St. John's Group Email A Good Evening Devotion

A good little devotional thought before you go to bed or when you get up in the morning. 



Definitely worth the read, . VERY touching!
Father John Powell, a professor at Loyola University in Chicago, writes about a student in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy:

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith. That was the day I first saw Tommy. He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders. 

It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long.
I guess it was just coming into fashion then. I know in my mind that it isn't what's on your head but what's in it that counts; but on that day. I was unprepared and my emotions flipped. 

I immediately filed Tommy under "S" for strange... Very strange. 

Tommy turned out to be the "atheist in residence" in my Theology of Faith course. 

He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father/God. We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew. 

When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a cynical tone, "Do you think I'll ever find God?"
I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. "No!" I said very emphatically.
"Why not," he responded, "I thought that was the product you were pushing."

I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then I called out, "Tommy! I don't think you'll ever find Him, but I am absolutely certain that He will find you!" He shrugged a little and left my class and my life. 

I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line -- He will find you! At least I thought it was clever. 

Later I heard that Tommy had graduated, and I was duly grateful. 

Then a sad report came. I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer.

Before I could search him out, he came to see me. 

When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe. 

"Tommy, I've thought about you so often; I hear you are sick," I blurted out. 

"Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It's a matter of weeks."
"Can you talk about it, Tom?" I asked.
"Sure, what would you like to know?" he replied.
"What's it like to be only twenty-four and dying?
"Well, it could be worse.
"Like what?"

"Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals, like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real biggies in life." 

I began to look through my mental file cabinet under "S" where I had filed Tommy as strange. (It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification, God sends back into my life to educate me.)

"But what I really came to see you about," Tom said, "is something you said to me on the last day of class." (He remembered!) He continued, "I asked you if you thought I would ever find God and you said, 'No!' which surprised me. Then you said, 'But He will find you.' I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time. (My clever line. He thought about that a lot!) "But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, that's when I got serious about locating God.And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven. 

But God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened. Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success? 

You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying. And then you quit.

"Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit. I decided that I didn't really care about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable. I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: 

'The essential sadness is to go through life without loving..'

But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them. 

"So, I began with the hardest one, my Dad. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him.
"Yes, what?" he asked without lowering the newspaper.
"Dad, I would like to talk with you."
"Well, talk."
"I mean. It's really important."
The newspaper came down three slow inches. "What is it?"
"Dad, I love you, I just wanted you to know that." Tom smiled at me and said it with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him.
"The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before. He cried and he hugged me. We talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning." 

"It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me."
"It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years." 

"I was only sorry about one thing --- that I had waited so long."

"Here I was, just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to.. 

"Then, one day I turned around and God was there. 

"He didn't come to me when I pleaded with Him. I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop, 'C'mon, jump through. C'mon, I'll give you three days, three weeks."

Apparently God does things in His own way and at His own hour. 

"But the important thing is that He was there. He found me! You were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for Him.

"Tommy," I practically gasped, "I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize. To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make Him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love.. 

You know, the Apostle John said that. He said: 'God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him. 

"Tom, could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain. But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now. Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me? If I told them the same thing it wouldn't be half as effective as if you were to tell it.." 

"Oooh.. I was ready for you, but I don't know if I'm ready for your class." 

"Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call." 

In a few days Tom called, said he was ready for the class, that he wanted to do that for God and for me. 

So we scheduled a date. 

However, he never made it. He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class. 

Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. 

He made the great step from faith into vision. He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined. 

Before he died, we talked one last time. 

"I'm not going to make it to your class," he said.
"I know, Tom."
"Will you tell them for me? Will you...tell the whole world for me?"

I will, Tom. I'll tell them. I'll do my best."

So, to all of you who have been kind enough to read this simple story about God's love, thank you for listening. And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven --- I told them, Tommy, as best I could. 

If this story means anything to you, please pass it on to a friend or two.

It is a true story and is not enhanced for publicity purposes. 

With thanks, Rev. John Powell, Professor,
Loyola University , Chicago

St. John's Group Email men's retreat-- save the date

The date for our men's retreat next year will be September 28-30.  Mark it on your calendar and don't plan anything else!!!

St. John's Group Email Wednesday, Dec 7, 2011

DEVOTION: "Denial"

December 7, 2011

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down, and worshipped Him. ... Matthew 2:11a

The month of December has our televisions putting forth a great many Christmas specials.

Of course, there are Christmas specials and there are Christmas specials.

Among the best of those featured is A Charlie Brown Christmas, which has Linus relating the entire story of Jesus' birth. At the other end of the spectrum will probably be a program that is going to air in Canada.

It is called A Russell Peters Christmas Special!

Although I know attempts at censorship often have a reverse effect, I would encourage our Canadian viewers to give that program a wide berth. Now I wouldn't ask that of you if I didn't have a reason.

The reason is this: Pamela Anderson -- the girl from Baywatch, the star of the TV series Stacked, the lady whose honeymoon film was videotaped and shared -- has been cast to play the role of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus.

To be honest, I haven't seen the program or read the skit in which Ms. Anderson is featured. While it may be quite tasteful, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say it will probably strive for some pretty cheap laughs.

Explaining his choice of stars to an upset religious audience, Mr. Peters said they picked Pam Anderson because she is a Canadian, and they wanted Canadians on the show. I can understand that. We should support our local folk whenever we can. Still I wonder if there weren't any other Canadian actresses, actresses without a questionable reputation, who might have been called on to play the part.

This really takes us to the point of this devotion. In one way or another, the world has always tried to kill off the Savior. Herod tried to do it with his soldiers; comedians try to do it with their jokes. In spite of their best efforts Jesus remains for hundreds of millions, the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of our souls.

This is why, this Advent season if you're given a choice between going to a worship service or seeing one of these questionable Christmas specials, I pray you will see the Christ and not one of His disrespectful critics. I pray you may see that which is really special.

THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, the world doesn't want Jesus to be revered, respected or worshipped. I give thanks that in spite of king and comic, Jesus remains the Savior for millions, and He is the Savior for me. This Christmas may Christian pulpits proudly proclaim the coming of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. In Jesus' Name. Amen

YESTERDAY'S QUIZ:     Who was Titus? 
(today's answer is straight from Dianne Hance)
one of Paul's converts and a considerable help to Paul in his ministry.  When Paul left Antioch he took Titus with him  Titus was a Gentile and believed to
be a capable and resourceful leader.  He helped Paul at Ephesus, Corinth, Crete and Dalmatia.
TODAY'S QUIZ:  What does the phrase "Abba Father" mean?
6th commandment: You shall not commit adultery
Question: What does this mean?
We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.   
Wed- supper 5:30; bells 6; worship 7; choir 7:30
Thurs- nothing scheduled
Fri- Bible study at Hendershot's 7pm
Sat- 9-11 Children's program practice; 3rd-7th grade singers - 9:00; 7th & 8th grade instrumentalists - 10:00; worship 5pm; youth group Christmas party 6:30
Sun- Bible study 8; worship 9; Sunday school and Bible study 10:15
If you weren't in church yesterday come next Sunday to see what that means. 
TONIGHT, WEDNESDAY, DEC 7 is the second Midweek Advent dinner and worship. 
 If your elder is Jim Rahn, SteveMcDowell, or Dave Winter you are responsible for bringing a side dish, and a salad or dessert for our first dinner.  Your elder will be calling you in the days and weeks ahead. 
We will be having a special interview with ABRAHAM as part of our worship at 7pm!
They will be distributed next week so please get them in pronto! 
Hey high school kids, please come to  Gary and Teresa Scott's house with a white elephant (funny joke gift) to share and to enjoy some good food, fun, and fellowship. 
Please sign the sheet in the narthex by Wednesday, Deember 14.  They are $12.50 each. 
Each time you purchase flowers and other gifts from A MOMENT OF GRACE and tell them you are a member at St. John's, the church receives a tithe from them.   A Moment of Grace is located at 511 N Hwy 47 and the phone number is 456-9334.
PRAYERS: (If I have missed anyone please let me know.)
For EMMA, seven year old granddaughter of Terry and Lynn Russell, and great granddaughter of Elaine Schauer, who has an unidentified growth near her abdomen.
For the FAMILY OF BILL SAGER, former member of St. John's who moved to Oklahoma about five years ago, as he passed away Sunday night after a stroke and who is being laid tor rest today.
For EARL AND PAT EHLMANN, former members of St. Johns, as Earl's father passed away at age 101. 
For THE FAMILY OF RUTH CANTRELL as they mourn her passing from death to eternal life.
For the FAMILY OF LEONARD BASS as he passed away to Wednesdays ago and his funeral was last Friday.
For CHERYL HAZEL who is Lil Winter's, daughter in-law's cousin.  She has Stage 4 bone cancer. 
For BONNIE FRENZIA who is doing much better at home.  
For RICH (son of Burket Fickle - she works for Dr. Brady DDS here in Warrenton).  He has been, and is, very sick and keeps running high fevers and they don't seem to find out what is causing his illness.
For KEN WAGNER who is at St. Joes in St Charles, and is going through physical therapy after a fractured vertebrae in his neck.
For JANICE MCKENZIE who is having trouble w/ breathing and is undergoing tests.
For ED KOHRS who is at Delmar Gardens in Chesterfield
For Robyn McNew's cousin MARY KUTRIP who is dealing with terminal cancer and has quit doing treatments for it. 
For JONAS BORCHERT, grandson of Don Nolte, who continues to be up and down because of chemotherapy treatments.   


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