Welcome to Mt. Olive's Online Newsletter! This site serves to herald the activities and day-to-day happenings at Mt. Olive, as well as provide resources for continued learning and community awareness. Links on the right point to various groups that operate at Mt. Olive as well as points of interest and additional resources. The space below contains articles and information from the newsletter. A up-to-date church calendar is always at the bottom of the page. Thanks for visiting and please let us know what you think!

For more information on Mt. Olive Evangelical Lutheran Church please visit our website.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mom 2 Mom Consignment Sale & Bake Sale

All are welcome to sell

Come shop at our MOM 2 MOM sale for an assortment of gently used kid’s, maternity, & adult clothing, shoes, toys, books, & much more!

8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

If you are interested in selling your items, you can purchase table space. Tables & chairs will be provided.

Tables are $15.00 for 1 table
$25.00 for 2 tables
$35.00 for 3 tables

Registration & deposit required.

Location: Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
Darlington Road
Chippewa, PA

This sale benefits Mt. Olive MOPS
For more information please call Heather at 724-513-6723.

Letter from the Pastor...June 2008

You can tell a lot about people by the "garbage," the refuse, they throw away. That's not a new idea. We're still digging up previous generations' garbage. We call it "archeology." I have this theory that neighbors watch each other's garbage more than we might acknowledge. My grandmother used to advocate putting the champagne bottle from New Year's Day dinner "on top of the garbage." Obviously, at one time, champagne was a sign of class and prosperity.

At any rate, Americans throw out a lot of refuse or "garbage." In one day, we throw out 150,000 tons of just PAPER products. One million bushels of that, by the way, out the windows of cars and trucks on our highways.

What dos our garbage tell about our culture and our values? About what is important to us? What will WE leave behind? What will archeologists of the future find? It's kind of embarassing to think that somebody will be going through your garbage, even if it's 3,000 years later.

St. Paul talks about garbage in Philippians 3: 7 He says "I consider all things rubbish." Garbage. He's talking about all the "stuff" that made up his life prior to his becoming a Christian. "That which was to my profit" says Paul.

What makes him call this stuff "garbage?" Didn't Paul have a good life before becoming a Christian? From what we know, Paul was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He hailed from the city of Tarsus--capital of the Roman province of Cilicia--in the northeast corner of the Mediterranean. He was a Jew, a proud descendent of the tribe of Benjamin. Paul had an outstanding eduction by the standards of his day. He had grduated the rabbinical school of the Pharisees at Jerusalem. HE kinew at least three langauges--Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. He was at home both in Greco Roman culture and Judaic culture. He had inherited from his father the coveted Roman citizenship. He had grown up in one of the cultural centers of the ancient world, Tarsus. It boasted a university second only to that of Alexandria and Athens. Paul would have been able to put many champagne bottles atop his garbage.

And yet, he says: "I consider all these good things rubbish." Why does he do that? What he is saying is, not that all of these things were in of themselves bad. Nor was he saying that such things would have to be given up in order to become a Christian. What he WAS saying was that he now knew what was of ultimate importance in his life. And, by way of comparison, everything else in his life was now just "garbage" or "refuse." Jesus Christ and his salvation was so important to Paul, that everything else was, by way of comparison, was dispensible.

The fact of the matter is, Paul had, in fact, lost many of these things for confessing Christ at the time of his writing. "For his sake" writes Paul, "I have suffered the loss of all things." Literally, "I have had these things confiscated." Paul was imprisoned, and eventually lost his life for the Lord. And yet he says: "I suffer these things gladly, for the sake of Jesus Christ, my Lord."

There is one thing Paul was glad to lose...his self righteousness. Paul thought he was "good enough" to save himself as an expert keeper of the law. But now that was wrapped up and out at the curb. Why? "Because now I have a righteousness NOT my own, but that righteousness whichis through faith in Christ."

The things we throw out in America? Look at what washes up our beaches. Crack vials, needles, syringes, prescription bottles, styrofoam and plastic. These things symptomatic of a society based on an illusion of self sufficiency. A society which doesn't think it needs God.

And along with the garbage, on the Jersey shore, washes up a crucifix.Ironically, symbolic of our greatest need. "Whatever was to my profit, I now consider as loss for the sake of Christ." "I consider everything as loss compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, and the righteousness which comes by faith in him."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Taking Inventory

Text: Lamentations 3:40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.

At a very young age I was first exposed to the drudgery of taking an annual inventory. First at the family grocery business and later in pharmacies. At these times I did not consider it a fun job. I would ask “why are we doing this” and the answer, as I recall, was because we have to - the Internal Revenue Service requires us to do an inventory once a year. Maybe they actually did not know or didn’t think an 11 year old would grasp complicated business strategy. As a young pharmacist I still didn’t understand what we were doing other than it was an I.R.S. requirement or some “bean counter” needed a number. I was more than willing to relinquish territory and let the bean counter get his own numbers but they never seemed to appreciate my offer. Taking inventory did not fit nicely into my concept of the things I wanted to do as a pharmacist. It was boring, it always involved overtime without pay, it was poorly organized and I was expected to accomplish my normal tasks in addition to doing the boring and tedious job of counting the inventory. The real joy killer was that nobody seemed to do anything of significance with the data obtained.

You can imagine my reaction when I learned as an new owner of a Medicine Shoppe franchise that I was expected to perform a complete inventory every three months. However, I noticed quickly that the franchise owners who worked the programs were successful and made money. Those who fought the programs, or only went through the motions, usually failed or at least failed to thrive. I elected to be a team player. Suddenly I had a vested interest in this process --- my attitude changed. I did the four inventories a year and my organizational skills allowed me to make innovations that resulted in the task being expedited. I started to understand why we were doing this. We had a limited amount of money to invest in inventory. More critical than money was space. In an 800 square foot pharmacy we could not allocate space for items that did not sell. There was no place available for nostalgia or “we always had this before“. The money and space could better be used. We could not afford to waste valuable space for items that produced no profit or prevented us from stocking items that could generate profit by a better utilization of resources. I transformed my thinking completely on this task. At first I only saw this as drudgery to accommodate a regulatory or accounting requirement. I saw no useful application. I came to see this function as a vital tool in my success in business. Once I saw the usefulness, I honed in on the process constantly making it more efficient and accurate. With the appearance of computers, I was able to keep perpetual inventories and totals that were only available four times a year with the expenditure of thirty plus man hours could be obtained in minutes every hour if necessary using virtually no man hours. A task that began as drudgery became a task that I had great enthusiasm for once I saw the benefits.

As a compulsive overeater, in recovery, and in a Twelve Step recovery program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous, I am confronted with another type of inventory.

The “Big Book” of AA lists the steps. Number Four States “ (We) made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”. Ouch this could be painful! Can I just go back to the grocery store and count the tomato soup cans or something else a little less personal? Can’t I keep my old harmful inventory because we have become such good friends? I know these are character defects but we have spent a lot of time together. Please Lord sanctify me but not here -- let me keep one foot in my old ways of thinking. Just like at the Medicine Shoppe there is only so much room to store inventory. There is no useful purpose in keeping bad moral inventory. With anger and resentment on the shelf there is no room for honesty and truthfulness. With three shelves taken up by fear and anxiety there is no room for faith and sensitivity. The analogies go on and on. For the pharmacy to function efficiently and profitably the bad inventory must be removed and replaced with good inventory. As redeemed Christians we need ask God to get rid of our bad inventory to make room for good moral inventory. We need to identify the liabilities in our character and ask Him to remove these and ask for sanctifying replacements.

Dr Charles Knippel in his book “Freedom from Hurtful Behaviors” says “ We desperately need to recognize our powerlessness over facets of our lives that are not under the control of the Holy Spirit”. First, he talks about erroneousness and unrelenting thoughts or beliefs about ourselves and/or others such as: I never do anything right, I am not a good person, No one likes me, the future looks hopeless, I don’t mater to God. Second, he talks about painful and persistent feelings: unrealistic guilt, worthlessness, sadness, jealousy, resentment, hatred, fear, shame, disappointment, and loneliness. Third, he talks about recurrent injurious behaviors: overeating, abuse of alcohol, drugs, gambling, wrong sexual activity, overspending, workaholism, gossiping, slander, profanity.

We are not alone in our defects. St Paul wrote in Romans 7:18-19, 25a

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Dr. Knippel continues “ Denied hurtful mental and physical behaviors seriously jeopardize our spiritual well-being. They are enslaving behaviors that threaten our faith relationship with God. They may not immediately destroy our faith when they are born of weakness and perpetuated by our loss of control over them. Even weak faith is saving faith because faith is the Holy Spirits gift to us. But ultimately unrepented sins of weakness erode and destroy our faith. They thrust God out of our lives.”

This is an important inventory. We take it and we retake it many times. We ask God to get rid of the useless and harmful items in our inventory and to enhance the value of the good aspects that we discover. This task which initially intimidated me has became a task that I have great enthusiasm for now that I see the benefits. Something of great significance will be done with the information obtained.

I invite anyone with an addictive problem to come to our Christ centered 12 step program at Mt. Olive. When you come the first thing you will be given is a poker chip to remind us that we are gambling with our lives and our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Chasing The Lion -- By Mark Batterson

After hearing Pastor's excellent sermon about wolves, accompanied by impersonations, I feel compelled to pass on this sermon involving lions.


Let me make a prediction: your biggest regret at the end of your life won’t be the things you did that you wish you hadn’t. Your biggest regret will be the things you didn’t do but wish you had.

That prediction is based on the research of two social psychologists, Tom Gilovich and Vicki Medvec (note). According to their research, time is a key factor in what we regret. Over the short-term, we tend to regret actions—things we did that we wish we hadn’t. But over the long-haul, we tend to regret inactions—things we didn’t do but wish we had. Their study found that action regrets outweigh inaction regrets 53 percent to 47 percent during an average week. But when people look at their lives as a whole, inaction regrets outnumber action regrets 84 percent to 16 percent.

I have my fair share of action regrets. I’ve said and done some things that I wish I could unsay and undo. Who hasn’t secretly wished that they could fly counter-rotational around the earth at supersonic speeds and reverse time like Superman? But I’m convinced that our deepest regrets at the end of our lives will be the risks not taken, the opportunities not seized, and the dreams not pursued.

The Great Omission

It seems to me that the modern church has become fixated on sins of commission. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. And you’re alright. But the problem with that is this: you can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right! Think of it as holiness by subtraction. So holiness becomes the byproduct of subtracting something from our lives that shouldn’t be there instead of maximizing our God-given potential. Don’t get me wrong. Holiness certainly involves subtraction. But I think God is far more concerned about sins of omission—those things we could have and should have done. Maybe holiness has as much or more to do with seizing opportunities as it does resisting temptation? Those who simply run away from sin are half-Christians. Our calling is much higher than simply running away from what’s wrong.

Maybe we’ve measured spiritual maturity the wrong way? Maybe following Christ isn’t supposed to be as safe or as civilized as we’ve been led to believe? Maybe Christ was more dangerous and uncivilized than our Sunday school flannel graphs portrayed? And maybe God wants to raise up a generation of lion chasers?

Chasing Lions

II Samuel 23:20 highlights one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture, but it’s more than that. It’s a microcosm on how God calls us to approach life.

Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it.

Scripture doesn’t tell us what Benaiah was doing or where he was going when he encountered this lion. We don’t know Benaiah’s frame of mind, but Scripture does reveal his gut reaction. And it was gutsy. It ranks as one of the most improbable reactions recorded in Scripture. When the image of a man-eating beast travels through the optical nerve and registers in the visual cortex, the brain has one over-arching message: run away.

That is what normal people do, but lion chasers are wired differently. They don’t see five-hundred pound problems. They see God-ordained opportunities.
For most of us, finding ourselves in a pit with a lion on a snowy day would pose a substantial problem, but you’ve got to admit something: I killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day looks pretty impressive on your résumé if you’re applying for a bodyguard position with the King of Israel! Not only does Benaiah land a job as David’s chief bodyguard, he climbs all the way up the military chain-of-command to become Commander-in-Chief of Israel’s army. Benaiah was the second most powerful person in the kingdom of Israel, but his genealogy of success can be traced all the way back to a life-and-death encounter with a man-eating lion. It was fight or flight. Benaiah was faced with a choice that would determine his destiny: run away or give chase. If you run away, you’ll always wonder what if.

Face Your Fears

Satan wants to scare the heaven out of you. But in the words of I John 4:18: “Perfect love casts out all fear.” As we grow in a love relationship with God, we unlearn the fears that keep us from living by faith. And the end result is fearlessness!
It was two years ago that I was part of a team that went on a mission trip to Ethiopia. Before going on the trip, everybody on the team was a little nervous. It was during a time of political unrest; we were subjecting ourselves to a variety of third world diseases; and even drinking the water and eating the food was done conscientiously.
So everybody on the team was a little nervous, but one team member was downright fearful. Especially when she learned that we were going to camp out in Awash National Park on our free day. Somehow, knowing that armed guards would keep watch all night didn’t ease her mind! Neither did the crocodiles we saw in the river or the lions we heard around the campfire! But I was so proud of Sarah because she faced her fear. And because she pushed through her fears, she experienced some of the most amazing memories of her life.
We drove through the Ethiopian outback and went swimming in a natural spring that was heated by a volcano. You don’t get to do that every day. We visited a tribal village that looked like it came right out of the pages of National Geographic. And none of us will forget our game drive on top of Land Rovers.
In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine how many memories Sarah would have forfeited if she had run away from her fears. One of the greatest tragedies in life is the stories that go untold because we don’t face our fears! But she decided to live her life in a way that was worth telling stories about!
For what it’s worth, none of things she was afraid of happened. The plane didn’t crash. She didn’t get sick. And she wasn’t eaten alive by wild animals. The only bad thing that happened to her was getting pooped on by a baboon. I kid you not! I’m not sure if the baboon was aiming or not, but what a shot. I know that is a nasty, but what a story! That is living life to the fullest!

So here is my advice: don’t let mental lions keep you from experiencing everything God has to offer. The greatest experiences will often double as the scariest experiences. The defining moments will often double as the scariest decisions.
Benaiah must have been scared spitless when he encountered that lion. But he didn’t run away. In fact, it was the fear he felt that made his “in a pit with a lion on a snowy day” story all the more fun to tell ex post facto.
Imagine the bedtime stories Benaiah must have told his children! I can hear his kids: tell us the lion story one more time! I think we owe it to our kids and grandkids to live our lives in a way that is worth telling stories about. And more importantly, we owe it to God. So here is my question: are you living your life in a way that is worth telling stories about?
Maybe it is time to quit running and start chasing.
A New Year Manifesto
When opportunity roars you have a choice to make: run away like a scaredy-cat or grab life by the mane.

Grab life by the mane.

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop criticizing and start creating. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilacs. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshipping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Laugh at yourself. Keep making mistakes. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away. And remember: if God is for us who can be against us?
Unleash the lion chaser within!

Maybe it’s time to apply for your dream job; admit your addiction; reconcile the relationship; ask her out; take the test; go on a mission trip; mentor someone; stop attending church and start serving; add a stamp to your passport; take a night class; start a business; or write the manuscript.
There is an old aphorism: no guts no glory.
When we don’t have the guts to step out in faith and chase lions, then God is robbed of the glory that rightfully belongs to him!
Chase the lion!

(note): Neal Roese, If Only: How to Turn Regret into Opportunity (New York: Broadway, 2005), 48.

Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., a multi-site church, a leading fellowship in the nation’s capital. Meeting in movie theatres and Metro stops throughout the D.C. area, NCC is attended by more than 70 percent single twenty-somethings. Mark’s weekly podcast is one of the fastest growing in America. His book, In A Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars peaked at #44 on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. This summer he will soon release his newest book entitled, Wild Goose Chase: Reclaiming the Adventure of Pursuing God.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

1 Samuel: God's Provision and Protection

This is a daily devotional provided by "TODAY IN THE WORD" a ministry of Moody Bible Institute. The devotional reading for June 1, 2008 is included here. The rest of the series can be accessed at: www.todayintheword.com

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Read: 1 Samuel 1:1-2:10

My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. - 1 Samuel 2:1

Young children often find the world a frustrating place. Things don't work quite the way they want, and their growing bodies don't quite work how they want them to. A typical child's response to such difficulties often includes wailing, tears, self-pity, anger, and frustration. Unfortunately for many of us, the way we handle life's sorrows is not much better. But today's passage gives us a picture of a better way: the way of faithful prayer before our Almighty Lord.

Hannah knew life's disappointments all too well. Although married to a loving, wealthy, and pious husband, Hannah was childless. To make matters worse, Hannah had to face the ridicule and provocations of Peninnah, her marital rival who was blessed with children. Scripture also tells us that this was a perpetual sorrow for Hannah, one that continued “year after year” (1:7).

But observe Hannah's response to her difficulties. She did not retaliate with anger and hostility, nor wallow in self-pity; rather, she turned to God in her grief and poured out her soul to the Lord. She boldly came before the Lord Almighty and found comfort in a God who cared for a miserable, grief-stricken woman in Israel.

In His mercy, God heard Hannah's prayer and granted her a son. Hannah's response to God's blessing is as instructive as her response to her sorrow. First, she named the child Samuel (meaning “heard of God”)—a constant reminder of God's attending presence (1:20). Second, as promised, she gave her son over to the Lord with extravagant sacrifices in thanks to God. Third, she broke into spontaneous praise for God's grace.

Hannah's response of literally handing her son over to God stands as a reminder that all of God's blessings ultimately belong to Him. All that we have is His, for He is the one who gives what we ask. In this particular case, as we will see in this month's study of 1 Samuel, God used this gift to a grief-stricken woman to raise up a mighty prophet for the people of God.

We all face life's sorrows and frustrations—the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, broken relationships, physical ailments. Today's passage reminds us that God knows our griefs, hears our prayers, and promises us comfort in those difficult times. We are also reminded that it is in just such moments that God so often chooses to make His grace known. Let Scripture encourage you today to come before the Lord Almighty and pour out your soul to Him—confident, like Hannah, that He hears and cares.