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November 25, 2014, 1:56 PM

Father Chris' Corner

Lip service be gone. Hope is the very essence of our existence. In the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul as he wrote to the people at Rome reminded them that “Hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (5:5). When we hope, we are speaking of a wishful approach to life that something may or may not turn out in a particular way, our hope is the assurance that if we make the right decisions like investing in our youth with love and determination for goodness, the Holy Spirit will take us to the end of our journey.

When we look at our surroundings and we see the strife and violence that exist around us both near and far, we conclude that if our young people are given a chance to be involved in wholesome activity and be part of something that will not only build character but build camaraderie with other youth who have similar goals, we stand a good chance at debunking untoward behavior. We cannot continue to wake up with lumps in our throat at the violence that we see in homes and in the streets of America without being ripped apart by the reality that this is not how God meant his world to be. We have to put resources in the right places to raise up a different people with a quest for righteousness and clean living—seeing the eyes of Jesus in all people.

This is the hope of the people who love God and goodness. This is the hope for this little town of Haines City. This is the hope of those of us who recently sent a young man to Camp Wingmann, an annual youth camp, and when he returned with a written report of his experience, none of the eyes of those of us who read it remained dry because we know what can happen if only we had the wherewithal to immediately keep him in a similar environment during the school week. Our children are yearning for this kind of wholesome experience, and the plans we have for them will offer just that, because hope is the very essence of our existence. We have to put our money where our mouth is—lip service be gone. 

Yours, for the building up of God’s kingdom.

Fr. Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                                2014-11-30


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October 26, 2014, 10:46 PM

Let us Get Back to Basics

Back in 1989 when I was president of the Rotary club of St. Thomas II, I made a point as I sat at the dais to make note of those members who were absent. After the meeting, I would make a phone call to those whom I could reach. At that time the club had a membership 102 people with an average attendance of 50/60% 

By the middle of my tenure as president, it rose to 80-90%. That is why I go through the exercise of making note of those regular attendees who worship here but are absent. Sometimes I may know the reason for the absence but I still make a note of them because in the church, there are three distinct things that happen when people don't come to church.

First people disappoint Jesus because Jesus calls us all to fellowship into a community of worshipers. We ought to understand that the church is God's creation and the church is where God's people come together in community to worship.

Second, when people are absent they disappoint their fellow worshipers who look to them for friendship in the congregation. People don't only come to worship but they come to fellowship with one another. The chemistry in this congregation sends positive messages to our visitors, but more important, that loving chemistry creates concern for one another so when you look around and note that someone is absent; you need to reach out to that person or persons and see if there is a need for a pastoral visit or something else. There is a void in the place when that person you are accustomed to offering the peace, a hug, or just to love on, is absent. So if you don’t see your friend please call him/her. On the flip side if you are going to be absent please tell someone; that small act will help strengthen our church family.

Third, because people are not committed to pledging and/or tithing, when they are absent so is their money. Even though the bills continue, the church expenses continue, and the obligations continue. When people don't come to church they rarely connect with the need to double up their giving when they do come.  

I may add that most of the congregation is made up of people who in former times understood the passing of the plate and would either drop something in the plate or bow to the plate if there was nothing to drop in it.

The church calls us to a different level of understanding and commitment. The church is not a man originated plan, it is God’s plan for God’s people coming together in fellowship with one another. God commands us to pray, work, and give.  He ask us to give the first fruits of our labor to God—to give 10% of our money for the furtherance of his work in this part of his vineyard.  I become deeply troubled with that level of disobedience when people fail to comply. People pray to God for job and or financial resources and with God’s help he provides them with the job, but one of the first things people do is bargain with God as to what they are going to give to his work.

Here is what scripture says:

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. (Malachi 3:8-10)

Let us pause for a moment and understand something as simple as breathing. We all need oxygen to survive, but if we only breathe in and don’t breathe out we will still die. As simple as this may sound if we keep all our money and don’t share it we will die spiritually. If we share it marginally, we will live marginally. Full obedience to God is inextricably tied to the fullness of life.

Ten percent of our money is what the Lord demands. Rather than giving 10% people put specific numbers like $20 or $15 or $30 and stick to that whether it represents 4, 5, 6 or 10%. That is not what we are called to do; we are called to give 10% of our money for the work of the church.

 I cannot tell people that they will be blessed or not blessed because of the level of their giving, but this I know, God is faithful, God does not make mistakes, God's truth is at work and if God commands his church to respond to his goodness and faithfulness with our tithes and offering we will bless him with our obedience.

I think that people will grow up spiritually and bless God if they be obedient and move forward to the mission to which God has called us.

Let us get back to basics and call people to come to church.


Yours, for the building up of God’s kingdom


Fr. Chris                                                                                                                                                                           2014-10-26

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October 5, 2014, 6:15 PM

Father Chris Corner - Bible Study

Regular Bible study has to be an integral part of Christian growth. One has set aside time to peruse and steep him or herself in the word of God for the sake of spiritual nourishment. One of the early church fathers wrote and I quote, "one is able to speak more or less wisely to the extent that one has made progress in the holy Scriptures I don't mean just reading them frequently and committed them to memory, but understanding them and diligently exploring their senses to see into the heart of them with the eyes of the heart" this is why Bible study for us Christians at all levels of growth is so important. He continued by saying, "The progress that one makes through the study of Scripture cannot be measured by how much one reads or even knows by heart because it is not the words themselves that ultimately matter but how one perceives their meaning in the core of one's being." Bible study commences at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 102 N 9th Street. Haines City, FL 33844.

October 5, 2014

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September 22, 2014, 9:11 AM

Father Chris' Corner - September 21

God’s Purpose is Peace

Today September 21, is the United Nations International Day of Peace and all of us as Christians should be thankful that nations of the world would set aside a day to honor peace. What is frightening about the day is this, there is still warring, and despicable acts of violence threatening all of humankind all over the world. Peace, we can talk about it, we can try to rationalize its meaning, we can try to fathom what it would be like if we truly lived in a utopia, but none of this will come about until we all understand and recognize that God’s purpose is peace.

Peace comes when we honor our Creator in a way that causes us to be constantly reflective of our own being—a way that says to us, you too are created in the image of God. The elements of war come from deep seated hatred, lawlessness, revenge, and the unwillingness to be forgiving.  In our world leaders are blinded to the possibilities of peace, but only need to look to God who is the author of peace and the lover of concord.

The Psalmist says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.  He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.  Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah” (Psalm 46)

If then we as Christians believe God’s word to be true, we are held accountable for doing all we can to bring peace to God’s world. Let us then on this day and always do all we can to honor God, because his purpose is peace.

Yours, for the building up of God’s kingdom.

Fr. Chris


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