When James Ross Clemens fell seriously ill in London, some newspaper accounts confused him with his cousin Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. The writer reportedly responded, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
God can say the same in America today.
In 1965, a Harris poll announced that 97% percent of Americans believed in God. In a 2014 Gallup poll, the number had fallen to 86%. Twelve percent of Americans claimed they had no belief, while two percent had no opinion. Such surveys fuel the persistent claim that faith is in serious decline in the U.S.
However, these numbers don’t tell the whole story.
Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor-in-chief, tells Time magazine that responses to faith surveys reflect changes in our culture. There was a time when “Americans felt obliged to say they were religious, but nowadays a lot of those same people feel more comfortable telling the interviewer, ‘No, I don’t believe in God’, or ‘I have no religious affiliation.'” In other words, the data may not reflect a decline in faith but rather a culture in which it is easier to be honest about doubt.
It is difficult to find someone in Scripture who doesn’t have questions for God. From Moses’ confusion at the burning bush (Exodus 3–4) to Jesus’ cry from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), our greatest heroes of faith were honest about their struggles with faith.
So should we be.
If God is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful, why is the world he created so wracked with conflict and bloodshed? We can blame evil and suffering on misused human freedom, but what about natural disasters? And why does God sometimes intervene miraculously, but other times he does not?
These are just some of my faith questions. What are yours? Doubts are evidence not of a lack of faith, but of its relevance. As Dr. Newport would say, the only wrong question is the one you won’t ask.
Our FATHER in heaven agrees: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:18). “Reason together” translates a Hebrew word meaning, “argue it out.” But as you argue with God, examine the evidence, then step beyond it into relationship with your Father.
We will have questions about God until we stand before him one day (1 Corinthians 13:12). In the meantime, know that while you may have doubts about God, he knows all about you. And he loves no one in the world more than he loves you, right now.
General Fund $2800.00
Panama Mission Fund $ 14.33
· Pastor Tom Leuther – Tom ran for 3rd ward councilman in our city but was defeated by the incumbent……the preachers met last Tuesday evening for dinner — Tom assured us he was okay –but in the process, his faith was attacked – his personhood was attacked – and especially his Biblical stand on homosexuality was attacked. Please lift Bro Tom before the throne in the wake of these events.
· Joy Weir – struggling post-surgery
· Several (un-named) requests within our fellowship – God knows – please pray for those struggling with depression – insecurity – and job-security –
· Our students while at school…. safety – powerful witness—academic excellence
· Discovery will always be a lighthouse leading our neighbors to hope and safety in Christ. That her message will always be full of grace and will build up her members.
· Spiritual renewal for several who seemingly have lost their first love
· God’s continued blessing on our 7 D-Groups – spiritual and numerical growth
· Me & You as we grow through the sermon series – Self-Deception
Glad to report there were 13 who participated in our Sunday Evening Prayer Gathering last Lord’s Day…From a Biblical perspective there seems to be something special when God’s people gather together and PRAY. Realizing each can pray wherever they are (and that is also effective) – but it seems like when we are together – it is like a Huge Bond Fire – all the fire is centered in one place and the fire is hotter – burns longer – than several coals several feet from the initial fire….Our next Prayer Gathering will be May 1, 2016 – from 5 – 7PM……………Couple of our high school students are playing golf for their respective schools….Ross Steelman plays for Rock Bridge and Caleb Yoder plays for Harrisburg……happy for both of you young men and trust you will enjoy the sport and learn some life lessons thereby…………….Glad to report that Kent and Jenn returned relaxed and refreshed from the Eastern Caribbean Cruise…Kent was at Group Wednesday morning and gave us the Readers Digest version……………So good to see Kirsten Yoder in church Sunday…..she has been stationed for the past 5 months at the Naval Base in San Diego…her furlough is about over and she will return on Monday. Her father was at Group Wednesday morning and said her next break will be over Christmas……………did you know Bro Bob Weinberg is now driving for Mo-Ex? He enjoys the conversations as he journeys to respective airports…………
We are so blessed to report “Good Stuff” with our children’s ministry…..Jackie is branching out from the room on the west side – to the east side – as well as completing the nursery room (1st room on the right as you enter the foyer)…..We applaud her vision for this ministry — and with 100% support —— we encourage her to fulfill her vision. For some time we have been praying for 12 children under the age of 12 to enroll in the ministry…. and to say that – we mean 12 on Saturday night – 12 on Sunday morning…..
As the ministry grows – we are going to need more VOLUNTEER assistance. If you love children – if you feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit to help — please contact Jackie – Jaclydra@yahoo.com
As a church – we are reading the book of 1 Samuel during the month of April. If you have your own personal bible reading – great —- but if not – you can read along with us as we consider the exploits of Samuel – Saul – Kish – and read along as God develops a people – through which He will bring Messiah….Whatever….please read God’s Word E V E R Y D A Y!!!!
Continuing in our Self-Deception series – I Told Me So… this week’s Celebration Service will center around a Prophet For Hire – BALAAM. Groups read Numbers 22 – and there we find his story. He lived in the area of the Euphrates River – but was a Mesopotamian Soothsayer…..
Israel was on their journey from Egypt to the Holy Land. As they arrived close to Moab – the king of Moab – Balak sought for Balaam and offered him a ton of money if he would curse Israel……There is a lot of back-n-forth with God as to whether he can curse God’s People – and whether he can go with Balak……
His self-deception will not quit….He pleads with God a couple time – and in Number 23-24 – he delivers 4 prophecies – wanting to curse God’s people (snookered by money) – but his words result in multiple blessings on God’s People….
What about: (a) Bargaining with God? (b) the talking Donkey? (c) motivated only by money? (c) being your own worst enemy…….hope everyone will make every effort to be with us either Saturday @ 5:00 PM or Sunday @ 10:00 AM…
19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. 20 Human anger[a] does not produce the righteousness[b] God desires. 21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. 27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.