“Trust God”

A Devotion from Pastor Ralph J. Mineo, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church

I recently came across an interesting statement about faith: “The Bible never once says, ‘Figure it out!’ but over and over it says, ‘Trust God.”

That reminds me of a story of three people applying for a job in a huge corporation. Each candidate was eminently qualified. For the interview, the CEO of the company decided to ask a simple question: “What is 2 plus 2?” The first candidate decided to go with the straight-forward, simple answer, and said: “4.” The second candidate decided to add a bit of complexity: “It’s the whole number between 3 and 5.” The third candidate, without batting an eye, replied: “What would you LIKE it to be?” The third candidate was hired on the spot.

This is good parable for our faith. Things don’t always “add up” with God. God’s ways are unexpected. God can surprise us. 2 plus 2 doesn’t always equal 4 in the ways of God. God’s “math” is divine, and therefore beyond human understanding.

So when we have those tough questions like, “why did this happen?” or “why did this person die?” the best question we might ask God is “What would YOU like the answer to be?” It’s a way of saying, “I trust you, God.”

We aren’t SUPPOSED to “figure God out.” Our human minds cannot grasp the wholeness and magnificence of God. When we pretend we have figured God out, we make ourselves equal to God. You shall have no other gods greater or even equal to God, and that includes yourself.

We can certainly experience the presence of God. God always comes down to us. God is ever-present, always speaking to us. We can understand some of what God says. We can interpret some of what God wants of us. But we cannot understand the totality of the divine mind and heart. We can’t figure it all out, especially when the questions get more complex than “what is 2 plus 2!”

So, when we have a tough question, we can never go wrong by turning to God and asking, “What would YOU like the answer to be?” Whatever answer we receive (even when we seem to receive no answer), we can find a way to respond in gratitude and love. Because we believe God is here. We believe God is redeeming the world!

Sometimes we need to stop, look, feel, and experience God’s redeeming work around us. God even uses us to do that work. Sometimes we participate with God just by being there for another, by praying with or for someone, in giving a gift or sending a card or online greeting. We are participants in God’s reign!

God wants to save us. God wants to redeem us in Christ. It’s not up to us to set the agenda for how that happens. We need to trust to God and ask: “How would YOU like to save me and others?” Certainly, God will always point us to Jesus, our Lord and Savior, Christ crucified, risen from the dead. Trust God in this.

Finally, let God keep the hard answers. Our task is not to get all the answers, but to love God who always comes to us in new, surprising, unexpected, and beautiful ways!

So what do I do when I have a tough, troubling life-question: Trust God! Trust God! Trust God!

Lutheran Church News — St. Luke’s (NB) & St. John’s (McComb)

Submitted by Pastor Mineo for Sunday, January 18

St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, North Baltimore

“Here I Am, Lord” is Pastor Ralph Mineo’s sermon topic at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in North Baltimore on Sunday, January 18 at 10:15 a.m. The Senior Choir will sing an anthem “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.”

Sunday School for all ages begins at 9:00 a.m.

St. John’s Lutheran Church, McComb

“Here I Am, Lord” is Pastor Ralph Mineo’s sermon topic at St. John’s Lutheran Church in McComb on Sunday, January 18 at 8:00 a.m.

Sunday School begins at 9:15 a.m. (a joint Sunday School with the McComb United Methodist Church).

Press On

For some of you today, pressing on toward the prize of heaven seems difficult. You may be feeling as if there is no hope and that the future seems bleak.

Press On: a devotion by Ann Elaine Broughton

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3: 13-14 NIV).

For some of you today, pressing on toward the prize of heaven seems difficult. You may be feeling as if there is no hope and that the future seems bleak. I want to reassure you and encourage you that our sight, no matter what our circumstances, needs to be centered on Christ and the prize of heaven. Please do not lose faith when you are feeling like nothing seems to be going right for you. God still loves you and wants you to have peace in the midst of your problems.

I especially like when Paul says that he forgets what is behind. It is very easy to wallow in our past sins or self-pity from bad experiences. This only will make you depressed and feeling like a failure. All of these thoughts will make you feel hopeless and not able to really feel God’s peace. You must not let these negative thoughts of your self worth stifle your faith in God. If you start thinking about your failures or other bad experiences that have happened in your life, you can tailspin into total depression and darkness. The minute you start thinking these things, stop it, and pray for God to help you to stop thinking negative thoughts. Read the Bible for encouragement of his love for you. The Bible is full of stories of men and women who failed, but were able to repent and God used them in mighty ways. Paul was a murderer, but he changed completely when Jesus appeared to him on a road. After that he preached about Jesus Christ to the Gentiles and was the main writer of the letters in the New Testament. He knew he had to forget his past. His life was made new in Christ, and he knew that heaven was his goal. He was pursuing that prize with all of his heart.

My friend, no matter what you are facing, you are not facing it alone. God is with you. He will give you the strength, peace, and courage to face the hurdles that are in front of you. Press on, knowing that your prize is eternal life.

Dear Lord,

Sometimes life seems difficult. Problems arise, our past convicts us, and we feel hopeless. Help us to turn to you knowing that you love us and want us to have peace. Let us be still and know that you are God and that we should continue to strain toward what is ahead: heaven.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

 

 

Growing Spiritually

Pastor Ralph J. Mineo, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church

A young child came home from the first day of school. A parent’s first questions was, “Did you learn anything today?” The child answered: “Not enough! I have to go back again tomorrow!” Of course the child would have to go back to school again and again, to learn more, to grow more!

Pastor Ralph J. Mineo, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church

A young child came home from the first day of school. A parent’s first questions was, “Did you learn anything today?” The child answered: “Not enough! I have to go back again tomorrow!” Of course the child would have to go back to school again and again, to learn more, to grow more!

I think the best word we have for this is “progress.” One translation of the Bible puts it that way about Jesus in Luke, chapter 2: “Jesus, for his part, progressed steadily in wisdom and age and grace before God and the people.” The apostle Peter closed his practical letters with a call for disciples to grow: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18).

Growing in “wisdom and knowledge and grace” is an important part of being a follower of Jesus Christ. Being committed to to a life of faith, is a commitment to life-long learning and growth. “Discipleship School” is for life! It doesn’t end at a certain age. We don’t graduate or ever call it quits!

Of course, one way we grow spiritually is to return to the Bible, again and again. Learning and growing becomes a habit. (When we backslide, we can always return!)  We could read every word of the Bible, cover to cover, and still, like a child starting school, we would return again. The Bible is a “living word” which applies to us in new ways at different times.

The beginning of a new calendar year is a traditional time for making resolutions. The reason for that is that we realize our need to grow, improve, progress. We might evaluate the past year asking, “How much did I grow last year?” But we do well to ask “How can I grow more in the coming weeks, months, years?” (Though our modern culture is putting less and less priority on weekly worship, how many can honestly say, “I grow more spiritually, and am spiritually fed, when I skip weekly worship?”)

There is no doubt in my mind: the Holy Spirit calls us to grow spiritually. Reading the Bible, daily devotions, regular prayer, and weekly worship are “tried and true” ways to satisfy the inner longing we have to connect with God, and experience the “abundant life” Jesus promised.

So, let’s say a person returns from worship, and someone asks, “Did you grow spiritually today?” A reasonable answer may well be,  “Not enough! I’m going back next Sunday!”

Lutheran Church News — St. Luke’s (NB) & St. John’s (McComb) – Jan. 11

“The Music of Baptism” is Pastor Ralph Mineo’s sermon topic at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in North Baltimore and St. John’s Lutheran Church, McComb

Lutheran Church News — St. Luke’s (NB) & St. John’s (McComb)

St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, North Baltimore

“The Music of Baptism” is Pastor Ralph Mineo’s sermon topic at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in North Baltimore on Sunday, January 11 at 10:15 a.m. The Junior Choir will sing “My Favorite Color Is Love” (the song Pastor Ralph wrote for St. Luke’s VBS is 1989).

Sunday School for all ages begins at 9:00 a.m. The adult class is now being led by Emily Meyerson.

The Church Council of St. Luke’s will meet on Monday, January 12 at 6:30 p.m.

St. John’s Lutheran Church, McComb

“The Music of Baptism” is Pastor Ralph Mineo’s sermon topic at St. John’s Lutheran Church in McComb on Sunday, January 11 at 8:00 a.m. The Youth Message will include the song: “My Favorite Color Is Love.”

Sunday School begins at 9:15 a.m. (a joint Sunday School with the McComb United Methodist Church).

The Church Council of St. John’s will meet on Sunday, January 11 at 5:00 p.m.

Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist – Jan.11

Church of the Good Shepherd & Bairdstown United Methodist will celebrate The Baptism of the Lord on Sunday

Church of the Good Shepherd & Bairdstown United Methodist Church

Church news for Sunday, January 11, 2015

Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist will celebrate The Baptism of the Lord on Sunday, January 11, 2015 with worship beginning at 10:15 am.  Rev. Susan Kronbach will preach from the story of Jesus’ baptism from the gospel of Mark, and invite us to reaffirm our baptismal covenant .  Sunday School for youth and adults is held at 9:15 am; Sunday School for children is held during worship after the children’s moments.  Please plan to join us!

Other activities at the church this week include choir practice each Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm; and the Women of Faith meeting on Thursday, Jan 15, at 9:00 am at the Iron Skillet Restaurant.

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Bairdstown United Methodist Church

Church news for Sunday, January 11, 2015 –

The Bairdstown United Methodist Church will be celebrating The Baptism of the Lord on Sunday, January 11, with worship beginning at 9:15 am.  Rev. Susan Kronbach will preach from the story of Jesus’ baptism in the gospel of Mark, and invite us to reaffirm our baptismal covenant.  Sunday School class is held immediately following worship.  Please plan to join us as you are able!   We will also be joining together for our monthly fellowship dinner at noon.

Praise Chapel News – January 11

As the new year begins we should begin by focusing on God. We are going to start this New Year with Holy communion this Sunday.

Sunday Sermon Title:

“Remembering God”

Note from the Pastor:

As the new year begins we should begin by focusing on God. We are going to start this New Year with Holy communion this Sunday.

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. (1 Corinthians 11:24-25 KJV)

We invite you to come this Sunday and remember what the Lord Jesus has done for all of us!

God Bless,

Pastor Jon

Pastor Jon & Theresa Rhinehart

Praise Chapel PCG

P.O. Box 254

500 W. Broadway St.

(419) 408-HOPE (4673) Prayer & Info Line

jrhinehart67@gmail.com

http://pastorjonrhinehart.blogspot.com/

Service Times:

9:30 am Sunday School (Discipleship Class) by Pastor Jon

(Adult & Children classes)

10:30 am Sunday Worship Service (Adult & Children services)

                                              

We’re All In the Same Boat!

Pastor Ralph J. Mineo, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church

There’s a story of a shipwrecked sailor who had been alone on a deserted island for several years. One day he spied a ship on the horizon. He built a bonfire to catch the crew’s attention. Soon, a crewman arrived in a small rescue boat, carrying an armful of newspapers. “Read these,” he said to the sailor, “and decide whether or not you want to be rescued!”

Pastor Ralph J. Mineo, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church

There’s a story of a shipwrecked sailor who had been alone on a deserted island for several years. One day he spied a ship on the horizon. He built a bonfire to catch the crew’s attention. Soon, a crewman arrived in a small rescue boat, carrying an armful of newspapers. “Read these,” he said to the sailor, “and decide whether or not you want to be rescued!”

We certainly live in a challenging period of time, but we cannot really live on a deserted island if we want to be spiritually healthy. This reminds me of another old story about three friends, none of whom could swim, who were in a boat. In the middle of the lake one of them took out a tool and began drilling a hole in the bottom of the boat. The other two shouted, “What are you doing?”

“Mind your own business,” said the one with the drill. “I’m drilling this hole at my seat only. It has nothing to do with you.” The other two men shouted the obvious: “But we’re all in the same boat!”

I think this is a true and valuable statement, “We’re all in the same boat.” Isn’t it true that our boat is this wonderful earth God has given us to live on! What we do here makes a difference. Our decisions DO make a difference to others. What we do can be good or bad for everyone else! It’s not spiritually healthy to hide on a deserted island and mind our own business, no matter how bad the world seems to be at any given moment.

God is calling us to make a positive difference in the world and in the lives of other people. Consider a Bible passage, Galatians 5:13-16. “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”

 

Lutheran Church News — St. Luke’s (NB) & St. John’s (McComb)

“The Tapestry of 2015” is Pastor Ralph Mineo’s sermon topic at St. John’s Lutheran Church in McComb on Sunday, January 4. The theme of worship will be an observance of “Epiphany,” the day the Christian Church celebrates the visit of the Magi from the East (traditionally celebrated January 6).

Lutheran Church News — St. Luke’s (NB) & St. John’s (McComb)

St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, North Baltimore

”The Tapestry of 2015” is Pastor Ralph Mineo’s sermon topic at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in North Baltimore on Sunday, January 4 at 10:15 a.m. Sunday School for all ages begins at 9:00 a.m. The theme of worship will be an observance of “Epiphany,” the day the Christian Church celebrates the visit of the Magi from the East (traditionally celebrated January 6). The Lord’s Supper will be celebrated as traditional “Table Communion.” Following worship members will remove Christmas decorations. Sunday School for all ages begins at 9:00 a.m.

Church Council members for 2015 will be installed during worship on January 4: JoLynn Stewart (President), Bill Straley (Vice-President and Good News+Amen!), Tracey Pritts (Secretary), Clay McCartney (Treasurer), Janet Goldner (Financial Secretary), Emily Meyerson (Sunday School Superintendent), Dwight Patterson (Property Committee).

The “Good News+Amen!” Leadership Team will meet on Monday, January 5 at 6:00 to makes plans for the coming year’s activities.

St. John’s Lutheran Church, McComb

“The Tapestry of 2015” is Pastor Ralph Mineo’s sermon topic at St. John’s Lutheran Church in McComb on Sunday, January 4 at 8:00 a.m. The sermon will make reference to the planning of the 150th anniversary of the congregation which will be celebrated in 2015. The Lord’s Supper will be celebrated as traditional “Table Communion.” Sunday School begins at 9:15 a.m. (a joint Sunday School with the McComb United Methodist Church).

St. John’s Church Council will meet on Thursday, January 8 at 6:30 p.m.

Seek the Lord Earnestly: a devotion by Ann Elaine Broughton

Have you made your list of resolutions for the New Year? It seems everyone has good intentions at the beginning of the New Year, but oftentimes we get lazy and forget about the list. Usually at the top of the list is for people to lose weight and exercise.

Seek the Lord Earnestly: a devotion by Ann Elaine Broughton

“Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually” (1 Chronicles 16:11 KJV).

Have you made your list of resolutions for the New Year? It seems everyone has good intentions at the beginning of the New Year, but oftentimes we get lazy and forget about the list. Usually at the top of the list is for people to lose weight and exercise.

Well, today I will challenge you to put seeking the Lord and His plans for your life as the number one item on your resolution list. After all, that should be your first priority.

The Wise Men or magi of the Bible certainly put the need to find the Christ child as their number one priority. These men were not even Jews, but were astronomers and had seen the star and had researched that a King of the Jews was to be born. As soon as they saw the star they headed to Jerusalem, which was very far away. It might have taken them many months to get to Bethlehem, as the Bible says that “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:11 NIV).  Jesus was no longer a baby but a child and later King Herod commanded that all boys 2 years and under should be killed, so we know that Jesus was a young child. So these men traveled earnestly to find Jesus for a long period of time. They let nothing stop them. Their mission was to see Jesus and give Him gifts.

My challenge to you as we start the New Year is to earnestly seek the Lord with all your heart every day and give Him the gift of yourself in service to others. You have a special gift that only you have, and you must seek the Lord to help you see it and use it for Him. Every day, take time to pray, seek the Lord’s will, read the Bible, and then go out and serve Him in whatever He leads you to do. There is so much need around us that it should not be hard to find a way to serve. People need hope. They need to know that people care for them and that God loves them. So many people are lonely and sad. You can be the one that turns a life from despair to happiness just by caring and sharing what the Lord has done for you. This could be the greatest year ever in your life if you just step out in faith and seek the Lord earnestly.

Dear Lord,

As we approach a New Year, let us strive to earnestly seek you every day. Help us to put seeking you at the top of our to do list every morning, so that we can serve you with the gift you have given us.

In Jesus name,

Amen

How is Your Attitude?

Pastor Jon Rhinehart at Praise Chapel on West Broadway in North Baltimore invites you to come and join us this week and learn from God’s Word how to have the attitude of Jesus Christ! Happy New Year to all!

Pastor Jon Rhinehart at Praise Chapel on West Broadway in North Baltimore invites you to come and join us this week and learn from God’s Word how to have the attitude of Jesus Christ! Happy New Year to all!

Sunday Sermon Title:

“How is Your Attitude?”

Note from the Pastor:

How is your attitude? Our attitude can change in a moment. What attitude we have is based on our thinking. Situations change and so does our attitude. The goal of every Christian should be to be like Christ. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we all had the mind and attitude of Christ? It would be Heaven on earth! This doesn’t happen because we get in the way. We need to get out of the way and let Christ shine through us! I like what Paul wrote to the Philippians about a “Christ” centered life:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. (Philippians 2:3-5 NLT)

Come and join us this week and learn from God’s Word how to have the attitude of Jesus Christ! Happy New Year to all!

Service Times:

9:30 am Sunday School (Discipleship Class) by Pastor Jon

(Adult & Children classes)

10:30 am Sunday Worship Service (Adult & Children services)

Pastor Jon & Theresa Rhinehart

Praise Chapel PCG

P.O. Box 254

500 W. Broadway St.

(419) 408-HOPE (4673) Prayer & Info Line

jrhinehart67@gmail.com

http://pastorjonrhinehart.blogspot.com/

A Light Like No Other

Pastor Ralph J. Mineo, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church

I recently delivered a sermon titled “A Light Like No Other.” The idea for the sermon came from the Christmas pageant “A Night Like No Other” at St. John’s, McComb where I serve. I asked the youth there, and also the youth at St. Luke’s in North Baltimore where I serve to “draw the sermon” for me.

Pastor Ralph J. Mineo, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church

I recently delivered a sermon titled “A Light Like No Other.” The idea for the sermon came from the Christmas pageant “A Night Like No Other” at St. John’s, McComb where I serve. I asked the youth there, and also the youth at St. Luke’s in North Baltimore where I serve, to “draw the sermon” for me.

How do you DRAW the truth that Jesus is a light like no other. I received 15 drawings, which gave me much food for thought, and a determination to apply that message received from the youth, to everything I do in 2015!

First, take a look at the first five verses of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

One youth drew a self-portrait, with tears flowing down her face, and wrote that even when you’re sad, “Jesus shines his light for you!” Another youth drew himself shouting out “Help!” and the words “God is our Savior”. The youth are teaching us, the light of Christ will be there for us in our saddest times.

Another youth defines with a brilliant yellow star and the words, “Christ’s light is LOVE!” And several youth pointed us to the cross of Christ. One drew a cross with Jesus upon it, and wrote, “Jesus is the light like no other because he dies on the cross for our sins.”

A number of youth wrote that God, Jesus, is in our hearts. One of those had huge letters written at the top: “REMEMBER.” This struck me as an important biblical reminder. Let’s not go through 2015 forgetting the presence of God in our lives!

Perhaps the more intriguing drawing, with many colors, is one I couldn’t quite figure out, so I felt the urge to interpret it: I think it means that God’s light, which comes in many colors will be there to help to us stay right with God in 2015. Yeah, people, I think that’s what the youth are preaching to us for the coming year: let’s stay right with God in 2015 and beyond! Let stay in God’s LIGHT!

So think on these things: your pain and cries for help, love, the cross of Christ, REMEMBER God’s ever-present-ness, and the truth that God is ready to add color, love, and grace to your daily life.

LET US PRAY. Almighty God of all colors, grant grace to those in pain this year. Even add your rainbows of grace and healing to the tears we might shed. Remind of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. Daily remind us of your love in Christ Jesus. Whatever lies ahead, color our lives with your peace, grace, forgiveness, and any divine gift you would want for us. Surprise us! And send us with your Holy Spirit to be your instruments in helping color the world according to your divine colors. Amen.

Mineo Dec. 30