In A Nutshell | October 25, 2021

Let Us Break Bread Together on Sunday

Having a meal with a friend or colleague can be an enjoyable, uplifting, heartwarming, and even spiritual experience. With that in mind, Oak Chapel will resume its longstanding tradition of monthly Fellowship Dinners this Sunday (Oct. 24), ending an 18-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus.

Why is it important for us to break bread together? Scripture addresses this question in a number of passages, including Acts 2:42-47, which states, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

There’s just something about a hearty meal that reduces stress and produces an atmosphere of goodwill. Such a setting gives us an opportunity to relax, open up, and share our joys and concerns with one another. This creates a bond that strengthens our fellowship with one another and our covenant with the Lord. It engenders empathy and drives our desire to reach out, lift up, and serve others, especially those in need.

Oak Chapel is greatly blessed to have such a kind, caring, and compassionate congregation. It is such an honor and a blessing to serve with fellow disciples who are so sincere and genuine. But, let’s face it, we’ve been out of touch for a while. This Sunday will give us an opportunity to regather and reacquaint ourselves with one another.

If you are unfamiliar with Fellowship Dinners, here’s how they work. Just bring your favorite dish to share (casserole, salad, pasta, dessert, etc.) on Sunday. You can bring it to Fellowship Hall before the service and keep it warm by plugging in your crockpot or placing it in the oven, or keep it cool by placing it in our refrigerator. After the worship service, we will all gather, ask God’s blessing on the food, and partake of a delicious variety of mouth-watering options (United Methodists are such great cooks)! Please bring your own tableware. Beverages will be provided.

Sit wherever you like and with whomever you wish, but please be on the lookout for others who may not have someone to sit with and invite them to your table. This is an all-inclusive, all-welcoming event, and who knows, you just might get to know someone you didn’t know well beforehand.

The Bible reminds us of the importance of physical and spiritual nourishment. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 addresses our physical sustenance with this passage: “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil — this is the gift of God.” John 6:51 talks about our spiritual needs with this passage: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

May we all break bread (and a number of other tantalizing dishes) together as we gather for our Fellowship Dinner on Sunday. Please join us!

Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John

In A Nutshell | October 15, 2021

Bazaar, Glass Candy, Fellowship Dinners, and More

Some things never get old and never go out of style. Case in point: three long-standing traditions here at Oak Chapel — the Fall Bazaar, Glass Candy-Making, and monthly Fellowship Dinners.

These three staples of our church life were a big deal when my family and I attended here some 25 years ago, but they go back much further in our history, and they remain equally relevant and important today.

Why! Well, to begin with, they are unique to the identity of our church; secondly, they bring people into our church; and thirdly, they promote fun and fellowship among members, friends, and guests.

With all of the focus on innovation and change in our world today, isn’t it nice to step back into a simpler, quieter time when life didn’t seem to be quite as fast-paced — a time when we could sit down over a meal with our friends, neighbors, and fellow church members and carry on an engaging conversation in which all parties genuinely listened to and respected one another. Those were the days, my friend.

And those days will continue here at Oak Chapel this coming week as we invite all of you to take a nostalgic stroll down Memory Lane with our Fall Bazaar tomorrow, our third session of Glass Candy-Making on Monday evening, and the first Fellowship Dinner in more than 18 months next Sunday.

The Bazaar, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., provides an opportunity to check out many wonderful crafts and grab some lunch with an old friend, or a new acquaintance to talk about the “good old days” or glance into the future and consider the ways in which we can become a growing and vibrant church once again. Candy-Making continues on Monday night from about 6:30-8:30 (or as long as you are able to stay for an evening of fun and frivolity) when the beauty of the rainbow comes together in a delicious array of Glass Candy. You’ll detect the fragrance of the delicious flavors the moment you enter the church. The Fellowship Dinner will take place on Sunday, Oct. 24. Bring your favorite dish to share and join us as we gather for a hearty meal just after the worship service.

In addition to these three storied traditions, our Sunday School classes are ramping up as well. Our two adult classes have merged and are just getting underway, but you are welcome to join the group any time you are able to make it. We are still working to get a young adult class started. The group, which has no age parameters, will begin after the worship service at about 11:30 and continue until about 12:15. We are also hoping to start classes for children and youth, and we are even kicking around the idea of mini-sessions that would run from 10:00-10:25 for children and young families who operate on a tighter schedule

Oak Chapel has a longstanding reputation for active mission, fellowship, education, and worship, and we welcome you to join us as we return to the days of old. Bring your family and bring your friends as we breathe new life into our church this fall and welcome the beginning of an exciting new phase in our history — one that we can all enjoy and cherish as we make new memories for many years to come.

Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John

In A Nutshell | October 8, 2021

Spiritual Sustenance: A Great Way to Start Your Day!

Nutritionists recommend that we break our nightly fast with a healthy and hearty breakfast. I’ve never been a big breakfast person because if I eat too much, I often feel
bloated for the rest of the day, so I usually start each morning rather light with some fruit
and/or cereal.

Equally important is how we start our day and our week spiritually. For many of you, worship is an essential part of your Sunday morning routine, and has been for as long as you can remember. Sure, you may occasionally take a Sunday off or find yourself traveling on the Sabbath, but for the most part the Sanctuary is your destination of choice on the first day of the week.

Over the years, some of us have fallen out of that routine, and, of course, the pandemic forced all of us out of the church for an extended period of time. Now, we are hoping to move back in a more positive direction, even though the Delta Variant continues to hover among us.

As we make our way through the fall and toward our traditional Thanksgiving and
Christmas celebrations, I would like to offer a warm and welcoming invitation to everyone to start their week with a visit to church, not only for our worship service, but
also for Sunday School, which begins at 9:30 a.m. (11:30 a.m. for young adults).

Christian Education is a vital component of our faith journey. I often hear people say that they really don’t know much about Scripture. Well, Sunday School provides an excellent opportunity for all of us to learn more about the Word of God and the opportunities it provides for guidance during each day. Regardless of your age, it’s never too late (or too early) to experience the wisdom of the Bible. Please consider joining us, and don’t forget to bring the kids (and their friends). We will have classes for children, teens, and young adults, too.

Starting your week off on the right foot spiritually strengthens our foundation and gives us perspective with the knowledge that God is always with us. But what about the six days that follow Sunday? Well, we can always begin every day by spending a few moments in devotion and prayer. Reminding ourselves who we are and whom we serve
as Disciples of Christ keeps us grounded and helps us to avoid temptation and many of
the other pitfalls of this world.

Psalm 95:6-7 sums it up rather nicely with these words: “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

Whenever and however we encounter the Lord, it can be both humbling and uplifting. Let us enhance our spiritual life through prayer, study, and worship. Not only will such practices fortify our faith, but they will also equip us to encourage and mentor others who are searching and ultimately seeking a relationship with Him.

Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John

In A Nutshell | October 1, 2021

Let Everyone Know that Oak Chapel Has a Place for Them

The vacations we took as a family when I was growing up were modest at best — usually a destination within four hours of our home in suburban Pittsburgh. My parents were kind, loving, and generous people, but they were also very frugal and sometimes spontaneous.

I remember going to Seven Springs in Pennsylvania and Niagara Falls on the domestic side in New York, along with various other locations. What I don’t remember is that much advanced planning went into the process. My mother and father would consult briefly, and before I knew it we were on our way — no lodging reservations that I recall. We would drive the backroads of Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, and not really look for a place to stay until evening.

Along the way, we would scout out inexpensive motels and pull over for the night, provided that the sign out front didn’t say, “No Vacancy.” Often, we would pass motels with outdoor pools, air conditioning, and color television in the room — all luxuries to us — but those places would always fill up first, so we would move on to the next option some 10, 20, or even 30 miles down the road. Eventually, we would find a place with a “Vacancy” sign, and heave a collective sigh of relief.

I often wonder if we should put such a sign in front of our church. After all, we have plenty of vacancies in the form of open pews and opportunities for service. And now, we can boast that we have air conditioning and color television, although an outdoor pool is not part of our long-range planning, at least not right now.

So, what do we do with our vacancies? How do we get people to pull over and stop in? We could advertise more in both traditional and social media, but that may not be enough to fill our sanctuary. What might we do to encourage people to join us?

Actually, I think the best way to get people to consider coming to Oak Chapel is to simply invite them. Word-of-mouth is one of the oldest forms of persuasion, and also one of the most effective. If you are willing to share your positive experiences here at the church with others, chances are they might be moved to join us.

Imagine what it would be like with a bustling Sanctuary on a Sunday morning. Consider the possibilities of multiple Sunday School classes, including those devoted to children, youth, and young adults.

Sure we could print flyers and post messages on Facebook — and there is something to be said for those efforts — but a good old-fashioned endorsement, like the ones we share when we’ve eaten at a great restaurant or seen a great movie, are the most compelling. People listen to what others say, especially when those others are respected family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

It’s easy to be discouraged by a Sanctuary that is less than half full, but instead of lamenting the situation, we can do something about it with a simple but enthusiastic invitation, something like this from Psalm 66:5 – “Come and see what God has done; He is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.”

Indeed, it is quite likely that the reason people don’t come to commune with God is that they don’t know Him. Let us be the ones to open the door, welcome them in, and introduce them to the Lord.

Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John

In A Nutshell | September 24, 2021

Time to ‘Seal the Deal’

There are many reasons why I failed in my first job out of college as a consumer products sales representative. To begin with, it was not what I went to school for, so I was less than committed to what the position required. Secondly, I was lacking in the most essential aspect of successful sales — the ability to “seal the deal.” I could develop colorful visual materials and make effective presentations, but I just couldn’t bring myself to close the sale or “make the ask.” I would often find myself saying, “It’s okay, whatever you want to do,” instead of “this is a great product, and you really need to order 200 cases.”

It took me six years to “escape” that profession, and be blessed by a position in sports information at The College of Wooster that I truly loved. I would eventually transition into public information and spend a total of 32 years at the College, but there was always something gnawing at me, pushing me in a different direction — a position of service to the Lord our God.

My prayers were answered with my appointment as a pastor, first at East Greenville UMC in 2018, and one year later back home at Oak Chapel. I am truly blessed — far more than I deserve or could have imagined — but there is work to be done. We are fortunate to have a very hearty group of dedicated disciples in our congregation, but I think we would all agree that there is room to grow, especially when it comes to reaching out to young people and their families.

With that in mind, I would encourage you to continue to invite others to join us for worship and other activities at the church. You don’t necessarily have to “seal the deal,” just “make the ask” through an invitation, and let the Lord take over from there.

One area in particular that needs attention is our Christian Education program. Last week, we celebrated a wonderful outdoor service, courtesy of Rick and Julie Grossniklaus, as we focused on getting “Back-to-Church” — back into a routine of regular worship and service to the Lord through our service to others. We hope to see increasing numbers in our sanctuary throughout the fall and into the coming year.

Now, we want to focus on restarting Sunday School classes, beginning next week (Oct. 3) on World Communion Sunday. We hope to have at least one adult class, and we are looking to start classes for children and youth as well. The Sunday School hour (actually 45 minutes) begins at 9:30 a.m. and concludes between 10:15-10:20 a.m. The adult class will have a series of rotating teachers and will begin with Philip Yancey’s fascinating study on “Vanishing Grace” — a very appropriate topic for the times in which we are now living.

Please consider joining us and encouraging your children, grandchildren, and others to become part of the process. You don’t have to make a weekly commitment – just come when you are able — and be blessed by the extraordinary and sacred Word of God.

We also have a need for active and enthusiastic servants in the church. Now that autumn is upon us, it’s time to “turn over a new leaf” and consider becoming involved in one (or more) of our church’s vast opportunities for service. It doesn’t have to be a major commitment on your part, just a little bit of participation. If you have a yearning to serve, or if the Spirit is moving you in that direction, please contact me, and I will help you “seal the deal!”

Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John

In A Nutshell | September 17, 2021

Join Us as We Celebrate ‘Back-to-Church Sunday’

This Sunday we will celebrate “Back-to-Church Sunday” — an effort to rekindle our enthusiasm for regular attendance at worship services after the pandemic and other distractions derailed our routine for the better part of a year and squeezed us out our Sunday morning regimen. Equally important is our effort to reach out to others and invite them to worship with us.

Now in its 12th year, National Back-to-Church Sunday has never been more critical. People have been distracted, dismissive, detached, and ultimately disconnected from their houses of worship. Even as our world grows more divided and dangerous, we seem to have a hard time getting back to making our faith a top priority.

Ironically, we will celebrate the occasion, not in church, but in nature. We will gather at the Grossniklaus Pavilion, located at 185 Cherry Lane (about a mile from the church, just off of Warner Hill). The service will be followed by a picnic lunch, courtesy once again of our men’s group. We also ask you to help us make the meal complete by bringing a covered dish or dessert. In addition, we invite you to bring a lawn chair so that you can enjoy the service in a casual and comfortable way.

So, why bother getting back to church? Well there are a host of reasons, including a variety of Scripture passages, beginning with I Chronicles 16:29, which states, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” God wants us to be in fellowship with Him and with other believers, and He will bless us when we are obedient to His call.

The Gospel of John offers further incentive with this passage from Chapter 4, Verses 23-24: “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth”.  God does, indeed seek us, and we find Him when we worship.

The Book of Romans (12:1) suggests an even deeper commitment by urging us to “offer [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God [because] this is [our] true and proper worship.” Giving of ourselves totally and completely to God is what asks and expects of us.

Hebrews 12:28 offers more encouragement with this passage: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” 

And finally, from the Gospel of Luke (4:8), Jesus himself says, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’

So, as we can see, there is great value in getting “Back to Church,” to a place of safety, comfort, tranquility, assurance, and fellowship to love and worship God.

Please join us this Sunday (and many Sundays that follow) as we prepare for what we firmly believe will be a fruitful and prosperous year of service to the Lord and fellowship with one another.

Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John

In A Nutshell | September 10, 2021

God Promises to Get Us Through the Tough Times

I would imagine that each of us knows where we were and what we were doing when we first heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, What followed would shake all of us to the core and cause us to wonder if life would ever be the same.

Over time, we managed to get back to a fairly regular routine, and today it’s seems almost impossible to believe that we are marking the 20th anniversary of that fateful day.

There have been far too many tragedies since 9/11 — too many to count — and it is unwise to spend too much time reflecting on them, lest we fall into a state of hopeless depression. At the same time, it would be foolish for us to ignore these calamities and overlook the lessons that can be learned from them.

So what can we do when tragedy strikes? How can we respond when our lives are turned upside down? Well, there are plenty of encouraging passages from Scripture, including many from the Old Testament. For example, Psalm 27:1 reminds us that “The Lord is [our] light and [our] salvation— whom shall [we] fear? The Lord is the stronghold of [our] life — of whom shall [we] be afraid?” Indeed, we can take consolation in the fact that whatever we face in life, the Lord will always be with us to lift us up and guide us.

A passage from Isaiah affirms Psalm 27:1 and takes it one step further with this stirring image: “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” We may not feel Him reaching for our right hand, but we know that he is there to rescue us from the evil that surrounds us.

In the New Testament Book of James (1:2-4), we get a deeper glimpse into why it is we suffer and what the outcome can be with this passage: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

This passage can be troubling and very difficult to accept, but because it is the Divine Word of God, it is worth probing. We know that everyone faces trials and tribulations, right? Some face more than others, but none of us is free from suffering. So what do we do with that? Well, the passage from James suggests that we essentially “roll with it.” In other words, stay strong, work through it, and see what happens on the other side where we become “more complete, not lacking anything.” This is another way of saying that building strength through one trial better equips us for the next trial.

Finally, it’s that familiar passage from Proverbs 3:5-6 that encourages us to “Trust in the Lord with all [our] heart and lean not on [our] own understanding; in all [our] ways submit to him, and he will make [our] paths straight.

Stay strong, persevere, and God will deliver us. That’s a guarantee that we can count on because we know that God always keeps His promises.

Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John

In A Nutshell | September 3, 2021

On the Grand Scale, Spiritual Baggage isn’t Worth the Weight

I almost hate to admit this, but I am a closet weight watcher. I step on the scale every morning, just to see how adversely the previous day’s caloric intake affected my bottom line. Overall, my weight is fairly consistent, and who really cares anyway? At my age, I’m well past any body-building competitions (not that I ever was to begin with).

No, my body mass isn’t all that big of a deal, but my spiritual baggage is, and, at the very least, I need to find ways to trim it. For example, how much extra weight am I carrying with my inherent biases and prejudices? Should I not seek to reduce or eliminate those entirely? What about my general attitude and approach toward others? Is there room for some positive adjustments in that area? And finally, the biggest weight of all — the sinfulness that I carry on my shoulders. What can I do about that?

Well, as we know, that last question was answered long ago on Calvary where Jesus took on the weight of the world’s sins (including mine) when he hung on the cross. My sins and the sins of others died with him on that day, and the opportunity to become holy and obedient rose with him on that glorious Easter Sunday.

So while my preoccupation with physical weight is no big deal I can also take comfort in the fact — and so can you — that the burden of spiritual weight has been lifted by the Lord God Almighty.

However, we may all be overdue for a reduction of the other types of excess baggage that weighs us down and prevents us from being the person that God has called us to be, particularly the grudges we hold against others who sin against us. Isn’t it time to let those go, too? We’ve all heard the expression that when we are in conflict with someone else, it’s not that we hold a grudge, but rather that the grudge holds us. If we allow it to do so, it prevents us from forgiving and reconciling with others. Some grudges last weeks, other months or years, and some even last a lifetime. We need to be sure that we prevent that from happening. We do not need to keep a record of the transgressions of others or even our own because Jesus took care of that, providing a pathway to eternal life for all who would believe.

So, today, I encourage you to get rid of that spiritual scale — that which records our wrongs and the wrongs of others. Instead, through prayer and supplication, let us renew our spirit each day through Jesus Christ our Lord.

As always, Scripture provides a very helpful blueprint for us to do this, even in the Old Testament Book of Leviticus where in Verse 18 of Chapter 19, we are advised that we “shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of [our] own people, but [we] shall love your neighbor as [ourself].” That’s what the Lord commands, and we would be well-advised to heed his call.

Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John

In A Nutshell | August 27, 2021

Searching for Spiritual Safety in Scripture

The perilous and heart-wrenching images of refugees desperately trying to escape from Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover has left many of us feeling helpless and somewhat hopeless, but there are occasional bright spots. For example, the father of one young Afghan family that was fortunate enough to make it out of the country expressed his relief upon arriving in the United States, saying, “we feel safe here.”

It reminded me how rarely we have to worry about our own safety in this country. Yes, there are plenty of things about which to be fearful, but our physical safety is rarely threatened, at least not in our community. There are, however, many in this country and
around the world, who live in fear for their safety on a daily basis as violence escalates in cities and towns everywhere.

I can’t remember too many times in my life fearing for my physical safety or the safety of my family. I guess the last time might have been just after 9/11 when we looked to the skies and wondered when the next wave of attacks might be coming.

In situations like that, we are moved to pray, even though we know that we are not always delivered from harm’s way in a physical sense. We do, however, have the assurance that we are always assured of spiritual safety. Here are five excerpts from the Bible that provide perspective and encouragement…

Joshua 1:9 tells us that we are to “be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” That assurance, at the very least, should give us peace of mind.

Psalm 81:1-2 says that “he who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” I believe that God travels with us wherever we go and provides for us regardless of what we might encounter. Perhaps this is enough for us to summon the courage to stand up against that which threatens us and even to rescue others from danger.

Proverbs 18:10 reminds us of the power and might of the God we serve with this passage: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.” This is particularly valuable when faced with temptation, encouraging us to run away from the darkness and toward the light.

James 1:12 affirms the value of perseverance with this passage of wisdom: “Blessed is the [one] who remains steadfast under trial, for when [one] has stood the test [one] will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

John 16:33 provides perspective in the end by assuring us that if we walk with God, we will find the ultimate safety. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Let us take heart in the fact that the God we serve has authority over all of creation and that He will never leave us and never forsake us. So let us do all that we can to create an atmosphere of safety for all through our obedience to His Sacred Word. Feel safe and be safe with the inner peace that comes through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John

In A Nutshell | August 20, 2021

Draining the System and Purifying the Soul

Each day, on my way to and from the church, I pass ADS (Advanced Drainage Systems) on Warner Hill. Invariably, there is a fully loaded truck leaving the facility or an empty truck returning from a delivery. I guess I never realized how much of this pipe runs beneath the ground we stand on and how important its function is in facilitating the proper disposal of storm water and wastewater.

All of this reminded me that our spiritual life also requires drainage on a daily basis, but fortunately we do not have to rely on ADS to remove that which stains our soul and threatens to clog our system. A simple but sincere prayer of confession can immediately
eradicate our transgressions and purify our entire being. We know this from a variety of
passages in the Bible, including this from I John 1:9, which states that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
No Advanced Drainage System required.

As humans, we generate a lot of waste in a spiritual sense, but as a fellowship of believers, we know that we are not alone in our transgressions. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Fortunately, that is not the end of the story. Later in Romans 5:8, we are assured that “God shows his love for us in that
while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
” We tend to think of Jesus’ death and resurrection as a one-time event, which of course it was, but we often overlook the fact
that His mighty act wiped out all sin — past, present, and even future — and that as we
are forgiven, we must also forgive others.

So what can we do in response? Well, Romans 6:1 addresses that with these words, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Indeed, new life is what we seek — new life in Christ Jesus.

In order to do that, we are advised to take a page from the Book of Galatians, which instructs us to “walk by the Spirit, and…not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Such an effort would be impossible if we live according to the ways of this world, but entirely doable if we follow Jesus and live by the spirit. We are, after all, temples of the Holy Spirit, and we are commanded to live our lives with respect and reverence.

Yes, unfortunately, we will continue to trip, stumble, and even fall throughout our lives, but James 4:7 gives us hope that we should “submit ourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from [us].” In other words, there is a way out, a way to avoid temptation and reject evil.

May this encouragement fill you with hope and bring you joy with the knowledge that the Lord God Almighty is always with us, always looking out for us, and always there to forgive the sins of those who repent.

Until We Meet Again, Be Blessed! – Pastor John

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