Thoughts on Labor Day
There is a long standing dispute over whether Labor Day started in Paterson, NJ or New York City. Either way, Labor Day originated in the 1880s as a day to celebrate the goodness of work and the dignity of manual labor in building our great nation.
I have come to look at the importance of work through different eyes over that past two years. A seminar I attended noted that most followers of Jesus spend 50 hours at work for every hour they spend in church. This led me to become a part-time chaplain with Marketplace Chaplaincy (mchapusa.com) where I invest about a day a week in visiting four different companies with almost 400 employees.
Just as a chaplain visits the sick in a hospital or a military chaplain is available to the troops, my role is to get to know these employees, be a listening ear, be an encourager, and at times be their pastor. I have had multiple opportunities to share and pray with these employees.
This experience has given me a front row seat into life in the workplace. Many workers are experiencing high stress and feel uncertain about their future. At the same time, I see where the workplace has become a place for friendship and support. A couple of the companies have deeply committed Christian bosses who have a heart for the well being of their employees.
On Labor Day 2018, be reminded of the wisdom of Solomon from 3000 years ago,
A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? (Ecc. 2:24-25)
For most of us our labor includes challenges and difficulties. A curse of the sin of Adam was that labor would be challenging (Gen. 3:17-19) and we would have hard days on the job.
On the hopeful side, God can bless us with a sense of satisfaction in our work. Being the son of a house painter, I have often felt that satisfaction after painting a room or house and being proud of how it looks. There is satisfaction in a sense of calling and knowing that God has used me in the life of another person. People in our church are called to work in many different settings. When we believe we are doing what God created us to do, life is good.
Having a sense of calling does not mean that every day is a joy. I know that some motivational speakers may convince us to act like life is good all the time. The truth is that even the best of jobs have hard days.
While we can enjoy work, it is important to have an eternal perspective. The best sense of well being is only a foreshadow of life in God’s presence. Peter wrote,
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you. (I Peter 1:3-4)
We need that living hope, especially on days when life or work is hard. Faith in Christ grounds us for all the good and bad that comes our way. I trust that God will fill you with His hope as you work to make the best life possible here on earth. Be reminded, heaven is better!
Couple’s Bible Study starting in September
We live in a time when American society is not very good at developing healthy marriages. The divorce rate has hovered around 50% for many years. Some have argued that less people are going though divorce in the last couple of years but that is in response to far fewer marriages. Couples live together and our culture has a growing number of people who have never married.
Marriage is God’s idea according to the Bible. Genesis tells us that Adam needed a partner so God designed marriage in the garden of Eden.
In theory Christians should be experts in marriage. We should be known for our love, our selflessness, and our holiness in such a way that our marriages are the envy of our society.
Sadly, Christian marriages do not always work out well. The problem is not God’s Word being outdated or Christianity leading couples astray. The problem is that we in church tend to act more like the culture than we should.
Starting in September, Fort Lee Gospel Church will be hosting a Saturday afternoon Couples Bible Study. Pastor Rick and Claudette will be facilitating this study that looks at marital issues.
The Bible has much to teach regarding biblical principles to help a marriage. The challenge is to practice what our faith teaches us.
Please let Pastor Rick or Claudette know if you are interested in joining this class. We ask for a determined commitment to attend the 8 sessions of this program. If needed we will look at child care options. We have a number of couples committed to joining this group and there is room for two or three more couples. Prayerfully consider if this group is for you.
One of our prayers this year is that the Youth Group would pick up momentum. We have a number of teens who attend church on Sunday and we have a few college students who commute from our area. We are hopeful that a youth group including teens and some college students would come together this fall.
We are reaching out to Nyack College for help with youth group leadership and we hope to get some help in leading this ministry in the month of September.
A further idea is to include the teens from the other three churches which meet in our building. Each of these churches have at least a few high school students who attend their church.
We ask that you keep our teens and young adults in your prayers. A few years ago we had an active youth ministry but most have completed their college studies. Pray for the right leader or leaders and pray for this ministry to have an impact on both our teens and their friends. We are believing God to work in this generation.
Women’s Bible Study
On Saturday, September 8th at 2:00 PM the women will begin a new Bible study series. The study is based on the book, “The Son of David: Seeing Jesus in the Historical Books.” The women will each receive a copy of the book and there will be an expectation of some homework.
The study will meet on alternating Saturdays beginning on September 8th. It is a good way to learn the Bible better, particularly the Old Testament.
The study is being organized by Claudette Spenst, Patricia Hall and Cindy Vouthas-Maza. See one of these women to learn more details about this study.
The leaders are excited about this new study and invite all the women of the church to join in this new class.
September Events at Fort Lee Gospel Church
11:00 AM Worship Service Our weekly service including worship through singing, prayer, preaching and fellowship. Nursery and three children’s classes are available.
9:00 AM Chinese Worship Service The Chinese worship service is led by Pastor William Cheung. He can be reached at 914-282-3399.
1:30 PM Korean Worship Service Contact Pastor Jaedoo Lee for further details at (646)464-2448.
5:30 PM Spanish Worship Service Contact Rev. Esteban Canales at 973-510-8834 for more details.
7:00 PM, Sept 2 & 16 Evening Service Our Sunday evening service usually meets on the first and third Sunday of the month.
1:30 PM, Sept 9 & 23 NYC Nursing Home Ministry A group leads a service twice a month at a nursing home in NYC.
1:15 PM, Sept 16 Seniors Ministry A group leads a service at an assisted living facility in Teaneck.
12:30 PM, Sept 30 Church Dinner Our monthly fellowship meal after the service.
12:30 PM, Tuesdays Men’s Lunch & Bible Study We meet for a meal before we study the Bible and pray together.
7:30 PM, Tuesdays Bible Study The group is going through the “Purpose Driven Life” study.
7:00 PM, Sept 11 9/11 Memorial at Constitution Park
6:00 AM, Wednesdays Morning Prayer Morning prayer meeting on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
6:00 AM Morning Prayer Morning prayer meeting combining personal and group prayer meets every Saturday.
2:00 PM, Sept 8 & 22 Women’s Bible Study See page 2 for details.
10:00 AM, Sept 15 New Members Class See below for details.
Fort Lee Gospel Church is organized formally around active members, a governing board, and denominational accountability. We are a mix of members and non-members who count Fort Lee Gospel Church as our home church. Once or twice a year we look to add members to our congregation. This September we will have a membership class and formally add members to our church.
On Saturday, September 15th at 10:00 AM a group will meet to learn about Fort Lee Gospel’s history, denomination and vision. After this time of learning, our church will add new members on the last Sunday of September. If you want to join the church but cannot make the class, an alternative class can be arranged. Please let Pastor Rick know of your interest in joining the congregation.
Sermon Series: Shalom
We live in a time when many are under great stress and people have lost hope. The sermon series this Fall will be built around the idea of ‘Shalom.’ At its simplest, Shalom means peace. But our concept of peace is only the beginning. Shalom also implies well-being, prosperity, and contentment. Shalom holds within its meaning, ‘life is good, and I will be just fine.’
The Old Testament uses Shalom 236 times. At times it is only a greeting and other uses include the blessings God bestows upon His people. This fall we will look at ways we can live a life of Shalom in 2018.
“You will keep in perfect peace (Shalom) those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3
September 11 Reflections
Many of us have clear memories of the events of September 11, 2001. This month is the 17 year anniversary of that tragic day.
Seventeen years ago a number of our church members were affected by the attack that took down the Twin Towers. Some worked close to the area and had to walk out, while others knew people who died that day. We all experienced a sense of grief as we read stories of those who died. There were even more stories of God’s grace as we heard people tell of ways that God kept them from being another victim. We all prayed and looked to God for comfort and hope.
A few years ago, the Borough of Fort Lee created a 9/11 Memorial at Constitution Park in Fort Lee. This year on Tuesday, September 11, 2018 they will hold a memorial program at the monument. The Mayor and Council have invited the churches to attend and some of the clergy to participate in this service which takes place at 7:00 PM. We will attend the memorial event in place of our regular Tuesday evening Bible study.
The congregation is invited to share in the community service which is a good way to remember and honor those who lost their lives on that terrible day.
The world has not become a safer place in the past 17 years but God has been gracious to our nation in protecting us from further major attacks. We continue to pray for God’s favor and protection over our nation from those who desire to bring destruction.
The promise of Psalm 91 is relevant for us today. It includes;
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day (vs. 4-5)
May we remember well the lessons of 17 years ago this month. May God continue to protect us as a nation.
FYI: Pastor Rick recently had an article published at www.psychologytoday.com/us/