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Tag Archive | "Herb VanderBilt"

Our security


Pastor Herb VanderBilt 

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024  18 Mile Rd. Cedar Springs MI 49319

 

Ephesians 6:10-18: Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. 

It is a dangerous world today and it seems that our foundation of security is being challenged. We live in the most advanced and prosperous country in the world and yet a little thing like a virus has shaken our security. When I saw a picture of the protection suit that Ebola health care workers have to wear it reminded me of the words from the apostle Paul to the little struggling church in Ephesus, who was not struggling with a virus but with evil. Today we still struggle with dark forces that keep us from connecting with God and each other.

The image portrayed in the text from Ephesians is roughly the armor that was worn by foot soldiers at the time, but we can also apply it to the protection gear that we see on the news every day. One of the issues with the previous failure of the hazmat suit was it left open skin exposed, and in Paul’s description he reminds us that we need to put on the full armor of God.

I tried to imagine what this kind of armor is. In ancient times it was hard and tough materials like leather or steel, but in our metaphor today it is high tech polymers and plastics that are designed to be water-proof and germ-proof but at the same time light weight. In other words, the armor of God does not have to weigh us down or be a burden. In fact, the armor of God that Paul is talking about to this little church in Ephesus is invisible to the eye but is something that we feel surrounding us.

Each piece listed on the suit of armor is important. Even the Hazmat suit, as we have found out, is not perfect and has some gaps. And so it is with our defense against all of the hazards of this world today. I think that is why Paul reminds us not just to hide behind our shield but to stay vigilant, stay alert and keep praying in the spirit. The true enemies in this life are not germs, viruses or even bad people; they are those temptations that we face every day that try to separate us from God. The Apostle Paul reminds us in the letter to the Romans that not even death can do that. With His armor in place, nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ.

 

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Getting excited about church


C-East-Nelson-UnitedPastor Herb VanderBilt 

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd. • Cedar Springs MI 49319

 

It made me glad to hear them say, “Let’s go to the house of the Lord!” Psalm 122.

 

When was the last time you got excited about going to church for Sunday worship? I know that there are days when all of us wished we could stay home especially this winter with all the cold weather and snow making it hard to get to church. How many times do you go home complaining that you didn’t get much out of the service? Guess what? You may have received more than you think. According to William Morrow even falling asleep in church may be good for you. After all it is the Easter season and getting woke up in the service may be a reminder of the Resurrection. William goes on to say that “fully 50% of what happens in a worship service is at the unconscious level of the mind.”In other words we don’t know how the benefits accrue. They just do. As long as you go there, your inner self is soaking up the messages, many even unspoken. You don’t have to take notes or remember the theme of the sermon or “meditation”. Go with your five senses open to absorbing the beauty of the music, the surrounding symbols that embrace you and the enacted ceremonies of unconditional love and acceptance…where else but in a religiously motivated community can you find people who befriend and support you?

Many people today have given up on the church saying that it is outdated and not relevant anymore. That is unfortunate because I have  found some of the most relevant and up-to-date ideas come from people excited to be a part of a community of folks who are all connected together in Love to help each other grow in faith. I’m glad to go into the house of the Lord.

 

 

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New Community


C-East-Nelson-UnitedPastor Herb VanderBilt 

East Nelson United Methodist Church

9024 18 Mile Rd. • Cedar Springs MI 49319

 

Acts 2:42-47: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Community is important. According to some sources, the housing market is beginning to come back from the collapse a few years ago.  Home ownership is part of what some perceive as the “American Dream.” Critical to the value of a house is its location, what kind of community does it belong to. People fixing up their homes, taking care of lawns and landscaping are also signs of a stable community. Another sign of a vital community is people care for their neighbors and those in the community who need help.

When Jesus ascended after his death and resurrection a new community was being built. Life in Jerusalem during the time of the Apostles was rather messed up. The Jews, a remnant of a once powerful and cohesive community, were now living in a broken down community of Roman law and oppressive laws being applied by the religious community, especially on the poor and disfigured. Jesus taught that God loved his people so much that he was willing to start a new covenant as the old one had fallen apart when the people began to fall away from God. This was Good News in a land that was desperate for some good news. As the message of God’s grace began to be heard by both Jews and Gentiles alike, a new community was being formed, a community based on the fact that both the Jews and the Gentiles alike were equal in this new way. In fact, one of the first names for the church before it became the church were “People of the way.” And what was this new way? Besides telling and retelling the story of Jesus Christ, they also came together and celebrated their new sense of unity and the things they had in common.

Today we read this scripture and say, “well that was a long time ago when everything was new and being a Christian was radical. Folks today just don’t get that excited anymore and many Christians can’t get along with each other.” Well that may be true in many places but there are signs that things may be changing in the Cedar Springs Community. Consider these as today’s signs and wonders:

The United Worship service at Morley park

Kid’s Hope mentoring program

EnGedi-an after school program

Plans for a school for troubled Teens (Second Chance)

North Kent Service Center and Cedar Springs Community Food panty

I am sure there are more so let’s thank God for our community.

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