May 2020 Newsletter

~ Pulpit Ponderings ~

            Well…..here we are still doing what we are supposed to be doing to not to spread COVID-19 – remaining in self-isolation – or, quarantine – being a hermit – hiding – or, as I refer to it, “ministry prison”. Several of you have asked me what I mean by “ministry prison” – well…..you know how much of a “people person” I am and by not visiting with the flock “eyeball-to-eyeball” and only doing so by phone, text, and/or email I am in “prison”. Seriously, I detest staying away from any one, especially my church family. But I trust in God’s grace and the love He has for me, and I can place my trust in Him for He knows what’s best for me. And it’s time like this when all we can do is trust in our Gracious God. In point, Rev. Stephen Davey’s cousin in Ireland sent us COVID is Christ Over Viruses and Infectious Diseases.”

            So…..I have been thinking about what trust should mean to us believers and I want to share these thoughts with you regarding Psalm 62 where King David expressed his feelings to God while reaffirming his faith (trust) in Him: 1Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken…….”

There’s a story about a guy named Speedy Morris. Speedy was a basketball coach for LaSalle University. He was shaving one day when his wife called out to tell him he was wanted on the phone by Sports Illustrated. Speedy Morris was so excited by the prospect of national recognition that he nicked himself with his razor and ran – with a mixture of blood and shaving cream on his face – down the hall.

He rushed down the stairs so quickly that he slipped on the third to the last step and fell to the floor. Limping, and in pain he finally got to the phone and the voice on the other end said, “For just a dollar an issue you can get a one year trial subscription…”

The pain of disappointment is something most of us are all too familiar with. Can you ever remember a time when you were counting on someone to be there for you at some critical moment, but they failed to show up? Have you ever given your heart to someone, only to have that person break it? Have you ever shared a secret with a friend, but they gave it away? Have you ever put your faith in a doctor, financial advisor, or counselor of some other kind only to have their “wisdom” prove disastrous?

Few things are more sacred than trust between people, and few things are more devastating than to have that trust fail. There can be no doubt that trust is an essential part of life. In order for us to healthily develop mentally, emotionally and spiritually we need an environment of trust. How else could we possibly expect to be able to endure hardships with peace, with calm?

A colleague writes, “In 2007, my family’s house burned; we lost everything. As I watched it burn, I heard myself say, ‘I’ve been preparing for this.’ I didn’t mean I expected a tragedy, but I had learned to be at peace no matter what happened.”

He continues, “I don’t know when, like the psalmist, I started to trust in God at all times and without anxiety. I know it happened gradually, the result of a long-term relationship with the Lord……because I remember what the Lord did in the past, I take my rest in the present……God has been teaching me to trust.”

Has God been teaching you to trust? God will if you allow Him. But you must let go – surrender all to Him. A famous theologian once said, “Fish need water in which to swim, birds need air in which to fly, and we human beings need trust in order to develop our humanity. Trust is the basic element in which human life exists.”

Psalm 62 is basically a “personal testimony.” Apparently, the psalmist was a victim of persecution and deception by persons who were masquerading as friends. Have you ever been “stabbed in the back” by someone whom you had considered a friend? Ever been torn down by a friend? This is what happened to the psalmist.

In verse 4 the psalmist says, “The only desire of this people is to bring others down low…with their mouths they bless, but inside they are cursing.” In other words, those who have brought disappointment to this person were fakes or frauds. They seemed to be one way outwardly, but inwardly they were something else altogether. The Associated Press ran a news story which caught my attention. The headline read: “Man Crashes Wearing Fake Seat Belt.” According to the article, a man in New Zealand just would not put up with the hassle of seatbelts. He just couldn’t be bothered with them. The police ticketed him 32 times over a period of 5 years for failing to use his seat beat. And even though this was costing the guy big money, he still refused to buckle up. Finally, instead of obeying the man made a fake seat belt that would hang over his shoulder and make it appear as if he was wearing a seat belt when he wasn’t.

His trick worked for a while. Then, he had a head-on collision. He was thrown forward onto the steering

wheel and killed. Discussing the accident, the coroner described the fake seat belt: “Though his car was fitted with seat belts, an extra belt with a long strap had been knotted above the seat belt on the driver’s side, providing a belt to simply sit over the driver’s shoulder.” There can be no doubt that when something is truly tested, that which is fake will fail us!!!

And this is what the writer of Psalm 62 has found. The psalmist’s life has been a struggle between despair and trust. He has been let down by persons who have said they were friends. He has experimented with violence and robbery. And even wealth has proven to be a false hope. How many of us can say the same thing?

Augustine declared that we humans are made for God and, therefore, “our hearts are restless until we find rest in [God].” And the author of Psalm 62 has found this to be the truth: “Only in God do I find rest; my salvation comes from him.

“Only God is my rock and my salvationmy stronghold! I won’t be shaken anymore.” What do you believe? Whom do you trust? In Psalm 62, the psalmist informs us that we must orient our lives in such a way that our ultimate trust is found in God because by comparison, all other things are weak and erratic. It is only when we put our faith in God first, that the rest of life falls into place. God is the only One in Whom we can place our absolute trust and our final hope!!!

The career that shows so much promise, the children that seem so exceptional, the nation that appears so strong – all these things are like shifting sand……they offer us no permanent security, no eternal life! Only when we put our full trust in God can other things become valuable.

As it is put so well in 1st John 4:19: “We love because God first loved us.” Everything else in our lives is to flow from that knowledge, from that trust, from that faith!!! God bears our burdens, shares our grief, forgives our sins, and bears with our unfaithfulness. God’s sharing, forgiving and enduring qualities are proven most strongly in the suffering of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

Jesus came and died for you and for me. It should not be difficult to trust in a God like that!!! The rich can’t make their lives secure by the things they collect. The poor can’t make their lives secure by getting what the rich and powerful have. Both are equally vulnerable to desolation. Hope, peace, love and salvation can’t be bought!!!

The lives of all people are so fleeting—just a flash in a pan!!! How can we find security and safety outside the realm of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

We can’t!!! Our experience, human history and the Cross teach us that we can only and ultimately trust in God!!! And this trust provides us with the confidence to take risks, to live life to the full, and to share our faith, and our lives in loving service with others.

How many of you have taught a child how to swim? How difficult it was to get your little one to jump from the side of the pool into the water and your arms. Remember that look of bewildering fear as she looked upon the face of the dad she loved so much and now he had just turned into a crazy man!

Then the look on her face, in about two seconds changed with a dawning of understanding. You probably heard, “No!” countless times as you tried to coax your precious little angel into the water. Remember saying, “Come on baby, I promise I’ll catch you.” Not giving into surrender you eventually convince her that you are there to see that she can do this safely.

And so, we came to the moment of truth. Then comes the leap of faith in an awkward and half-hearted jump right into the water with more of a flop just out reach of your waiting arms. Coming to her, “See, I told you I would catch you. I knew you could do it.” After that we were off to the races. “Do it again, daddy! Catch me again!” And so, commenced a half an hour of jump, catch, and release…. jump, catch, and release!

A friend of mine did this with his two little girls and when it was over, he started to worry that maybe they had gotten a bit too comfortable with the water. What if they tried to jump in when no one was looking? But never once did his little girls think about jumping into the water – at least not unless he was standing underneath them with his arms out, promising to catch them.

Despite all those apparent successes, the younger daughter’s trust was never in her own ability to handle the water. It was in her, very-flawed, father……and in his promises of “Come on baby, I’ll catch you.”

If a child develops that kind of trust in a mortal being, how much more can we bond in trust with the God Who has created us, died for us, and Who’s love for us can never be shaken nor taken away? Verse 8 of Psalm 62 links two important words: “trust” and “heart.”

The psalmist urges us to trust God and pray. I’m getting better at that only because through experience in my relationship with Him, God has been teaching me to trust. “My deliverance and glory depend on God. God is my strong rock. My refuge is in God…Trust in him at all times! Pour out your hearts before him!”

God will never let you down. God will never turn you away. Only trust Him. Only trust Him. Only trust in Him!!! You can!!! Trust Him today and always!

            I hope every one remains in good health and safely from this virus. And I pray that we all trust in God to take care of us, provide for us, and sustain us through His over whelming love. And Remember:

“Be Safe While You Keep the Faith.”

As Always, In His Grip …Shalom Aleichem (Peace Be Unto You) …

Until the Nets Are Full,

Pastor Buddy

nnDnn

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The Presbyterian Church

Gatesville, Texas

est. 1885

April 30, 2020

Dear Church Family;

Your Session met last evening to discuss the next step forward for worship during this pandemic. I assure you they take this very seriously. They have reviewed all orders and statements at the federal, state, and local level that recommend caution and provide detailed instructions maintaining good health and prohibiting the spread of the virus during worship services.

During the meeting, the Session reviewed and discussed the various concerns of members and several courses of action for worship. After lengthy and detailed discussion, it was decided to have worship in the sanctuary (11am) AND continue the recorded worship as provided by LINK to YouTube since March 22. Therefore, and until further notice, when worshipping in the sanctuary the following guidance will be observed:

The Session is fully aware of possible hardships due to these procedures which are very contrary to our way of habitual worship and fellowship. They are resolved to the fact that in order to get back to freely worshipping, the church family must abide by these procedures to ensure the safety and health of everyone. As this is uncharted territory, please be kind, patient, flexible, and dutiful. Any concerns, suggestions, and/or questions, please let us know. God bless you and your families. Until next, I will remain,

Your Most Humble and Obedient Servant,

(Original Signed)

Pastor Buddy                                                                                                                                      nnDnn

~ The Lighter Side of the Church ~

My Dear Flock; I’m writing this from “Ministry Prison” and just wanted you to know what I am putting up with when I preside at a worship service under this current “norm” of doing business. Below are some photos I took to show you what y’all are starting to look like to me. Actually, the first two are really a nightmare of mine coming to fruition. In that nightmare, I get to the pulpit to deliver the very best and inspiring sermon I have ever written – I take a big breath – and with a big, loving smile look out to the congregation….and….and…. y’all ain’t there!!!

Services for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, & Good Friday

            

            No Choir!!!            No  Organaist!!!            No Congregation!!!

AAAEEEIII!!!!!

Well, I have solved that problem…. For now, that is!

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V

Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020

“Christ is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!”

I’ve got a choir!
I’ve got a congregation!

AND…. I’VE GOT ME AN ORGANIST!!!!

(Seriously, I’m pastorally lonely – this must end soon – Pray! Pray! Pray!)

AND NOW . . . .

After checking the church today (Wed, Apr 23), I have discovered that…

The Flock is Growing!!!

Hooah!!! And Praise the Lord!!!

~ And on a (Little More) Serious Note ~

Recently, during some spare time, I was doing a bit of research and reading on ancient chivalry and the Templar Knights. I discovered these sayings from ancient times which have a Christian flavor. Thought you might find them as interesting as I have.

“When my time comes, I will sing my death song

And be like a warrior going home!”

“One day your life will flash before your eyes.

Make sure it is something worth watching!”

Fear is a reaction!

Courage is a decision!

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”

“My scars tell a story; they are a reminder of when life tried to break me but failed.”

And, this one (my favorite) is a great one to live by:

~ The Christian Soldier’s Creed ~

I am a Christian soldier; I am a Warrior of the King.

I will not hide my colors but will boldly proclaim His name.

Though men make mock me, I will not cease to preach HIs truth.

I am willing to forsake all, and I am determined to endure all

that I may please Him who has called me to serve.

I am a Christian soldier!

In Hoc Signo Vinces” – (“In this sign thou shalt conquer”)

~ A Word on “Social Distancing” ~

“I can’t go out because of the virus” sounds weak, whiny, and boring.

Try instead:

“I’ve sworn an oath of solitude until the pestilence is purged from all the lands of the realm.”

Sounds more valiant and heroic, and people might – just might, mind you – even think you are carrying a sword.

comic strip - hagar the horrible

~ Announcements for May 2020 ~

Hope we have more definitive instruction on the lifting of the social distancing. Once that is obtained the Session can met and determine just WHEN we can get back together and HOW. We just have to ride this thing – whatever it is – out once and for all. Hang in there!

Diane Herridge, wife of our church piper, passed away last Thursday morning after a tough illness. Bill asked me to preside at a memorial for Diane and details/arrangements are pending.

Please keep everyone in our prayers – sick, getting sick, afflicted, injured, and grieving.

If anyone needs a visit, please let me know and we can phone, or do a “curb-side” for now.

God bless.