Do You Have Enough to Go the Distance? Part 5

Spring Cleaning

By: Marcy Barthelette
Memorial Day has been observed and spring is transitioning to summer. High schools and colleges are graduating seniors
in many unique ways. Schools are trying to determine how the fall semester will look and sports are trying to make a radically changed comeback. Our communities are tentatively reopening businesses and services. But COVID 19 is still with us and probably will be a part of our lives for a while. Before we end this series, let’s explore one more facet of our personal journey of discovery.
Because so many people have been observing the stay at home order this spring, we see lots of projects being completed that have been warming on the back burner for a while. In our neighborhood, as well as many others, longed for renovations are becoming a reality and garages are being cleared of unwanted clutter (this includes our garage because Ken had made a few too many pre-pandemic trips to flea markets and had so many vintage tools needing rehab that he couldn’t find the top of his workbench). Everyone’s yards are beautifully manicured, new veggie gardens are popping up everywhere and trees are being removed. That’s right, trees. What has caused so many of our neighbors to find no further need for these champions of relief from the summer sun? Why are they so willing to destroy habitat for birds and squirrels? Is it because they fear the mighty winds that howl through our area? Do they have a burning desire to make their lawn mowing easier? Are they tired of raking up the constant mess that trees create? Whatever motivates them, trees are leaving our neighborhood with regularity and I really miss their stately presence.
  All of this cleaning out and removal of unwanted stuff has given me pause to wonder how much emotional clutter might need to disappear along with the physical. We, as a society, have been generously blessed with “things”. Now, don’t worry. Though a little decluttering would likely benefit most of us, I’m not suggesting that you give everything away. I’m really more focused on the unpleasant stuff stored away in our hearts and minds. C’mon now, you and I both know we have a lot of clutter in our personal attics. Among my cobwebs I find pockets of despair and disillusionment, especially now. After all, I wanted to travel this spring and enjoy lots of camping, but a microscopic virus kept that from happening. With just a little searching I know I can find a grudge or two that I hold against others and, just maybe, I could recognize my own unfair judgment of others. Surely I couldn’t be guilty of selfishness or greed, could I? And what about all the times I haven’t trusted God but thought I could get myself through a tough situation? When was the last time that I displayed endless and unconditional love to someone other than family or close friends? When have I turned my love toward a difficult person or a stranger?
Go out on a limb when you pray for others. Take a risk. Be courageous. Be passionate. Take a leap. Love a lot, not just a little. Rick Hamlin, Author.
Our journey through the COVID 19 Pandemic is giving us ample time for prayer and contemplation and we hope that, when our monster is tamed, we won’t be tasked with this kind of forced isolation again. But, whatever happens, we must always be aware of our need for someone greater than ourselves. Ask yourself, does taking away many of the things I consider important draw me closer to God, or do I question His role in my discomfort? Do I blame Him or do I thank Him for His presence through it all?
I have little doubt that we can all dredge up mounds of physical, emotional, and spiritual clutter that need to find their way to the trash bin. By removing them, all that extra space in our lives can be devoted to sharing the gifts God gave us. We are all gifted in certain ways but it is not the gift that matters most to God. He cares much more about how we use our gifts. Let’s all identify our gifts and examine how we’re using them. Long ago God set His commandments in stone and He expects us to live by them to the best of our ability. But when Jesus was asked which is the greatest commandment of all, He answered:
….the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13
In the end, do you have enough love to go the distance? If the love is there, everything else will follow.
Lord, in a painful season, may I remember that my (our) story is not yet over and that your redeeming
love can shape every new season. Carol Kuykendall, Author and Speaker
I hope you have gained something from this series as I have truly enjoyed writing it. Please join me for
whatever topic He places on my heart next. God bless you all….Marcy


Do You Have Enough to Go the Distance? Part 4

Untenable Circumstances

There has certainly been a time in each of our lives when we have found ourselves in a seemingly untenable situation when the effort to continue just didn’t seem worth the energy needed to complete the task. Maybe you were training for a marathon or a local charity run and by mile 5 every muscle in your legs was screaming so loudly you just didn’t feel you could push any harder. Perhaps your newborn was waging a marathon crying session while your two-year-old screamed angry protests at all the attention his new little sister received. Maybe it’s an addiction that claimed your existence and you just couldn’t wait for another hit. Maybe dinner was left cold on the table because your spouse didn’t come home or even call.
Imagine yourself a soldier training for elite forces. You have just run several miles up a mountain and down the other side in full gear including a loaded backpack. You meet the angry scowl of the drill instructor and he tells you your time was too slow. Your ride back to camp is pulling away and you are told you will retrace your steps and do it faster this time. A short way up the hill, when your body is betraying you, the DI calls “STOP”. He says you can go back to camp now, but the exercise has taught him who is willing to go the distance.
Or what if you’ve been sentenced to prison time and been transported to your new residence. You finish processing and a guard leads you through a series of gates that clang shut behind you. Imagine the helplessness and then imagine that you are innocent of the crime for which you were convicted.

What if you are the last soldier in a chain of protocol designed to prevent accidental detonation and you are standing watch over a simple button which, if activated, would change the course of history?

What if you take your seat on a plane in the midst of an epic storm. Three storms, actually, have converged in the middle of the country causing killer wind gusts, heavy cloud to ground lightning, and torrential rainfall. I can answer that question because I was that person in April of 1997.
I had joined my husband on a training seminar in Colorado so we could enjoy a little vacation time in the Rockies between classes. At the conclusion of his meetings, we headed back to the Denver airport with dark clouds looming overhead and light rain falling. 

By the time we were processed and ready to board, neither of us wanted to make that flight. The rain was much heavier, lightning was flashing constantly and winds were howling. Our captain tried to put us at ease but failed miserably when he said that he couldn’t return to Denver because they had closed the airport as soon as we departed. Our flight attendants were buckled into their seats, white-knuckled and terrified as we galloped through the clouds like a bucking bronco. Dropping thousands of feet in an instant and then rising back to a greater height than before was the pattern for this flight and it seemed it would never end.
My grace is sufficient in you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. II Corinthians 12:9
You’ll remember that I am the “worrywart” of our family, but this time something changed. While my rock of a husband, the guy who is always my support in troubled times, sat next to me explaining about the inability of those wings outside to withstand the beating they were taking and how the fuselage was bound to split open from the pressure, I sat quietly reading a book. A calm came over me as soon as we ascended. It could only have come from God. A voice inside my head told me that I was either going to land safely in Springfield, MO as planned or I was not. And I couldn’t do one thing about it…my future was not in my hands.
I have often recalled that night…we did make it home to our own comfy bed…and that experience has since given me strength and patience to get through any number of large and small emergencies. Oh, I often falter and become a worrier again. I’m human after all and I am still the family worrywart, but I have the unwavering knowledge that when God wants me to come home, I’ll be ready because everything is best in His good time.
Each morning we all wake up to a brand new sparkling day and have another opportunity to make the most important choice of our lives. Do you choose God or do you choose self?
 It is for us to make the effort; the result is always in God’s hands. Mahatma Gandhi
Do you have enough faith to go the distance?
One more week…


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