What a God we have…because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.” (From 1 Peter 1:3-4 from The Message)
“I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life!”
(George Burns at age 87 – he lived to be 100)
My HolyC Friends,
Do you ever sense your now mixing quickly with your future? Ever catch yourself saying, “where did the time go?” or “it seems like yes-terday that …” or “wow, have things changed from the way things were.” Change & future …
High School & College graduations; spring has nearly given way to the summer. The future is soon!
Holy Comforter is beginning to gear up for the 100th Anniversary of its birth as a congregation, born in 1916 to serve God’s people in the Belmont community! Wow! Time flies!
Holy Comforter is deep into the call pro-cess for a new Sr. Pastor – the Call Commit-tee has recommended a primary candidate and the Congregation Council will meet with the potential candidate soon. God’s Spirit is moving – don’t you sense it! Stay tuned to what the Spirit has next for us!
These are only a few present/future changes that are taking place, friends. None of us knows exactly how the future for HCLC will look … BUT I know a few resources to take with you into the months & years to come (I shared these with you in an April sermon) …
Prayer – when you have a decision to make regarding something that affects your future (take the job or not; move into a retirement community or stay in my home; accept the doctor’s medical advice or leave it; call this pastor or not …) run your options my God!
Your Bible – here’s a great verse for start-ers: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to pros-per you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 from Today’s NIV)
Spiritual friend – Is your marriage strug-gling? Wrestling with something ethi-cal? Discerning a major decision for HolyC? Talk to a Christian friend who has a deep, Spiritual relationship with Jesus.
Friends, go back to the top and read the verse from 1 Peter again … “the future starts now!” As you pray, read scripture and seek out the counsel from a Spiritual friend regarding the future, remember to live in the now. Someone once said, “God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road.” I like that.
Be blessed in your today and allow God’s Spirit to bless you in your future!
“You groped your way through that murk once (Today’s NIV uses “darkness” rather than “murk”), but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true – these are the actions ap-propriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ (in the new year), and then do it.” (Ephesians 5:8-10 from The Message)
Dear Holy Comforter friends,
In 2006 I remember stumbling around in the dark a bit. A few days before Thanksgiving of that year, I woke up and realized that I couldn’t see clearly out of my left eye. It was as if I had a veil over most of the eye. A few days after that I had eye surgery to repair a torn retina (it was torn in several places) and a detached macula. The 9 days of looking down was no fun. The retinal surgeon told me then that I would begin to develop a cataract forming within a few years. He was correct and 7 years later, on November 13 of this year, I had the cataract removed and new lens put in. Wow! What a difference a surgery makes! Thank you, Lord Jesus!
Physical sight is something many of us take for granted. So is Spiritual sight. As if it will always be there without assisting God’s Spirit. Here is a little “warning” I discov-ered a few years ago – not for loosing our Spiritual sight in this new year, but in fact for allowing God’s Spirit to increase our Spiritual sight for the year.
12 Warning Signs of Spiritual Sight & Health for 2014
Be careful! If you begin to experience any or all of the following warning signs in the New Year, you may find that you are growing closer to Jesus and receiving great-er Spiritual sight!
1. Persistent presence of supportive friends. (Proverbs 17:17)
2. Chronic positive expectations – a tendency to frame events in a positive light. (Philippians 4:4)
3. Regular signs of JOY in living. (John 15:11)
4. Sense of Spiritual renewal in Jesus. (Romans 12:1-2)
5. Increased sensitivity to others. (Matthew 22:39)
6. A tendency to adapt to changing conditions. (Philippians 4:12)
7. Increased appetite for physical activity. (1 Timothy 4:8)
8. Tendency to identify and communicate feelings. (Ephesians 4:32)
9. Repeated episodes of gratitude and generosity. (Proverbs 11:25)
10. Compulsion to care for other people. (Colossians 3:12)
11. Persistent sense of humor. Known to laugh out loud. (Psalm 126:2)
12. A life centered in the forgiveness of Jesus. (Ephesians 1:7)
If you think that you have some of these “symptoms,” I just may have some “cures.”
The Purpose Driven Life – it has been out for many years and perhaps many of you have read this discipleship study by Rick Warren that helps answer the question, “What on earth am I here for?” Or there are many great Spiritual studies – Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, is a wonderful daily devotional.
Via de Cristo – “The Way of Christ” – Liz and I have been involved in these Spiritual renewal weekends for 30+ years. Several HolyC folks attended weekends this fall. I’d love to share more about them. Please ask me or others about a Via de Cristo renewal weekend!
TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) – For high youth AND adults. Give yourself a gift of grace and attend one – have your Spiritual sight wonderfully “adjusted” by testi-monies of grace given my high school youth!
Marriage Encounter Weekend – Liz and I have attend-ed two of these, the first in 1976. Please ask us about it!
I’m sure there are a plethora of other possibilities. These are just a few suggestions to help “care for your symp-toms!” May your Spiritual sight and health in 2014 be filled with much hope, joy, peace & love!
God’s blessings upon you all – what a joy to have minis-tered alongside you over the past year!
In 1982 while I was serving a Church in Phoenix, Arizo-na a good friend lovingly “nudged” me to participate in a Cursillo weekend. The weekend ended up being a major milestone in my Spiritual journey with Jesus. Via de Cristo, “the way of Christ” is Cursillo today. On September 8 at 9:30 am, I will share a bit about this Spiritual gift. I personally will be helping to lead one of the three weekends (November 7-10) in the fall at Lu-theridge.
There are other gifts of grace like TEC (Teens Encoun-ter Christ), Marriage Encounter and others that I’d love to talk with you about. Drop me an e-mail if you think you might be here on Sept 8 – JohnCPropst@gmail.com.
Do You Have an “Inquiring Heart?”
… about things like …
Growing in your faith journey with Jesus (discipleship)
What it means to be a Lutheran Christian...beliefs about baptism, communion, salvation, the Bible, Luther’s Small Catechism, the Trinity,, eternity, how to stay awake in Church (just seeing if you’re reading this!)...and many, many more beliefs.
About the ELCA, NC Synod, other denominations and how we are similar and different, about other Lutheran “flavors”
Maybe you wonder about the Church year (seasons, colors, etc.), the Reformation, what to bring to a Lutheran pot0-luck (still reading??)
Questions specific to Holy Comforter Church: mis-sion & ministry opportunities, various SS classes, how you can join our WONDERFUL choir, youth program, what membership means AND others.
Accept this as a special invitation for you to join an “inquiring Heart Class” at Holy Comforter!
Sunday Mornings 9:30 am (Sunday School hour)
September 22 and 29 & October 6, 20, 27
If you are considering membership, these classes would be great for you! Call the Church office (704-825- 2483) or e-mail JohnCPropst@gmail.com .
Dear HCLC Friends,
On my first Sunday with you on January 6, I told you a little story ... Charlie Brown was having a friendly chat with his favorite “psychologist” friend, Lucy. “Life is like a deck chair on the ‘cruise ship of life’ – some people put their deck chair on the back of the ship to see where they’ve been; others put their deck chair on the front of the ship to see where they’re go- ing.” Lucy asks, “and where do you put your deck chair, Charlie?” Charlie shakes his head, “most days I can’t even figure out how to open mine.”
“How’s life going these days?” For many in the world, like those in Moore, OK, life has been turned upside down. Many have no “deck chairs” to open any more. Loved ones are no longer alive to open their chairs with. Continue to pray for them and others who need God’s healing and comforting grace.
How’s it going for Holy Comforter Church? Profile (MSP) is now being put together (Debbie Baker, Shelia Kelly and others have spent hours putting this together so that prospective Senior Pastors will have a good Spiritual overview of HCLC); the Call Committee will be trained in June. Following the training the commit- tee will begin praying over/looking at potential Senior Pastor candidates! We don’t know how long the process of discerning who will be Holy Comforter’s next Senior Pastor is, but please covenant to pray with and for the Call Committee. Abundant life!
Summer is nearly here – Campfirmation, VBS, Agape Day Camp – keep watching the bulletin/this newsletter for more info about these exciting ministries – abundant life!
Several of you have asked about 1st Com- munion classes – on Sunday, June 30 I’ll offer a “mini-Communion retreat” for children AND one/both of their parents – right after the service. Lunch will be provid- ed. Approximately 12 noon to 2 pm. PLEASE let me know if you’ll be there – call the Church office or e-mail me – JohnCPropst@gmail.com More abundant life!
So, what does a person do during these days with so much going on .... grab a deck chair, open your Bible to say ... John 10 or chapter 3, 4, 8, 15 – read about abundant life in the Spirit! Pray. Discern. Give God thanks & praise for God’s faith- fulness!
It’s a blessing serving alongside you as your Interim Pastor for a season during these exciting, grace-filled days!
Jesus: “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom.”
(Matthew 18:3 from The Message) “Aging is mandatory – growing up is optional” ~Chili Davis
“That's the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up"--Mr. Rogers
Dear Friends in Christ,
I know what you’re thinking after reading the quotes above ... “I heard this sermon last week!” OK, just a reminder ... allow yourself to be the child Jesus wants you to be, one who knows how to: 1) accept; 2) trust; and 3) knows how to ask for more. Do I accept Jesus for who He truly is ... the gate to eternal life; my Shepherd? Could I be more accepting of Him? Do I trust Jesus with my life? Do I trust Jesus to know that nothing or no one could snatch me from His eternal care? Am I bold to ask Jesus for more of His love, more of His grace, more of Himself? "Look for the helpers" says Mister Rogers.
When times are rough, like they have been in Boston, in West, Texas and around the world, do I look for those who can help with my fears? Ask Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Master Helper, to give you a big hug of grace.
Exciting things happening at Holy Comforter!
Welcome new members over a couple of Sundays ... Chuck & Raini Kimball, Susan Woodcock & Rodger Walker, Kristen Clanton, Elliott Williams, Katie Kessen, Makayla Feliz & Mitch Brooks.
Welcome confirmands on May 19:Cooper Burwell, Madison Carr and Aaron Nault
Thanks for volunteering to be our NC Synod Assembly delegates ... Sherry Alexander & William Howard
Nametags! Yeah!! Thanks Fran Holland and others.
New Home Communion ministry begins on May 5 with the commissioning of 5 communion ministers: Trudy Whitener, Ginger MacDonald, Debbie & Rick Neagle and Beth Brittain. Yeah God!
And what a wonderful Self-Study was held on April 14 – OVER 100 folks! Yeah God again!
God bless you friends. It’s a joy ministering alongside you during this interim season.
And the special gift of ministry you re- ceived when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn't want us to be shy with His gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.”
(2 Timothy 1:6-7 from The Message)
Dear Friends in Christ,
I pray that God’s Spirit has blessed you during your Lenten journey to the cross and empty tomb. We celebrate Jesus’ res- urrection March 31! Hallelujah! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!
Holy Comforter is being led wonderfully by God’s Spirit. Your Call Committee has been approved. They will be trained soon. Pray for them! Pastor Ernie Hinojosa, from the NC Lutheran Synod and the ELCA, will be with you on April 14 to preach/lead worship AND to lead you in the very im- portant “self-study.” God’s Spirit is on the move at Holy Comforter!
During this interim season, I have ob- served some wonderful ministers at HCLC, faithfully carrying on the Lord’s mission here. I haven’t heard it here, but once in a while I’ll hear someone say dur- ing an interim, “Well, you know I’ve got to keep doing this ministry around the Church; it’s my job.” A word of advice ... don’t confuse a ministry with a job. Some- one shared this interesting little “sermon” with me a while back. Spiritually ponder ... “Is It a Ministry or a Job?”
Some people have a job, position or duty in the Church.
Others invite themselves
into a ministry.
What's the difference you ask?
If you are doing it just because no one else will, it's a job.
If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it's a ministry.
If you quit because someone criticized you, it's a job.
If you keep on serving, it's a ministry.
If you'll do it as long as it does not interfere with your other activities, it's a job.
If you are committed to staying, even if it means letting go of other things,
it's a ministry.
If you quit because no one thanked you or praised you, it's a job.
If you stick with it even though no one rec- ognized your efforts, it's a ministry.
It's hard to get excited about a job.
It's almost impossible not to get excited about a ministry.
If your concern is success, it's a job.
If your concern is faithfulness and service, it's a ministry.
If God calls you to a ministry, please don't treat it like a job!
Lord, strengthen your servants and move us to a true sense of ministry and service, through your grace and mercy. Amen.
Friends, in this interim season, let’s keep “focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us.” (Philippians 3:15) What God “has for us” is a wonderfully, overflowing, grace- filled & Spirit-led ministry (not job) to which we have been called and equipped...wouldn’t you say!
God bless you...my partners in ministry.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16 (from NRSV)
How is your Lenten journey to the cross going? This 40 day Spiritual walk with Jesus. Lent is a season of soul- searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking Spiritual stock.
Many believers “give up” something during Lent as a Spiritual discipline. Rather than “give up” I have always chosen to “give in” – to give in to Jesus’ love and grace in ways I might not throughout the rest of the Church year.
John 3:16 (above) is a good place to begin to “give in.” Martin Luther called John 3:16 “the heart of the Bible – the Gospel in miniature.”
Are you familiar with Lectio Divina? It means “divine reading” or “Spiritual reading” or “holy reading,” a prac- tice of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion/fellowship with God as you read God’s Word. It’s a way of praying the scripture, calling one to study, ponder, listen and pray as you read. Try it with John 3:16 as well as with other verses during your Len- ten pilgrimage. Answer the following questions in your heart or journal them or invite another person or two to do this as a group ...
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3-6 from Today’s NIV)
Dear Friends at Holy Comforter Church,
I DO thank my God for you...every morning before the sun rises and I get into the day! I do thank God for our partnership in the Gospel beginning January 1 AND I know that the good work that God’s Spirit began in you many years ago in this Belmont community will continue! My good friend, Mike Varn, your pastor for 3+ decades, faithfully served you as Spiritual shepherd. I am grateful for his leadership. As I serve our Lord Jesus by serving you as your pastor during this interim “season,” may we find great joy in serving together! Thank you Mark Yount, the Congregation council and ALL who have begun to make my transition as your “seasonal” pastor such a joy-filled one! And thank you Pastors Linda & Jack for your faithful ministry during the “interim before the interim!”
A brief bio: As a Lenoir-Rhyne University and Southern Seminary graduate, I served much of my 37 year ministry in the southwest (California & Arizona) before being called by the ELCA to become pastor- developer of a new congregational start southeast of Charlotte. God also called me to be developer of a new start in Arizona as well. God’s Spirit has blessed me with a missional heart for ministry. For the last 9 years I have served in interim ministry – for 6 congregations as well as serving as the interim ELCA Mission Direc- tor for the NC Synod.
Liz and I just celebrated our 41th wedding anniversary in June. Home for us is on the Lutheridge Camp & Conference Center campus in Arden, south of Asheville. Just 25 minutes from us live our 3 grandchildren: Keaton, Nola & Calloway. In addition to our son, Brian & daughter-in-law, Emily in Asheville, we have a daugh- ter, Jenni in Charlotte (it will be great being a little closer to her), a 2nd son & 2nd daughter-in-law. Austin was ordained a year ago into the ELCA ministry; he and Tanya are serving in global mission & ministry in Madagascar! Liz and I are blessed immeasurably by the family God has given us!
I was asked by someone here at Holy Comforter to share a bit of my “vision” for our Church during the inter- im season. I shared that the Spiritual gift of “encouragement” was given to me at my Baptism; therefore, as an encourager I’ll be inviting you to do the same...encourage folks along their Spiritual journey; give strokes; give hugs; give God thanks for blessings! And don’t put these opportunities off – all we have to do is remem- ber with a sad heart what recently happened in Newtown, Connecticut.
During this season of waiting for God’s Spirit to reveal who your next Pastor will be, I’ll walk with you as one of your Spiritual guides. Other gifts I pray I will bring to the Holy Comforter family of faith are witness & out- reach and Spiritual formation. And I love kids, young and old...have I shown you pictures of my grandkids?!
May we together find much joy, love & peace as we minister together in the season we have before us. Many blessings to you in the New Year in the name of Jesus!