Bethany Renew
Midweek Email Devotion
21 January  2016   

I welcome you to Bethany Renew! This is our church's weekly online spiritual connection.
Every midweek, you will receive a devotion, a prayer, or an essay that are intended to stir up conversations and ideas of how we will proceed on the path of renewal. Feel free to forward this email to anyone who you think will be interested in receiving these readings.  You are welcome to respond or make comments, or otherwise just sit back and enjoy your weekly readings and reflections!  

My regular office day is now every  Saturday 
10:00 a.m-5 p.m., 
and 1 weekday (irregular days)

Nurture, Outreach, Witness Committee
(Jan. 31)

Please talk to Jean if you need to update your contact information in our new church directory. 

Lenten Season starts next month. I will  give more details later as possible Lenten events that we can do (after N.O.W. committee meets)

A Covenant Group. is a weekly meeting that values deep sharing, accountability, and prayer that is done in a small-group format. More details to follow. 

Have you ever heard of messy church? Its an alternative, intergenerational, creative, fun, monthly event for everyone! Its a great opportunity to invite friends to try church!
(More details later)  


An archaeologist got lost in the jungle. Knowing the danger, he prayed earnestly for God's protection. Falling from a cliff, clusters of plant thorns painfully pierced his feet cutting one of his toes. He got so upset. Later, a tribal group captured him and decided to make him as a burnt offering. After much ceremonial inspection, they decided to let him go because his body did not passed the tribal requirement of a perfect sacrifice-simply because he is missing one toe!
To keep Paul from pride (because of the magnificence of the revelation he received), he was give a "thorn." Some scholars assumed that it must be a physical illness while other says it's the endless persecution from the Judaizers. Whatever it was, he sought the Lord 3 times to take it away. But God constantly responded, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians12: 9).
Thorns come in many forms: sickness, rejection, financial problem, broken relationship, weakness, or failure (or you can fill in the blank). We tried, we exorcised, and we prayed. Many are loosen, some are solved, but the thorns remain. We ask why. But sometimes, heaven is silent.
I also will not dare give an answer. But one thing I know, thorns are excellent teachers. Embarrassment teaches us humility. Weakness teaches us to ask for help. Failure helps us see a far better strategy. Hurt teaches us to appreciate the healing power of God's grace. And maybe thorns are still there, because the intended lessons are not yet learned...or not yet over.
Or maybe, just maybe, "a missing toe" is God's answer of protecting us from danger (just like in the story). 
Can we now say with Paul, "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (12:10).
The Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference 

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Pastor Ferdie Llenado
Bethany United Methodist Church
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