Episode 127 | Breathing Thanksgiving (Full Worship Service)

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-8ypmz-e09c47

In this episode, while Rev. Todd is on vacation with his family, Kathleen Meredith (Certified Lay Servant and Lay Leader of First United Methodist Church of Newton) leads worship. The whole worship service is included.

EPISODE NOTES:

  • First UMC of Newton, NJ streams online on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Join us for worship on YouTube.
  • If worship with us online and/or you would like to give to First UMC of Newton, your generosity will help us sustain with our mission and ministries during this COVID-19 pandemic. We are still paying our staff and we are ministering from home remotely. Your support is vital to us being able to do so. Thank you for considering giving at https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc.
  • Sign up for bi-weekly devotions at Life-Giving Water.
  • Subscribe to Life-Giving Water Messages, also on iTunes and Google Play Music.
  • Subscribe to the Party on Johncast, co-hosted by Rev. Sal Seirmarco and Rev. Todd Lattig.

A LOOK BACK: Let Freedom Ring

Well, it’s summertime again and my family and I are on vacation. While we are away, I will not be writing any new devotionals; however, this is a great opportunity to look back at a couple of devotions that were written over the course of the past years.  I hope that though this was written in the past, that in it you may find a relevant message that God is speaking to you. So without further adieu, click here to read today’s devotion.

Episode 26 | Let Freedom Ring

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-pb8e4-e0bf96

In this episode, fellow POJCasters, Sal and Todd are joined by Sal’s better half, Alison, and their newborn son Calvin, for another special “social-distanced home edition”. Listen as the discuss about Independence Day, Black Lives Matter and more Shithouse Theology.

BTW, as a Happy Birthday America present to you, every listener, patron or not, gets access to this month’s bonus video and audio! So make the most out of this gift and…while you’re at it…support The Party on John Cast.

Party On Patrons: You can totally support us by subscribing to us on Patreon and, by doing so, you will be signing up for exclusive, bonus content, such as episode wrap-ups, extra segments and the like. We have three tiers of support and each level bears more rewards. Lots of great reasons to join. Click here for more information.

Other ways to Support: If you love this podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes, Google Play Music, Spotify. The more we get rated and reviewed, the higher up on the giganto totem pole we get on those respective platforms.

Also, interact with us on our social media, on our Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram. On Twitter you can also follow Todd and Sal on Twitter at @trlattig and @SalvatoreSeirm1 respectively.

EPISODE NOTES:

He Brews Segement:

Alison

Sal

Todd

Most Excellent Music Segment:

Todd

  • Glory by Common and John Legend

Alison

Sal

A LOOK BACK: Unanswered Prayers

Well, it’s summertime again and my family and I are on vacation. While we are away, I will not be writing any new devotionals; however, this is a great opportunity to look back at a couple of devotions that were written over the course of the past years.  I hope that though this was written in the past, that in it you may find a relevant message that God is speaking to you. So without further adieu, click here to read today’s devotion.

God’s People, part 251: Rhonda

Read Acts 12:6-19

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Part 251: Rhonda. I am willing to bet that most people did not realize there was a Rhonda in the Bible. Everytime that I hear that name, I cannot help but think of the Beach Boys song, “Help Me, Rhonda”, which would not be completely inappropriate for this particular passage in Acts. Granted, the story of Rhonda in Acts is not centered on her helping getting a broken relationship out of another guy’s heart; however, the phrase “Help Me, Rhonda” itself speaks to what happens in the account.

To summarize, Peter had been imprisoned and awaiting a public trial by King Herod Agrippa I. If you recall, Agrippa had just had James, son of Zebedee, put to death. This, evidently, went over well with public opinion and so Agrippa had Peter arrested so that he might stand trial and be put to death as well. While, in prison, the Angel of the Lord broke Peter out of jail and set him free. Following that, he went straight to John Mark’s house and knocked on the door.

This is where Rhonda comes in. She was a servant of John Mark’s household and was the one who first answered the door. Before even opening the door, Rhonda recognized Peter’s voice and was so overjoyed that she forgot to even open the door. Instead, she ran back into the household and began to proclaim the good news that Peter was no longer in jail. Peter, confused, continued to knock until he was eventually let in.

Of course, what was good news for Peter, Rhonda, and company was not good news universally. Back at the jail the guards had to deal with a very miffed and hostile King Agrippa I. After searching the cells, he ordered the execution of the soldiers who were keeping watch. Agrippa, clearly, was not a man of patience or mercy. If he would not have Peter’s blood, he would have the blood of the ones responsible for keeping watch.

For us, as Christians, we could use the excitement that Rhonda has for serving God. Of course, she was overwhelmed to find out that Peter had not been harmed and that he had escaped from prison; however, her excitement went beyond that. Instead, she took it upon herself to let everyone in the household know that the Lord rescued Peter and he was standing at her door. The others thought she had lost it; however, she persisted and, when they opened the door, they were amazed to discover that Peter had, indeed, been resuced.

As Christian, we can so easily fall into the trap of not truly believing in the unbelievable. Sure, we know that Christ was resurrected, sure we know that God has the power to make miracles happen; however, we simply don’t have the faith to believe that such miracles can be worked out in front of us, much less through us.

By miracles, I do not mean God somehow working out our greatest desires list; rather, I mean the kind of happenings and events that show the power of God and bring glory to God’s name. We somehow believe that such things are the things of the past, of the Bible; however, God is working miracles out in our lives and the lives of others everyday. Even in situations that seem less than miraculous, I have seen God’s ability to transform hearts and lives. As Christians, we need to trust as Rhonda did. We need to know that, no matter what, Christ is always a knock away and be willing to share the good news with others. Let us grow to be such Christians.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Every day we have to share the Good News is a miraculous day.

PRAYER
Lord, strengthen me to become a great and powerful witness to your presence among us. Amen.

God’s People, part 250: Agrippa I

Read Acts 12:1-5

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”  (Philippians 2:3-5, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Part 250: Agrippa I. King Herod Agrippa’s rise to power and reign is one of the most fascinating out of all of the kings in the Bible. His story is one of politics, deception, backstabbing, and vying for power. Born Marcus Julius Agrippa, he was the son of Aristobulus IV, and was grandson of King Herod the Great. Aristobulus the IV was one of two sons that King Herod had strangled to death on charges of treason; however, King Herod showed favor to Marcus and his other grandchildren despite this. In fact, Herod the Great had Marcus sent to Rome where he became beloved of future Emperor Tiberius, and received an education alongside the future emperor’s son.

While his early adulthood years were nearly squandered, he was able to pull through because of Tiberius’ love for him. Despite being accused of accepting a bribe by his own brother, and being exiled by King Herod Antipas, Agrippa was well-received back in Rome by Emperor Tiberius. It was there where he formed a close relationship with future Emperor Caligula. Having been overheard wishing for Tiberius to die so that Caligula could ascend as emperor, he was thrown into prison; however, that was short lived because, once Caligula became emperor, he released Agrippa and appointed him king of the regions of Auranitis, Batanaea, Gaulanitis, and Trachonitis, all of which his uncle Philip the Tetrarch had held. Eventually, Agrippa brought about the banishment of his uncle, King Herod Antipas, and ascended to rule over Galilee and Peraea.

Eventually, through supporting Claudius as Emperor following Caligula’s assassination, Agrippa was given dominion over all of Judaea and Samaria, and was king over a domain that equaled that of his grandfather, Herod the Great. As can be seen by this abbreviated historical biography, Agrippa was politically savvy, shrewd, and willing to do whatever it took to increase in power and authority. Nothing was off limits, and no one was going to stand in his way.

This is the same King Agrippa, simply named King Herod in Acts 12, who became a persecutor of the early Christian Church in Jerusalem. It was this Agrippa, who had James, son of Zebedee (one of the earliest of Jesus’ disciples), violently executed and Peter imprisoned in order to send a message to anyone trying to disrupt the religious and political status quo. In fact, the crowd loved seeing the death of James so much that, for good sport and public approval, Agrippa was going to have Peter put on public trial as well.

How does someone allow power and status to corrup them so? How does someone go from being the son of a murdered parent, to a murderous ruler willing to do anything to maintain control? This should be a warning to all of us. Power is intoxicating and corruptive and it can cause the greatest of us to fall. While this devotion might be centered on a King with nearly absolute power, granted to him by Rome, it still speaks to us as well because we in the church can be seduced by power too.

The church has long forgotten that the roles and heirarchy are meant to SERVE the body of Christ as opposed to making the body of Christ SERVE the people in those roles. We as the church, while we must respect the need for heirarchy and we must respect the offices of the Church, we also must never forget that the ONLY one we worship is Christ Jesus our Lord. Yes, I was called to be a pastor. Yes, others are called to be bishops, or church leaders. Yes, those positions are important in the life of the church; however, they are not more valuable than any other role in the church, no matter how big or small. Let us, as the Church, remember that all are one in Christ Jesus our Lord.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
We are each other’s keepers, bound in love to all who are in Christ.

PRAYER
Lord, remind me that no matter my role or status, I am yours and am in service to all who are my family in Christ. Amen.

A biweekly devotional