God Bless America

In a few days, Americans will again celebrate Memorial Day. This is one of a number of patriotic holidays Americans celebrate every year. On days such as this we usually find ourselves singing and listening to patriotic songs, especially the song written by a Russian immigrant named Irving Berlin. The one called God Bless America. When I was serving as a United Methodist Church pastor, I made sure that we sang that song on the Sunday before Memorial Day. One year I heard someone say something implying that Christians had no business singing that song in church. She said that song was an arrogant statement of American patriotism. Instead of focusing on God, our focus was on were not focusing on America. 

I thought about what was being said. I wondered if it what she said was really true. Was our focus on the nation instead of on God? The more I thought about it, the more I had to agree that it was true sometimes for some people. including myself.  Yes, God Bless America is often sung and spoken more out of pride in the nation than as a prayer directed to God. As a result I spent some time discussing this with God, so I could understand what it really means for Christian and other Americans to sing the song God Bless America in a religious setting. Here’s the conclusion that came to me.

To begin with, consider what it means to ask God to bless us. What does it mean to be blessed? What is a blessing? All too often we think of a blessing as getting something we want, which we believe is going to make us feel good. If we like the way our lives are going, we are likely to say that God has blessed us. And we might be right, but not necessarily.

To be blessed in the Biblical sense is not simply a matter of God giving us the good life. It s not about how much God gives us. It is about God giving us whatever we need to live in accordance with God’s will and to accept responsibility to live as God intends. God can give us financial riches, but unless we are using them to serve our less fortunate neighbors, we are not blessed. God can give a church beautiful facilities, but unless the people are praying, searching the scriptures, and proclaiming the gospel to the world, that church is not blessed. God can give a nation a wealth of natural and human resources, but unless that nation allows God to use it to demonstrate and maintain the kind of order God intends for the world, it is not blessed.

With that understanding of blessing, let’s consider the meaning  of God Bless America. I don’t know exactly what Irving Berlin had in mind when he wrote the song. But I do believe he understood the Biblical meaning of blessing, as I have explained. He wrote the song in the form of a prayer, directed to God. It is not a statement intended to impress other people with our patriotism. He wrote it during World War I, but it didn’t catch on with the American public until World War II. But I believe it caught on with God from the moment that that three word prayer first crossed God’s mind.

Berlin’s undertanding of blessing was that God will “stand beside her and guide her”. He understood that it was not enough just to ask God to stand beside our nation, giving us the good life. He understood that the nation must turn to God and allow God to guide her.  The implication was and is that God will make it possible for us to follow God’s guidance. . While Berlin didn’t use the word Grace, he was asking God for just that. All the grace we need – everything necessary – for this nation to obediently follow the guidance God gives us.

I can’t be sure, but I believe that when Berlin wrote the song – this prayer – he was asking God to continue doing what he knew God had already been doing. I can’t be sure, but I believe that he believed God had been blessing America, going back to colonial days, to the landing of the Pilgrims, to the voyage of Columbus. I believe he understood that God was giving us all we needed to be the nation God created us to be.

And what was this nation created to be? To be one of those nations which God chose for the awesome responsibility of glorifying God before the world. One of those nations God chose to use to demonstrate, establish, and maintain the kind of order under which God intended the world to live. The nation that understands that while God might call upon it to use military and police powers for God’s puproses, the source of power was and is God, and that power is to be used only under God’s direction.

And what is the nature of that order? I believe Jesus summarizes it for us in the two great commandments – love God and love our neighbor. And the great commission – make disciples of all nations, baptize them, and teach them all that Jesus commanded. This order will not be totally fulfilled until Jesus comes again, when he will fully establish the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Until then there will be all kinds of evil perpetrated in this world. The Bible tells us that God uses nations, their leadership, and governments, to provide for the order that is needed, until Jesus returns. God has been and is now using the USA and other nations for that purpose.

When nations and their governments use the resources – including grace – that God gives them to establish and maintain God’s order, in accordance wth God’s will, then that nation is belessed by God. However, Biblical and other sources of history remind us that, over the past 4,000 years, nations and empires that might have been blessed by God were not.

The problem with those nations, and with some nations today, is that they asked God to bless them, but they didn’t know what it meant to be a nation blessed by God. They thought that to be blessed by God meant to have prosperity, security, power, and control. They refused to hear that God expected them to use all these good things to serve God’s purposes. which in the end would be good for them and their neighbors. They determined to use these resources God had given them to acquire even more of the same, at the expense of, instead of in support of, their neighbors.

Goid has blessed this nation over the past 500 years, and continues to do so. For now, I believe God is reminding us to be careful about how we use statements like”God Bless America”, “In God We Trust”, and “One nation, under God”. That we should not use them merely as expressions of pride in our nation, but then fail to live as though we really do trust in God, or  as one nation under God, without accepting  the awesome responsibility that comes when God does bless America. If we misuse these words, putting the focus on America instead of God, our destiny will be to become just one more nation which lost God’s belessing.

God is reminding us that when we say “in God We Trust” we need to live as thought we really do trust him, When we say “one nation, under God”, we need to live as though we really believe God is in control. When we sing or display the words God Bless America, it should be with the Biblical understanding that God will give us everything  we need- both the resources and the awesome rewponsibilty – that goes with being the nation which God has chosen to speak and act in his name before the world. God is reminding us that if we do that, we will continue to be a nation blessed by God, and God will continue as a blessing to the world. May God always bless America.

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.

You can contact us via e-mail at “pastorray8070@yahoo.com”

 Patty Perez and Ray Gough

———————————————————————————————————–

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

 

Posted in America, Bible, Church, Faith, God's Directions, God's grace, God's Will, Good News, Government, Hope, Irving Berlin, Memorial Day, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Kingdom Of God Will Be Established On Earth As It Is In Heaven At The Right Time – God’s Time

Recently a friend and I attended a church related event. Since I have trouble driving to unfamiliar places at night my friend agreed to drive. The event was to start at 7PM. So we left at 5:30PM, plenty of time to enable us to arrive on time. My friend also told me that she was familiar with the route to our destination.

All was going well until we came to a certain intersection. My friend said that she usually went straight ahead at this intersection, but her pastor usually made a left turn there. I guess the expectation was that it was a shortcut. So we turned left. However, as we continued, my friend said that maybe this wasn’t the right way to our destination. By now it was quite a bit later than the intended 7PM arrival time. My friend was getting upset about our now being in some unknown location on this almost deserted road, so she stopped at a small diner to ask for direction. Essentially, the directions were to get back to the intersection where made that left turn. Now it was almost 7:30PM. Eventually we found ourselves at a location familiar to my friend, and from that point we arrived at our destination without any further problems. We arrived about ten minute to eight, expecting that we must have missed most of the event.  However, when we entered the building where the event was being held, nothing was happening except people talking among themselves. A few minutes later, right about 8PM the event began.

Despite our unplanned “tour of Cape May County”, we had arrived right on time, just at the right time. I thought to myself, maybe this was an example of God intervening to get us to our destination just in time – the right time. Which reminded me of some theology I had been reading over the last few days. It was the distinction between two ancient Greek words concerning two different ways of understanding time. On the one hand there is Chronos time, meaning clock or calendar time, which is what we are most familiar with. When we ask about the time or date of a pending event, we are thinking of Chronos time. In this case, I understood that in Chronos time we were supposed to arrive at 7PM. If we arrived at 8PM we would be very late. On the other hand, there is Kairos time, which does not depend on the clock or calendar. It means “at the right time”. So according to Chronos time we were an hour late. But according to Kairos time we were right on time.

From time to time I mention in this blog, that when I listen to the daily news reports, most of it tends to be bad news – violence, war, poverty, disasters, etc. Some days there is so much bad news that it can seem that all is hopeless. And as a person of Christian faith, I ask “when is this going to end When is this kingdom of God, which I pray for every Sunday, going to be established on earth as it is in heaven?”

Then I am reminded that the answer to that question is in the Bible (Acts 1:1-8). Just before Jesus ascends to heaven, his disciples ask him if this is the time when he (Jesus) will establish this kingdom of God. They are thinkig in Chronos time. They are looking for a date and time. But Jesus tells them it’s not for them to know the hour or date when this will happen. Only God knows. But they will be given some indications that, in God’s time, at the right time, the kingdom of God will be established on earth as it is in heaven.

I believe that Jesus’ response to his disciples is meant for all people, including myself. Just  because I am a retired ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church, God is not going to give me a specific date and time (Chronos time) as to when the kingdom of God will be established on earth as it is in heaven. I have come to believe that this will  not happen instantly There will not be an event that will suddenly fully establish God’s kingdom on earth as in beaven. I believe it weill take place gradually, over an era, a period of many years. There will be signs of the kingdom of God coming on earth as it is in heaven. God will give us signs of good news in the midst of bad news and hope where and when all seems to be hopeless. If we stop, look, and listen to what’s going on in the world, we will be able to see signs that God is in the process of establishing the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. All of this taking place in Kairos time – at just the right time – God’s time.

That’s why I have a plaque given to me by my friend and partner in ministry, Patty Perez, prominently placed in front of my TV set in the living room. Whenever the bad news and hopelessness gets to me my eyes shift to the plaque, which says “A SMALL RAY OF HOPE CHANGES EVERYTHING. That’s why Patty and I established this web site under the name RAY OF HOPE MINISTRIES. We believe that, based on our own experience, and that of others we know or know about, that what God promises, God will do, in God’s time and God’s way.  Not necessarily in Chronos time (specific time and date), but in Kairos time (the right time – God’s time.

I don’t know if God had a hand in getting my friend and I to that event at just the right time (Kairos time), but I do believe that God used that circumstance to remind me that, as a person of faith in God,  I will know when the time comes, whether I am still living on this earth, or in heaven, I will see my hopes for the kingdom of God on earth as in heaven will be fulfilled.

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.

You can contact us via e-mail at “pastorray8070@yahoo.com”

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

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


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Good News – Love of God And Love Of Neighbor Will Prevail

Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-33) in response to a question asked by some religious leaders. They ask Jesus, ” what is the greatest commandment?”. Jesus answers that there are two – “love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself. If you obey these two commandments you will be able to fulfill all others”. Then someone asks, “who is my neighbor?”. This is where Jesus tells the parable of the good Samaritan. Parables are not factual stories. Jesus often uses them to help people understand some point he wants to make, which in this case is the answer to the question “who is my neighbor?”. Jesus then tells the parable and he asks a question. “Who was neighbor to the injured man who needs some help”? The answer is “the one who helps the injured man “. I believe the point Jesus is making is that your neighbor is anyone who is in need of some kind of help, and you have the ability and means of providing at least some of that help. At the same time anyone who gives some kind of help is a neighbor of the one needing that help. In other words, we are all neighbors of each other. Sometimes we need the help of others. Other times someone needs our help. So when we give and receive help, according to God’s will and direction, we are fulfilling the two great commandments – love God and love your neighbor.

As we go through life, we have opportunities to be neighbors to each other, as Jesus explains. We can develop our own parables, but we can also experience and observe some totally factual stories. Here’s an example from my own experience. It’s a two part story, as is the parable of the Good Samaritan. First there are the two people who pass by the injured man. Then there is the man who goes out of his way to care for the injured man. In my story, there are two incidents, which took place about ten years apart.

The first incident took place when I was about ten years old. My best friends and I decided to do something new – ride our two wheeler bikes from our neighborhood in Jersey City to Journal Square – a trip of about two miles. All was well as we started our trip. However, we never made it to our planned destination. About half way there I had a flat tire. So we aborted the rest of the trip. We decided to return home. Obviously, I realized that we would all have to walk our bikes, since mine had a flat tire. But I was mistaken. My “best” friends told me that they would ride home and meet me at my house. I would be walking my bike home all alone. So off they went and I began the long walk home all by myself. I was so upset I began to cry. My friends had deserted me. Eventually I got over what happened. I still considered them to be my friends, but I also learned that you can’t always count on your friends when you are in need.

The second incident took place about eight years later. I was  serving in the U.S. Navy as a musician in the band on the aircraft carrier U.S.S Saratoga, which was sailing in the Mediterranean Sea. One of the ports we stopped at for a few days was the island of Rhodes, Greece. On one of our liberty days a few of my friends in the band and I decided to rent bikes and take a self-guided tour of the island. About half way through our tour it happened. I had a flat tire.

Almost immediately I recalled what had happened the last time I got a flat tire while bike riding with my friends. I remembered how my friends had left me to fend for myself. I assumed that the same thing was going to happen again. So, to avoid the embarrassment of having to be told, “we’ll keep on going, and we’ll see you back at the ship”, I said “you keep on going, and I’ll see you back at the ship”. Then I was taken by surprise. Their response was, “no, we’ll walk back with you now, find a bike repair shop, and then we’ll all continue our tour.” And that’s what we did.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when the response of my friends was to care about and for me. Because after about two years in the Navy, and especially when spending six or more months at a time living in very close quarters day after day, I should have known that friends look out for and care about each other, as did my friends on that day.

As I said. These are true stories. Not a parable. The first story is about how some guys who had been close friends for years turned away from one of their friends when he needed help. That was and still is bad news. It can leave you with a sense of hopelessness. But the second story is about how some guys who had been close friends for only a few months chose to help one of their friends when he needed help. That was and still is good news. It provides a sense that there was and is hope for a future in which love of God and love of neighbor will prevail in this world as in heaven. And for that, I thank God.

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.

You can contact us via e-mail at “pastorray8070@yahoo.com”

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

———————————————————————————————————-

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

Posted in Bible, God, Good News, Hope, Jesus, Life Style, Love, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Whatever You’re Age, God Always Has A Plan And Purpose For Your Life

Jack Benny was a famous and beloved comedian whose radio and TV career  lasted well into the 1960s. By the time I was old enough to hear and watch him on radio and TV, he was in his 60s. On every one of his programs, part of the humor came from his stage reputation of not wanting to appear as or feel old. Someone would comment about his getting older and he would always respond with “Now cut that out. I’m only 39”, which would get a lot of laughs.

During my earlier years, and even today, I have noticed that many people in mid-life react in a similar manner. Basically, they don’t want to appear to others or feel themselves that they are getting older.  I used to wonder if I would have that fear of aging someday. As the years went by I never felt that way, until one day, when I was talking with a teenager at the church I attended, he mentioned that phrase that was often heard in the 1960s from the younger generation, “you can’t trust anyone over 30”. To which I quickly replied, “well, I’m only 28”. However, other than that incident, I never really thought about or worried about my growing older. The same was true as I turned 40, then 50, and even in  my mid-60s, when I applied for social security and retired. I felt no need to worry about or fear my aging. If the old saying “you’re only as old as you feel was true”, then I honestly felt no sense of aging. The same was true, even in my 70s.

I was no longer serving as a pastor, but I was serving as a substitute preacher in my own church and others. I had this list of projects that I didn’t have time to get into when I was a full-time pastor, so I did some praying to discern God’s will for me as to which of the items on that projects list I should embark upon. It didn’t take too long to discern that my primary purpose in retirement was to be a ministry of writing. So with the help and support of my good friend  and partner in ministry, Patty Perez, we started an informal ministry known as Ray of Hope Ministries. We discerned that our  first project would be the blogs you have ben reading, and to begin writing my spiritual autobiography book, which we always mention at the end of our blogs. It took me about a year and a half to complete this book and have it published as a free e-book on WordPress.

All during my first few years of retirement, in my 70s, never once did I find myself worrying about my aging. However, a few months after I completed my book, I  celebrated my 75th birthday. That’s when I did start to face the reality that I was growing older. Mentally, I felt and still feel no different than in earlier years. But I discovered that I was physically” slowing down”. I wasn’t getting much done on my projects list. Actually, I didn’t really have any priorities set. I got into the habit of trying to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that every day, but not spending any consistent time on any one project (except continuing the already established blogs).

I’m just starting to realize that no matter how I feel about my aging, every day I am getting closer and closer to the day when my time in this world will come to an end. Realistically, this means that I am probably never going to finish (or even to start) devoting significant time to all of the items on my projects list.

So now what do I do? Once again, it’s time to do some serious listening to God about what God wants me to be doing next. One of the messages I’m getting is that even though, in retirement, I am almost totally free of commitments to attend meetings or be in one place or another, I still have a responsibility to use my time in accordance with God’s will. Yes, I have slowed down physically, and that will continue. However, despite all the negative realities that come with aging (like arthritis), I have hope. Hope that God still has a purpose for me. Hope that God knows all about how much time and effort will be required of me. And I know my hopes will be fulfilled in the future, because my experience of 75 years has been that when my hopes are in tune with God’s will, God will fulfill those hopes, in God’s time and in God’s way. I believe that is true for all of us.

Grace and peace, Ray

e-mail address: pastorray8070@yahoo.com

———————————————————————————————————–

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.

You can contact us via e-mail at “pastorray8070@yahoo.com”

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

———————————————————————————————————-

 

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

Posted in Aging, Change, Commitment, Discernment, Eternity, Faith, God, God's Directions, God's Will, Good News, Heaven, Hope, Listening, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What Makes Life Worth Living?

Most of the time the news the TV newscasts are mostly about bad news. Although the station I usually watch tries to balance the bad news with some good news. However, this past week the news, both close to home and around the world, seemed to me to be especially bad. I needed something to reassure me that if what I am hoping for is in accordance with God’s will, God will fulfill that hope, in God’s time and God’s way. I needed to hear some good news in the midst of the bad news.

God did not let me down. Yesterday I was sorting through the many books I have acquired over the years. In the process, I came across an item I had no idea was hidden among all those books. Something which, as far as I could remember, I had never seen before. It was a little spiral-bound notebook which appeared to be someone’s personal journal, containing handwritten entries from the 1970s. As far as I can tell, it came into my possession with a lot of other things that were left to me when my mother died. Things that got filed away, to be looked at some day when I had time. The journal entries were written by a woman named Evelyn, who I heard my mother speak favorably of from time to time, and who I believe was a distant cousin who I might have met once, many years ago. Other than that, I knew nothing about her. 

As far as I know, Evelyn was, like my family in general (including me), just a lower middle class person who had no claim to fame or fortune. According to a note written by her husband on the last page of the journal, she died at the age of 49 in 1979. Her journal entries told me that she had experienced good news and bad news in the world and in her life. She lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s, World War II, the Korean War and the Viet Nam war. Despite the bad news during those years, her writing tells me that she was a person with hope, who had faith that God would and did provide good news in the midst of bad news.

Evelyn’s longest journal entry was written in 1974. It was her words in this entry that helped me get past the apparent hoplessness which I was beginning to feel, due to the ever present bad news of the week that was. I thank God for providing me with the hope and good news I needed right then and there, and somehow arranged that at just the right moment, I would discover Evelyn’s journal, which I had no idea existed.

I believe that you might have experienced times (maybe right now) of hopelessness from too much bad news. I felt God inspiring me to share Evelyn’s journal entry with you, in which she answers the question “What Makes Life Worth Living?”

Grace and peace,  Ray

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Evelyn’s Journal Entry

 What makes life worth living? – The Lord God and all his blessings:

Love and friendship

 Soft music – the lovely sound of it

New fallen snow in the evening – the peace and beauty of it

A small child’s innocence

The New England countryside in September – breathtaking

Church bells ringing on Easter morn, promising a resurrection

A newborn colt, trying to stand for the first time on legs that won’t stop shaking

A visit to Yellowstone Park – seeing “Old Faithful”, the great plains, the mountains, the falls, and all of nature’s many contrasts

The first red radish, picked from your very own garden

Getting out on the lake at 4AM and seeing the sun come up over the horizon

Watching a mother bird feed her your

Walking hand in hand with the one you love on a warm Spring evening

Seeing the first crocus pop its head up out of the snow

Hearing the sound of your newborn child cry

Picking wild violets and buttercups in the woods

The aroma of freshly baked bread

The warm feeling you get after you have helped someone in need

Receiving a picture from your little child

Hearing the words “I love you” from those you love

Counting all the stars and looking for the Big Dipper on a clear night

Sitting on the porch in your favorite rocking chair

Listening on a late summer evening to the crickets beating out their messages to distant friends – and frogs croaking to each other

The smell in the air after a summer thunder storm

Hearing the whistle of a train and a fog horn in the night

Watching a bumble bee, buzzing from one lovely flower to another

Kneeling in your garden – the wonderful feel of the earth in your hands as you plant some seeds

Your dog – lovingly wagging his tail and greeting you lovingly, when you return home

The warmth of a handshake

Meeting a new friend – receiving a call or a letter from an old friend

A rainbow

Kneeling in an empty church on a quiet afternoon – thanking God for all the blessings he has granted Americans – freedom, justice and a beautiful land. Freedom to pray in trhe church of our choice. Freedom from hunger and persecution. The right to speak out against injustice, freedom to travel where and when we please. Freedom to read whatever we choose, and to write and to voice our opinion.

Life is Love –Love is God – God is goodness – Goodness is a child – A child is wonder- Wonder is nature –Nature is beauty – Beauty is fleeting

Life is short – Love is forever – Love is God – God is eternity – Eternity is forever.

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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.

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

———————————————————————————————————-

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

Posted in Bad News, Church, Complications of life, Discernment, Eternity, Faith, Freedom, God, Good News, Hope, Life Style, Love, News media, The Good Life, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

God Offers Us An Eternal Inheritance

Before I retired from serving as a full-time United Methodist pastor, I made a list of major projects I wanted to pursue in retirement. One of these major projects was the geneology of my wife (Joan) and myself. My brother and some of Joan’s relatives had already develop family trees, and sent us copies. I found one amazing (to me) revelation about Joan’s family tree. It showed one of her ancestors, Richard Warren, as one of the original Mayflower Pilgrims. Internet and printed sources I checked confirmed that my wife, my son, and my daughter were descendants of this man who came to what is now the United States of America on the Mayflower.

But there was more. I discovered that this man, Richard Warren, was also the ancestor of two presidents of the USA – Ulysses S. Grant and Franklin D. Roosevelt. This meant that my wife, daughter, and son (and now my year old grand-daughter) were distant cousins of these American presidents.

Being the husband and father of people connected with such greatness led me to consider the possibilities. I could contact the descendants of Franklin D. Roosevelt and let them know that their long lost cousins had been found. No doubt they would be eager to meet us. Certainly they would invite us to dinner at their mansion (I assume that the Roosevelts still live in some sort of mansion). They might even leave us an inheritance in their will. Then reality set in. I shouldn’t count on the Roosevelt family inviting the Gough family to dinner or leaving an inheritance.

Reality also is that there is an inheritance we can count on. One which God promised. Here’s one biblical explanation of this inheritance. God, through Christ, “has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14 NRSV

This development doesn’t depend on human ancestry or relationships. It depends on our faith in the work of God in Christ, which has already been accomplished through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and continuing presence  of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. Also, unlike an earthly inheritance, which is limited to the remainder of your lifetime in this world, this inheritance is eternal. That means it never ends. It’s forever. And this inheritance is offered by God to everyone. It is for each one of us to decide whether or not we really want this eternal inheritance, starting here and now, in this world. Something to consider as we go through the season of Lent.

All of this is good news in the midst of bad news. Since it is God’s will that we experience this eternal inheritance that he offers us, we can have hope that it will be fulfilled, in God’s time and God’s 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.

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

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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

Posted in Eternity, Faith, geneology, God's grace, God's Promises, Good News, Heaven, Hope, inheritance, Jesus, Lent, Life Style, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

God Is Never Too Busy To Hear And Answer Our Prayers

Over the years I have heard it said, and I have believed, that God answers prayers about the big things in life (careers, marriage, health, etc.) but does not get involved with the small routine things in life. For example, if you can’t find your car keys, God is not going to be much help to you. To believe otherwise is just wishful thinking on your part. So I haven’t bothered God with the little problems we all experience from time to time. But recently, I discovered that I was wrong.

Let me explain. I get very upset with myself when I can’t find something that I had in my hands the day before. Like my comb. I know I put it in my pants pocket after I combed my hair this morning. But now it’s tomorrow and it’s not there. So I look for it in all the obvious places it might be. On my desk, In the bathroom sink. In the bed room. But it’s not in any of those places. No need to pray that God will help me find it, since God doesn’t get involved in trivial issues like that (so I believed). I’ll just buy a new comb. Then, a few days later, I find my comb in the chair I usually sit in when I’m watching TV or reading. Obviously, my comb had simply slipped out of my pants pocket and onto the chair. So now I know where to look whenever I lose my comb. I don’t have to ask God to get involved in finding it. However, last summer I changed my mind (or God changed my mind).

Here’s what happened. Last summer I attended a college graduation ceremony which was held in a public building  in Philadelphia. I got there and back riding in someone else’s car, and since someone else paid for my lunch, there was no need for me to get out my credit card or driver’s license, which were, along with some other important cards and about $60 in cash, in my wallet, which I always carried in my back pocket. Upon arriving home that afternoon, I emptied all of my pockets to put the contents away where they belonged. Everything was okay, except my wallet, with those important contents, was nowhere to be found.

I immediately began thinking about where it might be. I phoned the facility where the event had taken place, the restaurant where I had lunch, and the driver of the car in which I had traveled. No one had found the wallet. Obviously, while in the crowd at the graduation, someone had somehow stolen the wallet from my back pocket. Since this was not a trivial matter like losing a comb, I prayed, asking God to help me find the wallet. I also asked God to help me get through the ordeal of reporting this apparent theft to the police and the credit card and other organizations whose cards I had in my wallet. That prayer was answered. I  soon received a new credit card and other important cards were replaced and when my credit car bill came about a week later, There were no suspicious charges. I thanked God for helping me get through this ordeal.

The only thing that still concerned me was the loss of that $60 that was in the wallet. As the weeks went by, I was convinced that God was not going to do anything in the way of finding the wallet and its contents, especially the $60. Until, about two months later, I received a phone call from the facility where I was sure my wallet had been stolen. The caller said that she was going through the safe in the lost and found office and found – guess what – a wallet with credit cards and an ID showing my name, address, and phone number. And, to my amazement – $60 in cash. A few days later I picked up the wallet and found that everything was there. Yes, even the $60. God had answered my prayer about finding the wallet.

How the wallet was lost in the first place I don’t know. It probably just slipped out of my back pocket. Some honest guest or employee had found it and sent it to the lost and found office. I don’t know why the wallet apparently sat in the safe for about two months, or why the person at the lost and found office chose to check on the contents of the safe when she did. What I do know, without a doubt, is that God did answer my prayer about finding the wallet, in God’s time (about two months later) and in God’s way (through some honest people who found, saved, and returned the wallet). Since then I have been praying a lot more, asking God to help me find various (trivial) things I have lost or misplaced. And every time, God has answered those prayers. God has fulfilled my hopes about finding those trivial things that I have lost or misplaced. That usually happens about once a week. God is never too busy, and nothing is too trivial.  

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.

Patty Perez and Ray Gough

———————————————————————————————————-

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

 

Posted in Complications of life, Faith, God's Will, Good News, Hope, Life Style, Lost and Found, Prayer, Uncategorized, Worry | Leave a comment