This site is devoted to providing teaching, admonition, encouragement, and information to my people at Faith Presbyterian Church, Gainesville, Florida. Pastor Marion Clark.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Kim Tesch-Vaught Is Famous 

Look! A feature article on Kim Tesch-Vaught in the Gainesville Sun.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Family and the Beach 

My family is taking off Friday to go to a family reunion in Florence, SC and then a week at Edisto Beach.  I will stop by my hometown of Kingstree, SC to pick up the best BBQ in the world.  While at the beach, Ginger and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  Our daughters treated us last week at the Melting Pot and presented us with a picture of us standing in front of the church. 

If you don't know yet, Sarah has moved to New Orleans where she is an animal keeper for a research center connected with the Audobon Zoo.  She feeds lions, wears a funny costume to lead baby cranes on a walk, and takes care of various wild cats and African livestock.  She moved out with her dog, snake and rat.

Jean is also leaving us when we get back from vacation.  She is heading across town to live in an apartment with her good friend Naseem.  So, except for one cat, we will be true empty nesters.

Glorious Worship 

What a wonderful worship service Sunday!  How good it was to all be together and I especially appreciated the effort of everyone to have a good spirit which was clearly evident.  Many people from both services expressed their positive feelings.  It will still take a few weeks as we tinker a bit with the flow of the service, but having that positive attitude makes a big difference. 

Sunday Highlights 

So where do you stack up in possessing love?  Could you confidently insert your name in place of love when the traits were mentioned?  No?  Aren’t you glad that Jesus was able to?  Think about it. 

Jesus was patient and kind to us.  He endured all manner of abuse and performed the greatest act of kindness – sacrificing his life for us. Jesus did not envy or boast. He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing for our sake. Jesus was not arrogant or rude. He did not lord his authority over us but became our servant.  Jesus did not insist on his own way. Even in Gethsemane he desired that his Father’s will be done.  Jesus was not irritable or resentful, even with his inept and cowardly disciples.  Jesus certainly never rejoiced at wrongdoing, but rejoiced with God’s will being done.  And understand this: Jesus still bears and endures all things – our sins, our failures, our half-hearted attempts at love.  For Jesus still believes in the eternal plan of his Father; he knows the joy that God has set for his creation.  And because Jesus never fails – because he is eternal – then the love by which he loves us is eternal. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Family Bulletin 

Keep an eye out Sunday for a Family Bulletin to be given to children.  It will take the children through the worship service and give helpful exercises to keep them attentive.  Parents, this is meant to be an aid to you to both help your children worship and to encourage interaction at home. 

Doctrine of Church Government 

Chapter 1 of the BOCO presents the basics of church government.  The entire BOCO can be accessed at www.pcanet.org/bco.

1-2.      The Church which the Lord Jesus Christ has erected in this world for the gathering and perfecting of the saints is His visible kingdom of grace, and is one and the same in all ages.
1-3.      The members of this visible Church catholic are all those persons in every nation, together with their children, who make profession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and promise submission to His laws.
1-4.      The officers of the Church, by whom all its powers are administered, are, according to the Scriptures, teaching and ruling elders and deacons.
1-5.            Ecclesiastical jurisdiction is not a several, but a joint power, to be exercised by presbyters in courts.  These courts may have jurisdiction over one or many churches, but they sustain such mutual relations as to realize the idea of the unity of the Church. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Have you wanted to comment on a post, but are intimidated by the screen that comes up and asks for you URL?  Ignore that line.  You don't have to put your email address either.  Just a name and your comment.


Our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, as a book that directs our government, discipline, and worship.  I'm not going to take you all the way through it, but I will periodically give some quotes that are good for all church members to know and which I think you will find enlightening and helpful.  The following is the first statement in the book.
         Jesus Christ, upon whose shoulders the government rests, whose name is called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; of the increase of whose government and peace there shall be no end; who sits upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom to order it and to establish it with judgment and justice from henceforth, even forever (Isaiah 9:6-7); having all power given unto Him in heaven and in earth by the Father, who raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand, far above all principality and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and has put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Ephesians 1:20-23); He, being ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things, received gifts for His Church, and gave all offices necessary for the edification of His Church and the perfecting of His saints (Ephesians 4:10-13).  
              Jesus, the Mediator, the sole Priest, Prophet, King, Saviour, and Head of the Church, contains in Himself, by way of eminency, all the offices in His Church, and has many of their names attributed to Him in the Scriptures.  He is Apostle, Teacher, Pastor, Minister, Bishop and the only Lawgiver in Zion.
            It belongs to His Majesty from His throne of glory to rule and teach the Church through His Word and Spirit by the ministry of men; thus mediately exercising His own authority and enforcing His own laws, unto the edification and establishment of His Kingdom. 
           Christ, as King, has given to His Church officers, oracles and ordinances; and especially has He ordained therein His system of doctrine, government, discipline and worship, all of which are either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary inference may be deduced therefrom; and to which things He commands that nothing be added, and that from them naught be taken away.
            Since the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven, He is present with the Church by His Word and Spirit, and the benefits of all His offices are effectually applied by the Holy Ghost.

Missions Conference 

The fall missions conference will be October 1-3.  The theme will be ministering to Muslims.  David Thomae, whom we support in Africa, will be the featured speaker.  This certainly is a relevant topic.  The Missions Committee will be getting out information in the near future.

Table Host 

I still need someone to host the Visitors' Table.  You stand by the table after the worship service.  I refer guests to you from the greeting line.  You give a gift and brochure and be your friendly self.  Who will do it for me this Sunday?

Monday, July 19, 2004

Next Sunday 

I am so looking forward to next Sunday.  I see that the chairs have already been arranged on the sides for better seating capacity and viewing.  I am very pleased with how much nicer the sanctuary looks without the dividers.  Did you note the scripture text for Sunday?  Chapter 13, Christian Love.  Can you believe that I did not plan that sermon for that Sunday?  The Holy Spirit amazes me the way he works.  It also so happens that communion will be served.  Perfect!

Weekend Vacation 

Ginger and I are back from our pleasant weekend getaway.  We had originally scheduled to be away to attend a Clark family reunion, the first for that side of the family.  It had to be canceled because of my cousin Selena's fall.  She, you will be glad to hear, continues to make progress and has just moved to a rehabilitation facility.  She cannot speak but had once learned to make the alphabet with her hand and is commuicating that way.  Anyhow, we took the opportunity to explore Fernandina and Amelia Island.  We recommend the Hampton Inn in the Fernandina downtown area.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Get It? 

This joke comes courtesy of Jim Stakely:

A guy gets shipwrecked. When he wakes up, he's on a beach. The sand is dark red. He can't believe it. The sky is dark red. He walks around a bit and sees there is dark red grass, dark red birds and dark red fruit on the dark red trees. He's shocked when he finds that his skin is starting to turn dark red too. 
"Oh no!!" he says. "I think I've been marooned!!"

Getting Ready for Sunday 

Dr. Coffield's text and sermon are Genesis 17:1-16, "The Gap Between Our Condition and Our Calling."  He is professor of counseling, and thus, I imagine will come to the scripture at a different angle.  Joffre is preaching in the evening.  KidsQuest is back for the summer as the "Army of God."  The children are learning about the armor of God presented in Ephesians.  You will like the sanctuary when you walk in.  The removal of the dividers make a big difference in the feel of the sanctuary as you walk in.
I will be back in the church on Monday getting ready for our first united service.  I am psyched!

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Photos from Gay Greninger 

Here are pictures from Gay Greninger, our missionary in Okinawa, who teaches at a Christian school. Click here.

Prayer for Single Service 

I am calling on all church members to be praying for the single service July 25. Those who have not wanted to move to one service can take one of two attitudes. One is a wait and see attitude in which you sit on the sideline (or pew) and see if the service is satisfactory. The other is to be actively praying, encouraging, and working to make it a success. The first adds to tension; the second inspires and builds excitement. I've heard lots of worries and don't think there are new insights to share about what won't work. What we all could hear is what good can come forth. Do you have such thoughts to share?

International Friendship 

International Friendship is a ministry founded by Bob and Gay Greninger. It exists to befriend and assist international students and their families during their transition and stay in America. Toby Sorrels is the director. Bill Barker is involved. They are having a training session for persons who may like to be friendship or conversational partners on August 5 at the International House on 1635 NW 7th Place at 7:30. Check out their website: www.internationalfriendship.com.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Another Body Part Needed 

Bill Barker signed up to make phone calls to visitors, joining Lauren Shepard and Joanne Stuck. I can still take more help if interested. The next big need are a couple of persons taking turns to host the visitors' table. You would leave the sanctuary when I do, stand by the table, and receive the visitors I refer to you as they go through the greeting line. Because of the long line, I am unable to give them the needed attention and often they walk out without getting info from the table and feeling like they have gotten connected. You would hand out the visitors' brochures and gifts, answer questions, help get connected, etc. Smiling should come naturally to you, and you should enjoy people.

Joffre Preaching 

Joffre is preaching Sunday evening on the Shorter Catechism question 39: What is the duty which God requireth of man? Do you know the answer? Come hear him Sunday. He, by the way, is gaining a sister-in-law Friday night when his brother Jonathan weds.

Baby Born! 

This just came in. Fred and Lori Taylor have a new grandson, courtesy of their daughter Robyn. His name is Graysen Kendall, weighs 8lbs., 13oz. and is 21 1/4 inches long. Everyone is well.

Rummikube Pro 

I thought I had it easy Game Night playing Rummikube. I invited a Chinese couple who come regularly with Barbara Stakely - Wenling (female) and Wendong (male) to play. I try to invite first-time novices to play. It increases my winning percentage. It took Wenling so long to make her first play, that only 4 or 5 cubes were left. Then, on her first play, she ran the board.

We had a lot of visitors for Game Night. People are finding out that it is a great way to introduce others to the church without any pressure to attend other events. They like the relaxing and fun atmosphere. When will you come? It is each month, the second Friday, 6:00, and includes free supper.

Sanctuary Dividers Gone 

The curtain dividers dividing the sanctuary are no more. They have been donated to Victory Church which took them down this morning. Thanks to Craig Carter for making the connection with a church that could use them. This frees up visual space for our single service. You will be pleased with the open, clean look when you walk in. The united service is only two Sundays away!

The Reverend Neemias Gomes 

Neemias Gomes' ministerial credentials were received by the North Florida Presbytery and he is now a PCA minister. To enter a presbytery, one must have a call to a ministry. Faith's Session thus called him as Assistant Pastor to minister to the Brazilian community in Gainesville, estimated to be 500-700. We will conduct an installation service August 15 during the evening service (6:00 pm). Get the word out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Sunday Preacher 

Sunday's preacher is Dr. Jim Coffield, professor of counseling at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. Here is the bio on him from the seminary:

Dr. Jim Coffield is an Associate Professor of Counseling and the clinical director of the M.A. in Counseling degree program at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee in counseling psychology. He is a licensed Psychologist (TN 2349). Dr. Coffield brings a wide variety of teaching and clinical experiences. His clinical experience includes counseling in private practice, college counseling centers, church-based counseling centers and hospital settings. He enjoys the classroom and brings twenty years of teaching experience, including undergraduate and graduate students in public educational settings, small private colleges and seminaries. His research interests include adoption, narrative psychology and counselor training. He has been married to Mona for eighteen years, and they have two children, Skylar (15) and Pearce (13).

Monday, July 12, 2004

Phone Callers 

Thanks to Lauren Shepard and Joanne Stuck for volunteering to call our church visitors. I would also like to have a male. This "body member" role would be a big help to the church body, especially in the next few weeks when we receive our largest number of visitors. Give me a call and I'd be happy to explain more what is involved.

Ping Pong Rankings 

Bill Barker came through with his hired gun. In preparing for Zhai, I lost to Christian Weiss. Christian then played Zhai and lost. I played Zhai and won. He won the second game, but I then closed the series with victory. Stay tuned for next month's games. Will Mr. Barker bring in yet another challenger? Can I retake the title from Christian? I would have won if Craig Carter had brought meatballs to eat. They are my secret energy food.

Praying for the Body 

In Sunday's sermon I gave an idea for prayer for the church body. Perhaps you should give it a try.

One exercise to do is to take the church directory and pray for five or ten names daily until you have gone through the directory. When you do, be attentive to what the Holy Spirit might have you do, such as make a phone call, send a note, etc. Or use the church newsletter birthday list to pray for the person with a birthday. By doing something structured like this, you will take note of the parts of the body that normally would go unnoticed.

Sunday Highlights 

Are you one who wonders if you have any real place in the church? You are not sure of your gift, or perhaps you do know what you do well, but it doesn't seem to be of much value. At least no one else seems to give much attention to what you do. Understand that God's Word says that whether you are an eye or an eyelash, a lung or an appendix, you matter to the church body because God has made you who you are, has given you the gifts he so desires to see in you, and has fit you into the body in just the right way. Furthermore, you will be judged by God by how you exercise your gift and not anyone else's. What you do with what is given you is what matters. Don't worry about whether you get attention or not, whether you make a visible impact or one that seems minimal; be faithful to your Lord.

Perhaps you are one who possesses a "higher gift," at least one that gives you greater attention. Others in the church let you know how vital you are to the life of the church. Take heed not to exalt yourself over others. For what you possess is what is given you. As Paul told some of the proud Corinthians in 4:7: "What do you have that you did not receive?" One of the errors we can make about ourselves is that we are indispensable to God. It is one thing to play an important role in the church; it is another to think that God is indebted to us in such a way that without us our Lord could not provide adequately for his church. It is good to give thanks to the Lord for making you useful, but you cross the line into sinful pride for either thanking the Lord for making you more useful than others or for actually inferring to God that he should be thankful for you.

All of us need to heed the lesson that we are to share in one another's sufferings and joys. When a marriage is hurting, we should all feel the hurt. When a child has wandered away, we should share in the loss. And when someone's loved one has received the gospel, we should share in that joy. Or when a brother or sister receives blessing and honor, we should rejoice over his or her good fortune. In other words, we should pay attention to one another.

Finally, I want you to consider how freeing this teaching about being members of the church body is. Those of you with the so-called lesser gifts no longer have to be burdened with guilt that you do not do more spectacular work. God measures obedience and not how your gift stacks up with anyone else's. Those of you with the more visible gifts can take heart that you were not given your gifts based on your spiritual performance level. It is a heavy burden to bear to believe that God has given you a gift and lets you keep it as long as you prove to be more worthy than those who don't have the gift. It is true relief to know that when you have exercised your gift, God commends you merely for doing your duty with the gift he has given you. He does not praise you above any other faithful servant.

Consider how freeing this teaching is for the church body. There is no need to clamor for attention, no reason for jealousy or pride. We are all merely doing what God has chosen each of us to do. Or another way of looking at it is that we all have the great distinction of carrying out the special role God has given to each one of us. Again, there is no basis then for jealousy or pride. No one needs to jockey for God's commendation.

That is how grace works. It removes the burden of performance to win and keep God's favor. It takes away cause for pride and thus helps us avoid becoming arrogant bores. It takes away cause for jealousy and so decreases our tendency to turn into bitter complainers.

That is how the gospel works. Christ bore the burden of salvation; the Holy Spirit bears the burden of applying that salvation in our lives so that we may be fruitful in God's service. We get it all. Christ wins for us the favor to be used by God. The Holy Spirit gives us all we need to do just the right job, so that we can achieve the purpose for which we were made – to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Good deal!

Friday, July 09, 2004

The Bike Ride  

The following is Bill Barker's favorite poem:

When I met Christ, He seemed to be out of reach,
But as I got to know Him
Life became more like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike,
And I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal.

I don't know just when it was that He suggested we change places,
But life has not been the same since.

When I had control,I knew the way.
It was rather boring, but predictable....
It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead,
He knew delightful long cuts,
up mountains,
and through rocky places,
at breakneck speeds.
It was all I could do to hang on!
Even though it looked like madness
He said, ""Just Pedal!""

I worried and was anxious and asked,
"Where are you taking me?""
He laughed and didn't answer,
And I started to learn to trust.

I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure.
And when I'd say, ""I'm scared,"
He'd lean back and touch my hand and I knew it would be OK.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed,
Gifts of healing,
And joy.
They gave me gifts to take on my journey,
My Lord's and mine.

And we were off again.
He said, ""Give the gifts away, They're extra baggage, too much weight."
So I did.
To the people we met,
and I found that in giving, I received,
and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him at first,
in control of my life.
I thought He'd wreck it, but he knows bike secrets,
Knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners,
Knows how to jump to clear high rocks,
Knows how to fly to shorten scary passages.

And I am learning to shut up, and just pedal
in the strangest places,
and I'm beginning to enjoy the view,
and the cool breeze on my face
with my delightful constant companion, Jesus.

And when I’m sure I just can’t do anymore,
He just smiles and says….”Just Pedal”.

Getting Ready for Sunday 

The Directory of Worship in the Book of Church Order gives helpful guidance in preparing for worship.

48-6. Let every person and family, in the morning, by secret and private prayer, for themselves and others, especially for the assistance of God to their minister, and for a blessing upon his ministry, by reading the Scriptures, and by holy meditation, prepare for communion with God in his public ordinances.

To get ready for Sunday, then, includes praying for yourselves, others who will worship, and for the minister. You should also include those assisting in worship - those involved in singing and music, who may be assisting in the pulpit. Also involved are support persons such as the sound operator, the overhead operators, the duty officers, ushers, greeters, and nursery workers. What to pray for? For the leaders and assistants in worship, pray that they may carry out their work well so as to enhance the worship of the congregation. If they do their job well, there will be few distractions and greater attention given to God.

Pray for me that I will be faithful to God's Word in preaching and that I will properly lead the focus in worship on honoring God. Pray for all of us that we will truly worship. It is easy to give so much attention to our duties during worship, that we forget what we are there for.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Game Night and Bill Barker 

(Note: I confiscated this from an email sent by Bill Barker to a Chinese ping pong player. What should be done with a church member who recruits overseas athletes to bring his minister down?)

I noticed last Saturday that you said table tennis is a hobby of yours. It so happens that our pastor claims nobody can beat him in that sport. Some have beat him, but, as of now he is the champion. Everyone wants to see him beat.

How about coming Friday, July 9, and dethrone him. We have a monthly game night where he can be challenged. There are other table games, too, if you desire. The church furnishes hot dogs, salad and drinks. If you and your family can come, I will announce it by church email, and maybe we can drum-up a crowd. Please let me know as soon as possible. We eat around 6 PM.

A dog, a rat, and a snake 

I am back from moving Sarah's furniture, her dog, her rat, and her snake. The three sat up front with me. Only the dog was not in a cage. Ginger is in Cape Cod and Jean in Philadelphia. I am at home with the remaining pet cat. I hope to get back into daily postings, though for a week in August I will be away (with no animals).

United Worship Format 

United Worship Service: Sunday, July 25, at 10:30am, marks our first united worship service. Posted below is the new order of worship. Note that, depending upon the Sunday, wherever "Sing" is listed, more than one song may be sung. Usually either the first or second place for singing will include three songs. Also, be aware that a typical service will last approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Greeting of Fellowship
Call to Worship
Confession and Pardon or Affirmation of Faith
(or a Testimony may be given after "Announcements")
Responsive Reading
Pastoral Prayer
Scripture Reading

Friday, July 02, 2004

Selena Update 

Awhile back I asked prayers for my 24 year old cousin Selena who fell while repelling - extensive head, back, arm damage. She has come out of her coma for about a week or so. Here is the latest news sent to me:

the nurses and rex (her father) have been encouraging selena to move her hands and her fingers. so today selena is moving her fingers around. rex is watching her and says something encouraging like "oh, i see you're trying to do your piano exercises"

apparently another nurse happened to see selena do this and said,
".......i think she's signing...."
rex whips around to selena and asks her, "selena, ARE you signing? do you know the a b, c's ???"
selena promptly starts signing the alaphabet... for whatever reason, selena taught herself the american sign language years ago...

Keep praying!

Haiku Crashes 

Here are 16 actual error messages seen on the computer screens in
Japan, where they are written in Haiku.

The Web site you seek cannot be located, but countless more exist.

Chaos reigns within. Reflect, repent, and reboot. Order shall return.

Program aborting: Close all that you have worked on. You ask far too much.

Windows NT crashed. I am the Blue Screen of Death. No one hears your screams.

Yesterday it worked. Today it is not working. Windows is like that.

Your file was so big. It might be very useful. But now it is gone.

Stay the patient course. Of little worth is your ire. The network is down.

A crash reduces your expensive computer to a simple stone.

Three things are certain: Death, taxes and lost data. Guess which has occurred.

You step in the stream, but the water has moved on. This page is not here.

Out of memory. We wish to hold the whole sky, but we never will.

Having been erased, the document you're seeking must now be

Serious error. All shortcuts have disappeared. Screen. Mind.
Both are blank.

New Ministry 

The Session is pleased to present a new outreach opportunity that has come to us all the way from Brazil! The Gomes (pronounced “Go-mez”) family became members of Faith Church last year. Since that time, the father, Neemias, has been working through the process of having his credentials as a Presbyterian minister transferred into our presbytery, North Florida Presbytery. Once the transfer takes place, he will then conduct an outreach ministry to the Brazilian community in Gainesville (500-700 estimated graduate students and their families). A second aspect of the ministry will be to set up mission trips to his home area of Brazil.

We are delighted with how the Lord is giving to our congregation yet another minister uniquely qualified to reach internationals in our community, much in the same way that Dr. Benson Cain is able to reach out to the Japanese community. In order for Neemias’ credentials to be transferred to North Florida, he must be given a call to a particular work. That call will come from the church Session, which has also agreed to oversee his ministry. To satisfy presbytery requirements, he must be designated Assistant Pastor. However, his ministry will be as described above, and he will continue his secular employment, as this is not a paid position.

Besides meeting with the Session, Neemias also met with the Missions and Local Ministries committees earlier in the year. Please pray for his successful passing of examination before the presbytery July 10 and then for his efforts to start and grow his ministry over the coming months.

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