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Tag Archive | "East Nelson Church"

Heart of Faith


Pastor Inge Whittemore

East Nelson Church 9024 18 Mile Rd., Cedar Springs MI. 49319 | (616)- 696-0661 | eastnelsonumc@yahoo.com

I was blessed to visit the place where it is believed that Jesus fed 5,000 people with a few loaves and fishes. I was on a tour of the Holy Land and we’d taken a picturesque boat ride across the Sea of Galilee to where the Church of the Loaves and Fishes stands in commemoration. It is not far from the town of Capernaum. 

I thought about the people who chased after Jesus and met up with him the next day asking for yet another sign. “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35 NIV).

The people shook their heads in disbelief. They were stuck in their old thinking and couldn’t really hear Jesus. I thought about the trust needed to accept the life- giving bread of Jesus. It means we need to have faith that God will provide all we need. It also means that by trusting in God we will be satisfied but the problem is some of us always want more.

We need real soul food. The questioners ask Jesus for a sign but they had already received a sign. This story, told in all four gospels, tells of people being fed by a few loaves and fish and it is so similar to the wilderness story of bread. Manna was plentiful and easy to receive for the wandering Israelites.   

Are we eating from the bread of today? Are we stuck on our ways of worship, our political thought, our ideas of strength and opportunity? Are we eating a low calorie kind of diet of religious convenience that satisfies our own particular wants, rather than dining at the table loaded with the food that endures. Are we holding on to our manna overnight only to discover it’s spoiled and we are hungry again in the morning?

You see, this is not a just past tense story of how Moses gave bread and Jesus fed the thousands. It is a current story of how God gives bread even today. Those questioners of Jesus may have eaten bread (and fish) the prior day on the hillside but they missed the miracle that happened then and was still happening because the true “Bread of Life” stood directly in front of them. They missed it.

Martin Luther tells us that the whole of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are summed up in just two little words—for you. The body of our Lord Jesus Christ given for you. The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ shed for you.

This is the heart of faith! The God of all creation is the same God who loves us so much that he gave his life for ours on the cross and gives himself in simple bread and wine. Don’t go hungry! Don’t starve yourself! Come to the table and eat.

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Love is all we need


Pastor Inge Whittemore

East Nelson Church

9024 18 Mile Rd, Cedar Springs

 

“What the world needs now… is love sweet love. That’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” I bet the tune came to you! Dionne Warwick sang the song back in 1968 and it was really needed in that turbulent year when Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were killed. The Vietnam War was raging, and protests and riots filled the streets. This song about love pierced through the cacophony of anger and anxiety of those days.  

The funny thing is that someone recently sang that song at an event I attended and the words rang true again. The song is needed in these turbulent times of discord and division. It seems as though this is a time when no one knows what to believe anymore. No one knows whom to trust.

But love transcends time and is something to hold onto. It is in a simple answer that Jesus gave to an inquiring expert wanting to know which law was the most important. He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself» (Luke 10:27 NIV).

He simplified all the rules and laws into these two things. Love God. Love people. He didn’t qualify it in any way. It was and is a wide open entreaty to everyone and is as relevant today as ever.  

Love for God and neighbor is like two sides of one coin. They are two different things yet they are one. Still, we all know that love is complicated. It is a lot of different emotions and actions. Here are just a few ways to look at this complicated thing called love.  

Love is a function of surrender. Loving God is surrendering our will and our hearts and our trust to God. Surrendering to God means we set aside our own plans and look for God’s plan for us. The good news is that God wants the best for us! When we love God, it means we place our humble trust in Him and show others that God can be trusted with everything in our lives. The more we surrender to God, the more our human nature is replaced by a nature that looks more and more like Jesus.

Love is a function of commitment. We might feel warmed with gratitude when we consider all that God has done for us but love is more than being thankful. It is a stubborn, unwavering commitment to God and others. To love our neighbor is to imitate God by taking their needs seriously just as God takes our needs seriously.

Love is a function of compassion. Compassion for others is the reflection of God’s loving compassion for us. It is having an interest and concern in the welfare of our neighbor. It is the generosity of giving of ourselves; not just money but concern, interest, time and involvement. 

We humans search for love because we are made in the image of God and God is love. When we read deeply into the scriptures, when we don’t simply take a thin slice at them we discover that every action that God has taken toward humanity is because He loves us. So let us surrender to God, commit our lives, and be compassionate to others as we work to live the way of Jesus Christ in all we do. Love is all you need.   

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Amazing hope


Pastor Inge Whittemore

East Nelson Church

9024 18 Mile Rd, Cedar Springs

 

Easter is coming! I remember looking forward to it as a kid because it meant Easter baskets, candy, those little fluffy yellow chicks with wire legs and feet, and then there were the marshmallow peeps–yum! That’s what Easter meant to me even though I was a life-long church going kid.

That’s because the story of Jesus rising from the dead was way too difficult to wrap my mind around. I didn’t really even understand death since I didn’t know anyone who had died. 

Now, I’m a whole lot older and have lived through many things. I understand the finality of death and the amazing hope found in the resurrection of Jesus. Why? Because I no longer feel condemned by the things (sins) I’ve done. I can live without regrets and guilt because Jesus handled it! Those things are behind me, gone, wiped out, buried and forgotten by God because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  

I know that God will provide. Any doubts I have I can bring to God. I can bring them to God and I don’t need to be afraid because God has shown amazing compassion to even those who really doubted (think Job or Thomas, who even required that Jesus show his hands and feet). If God loved those big doubters, He will surely love me.

I also know that I have a peace that has overcome the fears I’ve had. I know that my redeemer lives and because of that all my fear is replaced with awe, wonder and faith. I know that I can pray and I will be heard by a God who is so loving that he gave his only son for me. When I struggle, Jesus knows what that’s all about because he lived a human life and when I bring those struggles to him he gives me peace through the Holy Spirit.

See, if you are struggling, feeling overwhelmed, worried or fearful please understand that Jesus knows your heart and wants to step into it and conquer those difficult feelings. He creates a new heart and continues to work inside of each of us. We are new creations because of Jesus.  

That’s why Easter is exciting!

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