“Make Others at Home Here” WAY 11

WAY #11: MAKE OTHERS AT HOME HERE.
Warmly welcome newcomers and visitors. Offer your name with a smile. Reach out and greet the person you don’t know after worship, during Coffee Hour, in Youth Group or Sunday school. Show a genuine interest in others. “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ welcomed you, for the Glory of God.” – Romans 15: 7
 
DEACONS ARE TRUE servants of the church, here to make sure others are taken care of is at the heart of who we are. This can be done in small ways: a simple greeting as you enter church. Or, by actually welcoming families into our church for a full week through IHN. We host different families 6 times a year and take care of all matters, large and small, during their stay. That could be simple fellowship, making a meal to share, or providing transportation if needed. We do what we can to make sure they feel at home.
 
We also take the welcoming spirit outside of our church walls. If home is where the heart is, we bring that heart to others via “food baskets” for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. We are blessed to be able to deliver 12 bags of groceries to local families during these Holidays.
 
On occasion we have the opportunity to make a difference for a congregant, or someone tied to our church in some way. These instances are truly gratifying. If you are aware of someone who is in need of being “welcomed,” please let us know how we can help. If you would like to help, Deacon’s Sunday will be November 17th and we would welcome any support.
Matt Moxhay, Deacons Moderator

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“Join Hands’ WAY #10

WAY 10: JOIN HANDS Work as a team. Collaborate with each other, our professional staff, our lay leaders, and our congregants to find the best solutions. Collaboration lightens the load, generates better ideas than individuals working alone, and unleashes the gifts God has given us all. (Ecclesiastes 4:9;   Proverbs 27:17)
 
THIS SUMMER, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Salyersville, Kentucky with the Moorestown chapter of the Appalachia Service Project (ASP). I had been wanting to go on a missions trip for years, but with four kids, an overworked husband and a lively household to run, I could never seem to break away. When my son Christian decided to go on ASP this past summer, I knew my time had come to “jump in” and “join hands.” If I waited for life to quiet down, I was never going anywhere!
 
So, on July 21 in the wee hours of the morning, I drove one of the 15 vans full of sleepy-eyed kids on a 10-hour journey to Southeastern Kentucky. Over 100 Moorestown High School students and several adult chaperones came together to serve the poverty stricken people of Salyersville. Each morning before we left for our work sites, we “joined hands”… literally … in prayer. We prayed for the families we were serving and for the grace and wisdom to know how to best help them. Then we piled back into the vans, tool boxes in tow, to again “join hands” and as a team consulted, collaborated and planned the day at our sites.
 
I was not expecting what happened next … There is an unspoken power in God’s people “joining hands”, an intangible bonding and connecting that happens when we work together towards a common goal to serve each other. Virtual strangers, united in prayer and bound by faith, become FAMILY connected by the power of a shared experience. The Holy Spirit was alive and moving among us. By the end of the week, my team and I had not only renovated a bathroom and a laundry room, but we extended our family circles to include each other and the beautiful Kentucky family that welcomed us into their home. I cried when we left Salyersville (not a shock to those who know me!) overwhelmed with gratitude to be part of such a wonderful program.
 
Moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to JUMP IN and JOIN HANDS! Matthew 18:20 tells us, “For where two or more are gathered together in MY name, I am there in the midst of them.” There are so many ways, big and small, to jump in to this vibrant FPC community… DO IT TODAY! Don’t wait for life to quiet down. The Holy Spirit moves easily through chaos …
 
Elder Tamara Trzeciak

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“Pray First and Pray Again” WAY #9

#9: PRAY FIRST AND PRAY AGAIN.
 
Ask first for God’s guidance and blessing in everything you do. Through prayer, ask for wisdom and for God’s will to be done. Pray for others as well, that God’s love and blessing would be revealed to them in good times and in bad.
Scriptures: Proverbs 3: 5-6; Matthew 6: 10; Ephesians 6: 18
 
 
There are many ways to pray. You can follow a prescribed order, like ACTS:
A – Adoration – tell God how much he means to you
C – Confession – name your sins
T – Thanksgiving – tell God how he has blessed you
S – Supplication – pray for the needs of others
 
Prayer, talking with God, can happen at any time, in any place. I find that the red light turns faster when I use the time to pray The Lord’s Prayer. If I am annoyed by another driver I try to pray for them, asking that they get where they need to go safely. It calms me down. When I have trouble sleeping I often pray the alphabet – asking God to bless the person or place that comes to mind as I work my way through the ABCs. Lately I have used the same format to name my blessings. I toss and turn less, letting God take over my thoughts. A simple “thank you” at the beginning of a meal is a great appetizer!
 
Several years ago I heard about PUSH – pray until something happens. I prayed for years about something, and finally was blessed with understanding. I am learning to trust Him, and lean on Him when I am worried or disappointed. Sometimes the answer to my prayer is getting a different attitude. I find I worry less when, instead of telling God what I want, I put an issue in His hands, and ask for guidance and patience. A joy shared is multiplied, a worry shared is halved. Talk to God. He is a great listener!
 
Jane Murphy

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“Jump In” WAY #8

#8: JUMP IN. Life is full of unexpected problems and needs, large and small. Pay attention to moments when God calls you to action, no matter how ordinary or extraordinary the situation may be. See “disruptions” as invitations to share Christ’s love. Write a note. Visit the sick or the grieving. Share a meal.Scriptures: Micah 6: 8; James 2: 14-17; 1 John 3: 18
 
Jump In!!! Where have you jumped in or seen others jump in? I have been blessed by being involved in two projects here at First Pres where I’ve seen many Jump In.
 
Celebration of Faith Weekend – Just over a year ago our church held a weekend to understand and celebrate our faith. What started as a small nucleus of eager committed participants soon expanded into seven committees and over a hundred volunteers. All Jumping In. We had visitors from around the country come and speak to us in small groups, over meals and during services. Members hosted these visitors in their homes, held Saturday coffees, organized two dinners, a luncheon for women and one for men, and a Friday and Saturday worship service. The preparation that went into these events by the committees and volunteers was tremendous, driven by prayer and God’s hand. A joyous and meaningful weekend attended by hundreds took place due to volunteers and attendees whose faith and enthusiasm never wavered – all willing to Jump In.
 
Live Streaming – A few years ago I chaired the church’s Technology Committee when it was decided to live stream our Sunday services so that anyone anywhere in the world could view them. There was no budget and it was technically complex. Live Streaming happened, but only because many Jumped In. We needed a camera – our IT person Jumped In and donated it. We needed fiber optics – a committee member Jumped In and got two companies to donate and install what we needed. They Jumped In nudged by God. One obstacle though was that the wiring needed to go under the Sanctuary in the crawl space. Dan Wonneberger said he would do it; that is, he not only Jumped In, he jumped under (the Sanctuary). That’s how we ended up with Live Streaming – all willing to Jump In.
 
From 1 John 3:18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions…
 
Sunday, September 8th, is our Fall Kickoff Sunday; classes start, we return to regular service times, we present Bibles, commission our teachers and enjoy a Front Yard Fellowship BBQ after church. Jump In!
 
Elder Hank Heidler

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“Forgive… Again” and “Celebrate the Unity, Savor Diversity”

#6: FORGIVE . . . AGAIN. Just as God forgives us, heal relationships by extending forgiveness with grace and generosity. Forgive everyone everything.
Start by praying for those you resent or hate. Ask for every blessing you would want for the one you’re struggling to forgive.
FORGIVENESS is not an easy practice, but it is such a healthy and necessary one. When was the last time you sat down, took a few deep breaths, and asked God to reveal a source of hurt or bitterness in your life? Where do you need freedom or hope in your life?
 
When we’re sick, we want freedom from painful symptoms, so we visit the doctor’s office, hoping they’ll prescribe a quick, short-term solution. But forgiveness does more than treat our symptoms; it goes straight to the root cause of our pain and heals us in deeper ways. Giving and receiving Christ’s forgiveness is life-changing because it frees us from everything that gets in the way of our calling to LOVE. Gone are our exhausting days of bitterness, anger, entitlement and resentment. Now, finally, we can live for Christ instead of being consumed by an invisible disease.
 
Forgiveness doesn’t prove who was right and who was wrong, nor does it prove that someone is more moral or religious than the next person. Rather, it is a bit like waking up in a jail cell of our own making and realizing that, all along, we’ve had the key to freedom in our pocket. Thanks be to God. – Kelly LePenske
 
 
 
#7. KEEP THE UNITY, SAVOR DIVERSITY. Thank God that, like parts of the human body, we’re not all the same. Be open to learn from others, regardless of their age, background, experience, or tenure with our church. We make better decisions and grow as people when we consider multiple perspectives. Listen with curiosity to others and consider how to use their ideas.
 
UNITY AND DIVERSITY are not opposites, but often they can feel like them. The easy way is for those who are similar to be unified and for those who are different to let their differences of opinion or lifestyle separate them.
 
We, though, are called to a harder yet more fruitful way. When we look to Keep the Unity and Savor Diversity, we begin to draw different viewpoints and people groups to the same table and into the same community. We are united by one faith in one Lord, empowered by one Spirit, and enlivened by one hope. Do not let our differences divide us, but savor a different viewpoint united under one Lord. – Dan Wonneberger

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“Always Encourage and Celebrate” WAY #4 – “Assume Positive Intent” WAY #5

WAY #4. ALWAYS ENCOURAGE AND CELEBRATE (July 28–August 4). Show gratitude and appreciation by regularly acknowledging the good works you see everywhere. Look for signs of spiritual growth and maturity among our members and staff. When you see it, point it out and rejoice. Pass on good reports that you hear about others. (1 Thessalonians 1: 3, 4)
 
No matter who it comes from, criticism doesn’t feel good, and recent studies are finding that it doesn’t do a lot of good, either. Psychologists at Stony Brook University found that when children receive frequent criticism from their parents, they’re more likely to develop anxiety, depression and social withdrawal that may last a lifetime. As people filled with the love and hope of Jesus Christ, we’re called to pour love and hope into everyone we meet. A kind word has immense power on a personal and communal level. It’s as refreshing as a cool glass of water on a sweltering summer day. Encouragement breathes new hope, life and grace into everyone, which helps all of us thrive.
 
WAY #5. ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT (August 4–11). Decide to trust that other members are being fair, honest and concerned for the well-being of our church. Set aside your own judgements and preconceived notions. Surrender the urge to criticize and judge—it doesn’t help. (Matthew 7: 1)
 
There’s a lot that goes on beneath the surface of a single human being. We’re all messy, broken and complex, but guess what––God’s not in the business of writing people off. And neither is the church! The Bible is filled with story after story where God calls on unexpected (and even unlikable) characters to lead, serve and transform communities.
Assuming positive intent means taking off your glasses of judgment and letting God hand you a new pair. Warning: you may notice a sudden change in your vision. You’re no longer focused on others’ annoyances or weaknesses. Instead, you recognize something compelling in everyone, and you wonder if it’s been there all along. It’s God’s divine image. It’s the revelation of Colossians 3:11: “Christ is all, and is in all.”
 
Maybe it’s hard to see potential in others because you don’t see it in yourself. Maybe it’s time to exchange your old glasses for God’s prescription of grace.
 

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“Listen Generously – WAY #3”

WAY #3. LISTEN GENEROUSLY. Be quick to listen and do so with your undivided attention. 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. Above all, listen to understand. (James 1: 19, 20)
 
Listen generously . . . or else! I’ve come to believe that as I stop listening I’m probably going to start hurting. I’m more likely to lose my composure when I’m not listening. I’m far more inclined to say a wrong or stupid thing when I’m not listening. I’m certainly in a great position to say or do something I regret.
 
Listen generously . . .and watch the healing flow! When I’m listening well to Leslie or my sons, we’re always in a better place as a family. My best listening happens when I’m face-to-face with the other—no phones, no laptops, no newspapers and no TV between us. Listening draws me into the one I love. There are few better gifts to give than generous listening.
 
Stuart H. Spencer, Pastor

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“Speak the Truth with Love – Way 2”

WAY #2: 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. (Ephesians 4: 15)
 
The best speech is direct speech. Follow straight lines with one an-other. This Way sets us on the Point A to Point B road to others. No detours to talk about the one you need to address. No turning the other way to avoidthe tough conversations. We’re learning at FPCM to be direct and straight with each other. You know why we are? It’s easier, that’s why. I’ve found that when I put off what needs to be said that I end up carrying a bur-den that I don’t need to shoulder. The longer I carry it the heavier it becomes. By speaking the truth with love I’m really living love; and living love is lighter by far. Please think: what do I need to say? Say it straight with love.

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“Rejoice Always”

WAY 25 REJOICE ALWAYS The Kingdom of God is a party! Let healthy laughter fill our meetings, our meals, and even our worship. Allow the joy of our faith be clearly evident in our speech and on our faces.
 
“But his father said to the servants, ‘We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” (Luke 15: 22 – 24)
 
Our last of our 25 Ways is the perfect last word as we try to define our culture. May we always be a happy church, a rejoicing church, a party-throwing church. Moorestown and the surrounding communities need to know in the worst way that there is wonderful news to hear and believe. We worship and serve the God of the Party! One of the best parties I’ve been to was our Vacation Bible School, which was held here last week. There were 200 party goers here from Monday to Friday. Each morning, our halls and rooms were filled with the best sounds of laughter, singing, and praying. Party on, FPCM!

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“Tell Your Story”

WAY 24. TELL YOUR STORY. God has done and is doing something unique in your life. Has God answered a prayer, provided help, or blessed you? Share it. Ask God for opportunities to share your faith in Christ by words and deeds. (Luke 8:39; Psalm 107: 2; Acts 1:9)
 
When I was a teenager there was a man in my church named Bill Baronsky. Bill stood out from everyone else. He was a contractor, a blue collar guy sitting in a congregation filled with white collar professionals. Bill was big and loud. His favorite expression, which he said about a hundred times a day was, “Praise the Lord!” Bill had tons of miracles stories from his life. As a teenager, I admired Bill a great deal. But in comparison to his life, mine was boring. There were no miracles taking place that I could see. I had nothing to share. God wasn’t doing much of anything; or so I thought. If you too think you’ve got nothing to say; you do.
 
Truth is that God is working in your life and if you have faith to look, you’ll find plenty to share with others. Here’s some advice I’d pass along from a pastor named John Ackerman. One, don’t look only for the “big events.” Those big events are nice and often come at the beginning of our faith journey, but God most often comes in small daily acts. Two, don’t concentrate on your failings. Rather than obsessing over what you’ve done wrong, look to God’s gifts first and turn to receive God’s forgiveness.
 
Stop: This may be the hardest thing to do. Find a quiet place where you can be undistracted for a few moments. Ask God to bring His light and truth to your mind so can see.
 
Look: Look closely at your blessings from the last twenty-four hours. Pick out and relish the gifts you have received: an answer to prayer, a small kindness someone from your family or a friend did for you, or a stimulating idea that you learned from the Scriptures.
 
Listen: Pray about what you can learn from what you have seen and noticed in your life. Thank God for every blessing, no matter how small. Are you free of pain today? Did you arrive safely to work or school? Make a prayer—mental or written—offering your thanks and your whole life to God. And then, ask God for the opportunity to speak to someone about what He has done.
 
This Way encourages us to pray for opportunities to share our faith in Christ with others, thus inviting them to know Jesus, whom we love. All God asks of us is that we’re willing to open our mouths, God will do the rest of the work of salvation. The Church of Jesus Christ has always grown when Christians tell their story.
 

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