Pastor’s Corner

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrew 11:6

Rev. Marty Gool

God is always present in our lives. This is a statement we hear so often in our times of difficulty. We want that presence so desperately at times and yet it is in those very times of need that we feel the most alone. I want to confirm what the Bible says about the presence of God. God is always with us. God is always present in our times of difficulty as the Psalmist says in Psalm 46:1: “God is a very present help in times of trouble.” How often do we miss the message that is being conveyed in this text? God is a very present help. (God is a very Present help). It is impossible to meet during our time of conflict if we are not aware of God in that moment. By aware I mean believing in and trusting in God in that moment of trial.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us: “Now without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever comes to God must believe that God exists and he rewards those who diligently search for Him.” What does this mean in relation to being aware of God? “If God is a very present help in the time of trouble,” and we all want to believe that God is truly there in our time of testing, it has to become clear to everyone where our minds and hearts must be. It is difficult if not impossible to meet God in the present conflict if we are not there in that moment with God.

I remember growing up in Detroit. I was about six years old and I woke up in the middle of the night. I saw what looked like a shadow of a man in my room. I shouted for my mother and father. My mother ran into the room and rescued me from that fearful moment. In that moment of trial, I had to believe in my parent’s ability to protect me. I had to believe in their ability to overcome anything I was involved in to call upon with the level of certainty in which I did. I had faith in them. I trusted them. There was no doubt in my mind that they would come to my rescue. My parents would never be asleep on the job when it came to taking care of their children. This is the point that the two scriptures are addressing. It is impossible to please God without faith and trust in God. However, the second part of the scripture is overlooked because we take for granted what it implies. Because we take for granted our faith in God. We must believe that God exists. What does this really mean? We must believe that God is bigger than anything we may encounter in our lives. Whatever the situation, God is bigger than the situation. Whatever the tragedy, God is bigger than the tragedy. Believing that God is, is believing in God’s omnipotence. It is believing and trusting in God’s ability to rescue us in His abiding will.

This does not take place in a vacuum, for God is a very present help in the time of trouble. However, if we are not conscious of God in the present moment, if the God we believe in, and trust in, is not greater than the circumstances we find ourselves in, then the God of our faith is inadequate for the challenge. “God is a very present help in times of trouble.” In order for that to be true, we must be aware of God in that present moment. We must be conscious of God’s existence while we are in the trouble. We can never allow the moment we are in be absent of our awareness of God. It is our awareness, our being conscious of God’s presence, and God’s existence that gets us through the difficulty.

We are living in times when the awareness of God is something we must consistently practice. In the midst of all we do, we must be mindful that God is there. In the good times, God is there. In challenging times God is there. God is a very present help in times of trouble. God is very present in those of joy and laughter.

When we practice being conscious of God in our daily lives, we participate in the worship of God. We participate in developing intimacy with God. We develop a level of communicating with God that will enable us to know His presence in our times of trouble.

Pastor Gool

Psalm 137:1-6

Rev. Marty Gool

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs,  our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord  while in a foreign land?If I forget you, Jerusalem,  may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.

As I read this Psalm, I find myself looking at a people who find themselves captive in the land of Babylon. They are in an overwhelming and oppressive situation. These circumstances are beyond their control and this is a moment in their history when everything in their lives has been turned upside down. Their future hopes have been extinguished because of a social-political reality they cannot undo. Babylon is not Jerusalem, and the memories of a former home linger in the hearts and minds of these exiles. Babylon is a warring nation bent on world conquest; Israel has become its casualty of world conquest.

This Psalm speaks to the question “how does one deal with a sadness that permeates the lives of a people?” Psalm 137:1 says, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.” The Psalmist remembers their place of worship. They remember going to the Temple to worship. A place where they called on God to intervene, to come to their rescue. The Temple no longer exists. They no longer have a “Rock” to hold to, a “Rock to trust in.” Their faith is shaken, if not broken. The Temple, the place where God lived, the foundation they once believed to be impregnable, because God lived there has been destroyed. How do they handle the emotional and spiritual chaos they find themselves in this moment of struggle? In the midst of this chaos, some sort of spiritual order, some sort of spiritual comfort, or strength is sought. This kind of suffering is too overwhelming to withstand alone. When we find ourselves in moments such as these. We need to know that there is an order beyond our present reality that we can turn to.

Today, this year and seven years prior we too have been overwhelmed by confusion and chaos. A confusion that hangs in the air. We can’t see it but we feel it. We know it’s there. We await each day waiting for the conclusion, for an end to this madness. The structures we once trusted in appear to be on the verge of collapsing. Truth is no longer a valued commodity. The “lie” has become a tool that is used without limitations to step on the truth, and extinguish its virtues in order to achieve criminal ends. We see the injustice of the rich and powerful run rampant without any serious redress. While our courts – the last hope of our democracy – is being held hostage by a political and ideological mentality that seems determined to destroy this country by returning Black people back to the days of “Jim Crow.”

Israel’s captors demanded of them a song. They demanded that they be content in that strange land. They demanded that they embrace their captors and enjoy their political slavery. A slavery that proved real in the living of their lives. Psalm 137 4-6 “(4) How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land? (5)If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. (6)If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.” This gives the answers we so desperately need in times like these when everything we hold dear hangs in the balance. What do we do? When the foundations that once held us secure begin to collapse. What do we do? To whom can we turn? The Psalmist makes it very clear in the midst of uncertainty – even uncertainty of national proportions. We can still trust in God. Yes, the Temple is destroyed; I cannot see that symbol of God in my life, but I will continue to trust Him. I will remember what God has already done for me and trust God will do it again. I will remember whom I have called upon in my time of trouble and I will call upon God again.

After expressing deep suffering, hope is finally offered. However, this hope relies not on human achievement or triumphalism but instead on God’s grace. They remind themselves of the faithfulness of God. They remind themselves that God is still on the throne. These verses do not emphasize the human ability to change or turn around their circumstances but instead focus on the character of God to bring about change. The God of history is still in charge. Though the day appears dark and hopeless. There is a God of hope whose words still ring true in the darkest of moments. God’s word tells us “Weeping, chaos and confusion, heartbreak, disappointment, despair may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Our hope is dependent on who God is rather than who we are.

Pastor Gool

Hebrews 11:1-2; 11:6

Rev. Marty Gool

Hebrews 11: 6 tells us that “Without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone that comes to God must believe that God exists and God is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:1-2 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” however, it is important that we understand it is the God kind of faith that determines our hope. It is the God kind of faith that seeks what God hopes for us. What we want, and what we desire gets in the way of our understanding of what God does and how God acts in our lives. What we want limits our ability to understand how God is acting in our midst. What we want to happen in our lives limits what we are willing to understand as God is acting in our lives. What we want controls our ability to see how God is acting, and how God is performing. “Lord, I don’t want it to happen that way” and it did. We just don’t understand how God could let that happen.

It is our faith that produces the hopes we have. Faith is in fact the substance of things hoped for – in the natural and in the spiritual. Our faith produces every hope. Faith gives reality to our hopes. If you did not believe that all things are possible, you could not hope for the things we sometimes hope for. Most of our hope is in the natural. There is a natural hope and there is a spiritual hope. Both use the same formula. Both use “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” “Hope” in the Bible, and the “Spirit” is different than the hope we have in the natural. In the natural “hope” is a word that is used all over the world. It represents the possibility of a positive outcome. Hope in the natural is a small light shining in the darkness.

The word “Hope” that is spoken of in the Bible is very different from the word “hope” we use in our everyday language. In the natural, hope is expecting something to happen, but not being entirely sure that it will happen. In the natural hope is more like a wish. It is like, “I hope it doesn’t rain,” or hoping to get that promotion. Hope in the natural is connected to doubt and uncertainty. Hope in the natural is based upon human ability, human understandings. Biblical hope, “Spiritual” hope is knowing for a fact that the outcome that God has ordained for us will happen. This kind of hope is not wishful thinking. It is placing complete trust in God. It is complete confidence in the power and will of God.

A couple of weeks ago I stated that prayer is always about the will of God. Prayer is never about our will. It is never about our desires. Prayer is a surrendered heart and mind that has given itself over to the will of God; whatever that will might be. Our hope is made visible by our faith in God doing what is best for the entire universe at all times.

In the Spirit, with the God kind of faith, our hopes come into being in our spiritual minds before believing and trusting in God’s will. Our hopes are always connected to the will of God by our faith in God. It is when we trust God to do what God knows to be best for us, that we begin to rest in God’s peace; confident that God has everything under control.

In the natural, our hope is centered on human desire. It is centered on what we want. In the spirit, it is centered on God’s will in what God wants. “Not my will but Thine be done.” That is an extremely difficult thing to understand and it is even more difficult to do. For us to understand, we must strive to do what God expects of us. This an example of how human desire impacts surrendering our hopes to the will of God.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” When we read this text, from that moment forward, ask yourself what you are hoping for. Is your hope located in the natural, in your desires, or is your hope located in the will of God? To give God our hopes is a level of trust I encourage everyone to strive toward. It is then that you know you are in the will of God.

Pastor Gool

Psalm 23

Rev. Marty Gool

The 23rd Psalm leaves no room for doubt that God is the director of our lives. That we are called to follow Him. In every verse there are two words that lets us know that God is either in charge or will manage our lives in a way that will bring blessings to us. In Psalm 23, we will focus on two words out of each verse: “Make Me.” Verse 2a, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” We need to say to God, “Lord, make me.” The prodigal son said to the father, “Give me my ‘inheritance.’” But after he spent all that he had in riotous living and living promiscuously, he woke up in a pig’s pin and came to himself and said, “My father can at least “make me” a hired servant!” Somebody say, “Make me!

Verse 2b says: He “Leads Me.” He leads me. God is getting ready to lead you. Have you ever been lost and the directions you had were not clear, and so you had to ask someone to lead you back to the highway. And they say, “Yes, I will lead you, but it will require you to follow me.” God is saying ‘I’m leading out of a place you don’t know how to get out of. I’m leading you to your place of purpose. I’m leading you to your place of destiny!’

Verse 3b should be translated to “He guides me down the right paths.” Now you want to know what the difference between God leading me and God guiding me? This is the difference: If I lead you to the highway, you can follow me. But if you’re blind, you need a guide. You would need to hold on to who you’re following. You need someone to hold your hand. The person is not only leading you, but he has also connected himself to you. God is saying in this phase, ‘I’m keeping my hand on you. I’m not letting you go out here by yourself. The last time I left you by yourself, you made some wrong turns. But now I’m keeping my hands on you.’

Verse 4 says: “Comfort Me.” Make me feel better about the situation I’m in. I don’t want to come to church, and you beat me up with all the stuff I’m doing wrong. I know I’m living foul. Show me how to get out of it. God says, ‘I’m comforting you, even in the middle of the night when you can’t rest, and you can’t sleep, I’m the one who wraps My arms of care around you. Even if no one else is there, know I am here, and I will never leave you or forsake you.’

Verse 5c says: “Anoint me.” Lay your hands on your head. The sheep were standing by the cool water, and the flies would get up in their nostrils. And because the flies were in their nostrils they would hit their head against the tree, trying to get the flies to come out. Causing them severe headaches. But this is what the good shepherd did. He would put oil on their heads and when he poured the oil on their heads nothing was able to distract them. The flies could no longer fly into their nostrils. Lay your hands on your head today. God is anointing you so that nothing will distract you from your journey. Bills won’t distract you. People won’t distract you. Your job and its insanity won’t distract you. God is anointing your head with oil, so you don’t have to beat your head against the wall trying to figure out how you are going to make it. The Psalmist says in the very beginning, “the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” This is not a question. It is a promise. A promise to those who trust in God completely. A promise to those who have surrendered their lives to our Lord and Savior. A promise to those who understand that sheep always follow the Shepherd.

Pastor Gool

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Peter 5:6

Rev. Marty Gool

If you will be joining us virtually tomorrow morning at 10:30 please bring your bread or cracker and water or juice for communion.

Pastor Gool will lead us in Holy Communion. He will bless the bread and juice or water that you have brought. Together we will give thanks for that which we are offering. We will do it together, in faith, not in physical space, but in virtual space.

You will follow Pastor Gool’s instructions to eat your bread and drink your juice or water at the designated time.

And we will then give thanks!

The Apostles Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit; Born of the Virgin Mary; Suffered under Pontius Pilate; Was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into Hell;

The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven; And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit; The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body; And the life everlasting. Amen

Pastor Gool

Mark 11: 22-24

Rev. Marty Gool

Prayer is one of our most engaged-in behaviors in the time of trouble than any other activity. Many do not understand the source of prayers’ power. By that I mean, what is the main ingredient we bring to the altar of prayer? We bring faith, but what is the object or purpose of faith when we pray? Our goal is to have our prayers answered and if we are at all honest with ourselves that is why we engage in prayer. Is that the real goal of prayer?

The question that is seldom asked is: Is prayer really an extension of our hearts desires? Many believe that it is and they have scripture to support this position. There are so many scriptures that seem to push us in that direction. When we read Mark 11:22, which says, “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

This scripture speaks to the faith required to have our prayers answered. It seems to say without hesitation or equivocation that with enough faith our prayers will be answered. Many embrace this text as the mandate for answered prayer.

However, as I re-read this text, the first four words jumped out at me for the very first time. These words not only carry the weight of who this faith is directed toward, but also who is in charge of the outcome of our prayer. It says from the very beginning who is in control. Our faith is not in charge, but who our faith focused on. These words speak to the object of our faith who is God and where our faith should be totally deposited. It speaks to the role we play as we engage in prayer. It reduces our role from the very start. It places less emphasis on our faith in the answered prayer and more in our trusting in God. It says “Have faith in God.” Trust in what God is going to do in this situation. Place your faith in trusting God. Mark 11:22 is not suggesting or saying that our every prayer is going to be answered. Although many take this text to mean exactly that. What is being said is much more profound than that. It means that we must trust God for the outcome. Have faith that God is going to do what is needed in each and every situation. God does not exist to answer our wish or whim but for us to request the will of God to be lived out in our lives. Whether we are in a grave circumstance or not. Prayer is always to be engaged in, entered into in total and complete submission to God’s will. Mark 14:35-36 says, “(35And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. (36) And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. He said, “Abba, Father all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but Your will be done. This is further amplified by 1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

The goal of prayer is always the will of God. It always has been. The scriptures have always been very clear about this. However, it is our desire to control the outcome outside of the will of God that has caused so many to suffer because of our unwillingness to accept the will of God. How do we get to this place where the will of God is acceptable to us? To ourselves? It requires a trust that gives up all that we have in total submission to God. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

This kind of faith requires more of us than we often want to give. The power and force of this scripture has slipped the grasp of many. For the entire Christian relationship with God is located in this single text. This text leaves nothing in its meaning to be muddied. It says without equivocation give yourself, your thoughts, your being, your dreams, your plans, your health, your life to God and trust nothing else, no one else but God. It is upon this foundation that all prayer stands. It is on this rock of trust and complete compliance and acceptance that Jesus trusted God in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was not what Jesus wanted that mattered. Remember it is Jesus who spoke the words of Mark 11:22. Yet, in Jesus’ greatest moment of distress Jesus asks for something to be done that would save Him. Finally, the heart and soul of prayer was revealed. It is always the will of God that is at the center of prayer. Not what we want, but what God wants.

Finally, prayer, sincere prayer, cannot be engaged without a profound love for God and an acceptance of His will. We are called to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind. This is attitude the disposition that we are called to engage prayer with. Without this attitude prayer becomes a frustrating activity that we feebly try to control. We engage a divine enterprise, a supernatural power with earthly tools and believe we can control the outcome with a faith that God gives us to serve Him and promote His will. The mere audacity is something I encourage us to consider the next time we pray with the idea of asking for anything beyond the ability to accept His will in our lives.

This is the most humbling of places and the only place where the peace that passes all understanding is found. Knowing we are in the hands of God is the most secure place anyone can find themselves. Yet it is still the most frightening of places for most of us to seek in our faith position.

Prayer is not only our sanctuary, it can become our home. Where the solace of a Protective Father and a Loving God is always present. Seek God daily for all your strength and comfort.

Pastor Gool

But let justice roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Amos 5:24

Rev. Marty GoolWe seldom have the opportunity to read about the real-life exploits of Black people who made a difference, so today, I want us to remember a man who made a difference in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., when he was a young man. US Army veteran Maceo Snipes was the man who inspired a teenage Dr. King. His story is one that speaks to his refusal to be intimidated. It speaks of a courage that was not absent of fear but pushed forward in spite of the fear.

Maceo Snipes was a World War II veteran who in 1945, returned home to Taylor County, Georgia where he became the first African American to cast a vote in his county’s primary election in July 1946. Snipes knew what he was doing when he walked into that election office, but he didn’t let intimidation turn him from exercising his right. The next day, Snipes was murdered by a white mob. Four white men drove up on the family farm and shot him. Maceo’s mother went down and reported this lynching, but no one was ever arrested. Right after Snipes was shot, there was a note on a church door and it said, ‘The first “N” to vote won’t vote again. And anyone who preaches about Maceo Snipes better dig a grave for themselves.’ So, our family never discussed what happened to him.

The news of Snipes’ lynching – and the killing of four other African Americans – reached a teenage Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was then studying at Morehouse College. These murders inspired King to write a letter to the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper. In the article the young King wrote about what Black Americans wanted in America. He stated Black Americans did not want to marry white women but are eager to marry Black women and wish that our women would be respected and left alone. He stated that Black Americans wanted the same things that all Americans wanted. We wanted an opportunity to make a living and have a job that was commensurate with our skill and trainings. We wanted the right to vote and some of the same courtesies afforded to all Americans except the Black man. He expressed how he felt about the injustice of our Black citizens not being allowed to vote, and nothing’s being done about it.

US Army veteran Maceo Snipes was a warrior and a true American because he took the weight and said, ‘Your vote matters; the Black vote matters and ‘I’m going to do what everyone should do.’

Here in Illinois, we have the opportunity to exercise a right that many Black Americans died for. It is important that we treat this opportunity with the respect and the priority it deserves. It is my hope that on February 28, 2023, that everyone who is registered to vote, casts a vote.

The prophet Amos said, “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a mighty stream! (Amos 5:24)

Pastor Gool

Rev. Marty Gool

81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation,

but I have put my hope in your word.

82 My eyes fail, looking for your promise;

I say, “When will you comfort me?”

83 Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,

I do not forget your decrees.

84 How long must your servant wait?

When will you punish my persecutors?

85 The arrogant dig pits to trap me,

contrary to your law.

86 All your commands are trustworthy;

help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.

87 They almost wiped me from the earth,

but I have not forsaken your precepts.

88 In your unfailing love preserve my life,

that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.

Psalm 119:81-88

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

Rev. Marty GoolIn order to embark upon the journey to become a better person, a better people, a certain amount of pride is necessary for our self-esteem. Self-esteem is the way we see ourselves. Pride is the pleasure we get in our achievements or in our possessions, even our associations. However, the most basic question I believe we should all ask is where does our pride come from?  What is the basis of our pride and is it attained through our achievements and possessions or does it come from something transcendent. For many, our pride comes from the world of men and women.  If we are not careful, we will base our worth on the standards set by society. We care about what people think, which is why we buy the kind of cars we buy, and why we buy the houses we buy.  We care about what people think and that is why we do what we do.

Pride is necessary.  So, where does our pride come from? Who or what gives us pride? Who do we value, who do we align ourselves with spiritually and emotionally? When we answer these questions, we may discover where our pride comes from and how impacts our lives.  We were created with self-worth.  It is instilled in us by or Creator.  It is the value that God gives us that He desires we embrace. When we live out of the pride that God gives us, we are living out of the achievements done for God. Things that are done in a godly manner.

It is said the “cleanliness is next to godliness.” Is this saying pointing to the inside or the outside? Is it talking about the how clean our cars are? How well kept your home is.  Certainly these are important things that was the focus of the saying, right? Not at all.  It was the person. The thoughts of that person. The desires of that person.  The intentions of that person. That was and remains the focus. So pride is not constructive or of benefit to you as an individual or a people or a nation if it is not housed in the proper spiritual container. It is our pride that can prevent us from seeing what is good and in front of us. Pride prevents us from seeing ourselves as we really are.

As a race of people, it is vital that we have the proper self-esteem to see ourselves properly. That we understand we are made in the image of God and by that very act of God we are somebody. However, let us be mindful that what we have, what we have become is an act of God’s grace. It is an act of God’s love. There is nothing that we have done that is beyond what God has allowed and permitted.

Who God uses is dependent upon what is inside the person. There is no way we can ignore this truth. I think the story of the Cherokee chief is appropriate. An old Cherokee chief sat down to teach his grandson about life. “There’s a fight going on inside me,” he tells the young boy, “A fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil. It’s full of malice, anger, greed, self-pity, and false pride. The other is good. It’s full of peace, love, joy, kindness, and humility. This same fight is going on inside you and everyone else on the face of the earth.” The grandson was quiet, pondering this revelation for a moment before asking, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?” The old man smiled and replied, “The one you feed.”

The potential for good or evil exists within each of us. It is our responsibility to own that fact and do what we can to nurture the good. It does us no good as a race of people to nurture that which does not lift people up. The Nazi’s have a history, they have a legacy. It is not one that anyone of God and character would choose to own as their own.

Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Let us feed upon these to build our character, self-esteem and discover pride in what truly matters in life.

Pastor Gool

Rev. Marty Gool “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Matthew 6:21

What we make room for in our life speaks volumes about what is important to each of us. What do we spend the most time focused upon? What is it that we dream about or worry about? Do we spend a great deal of time and energy thinking about money. Certainly, money is important, but we have all learned money is not nearly as important as our health. Many search the world over for peace only to discover it is as close as bended knee and a worship service.

As we come to terms with our faith it is essential that we understand that faith does not grow without an investment in it. Our knowledge of the Word of God will not increase without an investment in the Word of God. It is a challenge to find time for God. However, the rewards are great and benefits that enter our lives is enormous.

I encourage each of you to make room for God in your life. I know many feel as though their lives are already congested and there is no more room for anything else. I want you to revisit that thought after you have read and reflected on the story in today’s lesson.

There once was a philosophy professor who was giving a lecture. In front of him, he had a big glass jar, a pile of rocks, a bag of small pebbles, a tub of sand and a bottle of water. He started off by filling up the jar with the big rocks and when they reached the rim of the jar, he held it up to the students and asked them if the jar was full. They all agreed, there was no more room to put the rocks in, it was full. “Is it full?” he asked.

He then picked up the bag of small pebbles and poured these in jar. He shook the jar so that the pebbles filled the space around the big rocks. “Is the jar full now?” he asked. The group of students all looked at each other and agreed that the jar was now completely full. “Is it really full?” he asked.

The professor then picked up the tub of sand. He poured the sand in between the pebbles and the rocks and once again he held up the jar to his class and asked if it was full. Once again, the students agreed that the jar was full. “Are you sure it’s full?” he asked.

He finally picked up a bottle of water and tipped the water into the jar until it soaked up all the remaining space in the sand. The students laughed. The professor went on to explain that the jar of rocks, pebbles, sand and water represents everything that is in one’s life. The rocks represent the most important things in your life.

God is our source and our salvation. Everything we have belongs to Him and is a gift from Him. Besides God there is your health and your family. If everything in your life was lost, your life would still have meaning. However, it is important for us to understand that the source of all our meaning comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ who gives value to all we have .

The jar represents your life.

The rocks represent the most important things that have real value – God, your health, your family. Those things that if everything else (the pebbles and the sand) was lost and only they remained, your life would still have meaning.

The pebbles represent the things in your life that matter, but you could live without. The pebbles are certainly things that give your life meaning (such as your job, house, hobbies and friendships), but they are not critical for you to have a meaningful life. These things often come and go and are not permanent or essential to your overall well-being.

The sand (and water) represent everything else – the small stuff. Material possessions, chores and filler things such as watching television or browsing social media sites. These things don’t mean much to your life as a whole and are likely only done to get small tasks accomplished or even to fill time.

The metaphor here is that if you start with putting sand into the jar, you will not have room for rocks or pebbles. This holds true with the things you let into your life. If you spend all of your time on the small and insignificant things, you will run out of room for the things that are actually important.

What is truly important in your life? Our answer can be whatever we choose. The answer will always be the thing you spend the most time doing. Whether it is your hobbies, your work, whatever it might be. Is it the most important thing in your life?

Only what is done for Christ will last. Only what we give to Christ – our time, talent and resources – will transform your life and world. Make sure you put first in your life the things that really matter.

Pastor Gool

Rev. Marty Gool24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Matthew 6:24

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

John 5:19

I have learned that two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time.  It is impossible.

Often, we seek the wisdom of God’s Holy Spirit and there is no room for God’s wisdom to enter our lives.  The reason being, we have our own ideas about how we want a particular situation to turn out.  We only want God to co-sign what we desire.

Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”  We have often read this text and applied it to the material things in our lives. Certainly, it can be applied to that as well. However, if we expand our understanding a bit, we can see how it can also touch the way we respond to God’s Holy Spirit. God wants to guide our lives. There is nothing greater in the heart of God than to have His Child listen and respond to advice. In order for that to happen we must approach God empty. We must approach God with a willingness to be filled by Him. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He (God) shall direct your path.”

Once there was a university professor who was known as an extremely knowledgeable person.  There was much research named to him in the field of philosophy.  The professor had keen interest in Zen Buddhism practices and wanted to learn more about it.  He visited a famous Japanese Zen master to learn the pearls of Zen wisdom. When he reached the Zen master’s place, his disciples took him to the room of Zen master.  Zen master’s physical appearance was affable, and his spirit was lofty.  His face was shimmering and lot of positive energy could be felt around him.  After welcoming his visitor, the Zen master asked the professor the reason of his visit.  The professor told him the motive of visit, “I have come to ask you to teach me about Zen.” The Zen master asked the professor, “You are known for your knowledge everywhere, please share something with me.”  The Professor started telling about his research in different fields one by one.  After some time, he started sharing his knowledge about Zen.  The Zen master listened to him silently for an hour. The Zen master interrupted and asked the professor if he would like to enjoy some tea.

Knowing he should accept, the professor smiled and thanked the Zen master for his generosity.

One of the Zen master’s disciples disappeared and then quickly reappeared with two cups and some steaming tea.  The master started pouring the tea into the cup and smiled towards the professor.  The professor kept continuing sharing his knowledge on Zen to the master. The Zen master was pouring the tea slowly – slowly and the cup got filled fully.  But he did not stop and kept pouring the tea in the cup.  The tea started overflowing on the table. The professor noticed it and continued to watch as it overflowed. Soon the tea started falling on the robes of professor and he could no longer restrain himself.  The professor put his hand up and exclaimed, “Stop! Can’t you see? The cup is full already.  It’s overflowing. No more will go in!”  The Zen master did not stop and still he kept pouring tea.  The professor got angry and rushed towards the gate. The Zen master called him, “Professor, please listen.” The professor did not stop. The master ran behind him and stopped him. The Zen master calmly explained to him the reason behind kept pouring the tea in the cup, even after it overflowed.  Zen master said, “You are here to ask questions. Yet you come full. You have your own ideas and have no space. Until you have room for more, you will not accept new information. You are like that cup of tea. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

I have asked myself why is it so difficult for me to hear from God’s Holy Spirit?  I discovered it was because I was already filled, preoccupied with my own thoughts, my own solutions, my own answers as to how a problem should be solved or a situation handled. I have learned that God speaks to the surrendered and the empty vessel.  The vessel whose only desire is to be filled by Him.

Pastor Gool

Rev. Marty Gool

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”


Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” If only I could have heeded these words earlier in my life. I wonder how many days have we messed up because we tried to play God in someone else’s life. Things would have turned out a lot better had I just let go and let God. How many lives and relationships have come to ruined simply because someone refused to let go. When we become obsessed with the actions of others. When we want someone to change or even wanting someone to let us decide what they should do for themselves. How many times have we been upset? If only we had the capacity to let go. The greatest struggle we have in our own lives is learning how to let go. Learning when it is time to allow God to do what only God can do in this situation.

Learning to let go can be a scary thing when we see our loved ones go down a path we fear will harm them. However, if we stop for a moment is there anything you can do about it? It doesn’t matter how much you love someone. It doesn’t matter how much we want to see someone succeed. It is there choice there is nothing we can do. It is so difficult but it is a lesson we all must learn. We must learn to let go. If not, we may find ourselves trapped in something we cannot get out of because we will not let go.

“Do you know how hunters of old used to trap monkeys?” A man asked his child. “Rather than chasing them up a tree or shooting arrows from below, they would put a heavy glass jar with a narrow neck on the floor, which had the monkeys’ favorite food inside. They’d then step back and hide, waiting for the unsuspecting animal to approach. When it did, the monkey would reach inside, clench a fist around the food, and try to pull it out. However, the narrow neck of the jar would stop the poor monkey from getting its hand out! It would pull and pull, but to no avail. There was simply no way to get its hand out of the jar without releasing the food. Rather than letting go, though, the monkey would persevere, refusing to drop its dinner. The hunters would then approach and catch it to enjoy a meal of their own.” “Don’t be like that monkey,” warned the man, “In life, to fight another day and grow as person, you must know when to quit, when to move on, and when to let go of whatever’s holding you back.”

Sometimes you have to let go and give up what you have now in order to receive something better in the future. Do not let stubbornness be your downfall!

Pastor Gool

Rev. Marty Gool 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

Matthew 6:21

Someone said, “Sometimes God closes doors because it’s time to move forward. He knows you won’t move unless your circumstances force you.”

Whether it’s moving on from a past relationship or past disappointments, remember God has a plan for you. His plan for you is not in the past, it’s in the future. Christians are a new creation through Christ. Your old life is gone and now it’s time to move forward. Imagine if Peter, Paul, and David, never moved on from their past. They would not have gone on to do great things for the Lord. Set aside that extra baggage; it will only slow you down on your walk of faith.

The baggage of yesterday will always present the limitations that held you back then. When you reflect upon yesterday and the things you did not accomplish, the things you believed could not be done by you, that is what you will bring into your present, but God has created something new in you. God has placed the power of God in each of us through our faith in Jesus Christ. Are you going to believe what the world says you are or are you going to believe your creator?

A gentleman was walking through an elephant camp, and he spotted that the elephants weren’t being kept in cages or held by the use of chains. All that was “holding them back” from escaping the camp, was a small piece of rope tied to one of their legs. As the man gazed upon the elephants, he was completely confused as to why the elephants didn’t just use their strength to break the rope and escape the camp. They could easily have done so, but instead, they didn’t try at all.

Curious and wanting to know the answer, he asked a trainer nearby why the elephants were just standing there and never tried to escape. The trainer replied, “when they are very young and much smaller, we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”

The only reason that the elephants weren’t breaking free and escaping from the camp was that over time they adopted the belief that it just wasn’t possible.

Church, no matter how much the world tries to hold you back, always continue with the belief that what you want to achieve is possible. Believing you can get through your trials is the most important step in actually achieving it. We cannot continue to live in the past, to live with those teachings that made us believe we cannot instead of what God says, which is “With God nothing is impossible.” Do you believe that? Can you embrace that as something from God that can and will propel you into a new understanding of what your life can become? The scripture in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Do not trust in any word more than you trust in the Word of God. It is God’s word that will lead you forward into His will.

God Bless Each of You,
Pastor Gool

Rev. Marty Gool [7] But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. [8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; [9] persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Sometime during this year, you will be faced with a situation that will cause you to question your value, question your worth.  I don’t know why it is easier to believe the worst about us than it is to believe the best about ourselves. We just seem to give that more energy than we should. At some point in our lives we must begin to believe what God says. That we are made in His image. That we are somebody. That we belong to somebody.

We sometimes believe because life beats us up, or wears us down, that we lose our importance.  We believe because we get older we lose significance. We have no impact upon life and living.  This is not so at all.  The text tells us regardless of age or condition we have a treasure within us.  The text tells us that we have purpose and even though the treasure is in an earthen vessel, it is a treasure, nonetheless.  But what is most significant is the treasure that was given to us by God.

There will be times when the circumstances of life will press us hard, but we will never be crushed.  Life will perplex us and make us wonder what in the world is going on, but we do not have to despair.  We shall be persecuted and misunderstood but God will not abandon us. We will get struck down, but the striking down will not destroy us because of what God has placed inside of us. God created us to be resilient, regardless of the storm. God created us to endure. Regardless of the journey. God created us to be examples to the world because He knew the world would need examples to live by. We must never forget in the worst of times God created us to shine.

“A popular speaker started off a seminar by holding up a $20 bill. A crowd of 200 had gathered to hear him speak. He asked, ‘Who would like this $20 bill?’ 200 hands went up. He said, ‘I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.’ He crumpled the bill up. He then asked, ‘Who still wants it?’ All 200 hands were still raised. ‘Well,’ he replied, ‘What if I do this?’ Then he dropped the bill on the ground and stomped on it with his shoes. He picked it up, and showed it to the crowd. The bill was all crumpled and dirty. ‘Now who still wants it?’ All the hands still went up.

‘My friends, I have just showed you a very important lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, life crumples us and grinds us into the dirt. We make bad decisions or deal with poor circumstances. We feel worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. You are special – Don’t ever forget it!’

Therefore, no matter what happens to us in life, God’s Child will always be of value to the world.  A Child of God will always be important.  Because when others, fall we stand. When the world goes dark, because of the treasure inside of us we shine.  When circumstances in life knocks us down, God’s Child gets back up.  When others see hopelessness, God’s Child sees hope.  We see hope and we have hope because of the Spirit of God that is inside each of u1s.  This new year, continue in that hope, continue in this strength, continue to let your light shine.

Pastor Gool

Romans 6:12; 1 Corinthians 10:13

No sin encompasses you that God does not provide a path to escape. For those who desire to live a life that honors and glorifies God, I have good news for you – we really can. It is not without struggle, but God has given us a way to overcome even that we believe is impossible to overcome. We have all heard this before. However, we were not ready to receive it. The reason we were not ready to receive it is because like me, you were focused on self. We were focused upon what we wanted to do in that particular moment, whatever it was we wanted to do, that became priority number one.

The good news is sin no longer has any control over you. The reason why sin controls us is because of our focus. I am not trying to simplify the spiritual process that enables the Child of God to overcome sin. However, if we are truly honest with ourselves the un-surrendered self cannot overcome sin because we are stuck on and in ourselves.  A woman promised to give a stain glass window in a new church on one condition, it was to be a picture of herself. Someone looking at the saints in stained-glass windows defined a saint as “one who lets the light through,” but when the light came through this particular stained-glass window, it did not reveal a saint, it revealed the woman instead. Sin is our seeking the choices of the almighty self; the self that has risen up and does not want to lay down no matter the cost.

Sin is and always been about what we the individual desires most.  This means the things we desire most are the things we do. When we want what we want when we want it, in that moment we are priority number one.  In our relationships we call people out of their names. On the job we lie, we cheat, and we steal. Why do we do this? To achieve what we want. Right and wrong does not enter into the equation at all. What I want consumes ME.  Our minds are fixed, planted in cement. There is nothing that even comes close to a second place when the Self wants what it wants. When have we ever sinned and did not allow our self-centered desires to dominate and control us?

In the Garden of Eden story when Adam and Eve hid from God, Adam continued telling God the woman you gave ME made me do it. She gave ME the fruit to eat and Adam became the victim, the person wronged because the Self could not tolerate, could not absorb the idea of being wrong or being accused of being wrong.  Have you ever witnessed a person who was wrong being called out? Do you recall how vicious and hostile they became because someone announced or exposed their wrong?  What you witnessed was the self. The all-important, self-inflated ME is the root of sin.

There is good news. Romans 6:12-13 (the Passion Bible Version) says, 

“Sin is a dethroned monarch; so you must no longer give it an opportunity to rule over your life, controlling how you live and compelling you to obey its desires and cravings. So then, refuse to answer its call to surrender your body as a tool for wickedness. Instead, passionately answer God’s call to keep yielding your body to him as one who has now experienced a resurrected life!”

I want to make it very clear; the surrendered life is both the most fruitful life, and it is the most challenging to reach. The surrendered life is not the denouncing of Self. It is a willingly to choose, to submit all of your Self to the will, service, purpose of God.  It is the loss of independent omnipotence that we are terrified of. It is the relinquishing the way society and the world has encouraged us to look at ourselves. This feeling of authority we get when we feel superior to someone is anything but a surrendered spirit. However, we all know this is contrary to how God wants us to feel.  Those who are sensitive to the movement of God’s Holy Spirit want in that moment to avoid the consequences of that moment. We soon discover that we cannot. We believe there is spiritual a disconnect from God in those moments, when in fact the Child of God is never disconnected from God. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. 

We have a choice to surrender to sin or surrender to God’s call, the Holy Spirit. It is our choice to make. However, one’s choice leads to resurrection. The other leads to destruction and both involve and embrace surrender as a condition that allows God or sin to become the controlling force in our lives.

Choose surrendering to God and choose life. Embrace the victory that is ours in Christ. There is only one power in the world and that power is the Omnipotent power of God. All other power is fake – pretenders to the throne. Sin or self-centeredness cannot drive the car of your life unless you give the keys. Take control. Let go and Let God.

Pastor Gool

Psalms 46:1; Hebrews 11:1

Being in the presence of God is like being in the master’s hands. I sometimes need to reinforce my faith with certain scriptures that afford me that knowledge. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need my faith strengthened.  It’s not that I don’t believe; it’s that sometimes I need the doubt that manages to leave the airwaves of the radio, TV or social media to intrude into the recesses of my mind and wreak havoc there. Sometimes I need to have my resolve deepened to continue believing and trusting in the Master regardless of what people or reports say to me.  Then, there are times when I am just uncertain and need to know the presence of God is real and is still watching over my life. These and other reasons are why I/we need to place ourselves in the Master’s hands.

In the Master’s hands doubts that would cause us to falter evaporates. In the Master’s hands, fears that would make us run and hide are vanquished. In the Master’s hands the confusion that can easily turn a good moment into a bad one is removed, and calm is given at the perfect time. Being in the Master’s hands is not an option for those who understand how fragile life is. Being in the Master’s hands gives comfort in the most uncomfortable of moments.

Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took the small boy to a Thelonious Monk concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked “NO ADMITTANCE.”

When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that her son was missing.  Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage.  In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit, keep playing.”

Then leaning over, Monk reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child, and he added a running obbligato.  Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was mesmerized.

That’s the way it is with God. What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy. We try our best and sometimes we come up short. However, in the Master’s hands it does not matter what kind of effort we put forth.  The Master will always bring it His conclusion. It does not matter what the circumstance is, in the Master’s hands the peace that eludes us will always be granted to those who seek it.

When great accomplishments are needed listen to the voice of the Master whisper in your ear: “Don’t quit, keep believing, don’t quit, keep trusting. For I am a very present help in time of trouble.”

Pastor Gool

2Timothy 1:5

The game of tennis has taught me many lessons. It has taught me how to look at victory. It has taught me how to accept and understand loss. That when we lose, we are never alone; as hurtful as that moment may feel individually, we are not alone.  There have been others who have traveled this very road before us.  There have been others who looked victory in the face only to have defeat snatch it from their grasp. Not only have there been others who have been before us, there will be others who will follow behind us.  They too will have to learn how to accept winning and losing, victory and defeat with a level of acceptance that leads to peace.

However, it is the ones who have gone before me who have taught me the most.  It is to them that I am most indebted.  They are the voices that I hear when defeat wants to pull me under.  When defeat wants to label me a loser, they are the sages of yesterday that guide me through the emotional drama that loss introduces to anyone who has experienced it.  When those torrential rains come pouring down and do their very best to cut through the very fabric of our being, are we ever alone?  When the rains of life attempt to cut through my very being, am I ever alone?  As the storm rages and the challenges continues to visit us from places we did not know existed, it is that very storm that forces me to seek the voice of God.  It is that storm and similar storms that causes me to remember the lessons of yesterday.  Those teachers God sent to light my way.  It is the voice of yesterday’s teachers that we sometimes hear.  Those are the voices that remind us that we are not alone. Those are the voices of our mothers, our fathers, and our grandparents that we remember telling us, “we are not alone.”  The Holy Spirit guides us and brings to our minds their words, the light they had to give as the Holy Spirit floods our minds with divine revelation they received from God.  It is in that moment that we hear the voice of God resound above the storm with “peace be still.”  It is this voice that speaks to me and me alone that touches my spirit and guides my footsteps. It is this voice of God and the voice of those I remember that reminds me and confirms for me that I am not alone.

I have taken this lesson with me in other areas of life.  When trouble rudely interrupts my peaceful existence, it is then to my surprise that the lessons of God’s word find their way into my spirit.  God tries to tell me that I am not alone. In the midst of the trial, God tries to convince me that He present with me.  I have discovered and am constantly reminded in these times of extreme trouble, there are others who have walked this road. Yes, this is my road, yes, this is my trial, but there are saints who been through their own anguish that is very similar to my own.  They have been through their own hell, and they have something to tell me and you about how to get through it.  They have something to teach you and me.  They have something to share with us.  You may feel alone. You may feel abandoned, but God does not abandon His own. Circumstances may cause your knees to buckle, cause your heart to ache, but the God who keeps Israel, will keep you too, even in the midst of this particular trial.

The Word of God has lesson after lesson about how God has kept His saints. There are people in your circle who can testify how God has been a very present help in their time of trouble. Not only was God helping, not only was God rescuing, but God was present while doing it.  They will tell you that they experienced God’s presence. There are those in our circle who have experienced God’s rescue and can tell you first hand, that God’s presence is real. Listen to the sick and shut-in report. God has been moving, God has been touching lives. Sometimes God acts by giving us the strength to just hang on. Sometimes God acts by giving us the strength to hold on. Understand this, however, when the situation unfolds, God is there with us.

It is normal and natural to feel abandoned in times of trial and conflict. When there are no answers, it is almost impossible for us to understand.  None of what is going on makes sense to us.  It is not a sin to feel forsaken or lost.  It reveals our humanity and our need to have God’s active strength and power in our lives.  The God we serve is not offended by our frailties.  It is because of our weakness, it is because of our shortcomings that God extends His grace and mercy.

We sing the song, “Your grace and mercy has brought me through. I’m living each moment because of you, I want to thank you and praise you to, Your grace and mercy has brought me through.”  This song speaks to the ever “present God” in our lives.  When we sing “I’m living each moment because of you,” we are saying that God is our constant companion.  That every moment I live because of God’s personal involvement in my life.  God is there all the time.  God does not move.  Our awareness of God may diminish at times, but God’s presence does not.  We have come to know this over time. Even though we sometimes become fearful and doubt, God does not ever abandon us because of it.

But it is the lessons taught to us by those who have gone before us. The lessons that tell us and teaches us that God is always faithful. The lessons that teach us we are never alone.  Sometimes, it is through the testimony of others; sometimes, it is through the prayers of others. Sometimes, it’s a kind word, a gentle touch.  It is all a demonstration of God’s presence in our lives. It is a statement that says no matter how you feel, no matter how dark the moment, you are not alone.

I have discovered God displays His companionship in a variety of ways. Through people, words, and touch. People are the instruments of God. God gives us each a melody to play when others are in need of God’s help.  It is a melody that is unique for our particular situation and our particular trouble.  Only you can play this melody. Only you can reach out and love someone enough to show them the love of God that prevails in this world. As long as there is a Child of God in the world, no one needs to ever be alone.

Pastor Gool

Psalm 8: 5-6; Hebrews 2:6-9

We all believe that life is the most valuable commodity of all. Certainly no one can dispute that. However, the next greatest or most important part of living life are the decisions we make in our service to God and each other. That is another way of asking “what are we doing, what have done with our lives?”

Some will reflect upon this question and wonder what they have or have not done. I assure you; you have done something with your life. Be it at play or in your home or in the workplace, we all have done something with our lives. The question that we must answer is, “have we done it in a way that glorified God or people?” There is a song that asks the question, “What If God?” “What if God were unhappy with our praise? What if God is not pleased with the words we say? What if God were unhappy with the way we live? What if God were unhappy with the way we live? Would God take away His love and His Spirit from above? What if God were unhappy with our praise?

Much of our living is in the pursuit of happiness. We have fully understood that happiness always comes from the outside. Happiness is always like pleasure connected to the external dimension of life and living.  I wonder have we given any thought to the idea that as brief as life is we get bored with it. Life becomes monotonous, repetitive in its living. Why? Another significant thought to consider is this: There has never been anything in our lives that we have not grown tired of. There is not a thing in our lives that we have done that we possess or have done that ceases to please us after a while. There is nothing that completely satisfies a human being. There is no outcome, no result that utterly and completely satisfies us completely and for all times.

We live our lives pursuing dream after dream. We spend countless years in school or in training to accomplish a particular goal or career. In the end where do we find our joy. What gives us happiness? Can it be found in what we have been doing, in what we have been pursuing?

There will be some who became president and held leadership positions who did more harm than good. Sowed more hate and created more unrest in very short time than many in history. They will have lived but what did they contribute to the good of God or society. There will be others who became president and the country and world revered and added to society, yet in the end they to fade into the dustbin of history. Others who became dishwashers. Considered by some to be a job beneath them. When they cleaned, they made sure every dish, every spoon, knife and fork, every pot and pan was pristine. They entered the room with a smile. They lifted the spirits of those around them. People looked forward to seeing them. They brought the “A” game God gave them. They came giving not looking to receive. They were the empty vessels waiting on God to fill them.

The Psalmist asks the question what is (life) man that thou are mindful of (him) it?

Jesus asks the question “what does it profit a man to gain his whole life and lose his soul?” In both scriptures the value of life is not measured by how much you have but by your relationship with God. Understanding your relationship with God is and always has been paramount.

The Psalmist and the writer of Hebrews are asking us do we understand that we were made a little lower than the angels. Do we understand that in the world that God created humanity is the most important part of all creation? That in the created world God is most concerned about us human beings. God is so concerned about us and the planet that God watches over us day and night. God gave us dominion over the planet and our lives. We get to choose how our lives and move on a day-to-day basis for the most part. At least attitudinally if not in fact. Yet much of what we do eventually becomes empty. Why? Is it because our focus is not in the right place. Where should our focus be? Is there a perspective we could embrace that would change every life around the world. The answer is a resounding yes.

Only what we do for Christ will last. Only what we do Christ brings satisfactory joy. Only what we do for Christ stands. Only our decisions for Christ matter. Only the love we demonstrate in service to Christ in marriage, friendships, relationships, in life will last.

Life, any life that finds its basis for existence in self and the world soon becomes empty and void of meaning. That kind of life lands on the island where the superficial and hollow live. It is a hologram of substance and meaning. Searching for that peace and joy that has eluded them all their lives. It is only when we find peace in Christ that we find peace in life. It is only when we find joy in Christ that we find joy in life. Until they find that peace in Christ. They wander in the darkness confused because they believed the darkness is the light and in their confusion never saw the path that leads to salvation and rescue. They did not embrace or believe that:

“Only What is Done For Christ Will Last.”

You may build great cathedrals large or small,
you can build skyscrapers grand and tall,
you may conquer all the failures of the past,
but only what you do for Christ will last.

Remember only what You do for Christ will last.
Remember only what you do for Christ will last,
only what you do for Him will be counted at the end;
only what you do for Christ will last.

You may seek earthly power and fame,
the world might be impressed by your great name,
soon the glories of this life will all be past,
but only what you do for Christ will last.

Remember only what You do for Christ will last.
Remember only what you do for Christ will last,
only what you do for Him will be counted at the end;
only what you do for Christ will last.

Though your armies may control each hemisphere,
and your orbits out in space cause men to cheer,
your scientific knowledge may be vast,
but only what you do for Christ will last.

Remember only what You do for Christ will last.
Remember only what you do for Christ will last,
only what you do for Him will be counted at the end;
only what you do for Christ will last.

Though your song and prayers are heard and praised by man,
they have no meaning unless you’ve been born again,
sinner, heed these words, don’t let this harvest pass,
for only what you do for Christ will last.

Remember only what You do for Christ will last.
Remember only what you do for Christ will last,
only what you do for Him will be counted at the end;
only what you do for Christ will last.



Pastor Gool

Matthew 6:25-30

As we grow older the thoughts of death linger in the back of our minds. We wonder how much life we have left to live.  The Bible is filled with words that encourage us not to worry about tomorrow.  For if God takes care of the sparrows God will certainly care for us.  This truth is at the heart of our faith in God, yet the idea still lingers in our minds, and we are the only one of God’s creatures who can truly contemplate the future and remember the past.

I believe that part of the death that God was speaking of when He admonished Adam and Eve of the penalty for eating of the tree of good and evil would be death.  I believe we die many times thinking about that reality. I offer this thought that I was given, and hope it moves you towards a new outlook on the end of life.

You know… time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.

It seems just yesterday that I was young and embarking on my new life. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.

But here it is… the last quarter of my life and it catches me by surprise… How did I get here so fast?  Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that I was only on the first quarter and the fourth quarter was so far off that I could not visualize it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But here it is… my friends are retired and getting gray… they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me… but, I see the great change. Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant… but, like me, their age is beginning to show, and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d become.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory! Because if I don’t on my own free will… I fall asleep where I sit!

And so… now I enter this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!! But at least I know, though I’m on the last quarter and I’m not sure how long it will last… this I know, that when it’s over on this earth… it’s over.  A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done… things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not on the last quarter yet… let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether you’re on the last quarter or not!

You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life…. so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember… and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!

“Life” is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.  Make it a fantastic one.




Remember, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.


~ Going out is good…

 Coming home is better!

~ You forget names….

But it’s OK because some people forgot they even knew you!!!

~ The things you used to care to do, you aren’t as interested in anymore, but you really don’t care that you aren’t as interested.

~ You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV ‘ON’ than in bed.  It’s called “pre-sleep”.

~ You miss the days when everything worked with just an “ON” and “OFF” switch.

~ You tend to use more 4 letter words … “what?”…”when?”… ???

 ~ You have lots of clothes in your wardrobe, more than half of which you will never wear.

Old Songs, Old movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS!!

~ But Old is good in some things:

The movement of life is constant and never ending.  If we are truly Children of God, then we know that death does not have the last word.  The grave is not our final destination. Heaven is our home.  In meantime, enjoy life as it is given day by day. Friend by friend. Those we love will appreciate us for doing just that. For in doing that we will be teaching how to live a blessed and gracious life.


Pastor Gool