all your heart, soul and strength. Also, rest assured that making a mistake in discernment does not automatically mean you will incur God’s displeasure.  God is a God of grace, even in this process. If you make a mistake, repent and learn from it. In these situations, I find comfort in Romans 8:28. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love;

Do your best and watch and learn about God and the Godly ways.

Published in the August Faith Walk, Faith Presbyterian Church, Findlay, OH

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House of Prayer

I just received the May newsletter from Faith Church in Findlay, OH.  The lead article, by Pastor Michael Martin, talks about the importance of prayer and I’ve copied it here, straight from the Pastor’s Desk.

Every once in a while I sit down and evaluate my spiritual progress. During that time I often find there is something I need to correct. It is usually something important, but I have let it slip. I found one of those areas for myself this week, and I wanted to write about it because I think it can apply to the church’s ministry too: Prayer. I know, we all pray individually. We also read prayers together in worship. I suspect though, if we are honest, very few of us would confess to feeling we are good at prayer and pray enough.

Jesus covered every need and reason to pray in the words recorded in Matthew 7:7; Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. If there is a need in life we need but ask. He assures us that when we do, it is given. Sometimes there is something we don’t understand. In such a case we are invited to seek. For some reason, the necessity of seeking becomes part of the answer. I have been told before that we shouldn’t ask God why? It seems to me though that in the invitation to seek there is also the invitation to ask why. Sometimes, we don’t necessarily need anything and we don’t have any questions, but we feel the need to be in the presence of our Savior. We want to feel his warm embrace and hear his encouraging words. In these times Jesus bids us to knock. When we knock the door is opened and we are welcomed in.

I do need to increase the duration and the quality of my prayers. I feel the Lord is asking us as a church to increase our prayer life together. As he cleared the temple Jesus quoted God’s words from the Old Testament, My house will be called a house of prayer. We pray, but are we a house of prayer?

I am going to concentrate on this subject in my articles this summer. It will be the focus of a few sermons as well. I also plan to put it into action. I would like to start by having a designated time we could come together and pray for the church and each other. When our worship time changes to 9:30 in June, I plan to go into the sanctuary or a side room at 9:00 to pray. My goal is to pray for 15 minutes and then go out to fellowship before we worship. You are welcome to join me. Do you have a suggestion for a better time, one that would work better for you? Let me know. I will already be praying for you, but I would love to pray with you.

If you cannot join in one of the times of corporate prayer, I ask that you pray on your own. Pray for me. Pray for the church. Pray for your needs. Pray for your friends, your family and your enemies. Spend time with the Lord. Send him a knee mail. Just pray.

FAITH WALK, a message from Michael Martin

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

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NISCU Funding

NISCU is an organisation which has operated in the North West for about 25 years. They go into schools and bring the good news of Christ to children and youth in both primary and secondary schools.

Matt Rich, who works with secondary schools for NISCU, has been sending out letters to all the Furness area churches about funding their Furness operations. Some of the larger churches, which previously supported the charity, now employ their own youth workers. Most areas and schools are not blessed with these resources and the NISCU is able to fill the gap here as well as supercharge those areas which already have access to youth workers.

The charity (246661 previously) has recently changed its name and number so if you look up the number above, you’ll be able to learn something about their operations.  The outstanding need of the Furness team, if covered solely by the Furness Anglican community, is equivalent to £62 per church per month.  Matt is going to look into getting an interactive programme to tally fundraising to date.  June 6th is the decision date for planning their future spend.

Let’s pray together about the work of NISCU and lift it and the children whose lives are being changed to God in prayer.  Father God, glorify your name in this place.  Amen.

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Grace and Awe

The banner on this web-site is a portion of tarantula nebulae, an immense star forming region in nearby galaxy The Large Magellan Cloud first seen by Fernando de Magellan in the southern sky on his journey crossing the ocean.  It is only 180,000 light years away in the constellation of Dorado, named after a fish that rapidly changes colour when it dies.

This is a Hubble photograph and I find it truly awesome.  The same God whose grace has given me life has created the truly amazing constellations of stars in the sky.  We can’t see them in vivid colour but He can.  What awesome views are His and yet He has time for us here on planet earth.  In fact, He came to us in person.  Father God, we praise your holy name.  Amen.

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Elephants Never Forget

It has just been reported that Senator Edward Kennedy is to have surgery for a malignant brain tumor followed by chemotherapy.  In a statement, the senator committed himself to doing everything in his power to get Barack Obama elected President following his treatment.  To say that the senator is optimistic would be an understatement.  With elections looming in November, that is a swift positive recovery.  Whatever one thinks about the election or the candidates, I want to pray for Teddy and his entire family but especially Caroline who must be on her knees night and day praying for this man who is so close to her.

My heart goes out to Caroline especially.  What a sad story for a child to lose a Father so publicly and then her Father’s brother and then her Brother and her Mother. Of course this has all made Caroline a strong woman and a fighter.  Such trials as this, one wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Accompanying the statement about Senator Kennedy’s treatment was the obligatory reference to Chappaquiddick.  This was a sad chapter in his life which took place almost 40 years ago.  No matter what he has achieved since, no matter what wonderful things he has done, he is always dragged down by reference to this moment.

What is it about this world that constantly wants to tear down everyone and everything?  We’re imperfect creatures and we make mistakes.  No one is immuned.  There that’s it.  So what’s the big deal and what’s the story and why can’t elephants ever forget?

As Christians we have Freedom in Christ.  We have an advocate in heaven.  The dragging down of sin is finished with the blood of Jesus on the Cross.  We can move on.  If only the world would get the message, we would all be transformed.

Heavenly Father, bless Senator Kennedy, his family and friends.  Hold him in your hand.  You aren’t finished with him on this earth.  Use him to your glory, especially during this trial.  Pour your healing light and love on his body, mind and soul and make those elephants forget.

In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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Praise

We believe that the answer God supplies is every bit as important as our prayer. Since we have two ears and one mouth, we ought to spend more time listening than talking. God often speaks to us through prayer and when we receive an answer to our prayer, it is always a transformational experience, even when the answer is not what we expected. Your experiences can help others who are going through trials of their own. Please feel free to share your experiences here.

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