Heart Writing 
Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 06:09 AM - Sermon, Podcast
Jeremiah 31:31-34

When is new new? What new writing is God putting in our hearts?

This message is available as a podcast recorded live at our worship service. Click the podcast image to listen now or right click the image and choose "Save As" to save this message in mp3 file format on your computer for playing later.

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Life of the Party 
Wednesday, March 25, 2009, 08:00 AM - Extra Christy
- in the Kingdom of God

Groundhog Day ends with a community wide party. In the midst of dancing and music, the main character, Phil Conners, mixes with the people who tell him what a blessing he has been in the lives that day.

What the folks don't know is that while they only have had this single day with Phil, he has had 4,000 versions of this same day with them. For about ten years, as the writers imagine his story, Phil wakes up and it's Groundhog Day, again. The party is at the end of the final version of that day, when he finally gets a single day, a very long day, right.

I imagine the Kingdom of God is like that party at the end of the day. Where we are told how we got it right. Family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers come up to us and tell us how our lives mattered to them.

I hope you get today right, and there is a party at the end.

Like a Party

...'Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We're going to feast! We're going to have a wonderful time! My son is here-given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!' And they began to have a wonderful time. - Luke 15:22b-24 (The Message)
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How Grace Works 
Sunday, March 22, 2009, 08:17 AM - Sermon, Podcast
Ephesians 2:1-10

Pastor Christy talks about AIG Bonuses and OUR Bailout known as God's Grace.

This message is available as a podcast recorded live at our worship service. Click the podcast image to listen now or right click the image and choose "Save As" to save this message in mp3 file format on your computer for playing later.

Classic free market capitalism understanding of what a government should do and be is that government should have only two jobs. The first job is national defense. The second job is: The enforcement of contracts. So it is surprising to hear calls for the government to void contracts because we are so mad at those executives that got those great big bonuses for losing all that money.

Boy are we angry about that. Imagine! Wiping out peoples' retirements. Wiping out peoples' investments. Wiping out old people and then getting millions of dollars in bonus because it's in your contract, win or lose. Remember how mad the nation was about the auto executives flying in their own private jet to the hearings in Washington to ask for money. They flew a jet to ask for bailout money.

Now we long for the good old days when we just were mad about a welfare queen that drove a Cadillac. But we need to ask, “Why are we so mad?” Why does that get under our skin and just really we can't even see straight because of it? We want to go so far as to void contracts, which goes against most conservative thinkers in America for decades and maybe even centuries.

If I ever have a book I'm going to write about how it could be a spiritual journey to find out what makes you so angry, what makes you so upset, what makes you so critical, and then turn that around on yourself and use that as a discovery for what's wrong in your own life. For, as Jesus said, “If you're going to take the speck out of someone's eye, take the log out of your own eye first.” What you object to in others, is present much more in yourself.

We are not perfect. We are in need of a bailout. We are all in massive toxic debt in God's sight. Maybe this would have been a good Sunday to say “debts” in the Lord's Prayer. Because you know, I think some of us, if we listen to ourselves, if we thought about what we were praying and we thought about, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are in debt to us.” You would then think about all those AIG people, investment bankers, and all the people who took all those trillions -- I don't know if you want to say “Forgive our debtors…” today! Maybe it was good we had sins in the Lord's Prayer instead.

Ephesians tells us that we are all in the same boat. There is no one that is justified, there is no one that is totally good. As mad as you are about the thieves and the swindlers and the incompetents and the folks that took all the money, you're in that boat with them.

We have all followed the desires of our own senses. We have all been in our trespasses. We have all been what we should not have been. We have pensions. I hope so. They're a part of it. Do we have a credit card? Do we buy mortgages? Do we have all that? All that money? All that credit? All that? That's all messed up in it, too. That's all wrapped up into it.

Did we vote for less regulations of the government? Did we say, “Get the government out of the banking”? It's all part of it, too. No one wants it. We want to be graded on a curve. God demands 100% return but we come back with 1%, 2%, 3%, or 4% and say, “Hey, look. We beat the market. We're better than the market. We're outperforming the market, so we're good. We're OK, right?” God is looking for 100%. God invests in us. That last verse in our Ephesians reading: “We are created by God to live a good life.” God has invested in us. How are we doing with that investment of God? What is our return to God?

I think I found out why we were so mad about those investment bankers. We say, “You guys messed up with all the stuff that you've been given. You messed up with your trust. You've squandered what good things you've been given. You have disappointed folks. You have ruined some things.”

You know what? That same thing we could be looking in the mirror and saying to ourselves. There's none of us here, not one, that has given 100% in return to God. We have messed up. God's investment and ours have gone bad. There were some toxic things in our life, in our portfolio. We are all in it together.

The solution for every crisis is not to find someone to blame, not to find a poster child to put on a straight boat, not to say, “Well, look. You are bad and you are good,” to pick winners and losers, and to go on as always lying to ourselves that all is okay except for a few bad apples in the barrel.

But it's important to look at how we all are and where we all need to reform, to change, and to become the kind of people that God expects from us and his investment in it. God has bailed us out in Jesus Christ.

We who had no value at all to him, zero value, were dead in our sins and our trespasses. There was nothing that God could expect to get his return. While we were still dead in our trespasses, while we were no good, while we were upside down, while it cost him so much more than we were even worth and we don't even know why he did it, he came and bailed us out in Jesus Christ.

We don't want to hear that. We don't want to hear that. We're just like those investment bankers. We don't think we are. We think we're better than that. We're good. We're better than that. Remember the curve. Remember, we know that they're there, and we're here. We're a little bit better than everybody else, so it's OK. Not when it's 100%.

When we don't give God 100%, God has to bail you. We don't like to hear it, but it's what God says. It's one of the greatest things. You cannot grow. You cannot truly love. You cannot truly go on a faith journey unless you realize that you were dead in your trespasses and sins.

God bailed you out. Boy, oh boy. None of us deserve that bonus of eternal life. None of us do. I'm not giving it back. I'm keeping it even though I didn't earn it and God lost on the deal. I am going to try to live as I was created to give back to God all the investment, but I can't do it. I can't earn it. I can't go back.

Do you remember "Saving Private Ryan?" In that movie, a group of soldiers were sent to go and get Private James Ryan and bring him back because all of his brothers had died. He was the last surviving one in his family, and the government wanted at least one to be saved from war. A squad went to save this one man, buy one by one they all died. Finally, at the last of the squad, played by Tom Hanks, dies. In his dying breath, his little dying words were: “Private Ryan, just earn this. Earn this.” And he died. We cut to the end of Private Ryan's life. He's now an old man with a family. He's at the gravesite of the character played by Tom Hanks. He explains to him that he tried to live a good life. He hoped he was good.

Did Private Ryan earn the sacrifice of five good men? Can you ever earn that? If someone dies for you, if five good men died for you, do you ever earn it? What would you say? Like Private Ryan, we can spend our lives trying in gratitude for the bailout from Christ that we got but we didn't deserve. Amen.

i]Advanced permission is given for non-profit, for-prophet use of the above at no charge as long as it is reproduced unedited with notices and copyright intact. Written copies are provided after they are preached as a courtesy for the personal, private, appreciative use of the congregation of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church, their families and friends to support the ministry of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church and its pastor the Rev. J. Christy Ramsey. Join us Sundays! 9 AM Worship or 11 AM Song & Service. Sunday School for all ages is at 10 AM with a special Pastor's Class at 8:15 AM.

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Akron Roundtable Prayer 
Thursday, March 19, 2009, 09:00 AM - Prayers
Posted by Administrator
Akron Kiwanis President, Kurt Winebrenner gave the prayer at the March meeting of the Akron Roundtable.

Creator of us All: As we approach another spring after what seems like an endless Winter, Your guidance reminds us that we share this world with many other people, different cultures, different languages, different opinions, and very different perspectives. Help us to consider other points of view as learning opportunities rather than causes of conflict. Encourage patience, understanding and honesty in our communications and restraint.acceptance and mutual benefit in our action.

We thank you for this opportunity to gather as a community and the opportunity to serve the Akron area in our own individual ways. Amen.

Akron Roundtable is held at noon on the third Thursday of every month, Akron Roundtable is a non-partisan forum. Each event, held at the Quaker Station located at the Quaker Square Inn on the campus of The University of Akron, begins at 12:00 noon with the speaker's address immediately followed by a question and answer session. Doors open for the event at 11:45 a.m. The event concludes at approximately 1:15 p.m. $15
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009, 07:04 PM - Extra Christy
When the Fire Comes

This Saturday we'll be showing a movie about firefighters (yay!) and marriage.

It tells the story of Caleb, a firefighter who reluctantly tries to save his marriage. He wants to give up because of all the fighting and problems, as he tells his firefighter friend, "Marriages aren't fireproof."

His friend Michael responds, "Fireproof doesn't mean that a fire will never come, but that when it comes, you'll be able to withstand it."

Edwin Friedman's core principle in therapy was that it wasn't the environment that determined the stress or outcome of an event, but the response of the person. Maybe another way to say that was survival wasn't about the fire outside, as much as the fire inside.

I hope when the fire comes, you are fireproof.

Fireproof Buildings

...But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.- 1 Corinthians 3:10b-14 (NIV)

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