| Home | What We Believe | PCA News | From the Pastor | Pastor's Blog | Our Staff | Events | Ministry Schedules | Sunday Bulletins | Listen to Music and Sermons | Opportunities for Involvement | Missions | Links | Directions | Contact Us
Pastor's Blog

REDEEMER Reformed Presbyterian CHURCH

UNPROFITABLE SERVANT

So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, "We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do." - Luke 17:10

For instructions on subscribing to the Pastor's blog so that you can tell when he has posted a new blog entry without continually coming back to our website to check, click here.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is there no God in Israel?
All are invited to Wednesday evening Bible study and prayer at 6:30 p.m.  You may have the added satisfaction, if you attend this evening, of seeing the new steeple which has been mounted upon the edifice wherein we worship the Lord, gather for Bible study and prayer, and gather for various fellowship and evangelistic events at 548 Luzerne Road, Queensbury.

This steeple has been installed by authorization of the session in response to the request of two long standing members, who have been gracious in pledging contributions to its installation.   I feel that the lines of the steeple extending upward, complement  the open, well-illuminated and classic construction of our sanctuary, providing a fitting setting for the worship of God.

Psalm 113:4-6  The LORD is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens.   Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high, who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in the heavens and in the earth? 

As was pointed out to me by a member of the church, it is appropriate to elevate a pulpit for the preaching of God's Word.

Nehemiah 8:4  So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; and beside him, at his right hand, stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Urijah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah; and at his left hand Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 
Neh 8:5  And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 

This elevation of the pulpit was accomplished two summers ago by Kirk Phillips and Chuck De Young, as they raised a stage beneath the pulpit and provided side walls on either side of the pulpit, which together focus our attention upon the pulpit and the preaching of God's Word.

And it is appropriate to raise up a steeple, identifying our sanctuary as a place of worship of our God, Who dwells on high.

It was the prayer of one of our elders at the session meeting held today, that we should be so set apart in our lives,  that our lives demonstrate in our conduct and attitudes that we are set apart for the worship of God also, as believers!

We are called by God to live in holiness, to live in reliance upon the power of the Holy Spirit so that when people see us, they are given a witness to the gospel work of Christ at the cross.  Many pass by 548 Luzerne Road every week.  But many more pass by YOU !  Raise a steeple in your life, that no one can miss.  Not all will partake with you in the worship of the Living God.  But many may know that "there is a God in Israel", meaning, there is a God who dwells with and in His people, by the power of His Spirit !

And when we live in this way, we provide opportunities for many to find the truth, should the Holy Spirit of God draw them unto Himself as we live out a life of obedience to God's Word and are a witness to Christ in our life.  Recall that when Old Testament characters were going after false gods such as Baal, Elijah warned them:

2Ki 1:3  But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, "Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?' 

Many in our culture are inquiring of false gods of secularism, materialism, hedonism, and new age thinking.  They look in all the wrong places for guidance.  But we are a witness to the fact that it does not have to be so.   It is not only in the political nation of Israel in Old Testament times, when the rhetorical question can be asked, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal ?   For we are now, as believers in Christ, and members of His church . . . we are a new Israel of faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, faith in that very same God who raised Jesus from the dead.  And God is pleased to dwell in His church: 

Eph 2:22  in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. 

There is a God ! Let us as a church corporately, and as believers individually, raise steeples of unmistakeable identification with the living God who made heaven and earth, and who sent His Son to redeem for Himself a people of hope !  Let us repent of self centered, worldly living, and take hope in the God . . . there is hope in Israel in spite of this . . . because God is with us in the person of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Ezr 10:2  And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, spoke up and said to Ezra, "We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this. 

The steeple was installed this morning after structural reinforcement of the roof last week.  We give praise to God for this steeple, and we thank . . . 
- those who are contributing financially,
-thank  Elder Ralph Kelsey who guided the whole project through the process of consultation with donors, design of the steeple, ordering of the steeple, obtaining of building permits from Queensbury, consultation with an engineer (who provided his services free of charge, gathering of a crew for installation purposes. . . 
-thank to Peter Dykshoorn who prepared architectural drawings of the church building and steeple
-thank Jerry Steves and Chuck De Young  and Ralph Kelsey who reinforced the roof
-thank Kirk Phillips, Jerry Steves, Chuck De Young, Seth Waldecker (Kirk and Linda's nephew) and Ralph Kelsey who worked on installing the steeple.

And by the way, the Log Chapel is now fully air conditioned providing a cool and refreshing environment for Bible study and prayer, so come on out ladies !  Thank you to John Hungerford who obtained a powerful, used air conditioner and to Clint Traver who provided 220 wiring and who installed the air conditioner.

We are indeed blessed as a congregation.  May we raise a steeple in our lives, as a witness to the living Lord, praying that many will  . . . Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, Acts 3:19

Pastor Ned
3:57 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Means of Grace
Here is our new verse of the month:
Hebrews 12:1
Therefore we also, 
since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us lay aside every weight, 
and the sin which so easily ensnares us, 
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . .
Hebrews 12:1

I am so thankful that so many of you learned, from January through March, three of the most important verses in the New Testament when it comes to the life of Christ's church, a "Life Together" as a covenant family, not as a commercial, social or special interest group. 

Hebrews 11:23-25
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,
for He who promised is faithful.
And let us consider one another,
in order to stir up love and good works,
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
as is the manner of some,
but exhorting one another,
and so much the more,
as you see the day approaching.
Hebrews 11:23-25

We are Christ's family, and we are made such by the confession of our hope, children of God born, "not of natural descent, nor of human decision, or a husband's will, but born of God" (John 1:13).

I encourage you to gather as a family to read and study the Bible on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.  Many are lonely and isolated in our society, and even in the Christian community.  It behooves us to avail ourselves not only of Sunday morning worship, but also Wednesday evening Bible study and prayer at 6:30 p.m., and Sunday evening services at 6:00 p.m.    

If we will not take care to . . . assemble ourselves together when we have ample opportunity to do so, if we do not use the means of grace as appointed by God . . . 

. . . .in public worship on the Sabbath Day (Luke 4:16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.), 
. . . in corporate prayer (Act 1:14  These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers), 
 and 
. . . in intentional Bible study together (Acts 17:11  These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

. . . why should we wonder if we are not growing, or not happy, or do not feel  "connected".  Here are the appointed means of connection:  use them!


On another subject, there are occasional times of gathering which you may or may not find to be a blessing in your life, but I can assure you, these are times that God has used to bless others ! Whole families  have come into our congregation through something as simple as a game night . . .  Back in spring of 2010, God used a game  night brought a brother to us, a brother who is now introducing many of his family to us here at RRPC.  This one coming up is on Friday, April 12 at 7 pm.  Bring some games along, and if you like, bring a simple snack to share . . . and bring the love of Christ with you.

1:36 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I will fill this temple with glory
Dear Congregation:
For two reasons, my thoughts turn to this passage from the prophet Haggai, who spoke God's Word at the time of the rebuilding of the temple after the exile of Judah into Babylon:

Haggai 2:5-9
According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!'    "For thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,' says the LORD of hosts.  'The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,' says the LORD of hosts.  'The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,' says the LORD of hosts. 'And in this place I will give peace,' says the LORD of hosts." 

Please consider with me the providence of God, in the arrivals of two physical changes to the campus of Redeemer Reformed Presbyterian Church this weekend.  Taken together, occurring on the same weekend, these two changes are a glorious providence, which connect us to the revelation from God's Word in Haggai 2 quoted above.

First change:  The arrival of a gaga pit on the field of RRPC, last evening just before our kick-off meeting of Christian Service Brigade.  The arrival of a what ?!?  Yes, a gaga pit. It is an octagonal enclosure made from two by six pieces of lumber, connected by heavy hinges.  Ours was constructed by Captain Mark Beilstein, with his sons, Jacob, Nathan and Ryan, and with assistance from Jared Dykshoorn.  Gaga is a fast paced game of knocking a  ball around within the gaga pit, in which boys when struck by the ball from the knee on down, are eliminated from the gaga pit.  The last Brigadier standing in the pit goes gaga with happiness !

This ministry tool, which helps make Brigade the action-packed, high-energy ministry to boys that it is, will have a place in the coming of all nations to the Desire of All Nations.   We would desire that people of all backgrounds, of all ways of life, whether presently churched or not, would be drawn to worship the Lord Jesus, the Desire of All Nations.   And offering a ministry like Brigade, and a ministry like Pioneer Girls which complements it, so that boys become godly men, and so that girls become women of God, is part of a full-orbed evangelistic and discipleship ministry at RRPC, which will reach those peoples and families whom we believe shall come to the Desire of All Nations !  And as we reach parts of Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties here, we seek to support missionaries in the U.S. and abroad who have the same passion !

Second change: The arrival of twenty-five additional seats for the sanctuary of RRPC.   More than three quarters of the 2100 dollar cost of the chairs was covered by memorial gifts given in memory of Mrs. Lillian Morton, wife of the first pastor of RRPC, who labored with the Merry's and the Page's in providing the founding leadership of this congregation.  When Pastor Mark Bell preached at the funeral of Lillian this spring, he told me a story in the car, and may also have repeated it during the sermon.  Pastor Bell recalled a consultation among the wives of the session members while the elders were deliberating how many chairs to purchase for the Log Chapel.  When that decision was made, after the meeting, the elders were encouraged by Lillian and the ladies, something along the lines of, paraphrasing of course, "Let's fill the house !  Let's get enough chairs that can handle a crowd at the Log Chapel !"  (Several additional chairs were ordered !)   How appropriate that these 25 chairs can now be placed in loving memory of Lillian who at an earlier point in this congregation's history encouraged expansion.   We are providing the space that God's house may be filled.

As you know, any earthly temple is no longer the peculiar locus of God's presence as it was in the Old Testament, since now Jesus Himself is the temple of God.  Jesus referred to the tearing down of the temple of His body (John 2:19).   Jesus was put to death for our sins, and the building up again of the temple of His body occurred in three days, at his resurrection.  All praise and glory be unto His glorious name, a name through which, we know the only way to come into the presence of God to worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit !   Notwithstanding this, I do believe that God is glorified in the filling of a house of worship, for as we read in Haggai 2,  and I will fill this temple with glory,' says the LORD of hosts. God's glory still fills a place of worship when God's people praise His Name, and thank Him.  We can thank and praise God anywhere, but Lord's Day worship is an opportunity for us to do that together, regularly.  In 2 Corinthians we read, 

And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I BELIEVED AND THEREFORE I SPOKE," we also believe and therefore speak,   knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.   For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.   Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  -2 Cor. 4:13-16.

We do not lose heart, even in the face of death.  We believe that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus.  What a glorious hope we have even as we think of Pastor Jim and Lillian Morton. When we worship God together, it is an opportunity to speak about what we believe as we sing God's praises, to listen to God's Word concerning the death and resurrection of Christ, and to invite many to gather to learn of this Savior, and His grace, so that as conversion happens, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.  The more people at a service who gather to worship God in Spirit and in truth, gathering to thank God, causes thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.  God's house is filled with God's glory, to the praise of His name !  Please pray with me that in the coming years, should the Lord be honored in this work of the gospel at RRPC, all these seats may filled with true worshippers of God who bring glory to His name.

Thank you to all who give offerings and contribute their time to the service of God, You show belief not only with your lips, but also with your lives . . . for 'The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,' says the LORD of hosts. "

See you tomorrow to worship the King, Lord willing.

The Discovery class begins tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. as some explore the essentials of confessing belief in Christ and speaking of that belief, together.  You can get a book tomorrow if you have not yet received one.  Simply come five minutes early, to get a book,  and join us at the Cry Room for the class.

Sincerely in Christ, 
Pastor Ned
 
2:37 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Families and Churches Rowing Together
Dear Congregation and Friends,
We are committed to ministries of worship and education and evangelization at Redeemer Reformed Presbyterian Church.   As I write this blog post I am looking forward to a 9:30 meeting this morning, Saturday, March 24th, of the education committee and the Sunday School teachers of RRPC.  Liz Kelsey, our Chair of the Education Committee called the meeting to discuss education programming, to look ahead to next year, consider space issues etc.  We are blessed to have a committed corps of teachers to bring children, teens and adults into a consideration of God's Word in a way that connects with the particular age groups of RRPC.

At RRPC we believe that there are many things it is best to do together !  We do not segregate children from adults during the morning and evening worship services.  We do provide a nursery for babies and the youngest of children. And we also provide a "cry room", a room with a large plate glass window just off the sanctuary, where mothers, fathers and children can sit to watch and hear the service if someone is particularly restless during the service, including restless dads who just can't stop squirming.   :~)   But we believe that faith in the one true God has always been a faith that has involved families, families who are committed together to worshiping God, serving God together, learning about God together in a committed relationship of promise called the covenant.  Worshiping together on the Lord's Day embodies that covenant commitment in critical ways that flow into the rest of the week.  

I believe that as children grow up they pick up more and more of the truth found in expository sermons from God's Word.  I am amazed at what I actually learned as a kid from the preacher, as I doodled away on the bulletin in the pew. My mother let me doodle because she felt it helped me actually listen and not squirm - -  I had to cover the squirming part in my family because my father was up front doing the preaching.  As I got older, I started reading along in the Bible more, and I always loved taking part in the rest of the service, other than the sermon,  like standing up for the Doxology and the Gloria Patri.  As a toddler my mother let me stand on the pew so I could see what was happening up front, and I can still remember balancing myself by putting my arms around my mother and brother.  Eventually, I always had every hymn and responsive reading marked in advance in the hymnal with little pieces of paper I ripped off of the corners of the bulletin.  That marking of the hymnbook happened while mother and other adults bowed their heads in prayer before the service, preparing individually to worship God together.

(A helpful article by John and Noel Piper that is consistent with these themes is found here:  http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/the-family-together-in-gods-presence  If you click on it you can read it for more good teaching on this subject)

But alongside the corporate worship of God we believe at RRPC that we should provide age appropriate education in the truths of God's Word in the church setting.  So we have Sunday School for pre-schoolers, elementary age children, middle schoolers, and high school students. College age students gather with our adults in the sanctuary during the Sunday School hour.

We also have discipleship/evangelistic programs twice a month to help girls grow into godly women, and to help guide boys into Christian manhood. These are called Pioneer Girls and Brigade.  New to us, just one year ago was the introduction of Building Lives Around Scriptural Truth, BLAST, a youth group for 8th through 12th graders which meets once a month for teaching and another time for a social activity of some type. 

We believe primary responsibility for training of children lies with parents, as is described in Deuteronomy 6:6-9 - "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.   You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.   You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.    You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."     Churches should be equipping parents in their own personal paths of discipleship as adults so they can minister to their children.  And the church should provide tools that parents can use to guide the teaching and training of their own children.  Take-home papers from Sunday School, Redeemer Verses of the month, sermon outlines from Sunday bulletins are all teachable moment opportunities that families can use in their daily devotions at the supper table, or during the evening, or at bedtime, to guide children in the paths of Christ.  Each family will also want to use its own pattern of reading God's Word together, using the Bible, or in the case of young children, using a story Bible that is faithful to the original text.  We have bible reading guides for the New Testament in the foyer of the church to help you if you want to use that.

The overall picture is "Families and Churches Rowing Together"   Parents are rowing one oar and church leaders like the pastor, session, Sunday School teachers, youth group leaders are rowing the other.  Together, with both sides rowing, we seek to keep the boat headed in the right direction.  There has developed in some circles an extreme view of this subject, wherebye, the responsibility of parents, which is rightly seen as primary, has meant that some churches have abandoned or marginalized Sunday School and any specific programming for children.  Unfortunately this neglects the scriptural example of Paul addressing children directly in the church (Ephesians 6:1-3), and surely, children are part of the church where elders are meant to teach (1 Timothy 5:17).    For more teaching on this, look online for the article "Families and Churches Rowing Together" in the April 2012 issue of New Horizons Magazine, published by the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in America.

This abandonment or marginalization of Sunday School and other traditional programs also tends to "leave out" the children who have no Christian parents at home.  How are they to be reached for Christ and trained at all, if  there is no adult who would take a personal interest in bringing the message to them at their age appropriate level in Sunday School or in one of youth programs?  The local church is responsible for the evangelization of the lost in their geographical area, and the Sunday School and youth programs play key roles in that evangelization process.

Finally, RRPC has developed under the leadership of Pastor Mark Bell and the session that served with him, the practice of an annual teaching conference one weekend each year.  This is a major boost to our educational focus at RRPC, being grounded in God's Word around a particular topic or book of the Bible. Because of our anniversary in 2011, we did not have the conference, but I am pleased to report that Dr. Gareth Edwards has agree to speak to us again this autumn on September 28-30 from the book of Nehemiah.  More details will be forthcoming, but I alert you now so that some of our out of town friends can make arrangements possibly to be with us that weekend !

God bless you this weekend, and I pray that you will be worshipping publicly with God's people ! 

With Christian love from all the leaders here at RRPC, concerned that you and "all the little children" know the truth of Christ, I remain faithfully yours in Christ, 
Pastor Ned
7:46 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reading God's Love Into a Situation
Dear Congregation and Guests to this blog:
My wife is teaching first grade at Spa Christian School until Easter, and this morning when she was heading out the door, she exclaimed "There's snow outside !"  What a surprise. . . neither of us expected it, even though both of us want snow and love it - - living here in foothills of the Adirondacks. 

In a broader sense, we all want snow, we want that "covering over" of that which is imperfect.  When we're painting a wall for the first time, we would never think of leaving a gaping hole in the middle unpainted . . . there is something primal driving us to fill in the hole, to fill in the gap.  And how many of us have observed our daughter or son diligently using crayons in a coloring book, determined to fill every nook and cranny of a picture's black outlines?

For Lois this morning, stepping outside to see the snow, and for us as believers, we live in the ever fresh experience of God's forgiveness and grace.  We need God's snow, God's covering, God's forgiveness, every day:

Isaiah 1:18  "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. 

Just about a year ago I shared with many of you the beautiful song written by David Stearman Hayes - Somewhere It's Snowing 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX2UarjNbI4&NR=1
Here is a link, to that blog post, dated Friday, January 7, 2011 (scroll down to the date) http://www.redeemerreformed.info/id26.html

We can count on God to cover the guilt of every corner of our every sin with His forgiveness, as snow covers a landscape and makes all things new.

I received more feedback about that post and that song than any other than I have written.

What hits me today is the faithfulness of God, which we can count on, and the continued experience of that, as something new, surprising, fresh and real.

Lamentations 3:22, 23 Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 

How can God reveal His compassions as "new every morning" when He has had compassion for His people continually since they fell into sin, and we have not been consumed?

How are His compassions "new every morning" when His faithfulness is great and He has never stopped being faithful?  What is new about something that has always been there?

Could the answer be that in this life, we live through varied experiences of sin and brokenness and suffering which make us wonder, can the LORD's mercies meet me even here, in this situation, in this heart-ache, in the guilt of this my most recent sin, in the midst of this illness? When we grasp God's compassion, even in this experience, even in this situation,  His great and steady faithfulness is received as His newly apprehended mercy.

God does not change, nor is there any variation in his just and loving character:
James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 
Hebrews 13:8  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

But what comes to us as "new" and different in this world, even that which God allows and ordains from His sovereign hand,  never ceases to amaze us in the ways that sadness and affliction can surprise.

Lam 3:17  You have moved my soul far from peace; I have forgotten prosperity. 
Lam 3:18  And I said, "My strength and my hope Have perished from the LORD." 
Lam 3:19  Remember my affliction and roaming, The wormwood and the gall. 
Lam 3:20  My soul still remembers And sinks within me. 

"Far from peace"
 a "forgotten prosperity", 
a "perished" strength and hope, 
affliction, 
roaming, 
bitterness . . . the wormwood and gall.

Do any of those words or phrases apply to you this day?

If so, I invite you to meet again the unchanging, faithful love of God, whose mercies are new-to-us-in-this-particular-situation, and therefore are "surprising" !

Lam 3:21  This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. 
Lam 3:22  Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 
Lam 3:23  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 
Lam 3:24  "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" 
Lam 3:25  The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. 
Lam 3:26  It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the LORD. 

When Elder Kirk and I were worshiping last Saturday at the New York State Presbytery meeting in Vestal, New York, I have to admit that the effects of getting up at 6 a.m. to check on the snowy weather, and a long night with the Brigade the evening before hit me hard around 11:30 A.M. sitting in the warm sanctuary.  I nodded off a couple times during the sermon from Ephesians 2:1-10, sorry to report, and I have a new sympathy for those of you whom I occasionally see dozing off during one of my sermons !   

But even if you doze off, I hope you get something out of each of my sermons, like I was able to catch this from the sermon at Vestal.  They went through a terrible flood from Hurricane Irene down there, a hurricane which sat over their area for eighteen hours last September.  Together with a majority of homes in their neighborhood, the flood destroyed their entire basement, with its educational, fellowship and kitchen facilities, and it is just now getting rebuilt. (If anyone would like to help out with sheetrock, a donation, or other work down there, let me know).  

What Pastor Ken Thompson was saying out of Eph. 2:1-10 is that God's love has been revealed to us once and for all in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ . . .  verses 4 and 5, But God,  is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (New Living Translation).  And God has continued power to meet us with His demonstrated love in all the situations of our life.

So when we go through trials like 
floods, 
illness, 
"forgotten prosperity", 
affliction, 
roaming, 
bitterness . . . the wormwood and gall, then God means us to read the love of God into a situation, rather than reading the love of God out of every situation. (This phraseology is from Tim Keller).  Some situations are so bad, some illnesses so intractable, some griefs so heavy, the misery of sin can be so heavy, that we are not meant to look at those situations and say, "Oh, that shows me God's love."  Instead we are called to learn of God's love displayed in the gospel, believe upon God's love shown at the cross, trust in the power of God's love, which has all power over death - he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. - -  and then we are to read God's love into a situation, and prevail through that situation hoping and waiting quietly for the salvation of the LORD. 

God's mercies are new every morning, which means that in this particular new day we face, we read God's unchanging faithful love into our day in a fresh way, because his compassions fail not.   They fail not because He gives us the spiritual life, the resilience of a Christ-formed character to encounter this day and not be overwhelmed by the floods, hoping and waiting quietly for the salvation of our God, in whatever form of that salvation God chooses to bring to us....

5:29 pm est          Comments

Friday, October 7, 2011

Coming Boldly to the Throne of Grace
Dear Congregation,

This past Wednesday evening a brother shared a verse that helps motivate me to learn God's Word: 

Psalm 119:11  Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. 

My heart's desire is not to turn away from God, but to walk closely to Him.  

But my sin messes with that.  

My sin separates.  

My sin brings shame.  

My sin turns my heart against God.

When I first wrote the four previous sentences, they just began with "Sin".  But I changed that to "My sin" .

If I blame the problem on a vague, cosmic problem of sin, that puts the problem somewhere else, far away from me . . .   Sort of like, Flip Wilson's saying, "The devil made me do it."  

But as we have been learning in the adult series in Sunday School (Join us at 9:30 a.m. !) , King David owned his sin, so that he could experience God's salvation.

David said, Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always  before me. . .. .Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow...... Psalm 51: 2,3, 7

When we own it, and state our sin, and go to God for forgiveness, the doors of forgiving refreshment crack open into our hearts, the light shines in, and the washing happens, cleansing our guilt.  God hides his face from our sins, removing our shame (verse 9)  

And as we walk forward in the path of sanctification, we are empowered to obey as Jesus commanded the woman caught in adultery, Go and sin no more.  John 8:11

Jesus' command does not mean we will ever become sinless.  Romans 7:13-25 would not agree with that thought.  But Jesus' command in John 8 does mean that our dear Savior and Lord is looking for progress in holiness, a greater love for Him that would drive out our baser loves and sinful desires.

Practically speaking, may I challenge and call you individually, whoever reads this, and call you as leaders, and call you as a congregation, to show your love for Christ by loving His written Word ?     

Psa_119:97  Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.   It is hard for us to meditate on it all the day unless we have memorized at least some of it ! 

Love His word by memorizing it.   This is one of the things we do as a congregation, learning the verse of the month, what I have called "Redeemer Scriptures", because that is the name of our Savior who gave the scriptures, and the name of the church where we are learning them together, 

It just so happens that the "Redeemer Scripture" for October is a profound encouragement for redeemed sinners like you and me:

Hebrews 4:16 
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy 
and find grace to help
in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

Whenever you feel guilty, and are listening to the accusation of the devil, that you dare not show up at God's doorstep again with a sin to confess to Him, you will be able to quote this verse in your heart if you learn it this month.  You will be able to say to God.  I come boldly to your throne of grace, dear Father, because your Son is not a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. - Hebrews 4:15.   Jesus understands the depth of our temptations, and yet never gave into them, so that as the Good Shepherd of our souls, He was a perfect sacrifice qualified to die for our sin, and at the same time a caring  Shepherd wanting to apply that forgiveness to us because He personally walked as a human and knows the weaknesses of the human condition.

When you freely come to the throne of grace, you are strengthened in your relationship with Christ, bonding with Him as "family", so as to be experiencing last month's verse:

Hebrews 2:11
For both he who sanctifies
and those who are being sanctified
are all of one,
for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.
Hebrews 2:11

The action of taking advantage of the throne of grace, coming boldly to Him for forgiveness, inflames our hearts to a new  obedience.  Forgiveness from the guilt of our sin, is the first step in being sanctified to avoid future sin, because we do not wallow in our sin, avoiding God, avoiding the throne of grace.  The more we avoid God, the more we sink deeper and deeper in the thoughts, words, and actions of sin.  But coming to the throne quickly serves to identify ourselves with Jesus as His brother or sister, and serves to help motivate us to help one another as the Body of Christ in this process of sanctification. 

I challenge you to see the Redeemer Scripture as not another program of a church.  Instead please view it as our investment at RRPC in your personal progress as a believer.  It will build you up, that you may not sin against God, that you may be sanctified, that you may know God's family better, that you may find grace to help in time of need.

The context of Hebrews 4:16 points mostly in the direction of the weakness of sin - -  Heb. 4:15 speaks of weakness in association with temptation, Heb. 5:2 speaks of the weakness of going astray.  But I also would encourage you to claim the provision of the throne of grace whatever weakness you face, whether it is spiritual, physical, emotional, medical, relational.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13 .

Sincerely, Pastor Ned
11:28 am edt          Comments

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Covenant vows, covenant blessings

Dear Congregation,

It was a great joy to Lois and me to worship with you last Sunday morning and evening.  At the evening service I took opportunity to thank the congregation, and I extend that thanks to you now, for sharing in the joy of our daughter's marriage, and for helping in so many practical ways to make the wedding and reception a success through your physical labor, emotional support, and gracious hospitality.


July 16th was one of the best days of my life.  To see our daughter Kathryn make vows in the covenant of marriage to a Christian man who had faithfully pursued her, to a man who loved her, was a privilege, a gift from God.


Every Sunday, every Lord's Day, has the potential to be one of the best days of our lives.   It is a day of covenant renewal, when we renew the solemn vows that we should make to the loving God who has pursued us in His grace, faithfully coming after us even when we are tempted to walk away.  Every Sunday we renew our vows publicly, to walk in His ways, to pledge fidelity to Him to our life's end.  We say with God's people of old, "We will serve the LORD our God and obey him" (Joshua 24:24).


It is a privilege to renew our covenant vow as we worship the living Lord together as His people.  We celebrate the resurrection, as every Sunday is a resurrection celebration.  We hear His Word as yesterday we heard from Mark 10:41-45, a central text of salvation . . . For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.   We respond to Him with prayer and singing and the giving of tithes and offerings as part of our act of spiritual worship.  We have fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, encouraging, teaching one another to obey everything Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:20), loving one another and lifting up one another as we visit before and after the services.


I saw some of that "best" yesterday at our worship services. Lois shared at the evening service during our prayer time, a Bible passage from  Mark 10

 Mar 10:29  So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's,
Mar 10:30  who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
She shared how you are brothers and sisters and mothers and children to the Suffern family, and we are so blessed.  I am humbly confident that you also will know that "family of God" experience at RRPC if you commit yourself to being among us and sharing in the life of worship and service that God is growing here.


Let us recommit ourselves to attend to faithful covenant renewal at Lord's Day worship, and active involvement through these summer months, in preparing for the 20th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, August 13th at 4 p.m.  


Also, this is a community of covenant faithfulness that reaches out to those not yet worshipping the true and living God.  Please let Eric and Lynn know if you can help with the soccer camp in any way...... we need to connect with the unchurched, never churched, lapsed from church.  May I suggest that you contact them and offer your help in some area of publicity, refreshments, helping with the children, coaching.  They need our help leading up to the camp on August 22-24.
Sincerely, Pastor Ned

8:58 am edt          Comments

Friday, June 24, 2011

Jimmer JAM
Dear Congregation and friends of RRPC,
Last evening Johnny and I celebrated the NBA draft of Jimmer Fredette at
 
Jimmer
JAM
 
an evening at the Glens Falls Civic Center where over a thousand turned out to watch the ESPN telecast of the 2011 NBA Basketball Draft.  Jimmer grew up in Glens Falls as an avid basketball player for the Indians, and played four years at Brigham Young University where in his senior year he was recognized as the Naismith College Player of the Year.   As the leading scorer in college basketball for 2010-2011, Jimmer won every significant national basketball award for the season, including the John R. Wooden Award and the Oscar Robertson Trophy, which Johnny and I got to see up close and personal as part of a career display at the Civic Center.

In 2007 Jimmer had signed a hand-written contract with his older brother T.J. Fredette as a witness:  "I James T Fredette agree on this day Jan. 27,   2007 to do the work and make the necessary sacrifices to be able to reach my ultimate goal of playing in the NBA".    Jimmer was not expected to be drafted in the top ten, because although he is an outstanding scorer, his quickness and defensive abilities were questioned at the NBA level of play.  But when the number ten pick rolled around, he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks, and then was immediately traded to the Sacramento Kings.  The Civic Center went wild, and in between our whooping and hollering, I struggled to hear him and his brother T.J. speak on the Jumbotron as they were interviewed over the din of the crowd.   

Jimmer Fredette is a good role model in athletics, with high moral values, and an interest in giving back to and connecting to his hometown here in "Hometown, U.S.A.", Glens Falls, New York.  Johnny got a "high-five" from him earlier this year at an assembly at the Glens Falls Middle School, where Jimmer spoke about establishing goals, working hard, keeping focussed without the distractions of alcohol and drugs.  I wish him well, and pray for him that he would recognize and confess Jesus Christ as the unique, only begotten Son of God, who has always been God, not just one among many sons of God who used to be men.  Mormons believe that the Heavenly Father used to be a man who was promoted to being a god by virtue of his works in another part of the universe.  Quoting from an article by Pastor Cooper Abrams, of the Price  Baptist Church in Utah . http://www.seafox.com/mormons.html  and   http://www.bible-truth.org/MormonismPage.html     

Note the following quote from the Mormon Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, page 123, made by the LDS Apostle Orson Hyde:

"Remember that God, our heavenly Father, was perhaps once a child, a mortal like we ourselves, and rose step by step in the scale of progress, in the school of advancement; has moved forward and overcome, until He has arrived at the point were He is."

Lorenzo Snow, late President of the Mormon church, made this statement in the second verse of his famous poem entitled, "Man's Destiny":

"As Abra'm, Isaac, Jacob, too, babes, then men--to gods they grew. As man now is, our God once was; As now God is, so man may be,-- Which doth unfold man's destiny. . ."

Furthermore, Mormons deny the central importance of the sacrifice of Christ's blood at Calvary as the atonement for our sins.

It is a challenging thing for believers to know how to interact with Mormons in athletics and in politics and society, since Mormons have a strong influence for strong moral values in our culture, a culture which goes so astray, literally, a perverse and corrupt generation.  For example, be in prayer and contact your senator in our state of New York as the legalization of gay "marriage"  is considered in the Senate, with "marriage" in quotes, because it could never be marriage, no matter what the New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, wants to force upon us.   

I will pray for Jimmer, as long as I follow him in the NBA, that he would see the light and come home to his "Hometown U.S.A." a born-again, evangelical Christian.   I will also be praying for Kyle Korver, an evangelical Christian who plays for the Bulls, that he would maintain his hearty witness for Jesus Christ in the NBA.  During the run up to the draft, I heard Jimmer and Kyle unfavorably compared as slow defensive players whom the opposition attack and take advantage of.   They may be similar in that regard, and they are similar in their high moral values.  But the difference is this.   (We know Kyle's family from Northwest Iowa where one of Lois's aunts, Aunt Angie, married into the Korver familly, a great Christ-honoring, talented, athletic family). Kyle trusts in Jesus Christ and what Christ did in his righteous life of active obedience, and his passive obedience unto death at the cross, through which we are forgiven and justified, given a place in God's family as his sons through adoption, not through our own meritorious works.

Jimmer, I hope that I could JAM some day with you in heaven, praising God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a beautiful chorus of praise to the one true God, who calls us into His family through faith in Christ alone, by grace alone. Come to Christ in faith, leaving behind all works of our own.  Be drafted by Him.  He will never trade you away.

Sincerely,
Pastor Ned Suffern
518-932-1967
8:49 am edt          Comments

Friday, April 22, 2011

They Call This Friday Good
Dear congregation:

As a boy, I asked my father one time why we called Good Friday 'good' since it was the day that Jesus suffered on the cross. He explained to me that what happened on Good Friday was good for us and bad for Jesus. Jesus suffered infinite pain and suffering by virtue of his physical death and spiritual separation from the One, the Father, whose plan it was that Christ should suffer judgment for our sins.
Good for us that we no longer bear the guilt of our sins.
Bad for Jesus that He should so suffer in order to bear the penalty of those sins.
It was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer - Isaiah 53:10
Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

. . . by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. - - Isaiah 53:11

For the rest of the story - See You Sunday for our Resurrection Celebration. !!

Pastor Ned
9:16 am edt          Comments

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A "Fun" Day

Dear Congregation,

I had a fun day on Tuesday.  But as Deacon Don Petersen put it in an e-mail to me once,

I've almost "had enough fun for one day".      But hey, when you preach on Sunday about getting the dross and the alloy driven out of you by adversity, with the purpose that we are further sanctified, you've got to expect that something "fun" is going to happen that week.  


But at the same time, I saw God help me through the details, and guide me to an eventual solution.  And on top of that I got to hear about a fun argument in a bicycle shop between a husband AND a wife who BOTH forgot their wedding anniversary !!  That's where this is headed:  DON'T FORGET THE ANNIVERSARY OF RRPC in 2011 - - Please pray that God will sustain and STRENGTHEN her, the bride of Christ, as she seeks to honor Him in Warren County and beyond - -


It started on Tuesday this way.  With gas prices pushing four dollars a gallon, I was trying to save a little money by using my Honda Helix scooter to travel to Orthopaedic Associates of Saratoga for my third shot of  "euflexa" in my knee to help the pain when I walk.  As I was turning north for the home stretch toward the doctor's office, lo and behold my rear tire suddenly decompresses. 


Providentially, there was a bicycle shop parking lot where I could park the scooter, and moments later a dump truck passed by whose driver stopped when I hailed him down to hitch a ride.  That was "fun" - - climbing up into a dump truck cab with a bad knee, and it really was fun to watch him shift through ten gears to get to 40 MPH !  After my treatment, I walked to a tire repair shop that told me they did not repair motorcyle tires. When I walked back to the bicyle shop (no dump truck this time), the owner was laughing about how he had called his wife and she was trying to call him in the middle of the morning because they both had forgotten to mention their  wedding anniversary at breakfast.  In my opinion, if you remember that you have forgotten your anniversary by the middle of the morning, that doesn't count as forgetting.


Please don't forget RRPC's anniversary.  This is a landmark that some thought might never be reached.  This is an opportunity to reflect on God's faithfulness, and to prepare for the next chapter of God's providential undertakings on our behalf.  Lord willing, you will hear Elder Jack and Elder Eldrid share some of those undertakings and reflections this Sunday at our morning service, or if you cannot be there, in recorded form. 

If this anniversary has passed you by thus far, it's still morning.  You can get in on the celebration by worshipping with us this Sunday, or by coming to the dinner on Saturday, August 13th (let us know you'll be there) at 4 p.m. when Pastor Mark Bell will speak, and when we will show a video of the history of the church being edited by the Burls.


Back to the scooter.  The $160 towing fee from Saratoga to Queensbury convinced me not to flatbed the scooter up the Northway, so dear Johanna drove down to rescue me.  As we were driving into town, I asked her to swing by the Calvary Assembly of God church where some in our congregation have been blessed by their vegetable and fruit and bread giveaway in the name of Jesus.   And who did I find there, but part of the Anderson and Dykshoorn families.  God had me meet just the man, Walter, who gladly volunteered to drive me back down to Saratoga to pick up my scooter in his little trailer, and then deliver it to the motorcyle repair shop in Queensbury.


Fun !  And provision from God.  We should learn to expect both from life, and from our Lord.  God has given us great opportunities here in Warren County, and we should expect adversaries and adversity.  Whenever God is at work, there will be opposition:

1 Corinthians 16:9 - For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.


More excitement before Sunday:  Pioneer Girls and Stockade will both celebrate their last regularly scheduled Friday evening meeting for this ministry year.  Thank you to Sharon Dykshoorn for directing Pioneer Girls, and thank you to the Guides and Helpers who worked with her, Lois Suffern, Chris De Young, Liz Kelsey, Jo Burl, Sarah Dolan, Melissa Beilstein, Linda Williams and Johanna Suffern!  Thank you to the Rangers who have led Stockade with me, Mark Beilstein, Clint West, Walter Anderson, Junior Ranger, John Suffern,  and brothers like Eric Piesnikowski, Lee Smith and Chuck De Young who come alongside to assist, Eric helping with athletics, Lee bringing the Story Circle tomorrow and Chuck leading in fly tying.  Both of these ministries averaged ten or more children per meeting since Christmas.  Pray for connections with families !


Coming up soon, the launch of our youth group ministry !


Hope to see many of you Sunday !


Pastor Ned


P.S.
For your information the following two ministries will have an open house in Glens Falls tomorrow, and I'll be visiting them at the following times.  If anyone would like to join me and others from RRPC who will be there, you can attend at the times indicated.



Open Arms Pregnancy Center 471 Glen Street Glens Falls, 4:30 p.m. (unexpected pregnancy counselling center, helping women & children)



Centrepoint Ministry Center, 10 Warren Street, Glens Falls, 5:00 p.m. (Christian retreat, conference and gathering place on the circle)

10:26 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Path of His Passion
Dear Congregation and friends,

Have you ever made a great resolution to get a hit in game of life, and then you stepped up to the plate and did a "Casey at the bat" mighty wiff at the ball?

That's what I did yesterday. I had been building up in my mind to the thought of starting a walk with my family down the path of Christ's passion using the devotional guides I have been handing out at services and in the neighborhood, and mailing to our seasonal members and friends. If you start reading the Easter Edition of "OUR DAILY BREAD - The Path of His Passion" this week, you will finish the devotional just before Easter.


Then when Monday, March 28th rolled around, what did I do?


Entirely forgot about it. It had been a full day, Lois and I had friends coming over after supper, and the teens were running out the door to the home of some of their friends. We sat down and prayed at our meal, I read a quick verse from Psalm 90, appropriate on Johanna's 18th birthday (Psa 90:12 So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom). But this much anticipated, thoughtful devotional reading together, focussing on the passion and death of Christ in preparation for Easter. . . Whoosh! It went out of my head.


And there are times when we entirely bypass devotions at supper when John's baseball or Johanna's violin lessons creep up on our mealtime, and we just have to finish the meal, NOW already !


Can I make an observation, and I hope it would be a grace-filled, godly encouragement to you.

We are not saved by the regularity of our Bible reading, nor by the steadiness and perfection of our swing at the game of life. We are saved by his love for us which I know personally, I don't deserve. As we are touched by the Holy Spirit, God wakes us up in some area of our life ! He plants a desire, or sometimes he even imports a dis-ease into our life. Some kind of disatisfaction with the way things are right now in our life. Some disgust concerning a sin with which we're too familiar.


And if it's God working rather than the devil tempting, then with the dissatisfaction He gives us hope, instead of despair that there can be no change. Our Loving Savior gives us a hunger to see change in our life. That's the hunger we get which is reflected in Jesus' words, "Whoever desires to come after me...." We have an inchoate, unformed, desire and hunger to see a change that we know in our hearts has something to do with "coming after Jesus". We hunger to come after Him, to know Him who created us, and saved us and has the fulness we long for in life, because in Him all the "fullness of God was pleased to dwell."

It's moments of "desiring to come after Jesus", in my own life, and with my family that plants in my heart a desire like wanting to read "The Path of His Passion" with my family, that plants in my life a desire to see my daughter, son, wife and me, and all of you, to experience together some of the central features of Christ's revelation in the flesh at the end of his earthly life. And in the abstract, that's all good. But then life happens. Like a school crisis, like a scheduled or unscheduled meeting, like an athletic practice, like a casserole that burnt and made you go crazy putting something else together, like a member of the family who feels burnt out or flamed out, and is operating in crisis mode right now.

And all those idealistic "desires to come after Jesus" seem to go out the window.


But do they really? Sometimes it is in the midst of those very trials that we are "denying ourself, and taking up our cross, and following Jesus". We are changing our schedule, making ourselves available to serve those around us, we are keeping our eye on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, when everything around us is going kaflueeeeey. That's self denial; that's taking up our cross.


And then finally, a moment of peace. A moment of quiet. It's then that we need Jesus, and instead of unwinding by flipping on the television, how about we grab that as an opportunity to pray. To consciously, unmistakeably call out to God. Not just the "throw it up there" prayer in crisis mode, but the quieter, more reflective, prayer on our knees in tears, "I need you now, Jesus" - - the desperate prayer of the disciple who needs to be nourished and so he "denies himself" (DOESN'T TURN ON THE TV ), "takes up his cross" (DOESN'T COMPLAIN HOW TIRED THEY ARE, BUT RESTS IN HIM WHILE READING GOD'S WORD, THE BIBLE), and "follows me"(OBEDIENTLY DOES THE NEXT THING THAT MODELS THE SACRIFICIAL LIFE OF SERVICE WHICH JESUS SHOWED US, "FOR EVEN THE SON OF MAN DID NOT COME TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE....")


We are not saved by the regularity of our Bible reading, but we will be sanctified by it ! When the Bible is read in faith, asking the Spirit's enlightenemnt, we will be set apart and changed by !! It cleanses us (John 17:17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth).


Now the rest of the story. For me, after a busy day today also, when at 4:30 p.m. I realized I had hit the wiffer again, and again hadn't even started to do something I wanted to do with my family to be sanctified, it was at that moment of frustration that I simply had to GRAB the moment together with them in God's Word. I finally found that moment with part of my family at least, when Johanna was driving down the Northway with Johnny and me riding shot gun and in the back seat going to their orchestral rehearsals in Albany.


And wow, was I blessed as Johnny and I read. "We learn the lesson of trust in the school of trial" - Matthew 26:36-46. As Vernon Grounds put it, "we believe that any cup we drink is held to our lips by the Father of fathomless love and wisdom. Our prayer is that of trustful submission because we believe that even life's most bitter cup is held in the Father's hand." And in today's devotional, based on John 19:16-22, we can "have only one appropriate response - - to serve Him, He is the King of our lives." And the three of us shared in the car what "our cup was", and where all of us needed to serve Him as King more faithfully.

Dear brothers and sisters, don't be discouraged when your desire to come after Jesus seems to be derailed. It isn't just "not having your devotions". It's a score of frustrating roadblocks we run into. Simply trust Him in the trial, and GRAB the next moment to go to God, alone, or with those you love, and read His Word prayerfully, to get re-oriented, back on track, that you may take up your cross and follow Him from that moment on, for the rest of your life. You've got to GRAB those moments, so that your desire for change is channelled into real change through the reality of the hearty, hope-filled revelation of Jesus Christ shown to use in the scriptures.


Try walking "The Path of His Passion" with the Redeemer Reformed Presbyterian Church family leading up to Easter. If you need a copy of the devotional book, let me know. And if you are touched by something that you read, let me know, and let me know if I can share it with the church family. That goes for those of you reading this in Florida, the Carolinas, New Jersey, wherever. . . . I'd like us to encourage one another in this process !


Sincerely,

Pastor Ned
9:25 pm edt          Comments

Friday, March 11, 2011

Self-Denial for Liberty
Dear Congregation,
As we take in the devastation that swept across the Pacific when a tsunami hit Japan after the massive earth quake 80 miles offshore, I share the following prayer requests from Mission to the World, our Presbyterian Church in America mission agency:

"We write to request urgent prayer for the nation of Japan. You are, no doubt, watching the crisis unfold following the 8.9 Richter Scale earthquake that hit on Friday afternoon local time. We are grateful that our missionaries and their families are safe, but they are also grieving for this country whose people they love. MTW will be working with them in preparing a response, and as soon as that is clear, we will make that information available. Japan is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, so we hope our missionaries are getting much needed sleep at this moment. One missionary has said that their family is sleeping in their clothes (as much as sleep is possible) in case they need to flee their homes in the midst of powerful aftershocks.

 

For prayer:

  • Praise for the safety of all MTW missionaries
  • Love and comfort for grieving families
  • Rescue for those who may be trapped
  • Safety from aftershocks, which have been quite large
  • Shelter for those whose homes are destroyed
  • Wisdom and clarity for MTW regarding our response
  • Restoration of power and communications
  • Most of all, however, pray this will be an open door for the gospel, that missionaries and national believers will be able to show the love of Christ to those around them. Relationships are critical in Japanese culture, so pray this crisis opens new doors that could make many more relationships possible."

As I think and pray for those across the Pacific, I want to take you back to another generation, and events in the Pacific as they relate to the heroic defense of freedom against AXIS tyranny during World War II.   Because of two meaningful visits I had this week, I am reminded of a generation of World War II soldiers, sailors and airmen who are still among us, but who in twenty years may not be, just as we observed this month the passing of Frank Buckles, the last of the World War I doughboys.   And as I share these things, I ask us all, are we willing to do a 18T, a 180 degree turn around at the cross (T) of Christ, turning away from selfish inclinations, in order to serve our Lord?

The Navy men I met with this week are Carlton Davis and Nelson Drew.  Tuesday I visited with Carlton and Lee and Nancy Smith at their homestead in eastern New York, sharing Christian fellowship, discussing Lee's new ministry as a chaplain in nursing homes, and catching up on their lives and our life at RRPC.  We read the words of Jesus, Mark 8:34, "Whoever desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me."  As we seek to do that spiritually today, we observe the sacrifice and self denial of men like Carlton who put life and limb at risk to oppose the Axis powers of Germany and Japan who would have overrun Europe and the Far East without the resolute resistance, standing firm, of the Allied powers.

Carlton was an ensign in the Navy, a replacement pilot who went in to serve in the dangerous places, the places where other pilots had just been shot down.  He flew off of aircraft carriers, first the Lexington, and then the Yorktown, using the F-6 Hellcat, a workhorse of World War II.  He saw action all over the Pacific theatre, including the Phillipines and Japan.

Nelson Drew was a sailor in WW II who served on a destroyer, the Champlin, which accompanied President Roosevelt to Malta on the way to the Yalta conference of the Allied leaders.   He also served on another destroyer which was part of group of ships at the signing of the surrender of Japan on board the aircraft carrier Missouri.  I met Nelson last evening as he is regaining strength after having kidney problems and electrolyte imbalances at Glens Falls Hospital.  He is Mark Beilstein's grandfather on his mother's side.

Because Carlton and Nelson sought the blessings of liberty won for us by our founders who established a constitutional republic on these shores, they were willing to follow after others who had won that fight for liberty, denying self, taking up their cross of patriotic responsibility.

I also learned that Carlton denied himself, took up his cross, and followed Christ, upon his return from World War II, when a fellow pilot who was a Christian witnessed to him.  The man who witnessed to him was his Navy roommate, a man known to Nancy Smith, Carlton's daughter, as "Uncle Dick", because Dick not only introduced Carlton to Christ, he also introduced Carlton to his sister whom Carlton married ! Dick led Carlton to the Lord, and Carlton realized it is not enough to deny yourself as an American citizen.  We must deny ourself, and take up our cross and follow Christ as citizens of heaven, if we are to know spiritual liberty, eternal salvation from sin through the atonement won by Christ at his cross.

Both the men's and women's Bible studies have covered Ephesians 6 in the last few months, and we find there these verses:

Eph 6:12  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 
Eph 6:13  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 

We are in a battle, against spiritual forces of darkness.

Will you do a 18T ?  Will you recognize that God requires of you nothing to be saved, it is totally of grace, and yet as a result of his sovereign salvation, he requires everything?  Self-denial, opposing the heart's selfishness and sin.  Practical, every-day, suffering service, "our cross" by which we identify with Christ and his sacrifice.  If we take up our cross, it means we are willing to do anything, up to and including dying for Christ, in order to follow him.   As I heard a fellow pastor, Ed Hart, say recently there are many of us who are willing to die, to do the "big thing" like martyrdom.  We're ready for that, partly because we don't think it will ever happen here in America.  We are ready for death, but are we ready for inconvenience?  Are we ready to interrupt the schedule of our days, the routines that we feel comfortable with, in order to serve Christ? 

I encourage you to follow Jesus in faithful discipleship.  Walk this path, and learn from the examples before us.

Please pray for Nelson Drew with his hospitalization, and Carlton Davis, recently diagnosed with macular degeneration.

God bless you all !
Pastor Ned Suffern
3:18 pm est          Comments

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mark 2:17 leads to Mark 8:34
Dear congregation, near and far,
 
I was reviewing the verse of the month with Johanna and John at breakfast this morning after Lois was off to substitute in Corinth.

We worked on Mark 8:34, and I said the introductory phrases, 

 "When He had called the people to Himself, with his disciples also, He said to them, "______________________

And Johanna and John both blurted out, "Those who are well have no need of a physician...", and then stopped and in chorus said "wrong verse".

It turns out Jesus said a lot of things, didn't He, and they were recalling a former verse of the month still fresh in their mind.

Mark 2:17, 
When Jesus heard it, He said to them, 
"Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" - Mark 2:17

Mark 8:34 goes like this, why not learn it this week ?   It is so important.

When He had called the people to Himself, with his disciples also, He said to them, 
"Whoever desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself,
and take up his cross,
and follow me."
Mark 8:34

Mark 2:17 speaks to me of God's grace, God's inestimable favor for undeserving sinners like us, because Jesus says, I'm here for you.  For you who know no health apart from me, and who will admit it and not hide behind your self sufficiency, a hiding that is sheer delusion.  It is precisely for sinners like us, that the doctor of our soul has come.  He has come for those who have had their eyes opened by the regenerating, irresistible grace of God, with eyes open to know that we are are sick, no, dead in our trespasses and sins.   And it is we who have our eyes opened who are then called to repent, and find good news, "Repent and believe in the gospel" - Mark 1:15

Mark 8:34 speaks to me of God's grace in action, animating and transforming the human will so that we truly count the cost of this road on which we are embarking.  If we have an inkling of a desire to be with Jesus, this glorious friend of sinners, this meek and lowly-of-heart Savior, in Whom we know we have our only hope of finding rest for our souls, if this is the One we would want to come after, and associate with and hang out with and, yes, die unto, then we must now, here and now, not later . . . 

deny
take up
follow

deny ourself
take up our cross
follow Him

deny ourself, dethroning self from the throne of our hearts and gladly making Christ Lord of all the "rooms" of our lives, and therefore denying all kinds of sin, and all kinds of selfishness, denying the sense that I'm in charge.....

take up our cross whatever particular cross that would be that we need to carry ("daily" as Luke's gospel puts it), a cross that means we are willing to die for Christ, if necessary, but also willing to serve Him in every way short of death, whether that simply be "inconvenience" for Christ's sake . . . .

follow Him to the very end, patterning our life closely to His communicable attributes of love, joy, peace,  longsuffering and service, seeking as a disciple to be "like" our Master, so that Christ is "formed" in us. . . . .

Sound like too much for you, tired mother or father, weary husband, lonely single, overwhelmed teen, exhausted wife?

As I reflect on these two verses I am reminded that Jesus elsewhere spoke of what has been called conversion.   

"How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" - Luke 11:13

Asking for the Holy Spirit is not associated with a second blessing, or a special gifting with which we can "show off".  If we ask for the Holy Spirit, we've already been prompted by that Holy Spirit to ask for change, to ask for new life, to ask for salvation in Christ Jesus.  To ask for the Holy Spirit is to be converted and then to experience His ongoing filling presence in our life, so as to be empowered  to deny ourself, take up our cross and follow Jesus.

With affection in Christ Jesus,
Pastor Ned
 
8:47 pm est          Comments

Friday, January 7, 2011

Somewhere It's Snowing
(Note: If you  are a married person, perhaps you may want to read this blog posting together with your spouse, and listen to the song referenced below together.  Just a thought, not a necessity, but a possibility).

Isa 1:18  "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. 

Psa 51:7  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 

Dear Congregation of Redeemer Reformed Presbyterian Church,
In 1993, soon after I had started at Hope Reformed Church in Clifton, NJ, my wife and I found ourselves blanketted with snow on a Sunday morning.   Maybe 2 feet or more had fallen since we retired for the evening on Saturday night, but the elders had no plan to close the church that morning since at least a third of the congregation walked to worship from the local neighborhood.  At the last minute, Lois and I took out a book of songs that Stephanie Boosahda sings, which included, "Somewhere It's Snowing".  We rehearsed it, and sang it together for the congregation as a testimony to how God had forgiven our sins, and was offering that free forgiveness to all those who believe upon our Savior, Jesus.

Right now it's snowing here in Queensbury, and it isn't a Christmas snow, wrapped up in all the White Christmas sentimentality which can distract.  It's simply a New Year's snow.  And the ground which my wife described to her parents yesterday as brown, and barren, and needing some snow . . . well right now, the snowflakes are surrendering to the hardening ground, and it seems like a new place compared to yesterday.   Do you need a fresh start, in this new year?

Here is a version of this song as it is sung by a different artist.....you don't even have to look at the youtube screen video to get the effect, just click on it, turn up the volume on your computer, and listen to this song of God's grace.




May I respectfully ask all who listen to this song, or read the lyrics pasted below, to consider whether or not your life . . . your heart ... could use a snow cover today.   I know I do.  I've been saved, or what we could call "born again" as a believer more than forty years, and I am ever more aware, every day, of MY NEED FOR A DAILY WALK OF CLEANSING.  Having been justified once and for all, I need daily cleansings to maintain a walk of empowered fellowship with my Savior.  A close friend of mine shared this verse with me recently, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:8, 9).  From all unrighteousness.  That allows us to have a fresh start, even after sin.

I plead with you as a pastor to believe God's Word.   To get that fresh start in 2011, regarding anything in the past which you regret as sin, and from which you repent right now.  Believe that cleansing work of God is effective for you.  

And then move on.  That does not mean that you blithely forget your sin as if it had never happened.  It simply means that God forgives and does not hold to your account the guilt of that sin, and that God is prepared to remove shame related to that sin, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." - Rom. 8:1.  Moving on also means, that you take specific steps, to walk away from sin in the fellowship of God's people.  Will you obey God's written Word and accept that Galatians 6:1 is truly a verse applies today ?  That when we in the Body of Christ are overtaken in any trespass, that we are meant to offer, and to receive conversation and relationship that leads to restoration?  Restoration means a return to normal, healthy, friendly Christian relationship, in the church family, as in brothers and sisters in Christ.  "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted."

The people who have helped me the most are the ones who have been uncompromising about Ned's sin, but gently assuring Ned of God's love and of their commitment to bless me and walk with me in a journey of sanctification.  This process began back in my parent's home, it continued in Christian Service Brigade Frontier Camp, it was deepened in TEAM, a high school youth group at a local Baptist church, it was nurtured at Grove City College by roommates who held me accountable (Tom Ertsgaard and Joe Stehle, thank you brothers), and as I stepped into leadership after graduation at Stony Brook School, some fellow teachers and administration gently guided me to steward my gifts and mold my character to be Christ-like.   

But you know, it had only just begun.  It was only after I was married, and after I honored my wife as my discipler-in-chief, that God worked through that relationship to start honing me for effectiveness in ministry at 6th, Hope, 1st, and now Redeemer churches. 

There are many areas where we need forgiveness, a fresh start, an experience of snowfall on our consciences.  Let me just highlight one area that comes to mind as I write about my path of sanctification and how it was deepened in through my marriage to a Christian woman.

Husbands, I urge you not to regard your headship in marriage as a reason to avoid the corrective word that you need from your wives. Behold the example of Abigail and David.  If Abigail, a woman who was not David's wife, was able to speak so effectively and bring such godly counsel to David, (1 Samuel 25:35 - "David received from her hand what she had brought him, and said to her, "Go up in peace to your house.  See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person."), and to help David avoid sin, how much more should we heed the voice and respect the person of our very own wife, who is committed to us in the covenant of marriage.  Believe you me, I have counted the cost in my life for maintaining in Christ's church, the biblical teaching of headship in marriage and in the church, so I would respectfully adjure you, that I feel I have the credibility to say this:  Do not allow headship to derail mutual discipleship in your marriage !!  Read 1 Samuel 25 as an example of a man who listened to and was radically influenced by a woman who would then one day be his wife.

Today, it is my goal to invite you men to experience the grace and forgiveness of God as you come to God pleading for his mercies won for you at the cross, and that you would know some snow cover today.  

"If somewhere someone’s turning, he’s giving his all,
And God’s grace, like the snow, is beginning to fall!"

Men, then walk forward, through that snowfall, hand in hand with your help meet for you, and be sanctified together in Christ Jesus as a couple.

In Christian love, 
Pastor Ned

Somewhere It's Snowing - written by David Stearman Hayes
I once read in a poem, 
when snow covers the earth,
That it hides the worlds scars, 
and gives nature new birth,
And they say when a man turns from sin to the Lord,
That forgiveness, like snow, covers him evermore!

And somewhere it’s snowing – 
see the soft drifting down
As the snowflakes surrender 
to the hardening ground.
Like the good grace of Jesus 
that now covers our sin,
In the kingdom of Heaven, 
it’s snowing, again.

Now, I’ve heard that the angels 
lift their hearts and rejoice,
When one traveler turns homeward 
from his ways, to the Lord.
If somewhere someone’s turning, he’s giving his all,
And God’s grace, like the snow, is beginning to fall!

And somewhere it’s snowing – 
see the soft drifting down
As the snowflakes surrender 
to the hardening ground.
Like the good grace of Jesus, 
that now covers our sin,
In the kingdom of Heaven, 
it’s snowing, again.
5:32 pm est          Comments

Monday, December 6, 2010

Connections at Christmas
Dear Congregation,
I was thankful yesterday to preach and lead communion at our nearest sister congregation in the PCA, Hope Church (PCA), Ballston Spa.  Elder Eldrid Page joined me in worshipping there, and I was so happy to return after worship there and share in delightful food of a different kind back here at Redeemer - - our fellowship luncheon.  Rev.  Michael Alford preached and led communion here for us as we served our sister congregation by providing pulpit supply for them in their hour of need with Pastor Kip Slawter still hospitalized.  Kip opened up the service with a call to worship and prayer of invocation via Skype on the internet.  Pray for Pastor Kip and his healing and continued strengthening as he can move some of both his right and left hands to some degree now !

These connections in the Body of Christ distinguish us as a covenantal church body, where elders (both ruling and teaching) are accountable to God through ministrations of brother elders . . . . this is the "presbyterian" in our name.  A brother pastor, Kip Slawter, who blessed us by preaching my installation sermon in December of 2009, is now having the pulpit in a sister church where he had preached supplied by me, and a senior emeritus pastor of our presbytery, Mike Alford, blesses our congregation in turn.  We are a connectional church. Don't take this for granted.  It speaks to a biblical reality.

When Paul addresses the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 it includes these words:(vv. 28-32) 
Act 20:28  Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 
Act 20:29  For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 
Act 20:30  Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 
Act 20:31  Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. 
Act 20:32  "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 

Elders are meant to take heed to "yourselves", and to the church family over whom the Holy Spirit has made us overseers.  Elders like Jack Merry, Eldrid Page, Ralph Kelsey, Kirk Phillips, myself and Charlie Holliday are meant to oversee one another in a local congregation and to oversee the spiritual growth of the whole congregation.  But this oversight and caring is not limited geographically.  We see that reality when a Jerusalem council is called in Acts 15 to decide matters of importance that could not be dealt with locally. The authority is that of the apostles in Jerusalem, the same authority which is appealed to in presbytery meetings by recourse to sola scriptura,  the Word of truth given to us by the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20).  To be reformed is to be re-formed and reshaped by the Word of God, the Bible, and the church is blessed by elders who are called to preach from the Bible and who are called to rule by the Bible.

This mutual encouragement among congregations which we saw in play this weekend flows from the New Testament testimony, and I am glad to be part of it.  I hope you are also !

You are invited stop by sometime between 4 and 7 this Saturday at 47 Hidden Hills Drive, Queensbury, between Sherman Ave. and Dixon. (To get there turn in on Oak Tree off of Sherman near the Dome,  take a quick right on Maple and then a quick left on Hidden Hills Drive to find our house down on the left hand side.)  Just bring yourself, your voice to sing carols, your appetite, your desire to "connect" to bless one another by your friendship in Christ.  You have blessed us this year !  Children and the Teen-zone will be down stairs and EVERYONE will be invited up to sing together when we rejoice through singing carols in praise of our Savior Jesus !

Rehearsal for the Christmas pageant is Saturday at 9:30 a.m., with performance at 4 p.m. on Sunday, the 12th.  Thanks to the ladies and men doing so much to make that happen !

Candlelight service at 7 p.m. on the 24th.

I want to share with you that some of the planning done at our February Deacons, Elders and Wives Retreat bore fruit tonight.  At that time it was mentioned by someone that we should provide special welcome baskets to our nearest new neighbors on the cul de sac behind our property.  Last week Kim Guinther took the lead and Jo Burl and Melissa Beilstein collaborated in helping to put together five lovely baskets filled with holiday goodies.  Today, Lois, Johnny and I introduced ourselves to three brand new residents in our neighborhood, and left a fourth basket in the front door of the house closest to our field along with a New Testament (ESV) and Christmas tract.

Please pray for a family that had one member of the family request that everyone in that family would worship Christ together.  

Please pray for a neighbor with a  Public Works Worker and hairdresser in the household.

Please pray for a woman who gave Lois a big hug as we were leaving !

Please pray for a neighbor who renovated a neglected home and has produced a beauty of a residence.

How about you?  Is there some relationship or situation that you need to give over to God which you have neglected recently?  Do you have a personal faith connection to Christ, relying on God's deed of incarnation, faithful obedience, crucifixion, resurrection and the ascension of Christ, to make beautiful what is hurting and broken right now?

Hebrews 12:1, 2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith . . . .   
He will make perfect and beautiful our faith, over time. Trust Him to show us the beautiful in the midst of the painful.  A sister challenged me to do that today.  Fix your eyes on Jesus !

Some of the witnesses which surround us are the church triumphant in heaven.....some are the church militant still serving Christ here on earth.  Let our connection to Christ be inspired and encouraged by our consideration of their walk with him.  When we see connections among Christians at Christmas - - IN OTHER WORDS WHEN SOMEONE IS A WITNESS OR TESTIMONY OF CHRIST'S LOVE IN OUR LIFE - -  let that inspire us to a closer walk (A FIXING OF OUR EYES UPON JESUS) with the One who holds it all together, CHRIST !

Sincerely,
Ned Suffern
9:03 pm est          Comments

Friday, November 19, 2010

Give Thanks
Dear Congregation

We are thankful because the God who created the entirety of the universe has condescended to seek relationship with humanity by means of covenant.  When we abandoned His first covenant arrangement (what theologians call a covenant of works) and fell into sin, eating of the forbidden fruit, being unfaithful to his Creator, God the Father established a covenant of grace with His Son, that the Son would go to earth and fulfill all righteousness through perfect obedience and faithfulness to His Father, then proffering his life as a substitutionary atonement for our sin, effectually calling His people into a renewed covenant of grace, offering us salvation freely, that which is received by faith.

Please be thankful and hide in your hearts the verses of the month for October and November !

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,
for it is the power of God to salvation
for everyone who believes,
for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed
from faith to faith;
as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
Romans 1:16, 17

We ARE thankful.  (Or we should be.)

Come, be a thankful people by coming to worship the Lord this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.  Sunday School at 9:30 for all ages.  Discovery class at 9:30 a.m.   The focus this Sunday, and the focus on Wednesday at our annual Thanksgiving Eve Service of Prayer and Singing is  . . .  giving THANKS to the ONE who loves us, cares for us, knows all about our problems, knows all about the problems we are not even aware of, and also is there for us through it all.

We thank God for outreach ministries to the neighborhood and to our boys and girls this evening, at Pioneer Girls and Stockade, 7 p.m.

We thank God for the ministry of RRPC at Stanton Nursing Home.  Howdy Pilgrim !  (Ask brother Chuck about that one !)  Yes we are all pilgrims when we're Christians, it's not just the Plymouth Rock people who get that name. "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through".  We seek to be kingdom people who honor God and bless His creation, but we can't do that deeply and significantly and lastingly if we think that this creation is all there is.  There is a New Heaven and a New Earth in our future as believers.

With love to you all in Christ,
Pastor Ned

9:52 am est          Comments

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Blood of the Martyrs . . .
A Moment with Your Pastor - In Memoriam: Dr. Tom  Little
Dear Congregation,
I write with a heart both over joyed with the love of God displayed in the gospel, and deeply saddened by news you will find in the links below.

Last Sunday I preached on the lamp that was brought (Mark 4:21)  - - that is Jesus Christ, who has come into the world to save sinners - - and how this lamp was to shine, not being placed under a basket or under a bed.  Dear servants of the cross, Dr. Tom Little and Libby Little, associated with the First Presbyterian Church (PCA) of Schenectady have been reflectors of Christ's light for decades with a medical ministry caring for eyes in dangerous parts of the world like Afghanistan.  We rejoice at their faithfulness. Mrs. Libby Little shared their ministry here at RRPC on a Saturday morning one time with Mrs. Claudia Bell dressing up in traditional Afghan Burkha to show how covered up the women are there.

Now we learn that Tom Little has been murdered by the Taliban, returning from one of his medical ministry trips.  Great is his reward in heaven. (Matthew 5:12).  We mourn his passing. (See details on links pasted at bottom from Mr. Clint West)

Mat 5:10  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Mat 5:11  "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 
Mat 5:12  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 
Mat 5:13  "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 
Mat 5:14  "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 

About two years ago, Lois and I mourned the passing of Rev. and Mrs. Arif and Kathy Khan who were murdered in Pakistan because of their Christian convcitions.  Arif and Kathy had encouraged me and Lois in our younger, beginning years of ministry.  Now ones close to you have paid the martyr's price for the sake of Christ.

We are called to keep the light of Jesus uncovered in the world in which we live.  When we do that, we are "the light of the world" reflecting his light which has already come into our world through the incarnation in space and time 2000 years ago.  I call you to shine as Tom Little shined in Afghanistan.

As I have walked through the West End of Queensbury - -  the state streets that we so merrily whiz by when going down Luzerne or Corinth Roads toward Route 87  - - as I have visited scores of homes, and have been welcomed into just a few - -I have been amazed at not just the poverty, but
also the darkness of these streets.  Jesus is needed here.   The light is needed here.  I could give examples, but I shall refrain.

Most of the nineteen registrants for the soccer camp come from the West End.  Please pray for next year's Soccer Camp Directors, Dr. and Mrs. Eric and Lynn Piesnikowski, Deacon Mark Beilstein, Elder Kirk Phillips, Mr. Stu Guinther, and Miss Kelsey Beilstein who will be coaching.  I am directing, an acquaintance in Christ is Head Coach, and Mrs. Lois Suffern and Mrs. Melissa Beilstein are serving refreshments.  Chris De Young is serving supper on Monday at 5:30 p.m., Please pray that we would uncover the lamp and shine for Jesus.

We probably won't be murdered.  Let us be grateful that we can serve him.  Let us be as passionate about shining for Jesus here as Tom Little was in Afghanistan.

Pastor Ned


Hello again Pastor Ned.
I am sending you the websites for the latest news on Tom and Libby Little.
Please see the following websites:

http://www.timesunion.com/living/article/Aid-giver-feared-slain-606756.php

and 

http://www.emaxhealth.com/1506/christian-medical-missionaries-attacked-and-killed-afghanistan

and

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38604010/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/

The Lord Jesus Christ Bless the Libby family and comfort them in their time of sorrow.
God bless you Pastor Ned.
God bless your wife Lois, and your children, Kate, Rachel, Johanna, and John.
Clint

5:28 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, May 16, 2010

His Name
Dear Congregation,
Recall our verse of the month,

But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that believing you may have life in His name.
John 20:31

Life in His name.

I am writing this from the home of my mother's first cousin, Mintie Shugarts, married to Ron Shugarts, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, home of the world famous Punxsutawney Phil who looks for his shadow every February 2nd.  It is the town where my mother was raised in the faith of Jesus Christ by an entrepreneur father, William Allison Gibson, and a nurse trained at Temple University in Philadelphia, Hannah Mary Maud Moore Gibson.  William Allison Gibson ran the Standard Pennant Factory which produced college pennants and athletic letters for varsity athletes across the east coast. With all the names flying around, you can tell that I and my forebears like names, viz, Edward William Bertholf Suffern.  

Names point to things for me, the Kathryn in  Kate's first name, has that particular spelling because a dear cousin on my father's side bears that name.  Gayle is after Lois's middle name Gail, but with a "y" to match the "y" in Kathryn, meant to be two flowing loops below the line when writing her signature in cursive.  Her second middle name, Kooistra, is Lois' maiden name, because Lois' influence is just as important as mine in helping Kate become the woman of God we are thankful she is becoming,as we rejoice that she is now a graduate in history and music from Grove City College.  Suffern speaks to the fact that I am her father, and head of the family of which she is part, and she will bear that "last" name until she joins in marriage, Lord willing, to a godly husband.

But the wonderful, liberating reality of faith in Christ, is that we have life in His name, not ours.   ". . . Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you may have life in his name."

As forgiven people, we can walk in a new life of relationship with God, since "Jesus" saves his people from their sins - Matthew 1:21   Believing in his name assures us that no matter what we have done, no matter what we have left undone, we find forgiveness through His sacrifice at the cross.

As a people expecting the "Christ" (promised One), we can rest in a life thanking God for actually sending Jesus in the flesh, Jesus who was and is, very God of very God, the "Son of God", begotten, not made - Colossians 1:19 - For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.    God invaded human history by taking on our flesh.  All the fullness of God, not a sub-creature, but instead the pleroma, the fullness of absolute deity, in the flesh was Christ's.  God withheld nothing of Himself to live His life out among us, showing us what it is to be truly human in the way that God created humanity to be in the Garden of Eden.  And it is into His image that we are being conformed day by day (Romans 8:29), so that over time, as we are sanctified, we can live richer and deeper lives.

Belief in Christ, belief in the promised One, means that we look for the second coming of Christ.  We expect the promised One to come.  Our present life is lived in expectation, that this life on earth is not all that there is, but we expect a "savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" -Philippians 3:20 - A SAVIOR FROM WHERE? FROM HEAVEN!    The end time reality of a coming Savior, continuously, powerfully, leads us forward with hope in his arrival, no matter what is happening in our lives now.  As you face various situations in your life take heart !

It doesn't matter what your name is.  The ground is level at the foot of the cross.  It is through believing in His name that we live life to the full !

Please pray for Elder Eldrid Page who was afflicted with pancreatitis, and is presently at Glens Falls Hospital.

We're back home late tonight, Lord willing.

In His Name,
Pastor Ned
10:02 am edt          Comments

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dunkirk recidivus
Dear Congregation,
God was so good to the Suffern family over the past six days and the
past six months.  For more than six months I enjoyed 21 Helen Drive,
first as the beneficiary of Marilyn and Jack's healthy cooking and
eating, complete with packed lunches "for the road", and then the last
four months, living there with my family as Lois made a home for us as
we enjoyed the hospitality of Jack and Marilyn's house when they were
down south.   The closing process was a "crunch", two full months from
contract to closing, but God brought us through, and we are thankful
for Jack and Marilyn's encouragement that the carpets be cleaned and
painting would be done at the new house before we moved into 47 Hidden
Hills Drive, Queensbury, New York 12804.  Thank you Elder Jack and
Marilyn !

A band of dynamic painters(brushing and rolling !), cleaners, chain
sawers, rakers, hedge trimmers, sweepers, power washers, "go - fers",
Wall Street Journal Window Washers, rug shampooers, sap and paint
scrapers, gutter cleaners, branch haulers, and hand truck suppliers
has swept through 47 Hidden Hills Drive, and has spruced it up
significantly. Our real estate agent from Prudential Manor Homes,
Scott Newell even dropped by with his wife to scrub the back deck, and
yesterday afternoon he was here again to help us move some heavy items
like a refridgerator and freezer.

At one point on Friday morning, a "fleet" of four small trailers was
moving our belongings out of the two storage units that had been
filled with furniture last October and November by willing volunteers
back then.  Many small loads, many hands, much continuous,
uninterrupted movement, all in the right direction nearly emptied the
units. That's what Dunkirk looked like in MAY of 1940, exactly seventy
years ago as the beaches of Dunkirk France were emptied of the British
Expeditionary and French troops massed there before they were ferried
across the English Channel to safety.

http://www.ramsgatelifeboat.org.uk/dunkirk-evacuation.htm

(There's a great movie I'd recommend to you to rent sometime that I
studied in England for an British film course at the University of
East Anglia.   The Academy Award winning movie is called Mrs. Miniver
and it stars Greer Garson and includes the evacuation at Dunkirk.)

There were young sailors and old who helped cross the English channel,
and our moving team from Big Boom Road to Hidden hills included those
from four to nearly eighty.

Thank you to one and all who helped us prepare the house. Amazing work
accomplished in the area of painting - - so neat and professional, and
in the areas of moving, no accidents and no damage to anything that
was moved. The place smells clean and  looks clean.  I feel like I can
look through the windows to see pine trees that seem close enough to
smell.  Thanks to the women who walked with Lois through every aspect
of the moving process, the men who inspired me, and the children and
teens who have blessed our daughter and son.

And as the rain pours down today, with everything safely inside, I am
so thankful for the excellent weather we had yesterday.

Thank you for everyone for your prayers, and thank you to those who
provided delicious food through the week, and muscle, words of
encouragement and a smile.  Several people arrived in shifts
throughout the afternoon who provided a much-needed "boost" to the
moving effort.

We received strength from God.  "Do not sorrow, for the joy of the
Lord is your strength" - Nehemiah 8:10

We have a baby shower to go today, my niece's first expectation of
motherhood.  Tomorrow's morning sermon will be on how mothers make
disciples.

See you soon, either tomorrow, or through the summer sometime.   Lois
and I, Johanna and John and Kate and Rachel from a distance, are
thankful for the RRPC church family
In Christ,
Pastor Ned
10:18 am edt          Comments

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hope in the LORD now and forever
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I was blessed when I received an e-mail last evening from our sister Lynn Piesnikowski who tells me every two weeks what Bible verse she is planning on posting up on the illuminated church sign.  I am glad that her focus is putting biblical truth before our eyes and the eyes of those who pass by, along with the occasional program announcement.  The verse she is using this week is Psalm 131:3, "Put your hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore".  
This text, and the entire Psalm spoke to me, because our family needs to hope in the Lord for our situation now, trying to get into the house at 47 Hidden Hills, walking with our daughters and son through the academic transitions and challenges of growing up, and like all of you, dealing
with the intricacies of living life as we 
work, 
play, 
converse, 
labor in the home, 
labor in the yard, 
deal with medical problems, 
labor for the Lord in the spread of His kingdom!

Now is the time to hope in God for His gracious purpose and plan to work out in our lives, for the development of our character in Christ-likeness, for the blessing of all creation, for the spread of gospel of salvation through Christ.

The context of verse three arrested me.  Verse 1 (ESV), "O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high, I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me."  The footnote in the Reformation Study Bible helped me unpack this: "The first verse has a threefold denial of pride in the heart, in the eyes, and in actions".   So often my inability to hope in the Lord "now", is because my pride of heart, eyes and actions tempt me to think too highly of myself.  On the one hand, I live like "I can handle this."  Or I might have an attitude that "I am above this."  Or, "I don't deserve this."  That is pride.   I am not above situations of difficulty in life. We are but unprofitable servants, to use the words of Jesus.  God specifically allows rain of blessing and showers of affliction to fall on both the just and the unjust, to crucify our pride and build dependency on Him.  And I say that recognizing that each of us has done just and unjust things in the last year.   We cannot call ourselves uniformly just, just because we're believers in Christ!

If verse 1 challenged me, verse 2 comforts me.  "But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me."  Lois noticed that when the children went onto pureed or other types of food more solid than milk, that the children slept longer, more contentedly, more peacefully.   When she had been feeding them entirely with milk, occasionally they would awake, or look at her with frantic gestures and sudden cries, as if to say, I'm so hungry it hurts !  But when weaned, the hunger crept up more slowly, and there was relative calm and quiet.   I think as we get older, and have walked a while with the Lord, and have the solid food of the word - Hebrews 5:12,13 - it helps us cope, be quiet, be peaceful with our God.  When the pain comes, when the hunger hits, we've learned that our God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory, and though it may hurt now, "joy cometh in the morning".   This does not mean we are not supposed to share our pain with fellow Christians as God allows that.  We are to bear one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2).  But it does mean we are to quiet and calm our souls before God.

Thank you for reading these reflections, and I am aware that many of you face worse than us. Hurt relationships, wandering children, sickness, sadness.  These are the ills that flesh is heir to. In particular, I am thankful for the quiet spirit of Elder Jack and Marilyn who have provided their home to us, even while Jack fights Parkinson's, and they are now are at their son, John's, second home at Paradox Lake for a while.  They have been most kind, and reassuring of us, and we will be moving out soon, as we move toward a closing soon, one way or another.   But the point is, many of you could teach me volumes about Psalm 131.  

Let's live in the hope of the Lord, now.  Please pray that we get a "clear to close" statement from the lender today.  

I didn't even talk about hope forevermore (Psalm 131:3) !   Alleluia, eternity with our Savior in heaven !
Pastor Ned

8:35 am edt          Comments

2013.07.01 | 2013.04.01 | 2012.09.01 | 2012.03.01 | 2012.01.01 | 2011.10.01 | 2011.07.01 | 2011.06.01 | 2011.04.01 | 2011.03.01 | 2011.02.01 | 2011.01.01 | 2010.12.01 | 2010.11.01 | 2010.08.01 | 2010.05.01 | 2010.04.01 | 2010.03.01 | 2010.02.01 | 2010.01.01

Link to web log's RSS file

Redeemer Reformed Presbyterian Church
548 Luzerne Road * Queensbury * NY * 12804 * 518-798-9794