Instead Of Asking God To Fix A Problem, Try Asking God “What Should I Do?”

A few days ago, knowing that it would soon  be time to write another post for this blog, I had no idea what I was going to write. Of course, it would have to be something about the subject of hope, since that is the basic purpose of this blog. I thought I might find something in the newspaper that I could use as an example of hope being fulfilled or good news in the midst of bad news. Oh, there was a lot to hope for and a lot of bad news, but nothing that I read really inspired me at the moment. I was hoping that God would give me some inspiration, but I wasn’t hearing anything. So what to do?

Later that day I had to write a letter, using my computer. Nothing important. Just something to get out of the way. So I brought up the list of links on my external hard drive. I clicked on the link that said “letterhead”, which is where I electronically store letters I have issued. This should have taken about five minutes. However, it didn’t work that  way.  Oh, the letter I was looking for was there. But in the middle of the screen, covering the letter was an announcement from Microsoft. I can’t remember exactly what it said, but the basic message was along the lines of  “Microsoft Word has stopped working. We will let you know if we can find a solution”. Not good news, but I had hope that the problem would soon be resolved. So I waited. Nothing happened. I then brought up some other links I had stored on my external hard drive, hoping that the problem was just with that one link. However, every link which I had written with Microsoft Word had the same announcement. This was bad news. Especially since I don’t know a thing about fixing computer problems. But I still had hope that this could be resolved.

I then decided to do a complete check on the status of my computer, using my anti-virus/ malware program, which I have been using for years, and is very reliable. I had the program do everything it was able to do, and it gave me a complete status report on everything in the computer. This took most of the rest of the day. I wasn’t getting anything anything else done. The end result of all this was that there was nothing wrong with the computer. That was good news. The bad news was that the problem was still there, and the diagnostic report showed that “Microsoft Word is not working”. But I still had hope that I could discover how to fix this problem.

I spent most of the next day trying to figure out what I could do to fix my problem. I then remembered that the specific Microsoft Word program I was using was Microsoft 2003. About a week before I had received an e-mail from Microsoft about renewing and updating my program. At the time I decided that I didn’t need to respond to that. I didn’t really need upgrading, and everything was working okay. So I disposed of that e-mail. But now, about a week later, I began thinking that maybe the authorized use of the 2003 program had come to an end and I had to buy the program they were advertising via e-mail. By the end of the day I gave up hoping that I could get the Microsoft 2003 program working again. There was no good news in the midst of the bad news.There was nothing else to do but buy a new program.

After two days of dealing with this problem, with no success, I was beginning to feel guilty that I had given up on it. How could I honestly write in this blog that if what I was hoping for was in accordance with God’s will, then God would fulfill what I was hoping for? Early in the morning of the third day (today)I again prayed about this problem. Instead of asking God to fix it, I simply asked God “what should I do?” And guess what, God answered, reminding me that I still had the CDs which I used to install the Microsoft 2003 program. And there was no reason that I could not reinstall the program with those CDs. If I did that it might just start working again. So that’s what I did. And it worked.

Remember how I said at the top of this blog that I couldn’t find anything to write about? I was hoping for some inspiration from God, but I wasn’t hearing anything. Now as I’m finishing today’s blog I am realizing that this morning God actually fulfilled two of my hopes at the same time. Not only did God fulfill my hope for fixing my computer problem, but God used that incident to fulfill my hope for inspiration as to what to write in today’s blog. I was also reminded that even though God is usually faced with really big issues (war, natural disasters, crime, and all kinds f suffering), God is always available to deal with our much smaller issues (like writing a blog and fixing a computer problem). Also, God fulfills faith-based hopes, not necessarily according to our schedules or expectations, but 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 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 Computers, Discernment, Faith, God, God's Will, Good News, Hope, Inspiration, Listening, Patience, Perseverance, Prayer, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our Hopes + God’s Will = Hopes Fulfilled

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

———————————————————————————————————-

Our Hopes + God’s Will = Hopes Fulfilled

In my book, HOPES FULFILLED, which is described at the top of this post, I have written about some of my experiences in serving as a pastor in United Methodist Churches for 21 years. I am happy to say that, during those years the people of the churches I served accepted and pursued most of the ideas for ministry that I proposed to them. However, that was not always the case. There were times when I tried to convince the lay leadership of the church that we needed to start certain forms of ministry. These were ministries I was sure we could accomplish, but would take some commitment on the part of our people. However, sometimes the initial response to my suggestions ranged from “we can’t do that” to simple lack of interest or enthusiasm. So after a period of apparently failing to convincing anyone in the church to help start and proceed with these ministries, I lost hope and reluctantly forgot about them. Then, after a period of a few weeks to a few months or even years, someone would come to me and, to my joyful surprise, ask “when are we going to begin that ministry you were talking about?”. In one case, one of our new members, who had never even heard one of my proposals, asked me if she could use our facilities for a ministry very similar to one that I had proposed but given up on. Right away she proceeded to successfully organize and conduct the new ministry.

As I was writing my book, remembering all of those times when I had given up hope, only to eventually see those hopes fulfilled, I came to realize what I call the motto of Ray-of- Hope Ministries:

When just one person hope for something, and that something is in accordance with God’s will, God will assure that the hope will be fulfilled, in God’s time and God’s way.

This means that it is important that we, individually and collectively, do our best to seek God’s will in all things, and say yes to whatever we hear from God, and then use all the grace that God gives us, to pursue our part in doing whatever it is that we are hoping for. Then leave the means and the timing of fulfillment, in God’s hands.

Last Sunday I was again reminded of this motto, as the church my wife Joan and I now attend, Vincentown United Methodist Church, which I previously served as pastor for eight years, reluctantly ended its participation in a very effective ministry called Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). When I began serving this church 17 years ago, I suggested that it join a number of other churches in our area who were helping the families  served by IHN. Each of the participating churches took turns providing overnight housing and some meals in their facilities for temporarily homeless families. Each of the participating churches provide this service for one week about every two or three months. Each church would provide a volunteer coordinator and about 35 additional volunteers or so volunteers to actively conduct the ministry.

When I initially proposed that we become one of the participating churches, the church lay leadership made it clear that we could  not be involved in that program. So it became another instance in which I was very disappointed, but  decided it was hopeless to pursue it any further.

A few years later, the church completed a spiritual growth study which was attended by a small number of people, including some who had recently become members. The purpose of the study was to encourage the people of the church to become involved in hands on service ministries for people in need. Shortly after the study ended, one of our newer members, unaware that I had proposed the IHN ministry some years earlier, proposed that we become participants in this program. This time our church leadership and everyone agreed that we should could and should be one of the participating churches. She agreed to be the coordinator. Once again, as in other churches I had served, my hopelessness had turned into a hope fulfilled – in God’s time and God’s way.

Just as these hope was fulfilled, it was time for my formal retirement. As a retired pastor, I then agreed to serve as a part-time pastor at a nearby small church. I served there for four years. After that, Joan and I then began attending the church I had last served as a full-time pastor, where the IHN ministry was still in operation. So I began serving as one of the volunteers who served in that ministry.

I continued to serve in that ministry for the next five years, until about a month ago, when participation by our church came to an end, due to the lack of a sufficient number of volunteers. I was very disappointed that the decision had been made to end our participation. However, I do understand that this was a reluctant decision that really had to be made. Nevertheless, I was very concerned that I heard no talk of finding a new form of ministry that we could realistically participate in.

With this concern on my mind, last Sunday I joined a group of most of the remaining IHN volunteers, for a lunch recognizing the service in this ministry by our church for the past about years. As we were all about to leave, one of the volunteers expressed that she was sorry to see our participation in this program come to an end, but she hoped that the leadership of the church would discover some other essential ministry which could take its place. She was expressing my feelings that we needed to be involved in some kind of community service ministry.

As soon as she mentioned this, the last person to serve as coordinator of our IHN ministry made a statement consisting of just five words. She said “We’re already working on it.” I then spoke up, briefly commenting on how, about 17 years ago, the IHN ministry had been rejected when I suggested it, but a few years later, it had been adopted. And even though I didn’t know anything about this new program that was in the works, someone did know about it and had hopes for ts fulfillment.

Once again, I knew that God was going to assure that whatever our new ministry is going to be,  when just one person hopes for something, and if it is in accordance with God’s will, God will assure that the hope will be fulfilled – in God’s time and God’s way. This means that it is important that we, individually and collectively, do our best to seek God’s will in all things, say “yes” to whatever we hear from God, and then use all the grace that God gives us, to pursue whatever it is that we are hoping for. Then leave the means and the timing of fulfillment, in God’s hands.

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

Posted in Discernment, Faith, God's grace, God's Will, Hope, Patience, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In The Cold Of Winter, Experience The Warmth Of Jesus

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 Cold Of Winter, Experience The Warmth Of Jesus

Some of you know that I can’t stand cold weather. I guess I was spoiled many years ago when the U.S.Navy gave me some free cruises to sunny and warm Mediterranean ports each winter. But most of my life I’ve spent winter in New Jersey,where the weather is cold, cloudy, and snowy. According to the calendar winter has just ended. Now it’s spring. The problem is that except for one day last week, it still feels like winter. It’s cold out there. And when I woke up this morning there was a coating of snow on the ground.

It seems that winter doesn’t want to leave this part of the world. So I’m praying that God will give me the patience to wait for warm spring weather. I’m also getting ready for Easter Sunday, April 5. On that day the weather might still feel like winter, but the message of Easter is that there is something I never have to wait for. And that is the warm presence of Jesus. The same warm presence that those two people felt on the first Easter on the road to Emmaus. You can read about it in the Bible (Luke 24:32a), where one of them says, “…
Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road?”

Those who don’t know better might think those two were saying that Jesus gave them heartburn. But of course they are talking about that warm feeling that comes when you experience the presence of Jesus, who is present with us through the Holy Spirit, who is visualized at Pentecost as “…tongues of fire…” (Acts 2:3). Get near a fire and you get to feel physically warm. Get near Jesus and you get to feel spiritually warm.

Yes, I’m patiently waiting for warm weather. But at the same time I’m also thanking God for the resurrection of Jesus and the opportunity to experience the warmth off Jesus’ presence through the Holy Spirit. I’m also thanking God for giving me the opportunity to share the warmth of Jesus to you and  others, close by and anywhere in the world, anytime, regardless of what the weather happens to be.

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

Posted in Bible, Easter, God, Patience, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Day I Heard God Speak To Me – March 14,1965)

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 Day God Spoke To Me –  March 14, 1965

During the past few weeks Americans, and probably people from many other nations, were reminded through the news media that it was exactly 50 years ago, March 7, 1965, that the nation and the world observed what has come to be known as “Bloody Sunday”, in Selma, Alabama. It was the day that a peaceful civil rights protest, in the form of a march to Montgomery was met with and terminated with extreme violence by the local police, officials and many others. A week later the March did take place and eventually the voting rights act, which assured that all Americans had the right to vote, was passed by the congress and president of the USA.

As I listened to the news reporters talking about this event last week, I remembered that something else happened to me on that day, exactly 50 years ago. On that day, God spoke to me. I mean, I literally heard God speak to me. It wasn’t a loud voice coming from somewhere “out there”. But in my head I clearly heard and understood words being spoken to me. And I knew without a doubt it was God speaking to me. Something I had never before experienced. I was 25 years old. That’s what today’s blog post is about. What follows is an excerpt from my book, Hopes Fulfilled (announced at the top of this blog post), as follows:

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Recently I read that today most people who drop out of church, don’t do so abruptly. They tend to drift away. That seems like what happened to Joan and me. I was beginning to feel that most of the worship service was boring. I believed that the only thing that mattered was the sermon. And since I didn’t understand a lot of what the sermons were about, I wondered what was the point of going, other than that I was taught “it’s the right thing to do”.

Another problem was that the congregation was getting older. The kids I had grown up with in Sunday school were no longer there. There was the subconscious feeling that we didn’t really fit in. What made it easy for us to stop attending the church, was that it continued the long standing tradition of closing for the summer months. So I was used to not attending church for this period of about three months. And I didn’t feel guilty when Joan and I spent weekends at the summer place at Lake Mohegan, New York, which had belonged to my family since the 1920’s. All of this made it easy, when the summer of 1963 ended, to simply not return to church.

We became church dropouts, which at first didn’t bother me in the least. Except that I had to hear my mother’s frequent comments about our not being in church. However, I have to admit that from time to time I felt just a little bit guilty. But the longer I was away from the church, the more difficult I felt it would be to return. It would be embarrassing trying to explain to the people and the pastor why I hadn’t been attending. So I just settled into the habit of sleeping late on Sunday mornings, and not worrying about it.

This went on for two years. Until Sunday morning, March 14, 1965. During the previous two years the only times I really felt guilty about not attending church was on Christmas Eve and Easter. I didn’t really understand why, but I knew that these were the two times of the year “everybody” went to church, even if they otherwise never set foot in the church. But for two years we hadn’t attended, even on Christmas Eve and Easter.

Now it was March 7, a Sunday morning, probably about 10AM. I was still in bed. I didn’t hear an audible voice. But I was discerning a message that was somehow being silently transmitted to me. Based on what I was discerning, I quickly came to realize that this must be a message from God. I couldn’t remember God ever specifically directing a message to me before. The message, and my response went something like this:

God: You should be in church.
Me: I know, but it’s too late.
God: I know it’s too late to get there today, but next Sunday I expect you to be in church.
Me: But I will be too embarrassed to go back to St. John’s Church. Everybody will be    asking “why haven’t you been in church the past few years.
God: I didn’t say you had to go back to that church. Just be in some church next Sunday – any church.
Me: Okay

Joan and I discussed this message. We agreed we would go to a church the next Sunday. But which one? We remembered that there was a church on Bergen Avenue, within a ten minute walk from where we lived. I had walked past this church many times during my life in Jersey City. I knew nothing about it. Except that it was called Emory Methodist Church. The next Sunday we got up and walked to that church. Almost immediately we met a few people that Joan already knew from her work as a nurse. Everyone was very welcoming. I was surprised that the offering was taken twice. I didn’t really like that. However, I soon came to understand that the second offering was to be given to various mission related works the church was supporting. Once I understood this, I agreed that this was a good idea.

It was the sermon, more than anything else, that told me this was the church we would attend from now on. All of this was taking place at the height of the civil rights movement, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. During the past week, we had seen TV news reports about the civil rights march in Selma, Alabama. Among friends and family I expressed support for the civil rights movement, although I did not take an active part myself. Also, other than Dr. King and a few other African-American church leaders, I wasn’t aware of the church in any form supporting this movement – until that Sunday morning when we returned to church.

On that morning, the pastor announced that he was not going to preach the kind of sermon people usually expected on a Sunday morning. Instead, he was going to tell the story of his experience as one of those who during the past week, had been part of the march in Selma, Alabama. He told what it was like to experience what we had seen on TV. The violence of the police and their dogs against the peaceful marchers, including children. The blasts of the fire hoses. The bigoted shouts and threats. Without a doubt, I was hearing a white church leader, in my presence, publicly saying that God expected the church to be supportive of and in some ways, to be involved in the civil rights movement. For the first time, I heard a sermon which directly related to life in the world, here and now, and which moved me to want to be part of the church. This church. A Methodist Church (In 1968 it would become The United Methodist Church).

We continued to attend Emory Methodist Church, but we also continued to be away from church on summer weekends for about the next eight years.. The thought of attending another church while we were away hadn’t crossed my mind. In the fall of the year we returned to Emory Methodist Church, only to discover that the church had a new pastor. He explained that in the Methodist system, pastors are appointed by a bishop, rather than hired by the church. This was one of many new things I learned about The Methodist Church over the next few months, as we met with the pastor a number of times, in preparation for becoming members. I was beginning to have a whole new understanding of church. It’s purpose wasn’t simply to be a place you went to on Sunday mornings. It was a community of people serving God by serving people. It was about being the body of Christ in and for the world.

During this time, the pastor explained that in July of that year, Emory Methodist Church was going to merge with Simpson-Grace Methodist Church. That was a large cathedral like church at Journal Square, which was the heart of Jersey City. The Emory Methodist Church building would be sold to a church of another denomination, The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME)… On July 10, 1966 we stood before the congregation and became the first new members of the merged church…

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

When all this was happening 50 years ago, little did I know where it would lead. I hadn’t the slightest idea of the many God-directed changes that I would experience in my life. I wouldn’t have believed it back then if someone told me that I would became more and more involved in the ministry of the church. I would leave secure and profitable secular employment to work instead for a church related non-profit organization. I would start my own business (Horizon Communications) providing public relations and fund-raising services for small non-profit church related organizations. And least of all, never once did the thought cross my mind that one day I would here God call me to attend seminary and serve as a pastor. Finally, I never expected that in retirement, I would take up a new career of spiritually based writing, which includes this blog.

Along the road of life, I have had many hopes. I’ve discovered that when those hopes were in accordance with what I’ve understood to be God’s will for me, those God-given hopes were fulfilled. So what’s next? I keep listening to hear whatever God wants to do with me, always believing that if I say “yes” to God, those hopes will be fulfilled. One of my hopes is that as you go through life, whatever your age or present circumstances, you too will continue or begin to hear and say “yes” to whatever God wants to do with you and that you will experience the fulfillment of those God-given hopes.

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

 

Posted in Church, Discernment, Faith, Freedom, God's grace, God's Will, Hope, Jersey City, News media, obedience, Racial Integration, Selma - Bllody Sunday, Spiritual Autobiography | Leave a comment

Good News in the Midst of Bad 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

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

Good News in the Midst of Bad News

My experience has been that the past two months have been filled with bad news. Every time I looked at the news on TV they were telling about the bad news in the Middle East. Especially the evil deeds of that evil bunch of people called ISIS. Not to mention acts of terrorism in many other places in the world. Then there’s the sports news. I’m not much of a sports fan these days, but it sounds to me like there’s a lot of bad news coming from some of our major league teams. The teams too often are acting like a bunch of self-centered individuals, rather than as individuals who have come together to help each other win their games. Then there are the weather reports. They are constantly reporting about the terrible freezing, cloudy, icy and snowy weather we’ve been having.

Like I said, nothing but bad news. As it came time to write this post I kept telling myself that there was nothing to write about. This blog is not supposed to be about bad news. It’s not supposed to be about hopelessness. After all, we call it Ray of Hope Ministries. Have I been wrong in believing that God assures that in the midst of bad news there is good news? Of course, I believe, accept and found it to be true that God will provide good news some day. In God’s time and God’s way. Yes, I can look back to times many years ago when my life was filled with bad news. But eventually, years later, I could see how God assured that the end result was good news. But over these past few months, I’ve been hoping to see some good news, but I just couldn’t see any. I wondered, “how long, Lord, do I have to endure this depressing news? When are you going to give me some good news?

Yesterday, God answered me. Today, God has been answering me. God is answering me right now. I can summarize what God is saying to me in this way, “I have been giving you good news in the midst of bad news, every day. You just haven’t been listening to me.” Then God clarified for me.

It’s true that most of the TV news reports have been full of bad news. But on the station that Joan and I watch (WABC channel 10, in the Philadelphia,PA area) the newscasters always make sure they include some good news. They actually go searching for good news. They find it and talk about it. Usually, it has to do with how individuals are showing love to others. Sometimes even in the midst of war, crime, and other forms of evil, they tell about people who are demonstrating that they are made “in the image of God”. Good news in the midst of bad news.

Over the past few years I have developed arthritis. It has been particularly painful over the past few months. Not a day goes by that I am not experiencing what is for me, severe pain in my back and neck. Until yesterday. On my way home from church I realized that so far that day, I was almost totally pain free. And it was pretty much that way all the rest if the day and evening. And as I write this all seems to be well. Good news in the midst of bad news.

Yesterday was also some bad news. It was another cold, cloudy, snowy day. And in the evening and overnight the snow changed to icy rain. I don’t like to see snow (unless it’s somewhere in the distance), but that’s not a big problem. We have someone who faithfully clears our sidewalk . But then there is the ice that sometimes covers the sidewalk. That’s really bad news, because it can be dangerous. So I went to sleep last night worrying about waking up to what I expected to be an ice covered sidewalk. So I went out to look things over. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, while there was some ice, the sun was beginning to shine, and the ice was melting. So, with just a bit of ice-melt salt, all is in the process of going well. Good news in the midst of bad news.

I could go on and on about how I have experienced or observed good news in the midst of bad news in my personal life and even in the world and local news. But I’ll leave it at that for now. From now on, when I hear about or see bad news, I will be remembering that God will assure that eventually there will be good news – in his time and his way – which might be weeks, months or even many years in the future, but in the meantime, right now, God will be providing opportunities to see and experience good news in the midst of bad news. Maybe you are already finding that to be true. But if not, just stay alert – stop, look, and listen – I assure you that God will give you some good news in the midst of bad news – any time and all the time.

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

Posted in Bad News, Faith, God, Good News, Hope, Uncategorized, Weather, Winter | Leave a comment

Lent – A Time to Confess and Repent

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

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

Lent – A Time to Confess and Repent

This week most Christian churches begin the season of Lent. When I was growing up in Jersey City, the church my family attended didn’t celebrate Lent, or any other special religious days, except Christmas and Easter. The only thing I knew about Lent was that on a day called Ash Wednesday (1st day of Lent) the Catholic kids came to school with these smudges (ashes) on their foreheads. It wasn’t until I was 25 years old (1965), after serving in the U.S.Navy and then a few years of having no church relationship, that I began to attend and became a member of a Methodist church. That’s where I finally came to understand what Lent was about. I came to realize that it was about good news in the midst of bad news. It was about hope when things seemed hopeless.

Lent is a season during which we confess to God and repent of our sins. Of course, we should do this all year long, just as we should give thanks to God all year long, but most of us don’t always do that. So we have a special Thanksgiving Day on the calendar. And we have this six week season of Lent on the calendar to remind us that we need to confess and repent of our sins.

When I started going to church again, I decided to participate fully in the life of the church. This included attending the Ash Wednesday worship service. Where I got to have those ashes imposed on my forehead, as did some of my childhood classmates. During the season of Lent and at other times in the church, I heard the message that all human beings are sinners, and therefore needed to confess and repent for their sins. At first I wasn’t sure that I needed to do that. My response was along the lines of  “Right God, look at all those sinners out there, but I don’t see myself as a sinner”. It was then brought to my attention that I was in fact one of those sinners, as was every other human being. My response to that idea was “Maybe so, God, but my part in the sinful nature of all humanity is so small that it really can’t matter to you.”

God still wouldn’t leave me alone.  He reminded me that there is no such thing as big sin and little sin. Sin was going my self-centered way instead of the way taught and lived by Christ. It sounded to me like God was going to somehow punish me if I didn’t confess and repent about every little thing I had done in my life that was not pleasing to God. I might suffer some severe consequences during the rest of my life in this world, and maybe I’d be sent to Hell for eternity. That was bad news to me. It all sounded so hopeless. Where was the good news? Where was the hope?

The message that God was always watching for people to punish and send to Hell was what I retained from my early childhood years in the church I grew up in. However, as time went by, I eventually came to know through the Methodist Church that  God wasn’t in the business of looking for ways to punish people. Instead, he was in the business of saving people for joyful life (the way of Jesus) in this world and in the life to come in heaven.  I came to understand that God had already forgiven me and everyone else for past, present, and future sins, and given me the grace to go and sin no more (become a new person). God reminded me that this is what Good Friday and Easter are about – Christ suffering and dying for me, then overcoming sin and death through his resurrection, so I can be a totally new and sin-free person. That was the good news and the hope I had not heard before. All I had to do was accept it and apply it by confessing to God that I am a sinner, and repenting  (sincerely desiring to turn away from my way to the way of Christ).

I don’t know how you see yourself in this picture. I can only speak for myself.  I find myself, like the Apostle Paul, saying  “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst”     (I Timothy:15).

For me, Lent is a time to be especially mindful that while I am a basically good person, who does not intentionally commit sinful acts, I am still a sinner. Lent is a time I am especially open to hearing God convict me as a sinner and identify exactly how I have been and am now engaged in sin. Lent is a time for me to make a special effort to sincerely confess, repent, and change my ways. It’s not always easy for me to do that. However, over the past 50 years as a Methodist lay person and pastor (now retired) my experience has been that I can do what what God requires of me by staying focused on the vision of the risen, living Jesus, and the promise that because he lives, so shall we live. That’s the good news and the message of hope that God gives me during this season of Lent and every day.

As I said, I don’t know how you see yourself fitting into this picture, but I can honestly say that this message of good news and hope is not just for me, but for you and everyone (past, present, and future),during this season of Lent and  all the time.

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

Posted in Change, Confession, Discernment, God, God's grace, Good News, Hope, Inspiration, Jesus, Lent, Repentance, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

God is Good, All the Time, and All the Time, God is Good

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

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

God is Good, All the Time, and All the Time , God is Good

One of the ways in which “God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good”, is that God gives us good news in the midst of bad news. Hope where there seems to be little or no hope. The problem for people like me, and I believe a lot of others, is that God doesn’t always provide that good news just when we want it. We might not realize it at the time, but God gives us good news just in the right way and at the right time. God’s time. Which means , when we need it. Which God knows better than we do.

Let me give you a recent example from my own experience. During most of the month of January I have been feeling depressed. It’s because of the weather. I’ve been experiencing the kind of weather that can be depressing for a lot of people. If you’ve been reading this blog for the last few years, you’ve heard me comment on the kind of weather that makes me feel depressed. Specifically, it’s when the days become cold, cloudy, dreary, windy, rainy, and at this time of year, snowy, which is the way it’s been this January. I haven’t checked the weather records for the past 31 days, but it certainly seems to me that there have been very few bright, sunny days.

As if to prove my point, today, Feb.2, is another one of those days. However, I am thankful that it’s not snowing, and the rain has washed away the snow that accumulated earlier last week. Also, there was some good news this past month. The biggest good news was that on January 7 Joan and I became grandparents, and the weather was such that we were able to travel to see our new granddaughter Alyssa within a few days.

Another bit of good news was that the weather could not prevent me from doing things that needed to be done, like shopping, so we would have food in the house. In fact, every time I started to really feel depressed about the weather, I would look out the window and see the sun peeking through the clouds.

Finally, there was good news on the calendar. As I looked at the dates coming up in February I was reminded that Ground Hog Day was coming up soon and very soon. Feb.2 (today) to be precise. You might recall my blog post right around this time two years ago. I wrote about Ground Hog Day being one of my favorite days of the year. Following is an exerpt from that post, which helped me, and might help you understand how God uses this day, Feb.2, to help people like me overcome weather caused depression.

In that post I  explained that “The tradition about Ground Hog Day, at least in the Northeastern USA, is that in a town called Punxatawny, Pennsylvania, the ground hog, whose name is Phil, is rudely awakened from his winter hibernation to predict the weather. If Phil the ground hog, at that time and in that place, sees his shadow, it means there will be six more weeks of winter (until about mid-March).  Which, as it turns out, always closely coincides with the date the calendar shows as the first day of spring. However, if Phil the ground hog doesn’t see his shadow, there will be an an early (and warm) spring. I’m not sure how that all started, but I did read in the paper that the day was first celebrated by some German immigrant farmers back in the 19th century.”

Anyway, in my blog two years ago, I continued writing, “When I got up on the morning of Ground Hog Day and looked out the window, I was on the one hand, happy to see the sun shining, since we had been enduring a week or more of cold, dreary, cloudy, and sometimes snowy, wintry weather. To see the sun shining meant it would at least be a bit warmer. That was good news. But then I remembered that if the sun was shining, that meant Phil would see his shadow. That was bad news. Six more weeks of winter. As the day went by I became resigned to this reality. Then came the 11 o’clock news. This time, really good news. Earlier in the day, at the appointed hour, Phil made his prediction, and as it happened, he did not see his shadow. So I went to bed thinking about the early and warm spring that Phil had predicted.”

I continued to write, “By the next morning, reality set in. Since I am now a full-fledged senior citizen, I have come to the point where God has given me the wisdom to know that I can’t always rely on the ground hog to predict this particular aspect of the weather.  That wisdom says that the ground hog doesn’t always get it right, shadow or no shadow, but there is still hope. There is still good news in the midst of the bad news.” The good news and hope is that ever since God created ground hogs, and probably even before that, it has always been true that sooner or later, according to God’s timing, spring and warm weather will return every year. That’s a fact. So I will be thanking God in advance and patiently waiting for the warm spring weather which I know without a doubt God will sooner or later provide. The truth is that I am always being reminded that with God there is always hope. Always good news in the midst of bad news.”

The only thing I will add to this blog today is that as I look back at my life, and the lives of other people, it is clear to me that Ground Hog Day is just one of the ways that God reminds us that “God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good”.

Grace and peace, Ray

P.S. -I stopped writing a while ago to take my lunch break. Now I’m back.  Between then and now, just a few hours, there was some bad news. At least from my view point. Well, it started to snow. But once I got over what I was seeing out my window, I realized that what I had already written was still the truth. “God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good” – whatever the weather. There is good news in the midst of bad news. Yes, In God’s time and God’s way, God will once again fulfill my hope for warm spring weather. And God will fulfill many more hopes that you and I have, if those hopes are in accordance with God’s will. In God’s time and God’s way.

——————————————————————————————————————————

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

Posted in Faith, God, God's grace, God's Will, Good News, Ground Hog Day, Hope, Uncategorized, Weather, Winter | Leave a comment