Monday, January 26, 2015

New Bible Study

by Alice Valdal

A new term has begun at the Wednesday morning Bible Study.  Some time ago Rev. Irwin offered us a choice of what we'd like next and the book of Hebrews came out a clear winner.  Not surprising then that the lounge was overflowing last Wednesday.  We had twenty-six people there, one of the highest turnouts ever.
    The study is interesting on a number of levels.  One is for what it is not.  It is not a letter from the Apostle Paul.  It is not a study designed by John Stott.  
The study is created by James Reapsome.  
The author of the letter to the Hebrews is unknown.  Some speculate it was Luke, Barnabas or Apollos, but no one knows for certain.  
    What is known for certain is that the letter was intended to encourage, enlighten and admonish one of the early churches, a church that had got bogged down in theological debate over whether converts to the Way of Christ, must first become Jews.  Not the question of our time, but are we guilty of demanding converts live up to our expectations before we welcome them into fellowship?
    Like all scripture, this book, written for a particular audience at a particular time, speaks to all time.  It raises questions that seem tailor-made for our modern age.  Questions like "how is Jesus different from the founder of any other religion."  Or, "what things cause you to drift away from Christ?  What is your relationship with Christ?  How can you make it better?"  And that is only in the first two session.  We have eleven more to go!
    No matter where you are in your faith journey, you'll find something to ponder at Bible Study.  The gem I picked up last week was that Jesus calls us brothers and sisters and that he is proud of us.  Had to go home and think about that one.  And isn't that the point -- Bible Study should make us think hard. 
     This study is called "The Race to Glory."  I like to think of Wednesday mornings as training sessions.
    All are welcome to attend the classes, beginning at 9:30 am in the Ross Lounge on Wednesdays.  Even if you've missed some already or know you'll miss some in the future, every session has something to offer, plus, you can listen to them here.  Come join the race.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Volunteer Sunday

   Our church, like most organizations, couldn't exist without the countless number of volunteer hours contributed by members.   Session declared January 11 "volunteer thank you, Sunday," and all volunteers were recognized and given a round of applause.  When Irwin asked anyone who volunteers at the church to stand and be recognized about 90% of the congregation go to its feet so we were really applauding ourselves! Still, it was good to look about and see how many hands are busy with the work of SPPC and our ministry in this community. 
    We had another reason for rejoicing on Sunday.  We have reached our fund-raising goal of $10,000.00 for the mission team that heads to the Dominican Republic in March.  The smiles from the team tell their own story.   Felicity also gave a lovely address from the pulpit explaining her excitement, her trepidation and her gratitude for the congregation's support.

   When the fundraising kicked off with the Strawberry Tea in July, I know there were doubts.  The goal seemed so high, and we are a small congregation, but here we are, at the finish line two months before the trip begins. Of course, we celebrated with cake. 

    We will go ahead with the other fund-raising events, i.e. Bridge luncheon in February and the on-going bottle drive. (The last big collection on January 3 raised over $900.00.) Funds raised from these events will be used to buy school supplies and medicine.   Each of our team members is taking two suitcases on the trip, one with his/her personal belongings, the other filled with items for the school and the medical clinic.
    Thank you to everyone for your financial support and your willing hands.  We ask that you continue to pray for the team members as they prepare for their trip --vaccinations for tropical diseases,  passports and Spanish lessons, just to name a few.  Pray for their safety, their courage, their stamina and the joy they bring to the work.

Monday, January 12, 2015

 The new year is about two weeks old, so how are you doing with those resolutions?
   According to CHEK TV less than 50% of us even make resolutions and 50% of those who do, break them, usually by the end of January.  Still, they are a staple of the new year, something about that clean calendar inspires goal setting.
   Generally, resolutions fall into the category of health (lose weight, get fit, laugh more,. . .) finances (better job, more money, more saving) self-improvement (take a course, manage anger, read more), and relationships.  
   Apparently, these ambitions are as old as Solomon.  So, if you're looking for inspiration for 2015, try these from the Book of Proverbs.  

On Work
Proverbs 10:5  A sensible man gathers the crops when they are ready:
                     it is a disgrace to sleep through the time of harvest.

           12:9  It is better to be an ordinary man working for a living
                    than to play the part of a great man but go hungry.

           12:11  A hard-working farmer has plenty to eat,
                      but it is  stupid to waste time on useless projects.
        22:9   Show me a man who does a good job, and I will show  
                   you a man who is better than most and worthy of the  
                    company of kings.

On Wealth

  Proverbs 1:19  Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life
                   3:9 Honour the Lord with your wealth,  with the first fruits of all your crops;
                16:8  Better a little with righteousness   than much gain with injustice

                 23:4  Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.

                28:22  Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.

On health
     Proverbs 11:13 A gossip betrays a confidence,    but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

                      12:25  Anxiety weighs down the heart,    but a kind word cheers it up
               14:30  A heart at peace gives life to the body,    but envy rots the bones  
                      16:31   Gray hair is a crown of splendour;    it is attained in the way of righteousness.
                      20:29 The glory of young men is their strength,    grey hair the splendour of the old.
                      27:19 As water reflects the face,    so one’s life reflects the heart.

On Knowlege
  Proverbs 14:15 The simple believe anything,    but the prudent give thought to their steps.
               16:28 Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,  and discerning if they hold their                             tongues.
                20:1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;    whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

On Relationships

Proverbs 15:1  A gentle answer turns away wrath,    but a harsh word stirs up anger.
           16:24 Gracious words are a honeycomb,    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
                17:14  Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;    so drop the matter before a dispute                                   breaks out
                22:1  A good name is more desirable than great riches;  to be esteemed is better than
                         silver or gold.

       This little epigram isn't from Proverbs, but it made me smile so I'm sharing it with you.  "Some people cause joy by arriving and others by leaving."

      Good luck with the resolutions and remember, God is our help, an ever-present comforter.  He teaches, encourages, guides, and, when we fail, He will forgive.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Love to Read?

     I have a standing request for Santa Claus, a new book.  I think it started when I was a child and my grandmother gave me Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.  I was about ten and was more interested in new skates and a pretty dress, but once Christmas Day was over and all the company had gone home, I settled in to read.  Since then, I've looked forward to Boxing Day and my new book.  Lucky for me, my husband has a knack for finding me something different and intriguing every year.  This year it's a political autobiography!  Who knew I'd find it so fascinating?

    If there wasn't a new book under your tree, or you've finished reading it and are looking for something else, you might like to check out the library at SPPC.  Linda Cliff makes a case for Lee Strobel.

The Case for Christmas
by Lee Strobel

    Who was in the manger that first Christmas morning?  Lee Strobel invites us to take a careful look at this question.  Strobel consults experts on the Bible, archeology and messianic prophecy.  Strobel’s background is in investigative journalism, so he looks at the evidence about the babe in the manager.  He looks at the biographies of Jesus to tell the true story of his birth, life, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection.  He asks did Jesus uniquely match the identity of the Messiah.

     This small book, less than a hundred pages, is a summary of the information found in Strobel’s The Case for Christ.  As a result it is a book that is easy and quick to read.  A book you can give to a friend to read in order to open a discussion of the true miracle of Christmas.

     The fall Bible study looked at The Case for Christ in detail, I found this book reinforced the knowledge I had gained during the study while at the same time giving a new look at the babe in the manger.

Book available in Library