All posts by Rev. Todd R. Lattig

Episode 217 | Two-Edged Sword

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-thshu-1100ac5

In this episode, Rev. Todd discusses what it means for Christians to follow John Wesley’s 3rd General Rule: Stay in Love With God.

EPISODE NOTES:

First UMC of Newton, NJ worship livestreams on Sundays at 9:00 a.m. (Contemporary) 10:30 a.m. (Traditional). Join us for worship in-person or on YouTube.

If you 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 still ministering to people in our community and beyond. 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

October 10, 2021 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Service: 9 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Traditional Service: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Services for October 10. Today we learn about the powerful instrument the tongue is, and how it can be used to cut down and destroy or it can be used to heal and build up.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

Redeemable?

Read Romans 8:38-39

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” (Mark 3:28–29 NLT).

Jefferey Dean Morgan as Negan Smith on AMC’s The Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 16: “The Last Day on Earth”.

As you are about to find out, this week is [un]officially The Walking Dead week here at Life-Giving Water Ministries. Why? Because Season 11 is soooo good so far and I am super stoked after this past week’s episode. Man, it is really, really good and so I have hereby declared this week, in 2021, The Walking Dead week. That has absolutely no bearing on anything, and probably will be forgotten about beyond this week, but today I bring to you another TWD-themed message.

My favorite character in The Walking Dead is a man by the name of Negan. For anyone who has watched the show and knows who Negan is, you might be wondering what on earth I drank or smoke prior to writing this. For those of you who are wondering how to even pronounce NEGAN (for your reference, Nee-gan) and have no clue who he is, let’s just say that his story on the show has a less than pleasant beginning.

!SPOILER ALERT! Let me warn you now, there will be some spoilers in this so if you have any interest watching the show someday, you might want to stop reading now and come back to this when you’re ready. We first meet Negan as the leader of the Saviors, a group who are 150,000% dedicated to their leader. In fact, this is so much the case that when anyone asks “who’s Negan”, they will rise up and each of them say, “I am Negan”, in order to protect him. Why? Because, though he’s harsh, he does offer them safety provided they abide by his rules. To fail to do so could cost someone far more than their life.

At the end of Season 6, Rick Grimes and his group of survivors are caught by Negan and the Saviors and they are all forced to kneel in a circle, facing Negan as he walks around addressing each of them. His left hand is dangling opened by his side, his right hand is clutched around the handle of an old-fashioned Lousiville Slugger that has barbed-wire wrapped around it. The bat itself is rested on his shoulder and he is clearly playing with his “enemies”. Of course, his enemies are our friends, so-to-speak, and so we are totally not a Negan fan in this scene.

We find out that at the end of the scene, Negan is going to repay Rick and his crew for attacking an outpost of theirs. Rick had done that to protect his family and friends from Negan’s increasingly aggressive and oppressive interactions with them. They felt they had no other option and they killed the people at the outpost. Well, Negan did not appreciate that gesture and so, to get revenge, he tells them that he’s going to kill one of them. Then the season ends. That’s it. They leave you hanging to the very end.

At the beginning of Season 7, episode 1, we pick back up there and we finally see that Negan has chosen to kill Abraham, who he beats to a pulp with his bat. Angered by that, Daryl curses at Negan and threatens him and so Negan randomly turns and beats in the head of Glenn Rhee, the loving husband of Maggie, who witnesses the gory horror unfold before her eyes. Adding to that, Maggie is pregnant with Glenn’s child.

From there, Rick and the group are forced to be subjegated under Negan and he get’s harsher and harsher with them, forcing them to rise up and fight. To make a very long story short, Negan is defeated eventually and becomes a prisoner of Alexandria, Rick’s community. From there, Rick begins to empathize with Negan and believe he’s redeemable. Rick has to believe that because if Negan is not redeemable, are any of them? Empathy, compassion, forgiveness, redemption, those were the things that made Alexandria different that the Saviors.

Though Rick would end up disappearing, his son Carl would end up dying, and much time would pass, Rick’s legacy carried on in Negan who eventually went from begin a prisoner to a contributer to the community. Still, not everyone is convinced. Maggie, for instance, cannot let go of her hatred for Negan because of what he did to her husband and she cannot understand why Rick and the rest of the community didn’t get avenge her husband’s death.

So, here’s the question for you: is someone like Negan redeemable? Without getting into the difficulty that Maggie has in moving past her hurt, grief and righteous anger, is somene like Negan redeemable? If, by that question, you hear is Negan deserving of redemption? No! Of course not! There’s nothing he could do to earn redemption for what he did; however, that is not the question being posed. Is someone like Negan redeemable? In other words, can God save and transform someone like Negan. The show’s response is straight out of the Bible: YES!!! No one is “unredeemable”! No one is outside of the power of God’s saving grace! The story of Negan is the story of you and I. We’ve all done things that are shameful and destructive; however, this is NOTHING that can separate us from the love of our God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us, therefore, rejoice and witness to the world of that good news…and let us avoid falling into the pitfall of casting judgment on others.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
To judge is to proclaim that you are God.

PRAYER
Lord, keep me from falling into judgment, but promote a spirit of forgiveness and grace within me. Amen.

Bad Day

Read John 5:1-15

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NLT)

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Dog – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 21 – Photo Credit: Eli Ade/AMC

As a fan of the TV series The Walking Dead on AMC, I am thrilled at the direction they brought the show through season 10 and season 11. Prior to that, it had felt like the show had dried up a bit, as if they lost their desire to keep the audiences thrilled anymore; however, since they announced that Season 11 would be the last season for the series, it was as if that had sparked the passion once again. Let me tell you, Season 11 has been as good as the original seasons and it so great to see them go out on a high note.

It definitely is an iconic show that has brought horror, and the power of using the horror genre as social commentary, to the mainstream. Those elements were always a part of horror; however, only horror fans exposed themselves to it to know that. The truth is, nowadays, there isn’t a single person who doesn’t know the show The Walking Dead, and they know full-well that Walkers are not a metal frame used to stablize you while walking. Zombies are everywhere!

Toward the end of Season 10, there was this episode where one of the OG (original) characters, Carol, was supposed to be making soup inside her house and she ends up having a complete nervous break down. It started off with her inability to really find any food that would be suitable for soup. Still, she grabbed what she could, but there was no meat to be had. *scurry* Wait a minute, or was there. *scurry scurry* A mouse! There was a rat in the wall. She had heard it and so had Dog (that’s right, she has a dog named Dog…well, it was Daryl’s but she was dogsitting Dog.). There he was, his head cocked, his earsed perked, and he was just waiting for that rat to come out! *scurry scurry scurry*

Oh, he came out and the dog nearly broke everything in the kitchen trying to catch the rat, who survived. So, Carol set a trap to catch the rat and she did catch him, but he escaped and ran back into the wall. Carol was not having that! She took out a knife and started stabbing in all the places she could hear the little rat feet pitter-pattering on the wood in between the walls. She stabbed at that wall until she could put her hands in and tear the wall down and, when she was done with that wall, she proceeded to disassemble her entire house…trying to catch the rat.

Well, needless to say, she did not catch the rat, but she had destroyed her home and had one of her friends come over to do a wellness check on her. When he found her there, he asked her if everything was okay. At that point, Carol was resigned, exhausted, emotional and just beginning to regain her sanity. She looked up at him and said, “Bad day. I’ve had a really bad day.” The tears rolled down her cheeks and her friend stood silent, just nodding his head and just being a silent presence for her.

Indeed, she had had a bad day. Let’s be honest, in the Zombie Apocalypse every day goes from bad to worse! But inwardly, Carol had a really bad day. Why? Because she’s grieving. She lost her daughter all those years ago when she was a battered wife at the outset of the pandemic. Her group had been to hell and back with all of the dangerous groups out there with tribal mentalities. She had witnessed the brutal deaths of her friends and family and she was grieiving the fact that another decision of hers made earlier on in Season 9 had left people dead and missing. She had become a liability to her people, and she didn’t know how to cope with that.

Indeed. Carol had a really bad day. We all can have really bad days. I have had my share and, in those moments, we say and do things that we later come to regret and lament. Throughout the pandemic, I had a really bad couple of years. I had heightened depression, unruly anxiety, worked around the clock, gained a ton of weight, passed out and broke my teeth, got into an accident that ended up resulting in meniscus surgery, and went through an extended period of time with no teeth and only a “flipper” or denture to where aesthetically. When I ate…I had to pull that thing out and eat with two missing front teeth.

I had had a really really bad couple of years. During that time, my mood swings and my anxiety really made my family concerned for me. Thankfully, I am a rather self-reflective person and I was concerned for me too. I got the help I needed because I had a family that was there for me. I had people who were a silent presence in my life and that helped me carry on to much better days.

Friends, this is what it means to be a Christian. When one falls, we all fall. When one rises, we all rise. All for one and one for all. We all have really bad periods of time where we are not at our best and people really need to stretch to love us; however, those who do love you will stretch and let you know they are there. That is what we are called to do in the lives of others as well. When we need help, Jesus sends others to help us. When others need help, Jesus sends us to the rescue. Let us open our hearts to being present in the lives of those who are suffering and having really bad days.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Being a Christian means BEING PRESENT

PRAYER
Lord, help me to be present in the lives of those around me. Help me to empathize with people and be a friendly, compassionate ear for those who need. Amen.

October 3, 2021 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Service: 9 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Traditional Service: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Services for October 3. Today we will learn about and explore our relationship with God.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.

Episode 41 | Don‘t Get Mad, Get Righteously Angry

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-8v5tg-10ee43d

In this episode, fellow POJCasters, Sal and Todd are joined by Erik Hassing, co-owner of Angry Erick Brewing, LLC in Hampton, NJ, for a discussion on all things ANGRY, especially good grog! Are you interested in being on the Party on JohnCast? Email us at partyonjohncast@gmail.com.

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. You can also reach out to us via email partyonjohncast@gmail.com, though, please keep in mind we are more active on our social media accounts and do not check our email as often. On Twitter you can also follow Todd and Sal on Twitter at @trlattig and @SalvatoreSeirm1 respectively.

Angry Erik's Tasting Room

The Rockin' Reverend and an almost finished pint of ¡Viva Verde! with added Jalapeno!

EPISODE NOTES:

Please check out Angry Erick Brewing, LLC.

He Brews Segment:

Erik

Sal

Todd

Most Excellent Music Segment:

Sal

Tim

Erik

A LOOK BACK: God’s People, part 12: Jacob

Read Genesis 27-28

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“For God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn.” (Romans 11:29 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 are like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.
 Part 12, Jacob. As was discussed in the last installment of this series, Esau was supposed to be the heir to his father, Isaac’s fortune. It was through Esau that Isaac’s geneology would continue and it was Esau who was to be given the authority of his father as the head of the family. We also discussed how proud and arrogant Esau was. That was certainly his character flaw, and it was a flaw that brought his chance of claiming his birthright right down to a 0% chance.

Esau had mistreated his brother and already thought of Jacob as his servant, because he was the oldest (by mere minutes). He did not regard his birthright as something to be cherished and appreciated; rather, he saw it as something that he was entitled to and did not even consider for a moment that he would ACTUALLY LOSE it to his puny brother Jacob.

Yet, that is exactly what happened. Jacob bid his time and remained humble, despite his brother’s bossiness and boarish behavior. Being a sibling myself, I can only imagine the anger that raged through Jacob everytime his brother ordered him around, but he was humble and listened to his mother’s advice to wait for the right moment. That patience certainly paid off in the end.

Yet, it would be a mistake to think that Jacob was wholly innocent in this situation. He absolutely was not. There is a difference between being humble for humility’s sake, because one knows their place and appreciates all that has been done for them. It is entirely different to assume humility in order to lay claim of something that one is scoping out all along. Jacob definitely falls into the latter category.

Make no mistake, Jacob did not have altruistic reasons for being humble; rather, he was born into a status of humility and used that to his advantage in winning out over his brother. He played well the part of the meek and humble servant, so well that not even his own father thought that Jacob would do what he was about to do. He was a thief lying in the dark waiting for the right moment to take his own brother and father by surprise.

When it became abundantly clear that Jacob would not receive the coveted birthright by his father choosing him over Esau, he followed his mother’s lead in disguising himself as Esau in order to trick his blind and ailing father. Covering his arms with animal hair, he went to his father as Esau and asked his father to give him his blessing now. Even though his voice was different than his brother’s, his father fell for the trick because his arms felt like Esau’s. Thus, unwittingly, Isaac gave Jacob the blessing that was meant for Esau, and Jacob became heir to his father’s fortune, and the head of his father’s family.

This act of betrayal led to much dismay in the family, so much so that Jacob ended up fleeing the camp for his life. Esau was so enraged to hear that his brother had stolen away his birthright that he sought to kill Jacob. Because of his sinful deception, Jacob did not receive his inheritance for at least 14, but probably closer to 20, years later; rather, he spent those years in hiding in a foreign land in the househould of Laban.

Again, the Bible does state that God gave Rebeka a revelation that her youngest son would inherit Isaac’s household and fortune; however, it is hard to imagine that God wanted Jacob to pull that off in the way he did, taking matters into his own hands. Because he did things his own very dishonest way, he paid a bitter and long price. It was a good thing that Jacob was blessed with having the virtue of patience, because was really going to need it right down to getting a wife.

Have you ever been dishonest because you felt that it was the only way to make things go good for you? Have you ever cheated or cut corners to bring about what you felt God wanted you to do? Have you ever had to wait even longer for what was reward was coming to you as a result of your actions? As can be seen in the story of Jacob, it is always better to trust God and allow God to work, than taking matters into one’s own hands to force what God is ultimately doing anyway.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“There are no shortcuts in life – only those we imagine.” – Frank Leahy

PRAYER

Lord, keep me honest, even when my anxieties and anticipations dictate dishonesty. Amen.

A LOOK BACK: God’s People, part 11: Esau

Read Genesis 25:19-26

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“My brother, I have plenty,” Esau answered. “Keep what you have for yourself.” (Genesis‬ ‭33:9‬ ‭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 are like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Part 11, Esau. Every generation has its rite of passage into manhood. In the modern age, we are far more egalitarian about it and typically call it a rite of passage into adulthood, as women are considered equal and autonomous members of society. There are still rites of passage for both sexes, especially for women who traditionally have a “sweet sixteen” party; however, these are mostly for celebration only and mean very little in terms of function in society.

In the ancient world, rites of passage were very, very important. In particular, the rite of passage for a man was of utmost importance, especially for the man who held the birthright to be the heir of his father and family possessions. This rite of passage was a blessing that was given from the father to the son, almost always the first born son, in which the father blessed his son and gave his authority to him, to carry on as the head of the family and the carrier of the father’s lineage. There was no greater honor in the life of the ancient patriarchal family.

Esau was the first born of two twins, born minutes (if not seconds) before his younger brother Jacob. That means that Esau was, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the one who held the birthright to be the heir of his father, Isaac. Jacob, on the other hand, was born slightly after Esau and did not hold that birthright at all. Jacob would be, at best, second in command, and would ultimately be subservient to his brother Esau. He would be expected to do what his brother Esau commanded and would only inherit a fraction of what would be given to Esau, if anything at all.

Yet, the story reports that God had a different plan in mind. God revealed to Rebekah, Esau and Jacob’s mother, that the oldest brother would become the servant of the younger brother. That means that, according to the Biblical narrative, Esau would be second in command and Jacob would inherit Isaac’s authority and fortune. Esau would be subservient to Jacob and not the other way around.

Of course, a measure of healthy skepticism is warranted here because, as we all know, history is written by the winner. Who really knows if Rebekah truly received a divine revelation from God that Jacob was to be the leader of the family or it came to be written that way because that is how Jacob and those who descended from him chose to see it. Who knows if God truly planned for Jacob to steal his brother’s birthright or if, following successfully doing so, Jacob and family saw the successful theft as being “God’s will”. The fact remains, regardless of how it actually went down, that Esau ended up losing his birthright.

Even if God did intend for Jacob to receive the birthright, it is hard to imagine that God wished for Jacob to steal it from his brother. Esau was a flawed individual who very well may have ended up disgracing his father, or not proving himself well enough to his father, to inherit Isaac’s blessing. Esau was brash and demanding. He was arrogant and thoughtless. His brother outwitted him very easily over some red stew. Esau was claiming his birthright before he even had it, and was demanding that his brother go get him the stew he was hungry for. He lacked in humility and mistreated his younger brother because, well, he could.

Jacob, on the other hand, was humble and smart. He was quiet and was willing to bide his time. No doubt, his mother Rebekah taught him to be that way with the hope that he would one day come on top. Whether that was God’s will or not, Rebekah understood that God favored the meek and the humble over and above the proud and the arrogant. She hedged her bets and, as it turns out, cashed in big league.

Have you ever been so sure of something that you’ve been arrogant in your assurance? Have you ever saw yourself better than what you actually were? Have you ever found the assurance you had to be false assurance. Have you ever been humbled from your false assurance and found yourself in a place of embarrassment and humiliation? This is the place of Esau, a place that is painful for sure; however, God did not curse Esau, nor did his brother Jacob, even when Esau wanted to kill him for the covert theft of his birthright. Esau was still in God’s plan and did eventually reconcile with his brother. If you find yourself in such a humbling place, know that you, too, can be reconciled to God and to people if you allow yourself to be.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Though the Lord is great, he cares for the humble, but he keeps his distance from the proud.” (Psalms‬ ‭138:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

PRAYER

Lord, keep me ever humble and far away from being haughty or proud. Amen.

Episode 216 | Living Faith, part 4: Stay in Love With God

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-hsuxe-10eb7c4

In this episode, Rev. Todd discusses what it means for Christians to follow John Wesley’s 3rd General Rule: Stay in Love With God.

EPISODE NOTES:

A Metrical Psalter by Julie and Timothy Tennent

A Meditative Journey through the Psalms by Julie and Timothy Tennent

First UMC of Newton, NJ worship livestreams on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Join us for worship on YouTube.

If you 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 still ministering to people in our community and beyond. 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

September 26, 2021 – Newton UMC – Sunday Worship Livestream

JOY Fellowship Service: 9 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 9:00 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Traditional Service: 10:30 a.m.

Worship service streams live at 10:30 a.m. EST (-500 GMT)

Welcome to our Sunday Worship Services for September 26. Today we will learn what it means for Christians to follow John Wesley’s 3rd General Rule: Stay in Love With God.

Please support us by giving online: https://tithe.ly/give?c=1377216 or https://paypal.me/newtonumc Your support is vital, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. You can also write and mail a check to First UMC of Newton, 111 Ryerson Ave., Newton, NJ 07860.

If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.