Discernment–a Lesson from God
maintain confidentiality. This lengthy process was truly a team effort.
Now that the offer has been made and accepted by Pastor McLane, I personally wanted to share some thoughts with you. Last December at the first meeting of the PNC, we met with Reverend Sheryl Kinder Pyle from Presbytery and our advisor, Pastor Doug Cartwright from Post Falls Presbyterian Church. We were advised that we should expect to spend about twelve months to complete the process – on the outside, up to eighteen months. At that first meeting, Rev. Sheryl told us this would need a lot of discernment on our part, and we should not feel rushed. We spent the next month developing our process and educating ourselves about how all this would work. The following month was devoted to preparing the paperwork required to list our calling and getting set up in the Presbyterian call system. With that completed, we posted our call and began to receive information from clergy – lots of candidates!
As candidates came to us, we watched sermons online, studied their work experience and education, and reviewed their responses to a series of narrative questions. We began to wonder how we would know when we had the “right” person. One evening during our committee meeting, we recognized that God was also reaching out to interested candidates, and we could trust that God would provide us our next Pastor; therefore, we shifted our focus as we reviewed candidates to identifying that person.
When reviewing the narrative answers from our candidates, ”discernment” was mentioned over and over, just as it was in our initial meeting. It occurred to me that I did not have a true understanding of the difference between prayer and discernment. A Google search made it perfectly clear:
My personal spiritual development and understanding of how God is involved in our lives has been elevated from being a part of this whole process. This was something I never expected when I joined the committee! I am so thankful to have had this opportunity.
To pick-up the process from discernment, fast-forward four months: we had narrowed the field to several finalists, and we were conducting lengthy interview sessions with them. During this part of the process, it was not only us who were having discernment, but the candidates said that they were doing the same.
We wrestled with so many questions. Which candidate would be the best fit for our church and congregation? How would we choose? How will we know when the correct candidate is shown to us? Our committee worked through it all together, and our decision was unanimous. Our answer came as a result of discernment.
A lot of people have thanked the PNC for our efforts, and we appreciate that. However, we all know that God was right there with us. Trust in Him and He will provide for us because He loves us.
Thanks be to God for guiding us through our discernment process and for always loving us!
In His Name, Roger
of sharing berries with those who are unable to reach the woods and pick for themselves. Not to mention the wonderful bragging rights when I come off the mountain with a gallon or two of that precious goodness.
As I surveyed my hands during a recent berry excursion it struck me that I know someone who also had stained hands at one time, Jesus. I get my stained hands by enjoying what God has so richly provided, but Jesus was given His stained hands to lovingly provide for me what I needed most of all.
The day Jesus died was a long and painful day in many ways. He had enjoyed a season of celebration with His close friends the night before. Then in a garden, He spent the night praying as the burden of what was to come weighed down on Him. He was betrayed and abandoned in a matter of hours by those closest to Him. He was given over to ruthless people who thought it best to beat and mock Him. This is where Jesus’s hands begin to take on the purplish-red hue of bruises and blood. Those very hands would spend the rest of the day carrying a cross that they would then be nailed to.
I often think of the price Jesus paid for me so that I can have access to God and all of His goodness. Because of Jesus’ stained hands, I can have the assurance that my sins are forgiven. I have the freedom to learn to live like Christ. I have the right to be called a child of God. I have heaven to look forward to. Even if the cost was painful, Jesus saw this as a labor of joy to set us free from sin and death. Because of His stained hands, I have learned to be grateful for the abundance that God has provided, even in the simple pleasure of picking huckleberries.
because I had forgotten to rest. I’m not talking about taking a nap or getting a good night’s sleep, although those things help me to have the energy to accomplish more. I’m talking about the kind of rest that brings joy and peace. The only way I have ever found this rest is by stopping and really spending time with God.
For some time, I have devoted the first part of my day to Bible study and prayer. This has helped me to start my day in God’s presence, and it helps me have a better attitude. I try not to let it, but sometimes this part of my day can become routine.
God only lets me go so far before he taps me on the shoulder to tell me, “Daughter, it’s time to rest.” Then I find myself in need of time to sit and contemplate God in my life and to be in his presence. For me, it is like crawling into my Father’s lap and being held. No words have to be spoken, even though I find myself telling Him all my hurts and frustrations. I don’t know why I don’t go to this spot more often, because it gives me such peace and joy. I guess it is because I need to come to the end of myself before I can let go. I’m so thankful that my Heavenly Father always has His arms wide open when I need rest.
In His Name,
A Dream or a Calling?
chosen for each of us to accomplish in our lives. Sometimes it takes a while for us to figure out what this is. If you are one of the lucky ones, God will let you know what he has in mind while you are still young.
I believe that God spoke to me quite clearly when I was in college. At the time, I was about 20 years old and was getting ready to graduate as a dance major. I had always dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina! Yes, that really is a thing! I had danced since I was 7 and was always driven to be the best, and now, finally, I had an opportunity to audition for a company in North Carolina. I was so excited! I prayed and prayed about this. But, as it turned out, I was asking God for all the wrong things. I wanted God to make me the best dancer ever and for me to have a wonderful career. I asked God for this, kind of like the little children who pray for a Barbie Doll or a Tonka Truck at Christmas-time. I thought I truly wanted my prayers to be answered, but in my heart, I still had some doubts. And then He spoke to me. He let me know that being a ballerina was my dream, but that my calling was different.
He had placed me on this earth for another purpose. It still took me a while to figure out God’s plan, but many prayers later, it was finally clear to me. I was meant to help and heal others. I wanted to comfort them, care for them and make their lives better. I became a healthcare provider. I was first a Nurse and then a Nurse Practitioner and was able to do all those things. I worked for years in Emergency Rooms, Family Practice and Urgent Care to do God’s will. It was such a rewarding life to know that on some level I was making a difference every day. Seeing the gratitude and comfort in the eyes of my patients as I treated them for a myriad of troubles was a blessing. And I felt that God was with me every step of the way.
Now fast forward to 2021. After a long career, I finally decided to retire. I was hoping to find another outlet for my desire to help and heal. First Pres offered me many opportunities to continue my calling. As a Deacon, I have learned about service to the Church and about Redemptive Compassion. As a member of the Welcome/Membership Committee, I have met new people, and I hope have helped to grow our congregation. I feel like I’m still following my calling—with God’s help. If any of you feel the need to follow this path of service to God and your Church, I encourage you to consider volunteering on some level. I pray that God will speak to you and show you your path.
In His Name, Ellen
number of times that people had asked me why I was mad at them. Huh? I wasn’t mad, just thinking. Eventually, I caught my look in a mirror and realized that my visage can have a quite intense look while I’m pondering something; but, since I did that thinking while staring with my eyes open, it could appear like I was staring them down! So, that might be when I first realized that my social skills needed some work! I’ve often blamed my struggles in this area on my New Jersey upbringing, but since meeting other folks in our church from New Jersey, I must instead take full ownership of those struggles.
We didn’t all grow up to recognize what an important skill kindness is. I’m working on teaching myself to make kindness so automatic that I don’t need to actively think it through first. (Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?)
Was it Joe Friday who said, “The facts, ma’am; just the facts?” Well, that’s me. [sigh] I want to get straight to the point as quickly and efficiently as possible. In my quest of teaching this old dog, I’m starting with simple correspondence. I try to first type an email that gets to the meat of the topic. Then, I’ll pause, reread, and then add in some chit-chat. How can this be so hard for me? I’ll overhear Bonnie in the office who always starts a conversation with asking how they’re doing, pauses and listens carefully to their response, then perhaps continues in that line for awhile before ever getting down to the business at hand—amazing to me! She is so kind—just naturally! I want to be like that! I’m taking baby steps in this quest.
Before answering the phone at work or at home, I try to pause, take a breath, and then have my voice tell the caller that I’m glad they called. It not only helps the person who calls to feel more at ease, but also helps me to truly feel that way and engage directly with them. I’m also trying to be more intentional in recognizing other’s emotional states, setting aside what I might be working on, and inquiring about their needs.
It might be human nature for us to see problems in others before we notice it in ourselves…or is that just me? Our mailman used to be so grouchy and unpleasant that I made it my challenge to turn his day around and put a smile on his face. I began with slowing him down just a bit, causing him to say more than a grunt, and sending him on his way with a friendly smile and greeting. Then, I progressed to inquiring how he was doing with handling the weather of the day. I always made it a point to thank him sincerely for doing his work, even under trying circumstances. Eventually, he opened-up and mentioned that he was regularly putting in ten- to twelve-hour days! That was when I really started interacting with him on a personal level. We began joking with each other, sharing some laughs and struggles, candy and bottled water. In the process of turning this once-grouchy mailman around, I realized that my intentional kindness was becoming more innate and natural for me. Hm, who was the real target of this challenge—the mailman or me…?
Proverbs has some wise words for daily life, including this passage:
The lesson of our mailman truly refreshed me. I’ll continue on this quest of becoming naturally kind, and I think my pathway is through acts of kindness towards others. I pray for its success!
Your friend in Christ,
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.