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Past Fun, Fellowship, and Ministry at Troy First

By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           Ephesians 4:1-6


Thoughts:          For those of us who were required to memorize Bible verses, Ephesians 4:5 was a winner.  “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.”  Six words – three of them the same word!  It memorized itself.


Did we ponder the profound theology in those terse words?  Are you kidding?  Bobby Force had already recited 233 verses, and you were six behind.  What other short verses did Paul write?


The best writing is often brief and unadorned.  We pray to one God.  We believe in Christianity.  We revere baptism as the “. . . outward and visible sign of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ . . . . “


Discussion:        Why does the United Methodist Church accept three different forms of baptism?


Activity:              Write a note to someone who was present at your baptism and ask for his/her memories of this sacred ritual.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           John 6:1-21


Thoughts:          In these 21 verses, Jesus speaks briefly four times.  He asks one question; he issues two directions; he give reassurance to his frightened disciples.


First, he asks Philip a rhetorical question.  He already knows the answer.  “How are we going to feed these people?”


Next is the first direction.  “Tell the men to sit down.”  If the men in the crowd sit down, the women and children would follow suit.  Food could be distributed more efficiently and more evenly.


The second directive pleases those of us who were reared with thrift as a guiding principle.  “Collect the leftovers.”


Jesus leaves to have some time alone in the mountains.  Left to their own devices, the disciples get into a boat to go to Capernaum.  A sudden storm erupts over the Sea of Galilee, and the disciples are frightened.


Jesus has miraculously fed thousands of people.  Now he walks across the sea to save his chosen twelve.  With meticulous grammar, he reassures them, “It is I; be not afraid.”


Discussion:        In the course of a day, how many questions do we ask?  How many directions do we issue?  How many assurances do we give?


Activity:              Remember the words of the hymn:  “Let me no wrong nor idle words unthinking say.”

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           Genesis 12:1-9


Thoughts:          Abram lived very comfortably in Haran.  But God had other plans for him.  “Go to a land that I will show you,” he told Abram.


Where?  What land?  How far away is it?  Who lives there?  Surely these are questions Abram wanted to ask.  But he didn’t.  He departed.  After all, he was young – only 75 years old.


When Abram arrived in the plain of March, God said, “I’ll give this land to your descendants.”  Again,  Abram wanted to say, “But God, I have no descendants.”  But he didn’t.  He built an altar and prayed to the Lord.  What unquestioning faith!


Discussion:        Would we go to an unknown land if God directed us there?  Sharper question – would we hear the direction?


Activity:              God promised Abram he would be a blessing in this new land.  Be a blessing today to someone in your own land.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           1 Corinthians 10:31 – 11:1

10:31  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.  32  Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God.  33  Just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.  11:1  Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.


Thoughts:          Whatever you do, do it to honor God.  Does everything that pleases God have to be boring?  Is ambushing Rev. Hal with squirt guns honoring God?  Is having dinner together as a family of Worktrippers pleasing God?  Is laughing and possibly getting paint on each other honoring God?


We all have our own definition of that glorifies, pleases or honors God, but I can tell you that squirt guns, dinner and drips of paint brought our youth together as one family, the crews together as one body and God was glorified in the work that was completed in Racine, WI on our Senior High Worktrip.


Discussion:        How would we act and what would we do or NOT do if we did everything for the glory of God?


Activity:              Decide how you will honor God today and DO IT!  Also, come hear our Worktrip report on July 12 at 10:00am in worship.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           Mark 6:1-13


Thoughts:          When Richard Campbell Raines was appointed bishop of Indiana, he told his wife that now he was a bishop, he would conduct himself with utmost dignity, and he expected to be treated with great reverence and respect.  The next morning his wife awakened him by hurling pillows at him and yelling, “Hi, Bish!”


Our families keep us humble.  The youngest child arrives to find a cast of characters already on stage with well-defined rôles and scripts.  This youngest child has only a bit part, and he needs to learn his lines quickly.


Although Jesus was Mary’s first born, his brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Juda and his unnamed sisters probably paid scant attention to his importance.  “That’s my slingshot!” “Mom gave me this cookie!”  Go get your own drink of water!”


A prophet is not without honor – except at home.


Discussion:        Of what significance are the studies of birth orders in families?


Activity:              Remember to honor our own prophets.  Recently they cleaned and painted and installed new carpeting in our parsonage.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           Mark 5:21-43


Thoughts:          Jesus lived in a society which valued sons.  Sons could carry on the family name; they could work in the family business or on the family farm.  Bluntly, fathering sons was considered a measure of a man’s virility.


So it is endearing to hear Jairus speak lovingly of his little daughter.  Our hearts hurt with his as he implores Jesus to come and heal his precious daughter.


We can picture Jairus guiding Jesus through the throngs of people, hurrying desperately to his daughter’s bedside.  When Jesus stopped to acknowledge the touch of a poor, ill woman, Jairus must have wanted to scream, “Never mind her!  We’re wasting time!  We must hurry!  Come on!”


We want attention, and we want it now – full and undivided attention.


Discussion:        During an average day, what events and what people receive our full attention?


Activity:              This Sunday, concentrate on the words of the congregational hymns.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           Colossians 3:12-19


Thoughts:          “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  (v. 16)


The relatively new hymn “Help Us Accept Each Other” has these great lines:

                             “To learn to care for others –

                             For all, not just for some –

                             To love them as we find them,

                             Or as they may become.”


What happened to the young man with curly hair who brought roses to his wife for James Monroe’s birthday and praised her tuna fish casserole?


What happened to the slim young woman who put love notes and homemade cookies in her husband’s lunch?


They became older and grayer and heavier and – as the hymn says, “…cumbered with a load of care.”  The money once used for roses pays for braces and college tuition.  The love notes give way to helping a teen-ager through The Scarlett Letter.  By tacit agreement, the tuna fish casseroles disappear.


Discussion:        When you meet someone, what characteristic has you at hello?


Activity:              Listen carefully to a friend’s answer to “How was your day?”

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           Mark 4:26-34


Thoughts:          Twenty-seven hymns in our United Methodist hymnal begin with the word “come.”  “Come” implies that we are welcome; we are wanted.  Some of the most familiar hymns are “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “Come, Thu Almighty King,” and “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.”


Today’s scripture contains some words that appear almost verbatim in the hymn “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come,” which we sing almost exclusively at Thanksgiving time. The second verse is the best.


              “All the world is God’s own field,

              Fruit unto his praise to yield.

              Wheat and tares together sown,

              Unto joy or sorrow grown.

              First the blade and then the ear,

              Then the full corn shall appear.

              Lord of harvest, grant that we

              Wholesome grain and pure may be.”


On Sunday morning, we see our precious little “blades” running down the aisle for the children’s time with Rev. Hal.  The “ears” blessed us with their stories of the college mission trip.  And we “full corns” must endeavor to be “wholesome grain and pure,” so that we may bring the harvest home.


Discussion:        What nugget from a sermon, what Bible verse, what Sunday School lesson has lived in your mind and your heart?


Activity:              Make one little blade your special friend.  Smile and call him/her by name when you say good morning.  Send your blade a birthday card.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:           Mark 3:20-35


Thoughts:          Jesus chose his twelve disciples.  Then he went home.


It was not to be a restful visit.  Crowds surrounded his mother’s home, the local people questioning his sanity, and the Jerusalem scribes accusing him of working with Satan to perform his miracles.  Jesus told the crowd that a house divided against itself cannot stand.


More titles have been taken from the Bible than from any other written source.  House Divided is the title for a novel set during the Civil War.  A wealthy white Southern family discovered from family records that they were related to President Lincoln, whom they detested.  One of their ancestors had fathered a child by a kitchen maid.  This child was Nancy Hanks, who became the mother of Abraham Lincoln.


The Bible was one of the few books available to Lincoln while he was growing up, and he knew it very well.  Indeed, he could quote long sections of the Bible from memory.


When Lincoln was nominated for the Senate in 1858, the country was dangerously divided on the subject of slavery.  In his acceptance speech, Lincoln quoted Mark 3:25:  “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  This speech attracted national attention and helped elevate Lincoln to the Presidency.


Discussion:        What unnecessary divisions arise in daily life?


Activity:              Surprise someone with your sweet reasonableness when he/she disagrees with you.

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By: Sue Oleson


Scripture:         John 3:1-17     


Thoughts:         What queen saved her people?  What minor prophet forgave his unfaithful wife?  Who came to Jesus by night?


These were questions in a game called Bible Lotto, which my family played often.  It was indeed a quieter, simpler time.  We had only one telephone, which did not text or twitter or tweet; it did ot tell time or take pictures or reveal the identity of the caller.


But Esther and Hosea and Nicodemus were well-known answers to us.  I always pictured Nicodemus creeping stealthily through the dark streets of Jerusalem so that he could talk to Jesus privately.


Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews.  Perhaps Jesus expected him to understand his metaphor about being born again.  Did Nicodemus really not grasp Jesus’ meaning, or was he being deliberately obtuse?  Jesus chided him.  “Art thou master of Israel and knowest not these things?” 


Discussion:      What things do we know?  What things are needful?


Activity:            Read more about Nicodemus in John 19:38-42.

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