Our 2014 Advent Devotional is Online

Our 2014 Advent Devotional is available online:

Click for the 2014 Advent Devotional Book online

May the peace of Christ and the joy of Christmas be with you as you wait and prepare this Advent season!

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Uncategorized


Loving Well

Last Sunday, we wrapped up our study of Trust in God: The Christian Life and the Book of Confessions in the Seekers Sunday school class. I thoroughly enjoyed studying this book with the group and being part of the great conversations each Sunday. It is amazing how much one can learn while “teaching.”

One chapter stood out to me. It is simply entitled “Love,” but love is anything but simple for us humans. We have a hard time loving. Sometimes we find it hard to love others. Often we find it hard to love ourselves. We know that if we can’t love the person standing right in front of us, who we can see plainly, we cannot love God, who we have not seen (1 John 4:20). The command to love our enemies…well, that’s just a whole new level of difficult, isn’t it?

We are commanded to love, but love can’t really be commanded. Love usually comes as a response. We must learn to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors (and ourselves). David W. Johnson says, “while the capacity to love may be innate, the practice of loving well must be learned over a lifetime.”

So, instead of giving up chocolate…or soda/pop/soft drinks…or coffee…or whatever else during these 40 days, what if we all made an effort to truly love well? What if on Easter Sunday, instead of picking right back up where we left off on March 4th by grabbing that chocolate bunny, we find that we have made some headway on the lifelong journey of learning to love well?

Wondering where to begin? Johnson lists several disciplines of love at the end of his chapter. They are:

  • Listening and Speaking – Really listen. Listen without formulating your response while the other is still speaking. Speak without being frustrated if you have to repeat yourself. (Remember how many times God repeated himself in the OT?) “Helping someone to understand us is a gift of love, just as much as is working to understand another.”
  • Worship and Sabbath – Acknowledge God as God. Go to church. Yes – wake up, get dressed, and go to church. Even if you don’t want to or don’t feel like it. Even if you don’t get anything out of it or learn anything from it. It’s not about you anyway. Just do it because you love God and you love God’s people.
  • Giving and Stewardship – “We are called to share.” Lent is traditionally a time of giving. We tend to always jump to monetary giving, but there are so many ways to give. We can respond to God’s love through sharing our money, our stuff, our time, our gifts with others.

Johnson points out that love is not so much an idea or emotion as it is an orientation. God’s love enables our love. We do not have to attempt learning to love well on our own. During this Lenten season, through our devotion and prayer, fasting and giving, perhaps we will come to “truly understand that we are children of God: loved, sanctified, and redeemed,” and in turn “become vessels of God’s love for the world.” What better time to practice loving well than now?

Jessica Varney

1 Comment

Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , ,

Celebrating Unity and Honoring Dr. King’s Dream

On Monday, January 20, 2014, many area churches came together to celebrate unity as brothers and sisters in Christ and to observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day together with a program at the Pickens County Courthouse. During that program, the following prayer, which expresses a desire for a loving, connected community, was given by Rev. Bufford of Easley Union Missionary Baptist Church. Many found the words of the prayer moving and some asked that the words be shared with those who were not able to attend the program.

“Thou Eternal God, out of whose absolute power and infinite intelligence the whole universe has come into being, we humbly confess that we have not loved thee with our hearts, souls and minds, and we have not loved our neighbors as Christ loved us. Help us to seek that which is high, noble and good. Help us to work with renewed vigor for a warless world, a better distribution of wealth, and a brotherhood and sisterhood that transcends race or color. We thank you for the fact that you have inspired men and women in all nations and in all cultures.
O God, make us willing to do your will, come what may. Increase the number of persons of good will and moral sensitivity. Give us renewed confidence in nonviolence and the way of love as taught by Christ. Grant that we will follow you and become so committed to your way and your kingdom that we will be able to establish in our lives and in this world a more loving and caring community, that we will be able to establish here a kingdom of understanding, where men and women will live together as brothers and sisters and respect the dignity and worth of every human being.
Give us the intelligence to know your will. Give us the courage to do your will. Give us the devotion to love your will. In the name and spirit of Jesus Christ your son, we pray. Amen.”
Rev. Artis J. Bufford, Senior Pastor
Easley Union Missionary Baptist Church

Following the program at the Courthouse, everyone was invited to a delicious soup and sandwich lunch at Pickens Presbyterian Church. The iHOPE Day of Service began after lunch and provided care for senior members in the Pickens community through coordination with Pickens County Meals on Wheels.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Uncategorized


The hands and feet of Christ

“Christ has
No body now on earth but yours;
No hands but yours;
No feet but yours;
Yours are the eyes
Through which is to look out
Christ’s compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet
With which he is to go about
Doing good;
Yours are the hands
With which he is to bless now.”

-Saint Teresa of Avila

Upcoming opportunity to CONNECT to your neighbors: The iHOPE Day of Service is a week away!

We need YOU to help care for the Seniors in Pickens County.

On Monday, January 20th, you are needed to serve some of our community’s most treasured citizens; our seniors.

Volunteers are needed for this Day of Service from 1:00 – 4:00pm.
The focus of the event will be to serve homebound persons and seniors by providing minor home repairs, light housekeeping and yard work. Projects are being coordinated by Meta Bowers, Executive Director of Pickens County Meals on Wheels.

The projects for individuals include the following:

*Weather stripping of doors/windows *Hauling off trash/recycling
*Changing light bulbs *Changing bed linen *Laundry
*Vacuuming/mopping *Cleaning out refrigerator *Dusting
*Cleaning kitchen

If you are interested in volunteering for iHOPE, please contact Meta Bowers: 864.855.3770 or Beverly Kelly: 864.364.0649

Schedule for the day will be as follows:

Meet at Pickens Presbyterian Church, All Saints’ Hall
12:00 soup/sandwich lunch served for volunteers (not required, but we would love to have you)
12:45 – packets distributed to volunteers
1:00 – volunteers go to site
3:30 – return to PPC for recap & to turn in volunteer report
4:00 – Closing

– Please consider being a part of this special day of service for Pickens County –

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Uncategorized


As we begin 2014…

“My God, I desire to love thee perfectly,
With all my heart, which thou madest for thyself
With all my mind, which only thou canst satisfy
With all my soul, which feign would soar to thee
With all my strength, my feeble strength, which shrinks before So great a task and yet can choose naught else but spend itself
In loving thee.
Claim thou my heart,
Fill thou my mind,
Uplift my soul and
Reinforce my strength,
That when I fail thou mayest succeed in me
And make me love thee perfectly.”
— From Love Is My Meaning by Elizabeth Basset

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Uncategorized


Are you ready to “Be Connected?”

In 2014, we hope to Be Connected!
Luke 10:27 says,

“You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
and with all your soul,
and with all your strength,
and with all your mind;
and your neighbor as yourself.”

We can be connected in many ways:
we can connect to God,
we can connect to each other,
and we can connect to our true selves (who God created us to be).

Let’s Be Connected!

Leave a comment

Posted by on December 5, 2013 in Uncategorized