WAY 3 Leslie Spencer

Way #3 Listen Generously

 
LISTEN GENEROUSLY. Be quick to listen and do so with your undivided attention.a Minimize the distractions and let go of the need to agree or disagree. Suspend your judgment and be curious to know more rather than jumping to conclusions.b,c Above all, listen to understand.
 

a Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. (James 1: 19, 20)

b Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish. (Proverbs 18: 13)

c Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. (Proverbs 12:
15)

 
Ideas for Action: Put aside phones and laptops. Turn off the TV or computer and face someone you love. Focus on what the other is saying; not on what you want to say. Be careful that you’re not interrupting because you’re not listening to them.


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WAY 2 Kelly LePenske

Way #2:  Speak the Truth with Love

 

SPEAK THE TRUTH WITH LOVE. Speak honestly and directly in a way that clearly reflects love and support for one another. Be courageous enough to say what needs to be said, even when it’s difficult. Address issues directly with those who are involved or affected; speak to, not about, others.

 
a  Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4: 29)
 
b  Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. (Ephesians 4: 31)
 
c  Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church (Ephesians 4: 15)

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WAY 1 Rev. Stuart Spencer

WAY #1: BE THIRD

 

BE THIRD. God is first, others are second, and you’re third. Don’t just think about your own interests, but be interested in others. Don’t think less of yourself, just think of yourself less and others more.

 
  • Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (Philippians 2:4)
  • ”And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (John 13:14–15)

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“Rejoice Always” Linda Jagiela

WAY #25 REJOICE ALWAYS
TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY. The big 55. I now am a senior citizen. Woo hoo! Discounts galore and the ability to move into a 55 and older community. I look forward to celebrating!
 
As I write to you, I think back to February when I visited Kubiri, Uganda, and saw the work of a ministry called Reach One Touch One. The focus of this ministry is caring for senior citizens which I am now officially part of that club. In Uganda, many grandparents are raising their grandchildren during this advanced period of their lives in homes that are primitive with no running water or electricity. Other diseases such as AIDS have taken their children leaving them to be both parent and grandparent. Some have as many as 20 grandchildren in their care. The country does not have government assistance such as social security so these older adults must continue to work to support their families doing whatever they can. The health care available to most is not very good. Poverty is rampant. Schools all require tuition so many children in these situations cannot go to school as their family needs those funds to eat.
 
I met Mary when I visited. She was all smiles as she introduced me to her two grandchildren. She kept touching my hair and telling me how pretty it was. I felt like an honored guest at a party. She was completely gray with deep wrinkles. I learned she was only three years older than me. She was making mats to sell in the market. It took her an entire week to make one and she netted $2 after costs of materials which was all she had to support her family. I bought and brought home Mary’s mat as a memory from my trip. Mary told me how blessed by God she was to have her home and a means to make money and support her family. She made a gift of popcorn kernels to me that she had grown behind her house. I was so touched. She also prayed for me before I left and gave me an incredible hug. Her smile never left. Even with so little, Mary’s life was a celebration.
 
As I sit in my home and complain about not being able to hit my favorite restaurant to celebrate this milestone birthday, I also sit and count my blessings. The things I have had to give up don’t even come close to what this pandemic has done in countries like Uganda. I am still able to work and talk to friends. I have technology which allows me to reach the world just not all parts of Uganda. Since visiting homes and families in Uganda, I pray daily or these families who are followers of Jesus and who struggle. I pray for Reach One Touch One to make a difference in the lives of the senior citizens like me. For my birthday, I am determined to spend this year with an attitude of gratitude for all of the blessings that God has given me and, like Mary, make my life a celebration.
 
Linda Jagiela

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“Tell Your Story” Joyce Peacock

WAY #24  TELL YOUR STORY
I WAS THIRTY-ONE, flat on my back, weak and in such pain, I was unable to lift a finger. What had happened? I had grown up in the church from cradle roll up with virtually perfect attendance, yet even now as a member of FPC living life ‘as best I could,’ I had run myself into the ground and was empty. Crises lay bare our real need. Crying out to God to take over, a peace and desire to “know Him” began to well up within. But how?
 
Thus began a series of connections: I joined a Community Bible Study, led by Arlita Winston. A few months later, a discipling small group became available, and I put myself into that. As I began to learn the “how to’s” of reading Scripture, praying, and learning other spiritual principles and disciplines, I was constantly struck with how much more “life” God desired for me to have! But I also came to realize that if I wasn’t in a small group going forward in my pursuit of God, I would slip back and lose the vibrancy of connecting personally with Him. The discipling taught me how to follow Him; the small groups connected me with other followers encouraging reliance on the Holy Spirit and accountability to keep growing.
 
During this COVID sequestering and the current unrest in our nation, our lives are being shaken. Our way of life is being altered. What have we learned we can live without? What have we learned that has renewed us, which we want to keep? How can we better connect with God and His purposes … that abundant life He promises in the midst of uncertainty all around? How can we grow in being true followers of Christ? How can we deepen our understanding of prayer? I don’t know about you, but I’m eager to connect with other seekers and followers in pursuit of Jesus together! Look for our discipleship and prayer initiatives and connect in a small group — abundant life awaits!
 
“Go, therefore and make disciples … teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you…and I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20 “And let us consider how we can spur one another on to love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching!” – Hebrew 10:24-25
 
Elder Joyce Peacock

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“Worship With Your Whole Heart” Joel Krott

WAY 23  WORSHIP WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART
“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” (Mark 12: 30)
 
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (Romans 12: 1, 2)
 
Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! (Psalm 150: 6)
 
IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE that worship could be anything other than wholehearted since the concept of worship has to do with that which we value the most. If we have an attitude or take an action that is half-hearted, we might really have a quite positive value at heart ….. really like, even love the object of our affection or attention, but we are not worshipful.
 
When we make an offering, render service, or utter praise, we might be very sincere, but are not necessarily worshiping. For all we know, Cain might have had motives that were noble when he brought his offering. He might have had a modicum of sincerity. But the story shows that his offering was not accepted. It sort of sounds right to say: “God accepts anything as long as we are sincere.” But it is very wrong. The story of Cain and Abel shows that.
 
Coming into God’s presence, if our intent is to “worship,” means that He must be the sole and total Lord of our hearts. Nothing, and no one, can be higher than God. Even every word and thought must honor the Lord Jesus above all else. Less than that might be genuine. Might be popular. Might be cool. Might be what we think is our best. Might even seem sacrificial. But it is not worship.
 
“Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all.”
Joel Krott

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“Rest and Reflect” Rev. Dr. Jonathan Miller

WAY #22  Rest and Reflect
 
THIS WEEKEND WE STEP BACK from our daily responsibilities for two reasons. First, we honor God by remembering today is the Lord’s Day. Secondly, Memorial Day is set apart by our nation to remind us of those who have given their lives for the cause of freedom.
 
Richard Manning is well known for a number of books written about what he would call ‘God’s wild love.’ When he became a Roman Catholic priest he was asked to take the name of a saint. His best friend was a man named Ray Brennan. They grew up together, went to the same school, played ball — did everything together. In 1952 they enlisted in the Marine Corps and were sent to Korea. It was a typical combat day in cold Korea when the unthinkable happened. A live grenade was thrown into the foxhole where the two men sat. Manning said he remembered everything in that shocking moment. Ray was eating a Hershey Bar. When the grenade landed his buddy dropped the candy and looked quickly at his friend. A smile crossed his face and then he smothered the grenade with his body. He gave his life for his friend.
 
Because of this, when he became a priest, Manning took the last name of his friend (the `saint’ who saved his life) and made it his first. For the rest of his life Richard Manning was known as Brennan Manning. Years later Brennan Manning visited his best friend’s mother in Brooklyn. They were talking about Ray. Brennan said, `We never really talked about friendship or love. I’ve always wondered what that smile meant at the very end. Did he really love me?’ Ray’s mother was quick to respond, `Richard — of course he loved you, he gave his life for you.’ Manning never forgot what she said. A year later Father Manning was struggling with alcohol and he had a dream, a nightmare really. The broken priest was standing in his dream at the foot of the cross, where Jesus hung. He was overwhelmed and he saw the mother of Jesus off to the side. Through his tears he cried, `Mother Mary — do you think He really loves me?’ Mary looked at the cross then looked at Brennan Manning, `Oh my son, of course He loves you. Look at him. He’s dying for you, so that you might live!’
 
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8). With love for this congregation and its leadership, and also for those who have loved for the sake of freedom!
 
Semper Fi
Jonathan Miller

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“You’re Sent, Now Go” Linda Vandergrift

WAY #21   You’re Sent, Now Go
SEND and GO is an exchange between two individuals. God sends us, and we respond in love and obedience by going. We often do not understand why we are sent, but His purpose unfolds as we go!
 
Moses was sent by God to Pharaoh, asking him to let the Israelites go from Egypt. After a series of plagues, Pharaoh told them to go from Egypt. God sent them into the wilderness. As they demonstrated their willingness to go, they were ultimately led to the Promised Land.
 
Jonah was sent to preach repentance to the city of Ninevah, but he refused to go! After various adventures on the Mediterranean Sea, he obeyed God, and decided to go. An entire city was saved.
 
In John 10, Jesus tells us that he was sent by the Father, and He willingly agreed to go to earth, and then to the cross, for the salvation of humankind. He later told us, “As the Father has sent me, I send you. Go and make disciples of all nations.”
 
As we are open to the leading of the Spirit, we may be called to go as we visit a neighbor, offer a prayer to those we encounter, make a phone call, deliver a meal, or be a friend to those in need.
 
We currently find ourselves in a situation where we may not be able to physically go and meet the needs of others. We are blessed to live in a time that has given us many ways to send the Gospel around the world. We can go behind closed doors with TV, radio, and Zoom! We are able to send missionaries and supplies to the uttermost parts of the earth. We are given new opportunities to GO in unique ways, delivering the good news, that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. He enables us to support the work of those who are able to go on our behalf.
 
As we are willing to GO, God will have the last word, and it will be good!
Linda Vandergrift
 
 

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“Finding Strength in Belonging” Stuart Spencer

“One reason that avoiding conflict is such a problem is precisely because it worsens with negligence. It doesn’t just go away. But another reason is that it cuts us off from the most significant opportunities for grace. This is the way God does his deepest work in a world like ours. Not when things are peachy keen, not when all seems right with the world, not when times are easy. It’s the toughest times, the hardest conversations, the most painful relational tensions, when the light of his grace shines brightest, and transforms us most into his Son’s likeness.” David Mathis, Executive Editor DesiringGod.org
desiringgod.org/articles/conflict-is-an-opportunity-for-grace
 
SOME YEARS AGO, I offered some counsel to a married couple who were working together on a few issues. While their marriage wasn’t in danger of ending, they were in a difficult place as they faced some conflicts they were having. I had a chance to speak to their marriage therapist. She told me that she hoped this couple could resolve their conflicts not just for the sake of resolution but also because it’s really good for a marriage when a husband and wife can work together on something hard. The bonds of love and fidelity grow stronger through the strain of stress.
 
I think the same hope holds for church members when we have to navigate through hurt, disappoint and differences of all kinds. The easiest thing to do is to close your Bible and go home. It’s harder to go to the one who is upset. Yet love takes us there. For real love, biblical love, is patient and kind, not easily offended while never giving up. It’s so much easier to write those words than to live them. However, as we turn into the thing we don’t want to do, most times we’ll be surprised how the grace of God is awaiting us. You can be certain that God wants to heal broken relationships far more than you do.
 
FPC Moorestown: Receive God’s grace to find strength in belonging to one another. Stuart Spencer, Pastor
 
 

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“Accept and Don’t Cast Stones” Paul Booker

WAY #19  ACCEPT AND DON’T CAST STONES
 
LAST SEPTEMBER, Marsha and I had the opportunity to see the Broadway production of To Kill a Mockingbird. The play was a rendition of Harper Lee’s book that many, as I did, read in high school. As you may recall, the plot takes place in a small Alabama town that is suffering through the Great Depression. The main character, Atticus, is a prominent attorney who is widowed and has two children. Atticus defends an African American man who is falsely accused of sexually assaulting a young Caucasian woman. He confronts the racism and prejudice that is exemplified and threaded into the fabric of his community.
 
Atticus is characterized with absolute consistency. He is a person of high ethical standards and integrity. In spite of the rejection and threats that both he and his children face, he is committed to seeing that justice is served.
In spite of how horribly he is treated, he works to teach his children to seek out what is good in people, not to judge, and to forgive what is bad. He upheld a commitment to principled truth even when he and his children were rejected and ostracized.
 
The Bible tells us that God accepts us and welcomes us in spite of our sinful nature. When Jesus walked the earth, he was a perfect example of accepting and loving others. Jesus, to the dismay of the Scribes and Pharisees showed overwhelming love and mercy to the underserved and judged. He accepted and loved even his persecutors.
 
Atticus did not reject those that worked to harm him. He worked to maintain an unconditional acceptance of them while not relinquishing his principles. Jesus told us to welcome and show love to all in spite of our differences, and in humility share the riches of God’s Grace while proclaiming the truth of the Gospel.
 
Our church is to be a place where the love of Jesus is proclaimed and where all are welcomed. 
 
Elder Paul Booker

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