How We Pray

By: Ed Vigneaux

How many of us say the Lord’s prayer every day, week, or month?  In the 8:30 service, we almost always recited the Lord’s prayer every Sunday; not sure about the other services.

But how many of us pray the Lord’s prayer?

Below is an explanation of how to pray the Lord’s prayer that I find very helpful.

I. “Our Father who art in heaven”
Spend 3 minutes focused solely on God as:
“Our Father” – imminent: provider and protector.
“In heaven” – transcendent: omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient.

II. “hallowed be thy name”
Spend 3 minutes praising and thanking God.”
Think about the things you love about God and praise God for them.
Think of the way God has blessed you, specifically for the things in your life that are bringing you love, joy, and peace. Thank God for these things.

III. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Spend 3 minutes sitting with the question, “Lord, I’m reporting for duty. What would you have me do?” Just listen, then do what you are led to do—provided you know the voice you hear is not guilt or people-pleasing. The cumulative effect of listening like this on a daily basis is powerful.

IV. “Give us this day our daily bread”
Spend 3 minutes praying about daily needs.
Identify what you need to survive the day and ask God for it–your basic needs, not your wants. Then ask God to give to your family and friends what they need to stay on their feet today. If other people or things are on your heart, this is the time to pray about them.

V. “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”
Spend 3 minutes confessing, receiving forgiveness, and forgiving. First, confess your sins to God and asking for forgiveness. Be specific. Then pray this prayer: “Lord, forgive me as I forgive ________.” Put a name or names in the blank. Turn this person/persons over to God and surrender a right to get even with them. Pray for God to bless them.

VI. “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Spend 3 minutes reflecting on the things that are depleting love, joy, and peace from your life, and the ways you are stuck in destructive behavioral patterns. Pray the “Serenity Prayer”: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” Ask God to reveal what things you need to change and what things you must accept, at least for now. Ask God to disinfect your brain, to intervene throughout the day to make you aware of vulnerabilities, and to give you the strength to break patterns where destructive muscle memory has taken over.

VII. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever  and ever.”
Spend 2 minutes reflecting on the things around you that appear to be great, powerful, and important but are actually transitory, trivial, and tinsel.

VIII. “Amen.”
“Amen” is the Hebrew word for “So be it.” Conclude your prayer time by asking God to bring fulfillment to your prayers.

I hope you find it helpful as well.

We are blessed to be a blessing.


Do You Have Enough to Go the Distance? Part 3

An Orderly Fashion…of Sorts

As I write we are 9 weeks into the US chapter of the COVID 19 Pandemic and we have seen many changes.
In the beginning, our neighborhood seemed chaotic. Initially, kids were on spring break and that was extended. Finally, the remainder of the semester was suspended. The youngsters continued to run in the streets as if nothing were happening and we wondered what, if anything, their parents were doing to comply with our “stay at home order”. Then we began to notice that when older folks walked down the street, kids scattered, except for the tiny chatterboxes who can’t understand what’s going on and just want to say hi to every passerby. Obviously, the older kids were being told not to expose older adults to the possibility of the virus. It also became apparent that certain families had created extended families with whom to interact and they limited close contact to only those people. One neighbor is on Middle East deployment and his family has had to endure “lockdown” alone here at home while he deals with similar problems in his assignment. One Sunday afternoon we heard sirens coming down the street and went out to find first responders and firetrucks dropping by to wish our nine-year-old neighbor a happy birthday.

And lest we forget, parents have become teachers in a world where kids know more about technology than most of us can begin to comprehend. They may adjust well to online learning, but many parents can feel very ill-prepared and many of them have also been trying to wrap their minds around working from a new home office environment. The days of multiple generations sharing a home, work, and playtime has been absent from our lifestyle for decades, but no more. This is our new normal but hope remains high that very soon all the fuss will become just a memory.
A chief cause of worry & unhappiness in life is trading what we want most for what we want at the moment. M McKee, author

One thing, however, has certainly not changed and it adds an element of caution to our everyday movement. Spring allergies are in full swing…pollen is flying everywhere and most of us will be susceptible to at least one of those nasty little villains. And, of course, when you reach the checkout at the grocery store, the clerk will either sneeze or cough and the first thing to enter your mind is that he or she has the virus. No sympathy for their discomfort, no thought about your own sneezing and coughing, just fear that you’ll be next to contract the unseen menace.
Add to that the fact that every other commercial on TV tells us to wash our hands often for at least 20 seconds and never, ever touch any part of our faces. I don’t know about you, but my eyes itch so badly that I want to pluck them out of my head and rub them soundly with coarse sandpaper…but I’m not supposed to touch them!
It seems that every day the list of possible symptoms grows longer and if we let our imaginations run wild we can turn anything into COVID 19. I don’t believe that God wants us to do that. I believe He wants us to place our full trust in Him. He is in control. He has our backs. And He will tame this monster in His good time.
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:25
Do you have enough patience to go the distance?
Last week, states began to reopen businesses and there is much disagreement as to the wisdom of rushing our return to “normal”, which still includes social distancing, wearing masks,   and limiting crowd size along with the numbers of shoppers or customers allowed at a time in any business. Time will tell who wins or, if cases spike again, who loses that battle. I choose to be cautious but not everyone does.
                                                                                                                                                                                        And our story continues….


Do You Have Enough to Go the Distance? Part Two

How Much Is Too Much?
By: Marcy Barthelette
Last week I shared a hard-won lesson about toilet paper and I wondered where this week would take me. I like
to talk with God before I write and ask Him to give me the words He wants you to hear. Sometimes a message
is loud and clear but sometimes it is very subtle and requires a little interpretation on my part. The message
this time smacked me right in the face.
A couple of weeks ago I stood looking out my back door at the lawn that Ken had just manicured expecting to
be greeted by a vision of lush springtime green. But I wasn’t! All I could see was an ocean of white fluffy balls
waving in the breeze, just waiting to thrust thousands of seeds in
an all-out assault on our unsuspecting lawn! Before we knew it,
they would sprout everywhere. Soil that seems useless for
anything else will always support dandelions. And don’t you know
they find the tiniest crack in the pavement to sprout and grow like
there’s no tomorrow. It seems they are always in an eager rush to
bloom and seed and drop to sprout again in their vicious cycle of
aggression. I have even watched a bloom cut from the plant or
sprayed with insecticide continue the process of reproduction.
Because it lies helpless on the ground, the wind can’t disperse the
seed so it all drops in the same spot and tries to sprout, sibling
fighting sibling for space and water and sunshine.
Ken often tells me that the dandelion flower is beautiful and, in truth, it is. When you take the time to study one
bloom at a time, they are intricate and quite lovely. Even the seed head has its own unique qualities and I have
to admit that I have spent some amount of time photographing both the bloom and the fluffy white seed head.
They are truly mesmerizing when backed by sunlight.
The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the creator. Louis Pasteur, French Chemist
Nature has many lessons to teach us if we keep our senses attuned to our surroundings. Dandelions, like the
ants in a former article, display a persistence that defies human imagination. Their instinct to survive and
reproduce is so strong they let nothing get in their way, not even mowers or chemicals. Imagine our world if we
could muster a fraction of that persistent endurance.
Flowers grow out of dark moments. Sister Mary Corita Kent, Artist and Educator
You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, “bloom where you are planted”. Like the dandelion, we should look for
whatever good we can find in the place or situation in which we are planted. There is a reason for everything
that happens in this life. Sometimes we wish we could see the bigger plan; we think life would be easier if we
knew what was coming. But if life were always easy, how would we learn endurance. Remember that diversity
defines personal character.
…because we know that trouble produces endurance; endurance, character;
and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4 ESV
Do you have enough endurance to go the distance?
More next week….


Do You Have Enough to Go the Distance?

Part One: Why Worry?
By: Marcy Barthelette
You may ask, enough of what? A few weeks ago the answer might have been enough clothing and toiletries packed for a vacation or business trip? Perhaps it would have been, do I have enough food for the dinner party we are hosting tomorrow evening? Or maybe, have we set aside enough for the kids’ college fund and for our own retirement.
Today, it seems our biggest worry is where the next roll of toilet paper will come from. Americans have been issued a wake-up call! It’s time to start seeing toilet paper in a new light.

On March 11…I am sure of the date because I took it from my COVID 19 journal…Ken and I decided that it might be best to give credence to the chatter we were hearing regarding a possible epidemic. It still seemed remote, after all, it began in China and seemed unlikely to affect us too much. We embarked on an epic shopping trip to stock up on needed items just in case. You can’t imagine our surprise when we found shelves in the paper supply section at Wal Mart stripped completely bare of stock. We shook our heads in disbelief, Ken took a picture as proof, we grumbled a bit with other customers and went on about the rest of our shopping.

At the self-check register, I asked the monitor when she thought they would restock toilet paper and she said they couldn’t keep it on the shelves and she didn’t know if they would get any more on their truck. Shortly after that, she received a message on her headphone that TP was being stocked. Ken went back to check it out while I continued at the register. He returned shortly, hands held high, clutching a 6 pack of Charmin Ultra Soft, our favorite brand! We were ecstatic! Who could have known that two fully grown adults could get so excited about a package of toilet paper? 
Before we left the store, I had a breaking news announcement on my phone. The World Health Organization had declared a global pandemic.

In the blink of an eye, a scary new word had become a trigger for everyone to fly into full panic mode, rushing to the stores to grab anything deemed necessary during a time of crisis. We didn’t really know what this crisis would ultimately look like but we wanted to be ready. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t choose wisely in the beginning. I’ve been a pretty fast learner but in those early days, I operated on gut reaction. They say there is a worrier in every family and it’s widely known that I am the designated “worrywart” in ours. I have to say I was edging toward paranoia worrying about what to do if we did, in fact, run out of toilet paper. Those of us whose memories include outhouses stocked with Sears catalog pages have long since scrubbed those memories from our daily lives. Anything less than plenty of Charmin in the cabinet was unthinkable!
After a couple of weeks of this new insanity, I was able to get a grip on my emotions and learn to shop with safety precautions in place. Eventually, I even found toilet paper. It wasn’t Charmin, or even very soft, but I finally had a small stock of paper. And that package of Charmin Ultra Soft that we scored on March 11, well, it is April 26 as I write and that package is still unopened. It seems that by being a little thriftier in our usage, we already had enough in our home…enough toilet paper, at least.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Matthew 6:34a NIV
Look at the birds in the sky! They don’t plant or harvest. They don’t even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren’t you worth much more than birds? Matthew 6:26 CEV
Do you have enough trust to go the distance?
To be continued……


Hattie’s Gift

By: Marcy Barthelette
Hattie’s Gift I recently read about a little girl named Hattie May Wiatt in one of my daily devotionals. You may have heard her story or maybe not, but I feel it is worth the telling because it draws a close parallel to our own aspirations here at Aldersgate.
Hattie lived in the late 19th century and she was said to have gone to a church building in her Pennsylvania hometown to attend Sunday School class. As it happened this church was crowded every Sunday, so much so that tickets were issued and little Hattie was having a hard time trying to work her way through the crowd. She was approached by the pastor who took her into the building and found a seat for her in the back of the room. As they conversed, he told her of his dream to create a much larger space to house worshippers and those seeking to learn more about God in Sunday School. She shared her hope that he would follow that dream because she really wanted to be there but was afraid of the huge crowds and couldn’t always find a seat.
Not long after that visit, Hattie became very ill and the pastor was called to her home. Upon her death, Hattie’s mother gave the pastor a paper bag that held 57 cents, all the money she had saved to build a larger Sunday School building. That gift sparked an idea that has brought forth enormous fruit since Hattie’s death.
The pastor changed the 57 cents into all pennies and sold them for the sum of $250.00. Along with the $250.00, 54 of the original pennies were returned and mounted in a plaque as a reminder of the gift. The Wiatt Mite Society was organized to continue collecting funds and secure plans for new facilities. And the dream kept growing and snowballing into what we know today as Temple Baptist Church in Philadelphia, PA, with seating for over 3000 people. The dream didn’t end there, Temple University found its early beginnings in one of the first buildings acquired by the Wiatt Mite Society and Samaritan Hospital, now Temple University Hospital, began as a 20-bed facility in 1892. Today the hospital houses 722 beds and the Temple University campus provides education for around 30,000 students.
Experts disagree on the validity of this story but we do know that Pastor Russell Conwell did tell the story, birth records do show the birth of Hattie May Wiatt and events do bear out the growth and development of the church, university, and hospital. Whether or not Pastor Conwell was a good motivational speaker or Hattie really did start this whole ball rolling, the effect has its parallel to what has happened here at Aldersgate. We are not looking to build a university or hospital but over a decade ago a dream began when our new Worship Center was built and, more recently, when our beautiful Learning Center became a reality. We wanted to reach many more children to teach them that God loves them and watches over them. We wanted to leave a legacy for all who come after us.
The building is there and right now it sits empty, but this won’t last forever. We will be back at church worshipping and fellowshipping together. But there is more we need to do. We need to remember that the bills still need to be paid even though we are not physically there. As you are able, giving may continue online or by mail. We also need to take this time and pray about what each of us can do to continue to make the dream a reality once our doors are open again. That may look something like volunteering to teach children or lead a youth group or help with VBS. It may mean mentoring in one of the school programs we sponsor. It may mean helping at Abundant Blessings or Least of These. It may mean inviting a neighbor child for milk and cookies until Mom gets home from work.
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
Our work in the community takes on many faces and it never ends. Not because of lack of money or stormy weather or even COVID 19. We are still here and our doors are “figuratively” open.
(Note: Information used here about Hattie May Wiatt is taken from the article on file at the Temple University Library Archives and copy from the original text of Rev. Russell Conwell’s sermon may be found online in its entirety. Many articles have been written about the story and are easily found online by entering the name Hattie May Wiatt or simply “57 Cents”. Current numbers involving Temple University and Temple University Hospital appeared on their websites.)


Stand Up

By: Ed Vigneaux

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

I heard a sermon by Dr. David Jeremiah recently and the theme of the sermon was from the book of Daniel and in this book, God told Daniel to do 4 things.

  1. Do not stand down. In other words, do not ignore or disregard God’s message.
  2. Do not stand aside. Do not compromise your beliefs.
  3. Do not stand against. Daniel didn’t go around talking against the Babylonians, he lived among them.  He lived his life according to the teachings of God.  We too should live our life according to the teachings of God and His son Jesus.  Don’t go around accusing others of their sin.  Remember what Jesus said about removing the splinter from your neighbor’s eye while not removing the plank from your own eye.
  4. Do Stand up. Live your life according to God’s teachings and do not worry about tomorrow.  Daniel wanted to know everything that was going to happen, but God told him not to concern himself with everything that was going to happen, just live your life.  And He did.Let us love one another.  Let us Be Love.  We are blessed to be a blessing.



Happy Tax Day to everyone!

By: Pastor Phil
No, wait a minute, that date has been changed. So much has been changed with this COVID-19
virus. It is amazing to me just how we as a people have reacted, some good and some not so
good. I am excited by the outreach opportunities to which so many of our congregation have
recognized and responded. From phone calls to delivering meals to going to the grocery store,
many of you have taken on the role of caregiver.
I wonder if we have been changed during this time of social distancing, stay at home, wash your
hands (this one makes me laugh as we must be taught and or reminded), PPE’s or lack thereof,
and fear. Yes, fear… (Fear not, for Christ will never leave us or forsake us)
I pray we have all been as healthy as we can be physically, but I also pray that we have been
healthy spiritually. During this time of being in our homes, we could have cleaned every closet of
the clothes and items we needed to discard (re-sale shops will be really crowded and full of
good stuff once we can get out…}. Maybe we got caught up with our reading, or even caught up
on our soap operas. I have been able to watch some new shows and have found National
Geographic television has some very good programs.
I have also found time to listen for God’s word speaking to me. I have some new devotional
material that I enjoy and I am so grateful for the opportunity to hear the Word being shared by
Pastor Dennis every Sunday morning at 10 am and on Wednesday evenings at 6 pm. I have
also been able to hear former classmates from St. Paul seminary as they share the word. This
may not sound like much, but it is a change for me. Had it not been for the time spent at home, I
would have gone on doing the same thing I always did.
Are you ready for a change or perhaps you too have made some changes? If so, keep going,
and if not, why not make a change. If you would like to comment, please do so below. Yes, the
church building has been closed, but the church has been busy reaching out and helping to
change attitudes, opinions, and lives.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love…
and they shall renew the face of the earth…
Pastor Phil


Where is Happiness Found?

By: Ed Vigneaux

I read an article recently titled “Seven Steps to Happiness,” written by Wallace G. Smith and want to pass on those steps to those who aren’t happy in their life and also to all who want to know how they can be happier or maintain the happiness they have.

Life today can be extremely stressful.  We seem to search for refuge, rest, and relief and never completely find it.  When we look at the world around us, we can see that something is wrong or missing.  Most people are not happy.

In fact, the American Psychological Association notes that the national suicide rate has increased 33% from 1999 through 2017 and has increased sharply since 2006. It’s not about money.  America is proof that happiness is not found in collecting an abundance of physical things.

That is actually good news. It means that happiness is found within us. The following are seven steps that can possibly bring us the happiness we search for.

1. Head for the park. We have become a society that spends most of our time indoors.  We should spend more time enjoying nature, this beautiful world that God created for us. 

2. Minimize your social media time. How many are addicted to social media; Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.? If you don’t think you are, try spending a week without them. In fact, studies indicate that people who spent less time on social media experience decreases in both depression and loneliness. 
3. Treat your body well. Eat well, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Irregular sleep harms our health and happiness. Poor health is a significant source of stress and unhappiness. 
4. Be relentlessly thankful. Practice active gratitude at all times. The Apostle Paul encouraged the Christians in Thessalonica to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5: 16-18).
5. Let God know. We all go through difficult times. And we can all find reasons to worry or feel anxious.  Pray about your worries. Philippians 4: 6-7 reads, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
6. Believe the promises of Scripture. If we are going to pray to God for everything and be grateful, we must have faith to believe that He will do what he says He will do. The Scriptures tell us the promises God made to His people then, and He still keeps His promises today.
7. Embrace a purpose greater than yourself. In other words, serve others. Jesus calls us to serve the least of these. We can do this in many ways, and it’s not always physical. We are called to spread the good news of the gospel to all whom we come in contact with. Jesus is the good news. We should pray for our community of faith, our country, and the world. Pray that they would come to know the joy and happiness we find in knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Let us love one another.  Let us Be Love. 
We are blessed to be a blessing.


Tiny Source, Big Lessons

By: Marcy Barthelette

Easter has come and gone! We have once again followed Jesus on his journey to the cross and we have experienced His resurrection. Amidst all our current chaos, He rose! He always has and always will be there.

So I’ve been thinking, what comes next? The season of Lent offers lots of subject matter for us to ponder, but it’s over now. So what’s next?

I think God gave me a very unusual answer. Ants descended on our home this past weekend. Happy Easter! The tiny demons found our candy stash in the kitchen and have been beating a path to our drawers for several days. Is there anything more determined than an ant when it locates a food source? But the ant doesn’t depend upon itself. It calls on all its buddies and leads them to the treasure. In a matter of minutes, it becomes an onslaught and without mitigation, your home is a landscape of devastation.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we took a lesson from these tiny little creatures? One of them can carry very little but have you seen an army of ants working together in perfect harmony? What could we do if we came together in one accord and tackled the injustices of this world? What if we created teams to tackle hunger? What if we stood up to the abuse of others? What if we carried the message of Jesus to people who haven’t heard?

Wherever we go and whatever we do, we are telling the world what Jesus means to us by the way we treat those around us and right now carrying a message requires a little more creative thinking. Pastor Phil told us in the Easter service, “The word of God is to be spoken and heard”. That really resonated with me right now because of our nemesis, COVID 19. Our special gift is to do the speaking to those who need to hear.

I’ve seen all kinds of things being done online; church services, education, and activities for kids, business meetings on Zoom, the list goes on and on. What I’m writing now is my small part in the scheme of things but I realized I can do so much more. So, I keep my phone handy to text a friend who might be lonely or get together a group of friends who can’t physically be together at this time. Of course, we have Facetime and shared family photo albums to keep us in touch with our special people.

Those of us who are healthy and not at high risk can volunteer to hand out food and the rest of us can make monetary donations to organizations that provide food assistance. One day, we will all be back on the frontlines helping others. When we are, I hope that we don’t forget the lessons learned from COVID 19 and I hope that I don’t forget the lesson from my ant friends. I know they are God’s creatures too and they need to eat, but not in my house and especially not when chocolate is involved. They’ll keep waging their offensive and we’ll keep fighting back. But remember, we will ultimately win the battle over evil and we want to take a lot of people to heaven with us! As we make ourselves less important, we make Jesus’ army exponentially larger. Start speaking up so others can hear!

Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! John 14:14
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matt 7:7