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Don’t Worry-Choise Hope Instead

Life can be hard, it can be full of difficult choices and uncomfortable situations.  We can try our best and work our very hardest yet in spite of our best efforts things might not work out the way we planned. Really often they don’t. So what do we do then?  Give up? Wallow in self pity? I don’t think so. 

A better choice would be to ponder these words carefully and see where thay take you. 

  • Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?     Luke 12:25-26
        Instead Paul has this to say about choosing hope.
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Peace, Joy and overflowing Hope versus frustration, worry and anger.  I think I know what I’d choose.  How about you?

You decide – then take action!

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Comments from the Moderator, Cherokee Presbytery, March 14, 2015

1 John 3:16-19

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

 As Presbyterian Women at this Gathering today we are part of a much larger and much more diverse band of women involved in action in our communities and around the world. Those actions ARE driven by the love of God that John mentions in the words I just read.   There is no other power that can effect change and empower ministry like the power found in the love of God.

 As you know the work of Cherokee Presbytery PW is also diverse and full. Projects large and small are detailed throughout the pages of this booklet.   I invite you to look it over at your convenience and my prayer is that it will give you a sense of the larger picture of PW. As you read it, remember John’s words: …let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

I want to focus a few remarks on our actions today, because clearly what we do in truth and in God’s love matters greatly to Presbyterian women. We remind ourselves of this fact every time we say together the PW purpose. Mission both near and far is how we take Christ into the world as Presbyterian Women. It is one of the major ways we show that the love of God is in us. For generations, Presbyterian women have responded to God’s love by sharing that love with the world in tangible ways. We love by being His hands, His feet, His voice, and His love made tangible—new mattresses, Maringa Trees, bicycles for transportation, books, paper and pencils for education, cleaning supplies, little dresses made from your old pillow cases…Support for these projects and so much more is a vital thread that binds us together in common cause.

We have been gifted with a variety of talents, resources and a sincere desire to help others, which alone makes us one of the most generous of charitable organizations.  But we are even more blessed than most charitable organizations because we agree that what holds us together is showing the love of God by our actions. In places of darkness and misunderstanding, areas at war or in poverty, confusion and hopelessness – Presbyterian Women –you– decided to shine the light of God’s love by your actions. And you have made a profound impact.

Ask the mom who doesn’t have to worry anymore about the threat of a little mosquito whose tiny bite can rob her of the joy of raising her child.   You gave $10.00 to buy her a mosquito net. You decided it was important and in your compassion and desire to obey God’s call through your actions, you gave the gift of life to a mom and baby in a third world country.

Ask the missionary who is tired and stressed and needs respite for a while to recharge the batteries and return to the field. Someone like you saw that need and acted to show God’s love. We have Mission Haven to offer that place of respite because someone just like you decided it was important to show God’s love with action.

You also decided that it was important to offer emotional and financial support to mission workers and projects around the world. You make and purchase hospital supplies for Malawi, Congo and Haiti. You give your dollars to special offerings, such as the Fellowship of the Least Coin and the Presbyterian Hunger Fund along with our Birthday and Thank Offerings.

You provide much-needed assistance to projects in your own communities. Because you decided it was important to let your actions show God’s love.

Ask the child who attended Camp Cherokee due to your generosity. Maybe you helped on workdays to get the place ready to open. Maybe you taught Bible lessons or music, or you directed craft time or helped a child make s’mores over the campfire, maybe you hugged a homesick child. Maybe you couldn’t be there yourself so you sent a child to camp, and prayed for the spiritual growth of those who attended and wisdom for those who led the camp. How can you measure the investment you have made in the lives of children and youth through this ministry alone? These kids are our future and the way we nurture them now speaks volumes about what you and I think is important. You decided.

You are on the forefront. Every time you put your pennies in the least coin offering, donate your time in service to others, or contribute financially to any of the things we’ve talked about today you are making a decision to speak for Christ with your actions. If you support back pack buddies, a day care in your home church or lead a spiritual retreat you decide again what is important. You need to keep deciding because without you, people suffer even more in this world than they would without you.

Is PW relevant? What do we want to pass along to those coming behind us?

Any organization needs leadership, those who are willing to prioritize their lives so that they can and will answer the call to service. As we navigate this busy life, we are often called to choose not necessarily between what is bad and good, but even harder than that, we must choose between good things and other good things. Then the discernment process gets a bit more difficult. At those times we need to be still before God so that we can hear His voice nudging us in the direction He wants us to go. It may not be where we wanted to go, it may not be what we thought we were equipped to do. We may not think we have the time to do even one more thing. But ladies, God prepares those He calls. He gives us everything we need to succeed if we will just let Him. You would be hard pressed to find someone in leadership in PW that had all the answers when they took their first office. It’s more like learning and growing together, being supported and lending support, listening to the voices of others and planning together with God’s love guiding the action.

I know that God is going to provide for Cherokee Presbytery’s PW. I am excitedly waiting to see who He brings forward. It’s not too late for action. If you have the slightest inkling that God wants you on the Coordinating Team, I urge you not to wait. We need district facilitators, spiritual retreat coordinators, a newsletter editor, a moderator–elect (I would love to work with someone!) There is no better way to speak through action than to offer to God the use of your voice and your hands in a new way. Rich blessings await you. But that’s not why you need to do it; you need to do it because it’s right, because it furthers His Kingdom on this earth and mostly because it pleases God.

Is PW still relevant in today’s world? You have to decide. Then you need to take action.

Those who went before you made their decision and they made their sacrifices. Now it’s your turn. You need to tell people why PW is relevant. Take the word from here and tell everyone what we do near and far, but even more importantly – tell them why we do it.

A really short devotion: Romans 12

A genuine relationship with Christ will be evident in our lives.

Romans 12 talks about different gifts. People have different gifts and talents, I believe that because I’ve seen it. You have too. Some are good at building things with their hands and others excel at building consensus with words.

Maybe we’re called to do different things at different times. In response to God’s call we can and maybe are developing the foundation for more than one gift as we move through life.

Or perhaps as a result of growing closer to Him we are able to do more than we thought?

When we experience the change in our lives the power of the Holy Spirit brings, it effects the way we think and behave, the words we say, and fundamentally influences the witness we have in this world. The Holy Spirit brings a new way of thinking, a new way of BEING in the world and effects the way the world influences us. We are nurtured by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we grow and we change. We change for the better, and we just can’t help it! And that is just fine.

Dear Father,

What a thoughtful God you are!  You give us gifts and then you put us together with people who have complementary gifts!   I hope it gives You JOY as you mold and develop those gifts.  Use us and these your gifts for your honor and glory today and everyday.  Amen

Now what about you?   Take a moment and think about the gifts you are thankful for today.

Heaven has gained a Saint: William (Bill) L. Arthur

About 15 years ago, we had an interim pastor come to lead us while our search committee worked to find our new permanent pastor. He had been a pastor all his career and decided that he could best be useful in the interim role for his last ten years or so before his retirement.  Interim pastors are so important to the life of the church.  They bring a fresh perspective and a different way of doing things as they manage the day to day ministry of the church.   They allow mission and ministry to continue and even begin new ones during their time in the church.  Bill did all those things and more.

He joined right into the life and work of the church, accepting the people, listening to their stories and sharing laughter and sorrow as together we experienced the abundant grace of being part of God’s family.  He shared his accordion at church events as well as his rich gift of laughter with young and old alike.  He went to Montreat Worship and Music week with a group of us and didn’t even complain about our choice of housing.  It did have about a hundred million steps up from the road to get to the porch and goodness knows most of us did complain or at least we huffed and puffed loudly as we made our way to the top.

Bill had a way of discerning the gifts of others – even those gifts they had not yet discovered for themselves.  Then he mentored those individuals until the fruits were visible.  Bill loved to sing and once or twice even loaned his tenor voice to the choir for a special event.  Everyone loved Bill, perhaps because it was clear that Bill loved everyone.

When his time among us was over, we were saddened, but glad for him at the same time because he was one step closer to his dream of retirement and spending time with his growing family.  On his last Sunday with us we had a little party after church for which some of us shared our thoughts about our time with Bill.  I was one asked to say a few words.  On that day there was nothing better for me to say than to quote the words of Paul to Philemon, verse 7: “ Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints”.

Fast forward to the morning of October 28, 2014.  I was reading my devotional which just happened to be Philemon.  As I got to verse 7 it brought back vivid memories of Bill and I took a moment to remember him fondly once again.  I did not know this morning that Bill was gone from this earth; I only learned several hours later that Bill’s ultimate dream of seeing Jesus face to face had now come true.  I know that Jesus and Bill are having a jolly laugh together and that Bill has received his new clothes and had the honor of hearing God say “well done”.   One day we will see Jesus and Bill along with many other saints as together we join in one great big reunion party.  Praise God for this wonderful man and the life he led among us.