An Act of God is a Hard Act to Follow 
Monday, September 19, 2005, 03:17 PM
It is a rainy Monday in Ohio, remnants of hurricane Rita, a hurricane that drenched Texas and flooded New Orleans again is just an annoyance to me. The gentle rain that used to be a fearsome hurricane got me thinking today about “Acts of God”. Why do I have gentle rain and others have raging floods?

In the face of senseless tragedy it is very human to seek patterns and reason to calm our fears. We want to know “Why!” so that we can avoid both the survivor's guilt of being spared and the fear that we could be next to lose our homes, community, and livelihood by an “Act of God”, such as a tornado, flood or lightning. What is Act of God anyway? Here is one definition:

An act occasioned exclusively by forces of nature, uncontrolled and uninfluenced by the power of man and which is of such a character that it could not have been prevented or escaped from by any amount of foresight or prudence.

Americans rebel at that definition. There are things we can not control, prevent or at least escape? That is tough for Americans to admit. Yet as Presbyterians we are taught that we do not save ourselves.

Resist the temptation to find spiritual fault with victims of tragedy as if God was selective with sunshine and rain on the basis of morality.

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” — Matthew 5:45

We are saved from the eternal devastation
not by our great spiritual earthworks holding back the storm surge of sin but by God's great grace in Jesus Christ which places us eternally safe on the high ground of heaven.

Happy to be dry and saved by God's grace…

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The Mark of Christ 
Monday, September 19, 2005, 03:16 PM
Yesterday I asked the good folks at worship to write down a blessing in their lives. There were quite a range of answers from sobriety to new jobs, but the overwhelming choice was family.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines:
to bless 1. “to make sacred; to hallow (something)”. The word “bless” is from the Old Teutonic (German) bletsian, from heathen blood sacrifices. German: das Blut. English: blood. “The meaning, then, was ‘to mark (or affect in some way) with blood (or a sacrificial animal)'.”

How appropriate that “blood” relations (either biological or by choice) are considered a blessing!

Yet looking through Christian eyes…we are marked by the blood of Christ, becoming brothers and sisters in the Christian family. (This is why in baptism only the Christian name of the child is used…the “family” name of the baptized is “Christian”.) So by Christ's blessing we are blessed with our Christian family.

Now when I say or hear the phrase “blood of Christ” I will experience not just the sacrifice of Christ but the blessing of Christ bound up in it as well. And isn't that what the best families are…blessing and sacrifice that marks us with love?

Sometimes the congregation blesses the preacher with a sermon and it leaves a mark….

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Real Security 
Monday, September 12, 2005, 03:13 PM
Welcome to Extra Christy --- the Monday email message from
Rev. J. Christy Ramsey, Pastor Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church

Yesterday was September 11th, 4 years after the attack on America. One of those days when you remember where you were and what you were doing. One of the feelings I remember is one of not feeling safe. Now, after four years of homeland security, airport screening, and terror alert programs I am reminded of Psalm 127:1

Unless God builds the house,
  Those who build it labor in vain.
Unless God guards the city,
  The guard keeps watch in vain.

God is our foundation and our safety. Here's hoping we always build on faith and not fear.

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Katrina Reflections 
Monday, September 5, 2005, 03:05 PM
Welcome to Extra Christy — the weekly email message from Rev. J. Christy Ramsey, Pastor Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church.

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina is overwhelming. I recall another September 4 years ago when I was overcome with grief and glued to the television pictures of destruction and death.

What word does the church have for a world in suffering?

 It is fitting we shared communion yesterday where we remember and experience the greatest evil and the greatest good of God's salvation bound up in the betrayal death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that God is greater than death and evil; that no matter how bad Good Friday is…God will bring Easter morning.

Being with you in your Good Fridays….and looking forward with you to Easter morning….

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Joseph's Dreams 
Friday, December 27, 2002, 07:00 AM - Sermon, Christmas, Podcast
Matthew 1:18-25

Recorded 12/27/1998

Pastor Christy considers getting direction from dreams and recalls Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech.

This message is available as a podcast recorded live at Ottawa Presbyterian Church in Ottawa, Ohio during the 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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