Be Cool It’s August, and it’s hot. At least north of the equator it is—but winter is chilling the folks in the southern hemisphere. We’re up here complaining of the heat, while they’re down there complaining of the cold. Think about that; we have the warmth they want, and they have the cool we long for. Only distance separates us, causes us to live in very different climates at the same time, and prevents us from sharing the blessings we have with those who need it. Distance from friends can do the same thing in our lives—separate us, cause us to live in two different worlds, and prevent us from sharing the blessings we have that others need. And that’s not cool. Because as friends, we are supposed to be cool! Not “cool” like we are “chilled out” and don’t care, but cool like God wants us to be—a refreshing drink of water on a hot day! God wants us to be cool because August isn’t the only time we experience hot days. Small irritants in life can ignite the heat of anger and bitterness, and bigger disasters or disappointments can scorch and burn our hope and joy. In those times, we need cool friends willing to cross the equator and bring us some refreshment. Not from “down under,” of course, but from up above! That’s right, our cool-ness comes from God, not from where we live or the clothes we wear. We’re cool when we pray for others, share food, offer comfort, study Scripture together, give a lending hand, and turn a listening ear. We’re cool when we follow through on our promises and stay in touch with those who are weary or far away. It may be hot outside, but with God we can be cool on the inside. And right now, the world around you needs a taste of that refreshing coolness.
A ministry of: FUMCBerkeley Springs 49 South Green St. Berkeley Springs, WV 25411 304.258.2766 | gofirst.org Pastor Andrew Cooney
THE WORD “Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing!” — Proverbs 25:13 (The Message)
Think About It Is there a long-lost friend who could use a letter from you? Who can benefit from a cool drink of your friendship today? _________________________ _________________________ _________________________ _________________________
So be cool—it’s the best kind of cool there is. _________________________
August 2013 | Page 2
Finding God in Challenges….or Chores (???) By Gretchen Close Do you find yourself grumbling at a sink full of dishes that need washed? How about when you’ve wiped down the counter three times to find yourself wiping it down again because your eight-year-old still eats pancakes like she’s four and has left maple syrup all over it? Or how about after you have just organized your five-year-old’s dresser for the hundredth time, folded all of the clothes neatly, shorts in one drawer, shirts in another, only to find that in the five minutes you were washing your face, brushing your teeth and throwing on some semblance of an outfit, she has changed twice and all of the outfits that didn’t work are all over the floor?? Yes, I see you nodding! It’s so nice to know I’m not alone on this island, and that my dear mother (their loving caretaker while I work) isn’t alone either! Okay, we have identified that we grumble and moan and recognize that life doesn’t look like a Martha Stewart magazine. But, how do we move past all of life’s to do lists? How do we look beyond the challenge to see the actual beauty in the counter covered in syrup or the magic in the clothes’ covered floor? I would love to be the forgiving mom like you’ve seen in that Charmin commercial. You know, the one who just shakes her head and laughs when her toddler brings her the unraveled roll of toilet paper, but to be absolutely honest, I would probably say “what in the world are you doing?!” and it’s doubtful I would be laughing. I read a blog the other day and the following line stopped me in my tracks, “the reality of life can crush the perspective of the gift.” Think about that for a moment, really let it marinate. How often do we allow financial burdens, office stress, and/or unkempt homes set the mood for our days, our lives? I know I can. What if we challenged ourselves to look at these so-called burdens, stresses and messes as blessings? What a concept! What if the financial burden was viewed as a success because we were still blessed to provide a meal for our family or pay our bills, even if we didn’t have any money left over to do the extra things? What if the clothes on the floor were seen as a blessing because it may be the last time I fold that little shirt before she grows too big to wear it? God gives us these moments each and every day, gives us the opportunities to really live in these moments and not plow through them like bulldozers just trying to get through the end of the day. What if I found joy in cleaning because it allowed me to see what my Lord has really blessed me with? What if I paid attention to the sunshine peeking in through the window while I cleaned it? What if I truly appreciated the meal that He just blessed me with while I washed the remnants from the dishes? All of these moments are teachable lessons and our little ones, relatives, friends, and even complete strangers are watching to see how we handle these challenges, these chores. Will we teach them to be thankful and grateful for God’s challenges or to grumble about them? As I continue on my walk with Christ, I can truly say that I find myself grumbling a lot less than I used to. I am a work in progress. I am His work in progress!
Get to Know…Gretchen Close Spouse: Matt Close Kids: Josh Bragg (18), Lily Close ( 7), Maddie Close (4) Occupation: Personnel Readiness, Air National Guard Hometown: Berkeley Springs Age you became a Christian: 19 Favorite verse or book in the Bible: Luke 4:24, Proverbs, Mark 14:3 Something most people don’t know about you: I read my Bible everyday Favorite pastimes: Shopping, movies What issues are you most passionate about? Education, wellness & nutrition, family What does women’s ministry mean to you? It means women connecting on a personal level with their faith in The Lord being the common denominator. I have friends, but few that share the love of God with me, and I feel that women's ministry is a pathway to that.
August 2013 | Page 3 Case Studies in Faithfulness: Joseph
By Isabella Yosuico
Part 2 – Disturbing Detours - Genesis 38 When we left off last month, Joseph—sold into slavery by his resentful brothers—was being hauled off to Egypt by a caravan of traders. The chapter closes with devoted father Jacob in deep mourning. At this point in the account the author, Moses, takes a detour into the disturbing chronology of Joseph’s older brother Judah. Already knee-deep and riveted by the Joseph tale, the Judah story seems at first like an awkward interruption, but instead offers some valuable contrast and comparison to Joseph’s saga, and a fundamental truth that foreshadows the Gospel. Before we move on to explore Joseph’s fate, let’s look at Judah’s telling tale. The Ripple Effects of Disobedience Our detour from the Joseph story begins with Judah visiting his buddy Hirah, when a Canaanite girl catches his eye. Of course, God had told his people not to intermarry with Canaanites, but there’s no sign of Judah hesitating. The girl Shua eventually bore Judah three sons—Er, Onan, and Shela—and so begin the ripple effects of Judah’s disobedience. Who are my closest friends and what is their influence? Which commands do I downright ignore? Tough Consequences Judah later selects Tamar as Er’s wife. But the Bible tells us that Er was “wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death” (v.7). Yikes! I’m so grateful that in this Age of Grace, God no longer punishes believers since Jesus took our punishment in full at Calvary. Even so, we still suffer the consequences of our choices, good and bad. Do I recognize Christ’s work as complete? Do I continue to feel punished or condemned? Partial Obedience Costs Dearly As was the custom, Judah told his middle son Onan to marry Er’s widow and to produce Er’s heirs (say that five times quick). Evidently, Onan didn’t mind sleeping with Tamar, but didn’t want to raise kids not his own, so he “spilled his seed” to avoid conceiving a child. Ick! God found this disobedience pretty wicked, too, and struck Onan dead. Oh, my! Do I obey partially or fully? Is partial obedience really obedience? Is my obedience self-serving? Manipulating Outcomes Judah’s son Shela was next to continue Er’s line, but Judah “feared” (v.11) for Shela’s life and appeased Tamar with the promise that Shela would marry her once grown. Time passed. Impatient, Tamar took matters into her own hands and disguising herself as a prostitute, placed herself in Judah’s path to ensnare him. Judah, now widowed, took the bait, sleeping with Tamar and leaving his staff and seal as security for payment. When Hirah went to pay, Tamar was gone. Am I manipulating circumstances to make something happen on my timetable? Do I trust God to right wrongs? Double-Standards Judah soon learns that Tamar is pregnant by a then unknown man. He quickly sentences her to death by burning. As she’s led to 26 her punishment, she produces Judah’s seal and staff. To his credit, Judah says, “ Then Judah identified them and said, ‘She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah’”(v.26). Tamar goes on to bear twins, Perez and Zerah, and in a further twist, the true firstborn Zerah, was displaced by his brother Perez, presumably scooting by in birth to claim the inheritance. Do I recognize and admit my own fault before I condemn others? Am I jockeying for position? The (Very) Good News There are many life lessons in Judah’s story, “Do’s and Don’ts” that are relevant today. I know my own answers to the questions above would downright crush me under the weight of their truth. Yet one resounding message gives me awesome comfort. Despite the plain disobedience of several players, it’s Judah’s line that ultimately bears Jesus, not Joseph’s. Judah, Tamar and Perez are all mentioned in Jesus’ geneology in Matthew 1, along with other cheats, whores, liars and assorted flawed people. Here again. the Old Testament foreshadows Christ and the New Covenant: We are hopeless to save ourselves by our own obedience. We need Jesus every minute, every day (Acts 4:12) He loves me and counts me as family despite my failures (Ephesians 2:8-9) I need no longer fear God’s punishment because Jesus paid the price in full and forever (Romans 8:1-3, 1 John 4:18) We are co-heirs regardless of birth order or merit (Romans 8:17) As we face moral dilemmas, we can look to the Bible and the Holy Spirit to light our way (Romans 6:6) God can and does use even our grievous sin to achieve His ends for His Glory (Romans 8:28) We are free! (Romans 8:2, John 8:36) Prayer: Thank you JESUS for your completed work on this cross. Help me rest in your grace, that my loving gratitude fuel my obedience (John 14:23) for my good and your glory.
August 2013 | Page 2
It’s a Garden Party! (2, in fact) Flowers, Fellowship and Food!! Who: Shannon Payne Where: Ms. Shannon’s House 1088 Rock Gap Rd. Berkeley Springs WV 25411 What: Bring a dish to pass and flowers to share! No annuals please, but you can bring seeds. When: Tuesday, August 13th at 10am or Saturday, August 17th at 10am! RSVP: Facebook (asap) 304.258.7872 email@example.com
Cool Words “Good words cool more than cold water.” —John Ray, 17th century philosopher and theologian Saying the right thing to the people around us isn’t about being cool, it’s about being cooling. Words can hurt, and words can heal; stir up or soothe, cut down or create new, discourage or inspire courage. Scripture says: “Wise words are like deep waters; wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook” (Proverbs 18:4). What cool words of wisdom will you speak today?
Keep Calm! “Keep Calm and Carry On” was a poster slogan produced in 1939 by the British government to help calm the fears of the British people over expected air raids during World War II. Never displayed publicly at the time, the poster was rediscovered in 2000 by a bookstore owner going through a box of old books he bought at an auction. His customers soon asked for copies, and the image has since become a contemporary icon, with many variations of the theme adorning everything from coffee mugs and phone cases to cufflinks and cookies! You can find a wide variety of posters online…perhaps your new favorite will inspire you to keep calm and have a cupcake!
Design and base content © 2013 Group Publishing, Inc., Loveland, CO, group.com/women. Permission to photocopy granted for local church use only.