Zion United Church of Christ
A New Life
|Posted on March 16, 2023 at 9:15 AM|
A New Life
Through the blood and death of Jesus comes eternal life. The old is gone, a new life is beginning. It happens each spring and can happen each day of our lives if we let it. Winter can be long dark and lonely. Just like when we are not following a Godly life. Then buds appear, flowers start to pop through the earth, birds start singing, and we somehow seem to feel better. Same with our lives once we give sin up for a better life, through Christ, joy fills our soul. We see the world in a different light. The gospel transfers our soul from the dreariness of sin into the newness of life and brings incredible joy.
God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But many times, we seem to forget this. We try to fix our lives on our own and everything becomes out of sync and out of the cycle of life. Just like spring, is just around the bend, God is right there when we mess up. He is ready to give us another chance, a new beginning. What would the world be if everything stayed the same. No surprises, no excitement, no hope of change. Everyone looks the same. All of us have the same thoughts, all of us have the same opinions, and we drive along in our car, in our lives not caring because nothing new is out there to look at. We don’t talk to people because we only care about what we want, what we think. We don’t look for any flowers because there are no different colors. All the flowers are yellow. No beautiful roses or tulips to look for because all the yellow looks the same. If we don’t care about each other no need to look out your window because you don’t care who is there. No new experiences, no summer, no fall, and no winter because nothing changes, nothing matters. If life doesn’t matter, neither does sin. We don’t worry about our tomorrow, our eternal life because nothing matters. Luckily for us God never leaves our side. We may fall away from Him but He is always waiting for us to come back to His light. He would hope we would live in love with all people, but that doesn’t happen in all families let alone in the world of all our differences. But I would hope we can be kind and at least tolerate each other to see the beauty in each of us. So in the drab of winter days, we wonder how will life ever spring anew, we need to remember without the green leaf dying and falling to the ground, a new leaf, a bud, could not grow. Same way with us we need to end our sinful ways to enjoy the new life God has planned for each of us. With death of the old comes the spring of a new life. A better life. Eternal life!
Walk with the Lord,
Rev. Walter Coy
Pastor's Pen February 2023
|Posted on February 15, 2023 at 10:55 AM|
Once upon a time, there was an island
where all the feelings lived:
Happiness, Sadness, Knowledge,
and all of the others, including Love.
One day it was announced to the feelings that
the island would sink!
So all constructed boats and left.
Except for Love. Love was the only one who stayed.
Love wanted to hold out until the last possible moment.
When the island had almost sunk,
Love decided to ask for help.
Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat.
Love said, “Richness, can you take me with you?”
Richness answered, “No, I can’t.
There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat.
There is no place here for you.
“Love decided to ask Vanity
who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel.
“Vanity, please help me!”
“I can’t help you, Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat,
” Vanity answered.
Sadness was close by so Love asked,
“Sadness, let me go with you. ”Oh . . . Love, I am so sad that
I need to be by myself!”,
Happiness passed by Love, too,
but she was so happy that
she did not even hear when Love called her.
Suddenly, there was a voice, “Come, Love, I will take you.”
It was an elder. So blessed And overjoyed,
Love even forgot to ask the elder where they were going.
When they arrived at dry land, the elder went her own way.
Realizing how much was owed to the elder,
Love asked Knowledge, another elder, “Who Helped me?”
“It was Time,” Knowledge answered.
“Time?” asked Love. But why did time help me?
Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered,
“Because only Time is capable of understanding
how valuable Love is. (The Minds Journal)
I found this perfect story for February. It speaks to us about all of our emotions and where they are kept. How we take care of them and how we sometimes forget to try to understand them. In this world where everyone is out of control, everyone seems to be taking care of themselves. Not caring about others, like in the story. What is of value in this world? More importantly what and who do you value? Without love where are we? Without forgiveness where are we? How many Februarys do each of us have left? February is the month of finding out how long winter will last. We hope for more sunny days. We hope for a shorter time of cold days and dark nights. February is the month where we buy cards of love to give to someone we care about. When was the last time you let a day has pass, without asking forgiveness for yelling at someone, for passing by doing the right thing just because it is the right thing to do.
This month, as with each month that follows, remember each of us have the chance every day to change our lives. Each of us have the chance to change someone else’s life. Only through God can we achieve all things. Just remember God and real friends are those who when you’ve made a fool of yourself realize you haven’t done a permanent job.
Bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things, Charity never fails (1 Corinthians 13: 7,8)
Neither does LOVE!
In Christian Love,
A Journey for the New Year
|Posted on January 11, 2023 at 10:55 AM|
A Journey for the New Year
This New Years Joyce and I did something that we haven’t done in many years. We actually saw the clock turn from 2022 to 2023! Normally we are fast asleep when the years change. But with some of the activity that goes on it the world we may have the safer way of celebrating. Sleeping!! People start out the New Year doing things that they shouldn’t do, making promises that they don’t keep, and wonder why their life never changes year after year. What are your goals for the New Year? Are you looking to change your life or just change what is acceptable in your life? The bright sun, the warm days of summer are gone, for now. Winter is an ideal time to slow down. To invest a few extra hours in quiet reverence. To remind ourselves that our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). Take time to listen in this winter season of your life.
God is speaking to all of us but sometimes we don’t listen. We are too busy wanting from Him that we don’t listen to what He is saying to us. For our lives to prosper it is best to let God tell us how to live and not tell Him how we are going to live. We need to Listen…….
As usual if you know me this reminds me of a story… There was a lake at the outskirts of a small village. Two swans and a turtle who were good friends lived in the lake. They would play with each other and pass time telling stories. One year, there were no rains and the lake started drying up. “The lake is almost dry. We have to find some other place to live,” said the turtle to the swans. “We will fly around and look for a suitable place,” said the swans. Both the swans flew in different directions in search of a better place to live. A little distance away, one of the swans spotted a large lake. It had plenty of water and there were many fishes in it. He flew back to tell the others.
“There was only one problem,” replied one swan. “The two of us can fly there in no time. But you crawl very slowly. And it is some distance away. You will never reach there.” The turtle thought for some time. Suddenly His face lit up. “I have an idea he said.” You bring me a stick. I will hold the center of the stick in my mouth. Both of you can hold the stick on either side. That way you can fly me with you to our new home. “ “It is a very good idea, but you have to make sure you do not open your mouth for any reason. It you do you, you will fall to your death, “warned one of the swans. The turtle agreed. “Remember what we told you,” reminded the swans as they got ready to fly. Soon they were flying high in the sky. They had to fly over the village to get to the lake. As they flew over the village, people ran out into the street to look at this amazing sight.
“What clever birds. They are carrying a turtle on a stick!” exclaimed one man. Everyone was excited to see such an amazing sight.
“It was my idea. I am the clever one. I need to let them know,” thought the turtle. He opened his mouth to explain, but before the foolish turtle could say anything, he fell with a thud and died. The swans looked down at their dead friend and shook their heads bitterly at his foolishness. “If he had kept his mouth shut, he would be alive and happy with us,” said one swan to the other as they landed at the big lake which would be their home from then on.
Publius, the Greek sage, put his finger on another technique we tend to forget when he admitted: I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.
In the New Year let’s think about all that God gives us including choice of how we glorify Him and live our lives with the gift of listening.
King David put it bluntly in Psalm 39: I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle (v.1).
Or with a stick between two Swans…
Blessings for the New Year,
From Christmas to Easter
|Posted on December 8, 2022 at 12:50 AM|
From Christmas to Easter
Looking at the Christ child this Christmas Eve, we find ourselves beckoned to Easter, called to travel not to Bethlehem first but rather to Calvary, where God’s redemptive presence is most fully revealed. At the cross we see a birth like no other, as the death of Jesus leads ultimately to the resurrection of Christ. Christmas, traveling to Calvary, we find Christ in magnificent form. Christmas is a time to receive God’s gift of salvation. We all know the story, but moving through the centuries, the Christmas story carries on, offering you and me the chance to participate in God’s radical plan. Christ comes to earth in humble and human form, welcoming each of us to participate in the miraculous unfolding of God’s loving and just realm.
Of course, God’s vision is always unfolding. The scene at the manger is never complete; even this Christmas eve as we gather it testifies to the miraculous way the Christian story carries on. God draws us together in unity and love despite our differences and diversity. Jesus Christ, the humble child, the radiant Savior, celebrating the one who comes to bring justice and peace to this broken world.
The story of the fir tree. At the time when the Christ Child was born all the people, the animals, and the trees and plants were very happy. The Child was born to bring peace and happiness to the whole world. People came daily to see the little One, and they always brought gifts with them. There were three trees standing near the crypt which saw the people, and they wished that they, too, might give presents to the Christ child. The Palm said:” I will choose my most beautiful leaf and place it as a fan over the Child.” The Olive said,” I will sprinkle sweet-smelling oil upon His head.” The Fir asked,” what can I give to the Child?” “You!” cried the others. “You have nothing to offer Him. Your needles would prick Him, and your tears are sticky.” So the poor little Fir tree was very unhappy, and it said:” Yes, you are right, I have nothing to offer the Christ Child.”
Now, quite near the trees stood the Christmas Angel, who had heard all that the trees had said. The Angel was sorry for the Fir tree who was so lowly without envy of the other trees. So, when it was dark, and the stars came out, the Angel begged a few of the little stars to come down and rest upon the branches of the Fir tree. They did as the Christmas Angel asked, and the Fir tree shone suddenly with a beautiful light. At that very moment, the Christ Child opened His eyes-for He had been asleep- and as the lovely light fell upon Him He smiled.
Every year people keep the dear Christmas Child’s birthday by giving gifts to each other, and every year, in remembrance of His first birthday, the Christmas Angel places in every house a Fir tree. Covered with starry candles it shines for the children as the stars shone for the Christ Child. The Fir tree was rewarded for its meekness, for to no other tree is it given to shine upon so many happy faces.
We call his name Immanuel, which means “God with us”. God coming to reconcile all creation to his love. “All creation” means everyone. Rich and poor, old and young, sick and well, every skin color- all of them were there, all of them present, all of them included as the ones to whom Jesus had come. That includes you and me, even though we weren’t in the crowd that night, around Him in the stable. Thanks be to God who has come to be with us, a crowd.
Rev. Coy and Joyce
What Type of Fruit are You Bearing?
|Posted on November 17, 2022 at 10:10 AM|
What type of fruit are you bearing?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law” (Galatians5:22-23)
We have been given access to these traits because they are the products of the Holy Spirit of Christ working in them. Every believer has access to these traits, because they are products of the Holy Spirit of Christ working in them. Believers are not able to live out each of these traits or fruits without staying connected to Christ. Our flesh will fail us. For every fruit of goodness from Christ there is also the reality of our imperfect walk with the dark side and opposite of each of these fruits. If we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. We do Christ a disservice if we deny the reality of our imperfect walk with God in this life. (1John 1:8-10)
In a world where instant success and ambition often reign supreme, it is essential that we continue to live out each fruit of the Spirit with boldness and conviction. Each fruit reminds us there is another way to respond, behave, and live. Living out each fruit requires us to pause, pray to God for wisdom, and allow God to give us courage to choose differently. We have a responsibility to live out each fruit with a desire to choose a higher path and one that glorifies God and brings hope to others.
In a world of ongoing confusion and strife, living out the fruits of the spirit is necessary to continue to be men and women of strong character. Our character and how we respond to different situations as a testimony to others who are struggling with hope. Living with the fruits of the Spirit produces stronger character, endurance, and grace within us the believer. Where there is confusion, we desperately need to walk in peace. Where there is division, the overflowing love of Christ builds up and doesn’t tear down. Where there is anxiety, we seek God’s patience. Where there is hate, we seek to live out God’s goodness and kindness. In other words our walk needs to be like our talk. We need to be the person of good character when no one is watching. To represent Christ better when we respond with each fruit.
Patience is a quality you admire in the driver behind you and scorn the one ahead…..A man’s car once stalled in heavy Friday evening traffic just as the light turned green All his efforts to start the engine failed. A chorus of honking rose from the cars behind him. Feeling just as frustrated as those other driver’s eager to get home or to their weekend destinations, he finally got out of his car and walked back to the first driver and said,”I’m sorry, but I can’t seem to get my car started. If you’ll go up there and give it a try, I’ll stay here and blow your horn for you.”
The end of the matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. (Ecclesiastes7:8, 9)
So I will ask you again what type of fruit are you bearing?
Be Fruitful in Christ,
Rev. Walter Coy
The Fisherman and the Businessman
|Posted on October 6, 2022 at 12:00 AM|
The Fisherman and the Businessman
I came across a story I thought you would enjoy. Once upon a time there was a businessman who was sitting on the beach in a small Italian village. As he sat, taking a brief break from the stress of his daily schedule, he saw a fisherman rowing a small boat back into the harbor. In the boat were a few large fish. Impressed, the businessman asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?” To which he replied” Oh, not so long.” The businessman was confused, “Why don’t you fish for longer to catch even more?” “More this is enough to feed my entire family and even offer some to my neighbors.” The fisherman said. “So what do you do for the rest of your day?” Enquired the businessman. The fisherman replied, “Well, I’ve usually have caught my fish by late morning, at which point I go home, kiss my wife, and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap and read. In the evening, I go to the village to have a drink with my friends, play guitar, sing and dance into the night!” Putting his entrepreneurial hat on, the businessman offered a suggestion. “I have a PhD in business! I can help you become much more successful. From now on, you should spend longer at sea and catch as many fish as possible. When you’ve saved enough money, buy a bigger boat to catch even more fish. From there, you’ll soon be able to buy more boats, set up your own company, build a production plant to can the fish and control distribution and move to the city to control your other branches.” To this, the fisherman asks, “And after that?” The businessman laughs,” After that, you’ll be able to live like a king, take your company public, float your shares and be rich!” “And after that?” Asks the fisherman once more. “After that, you can retire, move to a house by the sea, wake up early in the morning to go fishing, then return home to play with your kids, kiss your wife, take a nap in the afternoon and join your friend in the village to drink, play guitar and dance into the night!”
Puzzled, the fisherman replies, “But isn’t that what I am doing already?”
Sometimes more isn’t the answer. Sometimes life from another’s point of view is not of value. Sometimes we need to work at what we have. Be grateful for what we have been given. Not always be looking for the silver lining of something bigger and better. Count our blessings for all God has given us. Thank God for your spouse, your warm home, your children, your church, and the good fortune in your life. Be more concerned with what God thinks about you than what people think about you.
If you are always looking for what you can get tomorrow you will miss what is right in front of you. Be more worried about following God’s way than the world’s way. Look to see the value of what you have. Take care of your life every day to be a better child of God.
If the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence start taking care of your own lawn. Put time in, water it, fertilize it spend time with it. Follow God’s plan!
There was a famous opera singer who during the most successful time in her career, with more money than she could ever imagine, just up and left the stage. One day a friend found her on the sea shore, her Bible in her hands and on her knees. She was looking out into the glow of a sunset. As they talked, the friend asked her,” how is it she came to abandon the stage at the height of her career.” The opera singer answered quietly, “When every day it made me think less of the Bible and nothing at all of the sunset, what else could I do?” The world may never understand your decision to follow God’s way. But then, perhaps God cannot understand a decision to pursue what the world offers!
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
In Christian Obedience,
September Pastor's Pen
|Posted on September 8, 2022 at 12:35 AM|
Do you hear Him calling?
What is your response to anything God asks of you? One of the amazing truths of Christianity is that we love and serve a God who is not far away but personal and intimately involved with every part of our life. He has pledged Himself to us by way of covenant. He provides, protects and guides us through life both individual and as families, including our extended family church.
Here is a story to ponder on. While working for a local volunteer ambulance corp, we were responding to a call with lights and sirens, when we approached an elderly woman in her car right in front of us. Much to our annoyance nothing we did would make her get out of the way, until my driver got on the PA and said, “PLEASE PULL OVER TO THE RIGHT SIDE.” Well she pulled over quite quickly to let us by.
Several hours had passed when returning to the base we saw the lady still pulled over at the side of the road. Thinking something was wrong; we jumped out and went to her. She just sat there smiling at us. When we questioned her as to why she was still sitting there, she Explained, “God told me to pull over, and he hasn’t yet said I could go. “ We explained to her that it was us who had told her to pull over because we had gotten a call. She was very insistent as to that it was God who told her. Seeing that we weren’t going to persuade her otherwise, we got back into the ambulance and pulled in behind her. My driver got back on the PA and said,” MADAM YOU MAY NOW CONTINUE ON YOUR WAY. She pulled off immediately and went on her way.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if even some of us were as dedicated to that calling of God as that woman was? We all think we are here as a fluke and there is no rhyme or reason to why God has put us here. We go along on our road of life not enjoying the journey or wondering about why we are here. I am sure most of us think we are here for
our own pleasures. We want what we want when we want it. Thinking there is no consequence to the choices we make. Maybe if we ignore Gods calling it won’t matter. Well think again. It all matters! Every choice we make good or bad matters. We are all here for a reason. We all have a job to do. We have been sent on a journey from God. What we do on the road of that journey is totally up to each of us. It can be a dedicated faith journey or it can be a journey of destruction. God is calling your name. He is asking you to follow His commands. If He tells to you pull over to the side of the road, will you?
Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. (Matthew 25:21
Blessings on your journey,
Rev. Walter Coy
Attitude and Caring
|Posted on August 11, 2022 at 12:00 AM|
Attitude and Caring
All of us are surrounded by and benefit for the results of someone’s’ perseverance.
Above my head is a bright electric light. Thanks, Tom
On my nose are eyeglasses that enable me to focus. Thanks, Ben
In my driveway is a car ready to take me wherever I choose to steer it. Thanks, Henry.
There are many shelves of books full of interesting pages, Thanks, authors.
This list can go on and on. Because someone cared to dream, to pursue, to follow through and complete their quest, our lives are more comfortable, more stable. ( Swindoll, Great Attitudes)
When we get up every morning we choose the attitude that will guide us through the day. It comes from the understanding that God has a plan for us. A sense of deep purpose, a divine mission.
In this world we live in it is easy to get caught up in the negative lifestyle that is all around us. The devil is alive and at work in this world and each of our lives, whether we want to believe it or not. Things are not getting better they are getting worse. You just have to drive down any street and see this. We are without church, we are without each other and we are without God. Life is moving around us and we are often spinning out of control. The devil takes each of us down a dark hole and without each other, without church, without God we cannot get out. Even worse we don’t realize we need to get out.
We need to get back to why we are here. If you are unhappy with things that have been done to you, forgive and get back on track with yourself and others. Forgiveness is not so much for the person you are forgiving as it is healing for you. It doesn’t mean you forget what has happened but you unburden yourself. If you are the one who needs forgiveness ask for it, but mean it and God will forgive you. We need to get back with the attitude God has intended for us.
It is easy to lose ourselves in a storm. Rough seas, high waves. With God by our side putting His hand on our shoulder to guide us we can overcome anything. Are you ready to be led? Are you ready to not give in, not give up on a world that seems to be letting us all down? God is waiting and so are we at Zion UCC Church here in Steubenville.
But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. (Romans 8-25)
Rev. Walter Coy
Riches from God
|Posted on July 13, 2022 at 10:10 AM|
Riches from God
“Money can buy medicine, but not health.
Money can buy a house, but not a home.
Money can buy companionship, but not friends.
Money can buy entertainment, but not happiness.
Money can buy food, but not an appetite.
Money can buy a bed, but not sleep.
Money can buy a crucifix, but not a Savior.
Money can buy the good life, but not eternal life
God (alone) is able to supply us”with all things to enjoy.”
As Seneca, the Roman statesman once said: “Money has never yet made anyone rich.” (Great Attitudes, Charles Swindoll)
Another thing that money cannot buy is integrity. Those who have integrity possess one the most respected virtues in all of life. They stand out in any office or school or community. If you can be trusted, whether alone or in a crowd…. If you are truly a person of your word and convictions, you are fast becoming an extinct species. God is waiting for all of us to step it up and become the person He wants us to be. We all need to look at our lives. Are we living in the image of our Lord and Savior? Are we living with joy in our hearts? Are we happy with our lives? The pursuit of happiness is a matter of choice. It is not delivered to our door each morning. If we are waiting for FedEx to deliver joy and happiness to our door we will be waiting for that delivery forever. Joy and happiness cannot be bought. It can only be truly received through Jesus Christ. It starts with believing without seeing. It starts with being a better person that depends on God. Knowing that everything we have comes from Him. Step it up be the person that does the right thing when no one is looking. Spend time with Jesus alone and in church. Only by letting God reign in your life can you experience true excellence in your life. Start today. Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13b-14.)
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Walter Coy
What are you doing with your hyphen?
|Posted on June 16, 2022 at 9:45 AM|
What are you doing with your hyphen?
Joyce and I attended a Memorial Service for the brother of one of her friends who had died suddenly at the age of 58. The American Legion did a service, since the man was a veteran and in the service was a poem about the hyphen. It was a very vivid illustration about our beginning or our birth, and our ending on earth, our death. Two very important numbers! But even more important was the hyphen between the numbers. How we spent the days between our birth and our death, that is what is very meaningful to us and to God. How we loved and were loved. How we enjoyed others and gave enjoyment to others. Every waking moment during the hyphen did we live…….? I know we were alive, but did we use wisely the life God granted us?
Every new day, no matter how old we become we get a new chance to decide what we will do with the days until we go to meet our Lord and Savior. None of us know how many days that will be, I for one would not want to know, but each new morning as I open my eyes I rejoice that I have been given another day to make a difference in my own life and make a difference in everyone I run into that day. Just think a new day to say I am sorry to someone I have hurt. A new day to start over, with the forgiveness of our Lord and Savior. A new day to become the person I was meant to be.
Start today, when you are finished reading story, write your birth date and birth year on a piece of paper. An example is mine: March 15, 1949 (now put a hyphen after it) March15, 1949- if you are as lucky as I am and there is no ending date after the hyphen then it reaffirms that I am still alive. There is still a chance to LIVE. Be joyful, live, laugh, and love like there is no tomorrow!
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR HYPHEN?
To the glory of God,
Rev. Walter Coy