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Ecclesiastes 3...

                                           Pastor Frank working at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin while a senior in high school

                                           Pastor Frank working at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin while a senior in high school

When I was a senior in high school, I felt God’s call to ministry on my life but I never dreamed that one day I would actually have the privilege of serving as a pastor at a church as awesome as St. Matthews. 

After a thirty-three year career in corporate America, God called me out of that position to “do something significant with my life.”  I pray that I have been faithful to that call.  

Sherry and I then moved to Sandown to a house we owned on Phillips Pond and started attending St. Matthews.  These past 20 years have been phenomenal as I’ve been able to share ministry with you, an incredible church family.

I am especially thankful for the opportunity to have served as one of your pastors for the last four years.  To be invited in to your lives during your most personal and difficult times is something that has been very special to me.  Please know that I will always keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

But just as King Solomon said in his famous passage in Ecclesiastes, there is a time and season for everything, that is true in my life as well.  Sunday was my last day as a pastor at St. Matthews and Rock Church Ministries.

Many people have asked me “what’s next?”

I am off this week.  The following week Sherry and I celebrate our 54th wedding anniversary.  (And they said it wouldn't last!)  Following that we are heading for Gilmanton, NH where we have rented a lakefront cottage which will give us an opportunity to rest and reflect on what God has next in our lives.

As I close out my final blog, I want to thank you for always being there for us.  And, please never, ever forget that God loves you and so do Sherry and I.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Frank

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Does anyone tell the truth anymore...

On the front page of one of the morning newspapers every day is a quote by Daniel Webster, “There is nothing so powerful as truth.”

In a world that is often struggling with truth and “fake news,” it reminds me of one of the first sermons that I preached at St. Matthews twenty years ago which was entitled Does Anyone Tell the Truth Anymore?  According to a national survey at the time, which unfortunately has not changed significantly in the last two decades, it confirmed that just about everyone lies at some point in their lives, some more regularly than others.

According to the survey, regrettably when we refrain from lying it is less often that we think it is wrong but for a variety of others reasons such as we fear getting caught.  The survey goes on to contend that most folks lie to just about everyone and the better we know someone, the likelier we are to have told them a serious lie.

The good news from the survey is that 90% of the people said they truly believe in God.  However, the sad news is that in every single region of the country people said that they do not turn to God or religion to help them decide about moral issues of the day.  Unfortunately, for many people, religion plays virtually no role outside of Sunday morning in shaping their opinions of a long list of contemporary issues.

Even more tragic is that all too many churches have gotten away from the Gospel message because they believe it is offensive to some, makes other people feel uncomfortable, hinders giving and has a detrimental effect on membership growth.  And then we wonder why no one tells the truth any more.

There are some today that would like us to believe that truth is relative, that your truth may not be the same as mine, that it is up to the individual to decide for themselves what is true.  How sad.

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Paul reminds us that, “the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

People often ask me why St. Matthews and Rock Church Ministries continues to grow while so many other churches are struggling.  I believe it is what attracted Sherry and me to St. Matthews in the first place -- it is because our church has always preached the truth of the Gospel as it applies to our lives today with love and respect for everyone, never forgetting as we say every Sunday, everyone needs Jesus.

If we’re struggling with an issue in our lives, the first place we should always go is to the Bible because, as the psalmist wrote, “it is a lamp under our feet and a light unto our paths.”

I agree with Daniel Webster – there is nothing more powerful than the truth. That truth is found in Jesus Christ who said, “I am the truth …”  It is a truth that never changes.

See you Sunday as we continue our sermon series “For our Community.”  It is a message that is changing and shaping our church and our future together.  Join us.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Frank

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Summer

Summer is my favorite time of the year.  Unlike my bride, I really like the hot weather, the humidity, the long days, summer barbecues and sandy beaches.  Having spent many of my younger years growing up in Hawaii, I’ve always enjoyed the beach.  While I was never a great surfer like Patrick Carey, I was chased out of the water once by a humongous octopus who wanted to put his tentacles around my legs.  I was even swimming one day when folks were yelling for my brother and me to get out of the water because sharks were swimming around us. 

While summer is a time for fun and to recharge our batteries, unfortunately for some it has become a time to take a vacation from church.  In one of the communities that Sherry and I lived, there was a large church in the center of town that actually closed down in July and August.  At the time, I thought how sad.  How can you take a vacation from God?

In Dr. David Jeremiah’s book Life Wide Open, he asks his readers the penetrating question, “where was God when I lost Him?  Where did I leave Him?”  I believe that we “lose God" when we take a vacation from Him, where other priorities take preference in our lives.

My prayer for us this summer is that we will grow closer to God, not distance ourselves from Him, that we will continue to make church and spiritual disciplines a priority in our lives.  Even while we are away on vacation we can still visit other churches and worship.  Sherry and I have rented a cottage on a lake in Gilmanton, NH in July.  One of the first things we did was to “check-out” the nearby churches to decide in advance where we would be worshiping because I can’t imagine taking a summer off from God.

And don’t forget, exciting things are happening this summer at St. Matthews as well … things you won’t want to miss. 

So enjoy the summer, spend time with family and friends, do the things that you have been looking forward to doing (recently I’ve even taken up kayaking with my favorite daughter), but covet to keep God with you every step of the way, remembering the words of James:  draw near to God and He will draw near to you!  Have a great summer … and I trust I’ll see you this Sunday at St. Matthews!

 

Last Saturday, folks from St. Matthews gathered to plant flowers and spruce up the church’s landscaping just in time for us to celebrate Pentecost.  As I drove in to the parking lot on Sunday, I thought how beautiful the church looked and what a witness it is to the community.  We are so fortunate to have folks that do so much for the upkeep of our church.  So thanks to all who helped … and to those who continue to work so hard for our church in so many way.  Obviously the pictures are a small representation of all those who participated.  Please forgive me for not including everyone but know that we are grateful for you!

I also want to give a special shout out to our trustees – the unsung heroes who do so much without ever asking or expecting a word of thanks.  The trustees work behind the scenes to keep St. Matthews in tip-top shape.  When you get a chance, please thank our trustees and tell them we appreciate all that they do:  Rick McCully, Leo Reynolds, Frank O. King Jr., Trucinda Phillips, Chris Decker and Rick Russell.  Just saying!

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Frank

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Forgiveness

Recently I was reading a survey that asked Christians the question, “do you find it difficult to forgive?”  More than sixty percent of those surveyed were honest enough to respond that forgiveness was a problem in their lives.  The tragedy of the survey was that the most painful and serious offenses occurred not with strangers but between those closest to us, our family and friends and, as unbelievable as it may sound, often with people in the church.

The bottom line of the survey was that our refusal to forgive is destroying relationships and often devastating the family.  So as I thought of that, the obvious question is -- are there people in our lives that we need to forgive?

We read in Matthews 18:21-35 that Peter asked Jesus how often should we forgive someone.  Isn’t that just like Peter to raise that kind of a question!  I love Peter because he’s real and struggled with so many of the issues that you and I wrestle with.

The Rabbinic rule for forgiveness at the time was to forgive someone three times.  But Peter, perhaps thinking he was going to get an “atta boy” from Jesus, goes beyond that standard and extended it to seven.  I trust we know that Jesus responded that we should forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven.  What Jesus was teaching is that we can’t quantity forgiveness, that forgiveness takes the place of revenge.

From time to time, people ask me what happens when the other person doesn’t deserve or want our forgiveness?  I would suggest that the reasons we forgive are:

1.     Because Jesus tells us to.  (Forgive so we will be forgiven – Matthews 6:14)

2.    Forgiveness is something that we do for ourselves.  I know when I forgive someone it gives me a sense of peace, often lifting heavy burdens off my shoulders.

3.    Unforgiveness often steals our joys and affects our witness for Christ.

As we prepare for Pentecost this week, I would ask us to think about those people in our lives that we need to forgive and then just do it.  Is there anger, hurt or frustration in our lives that we need to just let go of and let God deal with it?  Forgiveness is the key!

But as we do that, we need to also honestly ask ourselves are there people in our lives that we need to ask forgiveness from as well.  So often we are quick to judge others but fail to recognize our faults and short-comings.  To paraphrase Jesus – why do you worry about the spec that is in someone else’s eye and forget the log that is in your own.  Just saying!

Pentecost Sunday

This Sunday we’ll be celebrating Pentecost, a day that marks the coming of the Holy Spirit ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven and is considered to be the birth of the Christian church.  Many people wear red on Pentecost Sunday signifying the power and fire of the Holy Spirit.  Please join us as we will be talking about what Pentecost should mean to us today and how we can have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives right now..

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Frank

 

 

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Memorial Day

For too many Americans, Memorial Day is all about department store sales at the mall, marathons, picnics, baseball and auto racing.  But I trust that most of us know that Memorial Day is really about honoring those who are serving and have served in the military and particularly to remember the nation’s war dead, the men and women who have paid the ultimate price for the freedoms that we enjoy. 

When we celebrate Memorial Day, it doesn’t mean that we are agreeing with all of our government's decisions and wars, but that we are taking time to recognize those who are willing to sacrifice it all to protect us so that we can enjoy the blessings given to us by God.

For Christians it should also be a day that serves as a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that was paid for us when Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that all who believe in Him might be reconciled to Jesus and have eternal life.

Each year as I remember Memorial Day I am reminded of John 15:13:  Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.   That is exactly what my boyhood friend Billy Feaster of Portsmouth did only days after arriving in Vietnam while trying to save a wounded soldier.  That is exactly what Jesus did for me, and for you, on that cross on Calvary.

I think there are some thing we should consider doing on this special day:

  • Send a note of thanks or visit a Veteran you know, particularly one who may be struggling or is alone.
  • If you know someone who has lost a loved one in battle, reach out and offer to help in some special way.
  • Participate in a Memorial Day Parade.  There is one in Sandown that begins at noon at the Sandown Depot and proceeds to the War Monument on the Town Hall lawn.
  • Fly the American flag at half-staff until noon.
  • Participate in a moment of personal silence and prayer at 3 p.m. during the National Moment of Remembrance.
  • Pray for God’s blessing and protection over all branches of our military and those that serve even today.

And most importantly, commit to pray for our nation, its leaders and seek God in our personal life remembering the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.

See you Sunday at 8:45 at St. Matts as Pastor Steve wraps up our current sermon series One in Heart and Mind.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Frank

 

 

 

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Children

Sunday we’re celebrating one of my favorite times in the church year – Children’s Sunday.  Over the last 40 years in ministry I’ve come to realize that not everyone shares my enthusiasm, but I think Jesus did and because of that I believe we should as well.  I trust we all remember the story of Jesus rebuking the disciples when they tried to keep the children from Him.  In the Gospel of Mark, we read that Jesus was indignant, offended and annoyed and said that great line, “let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”  But Jesus did more than just take time for the children, He used the kids to teach us all valuable lessons.  I’m preaching on three of those lessons – lessons for all of us -- this Sunday and I hope you will join us.

 The Sunday teenage LifeGroup

 The Sunday teenage LifeGroup

But there is another very practical reason that Children’s Sunday is important, it teaches families that we love kids and that they are an important part of our church family.  In June of 2013, Kirsten Gondolfo first came to St. Matthews with Luca, Michael and Lyla in tow.  She had driven past the church for years and didn’t know what to expect but decided it was time to find out.  It just happened to be Children’s Sunday.  Kristen recently told me that was the deciding factor for making St. Matthews their church home.  She said that it was obvious that St. Matthews was the kind of church that cares about kids and she wanted her children to experience that.  This is one of those special Sundays that it would be great to invite young families so they can experience the love of Christ with us.

This Sunday we will also be baptizing Maggie and Samuel Harrington.  In preparation for baptism, two week's ago after the morning service, they knelt with their parents and older sister Moira at the altar and asked Jesus into their lives.  It was one of those exciting moments which I was privileged to be a part.  Ministry just doesn’t get any better than that!  As we talked about what baptism and asking Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of their lives means, I was impressed with the innocence of youth yet the conviction that they really understood the importance of this commitment.  Welcome to the family!

Plus we have a special surprise at the end of the service. Lisa Post, our leader of children’s ministries at St. Matts, has arranged to have a visit from Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream bringing with them their most popular favors for all of us – young and old.  Sunday promises to be an exciting day.  Just saying!

Blessing of the Bikes

The annual blessing of the motorcycles will take place this Saturday at St. Matts.  It will begin with a continental breakfast chaired by Ed & Sherry Lucia followed by a brief ceremony as we pray over the bikers before they leave for their annual ride.  At noon the bikes return and we will then share a barbecue hosted by Chris Tammany and his crew.  We will supply hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks but we could use some help from the congregating to supply salads and desserts.  If you can help, please email Jen Johnston.  We could also use some assistance setting up at 7:30 a.m. and breakdown at 1 p.m.  Come out and join us and have fun.

See you Sunday.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Frank

 

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Thank you ...

This coming Sunday, more than 43.5 million women will be celebrating Mother’s Day, a day set aside to honor those women in our lives who have sacrificed so much for all of us.

For many, it is a time to celebrate with their moms and show appreciation with special acts of kindness and reflections.  For others, it is a time to thank that “special mom” in their lives who raised them.  My wife Sherry and her brother and sister, like so many others, were raised by her grandmother who I had the privilege of knowing and loving for so many years.  She was truly an amazing woman who was the matriarch of the family.

Pastor Frank's Mom

Pastor Frank's Mom

For some of us, it is a time to remember our Mothers who are no longer with us and thank God for the powerful influence that they had in our lives.  In my case, I will always remember my mom encouraging and cheering me on.  When others were quick to give up on me, my mother in her own quiet way never equivocated, never wavered, always believing that I could be all that God wanted me to be.

As a dad, I am thankful for the mother of my children who always considered that to be her most important role in life and has done it so well with love and caring.

       Sherry and the kids.

       Sherry and the kids.

But as we celebrate this special day, I would remind us that the calling of motherhood transcends heritages.   I am remind of Jesus’s words in Matthew 12, “While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, His mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to Him.  Someone told Him, ‘Your mother and bothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”  He replied to them, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?  Pointing to His disciples, He said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister and mother.’”

What I believe that teachers us is that we should all be parents to those around us.  So as we celebrate Mother Day, let us not forget those special women who feed into the lives of our young people .. and all of us.  An ancient African proverb reminds us that “it takes a village to raise a child.”  That village has never been more necessary than it is today with all the challenges and vicissitudes that our children encounter.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, let us honor all the women in our lives – past, present and future – and thank God for all that they have done and continue to do for all of us.  HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY … you are a special gift from God.

And the results are in…

Two weeks ago, I shared a project that I was doing as part of a course for Wesley Seminary.  You may remember, I asked the question, “who does your heart break for?”  The four major responses were:

1.    Addictions, particularly the opioid and drug crisis as-well-as alcoholic dependencies.

2.    Those that do not know or do not actively participate in a faith based experience.

3.    The youth and teens of our communities – inactivity may exacerbate the opioid and drug issues and other problems.

4.    Economically -- the lower to middle individuals/families who are struggling with the high tax burden and the astronomical cost of living in exchange for the quality of life experiences and excellent educational opportunities in our communities.

The real question is what have we learned from this exercise and what do we need to do to make sure it doesn’t just become another exercise in futility?  My prayer is that in the coming months, we’ll have serious discussions and reflections as we seek solutions to these issues.  Please continue to pray for those issues that break your heart and seek answers as God leads.

See you this Sunday at St. Matts at 8:45.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Frank

Frank@StMattUMC.org

 

 

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Why do you believe?

Has anyone ever asked you to share your faith with them?  How did you respond?  Were you eager to answer or a bit reluctant?  More than forty years ago, when I was president and publisher of a group of daily newspapers on the North Shore of Boston, at a company function one Saturday evening one of the executives asked me, “Frank, you’re different.  What’s your secret?”  I responded … uhhh … well … you see … 

It was early on in my faith journey and I never really thought much about that question.  While I was never hesitant to let people know that I was a Christian, I also never thought much about how to actually go about sharing my faith.  I finally said something pretty uninspiring and then changed the subject – “how about those Red Sox!”

Have you ever been lost for words, but when you thought about it knew what you should have said?  It happens to me all the time!  As I thought more about “the question”, I wished I could have had a mulligan (a do-over in golf).  The following Monday morning, I called him into my office and tried to share that the reason “that I was different” is because of my faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  But the setting was not the same and he didn’t seem as interested as he did just two days before.  Maybe he was embarrassed by being called into the “boss’s office” or some other unknown reason.  The bottom line was that I had missed an opportunity to share my faith because I wasn’t ready.  I vowed that I would never repeat that mistake.

The apostle Peter reminds us that we should, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  (1 Peter 3:15)  While we should never be boisterous or obnoxious, with love and respect we should always be ready to share our faith story with others and the difference that Christ has made in our lives.    To do that, we don’t have to have the Bible memorized or even have the answer to every question.  We don’t even have to have everything figured out – I know I certainly don’t.  Our most powerful witness is simply to share the difference that Christ has made – and continues to make – in our lives.

For me one of the most exciting things in life is to have the opportunity to share my faith because it can help change a life forever.  If you were asked that question today, how would you respond?  Be ready!

 

One of the easiest – and most effective – ways to share our faith is to simply invite people to special church events, events like our Spring Concert this Saturday and Sunday at our Plaistow Campus.  Our Worship Leading Choir has been practicing for months for this amazing event.  Join us Saturday at 7 p.m. or Sunday at 5 p.m. and invite your friends. 

Our sermon series, One Heart & Mind, continues this week as we reflect on how we connect with others in a way that is real and helps us to establish meaningful relationships.  I believe it is a powerful message, one you will not want to miss.

See you Sunday at 8:45.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Frank

Frank@StMattumc.Org

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What are we doing here?

                                                      Rev. Jim Walker from Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC

                                                      Rev. Jim Walker from Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC

What is the role of the church today?

What are we really supposed to be doing?

These were just two of dozens of important questions that pastors from all over New England who gathered at the Rock last weekend discussed in depth.  Faculty from Wesley Seminary in Washington, DC led four different classes:  Transformative Leadership, Torah and Israel's History, Theological Heritage/Reformation and the Role of Missions in the Life of the Church.  Courses are part of required continual education for local pastors.

Thanks to Sue Reynolds, Mary Beth Morrill, Dianna Lowes, Jen Johnston and all the others who helped with the dinner for our visiting pastors.

Thanks to Sue Reynolds, Mary Beth Morrill, Dianna Lowes, Jen Johnston and all the others who helped with the dinner for our visiting pastors.

Because of St. Matthew's conviction that we are meant to serve others, I participated in the "Mission's Class."  The two day session laid the foundation for next month's session which will focus on our individual communities.  All too often when we think of missions, we think of our yearly mission trip to help folks who lives have been devastated in the Gulf Coast due to hurricanes and other natural disasters or our commitment to Little Lambs Orphanage in Honduras to share the love of Christ and help financially with the needs of orphaned children.  Both great initiatives, ones that deserve our support and prayers.

However, one of the biggest challenges to the church today is our lack of connection to our local communities.  To help us find how we can serve our local communities better, pastors participating in the class will be asking a number of key questions in their individual communities and required to write a ten page dissertation on the needs of those communities.

Over the next two weeks, I will be asking many of you, as-well-as folks in the community, several questions so I can complete this assignment.  Obviously it will be impossible to get to everyone, so I would ask you to think about the questions and it would really be helpful if you emailed me your thoughts on each one in the next week.

The Questions

  1. When you look at our community, whom does your heart break for?
  2. What do we need to do to address those heartbreaks?
  3. Who do YOU need to pray for?
  4. Is God asking you to take a risk in solving these issues?
  5. What needs to be done to gain commitment from others?

Great questions as we reflect on what breaks our hearts to the point that we have to do something about it.  After all, isn't that the role of the church, isn't that exactly what Jesus commands us to do?

Blessings of the Bikes

The annual blessing of the motorcycles will take place on Saturday, May 20th at St. Matthews beginning at 9 a.m. with a continental breakfast chaired by Sherry and Ed Lucia.  At 10 a.m. there will be a brief ceremony as we pray over the bikers before they depart on their annual bike run.

At noon, the bikes return to St. Matthews when we will share a barbecue hosted by Chris Tammany and his crew.  We will supply hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks, but we could use some help from the congregation for salads and desserts.  If you can help, please email Jen Johnston keith.johnston1@comcast.net .  Assistance is also needed for setup and breakdown.  If you can help with that, please let me know.

Be sure to join us this Sunday as we continue talking about what it means to be part of the body of Christ; what it means to be one in heart and mind.

See you Sunday,

In Christ's love,

Pastor Frank

Frank@StMattUMC.org

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Overcoming failure...

One of the many lessons that I learned in 33 years in the corporate world is that we don’t have to always reinvent the wheel, we don’t have to keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  We simply need to seek those who have experience to guide us and help us grow.  In the corporate world we called that “best practices” -- find those who have life experiences and learn from them.  I also learned that most of us hate to fail.

Peter, one of the greatest apostles of all time, also often stumbled and failed.  Despite his best efforts, on numerous occasions Jesus lovingly chastised Peter for not getting it right.  As we celebrated Holy Week we were reminded once again of Peter’s denial – his personal failure – in even acknowledging his Savior.  (Sadly so many of us have done the same thing in so many different ways.)

So taking a clue from my corporate experience, I would suggest that Peter knows something about personal failure and that we can learn from him.  In 2 Peter 1:10, Peter said:

 

…if you do these things,

you will never fall.

 

Wow that’s pretty impressive – never fall.  Peter is referring to verse 5:

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness, and to goodness knowledge, and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness, and to godliness, brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness, love.

Peter lists seven key steps in this verse to help us avoid personal failure:

  • Goodness – which the dictionary defines as moral excellence, something that we need to embrace not only in our personal lives but in society. 
  • Knowledge – understanding the truths of Scripture and then living them in our daily lives.
  • Self-control – now Peter is getting personal!  My best definition of self-control is Godly restraint of our actions, doing what God tells us to do and not what we may feel like doing at any particular moment.
  • Perseverance – persistence always leads to holiness.
  • Godliness – conforming our lives to the wishes of God, remembering that Jesus said, “if you love me, do what I say.”
  • Brotherly kindness – treating everyone with respect and compassion.  Everyone!
  • Love – Our love for God and our love for one another as exemplified in the  Great Commandment and the Golden Rule.

Now before you misunderstand what I’m saying, we need to realize that some failures are good … our failures help us to learn, grow and become better.  But that is not what Peter is talking about here.  Peter is talking about personal failures in our lives and gives us the formula for succeeding.  Great words from one of my favorite apostles – words worth emulating!

What a Great Holy Week!

From the Maundy Thursday service at St Matts, to the powerful Good Friday service in Amesbury, to Easter services at all campuses, this had to be the most powerful Easter ever!  That would not have been possible without the hundreds of volunteers who helped in ways too numerous to articulate.  One of our core values is that everyone is “gifted to serve.”  That was certainly the case during Holy Week.  Thanks to all and to our phenomenal choir.  It was a wonderful Easter experience for our church family and those we were honored to have as our guests.

One Heart and Mind

This Sunday we’ll be starting a new sermon series about what it means to be a member of the family of God and to have unity in the church.  Join us as we take a look at what Luke wants us to understand when he said, “all the believers were one in heart and mind.”  And remember, invite a friend.

See you Sunday at 8:45. 

Love in Christ,

Pastor Frank

Frank@StMattUMC.org

 

 

 

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The meaning of Easter ...

Sandown’s resident historian Arlene Bassett shared a great story with me last week about a pastor from the geriatric set who was preaching one Sunday at St. Matthews.  It seems that in the middle of his sermon, he paused, looked at the congregation and said, "can anyone tell me what I was talking about?" Sure sounds like something that I might do! 

In reality, he obviously had lost his train of thought, something that many of us can relate to.  That can happen not only when we’re speaking but when we’re listening and let our minds wander, which happens all too often today in the busy culture in which we live.

Setting the obvious humorous element aside, there are so many lessons that we can learn from that story.  The one that I was convicted to as we celebrate Holy Week – the most important week in the history of the world --  is let us not lose focus. Let us not become so busy with “stuff” that we miss the critical significance of Easter, Jesus’s victory over death and His resurrection, symbolizing eternal life for all those who believe in Him.

The true meaning of Easter also teaches us the absolute authentication of all that Jesus preached and said during His three-year ministry -- that He would be crucified and resurrected three days later.  Everything that Jesus said happened precisely as He told us it would.  Because His words are true and factual, it is verification without equivocation that He is not just another teacher or another Rabbi, He really is the Son of God, our Lord, our Savior.

Easter Sunday is traditionally one of the most well-attended Sunday service of the year for Christians churches.  It is also one of the best times that folks are receptive to our invitations to join us.  I trust we all know people that desperately need the love of Christ in their lives.  I can’t imagine what my life would be like without our Lord!  Let us not get so busy that we fail to offer that life-changing gift to others.

I would also remind us of the three powerful services we have this week leading up to Easter Sunday:

Maundy Thursday Service at 6:30 at St. Matts

Good Friday Service at 7 p.m. in Amesbury

Holy Saturday Service at 5 p.m. in Plaistow

A Note About Parking

One of the great “problems” we have at St. Matthews is parking.  On many Sunday mornings it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a parking space in our lot.  Respectfully it reminds me a little about the birth of Christ where there was “no room for Him” in the Inn. 

This Sunday we’re obviously expecting a large number of guests.  It would be tragic if there was “no room for them” in our parking lot which simply leads to my plea that if you are able and don’t mind walking a couple extra steps, there is parking also available at the Sandown Town Hall, the Sandown Food Pantry and across the street in our own parking lot.  We also have permission to use the Bruchetti's parking lot across the street but only until 11 a.m. 

It would be tragic if a visitor, or one of our members that needs parking closer to the church, could not find a parking space and left.  Thanks for your continued understanding and help. You are an awesome church family.

See you this week as we celebrate Holy Week together.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Frank

Frank@StMattUMC.org

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The greatest parade ever...

The headline in the New Hampshire Union Leader last week declared, “Everyone loves a parade.”  While it was referencing the Manchester St. Patrick’s Day parade, I trust that most of us do indeed love a good parade, from the Sandown Old Home Day’s Parade each August to the Macy’s Thanksgiving spectacular in November.  The parade that I personally enjoyed the most was on March 12, 1959 when Congress ended decades of procrastination and voted Hawaii the 50th State in the Union.

I was a senior at Roosevelt High School in Honolulu, Hawaii when the announcement came over the public address system.  Students jumped out of school windows and spontaneously headed for Waikiki, Diamond Head and Iolani Place.  There was shouting and dancing in the street, car horns and sirens marked the event that statehood, which had long been waited for, had finally been approved.  The entire city of Honolulu was in a virtual gridlock.  The celebration went on for several days.

This Sunday, we’re going to be celebrating the most important parade in the history of the world – Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  Just like parades of today, folks lined the streets shouting and singing.  In fact it got so out of control that the Pharisees and religious leaders demanded Jesus silence the crowds. Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem is a great and powerful story on so many levels and has so much to teach us.  If you want to get a head start, the message will be from Luke 19:35-40.  I believe there are five powerful revelations or key lessons for us today.  I pray this is a message that you will not want to miss.

 

Holy Week Schedule at Rock Church Ministries

Holy Week is a great time to invite friends and relatives to join us.  Never forget that most people visit church because someone invited them.  Please join me this year in inviting folks to one or all of our services:

Maundy Thursday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. at S. Matthews

Good Friday, April 14, at 7 p.m. in Amesbury

Holy Saturday, April 15 at 5 p.m. at The Rock in Plaistow

Easter Services Times

St. Matthews – 8:45 a.m.

Amesbury – 10:10 a.m.

Plaistow – 9:45 and 11:11 a.m.

(There will be no 6 p.m. Service on Easter)

And don't forget the Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday from 8 to noon at St. Matts!

Wesley Theological Seminary Returns to The Rock

Local pastors from all over New England will gather at The Rock April 21-22 and again on May 12-13 to participate in required courses for their ministry.  On Friday, April 21 and again on Friday, May 12  we will be hosting a dinner for about 30 of them.

Sue Reynolds has agreed to chair the event but needs your help in providing potatoes, salad and some veggies.  (I’m happy to sacrificially give my veggies to other pastors in attendance!)  We could also use some cookies for break times.  Help is needed as well for set-up and breakdown.  The dinner will be from 5-6:30 and set-up will be at 4.  Please contact Sue Reynolds at 603-548-5578 or suzannereynolds08@comcast.net if you are able to help in any way.  Pastor Jon and I are among the participants and really would appreciate your help.  Besides, we love to show off members of our church family to other pastors!

See you for the “parade” on Sunday at St. Matts at 8:45.

Have a great Holy Week.

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Frank

Frank@StMattUMC.org

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Give thanks...

As I attended the excellent “Be Encouraged in Prayer” workshop last Saturday at The Rock led by Janice Taylor and folks from the Thursday night Rock House of Prayer, I thought how thankful we should be to have committed, talented leaders in our church willing to help us all learn and grow in our faith.  The words of Paul the Apostle came to mind that we should …

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

As I reflected more on that, I realized that I don’t always do that, I don’t always take time to thank God and to thanks others.  I’m sure I’m not the only one that gets so busy that all too often I fail to express appreciation to those who have impacted my life.  The tragedy is that so often we get so busy doing the “work” of the church that we fail to "live" the life of the church.

The classic Biblical story of failing to give thanks is one that I suspect we all familiar with.  After healing ten lepers, only one came back to thank Him.  The words of Jesus should resonate with us, “didn’t I heal ten, where are the other nine?”

As we enter the fifth week of Lent, I believe it is an opportunity to take some time and reflect on the things that we are thankful for, the blessing that God has given us that give meaning and purpose to our lives.  Have you ever done that?  Have you ever made a list of things that you’re grateful for?  Let me share with you a partial, abbreviated list: 

  • I am thankful for a loving God who forgives me and loves me even when by worldly standards I don’t deserved to be loved.  How often I forget that our Lord said that He is always with us, that He will never leave or forsake us to the very end of the age.  That’s like forever!
  •   I am thankful for a savior who took my place on the cross.  Many of us saw Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ in 2004.  Some saw it many times, but I had a hard enough time watching just once.  So often we sensitize the suffering of our Lord, forgetting that Jesus, before He was painfully crucified on the cross, was scourged and received the 39 lashes because 40 lashes was said to kill a person.  As I watched the movie, it convicted me of the suffering that Jesus did for me on that cross and His words, “greater love has no person than one who would lay down their lives for another.”
  •   I am thankful for my family, my wife of 54 years (OK Sherry reminds me that it has only been 53 years but I’m hoping we’ll make it till 54 on July 4th!), my three children, and five grandchildren ranging in age from 7 years to 25 years. 
  •   I am thankful for my church family at all three campuses and the many ways that they continuously touch my life.
  •   I am thankful for those who work so hard to serve us from our phenomenal administrative assistant to those on our leadership team.
  •   I am thankful for our music ministry and our awesome choir. 
  •   I am thankful for those who lead our men’s and women’s ministry as well as our LifeGroups.
  •   Last, but certainly not least, I thankful for each of you and for your support and encouragement, your thoughtfulness, your forgiveness and the many ways that you touch my life.

See you Sunday at St. Matts at 8:45 as we conclude our study on the book of James together.

God bless,

Pastor Frank

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Actions ... not words!

[noun pon-tif-i-kit, -keyt; verb pon-tif-i-keyt] to speak in a pompous or dogmatic manner

[noun pon-tif-i-kit, -keyt; verb pon-tif-i-keyt]

to speak in a pompous or dogmatic manner

Did you ever know someone who likes to pontificate, someone who likes to hear themselves talk, someone who is an expert on everything and always knows the answer to every question – sometimes even before you ask it?  I suspect that most of us know people like that.  But did you now that the Bible actually says that “talk is cheap,” which is precisely what King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 5:7 (New Living Translation).

As I was reading in 1 John this week, I came across this verse, “let us stop just saying that we really love people; let us really love them and show it by our actions.” (3:18 Living Bible).

I think the application for our lives as we continue our celebration of Lent this week is to make sure that our actions mirror our words.  This was brought home to me while we were in Texas several weeks ago.  A person who I didn’t know came up and asked if Rock Church Ministries would have any interest in helping to build a welcome center at an Indian Reservation in New Mexico.  He said they have been trying to build it for several years without success.  I was obviously stunned and wondered how he even knew that this was our eighth trip to the Gulf Coast to help build things for people in need.  His response, “people know what you are doing!”  In other words, our actions speak louder than our words.

During our stay this year at Camp Wilderness Ridge, they invited us back next year to construct an expanded dining hall.  Camp Tejas in Giddings, TX, where we were last year, also asked if we would consider returning next year to help them with pending construction projects.  Obviously the word is out, Rock Church Ministries loves, not with words, but with actions.

As we continue to celebrate Lent this week, I believe it is a good reminder for all of us that people are watching, watching to see if our faith matches our actions, if we truly live what we believe.  I know most of us are familiar with the poem “The Gospel According to You” but it is worth repeating:

You are writing a Gospel,
A chapter each day,
By deeds that you do,
By words that you say.

People read what you write,
Whether faithless or true;
Say, what is the Gospel
According to you?

(Paul Gilbert)

John reminds us that we live our faith not with words but with actions.  Let’s be convicted to live out our faith not only with what we say but also by what we do.  Just saying!

 Important Events in the Life of Our Church

There is a very important Prayer Workshop this Saturday from 8:30 to 12:30 at The Rock.  It is an interactive format discussing such topics as how we can pray creatively, what should we pray for and how to pray with each others.  While attendance is limited to 40 individuals, I believe there may be one or two spots still left.  If you would like to join me for this session, email Janis Taylor taylor-jan@comcast.net who leads the prayer team at The Rock. There is a $10 charge to offset the cost of materials.  It will be an informative and inspirational time.

Also this Sunday at The Rock at 12:45, the Honduras Mission team will give us an update on their most recent visit to Honduras and share the exciting things that are happening at Little Lambs Orphanage.  Whether you’re interested in joining an upcoming team or just want to know a little more about how you can help and support this ministry outreach to the Honduran people, we hope you will join us.

See you Sunday at St. Matts at 8:45 as we begin the final chapter of James talking about some really serious issues like patience!

Have a great week.

Pastor Frank

Frank@StMattUMC.org

 

 

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St. Patrick's Day

This Friday, more than 17 million people around the world will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with parades, parties and the color green.  But there is more to St. Patrick’s Day than green beer and corn beef and cabbage. Born to a wealthy family in 387 AD, Maewyn Succat, better known as “Patrick” was recognized for his strong Christian faith and ministry.  Patrick, who was never canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, is reported to have converted more than 135,000 people to Jesus Christ and assisted in establishing 300 churches.

Interesting Facts About St. Patrick

  • Patrick was actually "British," born to a Christian family in the northernmost Roman colony of Britannia.
  • At age 16, Patrick was captured by Irish raiders and spent several years as a slave in Ireland.
  • Patrick had a dream in which God spoke to him saying, “Your ship is ready."
  • Subsequently, Patrick returned to Ireland to tell people about Christ.
  • The most well-known of Patrick’s illustrations is the shamrock, which he used s as a symbol of the Trinity.

Forgive me but since I detest green beer (or any other beer for that matter) and would rather hit myself in the head with a hammer than eat corned beef and cabbage, however I think there is an important lesson as the world celebrates St. Patrick’s Day.  For me, it is what one person with a heart for Christ can do to change a nation and the world. 

What if during these weeks of Lent, we too had the courage to share our belief in Christ with others, what if we too put Christ first in our lives, what if we too truly lived what we believe – we absolutely could have a lasting impact in changing the world.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  Just saying!

St. Matthews Wednesday Night Youth Group

I had the privilege last Wednesday to join the middle and high school youth group at St. Matthews.  My favorite daughter and the kids in the youth group asked me questions about my faith and my life.  What a privilege it was to share what’s really important with them and what’s really imperative in my life.  I came away thinking what a great group of young people.  Under the leadership of Heidi Mongeau and some other awesome adults, lives are truly being changed.  If you know of young people in middle and high school, invite them on Wednesday night at 6 p.m.  It will change their lives.

Easter Egg Hunt

Just a reminder of our Easter Egg Hunt meeting this Wednesday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Matts.  If you would like to be a part of this year’s annual St. Matthews Easter Egg Hunt Team, which will take place on April 8th, please join us.  For more information, contact Kristen Gondolfo

We are also in need of candy donations to fill the Easter eggs. There will be a basket near the help desk in our Welcome Center so that you can drop off your donations.

Share the Love on Sunday Mornings

Thanks to all who have shared “goodies” for our fellowship time after our morning worship service.  It is exciting to see so many folks stay after the service for fellowship.   If you would like to “share the love” by bringing special treats, please sign up with Kristen Gondolfo or on this link:  http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0945a4ab2ea2f49-calling

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Congratulations to Jess and Jessie

Congratulations to Jess and Jessie Moody on the birth of their beautiful daughter Adalyn Grace Moody on February 6th.  The Moody’s report that Adalyn is the “love of their lives” and are thankful to God for this special blessing.  We look forward to welcoming Adalyn in worship real soon on Sunday mornings.

Speaking of young children, did you know that every Sunday we have a nursery staffed by great folks who love kids!  For more information, see anyone at the help desk.

See you this Sunday at 8:45 as Pastor Steve continues our sermon series on James as we walk verse by verse this this awesome book.  This week we will be studying James 5:1-12. 

God bless,

Pastor Frank

Frank@StattUMC.org

 

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Serving Others...

            One of our core beliefs at St. Matthews is that everyone is meant to serve.  One of the ways we do that is through our mission trips.  Last week 32 incredible men, women and youth went to Rosebud, Texas to build a 60 by 60-foot Staff Lodge for Camp Wilderness Ridge, a Christian youth camp that had been destroyed by wild fires two years ago. 

This was our eighth trip to the Gulf Coast.  Eleven years ago, we built our first home for a Methodist family who had lost their trailer home and everything else they owned because of hurricane Rita.  The home we built for them was the first real home that this senior couple had ever owned.

Compared to this year’s project, that first home in Hackberry, La. was a snap.  The edifice that was built this time was the most difficult and complex with a rafter construction that couldn’t have been any more complicated.  Because of bearing walls, the interior was also challenging.  But the thing that amazed me was the way the team approached the project with a can-do attitude.  I think it safe to say that no one on the team had ever constructed anything as challenging.  Yet the team worked diligently to make sure it was built perfectly.

The other thing that amazed me about the team – once again – was the way that it came together in unity.  More than 50% of the team was new and had never been on one of our mission trips previously.  Because of participation from The Rock as well as St. Matthews, many people didn’t know each other.  But something happens when people come together in the name of Christ to serve others, there is what I call an “instant connect,” a bond and unity that is found only in our Lord.  The youngest team member was Matthew Fairhurst who was 12 years old and never stopped working – he was incredible.  The oldest, Clay Shaw, will soon turn 76 and matched step for step team members who were much younger. 

 Our thanks to leader Rick McCully and all who participated.   Because of their sacrifice – each team member pays all their own expenses including transportation and meals – they built a legacy that will help young people come to have a life-changing experience with our Lord for decades to come.

            Even as we close the book on another Gulf Coast Mission Trip, the Honduras team is getting ready to return to Little Lambs Orphanage that we adopted to continue reaching out with the love of Christ to young children who are living in poverty and devastation.  I can still remember pictures of the Honduras team presenting shoes to the youngsters after washing their feet.  It is what Christ calls us to do.

Did you also know that a portion of our offering each week goes to support a number of missional work both here in the United States and globally through The United Methodist Church?

As important as these mission trips are, we need to remember that we don’t have to go to Texas or Honduras to serve others.  We can do it right here in our local communities when we help those that are in need.  The words of Jesus ring in my ears, “because you have done it for the least of these my brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it unto me.”

            We are called to serve others in the name of Jesus.  As someone once shared with me, it is not a suggestion, it is a command.  Or as we studied in James a few weeks ago, what good does it do to say that you are a Christian and see your brother or sister in need and don’t do anything about it?  Just saying!

ST.  MATTS' Easter Egg Hunt

The annual St. Matthews Easter Egg Hunt will be Saturday, April 8th from 8 am to noon.  We are in need of many volunteers to help make this another great community effort.  If you can help, please contact our administrative assistant Kristen Gondolfo  .  We are also in need of candy donations to fill all the eggs.  There will be a basket near the help desk starting this coming Sunday so donations can be dropped off.  If you want to join the team and help, there is a meeting on Wednesday, March 16th at 6:30 at St. Matts.  Please join us.

           

See you Sunday at St. Matthews as we continue our study in the book of James, this week talking about what’s really important.  Just a hint – it’s not about me … or you!

Have a great week!

Frank

Frank@StMattUMC.org

 

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Lent begins tomorrow...

Greetings from Rosebud, Texas which is about 92 miles from Austin or a one and a half hour drive.  I’m here with an awesome group of 33 men, women and youth from Rock Church Ministries to help rebuild a Christian youth camp.  More about that next week.

But the critical question this week is:  Did you do it?  Did you make the commitment?  Is this the year that Lent is going to take on a new meaning and change your life forever?  Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday and continues for 40 days right up to Easter.  Lent is a time of preparation as we get ready to celebrate Easter.  As we shared last week, Christians often give up something for lent like foods, limiting time with TV or social media or other things knowing that after Easter we can once again enjoy what we have given up.  Pastor James W. Moore, author of “Give Up Something Bad for Lent” challenges us to give up something we are better off not doing, to seek God’s help in eliminating one habit or attitude that is destructive in our lives this Lenten season, things like envy, jealousy, self-pity, procrastination, gossip, negative thinking, resentment, pettiness, anger, lusts of the flesh and host of other destructive behaviors.

We read in Mark 1:12-15“After the Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness.  He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts; and the angels waiting on Him.  Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the Good News of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the Good News.’”

I believe God is calling us to respond this Lenten season.  King Solomon, the wisest person who ever lived, tells us that there is a time for everything.  Sometimes we need is to have the courage to take a leap of faith, to draw closer to God.  I believe Lent is our opportunity to do that.  Tomorrow as we begin Lent, I would encourage all of us – me included – to make a commitment for the next 40 days to draw closer to Christ and I believe that starts with sacrifice – giving up something that is destructive in our lives.  Will you join me in making that commitment this year?

Please continue to keep the Texas Mission Trip in your prayers as they work to hep build Camp Wilderness Ride, a youth camp in Rosebud, Texas.  More about the experience next week.

Please continue to keep the Texas Mission Trip in your prayers as they work to hep build Camp Wilderness Ride, a youth camp in Rosebud, Texas.  More about the experience next week.

See you Sunday as we continue to walk verse by verse through the book of James.

As they say in Texas, “have a great week y’all.”  Just saying.

Pastor Frank

Frank@StMattUMC.org

 

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Ash Wednesday

Next week is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent which lasts for 40 days (not counting Sundays) right up until Easter.  The 40 days represents the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness, enduring the temptations of Satan and preparing to begin His ministry.   Lent is traditionally a time of self-denial, moderation, fasting and forsaking of sinful activities and habits in preparation for the coming of Easter.

Often Christians give up something like particular foods, limiting TV or time on social media or other things knowing that after Easter Sunday we can once again enjoy what we have given up.  However, James W. Moore author of Give Up Something Bad for Lent encourage us to give up something we are better off not doing, “to seek God’s help to focus on eliminating one habit or attitude that is destructive.  Imagine giving up envy, jealousy, self-pity, apathy, procrastination, gossip, resentment or negative thinking.”  To these we can add pettiness, anger, lusts of the flesh and a host of other destructive behaviors. 

The point that Moore is making is that if we can make a commitment to give up one bad habit for 40 days, with God’s help and strength we can give it up forever. Lent is a time to focus on our relationship with God and draw closer to Him.  In the next week, I would ask you to reflect on what God would want you to give up for Lent and then through the power and presence of The Holy Spirit in our lives to give it up forever!

The Number 40

In addition to the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, the number 40 has many Biblical references including:  the forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai with God (Exodus 24:18); the forty days and nights Elijah spent walking to Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8); God made it rain for forty days and forty nights in the days of Noah (Genesis 7:4); the Hebrew people wandered forty years traveling to the Promised Land (Numbers 14:33); Jonah in his prophecy of judgment gave the city of Nineveh forty days to repent (Jonah 3:4).  Nothing is ever coincidental with God; everything has a meaning and purpose.  Just saying!   

                                                     Last year's Texas Mission Team.

                                                     Last year's Texas Mission Team.

Texas Mission Trip

Please keep our Texas Mission Team in your prayers as we leave this week for Huntsville, TX to rebuild a Christian youth camp which was destroyed by fire two years ago.  Our mobile team, led by Chris Tammany, leaves this Wednesday at 9 p.m. and will drive straight through; the advance team, led by Rick McCully, flies out of Boston on Friday morning; the main team leaves on Saturday morning and will be gathering at 4 a.m. at St. Matts.  We are thankful to our drivers – Mike Haggstrom, Lee Elliott, Mark Bowes, John Boggiatto and Dianna Lowes – who are getting up early as well to drive us to Logan.  We are also grateful to Jennifer “Thumper” Headley who will be picking us up with a bus at midnight on March 4th when we return.

Happy Birthday Betty!

It is with great joy that we wish Betty Jones a Happy Birthday this Saturday.  Betty will be 96 years YOUNG and is such an inspiration to all of us at St. Matthews. 

Betty, or Mom as I like to call her, is in church every Sunday and an active member of our church community regularly participating in a weekly LifeGroup and Bible studies.  When I grow up, I want to be just like Betty!

This Sunday at St. Matts...

Be sure to join us this Sunday at 8:45 at St. Matthews as we continue to walk verse by verse through the book of James.  Since Pastor Steve and I will both be in Texas this week, we have a surprise preacher for you.  I know you’re going to be glad you came!

God bless,

Frank

Frank@StMattUMC.org

 

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Read any good books...

Read any good books lately?  Like many of you, my favorite book is the Bible.  I’ve heard many folks refer to the Bible as:  Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.  Personally I like to think of it as God’s word to help us get through today.  Years ago one of my brothers was struggling with a variety of issues in his life.  I suggested that he needed to start reading the Bible.  He called me one night, obviously having imbibed just slightly, and said, “I can’t make any sense out of the Bible.  I asked him where he was reading.  He responded, “in the book of Numbers.”  Hence the problem!

While I believe we are instructed to read all of God’s word, unlike a “traditional” book, I don’t think we should start at the beginning.  I encourage people to start reading with one of the Gospels.  My favorite is the Gospel of John because it is presented in a simple and straight forward manner and connects with folks at all levels of spiritual growth from the beginner to the more advanced.  Unlike the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), more than 90% of the material in John is without parallel in any of the other three Gospels. 

There are also a number of stories about Jesus that are unique to John’s Gospel such as:  Jesus calling of Andrew, Phillip and Nathanael, changing water into wine at Cana, the conversion of Nicodemus, the raising of Lazarus and the washing of the disciples feet.  The Gospel of John also emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

A commitment to read something every day from the Bible will draw you closer to God and help with some of those really difficult situations that James in talking about in our new sermon series. Just saying!

Speaking of good books … did you know that at St. Matthews we have a great library of Christian books available free?  Located opposite the kitchen in our main historic building, the library has several hundred books.  The process is simple, just take whatever you want, return it when you’re through.  There are books available for all reading levels – from youth to adult.  If you have books that others might like to read, we invite you to leave them there as well.

Everyone is Gifted to Serve

Chris Tammany.jpeg

One of our core convictions at St. Matthews is that everyone is meant to serve.  In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul talks about the importance of everyone in the body and reminds us, “now you (that’s you and me!) are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it.” 

One of the reason that St. Matthews is such a great church is that people volunteer and serve in so many ways and they do it willingly and without asking for any recognition.  During this season of inclement weather, we are all especially thankful for Chris Tammany who plows us out and the trustees who make sure that all the walks are shoveled.  Like so many others, Chris does it for free without wanting or asking for any acknowledgement.  Can you imagine the impact on our budget if we had to pay for snow plowing.  And then when he finishes at St. Matthews, he heads to The Rock and plows for them as well.  I don’t want to embarrass Chris but I do want him to know how much we all appreciate him.  Ditto for our amazing trustees.

A New Prayer Team at St. Matthews

Just a reminder that we are developing a team of folks to be available after the service to pray with you.  This Sunday we’re going to be sharing more information about our new prayer ministry after the service.  If you would like to be part of our new prayer team or just want to find out how to effectively pray, please join Kathy Kowaleski and me immediately following worship in our beautiful new sanctuary.

See you Sunday at 8:45 as we continue our journey through the book of James.

Pastor Frank

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Prayer

Are you ever reluctant to ask for prayer, to share a need in your life, a struggle?  James reminds us that “…you do not have because you do not ask.”  Often people share with me that they really don’t know how to pray.  Well, you’re in great company because one day when Jesus was praying, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  In response, Jesus taught them what we call The Lord’s Prayer. 

While prayer is obviously more than about presenting “a wish list” to God, James reminds us that prayer is the way that we communicate with our creator and in his epistle shares with us that the most common problems in prayer, like asking for the wrong things, or asking for the wrong reasons.  We’ll be talking more about that soon in our Sunday morning sermon series as we continue to walk through the book of James verse by verse together.

Did you know that prayer is mentioned 250 times in scripture and that Jesus spent a great deal of time in prayer, often going off by Himself to pray?  Yet for many Christians prayer can be a challenge, a struggle.  For those who are new to the faith, some wonder how to even start. 

At St. Matthews, every Sunday we have an opportunity to share “prayer requests” which Kathy Kowaleski prays over during the service.  Those prayers are then emailed to our 180 member prayer chain who prays for them during the week.  If you would like to become a member of that prayer team, contact Lynette Archibald.  During the week, if there are emergencies that come up, you can submit a prayer request to the prayer chain by emailing Lynette, Christine Comeau or Beth Soucise.

A New Prayer Team at St. Matthews

In addition, we are developing a team of people to be available after the service at St. Matthews to pray with you.  If you would like to find out more about our new prayer ministry or to become part of the team, please join us after the service on February 19 for an information meeting in the sanctuary or email  Kathy Kowaleski or call Kathy at 603-264-3768.  Prayer is critical to our Christian faith walk!

 

Congratulations Patriots ... Super Bow Champions!

Congratulations Patriots ... Super Bow Champions!

Congratulations to the New England Patriot’s for winning not only the first overtime game in Super Bowl history but the biggest comeback ever.  As Christians there are a lot of lessons that we can learn from this game including Never Give Up!  I’m sure some of those lessons will surface as illustrations in upcoming sermons.  But, the image that will remain with me for a long time is special teams captain Matthew Slater during Super Bowl Week unapologetically sharing his faith in Jesus Christ.  Slater is the spiritual leader of Patriot’s and holds a prayer service before the game with some of the players.  “My faith is the core pillar in my life.  It comes before anything,” said Slater.  “It’s something from a very young age that has given me direction and purpose beyond what I do professionally.”  There are, of course, others on the Patriots who share Slater’s faith such as tackle Nate Solder and safety Devin McCourty.  As Christians we would do well to take a page from Slater’s playbook and be as eager to share our faith as well because someone needs to hear your faith story today.  Just saying!

See you Sunday at 8:45.

Pastor Frank

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