Perception or Discernment

Thanks for visiting our web-site. We also invite you to view our other web-site Ray of Hope Ministries On-Line Bible Study www.rohmbible.wordpress.com

We have also published the book shown below in the form of an e–book. We invite you to read, copy, or down-load it free at this  web-site:  

       http://www.pastorrayhopesfulfilled.wordpress.com/home

              HOPES FULFILLED

                  A Spiritual Autobiography

                             

     How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes

         of an ordinary guy from Jersey City

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Today’s post is by my friend and partner in minstry, Patty Perez. This post is based on a sermon she recently preached at our church (Vincentown United Methodist Church).

Ray

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Perception or Discernment

Read Romans 12:1-8, I Peter 1:13

Perception is a powerful thing. So many of our actions are determined by how we perceive things based on what we think we feel, hear or see. However, our perception of actual events, words, and even people can often be entirely wrong. Perception means “to be aware of things through our senses”. Basically, what we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel, is taken in with the mind. But sometimes our senses might tell our mind something that just isn’t true. We must understand that any time the senses are involved there is potential for error. If our mind, based on what our senses have perceived, is telling us we can or cannot do something because of what we feel or what we think we see or hear, we are essentially limiting ourselves based on our perceptions. Unfortunately, this can lead us to make some poor decisions as to what to do and say as we go through life.

As I began to put this message together I found my very first sermon, written more than 10 years ago. As I reflected on what I wrote back then I noted that my emphasis was on Romans 12:4-5 : “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body”. Verse 6 goes on to say: We have different gifts, according to the grace given to us”.

For years, I have reflected on how this scripture, written by Paul, uses the concept of the human body to teach us how Christians should live and work together. Just as the parts of the body function under the direction of the brain, so Christians are to work together as parts of the body of Christ under the command and authority of Jesus. Through the years, my perception of my own gifts and how I am to use them in conjunction with other believers has often been challenged. My perception of the church quite often determined my thoughts, my words, and my actions. However, as I prepared this message, I realized that there has been a shift in my thinking, based on Romans 12:2, which precedes the verses I focused on in my old sermon. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove that what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God”.

I still see how important it is for the members of the church to work together as the body of Christ. However, now I understand that in order for that to happen, there must first be the renewal of the mind of each individual, so my will is in accordance with God’s will. As humans, we are not naturally or instinctively godly in our thinking. All too often, we allow our minds to be conformed to the pattern of this world and we act on our perception of things. Many times our hearts are dull to the things of God and our hearing and seeing is therefore distorted. We often experience mistaken perception because we do not see things through the eyes of God (discernment) but rather through our own human eyes (perception).

Perception, by definition, means we receive something from the outside. Essentially things pass from the senses through the mind and then into our heart. Discernment, on the other hand, is revealed by the Holy Spirit into the heart and then passes on to the mind. So how do we renew our minds so that we live first by discernment of God’s will?

In essence, we have to eliminate the influences in our lives that move us toward worldly thinking. Most importantly, we have to surrender our minds to God through prayer, meditation, time for reading and studying His word, and through Godly relationships. Through these things, God can begin washing away the worldly conformity and deformity, and present us as transformed minds more in the likeness of His Son Jesus Christ.

When we surrender, we start to build a relationship with God. We must hear and heed God’s voice so that our perceptions cannot cause our mind and heart to be corrupted, tainted, hardened, and unused. I have realized that being the body of Christ is more than coming together to do good works. When we have a relationship with Christ, the Holy Spirit will renew, reeducate and redirect our minds from simply doing our will, to discerning, accepting, and doing God’s will. Then and only then can we be be sure that we are being effective with our good works.

God gives us gifts so we can build up His church, and as a result, participate with Him in changing the world.  But to use these gifts  effectively we must realize that all gifts and abilities come from God. We must understand that not everyone has the same gifts. We must know who we are and what we do best.

If we don’t know who we are and what we do best, we need to find out. How do we do that?  One important step is to take a spiritual gifts assessment. Also be aware that when you do something you love, it never feels like a job. Most important is to bear in mind that your ultimate purpose is to dedicate your gifts wholeheartedly to God’s service and not your personal success.

Remember, God doesn’t call those who  are “qualified”. God” qualifies” those who He calls. When we say yes to His calling, He renews, reeducates and redirects our lives. God has good, pleasing and perfect plans for everyone. He wants us all to be transformed people with renewed minds, living to honor and obey Him. Not because He is boss, but because He loves us and only wants what is best for us. God takes ordinary people and transforms them into extraordinary servants. Look at Moses, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Billy Graham, to name only a few, who started out as just ordinary people, like most of us. Consider how God used them to change the world for the better. God can and will do the same with and for you, if you allow Him to renew and transform your mind, so that you can discern and not simply perceive his plans an purposes for you.

I see now why Paul instructs us to renew our minds and build a relationship with God before he suggests we come together and do God’s work. I need to allow God’s treasure to fill my heart and mind before I sign up for the job. All too often, as Christians, we forsake the relationship and go straight into attempts at good works. That was my focus 10 years ago.

The downside to this approach is that the things of the world – like TV, work, sports, school, etc. take priority in our lives, instead of the plans and purposes God has for us. As we grow older we find ourselves getting burned out, yet still trying to do the work of the church. We do things we are not gifted at because no one else will do them. Or worse yet, we do nothing at all because we don’t know what to do. Perhaps the perception is that someone else will do it if I don’t. The truth of the matter is that we often perceive ourselves in one or more of these scenarios.

We need to ask ourselves if the works of the church are being done by perception through our senses and feelings or through discernment of God’s will for us. God wants us to offer ourselves, as living sacrifices by laying aside our own daily desires and ailments, putting all our energy and resources at His disposal and trusting Him to guide us to and through every aspect of our lives, including our works in His church.

Jesus prayed that we all might be one, as the Father and He are one. He wants the same love God has for Himself to be in each of us. When this love is in us, we are drawn to each other with a common mission. The walls fall down. Our independent spirits are broken. Competition is destroyed. Satan’s accusations are knocked down. Our love for each other becomes obvious to the world around us. Lost souls begin to seek this love that is so foreign to them. Our work in the church, the community, and the world becomes meaningful, strengthened, and effective by our unity. That’s what happens when you invite God to transform your life through the renewal of your mind, and you live by  discernment of God’s will, rather than the perception of your senses.

Remember this. If you are hoping for something, and you perceive through our senses, how to fulfill those hopes, that hope might never be fulfilled. The good news is that if you discern God’s will as to how to fulfill that hope, you can be sure that in God’s time and God’s way, it will be fulfilled. That’s the basic message that Ray and I try to convey through Ray of Hope Ministries on this web-site.

Peace and Love, Patty Perez

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Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.

May God be with you,

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

Posted in Bible, Change, Discernment, Faith, God, God's grace, God's Will, Hope, Inspiration, Life Style, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Clear Out The Clutter In Your Life

Thanks for visiting our web-site. We also invite you to view our other web-site Ray of Hope Ministries On-Line Bible Study www.rohmbible.wordpress.com

We have also published the book shown below in the form of an e–book. We invite you to read, copy, or down-load it free at this  web-site:  

       http://www.pastorrayhopesfulfilled.wordpress.com/home

              HOPES FULFILLED

                  A Spiritual Autobiography

                             

     How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes

         of an ordinary guy from Jersey City

—————————————————————————————————————————–

Clear Out the Clutter in Your Life

When I’m faced with having to make a decision about an overwhelming situation in my life, I know I should ask “What would Jesus do?” However, sometimes the specific situation I’m facing didn’t exist when Jesus walked in this world. One such situation is “information overload”. Like most Americans, I am faced with all kinds of information from all kinds of sources and media – TV, newspapers and magazines, the mail, and especially the internet. It comes whether I want it or not.

For as long as I can remember I felt that I must read everything that comes into my hands. Most of it might be useless, but it might contain something that could be useful. If not now, then some day in the future. I’d have to read it all in order to sort that out. There was a time when the amount of information and the time needed to read it all was in balance. But eventually things got out of hand. There was too much information and too little time. The way I dealt with that reality was that I saved and put aside a lot of this information, to be read when I could find the time. But I rarely found the time. Much of it I skimmed through, and then saved it, since it looked like it might come in handy some day.

About 17 years ago, when I was serving as a pastor, the evidence of this was a pile of  unread church-related reference material, mostly clipped from magazines over the years. Then there were two cartons full of stuff that might come in handy in my ministry some day, and I was about to start filling a third carton. Some of it had traveled with me as I lived in three different home over about 25 years.

While I did refer to some of that material over the years, eventually I accepted that in my life-time I would never be able to get through all of that stuff I had saved, let alone all that was still coming my way. Yet I still held on to it all, and continued to add to it, believing it would still come in handy some day. And hoping that I would find the time to read it all. But that hope was never fulfilled. As a result, my life became cluttered with a lot of bits and pieces of information that might come in handy someday.

I could have asked what Jesus would do about this situation, but I realized that Jesus didn’t have to deal with information overload. There is nothing in the Bible about Jesus dealing with that issue. But then I wondered if Jesus might have some general principle  that I could apply to my situation. I knew that while Jesus didn’t have to deal with a lot of the realities of our present age, there were some principles that could be applied and adapted to many situations, including the matter of information overload and the resulting clutter in my life. So there was hope where there at first seemed to be no hope of a clutter free life.

As I read the gospels I noticed that while Jesus was never faced with information overload, he was faced with “people” overload. No matter where he went, he was faced with people coming to him in order to berate and condemn him or to heal them and make them feel good. He could have let himself become overwhelmed by the needs and attitudes of all the people, but that never happened.

So what did Jesus do? He always kept in touch with God through prayer. As a result he always knew God’s will for him. He always knew how to proceed. He always acted accordingly. He never lost sight of his reason for living in this world – to proclaim the kingdom of God and to go to Jerusalem to die on the cross – for the eternal salvation of all people. That was what he hoped for. And by trusting that God would make it all possible, he proceeded with this ministry in this world, which only only lasted three years. Not much time. But enough time to do what he came to do. Despite all kinds of threats, interruptions and distractions, he never had any clutter accumulating in his life.

Once I realized how Jesus avoided living with clutter in his life, I realized what I had to do. The first thing was to discern God’s will for me concerning this matter of information overload clutter in my life. More specifically, I came to have a clearer understanding as to how to conduct my ministry as a pastor. Some changes needed to be made in terms of my hopes, the use of my time, and how to proceed. Very specifically, I understood that God was telling me I didn’t have to have information overload in my life. I needed to rely on him, and not on those cartons full of information, in order to fulfill my hopes for effective ministry.

For starters, this meant throwing out those cartons and their contents. Which I did. When I moved to my next church, and another home, none of that stuff came with me. But then I began to fall into that same old pattern. Giving in to information overload. saving stuff to be read later and might come in handy some day. Not having time to get to it. Before too long I had another carton full of that stuff. And again I got with God, and got the same insight I received before. Listen to God’s direction as to my ministry. Trust God to assure that my hopes for effective ministry would be fulfilled. Get rid of the that carton of stuff that might come in handy some day. A few more years went by, and the carton was getting full. But finally, last month, I did what God kept reminding me I had to do. I dumped all that stuff in the recycling can, where it belonged.

As is often the case, there is good news and there is bad news.  The bad news is that the devil is still tempting me to open myself again to start a new carton of information overload. The good news is that I’m not giving in to that. I’m continuing to clear out the clutter in all aspects of my life and making sure that it never returns. I hope that I will continue to be successful in that endeavor. And I believe that hope is being fulfilled. Because I know it is God’s will and I know that it is the answer to the question “what would  Jesus do?” Jesus always made sure that he kept his life clear of clutter. If you are dealing with information overload, or anything that tends to overwhelm you, I urge you to seek God’s direction as to how to clear out the clutter of your life. It is working for me.

Grace and peace,  Ray

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Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.

May God be with you,

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

Posted in Bible, Clutter, Discernment, God, God's grace, God's Will, Good News, Hope, Life Style, Our Stuff, Prayer, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In the Midst of Bad News, Always Look for Signs of Good News

Thanks for visiting our web-site. We also invite you to view our other web-site Ray of Hope Ministries On-Line Bible Study www.rohmbible.wordpress.com

We have also published the book shown below in the form of an e–book. We invite you to read, copy, or down-load it free at this  web-site:  

       http://www.pastorrayhopesfulfilled.wordpress.com/home

              HOPES FULFILLED

                  A Spiritual Autobiography

                             

     How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes

         of an ordinary guy from Jersey City

—————————————————————————————————————————–

In the Midst of Bad News, Look For Signs of Good News 

We are living in a time when it seems that there is nothing but bad news. Just listening to the first five minutes of the latest newscast can give you the feeling that everything is hopeless. But on the other hand, I’m noticing that more and more, the newscasts, are ending with some good news. Often it’s about people helping other people who are in difficult situations, even though they don’t even know the ones they are helping. They just know it’s the right thing to do. Hearing those brief news reports can reassure us that there is hope when there seems to be none. There is good news in the midst of the bad news.

I am reminded of something that happened ten years ago about this time of year. Something that happened in our little town of Southampton (also known as Vincentown) New Jersey. The news media doesn’t come to our town very often. In fact, in the 16 years I have lived in this town it’s the only time I can remember when the news media came to town. I’m sure that was because our hopes for good news day by day were being fulfilled. So there was no reason for the news media to come to our town. However, one night we experienced some really bad news. In fact, not just our town, but all of the surrounding towns.

There was a really bad rain storm that night, which resulted in some very bad flooding. Nothing like the flooding we are seeing these days in some part of the USA. But serious enough to disrupt the lives of local families, businesses, and organizations, including churches. At the time I was the pastor of Vincentown United Methodist Church, which fortunately for us, was not affected by the flood. However, a few blocks away, there was serious flooding, which seriously damaged a neighboring church, Trinity Episcopal Church. Fortunately, their insurance covered most of the cost of repairs, but the church facility was not usable for many months. Our church immediately invited them to use our church for their Sunday worship services and some other activities, until they were able to get back into their own facilities. They accepted our offer.

As I said, the news media never came to our town, because we never experienced anything which could really be considered bad news. Until this event which was being called “The Thousand Year Flood”. The day after the flood a TV reporter from one of the Philadelphia stations turned up at our church, which was sitting high and dry, while not too far away the flood waters were still there. She interviewed me, since I was the pastor, for about 15 minutes. for the most part, the interview focused on the bad news and apparent hopelessness of the situation. However, at one point she asked me why I thought nearby Trinity Episcopal Church was severely damaged and our church experienced no damage at all. I sensed that this might be a question calculated to cause me to blame God for everything. So I said that I didn’t know what God had in mind concerning all of this. Then it came to me. I said, “I believe we were saved from damage so we could be available to help those who were not as fortunate”,

That night I happened to catch the segment of the news about the flood in Vincentown. Most of the report was, as expected, about the bad news. Out of my 15 minute interview they showed just a 10 second clip. It was the comment I quoted above. It was the right ten seconds, not because it was from me, but because God inspired me to give some good news in the midst of the bad news. And God inspired the TV news people, whether they realized it or not, to finish all the bad news and hopelessness concerning the flood, with a message of good news and hope. Good news. That’s what Jesus proclaimed 2,000 years ago, and that’s what the church, known as the Body of Christ, is called to share with a world too often focused on bad news and hopelessness.

I am thankful that for the most part, the news media are being inspired to search for and report good news in the midst of bad news, which helps all of us to face the future with hope instead of hopelessness. I invite you to do the same, always look for good news in the midst of bad news.

Grace and peace,  Ray

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Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.

May God be with you,

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

Posted in Bad News, Faith, God, Good News, Hope, Inspiration, Life Style, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Manhattan Skyline – God’s Message of Hope and Good News

Thanks for visiting our web-site. We also invite you to view our other web-site Ray of Hope Ministries On-Line Bible Study www.rohmbible.wordpress.com

We have also published the book shown below in the form of an e–book. We invite you to read, copy, or down-load it free at this  web-site:  

       http://www.pastorrayhopesfulfilled.wordpress.com/home

              HOPES FULFILLED

                  A Spiritual Autobiography

                             

     How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes

         of an ordinary guy from Jersey City

—————————————————————————————————————————–

The Manhattan Skyline – God’s Message of Hope and Good News 

As the sub-title of my book (see above) says, I’m from Jersey City, but for the last 40 years I have lived in suburban locations in New Jersey. However, I have always looked forward to times when I could go back and visit the city. It might sound strange to you, but one reason I like to visit the city is to experience the presence of God. Of course, I can and do experience the presence of God wherever I happen to be, but I am especially aware of his presence when I’m in the city.

I’m writing this blog on September 8, 2014. I’m remembering that one of my visits to the city took place exactly 13 years ago – September 8, 2001. On that day I was in the city of Hoboken, a city adjacent to Jersey City. It’s where Frank Sinatra was born and raised. Where there was (and maybe still is) this famous restaurant called the Clam Broth House. Around lunch time on that day I was sitting on a park bench, looking across the Hudson River at the downtown Manhattan skyline, where I used to work. There were people and sounds all around me, but I had this sense of peace – of being alone with God.

I thought about how things change. The park in which I was sitting was not that long ago  a steamship pier, through which I used to ship industrial equipment when I was in the export business. I knew that the skyline across the river had changed a number of times over the past few centuries, even since the day I last worked there 27 years  earlier.  The skyscraper in which I worked, 165 Broadway Building, was no more. Other buildings in downtown Manhattan were also gone. Primarily to make way for the new World Trade Center complex. I realized that some day the skyline, which at that time was dominated by those World Trade Center twin towers, would change again, but certainly not in my lifetime.

I have always found it difficult to comprehend how human beings visualized, planned, and built that complex, beautiful, but practical skyline that I contemplated that day. And how the most diverse population in the world could actually work together  in peace in those buildings, despite differences in religion, race, and ethnic and national origin.

That’s when God reminded me that while this all seemed to be the work of human minds and hands, it was really his creation, using God-given natural and human resources. I still can’t comprehend it all, so I’m content to believe that all that was and is beautiful across the river was one big piece of evidence that “God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good”. That’s the way it was as I experienced the presence of God on September 8, 2001.

Then there was September 11. Early on that morning I was back home in Southampton,NJ. bemost unbelievable. Right before our eyes, the lower Manhattan skyline, which I viewed only three days before, and was sure would last well beyond my time in this world, was being broken and destroyed. As were the lives of thousands of innocent people. I couldn’t comprehend how human beings could use the mental, physical, and even spiritual capability God had given them, to do such an evil thing.

As we approach September 11, the 13th anniversary of that evil act (now known as Patriot Day) I still can’t comprehend that. But one thing I can comprehend is this: Jesus loves me, and you – all of us – and that nothing  – absolutely nothing – can separate us from that love. Whenver I see the downtown Manhattan skyline, I am reassured that God gives us the hope we need to get us through these and future difficult times.

About a year ago my daughter and I spent the day in Downtown Manhattan. We took a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, from which we had a really good view of the latest version of the Manhattan skyline, which now includes a new World Trade Center. As always, God, using human and natural resources, has created something which is once again complex and beautiful, but practical. This is a reminder that despite all the bad news in the world these days, there is always good news. When things seem to be hopeless, there is always hope.Yes, I can comprehend that “God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good.”

Grace and peace, Ray

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Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.

May God be with you,

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

Posted in 9/11 Patriots Day, God, Good News, Hope, Jersey City, Life Style, Love, Manhattan Skyline, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Stand Out From the Crowd

Thanks for visiting our web-site. We also invite you to view our other web-site Ray of Hope Ministries On-Line Bible Study www.rohmbible.wordpress.com

We have also published the book shown below in the form of an e–book. We invite you to read, copy, or down-load it free at this  web-site:  

       http://www.pastorrayhopesfulfilled.wordpress.com/home

              HOPES FULFILLED

                  A Spiritual Autobiography

                             

     How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes

         of an ordinary guy from Jersey City

—————————————————————————————————————————– Stand Out From the Crowd

When I first moved to the area in which I now live (Southern New Jersey) to serve as a pastor, sometimes I would be talking with people who I met for the first time, they would say to me, “you’re not from around here, are you?”. I would reply “No, I’m originally from Jersey City”. Then the inevitable response was, “I knew it. I could tell by your North Jersey accent.” I was well aware that Jersey City didn’t have a good reputation in the eyes of many people (graft, corrupt politics, mayors doing prison time, etc.). I wondered if that might negatively color the views that people might have of me.

One day, after going through that conversation a good number of times, I began to think that maybe this was something I had in common with Jesus. In the Bible I read about how people in and around Jerusalem said about Jesus,”Can anything good come from Nazareth”? (Jesus’ hometown). The implied answer being “Not really, so don’t listen to him”

The Bible doesn’t say that Jesus had an accent, but I think he did. The Bible does say that on the night when Jesus was arrested, interrogated and tortured, before he was executed the next day, someone said to his disciple Peter, “Certainly you are one of them (disciples of Jesus), for your accent betrays you” (Matthew 26:73). Jesus came from the same general area as Peter so he must have had the same accent, and therefore, the same problem. The problem being that his accent made him stand out from the crowd. I thought that maybe, if Jesus talked like the rest of the people in and around Jerusalem, he wouldn’t have gotten into so much trouble.

Of course, I knew that it really wasn’t Jesus’ accent that got him into trouble. It wasn’t how he said it, but what he said and did that got him into trouble. Remember how he was always calling the religious authorities “hypocrites” and how he caused a great commotion  in the temple? (an act of civil disobedience?) So maybe I, like many people who today think of themselves as faithful Christians, actually have more in common with Peter, who tried to blend into the crowd.

Like Peter, many of us today don’t like to stand out from the crowd. However, whether we like it or not, God created us to stand out from from the crowd in the same way that Jesus did. Not according to our place of origin, or how we sound or look, but according to how we use our faith to intentionally stand out from the crowd with our words and deeds. With our life-style. God wants to use us to show the crowd how to live the life-style of Jesus. To show other individuals and the crowd how God created us all to live.

The bad news is that much of the time there seems to be little hope that we will be able to live and reflect the life-style of Jesus. A life-style which has love at its heart. So all too often we don’t even try. On the other hand, there is always good news. No matter what things look like, there is always hope for all of us, individually and collectively. On that night when Peter denied that he even knew Jesus, things looked hopeless. But there was hope. A little over a month later, God used Peter as the instrument who would lead thousands of people to open their hearts and minds to invite Jesus into their lives through the Holy Spirit (Acts 2).

On that day there was good news in the midst if bad news. Hope was fulfilled when there seemed to be no hope. That is what always happens, in God’s time and God’s ways, when that which is hoped for is in accordance with God’s plans and purposes. It doesn’t matter where you come from, or where you are now. It doesn’t matter what you look or sound like. What matters is that you discern God’s will for you, say “yes” to whatever that is, and use the grace God gives you to proceed as God directs. Then leave the results to God. In so doing, you will be following in the footsteps of Peter, who God created to stand out from, not blend in with, the crowd.

 

Grace and peace, Ray

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.

May God be with you,

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

Posted in Bible, Faith, God, Good News, Hope, Jersey City, Life Style, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Life is Like a Jig-saw Puzzle

Thanks for visiting this web-site. We also invite you to view our other web-site Ray of Hope Ministries On-Line Bible Study www.rohmbible.wordpress.com

Recently we published the book shown below in the form of an e–book. We invite you to read, copy, or down-load it free at this  web-site:  

       http://www.pastorrayhopesfulfilled.wordpress.com/home

              HOPES FULFILLED

                  A Spiritual Autobiography

                             

     How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes

         of an ordinary guy from Jersey City

—————————————————————————————————————————–

Life is Like a Jig-saw Puzzle

In my home I have a number of items that remind me of my childhood years. For example, there is wooden bookcase that I built in my shop class in P.S.24 in Jersey City. Whenever I look at that bookcase I am reminded of my shop teacher, Mr.Buchanan. I don’t remember what he taught us about using tools. I do remember that each student was assigned a work bench which contained a drawer which held a basic set of carpentry tools. Mr. Buchanan taught us that each student’s tools had to be organized in the drawer in such a way that each one was placed in a precise spot in the drawer.

Before we left for our next class each drawer was inspected by Mr.Buchanan. If anything was out of place he reminded us of the importance of being organized. The message seemed to be that if you hoped to accomplish something with your tools in the time available (like building a bookcase),then you couldn’t waste time searching through an unorganized drawer for a particular tool. You had to be able to put your hands on that tool without searching for it.

A few years later, when I joined the Navy, one of the first rules we had to follow in boot camp was to organize our clothing and the few personal belongings we were allowed to have, in a very precise manner in our lockers, or there would be some sort of punishment dealt out. Every locker was inspected by the Company Commander every day. I remember being caught a few times with one or two pieces of clothing not properly stowed. That didn’t go well at all. The message was the same, if you hope to achieve your goal in the Navy, which for me was to get done with boot camp and get on with serving as a Navy musician, then you had better learn to be well organized.

I’m sure that hearing this message, intentionally or by implication, about fulfillment of hopes through organization, made an impression on me.  I say that because in my adult years I became a highly organized person. Sometimes people would joke about my extreme organization efforts. A friend of mine used to refer to me as the most organized person on the East Coast. My daughter used to say that I organized things so well that they got lost in the complexity of my organizational system. And my wife once observed that if someone disorganized my desk (like borrowing my stapler and not putting it back in the exact same spot, I tended to be less than pastoral. On the other hand, during my service as a pastor, I did receive a few serious compliments for being so organized.

I am thankful that God inspired me in various ways to be a highly organized person. I believe God knew that as the years went by, I would need to be highly organized in order to see my hopes fulfilled in terms of my formal education in college and seminary, as well engaging in volunteer service in and through the church, family responsibilities, and employment in the export shipping business, non-profit public relations, running my own business, and serving as a pastor. There was also that year of unemployment, which required some organization in order to find a job.  As I was writing my spiritual autobiography HOPES FULFILLED (mentioned above) I realized that my life was like a jig-saw puzzle which I believe was constantly being organized by God.

Then in 2010 I became fully retired, with the understanding that I was not simply retiring from employment, but retiring to something new. One of the first things I did was to  develop a list of things to do in retirement. That was easy. But then I had to organize all those things to do. This meant putting together a new jig-saw puzzle. The problem was that the pieces of this new puzzle just were not fitting together.  Some would not fit into the puzzle at all. I asked God for some guidance, and gradually, I began to sense God’s message for me in my new situation.

One of the ways God’s spoke to me was through the writing of my book. As I reviewed my life I realized that being highly organized had served me well during most of my adult life. But, as the title of an old song goes – Things Ain’t What They Used To Be. To put it another way – things change as times change. In various ways God was helping me see that being too organized might not be such a good thing in my new and changed situation. Being  organized often meant being rigid – doing the same thing in the same way. Sometimes that was necessary. But being too organized meant I was less likely to listen for and hear the voice and direction of the Holy Spirit. Organizational systems and structures can become a substitute for the Holy Spirit. Just follow the long established system or procedure and everything will be just fine. It used to work that way for me. But it wasn’t working that way anymore.

My new situation was and still is that, for the first time in my life, no one was telling me what to do, and when, where, or how to do it. That meant that my highly organized system for getting things done had to change. It meant allowing more time to listen to the Holy  Spirit. It meant asking more often “What would Jesus do?”  It meant depending on God, rather than my organizational systems, structures, and schedules, to do the work that God has given me to do in my retirement years. It means that every day I have to seek God’s direction, listen for his response, say yes to him, and use the grace he gives me to do whatever he tells me to do. As long as I do that and my hopes are in accordance with God’s will for me, then God will see to it that my hopes are fulfilled, in God’s time and God’s way.

For more on this subject, please read my free e-book, as described at the top of this post.

Grace and peace, Ray

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Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.

May God be with you,

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

Posted in Change, Discernment, Faith, God, God's grace, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Hope, Life Style, Listening, Navy, Organization, Spiritual Autobiography, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

God Uses Ordinary People to Fulfill the Hopes of Other Ordinary People

Thanks for visiting this web-site. We also invite you to view our other web-site Ray of Hope Ministries On-Line Bible Study www.rohmbible.wordpress.com

Recently we published the book shown below in the form of an e–book. We invite you to read, copy, or down-load it free at this  web-site:  

       http://www.pastorrayhopesfulfilled.wordpress.com/home

              HOPES FULFILLED

                  A Spiritual Autobiography

                             

     How God fulfilled the faith-based hopes

         of an ordinary guy from Jersey City

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                             God Uses Ordinary People

            to Fulfill the Hopes of Other Ordinary People

In my pre-teen years, when  I was growing up in Jersey City, I totally relied on my parents to provide me with everything I needed and wanted, alonvg with money I received as  birthday and Christmas gifts from my close relatives. So during those years I never thought about having a job to earn money. However, the time came when I wanted some things my mother wasn’t willing to buy for me. Nothing all that expensive, but some things that would cause my mother to say to me “money doesn’t grow on trees”. A bottle of soda from the candy store around the corner now and then was okay, but a soda every day was something else.

When I was older I realized that my parents had experienced the Great Depression of the 1930s, when people had to save every last penny that they could. However, in my childhood years I continued to ask my mother for money to buy those extra sodas and other things like that. Each time I hoped she would relent and give me what I saw was just a few cents that I needed. But as far as I could see, my hopes were not being fulfilled. At the time I didn’t see that God might have been using my mother to teach me a lesson about the difference between hope and wishful thinking. It would take another 50 years or so for me to realize that.

Anyway, when I was about 11 or 12 years old my mother came up with an idea to deal with my “need” for more money than she was willing to give me. She gave me a job. My job was to do some house cleaning. Every time I dusted or vacuumed in a room, or washed the dishes, or did some other routine household chore, she would pay me what she thought was fair for that particular chore. I don’t remember that the pay was very much, but it was enough to assure that some of my hopes for the money I wanted were being fulfilled. Again, I didn’t ever consider that God might have been involved in this, or what would happen next.

When I turned 13 my mother’s brother, my Uncle Bill (Wiliam J.Ochs,Jr.), who owned an electrical contracting business, hired me for a part time after school job to do some routine cleaning in his shop and store and wash his trucks every week. For this I received a salary. It wasn’t much, but enough to get more of those little things that I felt I must have. More of my hopes were being fulfilled. But again, I didn’t see God involved in any of this.

I was still only age 13 when I entered Lincoln High School. Now I began to want some things that were beyond what I could buy with the pay from my part-time job.  And I noted that my new best friend also had apart-time job, and he was being paid a lot more than I was. So I wanted a job like that. But to have that kind of job you had to have “working papers” from the city authorities, and to do that you had to be at least 14 years old, as was my friend. Today I realize that God chose that time and situation to help me learn about the need for patience when it comes to your hopes being fulfilled.

Soon after I turned 14 I got my working papers and an after school job (including a half day Saturday).which I had already been promised by Ralph Underwood, who operated the corner drug store which bore his name, on the corner of West Side and Lexington Avenues, about a block away from my home. The job included cleaning the store and sometimes waiting on customers, but the primary purpose was to deliver prescriptions to customers.

Just before I was hired, the first minimum wage law took effect. I believe the minimum wage at that time was set at one dollar an hour, which told me that I would be paid about 15 dollars a week. However, I quickly learned that I wasn’t going to be paid that amount. It turned out that the minimum wage didn’t apply to small businesses like Mr. Underwood’s. I believe I ended up with 75 cents an hour, or about 11 dollars a week plus tips, which probably brought the average total to about $15 per week. It immediately enabled me to have some of those things I saw as needed over the past few years. My hopes were being fulfilled, but still – I didn’t see that God was in any way involved.

I kept that job for the next three years, until a few months before I enlisted in the U.S.Navy, which was my first full-time job. I don’t recall anything much about working in that job as the delivery boy. For the most part it was very routine. Except for one thing that has remained in my memory for over 50 years.

I found that the usual tip for a delivery of a prescription to someone’s home was 25 centswas 25 cents (this was in the 1950s). Occasionally, the tip would be 50cents or even a dollar. However, at the other extreme, there was one elderly lady who I delivered to at least once a week. She always thanked me profusely and let me know how happy she was to give me this nickel tip. At first I resented that she was so “cheap”. But then I realized that, like so many Americans, including my own family, she had  also experienced hard times during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when a nickel was probably a generous tip. And, like myself today, she probably found it difficult to imagine that inflation had significantly increased tips for delivery boys, along with the items being delivered. I’m sure she really did believe that she was giving me a generous tip.

I also came to realize something else about this lady. She always invited me to have a seat in her kitchen. Then she would tell me about things which didn’t really mean much to me. She would tell me the same things over and over again. At first, this bothered me because it was taking up a lot of time, which made it difficult to get to other customers before my usual quitting time. So I would end up working late. But then, just as I came to accept the idea that she honestly thought she was being generous with the nickel tip, I came to understand that there was a reason that I ended up always sitting in her kitchen and listening to her talk for an extended period of time.

I realized that she experienced my delivery as a personal home visit. More and more, it sounded like my time with her was the highlight of of her life for the week. She was a very lonely person. So I came to see my presence with her, not as an inconvenience to be endured, but as the right thing to do. And many years later, when I began to understand how God often works with through, and for people, I realized that every day that elderly woman must have been hoping that someone would pay her a visit. I don’t know if she prayed about this, but now I know that God knew what she was hoping for, and that her hope for a visit was part of God’s will for her, and while I didn’t know it at the time, God was using this ordinary teenage kid to fulfill the hopes of this little old ordinary woman. At the same time, again unknown to her or me at the time, God was using this woman to fulfill my yet to be formed hope that God would use me to participate in fulfilling his will, his plans , and his purposes.

There are a lot of things about how God works in peoples lives that we don’t know as he is doing his work. But at the same time, I now do know without a doubt, from my own experience and that of others, that God uses ordinary people like you and me to fulfill the hopes of other ordinary people likeyou and me, in his time and in his way.

Grace and peace, Ray

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Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.

May God be with you,

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

Posted in Faith, God, God's Will, Hope, Inspiration, Jersey City, Life Style, Love, Uncategorized | Leave a comment