News & Announcements
God for the Good Things
It’s good to be back! Two weeks of Army training has ended and I’m so glad to be back with my family and you all. Having to leave again after a relatively short time home was difficult. Even though I knew it wasn’t going to be as long as my first go around, it hurt to leave again. Being 1,000 miles away from home makes you appreciate what you have, which leads me to our bulletin article thought this morning…
Both of the Sundays we were gone, we were unable to have church service due to the training schedule, so one of the other guys in my platoon (who is also a minister, ironically!) shared some Scripture with the men in our unit after our training was over on Sundays. I shared some thoughts from James 1:17 which says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Without boring you with details, during the course of our training we had had some events play out in our favor that significantly helped morale. I discussed these events and talked about the God who had blessed us with them. Not everyone in my platoon is a Christian, of course, but through our time together in Scripture I encouraged the guys to think about where the good things in our life come from and to be grateful to the God who gave them to us.
This all got me thinking…am I grateful for the good things in my life? So often, I look around at what isn’t where I want it to be. I’m a perfectionist by nature, which often leads me to think about what’s not right instead of what is. These last two weeks I have been thinking about how much I have to be thankful for, how much we all have to be thankful for. Here are a few statistics…about 10% of the world goes to be hungry each night; about 6% of the world is unemployed; 34% of the world has never gone to school past age 11. Although we all come from different backgrounds, I’d be willing to bet that most of us have food, work, and education. Many of us probably have an abundance of all three. When was the last time you stopped to think about what you have and to thank the Creator who blessed you with it? We are so blessed, especially in this country—don’t forget to thank the One who gave it to you!
Those in the know estimate that flying, perching, and nesting around the world at any given moment are at least 50 billion individual birds and possibly as many as 430 billion. Of those individual critters, 1.6 billion are sparrows. Sparrows live approximately three years. The earth has been around for at least 8,000 years. So, you do the math. Trillions of sparrows since the beginning.
Jesus told his disciples to be brave, not to be overcome by fear. God was on their side. God was aware of their travails. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? “he asked them, “And no one of them will fall to the ground apart from your father.”
That’s a lot of dead birds to keep track of, and to care about.
The smallness of each individual creature and the bigness of God is something that consumes my thoughts from time to time. I was recently standing in the TSA Check line at Sea-Tac airport scanning all the commotion, all those shuffling, scurrying bodies. All the thoughts going thru all those brains. All the stories each could tell. All the hurts and aches each was feeling at that moment or had ever felt. For a moment I was lost in the thought of my own smallness in this world. Who am I, but just one being in a chaotic sea of billions and billions of beings. While my own issues and concerns seem to be so significant to my own spirit, they are in reality invisible to all the other billions, save for those in my minuscule circle of friends and family.
And yet…my faith in my God, sparked and fueled by his Word and his Spirit, tells me that he knows me. Somehow in this jumbled, tumultuous, harum-scarum mess, he keeps track. With all these bodies moving in all these directions, and all the words being said at the same time, and all the thoughts on all the subjects all the time…he sees, he knows, he cares -- not just for the herd, the flock, but for each precise individual creature.
Yesterday our cat killed a sparrow. He brought the body to the porch. I threw the body in the yard. Just another bird. Fallen, dead, half-eaten. Didn’t give it much thought. Here on this tiny little plot of grass in Aberdeen, Washington, a nanoscopic dot on the world map, an infinitesimal amount of concern for a dead bird.
But it did not fall apart from the father.
In the totality of all he’s created, you are small. Your thoughts are small. Your accomplishments are small. Your feelings are small. The disease you deal with is small. You are one small dot on a globe of dots so dense, such that no one individual dot is distinguishable.
Yet should you fall, when you fall, you will not fall apart from the father.
Dear Brothers & Sisters, thank you to all who were a part of making M.A.G.I boxes for the children. Also, a huge thank you for providing the funds for the shipping of the gifts.
In Him, Cindy Herring
Healing Hands International
To all the workers, teachers, and “kids” connected to the Woodsfield Church of Christ V.B.S., Thank you so much for the generous donation of peanut butter, canned vegetables & fruit, and tuna to the Manna Food Pantry. Those cans of food will go a long way toward filling our weekly boxes and bags. May you all be blessed in some special way for your caring attitude and generosity to help those in need. This was an AWESOME contribution.
Sincerely, Jim Barrows
The Better Part
My kids have reached the age of awareness of dessert size. If you know, you know. This means there is almost always a discussion or argument on the size of each child’s dessert and who had “the better half.” Sometimes, Abby and I will have to take a second look and trim one person’s dessert to be fair and equal. Ah, kids…
I remember being so concerned about how much my sister got and if it was fair or not. I think everyone goes through that phase as kids. I was thinking about this reality the other day, preparing for the sermon this week, and wondered—why don’t we do that as adults? Not with dessert, but with life? Adults often do try to get the bigger slice of the pie in the workplace or social world, but what if our idea of “the better half” wasn’t really better? What if there was more meaning and more important things out there that we miss?
Our sermon this week tells the story of a young woman who chose “the better half” or, in Jesus’ words, “the better part.” What’s interesting is she chose something that most people her age and gender would never have chosen: listening to Jesus over performing her culturally expected duty in service in the kitchen. Jesus tells us that she chose “the better part.”
Have you looked at your life and taken stock of what “the better part” is in your life? Are you pursuing it? It’s easy to get sidetracked. Jesus continually reminds us that He is “the better part” and not to get distracted by all of the other cares and concerns of life.
V.B.S. Wrap Up
Thank you for all of the generous donations during V.B.S. this year. As a result of your generosity, there were 196 cans of non-perishable canned goods donated to the St. Paul’s United Church of Christ food pantry. These items will be distributed to help families in need in our community.
There was also $415.20 raised to help support Beatrice Chelangat and her children through Orphans Lifeline International.
Last week, we started a mini-series called, “The Loneliness Pandemic” where we looked at the increased isolation and loneliness present in society and the way this is affecting people. We looked at the Bible’s repeated promise from God that “He will never leave you or forsake you” as the answer a desperately lonely world needs.
This week, we’ll continue and end the mini-series looking at the Church, God’s physical answer for our loneliness. It is the church that provides community and relationship to make it through the difficulty of life. Someday I might do something more than just a bulletin article on it, but there are 59 “one another” passages in the New Testament—specific commands given to the church of things we should be doing for each other: love one another (John 13:34), be devoted to one another (Rom. 12:10), live in harmony with one another (Rom. 12:16), teach one another (Col. 3:16), comfort one another (I Thess. 4:18), be kind and compassionate to one another (Eph. 4:32), stir up one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:24), etc. There’s a lot of them!
Sometimes we don’t realize the great responsibility we have as brothers and sisters to take care of each other. It can be easy to forget, with the business of life and all that goes on, and we just pop in and out of worship and Bible study without spending time to check in on each other and “one another” each other. So, I’ll challenge you as we look at the church today—how are you “one another-ing”? Are you taking care of your brother and sisters well? It’s part of God’s design—"one another” well!
VBS 2023…That’s a Wrap!
As I write this, it’s only Tuesday and VBS hasn’t even reached the midway point. But, when you read this, it will be Sunday and VBS 2023 will be in the books, another year over. As I write, we’ve seen 95-97 children the first two nights. That’s nearly one hundred kids coming to our building to hear about Jesus. We had 40 adults in our class last night. That’s almost 140 people coming together to learn about God and grow closer to Him. That’s pretty incredible for a weeknight when they could be at home watching TV or on social media.
First, if you’ve played any part in this year’s VBS, THANK YOU! Your contribution to the kingdom will be rewarded. I believe there are special rewards in heaven for VBS helpers! (okay, not really, but there should be). You have helped further the gospel in the lives of the people of Monroe County.
Second, if you sat this year out—why? Maybe you had something else going on this week—I get that. Life is busy. But, if you sat at home each night and watched Jeopardy or binge watched your favorite series on Netflix, why?? Don’t miss out on what God is doing each summer here with VBS. Each year, I grow more proud of our congregation and the effort that goes into VBS. I’m proud of the effort put in by all ages to help pull it off—I’ve watched our teens helping get rooms ready. I’m proud of how the teachers decorate, how much thought is put into the food and snacks, and how excited our kids get because they see all of the effort in the week leading up. Don’t miss it! God wants to use you! We’ve been talking about spiritual gifts the last few weeks together for a reason. It’s not because I need to find a sermon topic and fill some time. It’s because we need everyone’s help in things like VBS. It takes a church.
Find your ministry here—if it’s not VBS, make it something else. Get plugged in. Don’t be a pew potato—God wants to use you!
V.B.S. Wrap Up
Aloha all you servants of God,
Thank you all so much for another amazing V.B.S. God has blessed this congregation with such talented and giving people. I so want name all of you, but just know this worn out brain would forget someone. So thank you- teachers(from diapers to adults); decorators (from flowers to classrooms); registration (and so many volunteers); technology and designers (from Jeopardy to checks); teens (from Mark to money to dancing-they were amazing); stage crew (from Maui- Master of ceremonies); chefs (so many hours here); games (from limbo to water balloons-what fun!) and most of all to all that attended – what a blessing to see all the smiles and laughter and hear – 2 Tim. 1:7
Controlling Our Emotions
Our VBS program "Lava Lava Luau: Controlling Our Emotions" gets underway today. In recent years, the subject of emotions-recognizing them and controlling them-has gotten more discussion. In 2015, Disney released the movie "Inside Out", designed to help kids identify and understand their emotions through following the story of a girl named Riley and her family's relocation due to her father's job. In the adult world, the COVID pandemic highlighted the growing concerns of isolation and depression in American society, and since then much has been said about de-stigmatizing mental health.
In the Christian world, we tend to live with an "emotions are bad" assumption. We don't like the way emotions make use feel-out of control-so we usually ignore or suppress them. We apologize when we cry in front of others, we walk away when we are mad, or we hide the fact we are disgusted about something. What if we viewed emotions as God-given and, when handled well, used for good things?
This week, that's exactly what the kids will be talking about, and so will the adults! Join us in the auditorium Sun-Wed nights from 6-8pm as we go through a video-based class from Chip Ingram called, "Overcoming Emotions that Destroy." Chip is a Christian author and minister who will help us understand what the Bible has to say about emotions-particularly anger-and what we should do with them. Join us and invite a friend!