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(704) 857-5034,
750 Mount Moriah Church Road,
China Grove, NC  28023
Pastor's Page

Why People Visit A Church

Why People Visit A Church

I came across some interesting statistics not long ago concerning why people visit a church. I thought I might share these with you for your information. Most people think other people visit a church because the outside of the church looks inviting and appealing...while other people might believe people join the newest and most modern looking church building in their neighborhood. But the real reasons people visit a church might surprise you.

According to this survey, 6% of people said they visited a church because the pastor invited them to come to a Sundary morning service.

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"What can I do to help?"

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She did what?

She was 100 years and 3 days old when she broke a world's record. I saw the replays on the alte new and could not bleive what I was seeing. It happened in South Carolina just a few yearo. The record she broke was the 100 yard dash for people over 100 years old. The first time she attempted it, she fell and had to be attended to by emergency personnel on the scene. But she got up, got her chin bandaged and was right back at the starting line a few minutes later. When the gun sounded (the second time) she took off again. The previous world's record for the 100 yard dash for someone (man or woman) over 100 years old was over a minute. This "young" lady shattered the record by running it in 45 seconds.

You have to admire someone who trains and attempts any world record when they are over 100 years old. I never met this lady, but she reminds all of us that no matter what age we might be, there are still things we can do, hurdles we can cross, ministries we can accomplish for God, for our church and for our community. No matter what our age, let us seek God's guidance in what we should be doing for others.

Have a good week and hope to see you in church next Sunday.    Pastor John-

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A Writer's Story

Nineteenth century London had death this 10 year old lad a cruel hand. His father was in jail and hunger pains gnawed at his stomach. To feed himself, the boy took a job pasting labels on bottles in a grim, rat infected warehouse. He slept in a dismal attic room with two other urchins but he secretly dreamed of becoming a writer. HE only had four years of schooling and had little confidence in his ability but what he did have was determination. To avoid the jeering of the other boys he would sneak out at night to mail his first manuscripts...Story after story was refused, until finally one was accepted. He wasn't paid but still on editor had praised his work.

The recognition he received through the printing of that one story changed his life. If it had not been for that one editor, he might have spent his entire life in a rat-infected factory.

You may have heard of this young lad, whose books brought about so many reformed in the treatment of children and the poor. His name was Charles Dickens, author of the famous story A Christmas Carol. It is amazing what a little encouragement might do for a young person. God calls us into the life of many people in our time on earth. We can all make a difference to those around us. Watch for those opportunities for sharing God's love each day...

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A Lesson in Life

A lesson in life by a ten year old boy...

In the days when an ice cream Sundae cost much less than it does today, a ten year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop alone and sat down at a table. A waitress put down a glass of water in front of him and he asked "How much is an ice cream Sundae?" "Fifty cents", replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the number of coins in it. "How much is a dish of plain ice cream?" he asked.

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Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we come to the end of another year and turn the page on new calendars we come also to a time of reflection and anticipation. This reflection and anticipation leads often to the writing of resolutions: proposals for a new start in life as well as a new start on a calendar.

In these days after Christmas I have read a little in a couple of old books (that is, books written when I was a child!). One is The Christian Century Reader, a collection of articles from the first half of the twentieth century, ending in 1961. The Christian Century is a magazine dating from the early 20th century reflective of the politically liberal wing of Protestantism which emphasized a social gospel. While not always agreeing with their views, it does lift up the important role Christian faith played in the life of our nation and world, a role often ignored in the rewriting of history. (Among the topics, for example, are selections which lift up the importance of the church in the civil rights movement.) As to why this came to mind with regard to resolutions, it is a reminder of the important responsibility of the Christian in the world; the degree to which we are called and have the ability to change things for the better. One strength of many of the writings was their reminding the Christian( and the church) to live lives of compassion, service, and reconciliation.

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Dear Friends in Christ,

As we come to another Advent and Christmas season, the beginning of a new church year, we do so in a time of confusion.

As I read those words which began my column in 2003 I was struck by how much things today are the same. The war continues; then we were coming out of a recession, now we are again in a recession; Israel and the Palestinians are still in conflict, though less violent at the moment; our president-elect is already coming under attack from the extremists in his own party for trying to bring the nation together (as President Bush often had to struggle with the extremists in his party). That year a woman had been trampled to death on Black Friday at a store in Florida by shoppers, this year a worker at a Wal-Mart in New York was trampled to death by shoppers. There continue to be conflicts over the public celebration of Christmas and this year some people even began to attack Thanksgiving as a violation of the separation of church and state.

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Autumn leaves drift by my window,
Autumn leaves of red and gold.

So begins one of the old standards that I like and always think of this time of year. It seems the older I get the more quickly fall comes around. Only yesterday it was Christmas and we were talking about how early Easter was this year. Now suddenly Worship and Music is planning for another Advent and I don't know how we got here so fast. When I was little my dad used to talk about how quickly time passed. That made no since to me then as I waited for the days to crawl by in school and thought about Christmas coming. Now I join in his lament.

Much has happened in the year since last autumn began, personally, in our congregation, and in the world around us. Nationally we are in the midst of an ugly presidential campaign and watch as Congress tries to deal with a widespread financial crisis which seems to have no good answers. Congress wants to blame this President and many outside of government blame this Congress. But the roots of the problem go back at least thirty years, if not further. Laws were passed over time, sometimes with good intent, which had unintended consequences. Among the results of the bills was a gradual undermining of rules assuring the stability of the credit market. Over those decades our world economy became more and more intertwined which made the crisis, when it came, much more devastating. 
We also are in the midst of a gas crisis. Following shutdowns for the hurricane the refineries and pipe lines had to get back up to full capacity. Since most of our gas in the Southeast comes from the gulf coast we had a severe shortage. People often had to wait in long lines if they could even find a station with gas. Some of those lines got ugly -- though thankfully most did not.

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With the coming Book of Faith emphasis you will hear a lot more about Bible study. From time to time people ask me the best Bible translation. Most modern translations are well done and each offers benefits. The back of the new Augsburg Fortress Bible catalog has a nice summary of the different translations. This month I will share some history and thoughts. In the late 1800s an updating of the KJV was undertaken in Great Britain followed by an American edition (the American Standard). In the 1940s and 50s work was done to improve that and the Revised Standard Version was born. By the 1960s the American Bible Society released Today's English Version (the Good News Bible) with a seventh grade reading level. A new British translation, the New English Bible, soon followed. The Living Bible, a paraphrase, was published in those years as well. In 1966 the Jerusalem Bible, a Roman Catholic work (and my favorite for reading and devotions because of the beauty of the language and because it is written to be read aloud.) was published to update their old Douay-Rheims version.

The New American Standard - the most literal translation - was published by the Lockman Foundation in the 1970s. (This is my favorite for study because it is the most literal; though that gives it a 12th grade reading level.) The New International Version was the work of the International Bible Society and has become the most widely used translation in the U. S. The New Revised Standard came out in the 1980s. It is the most universal with a translation committee including Protestant, Jewish (for the old testament), Roman Catholic, and Orthodox scholars. The Contemporary English Version, CEV, from the American Bible Society was an attempt to reach people who had English as a second language. One of its translators goals was to make it easy to understand when read aloud. The New Jerusalem Bible and the Revised New English were published in the 1980s. In the US the Roman Catholic version most used is the New American Bible published about the same time. The English Standard Version is a recent attempt and is the first one to include a CD-ROM with the Bible in most editions. Other newer versions include the New Living, the New King James, the Message (another paraphrase) and an update to the NIV.

Despite ads that imply otherwise these are all the work of people who have tried to faithfully put the words of ancient scripture into modern language. Except for the New American Standard, first edition (which was word for word), all follow the principal of keeping the thoughts as close as possible to the original while using modern grammar rules to improve clarity and understanding.

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SUMMER, 2008

Dear friends in Christ,

Summer again, drought again, storms again, floods again. As the seasons of the earth turn so the seasons of our lives turn - though more slowly. We can divide a long life into twelve months in our minds -- yet the monthly transition is hard to define. But to divide our lives into seasons is not so hard. We can certainly fudge the transition times and for most people winter is the shortest (though there are exceptions). Most of us like to extend young adult and middle age as late as possible! But a day comes when it hits us that we have moved on into the next season. As those realizations come we have new opportunities to expand our lives - to learn new things or ways of doing things. Our relationships may change as we have different experiences. We move from single to couple to parent to grandparent. (Not everyone of course -- but there are other transitions for those who never marry or have children.)

What season are you in? When did you realize you had moved on to that stage? Wherever you are in the seasons of life you have opportunities to serve God and witness to Jesus. Those opportunities extend to all those who are baptized. When you pick up your annual church report do you ever think about the logo and phrase on the cover? We, the people of God, are united through the cross. That Christian unity is beyond the bonds of family, friendship, or patriotism. It is a bond even beyond the grave and extending into the future with those believers yet unborn. That bond says we are all in this together and all bear responsibility for the future of the church.

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