Who’s In Charge, Government or God?

For most of this past year, Americans have been exposed to the candidates who have been running for president and other government offices. We have heard their slogans and assurances that if elected, they will make some great changes in the way our government operate at all levels. As the old song goes, There’ll be some changes made. Every candidate for govenment office assures us in one way or another that if elected, there will be some changes made, and they will make these changes  happen. And why should we believe that they will make these changes happen? They will answer that question in various ways, but ultimately what they want us to believe is that they will be in charge. That the government – their government – will be in charge. And when you are in charge, you can get things done.

That same kind of thinking also exists in many churches. People often complain about the way things are run in their church. So eventually there is a change in leadership. New and open-minded leaders are appointed, hired, or otherwise developed. They promise that the kinds of changes the people want, will be made. If and when the people ask how they can believe this, the answer will be along the lines of “because I will be in charge”.

Whether we are talking about leadership in the church or the secular government, those who say that they will get things done the right way because they are in charge are wrong. They are wrong because they are not in charge. They are not in control.  Too many people, down through the ages, have failed to realize, or simply refused to believe – that neither church nor state is in charge. There is only One who is in charge, and that’s God. Not just any god, but the God Christians know as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

It is now and has always been God’s plan to use both church and state to serve God’s purposes. The church to proclaim God and the order of peace, love, and joy that God desires in and for the world. The state as the means of providing God’s order, until Jesus comes again to fully establish His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Both church and state have sometimes intentionally allowed God to use them for His purposes. At other time they have acted as though they themselves were God. What does that have to do with us? God wants those of us, which means everyone and anyone,who have direct access to God through scripture and prayer, to use the grace He has given us to determine when church or state (which includes their secular and religious leaders), are or aren’t speaking and acting in accordance with Go’s will. If we don’t know the difference, we might find ourselves speaking and acting in ways opposed to God’s will.

During most of this presidential election year, like it or not, we have been exposed to relentless political ads, magazine and newspaper commentaries, debates, news reports, and advice from all kinds of people, including the candidates themselves. I believe that after hearing and seeing all of this, we must keep in mind that there are no perfect candidates. They are all sinners, just like the rest of us. I urge everyone who hasn’t already done so, to ask God to help us discern which candidates for president and other offices are most likely to understand and accept that God is in control. To discern which candidates best realizes that the president of the USA is just one of a number of persons and institutions which God intends to use for the fulfilment of His purposes. To discern which candidates are most likely to turn to God for guidance and direction in the fulfillment of office.

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 hopes 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 me via e-mail at “pastorray8070@gmail.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, Change, Church, Discernment, Election Day, Faith, God, God's Directions, God's grace, God's Will, Government, Life Style, Love, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Some Good Thimgs About Moving

Special notice to our readers! 

Please accept my apology for not posting on our Ray of Hope Ministries web-sites for the past few months. This was the result of the combination of serious health issues experienced by my wife Joan and a move from New Jersey to Florida. We are still dealing with the aftermath of some of this, but we have been hoping and praying that we will be able to overcome this disruption in our lives. I can tell you from personal experience that as I have often said in our Ray of Hope Ministries posts over the past few years – When what you are hoping for is in accordance with God’s will for you, God will assure that those hopes are fulfilled, in God’s time and God’s way. Every day I’m discovering how true this is. Thanks for your faithful support.

Also, please note my new e-mail address  pastorray8070@gmail.com. I will be happy to hear from you.

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Since the day I moved from the Jersey City Medical Center, where I was born in December 1939, I have moved from one house or apartment to another at least ten times, not including the time I spent in the U.S.Navy during 1957-1960. During those Navy hears I can recall at least six more moves from my civilian home to various Navy ships and bases, as well as rented apartments. Except for my first move, from my home in Jersey City to Navy boot camp, I had no problem with those moves. Looking back, I believe the difficulty I had with that first move was that at the young age of 17, I had to leave behind everything that was familiar to me – my family and friends, familiar surroundings, favorite activities,  and what had become my normal way of life. But I quickly adapted to my new way of life in the U.S.Navy.

All the moves which followed over the years took place without much difficulty. Until this most recent move to Florida. Even though this move it was the result of a positive, planned decision, not something I had to do, it turned out to be very difficult. To a great extent that was because only a week before moving day, Joan was diagnosed with a very serious illness, which had to be dealt with immediately. I believe another reason is that our most recent moves were between homes that were only a few miles from each other. So we didn’t have to give up very much. But this time we were moving between locations about 1,500 miles apart. Also, over the years we had accumulated a lot of stuff, and much of it we didn’t want to leave behind. So there was a lot of packing to be done and arrangements to be made for the actual move.There were arrangements to be made for the sale of the property we were leaving. Then there would be a lot of unpacking to be done at our new home, along with notifying many people and organizations of our change of address. I’m still working on that. Then we have had to arrange for a good number of doctors to replace those we left behind. We’re still working on that too.

As I was going through all of this, people asked why we were moving when we didn’t really have to. I asked myself that question. I began to feel like Abraham, when he understood that God wanted him to take his family and possessions and move from his familiar home to a new place that he knew nothing about, and God was planning to use him to accomplish great things in the world. So Abraham did what he understood God wanted him to do, and God’s promise was on it’s way to being fulfilled. Now I don’t make any pretense of being another Abraham. And so far I haven’t heard God speaking to me with words about doing great world-changing things through me. However, I recalled a few other times when I did literally hear God telling me to take some action, in accordance with his will. In those cases, my first response was to say “no” to God, but eventually I said “yes”, and began hoping that what I believed I was hearing from God was going to be fulfilled by God. I was reminded that’s what my spiritual autobiography (Hopes Fulfilled) was about. Seeking and complying with God’s will, hoping that in some small way God would use me to fulfill some of his purposes, believing that God would fulfill those hopes, in God’s way and God’s time.

My experience with God, before, during, and after my service as a United Methodist pastor, has been that it is true that if something is God’s will for you, but whatever that is looks too difficult or even impossible (like becoming a pastor), God would see that my God-based hopes would be fulfilled. So once again, after saying “no” to God, I eventually got over the idea that this move was all one  big mistake, and decided to keep on trying to discern God’s will and plans for me concerning this difficult move. As in years past, when God called for major changes in my life, I believe that God had a will and plans for me as I moved into the future. And now I will seek and apply God’s guidance and direction as to just what those plans are going to be. 

What it comes down to is this. Despite the problems and difficulties I and anyone might face, like moving, there’s always going to be something good in it. Here’s an example that was part of my experience with moving 16 years ago. I had been appointed to leave one church as pastor and become the pastor of another church. At that time, things were going well in my ministry, and I really didn’t want to move. But I had no choice. In the United Methodist Church, when the bishop says says it’s time to move, you move. Eight years later, when I was retiring and planning to serve as a part-time pastor at a small nearby church, I made the following observation. As difficult as moving might be, there are some good things about moving. Primarily, it meant an opportunity to serve God by serving new people in churches new to me.

While I will no longer serve as a pastor, there are many ways that I can serve God by serving more people who are new to me. I can participate in the ministries of churches which are new to me. I have the opportunity to spend time discerning God’s will and plans for me as I move into the future in a place that is new to me, among people who are new to me. I believe that God will be calling upon me to use all that I have learned and experienced in the past, both as a pastor and a lay person, to this new place of ministry. It will take a while for me to discern and say “yes” to God, but one thing I know for sure, is that God will assure that my God-given hopes will be fulfilled, in God’s time and God’s way. One other thing I know for sure is that if you take the time and effort to discern God’s will and plans for you, and you say “yes” to God, God will assure that your hopes toward that end will be fulfilled, in God’s time and God’s way.

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 hopes 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 me via e-mail at “pastorray8070@gmail.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 Change, Church, Complications of life, Discernment, Faith, God, God's Directions, God's grace, God's Promises, God's Will, Good News, Hope, Listening, moving, obedience, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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

———————————————————————————————————–

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

———————————————————————————————————–

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

———————————————————————————————————–

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

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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

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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

                         

     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