Give Generously and Receive Graciously

From Mark Olsen, Pastor of Chapel by the Sea, Lincoln City, Oregon

The following Scripture from the book of James hit my soul this week. James, as he describes the consistent nature of God, helped me to look beyond what I’ve been feeling (tired, frustrated and in pain from my recent knee operation) and see the generous acts of your giving through the perfect gift of God’s love.
“Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
God is consistent. God doesn’t have good and bad days. We are human, we are affected by what goes on around us. Our moods change with the seasons or a full moon. We are prone to be selfish, and self-absorbed. We get tired, bored, and anxious and act accordingly. When we are cold or hot, full or hungry, lonely or the life of the party, the way we react to world around us changes by the way we feel. God gave humans feelings that change by what is going on around them. We are not consistent with our gifts of love and yet God is. If feelings affect us in such a way how is it that we can ever live up to God’s desire for us to love others as we are loved? How can we share God’s love when we are not in the mood? How can we share God’s love when we’re cold or hungry? How can we share God’s love when we’re anxious, scared, or mad? Yet that is what we are asked to do.
Give generously and receive graciously that is what we are to do. Give to others your friendship when you feel like you have no friends. Give food when you are hungry. Give a blanket when you are cold. Give healing to those who are hurting. It is in our giving that we can share in the perfect gift from above. Yes, we are humans and our bodies will wear out. Yes, we are humans and we all have our moods. Yes, we are humans and we are tempted to be selfish. Yes, give the gift of love to others and participate in the consistent love of God. And yet we may not be able to give so how do we then share God’s love? Receive God’s perfect love with a grateful heart, that is what we do! When you feel like you can’t give then open yourself to receive from others the perfect gift of love.
Whether we give or receive it is to God that we must look and put our trust. So, I along with the rest of us must be willing to give God’s love when I can and be willing to receive God’s love when I can’t. We must not let our feelings get the best of us for feelings are temporary. Know that God’s love is consistent, having no variation or shadow due to change.
“Be of love more careful, than everything” (E. E. Commings)
In the grace and peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ,
Pastor Mark


“Tell me what hurts me.”

From John Neal – John Knox Keiser

John’s Jottings 

There was an old Hasidic rabbi, who said that he discovered the meaning to life while listening to two peasants arguing in a Polish tavern.

Each was protesting how much he loved the other, when Ivan said to Peter, “Tell me what hurts me?” Peter looked at Ivan and said: “How can I know what hurts you?” Ivan’s answer was swift and very profound, “If you don’t know what hurts me, how can you say that you love me?” Yes, often that is precisely what real love is often about. I am very confident that our God knows what hurts us and that our real friends do also. When we are in the midst of suffering and pain, I am sure that God not only understands but is also very close offering us comfort and even help.

Sometimes there are people who ask me why we spend so much time in the worship service at JKPC sharing our joys and concerns. I believe that our reason for this part of the worship service is that it allows us to really model how we care about each other and about other people and events. “If you don’t know what hurts me then how can you say that you know me and love me?” I trust that you are praying not only for individuals.

I trust that you are praying for community-wide issues, national issues and even global issues. As JKPC moves closer to achieving our dreams, we need to be praying that we will have a vision for ministry that will match the wonders that happened in the past. I hope that recent national and wider issues make it clear how very important it is to stay connected. Hope to see you in worship.

In Christ,

Dr. John




“Easter People” from Mark Olsen Chapel by the Sea, Lincoln City


Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed!
Easter, the holiday, is over but not its transformational power in our daily lives. Easter was the day the disciples began to tell the good news of Jesus’s resurrection. The disciples had the advantage of seeing the resurrected living Jesus in a body that should have been dead. They had the advantage of exploring the truth of resurrection. They looked, they heard, they touched and then believed. Their faith led them to proclaim, “My Lord and my God.” Their trust in what they witnessed overflowed into everything they did. They went out to the ends of the world sharing with all they encountered the love of God through the good news of resurrection. They could not stop themselves from sharing with others the Kingdom of God they now understood and abided in. Two thousand years later the good news continues to be shared by those who have encountered the Love of God through the reality of the resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit as it gave birth to the living church.
As a church we remind each other of the good news of Easter even though we walk in a world that fears death, sickness, poverty and loss. As a church we come together to worship God and to celebrate the sacraments. As a church we pool our resources to reach out to those in need of shelter, food, healing and forgiveness. As a church we come together to hear and study the teachings of God (through Scriptures, preaching, singing and prayer). As a church we come together for encouragement, hope and love. The church is so much more than a building. We are more than the number of people we fellowship with on Sunday. We, as the church, are the Spirit of God blowing through the world with the good news of Easter.
We are Easter people. We are a people with a story to tell. We are the church and we have God’s love to give.
Pastor Mark

Being “Jesusy” out in the World

geordiefrom Adult Ministries at Columbia Presbyterian, Vancouver

  by Geordie Ziegler associate Pastor

Each week I gather with a group of folks who together are seeking to intentionally “learn more from Jesus how to live.” There are a lot of layers to that statement, but one of the main things we are trying to build into our lives are ways to be more “Jesusy” out in the world, and to do that together, and to do that across generations.    So last week, after sharing a simple meal together which we do each week, we took a field trip. Our group of 13 adults and 3 kids split up into 6 smaller groups (2 adults or 2 adults + 1 kid), got in our cars, and headed out onto the highways and byways. The assignment was simple: go somewhere where there are people and encourage someone in the name of Jesus. Jesus’ name didn’t need to be mentioned, but if he came up somehow, that’s great, too.  But mainly, look for a way to love, bless, or encourage someone. Try to have at least one meaningful conversation. You’ve got 45 minutes to get back here.  Go!  And so we scattered–to Home Depot, Walmart, Dairy Queen, Tropical Smoothie, Whole Foods, Lowes…. Here are some reports from the field….

One from our Group: We went to Lowes and had several positive and easy conversations. All it took to begin was a smile and a, “How are you doing tonight,” to get the conversation started.  Talked to a mother of three with her kids and husband.  She way very pregnant and said they were trying to wear the kids out by walking through the stores so they would sleep because the baby was due at any time, perhaps that night.  We wished her well with her kids, husband, and new baby.

Another from our Group: Simply going into Natural Grocers with the intent of being kind and blessing someone with Christ’s love allowed us to have our eyes wide open to Son, the only visible worker that evening. She immediately responded to our simple questions and opened up easily. Both of us sense we made a connection, and look forward to going in to see her on her future shifts (which she readily told us about :-). After leaving the store we noticed a man in the parking lot who looked like he was having car trouble and might be in need. As it was, he was in the very process of asking for prayer on Facebook (through a live feed) for a family member who had gone missing.

Recognizing that we were part of an answer to his prayers, we were able to join with him and pray for his need right then and there!

Another boy (age 13) was part of a group of three that went to Dairy Queen. After getting our ice creams, we started walking around downtown Camas, which was pretty deserted on a Sunday night. Then a man approached us and sort of nervously asked for some money for dinner. Since we had been praying God would show us some way to be a blessing to someone, we immediately invited him to walk with us back to Dairy Queen. After buying his meal and getting to know him a bit, we were able to say a brief prayer for him and encourage him that God had put us in one another’s paths this night. We drove away that night with a deep sense of being participants in God’s ministry in this world.

A couple days later, he felt emboldened to show his faith at school.  Another member of our group, a girl (age 12), attends the same middle school as Matthew and described the event: “This week all the middle schools gave kids the option of doing a walk out where people walk outside and acknowledged the 17 people who died in Florida last month. Some kids at my school prepared things like speeches to present in front of everyone who walked outside. This boy was one of those people. He stood in front of everyone and led us in prayer. All the speeches and moments of silence touched people, but he really moved everyone.”

45-minutes later we were back at the house standing around the kitchen and sharing stories of our little “field trip” adventures. What a blessing to experience in so short a time, in some small and some large ways, the truth that God wants to use us to be a blessing to others–and the way that blessing, loving, and caring for another person returns to us as a blessing to our own hearts and souls and the circle continues…

Try the Other Side

by Chris Grewe, Savage Memorial Presbyterian Church



“Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them,“Children, you have no fish, have you?” They an-swered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.”   John 21: 4-6

God gets our attention at Easter. Whether it is the earthquake in Matthew’s account, or the angel seated on the rolled-away stone, or the joyous fanfare of anthems in our worship services, Easter is a spiritual high. There is the tangible busy-ness of Easter as well, of the family times or spring break or spring break-in of seasonal chores with the changing of the season.

However, afterward, for the disciples and for us, the tendency is to get back to our pre-Easter work. Life goes on. We cannot maintain the emotional high of Easter through the whole year long. Particularly for pastors and church musicians, the relief of after-Easter can be as welcome as the beauty and excitement of Easter itself.

And so it was for the first disciples. Simon Peter, a fisherman by trade, after the Resurrection, went back to what he knew best, fishing. He went with others, the sons of Zebedee, and they got back to work, work they needed to provide a livelihood. Yet there were no fish to be had.

How often do we get back to the work we do, doing what we know best, hoping to provide for our lives, and we get: nothing. With all complications and confusion and competing forces in our world, sometimes we think all we can do is get back to doing what we know best, what we have always

Perhaps we find ourselves lost in all the information overload and
confusion of today’s world. And we think the only course of action is to
go back to what we know.
Jesus had a different direction for his fishing disciples. He recognized
they were coming up empty. “Children, you have no fish, have you?” He
already knew the answer. The old ways are unsatisfying. We feel
empty. Jesus told the disciples, try the other side. Have you found
satisfaction, success, have you achieved that for which you were
aiming? No? Try something different. Peter Gomes says that, for so
many of us, living consists of simply maintaining, because we cannot
imagine doing anything else.
Jesus, on the other side of Easter, is offering us new life, the possibility
of freedom and the abundance of overflowing blessings. Our
transformation may not be instantaneous. It took the first disciples a
long while to become the evangelists, the witnesses, the forebears of
the Church today. Yet we are the heirs of the community of the faithful
that they staked out almost two thousand years ago.
In this new season, try the other side, the side to which Jesus directs
you. Let him fill your net, with life, with such an abundance of joy and
faith and purpose that you may not be able to haul it all in.

Shalom ~ Chris

Now that’s an Easter Sermon

by Bobbi Neason, First Presbyterian Church, Bandon

In the very early years of its history, the Eastern Orthodox Church adopted the custom of using this classic sermon of St. John Chrysostom at the Paschal Vigil service held during the Saturday night before Easter morning.
Chrysostom first proclaimed this sermon as instruction to the new Christian converts who were baptized during that vigil service. The affirmations in this wonderful sermon remain as meaningful today as when John himself first spoke them.

St. John Chrysostom (the name means “golden-mouthed’) was one of the most famous preachers and reformers of the second half of the 4th century. He was a priest in his native city of Antioch, Syria, and later became Patriarch of Constantinople. Beginning in 390, he preached a famous series on the New Testament including 90 sermons on Matthew, 88 on John, and 32 on Romans. His reforms to purify the church brought him banishment. He died at age fifty in the year 407 during a forced march into exile.

Read this short Easter Sermon

Worship, Dec 1996 source.

Connecting with the Crucified Christ

by Sarah Sanderson-Doughty   St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, Portland

Did any of you see Mel Gibson’s portrayal of the Passion of the Christ? I was in my first call when that came out and attended at our town theater with several parishioners. What unfolded on the screen was exceedingly gory, brutal, bloody… some might even say it was gratuitously excessive… My father’s comment about it was, “Well, now I understand why he died so quickly, if he lost that much blood before he ever got on the cross, that would do it.”

Ordinarily crucifixion was a torturously slow way to kill someone; scientist theorize that in some cases people died from thirst or exposure after days of hanging, suffering, a spectacle for all to see. But Jesus died in just a few hours.

While my father may have found something edifying in the Passion film, my mother refused to see it. She has said that she doesn’t need to attend films that visually represent the events of Jesus’ last week because just reading the Gospels, or listening to the Gospels read aloud, shakes her and brings her to tears every time. Did that happen for you today?

Read the Whole Sermon

If you would like to view the whole sermon series you can find them HERE

Good Friday Liturgy

by Beth Neal, Westminster, Portland
Good Friday

There really is nothing good about it.
There is no good in violence, in fear, in injustice, in cruelty.
Yet we call this day ‘good’ because God was there that day;
We call this day ‘good’ because God is here this day.
Knowing that God is with us, let us have courage to hear this terrible story once again.
And let us worship God.


We do not want to drink the cup.
We do not want to bear another’s burden.
For that matter, we do not want to admit our own complicity.
We do not want to confess our wrong.
But still, here we are, fallen people in a fallen world, waiting for so long to be redeemed.
The wait is endless and exhausting. How long, O Lord?
How long, O people? How long will you turn away from me?
How long will we pursue our own delights that come at the expense of others?
How long will you recite my teachings without living them?
How long will we be entertained by violence?
How long will you gorge yourselves while others starve?
How long will we utter a muttered pray that we’re glad that wasn’t us?
How long will you sin, O my people?
How long will you love us, O Lord?

Beth’s Good Friday Page

Not Alone

14 March 2018   by Brian Marsh from Apocalypso Now

alone not alone (day 382)

in the Wilderness
by the isolation
with the Atypical
by the Silence
by the silent
from the desert
of being alone
a ubiquitous unity
are not wandering