This Sunday Dennis Reiter will be coming to speak at St. Paul???s.?? Dennis has ministered in Connecticut and New England for thirty seven years.?? For nineteen years he was the pastor of Storrs Community Church.?? For the last twelve years he has been Associate Pastor of Baptist Fellowship in Columbia, CT.
Dennis has also ministered to many churches with his Peacemaker ministry (as a certified Christian conciliator).?? And he has ministered to many churches by leading them through a Solemn Assembly.
Dennis will be talking about what a Solemn Assembly is on Sunday.?? And we???ll be doing on together next September.?? Spoiler alert:?? A Solemn Assembly is a time of corporate repentance and rededication.?? And come the fall it will be time to put the past behind us as we pursue our new mission and vision together.
By Emma Liddle
I have a confession to make. I have this attitude that is very un-Christian, and I can’t shake it. It’s something I’m not supposed to think. It’s something that, at its core, seems to go against the very essence of what Christianity is all about:
I don’t think people change.
Here’s the thing: there is a lot of evidence out there to support this idea. People are disappointing. They sin. They fail. They hurt other people. They are self-defeating. They make the same mistakes over and over again.
Proverbs brings this up, so I’m not alone (or unbiblical) in this case: “Just as a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly,” although I’d replace “fool” with “just about everyone.” And at least you can train a dog to behave. People, not so much.
I can also come to this conclusion about myself just by looking at my own habits and failings.
This is discouraging on a couple levels: it’s a poor outlook on humanity, and it’s a poor outlook on potential self-improvement.
I think some of this comes from my own cynical or glass-half-empty tendencies. But I also think some of this comes from the brand of Christianity I learned in other churches I went to growing up.
Salvation through Christ looked something like this: Bad Sinner + Jesus = Instant Perfect Person. And while we are new creations in Christ, and while miracles do happen, it can be discouraging for a person to be told: “Wait, what? You still struggle with such-and-such problem? Hm. That shouldn’t be happening. I mean, hello: You’re a Christian… right?”
Because the thing is, it’s true that people don’t change.
And in a way, this isn’t all that un-Christian to think. Maybe it’s very Christian. We are helpless to change ourselves. We weren’t designed that way. Resolve can only go so far. Resolutions can only accomplish so much. Even if it were still in fashion, self-flagellation wouldn’t get the results.
Because people don’t change. God changes people.
Instead of “change,” a better word might be “growth.” We all physically grow, without even trying. Even when we stop growing in height, we continue to grow old. It goes on without us. Unfortunately, spiritual growth can become stagnant. We can be stunted, or we might never start growing at all. But when we become Christians, we start a growth process.
Like all growth, though, things happen that can interrupt the process. Poor sunlight, insects, slugs, and caterpillars, weeds, a dry spell: all these things can throw a wrench into the works. We live in a broken and fallen world, and we are bound to have baggage and damage to contend with, despite a hope and new life in Christ. The trouble comes when we think we are capable of promoting this growth ourselves. We aren’t.
But as it turns out, Christ and his followers are awesome gardeners. Jesus wants us to grow, and a healthy church wants its attendees to grow. Growth is a source of joy and hope. And it is possible.
This is the first post in a series focused on growth. And while it didn’t play very specifically in this blog entry, this series was inspired by the book How People Grow by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.
By Ruth Hartunian-Alumbaugh
My friend and I were visiting this lavish household. We were transporting a mattress for a bed on a bicycle and pedaling up a hill. We were invited in to this lavish house nearby, left, and came back because of some bad conditions outside. I am not sure I can clearly remember what the bad conditions outside were!
We left the gathering because it was getting dark. We had to descend a steep, craggy rock face to get to the road. At the road, was a car with the driver door open and parked funny. Someone was in it, monitoring our moves. We pushed and pedaled our bike as hard as we could because we felt uncomfortable with him watching us. He was also talking into a phone/communication device as we moved.
We pushed and pushed; he followed us. Then, he captured us and took us to this beach house association. As we stood before a crowd there, I said, “This is God’s will for us!” My friend looked at me incredulously and said, “I don’t think so!”
We were both scared. But we were surprised when the gathering became a surprise party, complete with gourmet foods! I remember hugging John Lennon, thanking him for the event! I was so grateful to him. I remember eating Chinese noodles, too!
Can’t remember more than that…
The account above is one of many dreams that I thought I would use to introduce myself. I also thought it would get your attention. I hope it worked!
Perhaps you’ll be interested to know that I am going to blog once in a while for St. Paul’s. Through this, we’ll take a little time to get to know one another. Through this, you will learn that my dreams are pretty strange, that I have a sense of humor, and that I like to be creative.
More importantly, I hope to provide an occasional installation here that will open doors and windows for what God has for you and me. It may look a little “strange” at times. Maybe even shocking or crazy. But please don’t size me up by what my dreams are like: I really love the Lord with all my heart! I believe He speaks in mysterious ways, but also that He is very clear in how He does that!
My take-away from this dream? I think the God-of-the-Universe knew I needed a good laugh!