Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Things I've Learned From My Garden . . .

In a planter on my front porch, I have four of the same kind of decorative plant.  If I told you only the name, it would give you an idea of what the plant looked like but you would need a more detailed description to get a better idea of the beauty and variety planted in the same container.  This is a wonderful visual example of community - the type of community I see here at First Pres.  When I look at my Father's creations flourishing in the same planter, I think of all of the many ways that  members of church and staff use their different gifts and talents to contribute to the whole body of Christ and create something more beautiful than they could have on their own. Many, including me, have been blessed by this beautiful community as they love and care for each other through hardship, joy and loss.  May God continue to blend the varied gifts of this community to His honor and glory. Hebrews 10:24
 - Joyce Ladd

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Reminders of God's Love

Sometimes it is difficult to fully grasp the Love our Heavenly Father has for us, sometimes it’s hard for us to fully receive His Love, sometimes we just need a reminder….
You were created in His image (Gen 1:27). 
He knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psa 139:13). 
He knows the number of hairs on your head and before a word is on your tongue
He knows it (Matt 10:30) 
You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psa 139:14)

God loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you. You are a daughter of the King and His love for you is perfect because He is love. You are not your own, for you were bought with a price – you belong to God the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Long before He laid down earth’s foundations, He had you in mind, had settled on you as the focus of His love, to be made whole and holy by His love.  Long, long ago He decided to adopt you into His family through Jesus Christ – and what pleasure He took in planning this! 
You have been redeemed and forgiven (Col 1:14)
and are forever free from condemnation (Rom 8:1-2). 
Nothing can separate you from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39). 
You are established, anointed, and sealed by God (2 Cor 1:21-22). 
You can be confident in the fact that the good work
God has begun in you will be perfected (Phil 1:6). 
You can find grace and mercy in your time of need (Heb 4:16). 
You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Phil 4:13). 
You are God’s workmanship (Eph 2:10) 
He gives His angels charge over you (Psa 91).
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17) 
He has engraved you on the palms of his hands (Is 49:16) 
He gives you power, love, and self-discipline (2Tim 1:7)
Mercy, Peace, and Love is yours in abundance (Jude 1:2). 
Because of the Lord’s great love you are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning, Great is His faithfulness ( Lam 3: 22-23) 
His Love for you endures forever (Psa 136:26). 
He has plans for you – for your welfare and not for evil
but to give you a future and a hope. (Jer 29:11).
The Lord takes pleasure in you; He will beautify the humble with salvation.  (Psa 149:4) 
He will lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of His love
and the patient endurance that comes from Christ (2 Thess 3:5)
Listen as He speaks into the deepest recesses of your heart and satisfies places the world could never even reach. He longs for you to know how beautiful you are to Him. He longs for you to stand in awe of the wonders of His perfect, true, and unconditional love. May you live today in the eternal embrace of God knowing that you are forever His beloved.  Fully receive the constant, ever-faithful, relentless, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained love of our Father God and His loyalty toward you!

Submitted by Shelley Chaloupka 


Monday, February 13, 2017

"A Crocodile Attack and Mariah Carey by Dr. Jim Denison"

The following article was shared by Nancy Williams at a recent Women's Leadership meeting - hope it provides encouragement.

"A tourist posing for a photo beside a crocodile was bitten on the leg, according to this morning's Associated Press. Mariah Carey is still in the news after she tried to lip-sync her New Year's Eve concert but couldn't hear the music and stopped singing.What do these women have in common?  Both are facing ridicule in the news.  And both can decide whether to let what is now their past define their future.  So can we.

The problem is, we live in a culture that is fixated on yesterday and tomorrow.  Guilt over the past afflicts us in the present.  We love new year's predictions.  We even have a month dedicated to this obsession. "January" is named for the Roman god Janus.  He is depicted in ancient mythology with two faces, one able to see the past and the other able to peer into the future.  But Janus is a liar.  He can see neither yesterday nor tomorrow because neither is real.

How much does "yesterday" weigh?  What color is "tomorrow"?  Both are just words, not realities.  The past is gone and the future has not yet arrived.  Today is the only day there is.  This moment is the only moment that is real.That's why our Lord called himself "I Am" (Exodus 3:14).  Helen Mallicoat said it well:
I was regretting the past and fearing the future.
Suddenly my Lord was speaking: My name is I Am.
When you live in the past, with its mistakes and regrets,
It is hard.  I am not there.  My name is not I Was.
When you live in the future, with its problems and fears,
It is hard.  I am not there.  My name is not I Will Be.
When you live in this moment, it is not hard. I am here.
My name is I Am.

All of God there is is in this moment. Here's why this fact matters:  God can help us only with what exists.  He can't help us with Martians because they're not real.  If we choose to live in the past or the future, we're on our own.  But if we'll learn to live in the present, we'll find God's power and providence ready to make us all God wants us to be.

So how do we live in the present this year?  How do we experience God's best today?

First -- give your past guilt to God's grace.  If something in the past is bothering your soul, confess it specifically to your Father.  Claim the fact that he forgives all we confess (I John 1:9) and forgets all he forgives (Isaiah 43:25).  Then, the next time guilt attacks, say to it:  "I have confessed that and am forgiven, and grace is greater than guilt."  Say it every time:  "Grace is greater than guilt."  And you will experience the peace of grace.

Second -- give your future fears to God by faith.  Name what worries you today.  Place it in God's hands and ask him to be King of this fear.  Then, whenever the fear comes back, say to it:  "I trusted that to God, and faith is greater than fear."  Say it every time the fear attacks, and you will know the peace of faith.

Third -- start every day by giving it to Jesus.  Surrender the only day there is to the only Lord there is.  And your peace and serenity will be a striking witness to a guilt-driven, fear-wracked culture.

No God, no peace.  Know God, know peace."

Monday, December 12, 2016

First Pres Women Prepare for Advent 2016 at the Advent Workshop -

Early in November, women of every generation, from teens to nineties, came together with one thought—Preparing Our Hearts and Homes to Worship Our Savior!!! 

First Pres Women hosted an advent workshop both for our own ladies and for ladies from our community.  Together, we set our hearts to seek ways of honoring
Jesus’ birth in our homes and in our community, beginning with our own hearts!

Creative workshops were part of the fun!  We made crafts that would bring delight and build faith in our families during the Christmas season! 
In other workshops, we learned ways to bring the light of Christ’s love to those who do not know that Jesus came to save them from their sins! 
Sparks of friendship were everywhere among the ladies who participated in the workshops!!!

Many people from our church family came together, lovingly giving their talents, to prepare for this wonderful time for our ladies! 
And we gratefully felt His Presence as worshiped together!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Seeds of God's Love Planted in Hungary

In March of this year, Sherrie Lovato approached me about the possibility of exploring a mission opportunity she learned about through her involvement with some women from the City Wide Women’s Conference.  Because it has been Sherrie’s desire is to find a mission trip for the women of our church for several years, this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
The trip was through an organization called International Commission whose stated purpose is “to share the redeeming love of Jesus Christ with the unbelieving world.”  It is a wonderful organization doing work all over the world.  Our team was assigned to go to Hungary.  Because the Hungarian government realized the lack of morals and ethics in their youth, they contracted International Commission to establish and run summer English camps in their schools using the Bible as the textbook.  It is quite an amazing opportunity in a culture that was closed to religious freedom for many years under communist rule.
So for a week, Sherrie and I taught our class of eight, nine and ten year olds.  We had two girls and thirteen boys and used scripture to teach them English.  The feeding of the five thousand, Jesus calming the storm and the good Samaritan were a few of the texts we used to teach English vocabulary, personal pronouns, numbers and counting.  Most importantly, we were introducing this next generation of young Hungarians to God and the life-changing opportunity of a relationship with Him through Jesus.
Through the use of translators in our classrooms, we were able to teach, play games, take outings and develop a friendship with our young Hungarian friends.  We quickly learned that they are enamored with all things American including our rap music, sports heroes, movies and video games. Yet, as the week went on, we saw them reading the Hungarian children’s Bibles that we gave them earlier in the week, reading the stories of Jesus in their own language.  Most of them have never had a Bible in their home, much less one for children in their language.
As I reflect on our classroom, I am reminded of two remarkable students.  The first is Jsolt.  He is a handsome young Hungarian who was about a foot taller than most of the other boys in our class and, therefore, was the boys’ leader.  His teachers had warned us that he was a troublemaker and a troubled young man.  He was very detached, leaning back in his chair playing on his phone almost constantly.  He rarely participated, spoke or smiled.  We began to notice in this young man a high level of anxiety evidenced by a shaking in his voice when he spoke and a trembling in his hands.  Throughout the week, Sherrie and I prayed for him, sat by him, and encouraged him as he read English out loud.  We started noticing small differences in him.  He put his phone away and started participating in the math exercises as it was his best subject.  He started relaxing and finally smiling.  He had a speaking part in a play that the kids presented to the entire school and their parents.  By the end of the week, we had a new friend and hopefully had planted some seeds that were a picture of God’s great and unconditional love for him.
Indirect contrast to Jsolt, there is Roli  (short for Rolland.)  Roli is the classic “teacher’s pet”.  He was the first to greet us every morning with a huge hug as we got off the bus and the first to have his hand up to answer any question we posed. Happy, cheerful and sweet, he came from a difficult home life and yet was always eager to please.  After reading the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000, we asked a question to the class, “just like the young man offered his lunch, what can you give to Jesus?”  There was no response from the class until Roli raised his hand and eagerly answered “I can give him my heart!”  It was a very wise answer from a young man who had heard these words of Jesus for perhaps the first time that morning!
After my week in Hungary, I was reminded of the opportunity that exists there simply because we know English.  The door is open for us to come - we just have to go.  No one knows how long this opportunity will remain.                   
The International Commission teams were composed of husbands and wives, grandmothers and granddaughters, friends, widows, high school students and college kids.   This mission opportunity is not limited to age or demographic.  Besides teaching the students ESL, next year they are asking to have afternoon Bible studies for the parents and teachers.  
In conclusion, I have many memories of my trip to Hungary.  Fields of sunflowers, the warm hospitality of the church and beautiful Budapest on the Danube are a few of my lasting impressions. But primarily, I was reminded of the privilege we have to be a part of God’s work in the world.  We get to do the sometimes hard work of plowing new ground and planting seeds.   Although I am back in my comfortable world with air conditioning, it is exciting for me to remember that God is still there, watering the seeds He planted through us and causing His growth in the hearts of the beautiful people of Hungary. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

New Bible Studies for Summer 2016!

    Two new summer Bible studies

A Wise Woman Builds

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  Proverbs 14:1

This summer Bible study is for women who desire to build on a foundation of Jesus Christ.  Together we will discover the ways of wisdom in building the relationships of home.
Join seasoned teachers Rita Morrow, Tanya Sluder and Sherrie Lovato and plan to make some new heart-friends at this provocative Bible study!
Tuesday evenings at 6:30 beginning June 14th
3505 Danbury (Tanya’s Home)
 Questions?      Sherrie 477-8241;
Tanya 282-2075;
                                                                           Invite a friend!

         Please join us for the Beth Moore lecture Bible study:
Breath- The Life of God in Us. This very inspiring six-week study reflects on the Person, the work, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Each lecture is followed by a single day of further study opportunity in the listening guide.  Listening guides are ten dollars and may be purchased from Joyce at the church or at the Bible study.
Led by Virginia Sicola and Jeanette Embrey this study begins:

                            Monday mornings at 10:00, beginning June 20th
                               Wilkins Parlor, First Presbyterian Church

                                             Questions?  Joyce 373-4242;
                        Childcare is available with reservation by calling Debbie Laur, 350-5213

This study is often declared The Favorite! of Beth Moore Bible study participants. We hope youll bring a friend!