Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Kingswood’s Ramp Update

Ramp is usable!!!! We will be able to use it this coming Sunday, 8/6/2017

There is still some landscaping work to be done in the next few weeks. I will keep you posted.

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View from side door (by pastor’s office)

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View from the middle landing towards Marrows Rd

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Update on Kingswood’s Access Ramp

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From Left to Right:

Adam, Dwayne, Danny and Cliff.

Kingswood Access Ramp Update

Construction is on-going!

 

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Thinking Towards Sunday; August 6, 2017

Scriptures for this Sunday: John 6:1-14

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV and ESV}

 

Call To Worship 8/6/2017

Rejoice in the Lord. Call on God’s holy name!
Give thanks to the Lord. Sing to our God with shouts of joy!

Rejoice in the Lord. Proclaim God’s mighty works!
Give thanks to the Lord. Proclaim the miracles of God’s hands!

Rejoice in the Lord. Trust in God’s saving love!
Give thanks to the Lord. Tell the wonders of God’s glory!

 

Opening Prayer 8/6/2017

Loving and Gracious God!

You welcome all who call on your name with open arms: no one is outside of your love, mercy and grace.

We gather in worship, to declare that you are our God and we are your people (Exodus 6:7, Leviticus 26;12), called and encouraged by you from the day we were born.

Through the presence of your Holy Spirit, open our eyes to see you among us; open our minds to discern your guidance, and our very souls to glorify you. Amen.

Construction begins on Kingswood’s Access Ramp

Individual pieces of what will become our Access Ramp are being unloaded  and prepared for assembly.

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Kingswood Access Ramp Update

Concrete is setting.

We are in the waiting mode.

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Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; July 30, 2017; Jonah 3:1-10; Matthew 12:38-41

Scriptures for this Sunday is Jonah 3:1-10; Matthew 12:38-41

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

Status on the Access Ramp.

This Sunday, July 30, 2017, our Access Ramp will NOT be ready yet.
Concrete supports for the ramp have been poured on Thursday.  At this time I am not sure when the ramp will be constructed; all I know that it is scheduled to be operational by August 6 (the Sunday after this coming one). 
As the situation develops, I will keep you posted.

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The story of Jonah is one of the best-known stories in the Hebrew Scriptures. Generations of Sunday School children have listened to the story of the fish that caught a man with awe and wide-eyed amazement. Sight and Sound has a production based on the story.

We know that Jesus loved and used the story of Jonah in his ministry (Matthew 12:40).

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The way the story goes, Jonah was told to go to the pagan, Assyrian capital of Nineveh and announce God’s judgment against it.

Assyria was the most powerful empire of the Biblical world at the time, and the Assyrians ruled over Israel. They were brutal; they were known for cruelty and atrocities that are hard for us to comprehend. When their armies captured a city or a country they would skin people alive, decapitate some, mutilate others, rip out tongues. They used cruelty to instill fear in conquered populations so they were too scared to resist. Ancient records from Assyria boast of this kind of cruelty as a badge of courage and power. I can understand why Jonah was “hesitant” to go there.

For a Jewish man like Jonah to be told by God to go preach to Nineveh was scary. He feared for his life; nobody would cherish the possibility of mutilation followed by slow painful death.

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That is why instead of going to Nineveh, Jonah went in the opposite direction. He went to Joppa and then boarded a ship bound for Tarshish.

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Chapter 1 of the Scroll of Jonah tells us that a violent storm threatened the ship that Jonah was on. Every sailor prayed to their pantheon of gods asking for help, and when that did not help, they threw their cargo overboard. To make a long story short, the crew figured out that it was Jonah who angered God.

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NIV2010 Jonah 1:11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

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Jonah spent three days in the belly of a fish. Chapter 2 of the Book records the prayer that Jonah wrote during this experience. It is a humbling experience to spend three days in the “belly of a fish.”

After Jonah humbled himself, God again told him to go to Nineveh, and this time Jonah obeyed. He preached to the Assyrians all through the city of Nineveh.

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NIV2010 Jonah 3: 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust (ashes in many other translations).

As a result, God decided to spare the city. Jonah was angry. Jonah 4:1 records, “… to Jonah this [repentance] seemed very wrong, and he became angry.”

His arguments with God are recorded in chapter 4.

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All of us can relate to Jonah. All of us have taken a ship to “Tarshish” once or twice in our lives. All of us have experienced the Lord’s disappointment when we disobeyed.

Am I the only one who has been challenged to do something outside my comfort zone?

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  • “Nineveh” is a place that we do not want to go to.

  • “Nineveh” is the people who have hurt you deeply and God says, “Go and give them my message.”

  • “Nineveh” is a place you deeply dislike and are scared to go to, that God sends you to tend to.

I am sure that I am not the only one who has been put in a time-out by God.

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  • The “belly-of-the-fish” is the place we are forced to crawl into when we have lost all hope and see no way forward.

  • The “belly-of-the-fish” is a place where we are forced to still our minds, accept the reality of our situation (whatever it may be) and then discover that God is with us, even though we were not aware of God’s presence.

Today I want to ask you, what does your “belly of a fish” look like? When was the last time that you called to the Lord in your distress, and because you recognized your own inabilities and inadequacies at the time, you had no choice but to rely on God and the presence of God became real to you.

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“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you heard my cry” (Jonah 2:2).

When was the last time that you felt that you were on the threshold of the “realm of the dead?” When was the last time that you did not know what to do next and things looked bleak, and suddenly there was Jesus: “Peace be with you.” When was the last time you allowed yourself to be vulnerable and allowed God to touch your soul?

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During times of crisis and imminent peril and danger, “shoulds” and “oughts” do not really help. The more we think in terms of past mistakes, the more we increase our feelings of shame and guilt, and the likelihood of getting mired in an unending cycle of self-pity.

What helps is directing our focus onto something that we absolutely believe in, something that we are committed to. That focus and that faith is what will get us out of the “belly of the fish” and through “nineveh”.

Ours is a culture of progress and efficiency, impatient with gradual growth. We want immediate results, we don’t want to go to our “nineveh” or spend time in the “belly-of-the-fish.”

But look at the main lesson that Jonah teaches us. God let Jonah run in the wrong direction at first. God also put Jonah on a long, painful, and complex journey to get him back to where he, Jonah, needed to be. God accomplished a lot through Jonah, in spite of Jonah.

  • Sailors believed (Jonah 1:16)

  • Nineveh experienced revival (Jonah 3:5-6)

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The main lesson from the life of Jonah is that the path to transformation and renewal always goes through reorientation. I have witnessed change helping people to find a new meaning and a new life. I have also seen change that caused people to turn bitter and distance themselves from everybody.

The difference is determined by the quality and resilience of our relationship with God. The main lesson that we can learn from Jonah is that spiritual transformation is a process of letting go, living in a confusing dark space for a while, and then allowing yourself to be spit up on a new and unexpected shore.

Pouring Concrete for Supports for the Ramp

July 27, 2017.

Today concrete was poured for the supports for the Handicapped Ramp @ Kingswood UMC.

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Before the concrete truck arrived; crew is preparing the molds.

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First concrete starts pouring

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Concrete truck driver pretends to blow Shofar

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“Why don’t young people listen to me?”

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Kingswood Ramp Update

Ground is still wet.

Here is a couple of pictures

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Update on the Ramp for the Church.

This coming Sunday, July 30, 2017, our ramp will NOT be ready yet.

Concrete supports for the ramp have to be poured into the openings that were dug out last week. Yesterday and today, the contractor could not pour the concrete because these openings were filled with water.

As the situation develops, I will keep you posted.

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Thinking Towards Sunday; July 30, 2017

Scriptures for this Sunday is Jonah 3:1-10; Matthew 12:38-41

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

More updates on the ramp for the church

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Check out the size of these boulders excavated near the door to the church

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Another perspective

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Joe standing next to the boulders so we can gauge the size (and weight) of them

 

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It is hot.

 

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Latest updates from Ramp Construction

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One of the workers (Mike) taking a break

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Our Church Secretary.

 

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Check out the size of the concrete piece that they dug out. That used to be support for the old ramp.

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These will be filled with concrete and house supports for the new ramp.

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; July 23, 2017; Hebrews 6:1-12, 10:19-25

Scriptures for this coming Sunday: Hebrews 6:1-12, 10:19-25

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV and ESV}

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We live in the age of 140-character tweets. Call it pop-psychology, pop-theology, pop-anything, but the reality remains that feel-good platitudes are somewhat important in our society.

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I often hear that optimism is an important quality for a leader. Intuitively it makes sense; nobody wants to hear Eeyore deliver Sunday’s message in church in 140-character increments.

Unfortunately, all that pop-theology and pop-psychology forces our pastors to project positivity.

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As I watch the news about armed conflicts around the world (Korea, Syria, Afghanistan), as I learn about climate change, and monitor the national debate about affordable health care, I struggle with my own sense of optimism.

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As I recognize that struggle with optimism within, I must make a choice:

  1. I can either stand in front of God and lie and pretend that everything is okay, or

  2. I can acknowledge these uncertainties and doubts and embrace the deep grief that I am feeling – “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

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The point that I am trying to make is that it would be dishonest of me to be perpetually optimistic, to preach that everything will work out when it comes to our world, our denomination and our individual church communities. We don’t know whether things will work out in our lives. “Happily ever after” is not guaranteed.

As the United Methodist Church, we face incredible institutional inertia. Our churches have faced and will have to face unending bureaucracy, raging poverty, drugs, children who are ignored and abused, fractured families.

That is why I am coming to the realization that optimism is not what any Christian (whether ordained or not), or any honest person for that matter, should model for their followers or neighbors. The fiscal and spiritual poverty will never go away. Tragedies will not stop happening. There will always be those among us who choose bureaucracy over community, status quo over change, individual power over love, and cynicism over hope.

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So far today’s message is a major downer, but it brings us to a couple of questions:

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  1. What do we have to offer to each other and to our neighbors? In other words, why would anybody in their right mind want to come to church?

  2. · How do we prepare for the inevitable emotional wounds and disappointments that we encounter on our journeys, while at the same time believing that the struggle is worthwhile and is glorious?

The answers to these questions lie in the differences between optimism and hope. Whether we are aware of these differences, they have sustained generations of Christians before us, they sustain us today, and they will sustain generations of Christians for years to come.

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NIV2010 Hebrews 6: 1Therefore let us move BEYOND the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instructions about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.

Optimism claims that everything will be all right no matter what the realities of life are.

However, hope accepts {1} the realities, {2} the poverty of spirit that underlies fear and instigates tragedies, {3} bureaucracy, and {4} institutional inertia, etc…. Hope then takes the capacity of our hearts, the place where Jesus lives if we invite him there, and turns it into solutions. There is a saying that sacred cows make gourmet burgers; hope is the process that turn sacred cows into burgers.

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NIV2010 Hebrews 10: 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

There is no reality that God shall not overcome. This is the foundation of our hope.

Optimism will get shattered by reality and come to a standstill because optimism is rooted in us.

Hope will go toe-to-toe with reality because Jesus never quits.

Optimism depends on external realities relenting and working themselves out; given to their own devices they will not. Hope, does not ignore external realities; it simply takes into consideration our hearts’ capacity to withstand those realities, and it trusts in the inexhaustible power of our Jesus-powered-hearts to choose love over fear, or bureaucracy, or inertia, or anything else for that matter.

As Christians, we are called to be filled with hope; we are not called to be purveyors of plastic smiles and platitudes offering a lame optimism. As Christians, we are called to take seriously the challenges of bringing Jesus to the world around us.

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Matthew 28: 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

If you want to catch fish, go to the river. If I want to hide my head in the sand, I go to the movies and watch the musical “La La Land.” If I need hope, I look for the presence of the Holy in the world around me because only God can fill my heart with hope.

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NIV2010 Hebrews 6: 11 We want each of you to show {this same} diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Hymn 368 – My Hope is Built verse 3 in our hymnal talks about this.

His oath, his covenant, his blood

supports me in the whelming flood.

When all around my soul gives way,

he then is all my hope and stay.

(Refrain)

Youth Rally 2018

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