Steadfast Love, by Henri J. Nouwen

This is our devotional study for the Lent season. I would enjoy your comments and input.
The theme of prayer begins our study. Nouwen says prayer is “where the heart of God is united with the heart that prays.”

What is your reaction to that?

How would that give you a deeper understanding of prayer?

Bible Study for June 21

Week two of our 1 Peter Bible discussion:

Read 1 Peter 1:13-16
Questions to reflect on the passage
1. In verses 13-16 there are no less than 5 commands, which Peter gives to his readers. Can you list the five commands and give a brief description of each?
2. Verse 14 speaks about the readers’ “former lusts” which they practice in ignorance to God. What exactly would these former lusts include? For a hint see 1 Peter 4:3-4 as well as Col 3:5-9. What do these “former lusts” say about the type of life that Peter’s audience used to lead?
3. Verses 15-16 command Peter’s readers to “be holy”. What reasons does Peter give for this command?
4. Read Leviticus 11:45. When was the original command to be holy given, to whom was it given and why? Why are these answers important given that Peter is now speaking to Christians and not Israel of the Old Testament?
Questions to reflect on your life
1. Of the five commands that appear in verses 13-16, which of these do you need to most put in practice: “Prepare” your minds; “keep sober”; “fix your hope” on God’s grace; “do not be conformed to your former lusts”; “be holy”? Explain.
2. Did you become a Christian later in life such that you once lived in your “former lusts” in ignorance? Explain.
3. Do you see yourself as the spiritual heirs of God’s people in the Old Testament? Why or why not? What does it mean to be holy in your current context? Can you give specific examples?
Read 1 Peter 1:17-25
Questions to reflect on the passage
1. According to vv. 18-19, with what and from what were you redeemed? What does it mean to be “redeemed”?
2. In verse 22, Peter commands his readers to behave a certain way toward one another. What does he request and why?
Questions to reflect on your life
1. According to vv. 18-19, with what and from what were you redeemed? What does it mean to be
2. How should knowing that you were “redeemed” by the precious blood of Christ and born again of “imperishable seed” impact how you live? Explain.
3. Why is it so hard to “fervently love” other believers from the heart as Peter asks in this section? What impedes you from this type of radical love? Who most needs this type of love from you today?

Sunday June 14, Join us for the Study of 1 Peter 1, 10:00 a.m.

Charlestown UMC will being services with a Bible study on Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m. The service will be CDC compliant and have a time of prayer, Bible reading, and discussion of 1 Peter 1.
Here are a few questions for you to prepare for the study. Also, write down any questions or comments that you have for the discussion.

1 Peter Bible Study – Week 1
A Heavenly Inheritance (1:3-12)
Read 1 Peter 1:3-12
Questions to reflect on the passage
1. Verse 1:3 starts out by saying that Christians have been born again. How does that occur according to this verse and what does it mean to be “born again?”
2. Verses 3 and 4 suggest we have been born into a “living hope” and “an inheritance.” What is the meaning of these elements? What words are used to describe the inheritance?
3. Verse 5-6 speak of trials. What is the purpose of trials in these verses?
4. Verses 10-12 speak of the prophets inquiring and diligently seeking to know something. What did they inquire about? What did God reveal to them in their searchings (v. 12)?
Questions to reflect on your life
1. Do you see your salvation in terms of being “born again?” What does that phrase imply in terms of how we are to interact with the world?
2. Why do you suppose Peter describes our inheritance as “incorruptible”, “undefiled”, “reserved in heaven?” What do those words communicate to you about your salvation and how should that impact your faith and trust in God?
3. Do you perceive your sufferings as “trials through fire”? Why or why not? Are you undergoing difficulties at the moment? Explain. How can Peter’s advice to his readers help you in your difficult circumstances?
4. What do you make of the prophets of the Old Testament inquiring about the mysterious salvation that you now possess? (Note also how angels were curious too (v. 12). How should the fact that you have much more knowledge than the prophets regarding Christ and his mission change your approach to faith and living in that faith?

Is this pandemic God’s way of changing YOU?

This is from a friend–Dr. Keith

Ask yourself these questions:

Are you more attentive to unnecessary habits or preoccupations?

Have you found yourself more aware of hidden items or secret areas of your life?

Have you taken notice of things you’d routinely ignored before COVID-19?

Have you discovered some dormant frustrations which need to be addressed?

Have you been able to restructure your time to accomplish tasks you’ve been wanting to do for quite some time?

Have you allowed yourself to reflect more on relationships and priorities?

Have you been able to slow down and notice different or even unfamiliar elements around you?

Have you created new habits or rituals that are beneficial to your body and soul?

Are you more aware of people around you who are hurting or in need of help?

Have you more easily or intentionally connected with people close to you or with those at a distance?

Are you eating better and/or taking better care of your health? 

Have you been praying more or taking more time to commune with God?

Are you spending more time outdoors – walking, working in the yard, resting on your porch?

Are you reading a book that’s held your interest for quite some time?

Have you started a new hobby that you’d like to continue?

Could it be that this is for your good?


We usually don’t know God’s ways since He is lovingly infinite and we are blindly finite. Our desire to make sense of things usually gets us into a bind when it comes to trying to figure out God.

Yet, aren’t there a few things about God that we take by faith? Like, “all things work together for good for them that love God?”

Perhaps it’s an oversimplification to think that even a pandemic can be used for good. This does not discount for one moment the lives of those who have been directly affected in sickness and/or death.

God’s ability to orchestrate the elements of this complex world and its creatures is astounding. We may claim to “know” His ways but He is far too mysterious and profound for us to be dogmatic about our comprehension of Him.

Yet, we can be confident of at least one thing. He desires us to be conformed to the image of His Son.

So, I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to believe that God is using this pandemic to make us more like Jesus inwardly and in our actions…if we’ll let Him. 

If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions above, then you’re already experiencing this work of God in you.

There are two ways to respond and cooperate with this work of grace right now:

  1. Be thankful. Take time to thank God for what’s going on in you during these days. You may not like what’s happening around you. Yet, there is much good happening in you if you’ll take notice. Have a grateful heart for that good part.
  2. Be thoughtful. Think about what you can apply to your day from this good experience when the pandemic is over. Don’t waste this experience. Envision ways to keep the good going. Obviously it won’t be the same. But you also don’t have to slip back into your “old familiar ways” after experiencing God’s soul-worthy handiwork.

Where Does our Help Come From?

Psalm 121(NIV)

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

This Psalm has been on my heart during this time of separation and concern.  When the panic seem to crowd into my mind, and the uncertainties seem to carry me away, I think about the God that watches over us day and night.  He is our help, keeps us from harm, and is aware of our comings and goings.  I work on my alertness to the Lord’s presence and protection.

I hope all our family at Charlestown UMC is finding the certainty and care of the Lord in this time of aloneness and uncertainty.  We anticipate that soon we will be back together worshipping our caring God and encouraging each other in our walk and work for the gospel.

We are following the advice of our Bishop and Conference about the time we should begin public worship together.  This week the Administrative Board of CUMC and I discussed the procedures for us as we prepare for worship.  We are following the guidance from our Bishop, Tracy S. Malone about when to restart our worship and activities.  The Conference’s advice is to not to restart public services until the state has reached Phase 3 in its reopening plans. 

I would recommend each of you check out the Conference Website to understand what reopening involves, and other ideas for ministry in this time of COVID.  (

You are all in my prayers.  If you have any concerns, please call me on my cell phone, or by email, or here on Facebook.  I miss you all greatly, and greatly anticipate the time we are together again.

Pastor Greg