Proverbs by PASTOR MICHAEL CISLER North Kent Bible Church You may have heard of the proverb, “A stitch in time saves nine,” or “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” A proverb is usually a short picture story that conveys truth, either based on common sense or past experience. “A stitch in time saves nine” uses the picture of mending a rip or tear now so you don’t have to mend a much worse rip or tear later. Or, without the picture, take care of matters now so they do not get worse. One of the books of the Bible is called Proverbs. It is full of the wisdom of God for our lives. Proverbs 11:1 says, “The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are His delight.” The picture is someone being deceptive in the marketplace with scales that are not accurate. If I were a merchant and wanted to increase my sales, I could weight the scales so I could sell less product for more money without the buyer knowing it. This is cheating and dishonest. This proverb teaches us that God wants us to be honest in how we deal with others. Proverbs 17:1 says, “Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.” In this proverb a contrast is seen between the dry crust (having little) and feasting (having much) as well as between peace and strife within the home. According to this proverb, it is better to have a peaceful home without much stuff than to have strife within a house full of wealth. In other words, our family relationships are more important than how much stuff we have. The book of Proverbs has many more truths that relate to family, business, relationships, and other parts of life. It gives us sound advice for how we can excel in these areas and more. There are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs. There are 31 days in the month of October. I would encourage you to read one chapter of Proverbs each day of this month and consider how you can apply at least one truth into your life each day.
A weekly inspirational message
Thank God for freedom by PASTOR LARRY ROWLAND Rockford Baptist Church The late President Ronald Reagan loved to tell of a conversation that he had with a Russian delegate at a summit meeting. President Reagan had summarized the political atmosphere of freedom in our country by telling the delegate that any American citizen can walk into the White House, slam his hand on the desk of the President and say, “I don’t like the way Ronald Reagan is running the country.” Now we recognize that President Reagan was exaggerating the case, because there is tight security surrounding the White House prohibiting just anyone from walking into the chief executive’s office. But his point illustrating the freedom of expression that we have as American citizens was not lost on the Russian delegate who responded in a defensive manner. “Well, I can do the same thing in my country. I can walk into the Kremlin. I can slam my hand on the desk of our leader and I can say, ‘I don’t like the way Ronald Reagan is running the country.’” How many times do we take the glorious freedoms that we have as American citizens for granted? We have freedom to express ourselves without fear of reprisal, we have freedom to travel where we want to go, we have freedom to pursue the occupations that we feel would most fulfill us, and we have freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience. I would encourage you to take a moment today to thank Almighty God for the privilege of living with freedom and liberty in this great land of ours. And why not put those freedoms into practice by worshiping in the church of your choice this Sunday?
Pennant season begins by PASTOR DICK RILEY Rockford United Methodist Church The pennant races are on! As professional baseball moves through the month of September, many teams, including the Detroit Tigers, are fighting for an opportunity to play in the World Series, and they have already begun working harder in order to secure a position in the post-season play. Many players on a pennant-contending team seem to play with more intensity. The front office will now begin bringing up fresh players from the minor leagues and even trade for some talent to give their team an extra edge in the pennant drive. Everyone seems more determined to finish the season on a high note. Excitement fills the air as fans watch their team in hot pursuit of a championship pennant. In many ways, September is also the time when the church enters its own pennant race, striving to achieve the goals it set out for itself at the beginning of the year. It is, therefore, a time when we remember the words of the Apostle Paul who wrote: “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 3:14). Remembering those words, September, within the life of the church, is a time when the leadership, as well as the rest of the people within the church, start doing things with more intensity—with more determination. It’s a time when the worship services, the educational classes and opportunities, the outreach programs, and the fellowship times are fine-tuned to make sure that the year finishes on a high note as we “press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” Want to be a part of this pennant race, of this championship year? Then go and join with the people at the church of your choice, and see what it feels like to be part of an eternal winning team!
God wants to hear from us by REV. LAURIE TENHAVE-CHAPMAN First Congregational Church of Rockford “Dear God, for my birthday I would really like a shiny red wagon and especially a puppy. Thanks for my good life! Amen.” So reads, we imagine, the prayer of a young child: simple requests for things they would like which may come to fulfillment, but may not. Well, I offered a prayer not unlike the one of that child recently. It went something like this: “Dear God, my whole family is yearning for a new dog. They have honored my hesitancy, given that we have a new house and new furniture and have only been without a pet for one year (out of the past 25). I’m anxious about giving up my freedom, God, and introducing the demands of a pet into our new home. But it’s time, God, so I ask for your guidance and place the possibility of this new dog in your loving hands. Amen.” Does God really take time for requests as seemingly trivial as this? When soldiers are risking their lives, and environmental issues clamor for our attention, do I dare bog God down with my little plea for a good family dog? All I can say is that I offered that prayer humbly and earnestly, with a no-strings-attached expectation of response, and, I can assure you, my prayer was answered! As far as I’m concerned, we just won the “Animal Shelter Lottery,” because my daughter and I found the best dog for our family that any of us can imagine. He was listed as a stray, but was clearly somebody’s dog because he can sit, shake, fetch and is house-trained. He is approximately 2 years old, which means he doesn’t chew much anymore and is past the age of continuous wayward straying. He’s housebroken and so trusting that he lets my daughters hold him like you would a baby—totally relaxed. Wow! How could a transition into having a new pet be as easy as this? I told my husband, who was shocked that I got past my new-house control issues to bring home a dog, that I was thankful—thankful to God. I considered my prayers answered. In the Bible, Jesus is recorded as […]
What are we convincing ourselves of? by MARCIA HUFSTADER Member, Third Church of Christ, Scientist Every day we are bombarded by thoughts, opinions and advertisements that come to us through friends and all sorts of media. A firm conviction of God’s goodness and all-ness enables us to see through that haze and therefore to think clearly. For instance, there are so many reports that would try to convince parents that children are in danger from all sorts of sources. When I hear such reports, I can either go with that idea, get wound up in fear and worry, or I can stay with the fundamental truth that God, good, governs. God, divine Mind, is perfectly governing all of His children harmoniously all the time. God wouldn’t create His likeness and then not maintain it. Could God ever be absent or unavailable when God is infinite, ever-present Love? All of God’s children (which we all are) respond to His direction and can hear His voice in a way we can understand. There is an unbreakable bond between God and his idea, man. It is much more peaceful, beneficial and accurate to understand God’s protecting, governing power than to fill our thoughts with fear. This peace helps us make better decisions from day to day, and helps us to do exactly what we should be doing. No matter how many times we hear fearful reports, it doesn’t make them more real than God’s caring, loving presence. Our best protection is listening to God, being alert, and using the ideas we receive in prayer.