Bonfire and Psalm/Hymn Sing POSTPONED!

The old adage is that if you don’t like the weather in Arkansas, wait an hour.  With a forecast for this Friday that includes heavy rains, thunderstorms and then the remote possibility of sleet and snow, we have decided to postpone the Bonfire and Psalm/Hymn Sing scheduled for this  Friday, April 6, 2018.  We are working on a date in early May to reschedule.  Stay tuned for an update.   For more information email us at pottsvillearp@gmail.com .

Bonfire and Hymn Sing

The Pottsville Associate Reformed Church is hosting a Bonfire and Psalm/Hymn Sing, Friday, April 6, 2018.  We will get started at 6:00pm at The Manse.  The Church will provide drinks and each family will bring a favorite Middle-Eastern themed appetizer, entree or dessert. Bring your friends and family and join us for a night of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs!  Click here for directions or email us at pottsvillearp@gmail.com for more info.

Who Is This?

When someone mentions Jesus, what comes to mind?  Religious revolutionary? Social justice warrior?  Ethical teacher?  Failed Zionist leader?  Founder of a yet another world religion? Who is this Jesus?  For many it is a caricature, influenced by pictures you have seen or by clichés which permeate our cultural ideas of “the historical Jesus.”  Or perhaps you remember him from a collection of anecdotes or parables you heard as a child in some Sunday School.

Jesus’ own disciples struggled to understand who he was and what he came to do.  From time to time glimpses shined through their own preconceived notions of Him.  In a poignant moment, as they were crossing the Sea of Galilee, a furious squall sprang up and threatened to sink their small fishing boat.  Half of Jesus’ disciples grew up on these tempestuous waters, fishing with their families from their childhood. Yet even they were convinced that they would not survive the trip.  They woke Jesus who was asleep in the back of the boat.  They did not ask him to save them – for what miracle working teacher was a match for a force-ten gale?  They only asked, “don’t you care that we are about to die?”   Jesus stood up in the boat and with a word, brought the waters from tempest to mirror.   These seasoned seamen were almost speechless.  The only thing they could say of Jesus was, “who is this?”   They perceived that there was much more to Jesus than even their imaginations could anticipate.

Who is Jesus?  The accounts of him at the end of the gospel of John are really very unexpected.  As he faces an unjust arrest, trial, and execution, we seem him not as a failed revolutionary swept up in the unstoppable tide of Roman tyranny and religious jealousy.  What we see is that Jesus is the one in complete control of everything that transpires.  He told his disciples, “no one takes my life from me.  I lay it down and I will take it up again.”

Who do you think Jesus is?  Come and find out as we walk through the final days of Jesus’ earthly life, from John 18-21.  Join us for worship this Lord’s Day, March 11, at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we examine John 18 and consider just who Jesus is and what he came to do.  Click here for directions.  We look forward to seeing you.

The God Who Sees

Recently our Congress extended permissions for the NSA to continue to dumpster dive in the flotsam and jetsam of your digital wake.  For another six years, so long as they happen to be hunting foreign terrorists, our government can keep a benevolent eye on us through the cyber tracks we leave everywhere in an ever-broadening desire to be connected.

Our pocket-palantirs are ever listening, watching and reporting.  In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien unwittingly prophesied the doubled-edged benefit of smart phones when he conceived of the Palantir.  The Palantir were seeing stones that let the characters in Tolkien’s world see and communicate with one another across time and space.   They also revealed the potential futures of those peering into them.  Sounds great, except that anyone looking into a Palantir could be seen by anyone possessing another Palantir, especially Sauron with his “all-seeing” eye.  Magic rings and Palantir are tempting productivity tools, but remember there is an “all-seeing” eye.

Many of my friends have tape on their smart phone camera, keep wifi and mobile data off, and never enable GPS because of concern that their pocket-palantir makes them seeable by an ambiguously benevolent higher power.  But this is not a new idea in the history of the world, just a different tool and new set of players.  Men have always had concern over whether they are being watched.  Jesus noted that men prefer darkness to light so that their deeds may remain hidden.  Yet the scripture notes that even darkness is as light to God and that the Lord sees everything, down even to the deepest thoughts and intents of the hearts.

The Nazca Indians of South America sensed this, even in their spiritual darkness, and constructed mammoth images on the desert floor to please the gods above whom they believed to be angry because of the lives of men.  Men throughout history have distressed over an awareness that the God Who Is, is a God Who Sees.  The Psalms speaks of those who try repress the knowledge of God’s omniscience through idolatry and atheism. Yet, this thing which men’s darkened hearts fear, is their greatest hope.  For the God who sees is the God who saves.  The God who sees is the God who loves the loveless and relieves the afflicted in their affliction.

Genesis 29 is a complicated story of an ancient family dealing with the whole cadre of modern sins.   Jacob deceives and is deceived, faces drama and jealousy, plays favorites and shirks his obligations and labors under caustic relations with in-laws.  What hope is there for such a family?   What hope is there for our complicated families?  Buried in this passage is the sad tale of Leah, the unloved wife and woman.  Her father trundled her off to Jacob to defraud him out of seven additional years of labor.  Her new husband despised her.  Her wedding bed was shared with her sister.  She was the contempt of her husband, father and sister – but not of the Lord who Sees.  He saw her in her affliction.  He saw that she was not loved.  He loved her and gave her the gift of children, whose love would fill up her empty spaces.

Join us for worship this Lord’s Day, March 11, at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we examine the story of Leah in Genesis 29 and consider how God, who sees us for what and who we are, is the God who loves us with steadfast and redemptive love.  Click here for directions.  We look forward to seeing you.

A Service of Readings and Songs

“What thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinner’s gain; mine, mine was the transgression, but thine the deadly pain.  Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ‘Tis I deserve thy place; look on me with thy favor, vouchsafe to me thy grace”  Bernard of Clairvaux

Join us this Good Friday, March 30, 2018 at 7:00pm at Pottsville Associate Presbyterian Church for a Service of Readings and Hymns.  For directions, click here.  For more information email us at pottsvillearp@gmail.com.

Relentless Pursuit

 

Deputy Marshall, Bass Reeves set the standard for relentless pursuit.  Born to slave parents in 1838 in Crawford County Arkansas, Reeves would become the first black U.S. Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi and one of the greatest frontier heroes in our nation’s history.

Appointed by the infamous Judge Isaac Parker because of his significant knowledge of the area and ability to speak several tribal languages, Bass Reeves earned his place in history as one of the most effective lawmen in Indian Territory, bringing in more than 3,000 outlaws during his 35 years of service.

Though Reeves could not read or write it did not diminish his effectiveness in apprehending fugitives. He memorized every warrant and never failed to produce the right one. Reeves earned a reputation for his courage, success and ingenuity. He was a master of disguises and often utilized aliases.  A meticulous dresser, he was known for his trademark hat and two Colt pistols, butt forward for a fast draw.  Ambidextrous, he rarely missed his mark.  He was so renowned for his relentless pursuit, that noted female outlaw, Belle Starr turned herself in at Fort Smith when she heard Reeves had a warrant for her arrest.

But despite his reputation, Reeve’s tenacity and effectiveness is as nothing compared to the Lord’s relentless pursuit of those He calls.   In spite of Jacob’s trickery and his grasping self-concern and self-conceit, the Lord pursued him as he fled from the wrath of his brother Esau.  In this pursuit, the Lord revealed Himself and His promises.  In running for his life as a fugitive, Jacob found life through the relentless pursuit of God.

Join us for worship at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church  this Lord’s Day, March 4, as we examine the story of Jacob’s flight from home in Genesis 28 and consider how God relentlessly pursues us, even when we are not pursuing Him.  For directions click here. We look forward to seeing you

Bumper Rails

Where were bumper rails when we were young?  Bowling was much harder than we imagined and gutter-balls were the mainstay of our early forays into the sport.  Children today, however, can experience the euphoria of crushing pins without the disappointment of gutter-dwelling, due to a truly marvelous modern invention – the bumper rail.  Throw in an adaptive bowling ramp and your average adult league bowler will be hard-pressed to beat a three year old without a sizeable handicap.

Older children may argue that this is an unfair advantage and bowling purists may complain that youngsters need to develop the character that comes from a single-digit score, but bowling alleys have learned that bumper rails and adaptive bowling ramps make the game more fun and significantly reduce crying among its fledgling bowlers.

In a similar way, the Lord graciously protects us when we struggle in our journey of faith.  Despite our struggles with unbelief, disobedience and conflict, the Lord, through His gracious providence keeps us out of many gutters and directs our paths when we are too weak to do so.   This great truth of God’s kindness in providence does not makes us apathetic or callous toward the demands of obedience or holiness, but rather increases our desire to grow in these areas out of gratitude for Him.  How has the Lord guarded and directed your path in the midst of a difficult faith journey?

Join us for worship at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church  this Lord’s Day, February 18, we examine Genesis 26 and consider how God graciously protects us when are struggling with unbelief, disobedience, and conflict in our journey of faith. For directions click here. We look forward to seeing you.