Thursday, August 31, 2017

Judy Lentz

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.  I John 5:13

As a child, I remember studying about Ponce de Leon – who sought to find the “fountain of youth” in hopes of discovering the secret to a long life on earth.  Supposedly, that is a myth but it is certainly engrained in my memory.   Recently I heard the modernday adage to achieving a long physical life and it goes something like this:

Eat half; walk double; laugh triple, love always

What is it that we seek?  Do we seek a long physical life on earth or to be blessed with a long spiritual life – an eternal life in Heaven with our Lord and Savior?  For me, it is a blend of both – to live a long physical life on earth where I can serve my Lord in every way possible followed by being welcomed into the Church Triumphant with eternal life.  As the scripture says in John, our faith in Jesus Christ is what assures us a place in Heaven.  He died for us, and through His death on the cross, if we profess our faith in Him, we will be saved.  Thereby, we are promised life eternal - so we might say the message for eternal life is:

Live faithfully, love eternally, and believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior

Prayer:  Our Heavenly Father – we thank You for the many blessings You have given us, especially for the love of Your son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross so that we might be saved.  Forgive us for all our wrongdoings and know that through our faith, we seek to live with You forever.  In the name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

There is a book by Group titled God Sightings, a companion guide to The One Year Bible that I recently ran across and it struck me that striving to notice God at work around us in our daily lives would be an excellent Lenten exercise.   “God Sightings”, learning to experience God every day, is a concept I was first introduced to during Vacation Bible School a couple of years ago. 

The idea is that God is at work all around us but we neglect to see his presence in our daily lives.  Not because He isn’t there but because we fail to look.  When we actively look for how God is engaged in our lives we will be surprised by what we discover.  The exercise fosters faith and deepens relationships with God which is exactly what we are called to do during Lent.  

The premise for a Lenten exercise is simple; every day share your God sightings, the moments you recognized as special because God was involved at some level, while you sit around the dinner table with family members and discuss how God is shaping the world around us and the impact He has on our lives.   The companion guide book provides suggested Bible readings for each week and specific ways to look for God at work.  The following is a list of a few of the questions and suggestions provided in the book that seem particularly appropriate for examination during the six weeks of Lent. 
Look around for commitment, total dedication, giving your entire self.  The athlete who goes the extra mile, the A+ student who does the bonus question too, the 50 year marriage etc.  That is the passionate response God is looking for from us as Christians.  Do you feel passionate about your faith?

Keep track of the services you provide for others and all the services you receive during the week.  Small acts of kindness, thoughtful actions to spare others, listening to someone; these things all matter because when you’re serving others you serve God as well.  How are you serving God?
What or who do you and the people in your life serve?   Celebrate the people whose lives reflect faith, hope and love as you observe them in action.  Pray for those that seem to be ruled by money, ego or fear.  Where are you in your relationship with God?   What rules your life?

Look around for temptations.  What tempts you or others?  Then invite God to strengthen you and forgive your weakness.  Accept God’s empowering mercy and grace. He wants us to depend on Him.
What is the best gift God has given you?  Do you feel content and satisfied?  Do you receive what you deserve for your efforts?  How often do you feel slighted?  The hard truth is we don’t really want what we deserve from God and maybe not from others either.  That we receive grace instead is the ultimate God Sighting.   We need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and a positive outlook on life.
Look for situations where justice is being done….mercy is being shown……and how you and others are walking with God.  Where are these things happening?  Who is doing them and why?  Not all who serve mankind serve God….yet God can use them.  What is God calling you to do?

Prayer:  Father in Heaven help us to see you at work in the world around us so that we might experience a vibrant awakening in our faith and recommit ourselves to you this Lenten season.   We ask in Jesus name.  Amen 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

THE POETRY OF SHARON CHURCH - Aldena Hedge Sieber-   


All nature plays God's Symphony
The birds, the wind, the trees
The pounding of an angry surf,
Soft whispering of a breeze-

A storm that brings the driving rain,
The parched earth's gentle sigh--
The birds all chirping, "Thank You",
When the soil's no longer dry.

The chatter of a busy squirrel,
Bright bubbling of a brook--
The quiet, peaceful stillness,
Of a pine grove's shady nook

No time to notice simple things?
Why must you hurry so?
You miss the PEACE, the Saviour brings,
To all who love Him so.

God plays his precious symphony,
Some movement, every day--
The instruments of nature,
Taking each their turn to play.

All nature played in harmony
A truly perfect blend.
'Twas man who added discord,
When he disobeyed and sinned.

Lift your eyes to God The Father,
Give Him thanks, with all your heart,
For His constant Melody of Life,

Of which you play a part.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Susanne Udvari            


“ I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  John 15:1,2

If we want to have a healthy garden, we need to cut off dead leaves, blossoms, stems and flowers to encourage a plant to grow and be healthy.  In gardening language, deadheading means removing the faded or diseased blooms.  Trees need pruning to stay in shape, but it is a delicate process – too much could kill a plant.

God prunes in the same way.  He may remove something or somebody that is keeping us from becoming a healthy member of the body of Christ.  God has a plan for our lives and He will remove roadblocks and hindrances.

Being pruned is not always comfortable or pleasant, but unhealthy parts of our character need to be removed so that we might grow into the person God wants us to be.  Deadheading plants allows them to mature, reenergize and fulfill their purpose with greater strength the next season.  God also does some deadheading in our lives.  Some parts of our lives may not have been aligned with His will for us.

Through this process, God will not leave us – He will give us the strength and endurance to endure the pruning which will make us more fruitful in our Christian walk.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for caring enough about my life to take the time to prune or deadhead the actions, attitudes, and plans which hinder my growth.    Thank you for loving 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

26  Gail Hiney

"Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you. I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61: 1-2 (Women's Devotional Bible 2.)

When I was 50 years old, I was still not ready to lose my mother. I spent a long October night-sitting by her hospital bed as her life was slipping away. I was tired, sad and anxious. In the middle of the night I walked to the big windows on the side of the room. The night seemed so still, but beautiful stars lit up the sky. I saw a doctor and nurses caring for the patient in the wing across from the window. A feeling of calmness, peace and love seemed to surround me and I no longer felt alone. I felt sure that it was the presence of God. My mother died peacefully the next day.

Prayer:Dear God, thank you for helping me at a very difficult time in my life. Please help me to rely on you more every day when even small problems seem to magnify in my mind. I know that I will always need your help and love to get me through life's challenges. Amen.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Treva Rosseau and Mark Gulden

Remember the Sabbath

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.  Exodus 20:8-10.

Of all the commandments, ordinances, and strong suggestions for holy living that are contained in the scriptures, I find the Fourth Commandment the hardest to keep. Perhaps it is my hard-driving American culture that bars me, insisting that I must do better, go farther, and acquire more to be a happy, productive individual.

Or perhaps it is because my line of work is in the Church, and therefore, I skirt the Sabbath issue by justifying the seven-day-a-week work schedule (it’s service for God, right?) It could be that my pride requires me to prove that my chronic illness does not have the better of me, and so I must press on with tireless energy. The psychological possibilities are endless.

Yet all are only excuses, because no matter how I explain my refusal to rest, I cannot deny that I am blatantly ignoring God’s command. He says, “Six days you shall do your work, but the seventh day you shall rest and keep the Sabbath...that you may be refreshed.” (Ex 23:12) The point of the command is not the legalistic observation of a certain day of the week, but rather the interruption of one’s life in order to be refreshed.

God wants us to step back, re-prioritize, and recharge our hearts and bodies with His energy. The Fourth Commandment is a gift He is extending to us, not a rule. Are you accepting that gift?

Pray with me: Lord, help me to accept the gift of rest. Clear away all excuses from my mind, and give me the strength to turn my face away from the world and toward You. I thank you for restoring my body, my mind, and my spirit with the love You are always extending to me. May I remember to pause and seek Your face. In Jesus’ Name I pray, amen.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Judy Lentz 


Luke 10: 17  The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in 
your name”.

The lyrics of one of my favorite child Bible songs are written this way
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart, Where?
Down in my heart!  Where?  Down in my heart!
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. 
Down in my heart to stay.

I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus, Down in my heart, Where?
Down in my heart!  Where?  Down in my heart!
I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus, down in my heart.
Down in my heart to stay.

I think I first heard this song at church camp when I was a young girl.  It’s melody and lyrics often pop into my mind, from time to time.  Joy is one of those emotions that we feel at those special times in our lives when we are happiest.  But what song do we sing when we are sad, lonely or afraid?  What does it take to be reminded that once Jesus is in our hearts, we are promised his unconditional love, his abiding faith and guidance in every situation. 

We just have to ask for whatever help we need.  Keeping our faith alive and well and growing is what He asks of us.  Once He is in our heart, He is there to stay unless we decide otherwise.  He gives us the power to flip the sadness coin and turn it back into the joy that He wants for you and me.  How blessed we are to have Him so deeply embedded in our hearts.  That depth of faith sustains us through any storm.  Don’t ever let it go away!!

Prayer:  Our Heavenly Father cast away my fears and doubts that occasionally creep into my mind.  Help me to know that the joy I feel for you and the love I have for Jesus deep in my heart is there just as you are.  Thank you for your unconditional love.  Remind me that your love will sustain me through any storm and help me experience the feeling of joy down in my heart to stay.  In the precious name of Jesus.  Amen

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mark Mizer 


One of my favorite books in the New Testament is Acts. Although not used often as a reading in worship it has special meaning to me.

At one time it was thought Acts was written by the Apostle Paul. However, I think more likely it was written by several authors. We find in Acts both Disciples and Apostles, those, such as Peter who struggled with forming a church of our Christ, and Paul, who never met Christ in the flesh but had quite an encounter and conversion on the road to Damascus, when he served as a Pharisee persecuting Christ's followers.

For me, Acts serves as a linchpin between the Gospels and the Epistles; the Gospels serving as the stories of Jesus Christ in the flesh as a human, witnessing his death and Resurrection, and the Epistles of Paul who became the ultimate Evangelist, spreading the Word of Christ through much of the then civilized world. Without Paul, it is possible we Gentiles would have never known about Jesus Christ.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for the Disciples and the Apostles who gave their lives in your service to bring your words of light and life to us all. Amen.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Ann Mizer 

God will pour out His Spirit

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”   Acts 2:17

This verse is Peter speaking and he is actually referencing the Old Testament book of Joel – connecting to the history of God’s people.  What are prophesies?   What does it mean to pour out God’s Spirit?  Much to ponder in this verse – references to sons and daughter, young men and old men – seems to be fairly inclusive of many people. 

The Spirit of God is part of the Triune God and is that mystical connection that we have with God.  When we feel God with us, know that he is there and sense knowledge that seems beyond our own understanding.   The young men have visions of what can be (the future) and old men have memories of what they hoped for and sought after (dreams that may have been fulfilled or may have only been hoped for).

Regardless, we know that God will pour out His Spirit on ALL people – something that is comforting and assuring.

Dear God, may we look for your Spirit, dream dreams and know that you will be there for us.  Amen

Monday, August 21, 2017

Roy Behling  


Jesus said: "Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, my servant will also be. My Father will honor whoever serves Me." - John 12:26 (NIV)

Having been a Presbyterian elder for 49 years and having served perhaps half of those years as an active ruling elder on Session, I have had numerous occasions when I was asked to share my faith journey and /or statement of faith and my experience of accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. I have also heard the faith journey of hundreds of applicants for church membership or ordination. Many of these talked

about dramatic experiences in their personal journeys; tears, laughter, strong renewal of faith, hope for the future and above all an immediate transformation in their lives.

I can honestly say that my experience was not as vivid or dramatic. I grew up in the church. My parents were very active in the church. From the time I was a toddler to this very day, I loved going to Sunday School, Youth Fellowship and church. From the time I sang "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so" it was a process of growing in the faith and feeling God's call in my life. He continues to call and I continue to serve. I feel blessed to obey God's call. May you have a similar experience.

Dear Lord, I am grateful for the prompting of the Holy Spirit in my life and the many blessings You bestow on me as I follow You. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Amen.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mark Mizer

These are the statutes and ordinances which you shall be careful to do in the land which the Lord, the God of your Fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live upon the earth. (Deuteronomy 12:1  RSV)

There are four basic tenets of the Presbyterian Faith:

1) We are saved through grace alone. We can do nothing to earn this grace. It is a gift from God manifest in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and through his resurrection.

2) We are a priesthood of believers. All of us are capable and have a responsibility to proclaim the word of God to others.

3)The Bible is our authority or 'sola scriptura'. We believe the Bible alone is our foundation of belief. All the catechisms, confessions and creeds are based on the Bible.

And, the fourth is probably the most difficult to grasp and understand. 'God alone is our Lord of conscience.'  To me, this is the essence of what it means to be Presbyterian, aside from our polity. This tenet can be viewed in different ways by different people with varying biases.
Historically, the Presbyterian church, as a denomination, and unlike other denominations takes no stand on some of the more controversial social issues of our times: abortion, homosexuality and capital punishment and the numerous issues that go with these. The Presbyterian Church, USA position is: as a denomination there is no position.  This does not mean there aren't very vocal and active advocates for both sides. Far from it.

Presbyterians have been advocates of all manner of social issues for many years. For example, Presbyterians were some of the more outspoken advocates of abolition before the Civil War. Our Confessions advocate certain beliefs from the Scots Confession to a Brief Statement of Faith. But, our confessions are not part of our Book of Order. They are separate, quite intentionally.
This can be vexing to many people because they either want someone to tell them what to believe or they want to use a rigid doctrine to have something solid to hang onto for comfort and consistency.
But, the Presbyterian tradition is a little more demanding of our mindful attention to our faith, how we live our faith, how we accept others who do not agree with us and how we accept people into our church family who are 'different'.

In my opinion, if we as a denomination are to proclaim certain behaviors to be abhorrent or sinful we may use that doctrine to exclude certain people from our church family and as a result back ourselves into an inescapable corner. To proclaim certain behaviors as sinful and not acceptable in our circle would be to say we as individuals in the church do NOT sin, or,  we say our sins are different and thus less offensive than others. But, isn't sin still sin regardless? We come to this church not to proclaim our holiness or to feel good about ourselves. We come first to worship and glorify our Almighty God, and  to truly give thanks to Him, asking Him to forgive our sins of commission and omission, and, to ask Him to suffer our needs, desires and dreams. Who are we to have the power of judgement over others?  Let's leave that to God.

To me this is the essence of John Calvin. We as individuals have the freedom to seek God's will for our lives. But, for us to seek God's will for others based on our individual experiences and prejudices appears to be a non-starter.  That we have prejudges and biases is inescapable and undeniable. Calvin understood this and asks all believers and even doubters to study the Bible and to educate ourselves and pray for God inspired enlightenment. I refer to this as an objective faith or at least a rational faith where we do not allow our biases to guide our behavior in how we treat and accept others into our communion.  So may it be.

Prayer:   O God, our God, inspire us to continually seek your way and your path in leading others to be part of your communion, to be part of your family in Christ. Gird us, strengthen us, fortify us to do the things we need to do to, first,  to worship you, always, and to represent the people of Sharon Church  in a way that pleases you. We pray this in the name of your most Holy Son, our Christ,  Jesus. Amen.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Grace Peters

Galatians 3: 26-29) So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith...(29) if you belong to Christ you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

Sundays were usually special days in our household. First we went to Sunday School, then to church and after church, we had pizza for lunch. Moods were usually pretty happy, but one exception was the day that our second son learned the story of Jacob and Esau in his Sunday School class. He was out raged that the first born son would inherit the birth right and the blessing.

It took some doing for us to convince him that the law of primogeniture was an Old Testament law and that through Christ, we are all first born children of God. Christ took on our sin and died for us so that we are no longer bound by Old Testament laws. We are ALL children of God through faith not inheritance!

Prayer:  Dear God, thank you for sending your first born son, Jesus, to die for our sins so that all of us will inherit your blessing of eternal life through faith. Amen

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Susanne Udvari  

Son Exposure

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”   Psalm 119:105

Those of you who love gardening, as I do, know that all plants require sun exposure to grow.  Light energy is essential to creating the sugars and starches that sustain the plant.

We also require the light of God’s word to sustain us each day.  I know our schedules can be full, life’s circumstances create cloudy conditions, and we let too much busyness crowd out the time spent reading God’s word, praying, or just listening for His guidance.  If we do this we can get stuck in a dark corner.

It doesn’t matter whether we spend time in the morning or spend time at night, or just shoot arrow prayers to the Lord throughout the day, or read a single verse and think about it later,  we need the nourishment for our spirit to grow and thrive.  We need to go to the food source that God provides, just as our plants need sun to grow.  Remember that a few minutes of “Sonlight” peeking through life’s clouds is better than spending a day in the darkness.

Prayer:  Lord, forgive me for the days when I prefer darkness rather than Light.  Forgive me for the times when I think “I can handle this by myself”.  Thank you for the moments in the Light when I see that I need You and your word to feed me and lead me.  Amen

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Judy Yeck

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. NKJV

I have used this scripture many times when faced with difficulties, physically, mentally or spiritually.
The one that stands out the most happened back in the 1970’s. The church purchased an old bus to transport everything from youth groups and bell choirs to adults. This was when they changed the law concerning CDL’s (commercial driver’s licenses) and John already had his from work, and drove the bus regularly.

I decided that I should learn to drive it too, and had chosen to changed my license to include CDL. John thought it was a good idea because they always needed drivers. We had taken the youth to Camp Crestfield, and on the way back, John says, “Well get behind the wheel”, and he got out of the driver’s seat with the bus rolling. I got my first lesson on I-79! I drove many more trips, even into Pittsburgh’s Mt. Oliver district. This scripture helped me out every time.

Prayer:  Thank you Lord, You are always ready to help us in time of need. Forgive us when we try to do anything without asking Your help. Amen

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dan Peters


“To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.”     - William Temple – Archbishop of Canterbury

Our corporate worship should be all these things and, perhaps, more.  We might consider also the hand of fellowship, the warm friendship of Christian brothers and sisters around us, the “sharing and caring.” First, however, comes the turning of our consciences, our minds, our imaginations, our hearts, and our wills, individually, to God. This is best done in an atmosphere of quiet contemplation unhindered by our daily concerns or the concerns of those next to us.  After personal preparation (accompanied perhaps by a soft musical prelude) we may then be prepared to “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” and to share the joy of God’s blessings.

Prayer -Lord God, teach us the process of quiet contemplation so that we may be better prepared to worship you.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Judy Lentz  

I Love to Tell the Story

Psalm 66:16 “Come and listen, all who honor God, and I will tell you what he has done for me”

Our 10 year old granddaughter came to spend a week with us to enjoy Camp Oma and Pop as she does each summer. Although Madison loves to do things and go places, she hates long car rides. When it was time to drive her across state to meet her uncle, I did my best to divert her thinking about how long the drive would be. I spent the time telling her stories about her Dad when he was a baby, a toddler, a preschooler, and an elementary school student just as she is now.

The stories lasted most of the ride – her Dad created plenty of stories to tell!!!! She loved hearing about the funny things he did, the trouble he got into, the punishments he received, the stories of his school friends and school teachers, the things he disliked in those years, etc. Stories that revealed the love expressed for him and by him as he was growing up. Just as adults appreciate hearing stories, so do our children.

I remember singing the song “I love to Tell the Story” when I was growing up. The tune was composed by W.G.Fischer and the lyrics written by Dr. Doane with the refrain that goes like this: “I love to tell the story, ‘twill be my theme in glory, To tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love”.
God wants us to tell stories of all kinds – about Jesus, about people in the Bible, about ourselves and about our friends and loved ones. We learn from these stories about the Bible and how God wants us to love (just think of how many times stories are read to the children during Children’s Time). Stories help us pass along traditions, offer guidance in problem solving, rekindle the memories of those who have gone before as well as the friends who are special to us now. But best of all, stories tell us about ‘love’ and how we show love just as God wants us to do. Stories enrich our lives in so many ways. Are you a story teller?

Prayer: Dear God – we love to tell the stories of Jesus and His love. We love to tell the stories about those we love. Help us to tell the stories that lead others to you so they can feel your love just as we do. Amen 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Mark Mizer 


Being Presbyterian does not mean I don't have a grand appreciation for Christian Architecture, especially the architecture of the grand cathedrals found in Europe.

When she was a sophomore at Allegheny College, our daughter, Sarah had the opportunity to spend a semester in Cologne, Germany. I was vaguely aware of a 'big church' there, but, it wasn't until Ann and I went to Cologne to see Sarah that I found a grand cathedral whose enormity, engineering and history overwhelmed me. Called the 'High Cathedral of Saint Peter' or 'der Kolner Dom', construction was started in 1248. Essentially, it is still being constructed and restored. It's spires are higher than the total length of the structure, reaching almost two footballs fields laid end to end into the sky.  For me, it is an incredibly awe inspiring edifice. I see God in it's Gothic construction.  Cologne was almost totally obliterated during World War II. But, der Dom, although hit fourteen times  by bombs was left mostly intact. Being the highest structure in all of Europe at that time, U.S. and  British bombers used it as a navigational aid to find their targets.

For me, der Kolner Dom serves as a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of our Christian belief.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, open our eyes to all the grandeur of Your creations, even the ones done by the hands of men and women. Amen.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ann Mizer  


A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be raised up every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.  And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”    Isaiah 40:3-5 (NIV)

I was reading an article about a book written by Anne Graham Lotz entitled “Wounded by God’s People”.  It made me ponder what we all do to others, even though we claim ourselves to be Christians.  The article went on to talk about being in the wilderness.   There were words like “dry, barren, lonely “ used to describe the wilderness.  There are physical places, but there are also emotional and spiritual places that can be wilderness.  You can be in the wilderness alone or with other people.

The verses I chose to depict this thought are familiar if you listen to Handel’s “Messiah”.  I think these verses are beautiful and they ask us to prepare, but also tell us God will be revealed and people will see together.  I believe that God is with us, even if we are in the wilderness.  He is there to cling to, He is there to guide us and support us.  We all have wilderness in our lives.  Sometimes they are in our Church or with family members.  A key thought though is to reach out and hold on to God.

Dear Lord, may your Glory be revealed to us and may we trust in you, wherever we may be.  Amen

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Susanne Udvari  


You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.  Psalm 16:11
  Last Christmas I gave my daughter a bracelet that had two simple words engraved on it – CHOOSE JOY.   I have decided this is my new mantra, and I strive to have it be the foundation of my life every day.  It has to be a conscious decision because there are days when it is not so easy to be Joyful.  The apostle Paul is a great example of a person accepting his current circumstances.  He stood firm in the Lord and responded with Joy, even when he was in prison and his death was a certainty.  We can see his urgency in spreading the gospel and supporting his brothers in Christ as we read the many letters in the New Testament written to churches in various cities.
  We can use Joy to fight back fear and pain, and, in the process, we may fill those around us with Joy and hope.  We need to seek God in every situation, and declare his goodness on the darkest days.  Stay conscious of God's fierce love for you and remember He is up to something in your life!  There is something beautiful to be found in having a faith grounded in love, mercy, and the grace of God.  Knowing the truth of who God is – and who we are because of Christ – deeply embedded in our hearts and minds will position us for Joy and peace regardless of our daily circumstances.
As Margaret Feinberg states in her book, Fight Back With Joy, “When we fight back with Joy, we awaken the deepest reality of our identity as beloved, delightful children of God.  Joy is your heritage, purpose, and destiny.”

Lord, help me always to choose Joy and be thankful for the multitude of blessings you shower on me each day.  Help me to always rest in God's extravagant love and know that believing in Jesus will position me for Joy and peace regardless of my circumstances.    Amen

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Gladys Johnston


Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth You will again bring me up." Psalm 71:20 (NIV)

I enjoy gardening. I have flowers planted all around the outside of my home and I change them seasonally. Last spring, I added four large planters which straddle the railings on my deck and are visible from my kitchen window. From the window, I noticed during a severe thunderstorm that the delicate flowers were beaten down by the raindrops and the weight of the water, however the sturdy leaves were shedding the water without being affected. After the storm, the sun came out and its warmth began evaporating the moisture. The delicate flowers responded by perking up, were restored and were more beautiful than ever.

All of us experience the storms of life. Sometimes we are strong in the face of such trials; other times we feel weak under the weight of life's lessons. God always knows when we are unsteady and in need of Divine strength. He cares for us and restores us. In turn, we can show care to others. Though we don't always know the extent of others' trials, we can always offer encouragement and prayer. we can offer our loving support and help others to stand after the storm.

Dear God, help me comfort others with the strength You give me. In Jesus name, Amen

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tanya Marshall  
Pilgrimage Reflections   Our Similarities
He (Jesus) said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Mark 10:14)
During our pilgrimage in Israel, I was struck with how similar people are everywhere. Here we were in a land 1/3 of the way around the globe, where people spoke different languages, signs were written in strange looking characters, many women wore hijabs (a type of head-scarf), Orthodox Jewish men had side locks, and we heard Muslim calls to prayer broadcast through the streets at 4:00 a.m.
But then would come a moment that showed how similar we all are. Three experiences occurred within about two days that illustrated this for me in regards to children.
First, as we were walking through what seemed to be a very serious political/military checkpoint near the Old City of Jerusalem, a group of 20-30 school boys approached (6 – 10 year olds), all 77 dressed alike, with a couple of teachers. Maybe it was a field trip, maybe a religious class? But they were rowdy, loud, energetic, laughing, and chasing each other, and the teachers were trying to calm them down and keep them in line.
Second, later that day we were waiting at a bus stop for Elias, our driver, to pick us up with ouran. I leaned on a ledge near three girls that looked like sisters, maybe ages 5, 8, and 12. 1 simply asked the middle one her name, hoping she knew some English. She said it was Denya (spelling?), and she asked my name, and then excitedly told it to her older sister. It was a short dialog, but we made a brief connection and shared some smiles.
Third, one evening our whole group was invited to dinner at the tour company owner’s mother-in-law’s home in Beit Sahour, a neighboring town to Bethlehem. There were four generations of this family there, including the three children of the tour company owner (ages, 3, 5, and 7, I think).
 George, the 5 year old, and I had a fun talk about the tricycle he sat on, his sisters, his age, his school – typical things anyone can talk about with a child. Then he gave many of us stickers, and sang “If I Were a Butterfly,” a children’s song I hadn’t heard since 1982!
A world apart, but these were typical exchanges that could happen anywhere. What a blessing to see we’re not so different after all, but all God’s children, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for the reminders that no matter our nationality, color, or creed, you are the Creator of us all. Help us to work for peace and unity, through Christ. Amen.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Judy Lentz 
Two Powerful Words
 John 11:35   Jesus wept.

My sons will tell you that I cry easily, way too easily in their minds.  I cry at weddings even when I don’t know the couple that well.  I cry at every birth I have witnessed.  I cry with every proud moment in the lives of my children and grandchildren.    I cry at special events, at funerals, with certain song lyrics, when the National Anthem is played, when I am upset by the needless suffering of others.  I sob when I think or see Jesus on the cross.  Does God cry at all these times too?
This scripture (John 11:35) is the shortest verse in the Bible but in my opinion is one of the most powerful.  What thoughts do you have when you read or hear these words?  Here are some of my thoughts.

How powerful is it when our Lord cries for his people? 
Does He cry for all the reasons I do?
Who consols God when he cries?
Who wipes away His tears?
Does He cry when he is upset?
If He can do all things, why doesn’t He change the situation causing His tears?

When we see suffering or experience it in our own lives, know that God is crying for us and with us.  For you see, He is our parent and His tears come just as the tears come for us.  The power is in His ability to bring us peace and comfort even in our suffering.  We may not be able to change what is happening and maybe His plan for us does not include a change in what is happening but he is here to comfort and consol.  Loving Him and trusting in Him is what He asks of us.  He is always there for us.

Prayer:  Our dear Lord, we ask for your loving arms to comfort us in times of suffering.  Just knowing you care gives us the peace needed to overcome.  Thank you for the love you have for us.  In the name of Jesus  Amen.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

POEMS FROM THE PAST...The following poem was found in Sharon's archives from a booklet published in the 1960's by members of the congregation.  This untitled poem was submitted by Mrs. S. W. Hixson.
When days are filled with worldly snares,
Ask God to help.  He truly cares.
He sent His Son to earth to show
How much He loves us here below.

Don't make a move without His guiding,
Ever in His love abiding.
Lean on Him if strength is wanting.
Love and faith He gives undaunting.

Though doctor, lawyer, student, wife,
Take Him with you through your life.
If you but ask, your spirit humbling,
He'll surely keep your feet from stumbling.

Take Him then to work or school
And you will live the Golden Rule.
As each thought and act you know He'll see
You'll live as the Christian He wants you to be.

Prayer:   Remembering those who are a part of Sharon's history.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Cindy Zwergel   All things work together for good to those who love God

 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

It’s my favorite verse, Romans 8:28. It’s gotten me through some pretty tough times. Times of darkness when I felt abandoned and alone. Those times in life when you wallow in self-pity, crying “why me, Lord?”. But Romans 8:28 has always been a light – my assurance that good will come from whatever circumstance I find myself in.  I believe it because I have seen it in my life.

Sometimes I have found myself in dark times because God needed to change my path in life.  I don’ know about you, but sometimes (often times!), I am stubborn in my ways, refusing to change 
direction in my life, even when I know I should. Where other people may only need a gentle nudge, I need a collision, and God loves me enough to provide me with a direct hit.

At other times in my life, I have found myself in darkness for no apparent reason. I find myself in a situation I don’t deserve, and I feel hurt and confused. Looking back on these times, I have realized that I am in that place not because of me, but because God is using me to help someone else.  

Sometimes we are in dark places to rescue others – we are in the darkness to be the light for someone else whom God loves. 

If you truly believe, as I do, that ALL things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to HIS purpose, you will look at life a little differently.  To me, it has become a challenge to look back and see how the hand of God has worked though situations in my life.  

Sometimes it takes years to see His plan unfold, and sometimes I’ve known instantly. Then there are times when it’s not been revealed to me – I will never know the impact I made or who I helped by being the light. But I trust God has used me. And I hope that He uses me again!

If you are in a dark place, a place where you feel abandoned, unloved, ashamed, alone… take heart.
Look AROUND:  there may be someone who needs your hand, your words, your light, God’s love.
Look UP:  to the One who loves you, and know that He has a plan for you.

Do not despair! You will get through this time, and if you try, you may even see His purpose revealed.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Roy Behling WHY PRAY?

"You do not have, because you do not ask God." - James 4:2 (NIV)

Prayer is one way we have of serving God. It is not our means of getting God to do our will on earth, but a means of getting God's will done on earth. As we pray, God helps us find solutions to the numerous puzzling and painful situations in our lives. When we do not know what the will of God is, prayer will help us discern it.

The verse above reminds us that we must ask in order to receive. If the Syrophoenician woman had not approached Jesus her daughter would not have been cured (see Mark 7:24-30). If the blind man from Jericho had not called out to Jesus, he would have remained blind (see Luke 18:35-43).

Just as we do not know who will respond to a message of Jesus until we share it, we may never see the results of a prayer that was not prayed.

Dear Lord, teach me how to pray as I should and according to Your will. May You be glorified in my life because I come always to You in prayer. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Amen

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Susanne Udvari  -Excellence versus Perfection

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of  God.”  Philippians 1:9

I have been thinking about two words – perfection and excellence – in relation to our walk with the Lord.  Perfection is all about ability but excellence is about availability.  Trying to be perfect can sap us of emotional energy.  Pursuing excellence in our work for the Lord gives birth to more spiritual energy.  Excellence can inspire and perfection can intimidate.

Paul writes to the Philippians about loving more and choosing wise actions that would truly help others and glorify God.  As we grow in our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus, we will try to do all to serve Him in a most excellent way. 

Excellence is attainable, perfection is not.  Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only person who ever has, or ever will be perfect.  So, let us go about our days knowing that we will never be perfect, but we can serve those around us with excellence, with God’s help.

In Paul’s letter to Titus, as he is reminding them to do good works, he says, “These things are excellent and profitable for people.”  Titus 3:8  the author of Hebrews  also writes, “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.”  Hebrews 8:6

May we each serve others and Sharon church with the excellence that comes from being filled with Christ’s love and power.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to serve in an excellent way, depending on you to fill me up, bringing glory to you in all I say and do.  Amen

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Grace Peters

“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action is dead.” James 2:15-16  Life Application Bible, NIV

When our first son was transitioning from the church nursery to the 3-year-old Sunday School class, I gave it a big build up, “You’re going to love it. You will read stories and sing songs about Jesus; you will learn so much!”  After about three weeks, at pick up time, he greeted me, with hands on hips, indignantly protesting, “Well, we didn’t DO much Jesus!”

Children are concrete thinkers and they need to see us acting out our faith. The world also needs to see us projecting our Christian faith in God’s love and grace in concrete acts of caring and compassion for others. We often meet God when we serve those who are hurting and vulnerable. His love and warmth shine through us and enrich us as much as those we serve.

Prayer:  God of grace and love, thank you for giving us many opportunities to act out our faith in deeds of caring and compassion.  Help us to use these opportunities to witness to your kingdom.  Amen