Welcome to PEMC!

Palmerston EMC is made up of people from various walks of life.  A somewhat traditional church, we reflect a small town personality with strong family ties.  Agriculture and agricultural related business employ a large portion of our congregation, while some of our people are self-employed or work in industry, service or government.  We are a practical, service oriented congregation with a heart to see God’s work in Palmerston move ahead. We have a strong desire to worship and serve God, to reach out to our community, to grow spiritually and to see new people come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Our Lead Pastor is Rev. Phil Desjardine!

You are welcome to join us!

Psalm 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19, 21: All and 1 at the same time.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Really, we should be saying that every day, not just on Easter Sunday! Good morning my friends. I pray that this past weekend was incredibly fulfilling as you meditated on the history changing event that was the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Not only was that event the turning point in history, it was and is the turning point in million of individual lives all through history.

That is the strange thing about Easter; it is a mix of the corporate and the individual. On the one hand, Christ died for the salvation of many (as he proclaimed to his disciples during the Last Supper), that anyone (the nameless, faceless masses) can have faith in Jesus and be saved. On the other hand, Christ died for me and he died for you. It is intensely individual and personal. It was my stripes that he bore, it was my sin that pinned him to that tree.

I think that is why the Psalms speak so powerfully to so many people. They are deeply individual. They are the cries of individual people (David among others), who have experienced or cry out to experience God in specific ways depending on their circumstances and contexts. That is exactly how each of us interact with God as well.  Take for the readings for today and the wide range of human experience they portray:

Psalm 6 is a cry for help and deliverance from sin and evildoers.
Psalm 8 is a Psalm of pure praise and wonder at how God treats humanity
Psalm 9 is a statement of confidence in God’s place on the throne as King
Psalm 10 proclaims the arrogance of those who live as if God does not exist and how they will be brought up short in due time
Psalm 14 talks about God as the deliverer of his people
Psalm 16 is a proclamation of devotion and dedication as the writer sees others turning away to other gods
Psalm 19 talks about how creation points us toward God and how God’s instructions guide our lives
Psalm 21 David talks about how, even as king, he relies on God for victory and blessings and even cheer

And those are only 8 of 150 Psalms!  Expressions from individual people about God’s character, his conduct, his presence in their lives and their incredible reliance on him in all situations of life (from temptation, to failure in sin, to victory over their enemies, to despair in times of trial and loss).

Remember, that while God sent Jesus to dies for the many, the many includes you as an individual; and God is interested in all areas of your life.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Chronicles 1-2

EASTER IS A COMIN’

Easter weekend is right around the corner! For many, this is a time to celebrate the heart of our Christian faith: The death of Jesus for our sins and his victory over death through his resurrection.

PEMC wants to be part of your Easter Celebrations!

Here’s what we’re up to over the coming weekend:

GOOD FRIDAY

  • Good Friday Pancake Breakfast: 8:30-10 am
  • Good Friday Communion Service: 10 am
  • Secret Church Simulcast: 7 pm – 1 am at Pastor Phil’s house (http://www.radical.net/secretchurch for more details)

EASTER SUNDAY

  • Easter Sunday Early Worship: 8:30 am
  • Continental Fellowship (coffee, tea, muffins, fruit): 9:15 am
  • Easter Sunday Service 10:30 am

It is our hope and prayer that your Easter weekend is full of joy, peace and the presence of the Risen Saviour!

Psalm 56, 120, 140-142: Rescue

Have you ever had dealings with someone who just seemed to do whatever they wanted to people without any consequences? Perhaps the person had authority or position that afforded them protection. Or perhaps they were simply the kind of person that no one wanted to go toe-to-toe with. Or perhaps they were the kind of person who got their hands on personal information and then used that as leverage. Whatever the protection they have, there are some people who seem to be able to treat others in any malicious way they want, and nothing seems to be done about it.

As I read these Psalms, that is the situation that came to mind. David was in conflict with people (Saul among others) who seemed to have all of the chits, and he had none. His only recourse was to cry out to God for deliverance and rescue.

The only things that kept David going in these situations were two pieces of information:

  1. God is a strong Saviour who is a shield for those who call on his name
  2. God upholds the cause of the poor and the needy

Having faith in those things is what kept David moving. It would seem that those would be pretty easy things to maintain faith in, but with the way I’ve seen a lot of people handle difficulty in their lives, I would say our faith in those two things need to be strengthened.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Samuel 25-27

Psalm 7,27, 31, 34, & 52: Mixer

I’m so excited! This is the part of our reading plan that I have been waiting for. To begin placing some of the other readings in the Old Testament in their contexts, to read the Psalms in the settings where David wrote them, to read the prophets (Major and Minor) in the reigns of the Kings their words were directed at. To me it will open up some of the meanings in those writing as we better understand what was going on in Israel as they were being written.

And we start today.

David is on the run from Saul, he has no home base, he has no one he can trust (besides Jonathan and his 600 men), and he is alone. He is hiding in caves, hunted not just by Saul but by other kings whom  David had fought against. The whole situation is pretty dire. So David writes some Psalms. Some people wander into a forest and talk out loud to God, some people write their thoughts in a journal, some people create art (everything from painting to ironworks), and other people writes songs. When David was feeling strongly and wanted to record his thoughts to God, he put them in music. Those are most of the Psalms we enjoy in our Bibles today (yes some of the Psalms were written by people other than David). As you read the Psalms, pay attention to the themes that appear in them that come out of David’s settings, his emotions during that point in his life and what we asks of God or says of God because of those life circumstances.

For instance, the Psalms we read today talk a lot about God as a stronghold and refuge, someplace David to run to for protection and rest. These Psalms also ask God to show David where he has gone wrong.  David asks God to show him if his current circumstance is the consequence of sin or poor judgement; and then he calls on God to act on his behalf is David’s sin is not the source of the problem.

Something that is sticking out to me a lot as I read the Psalms this time through is David’s reliance on God to act on his behalf. Even as David deals with a vengeful and irrational Saul, David maintains his conviction not to act out against Saul. Instead, he petitions God to take care of the issue. What a faith, and what a way to live out faith! So often we think about what we can do about a difficult situation, and we may ask God for help in dealing with it, but how often do we downright leave it in God’s hand to take care of?

The Psalms are rich, both in what they teach us of worship, but also in what they teach us in how to live in God’s presence on a daily basis and what it looks like to share with God from our hearts. It’s almost like we get a peak in to David’s journal, and we can all learn a lot as we read.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 56, 120, 140-142

1 Samuel 15-24: Jealousy

The green eyed monster. Many have named jealousy in that way. You may have also heard the phrase “he/she was green with envy.”

The phrase was actually coined by Shakespeare in two of his plays, the Merchant of Venice and the third act of Othello. It is believed that Shakespeare was referring to jealousy as an illness (sick people sometimes appear green) that comes through the eyes, when one sees something that causes one to be envious.

As we read the story of Saul and David, we find jealousy all over the place. Saul had failed as Israel’s first king, mainly because he failed to obey God’s directions and remain faithful to his call as king. David had been chosen to follow Saul as king, but David was reluctant to take the throne from Saul, preferring to wait until God directed the change of leadership. That is why David spares Saul’s life on a number of occasions while Saul was hunting David. David refused to raise his hand against God’s anointed leader (even though he had been anointed as Israel’s next king).

Saul had no such qualms, as he tried repeatedly to pin David to walls with spears. That is problem with jealousy. It causes you to act irrationally, impulsively and in ways that are not in your best interest. Jealousy steals your joy, it ruins your dreams and ultimately makes your life miserable. Hence the monster reference from Shakespeare.

As you read these stories about Saul, pay attention to the way jealousy controls him and then maybe look into your own life to see what triggers your green-eyed monster. We all have one, and different things trigger that transformation in us. For some it is seeing a coworker get a promotion, for others it is seeing the new car the neighbours have, for other it is seeing the relational success of another married couple. Envy comes in all shapes and sizes and there is a reason God warns us about it in the 10 Commandments. Envy leads you to covet what someone else has. What’s your trigger?

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalm 7,27, 31, 34, & 52

1 Samuel 13-14: Waiting

“Please Lord, give me patience…and give it to me now!”

Such is the prayer many of us pray when we desire the appearance of one of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians, or when we desire to have a character quality in our lives that may be lacking. What we fail to recognize, when we pray such prayer, is that character does not appear and it cannot be taught. Character is cultivates, nurtured, pruned and fostered. That is why I believe that Paul uses the analogy of fruit in Galatians 5, because they grow, they develop from a bud, to a flower, to a pollinated flower and then into a fruit, which takes time to grow, mature and ripen. Anyone who has a fruit tree on their property knows what it is like to watch those flowers in the spring time and think of the juicy fruit that will follow. But that fruit does not appear until late August, September or even October. It can be agonizing to watch the seeming slow growth of something that is so desirable.

It is the same with character. You only have patience by stretching and cultivating the patience you already have. You only have more kindness by exercising the kindness you already possess. You only hold more generosity in your heart by stretching the generosity you already have.

The same applies to obedience. Saul was told by Samuel to wait for 7 says for Samuel to appear, offer sacrifices to God and send the army into battle. But Saul gets impatient, he gets pressured by the fear of his troops and possibly the words of his generals. He fails to wait, and in that one instance he dooms his sons, his family line and his hold on the throne. You may think that is harsh, but the reality is Saul had a responsibility to display proper god-fearing character for Israel, to be their sign-post, pointing them in the direction God would have them go. In this one instance, Saul fails in that responsibility.

Those of us who lead people, including myself, must realize that there is greater responsibility laid on us than on others, James 3 hints at this. Saul fails as king because he does not hold the course, practice obedience and cultivate the character needed.

Whether you lead or not, cultivating character is a responsibility that only the individual is responsible for. I can’t teach it to you, put it in a bottle for you to consume or instill it upon you with the laying on of hands. But I will, and can pray that the Holy Spirit will motivate you to pick up your hoe and your rake and start tending the fields of your heart.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Samuel 15-17

1 Samuel 9-12: Chosen

Anointing. God has Samuel anoint Saul as king. Once upon a time, when Kings or Queens were installed on their thrones, it was often a Bishop or a Pope who would physically place the crown on their head. It was symbolic that the new King or Queen was appointed by God to take the throne. It is a practice that starts here with Saul and Samuel. God directed his representative to bestow the kingship on the one God had chosen.

This brought a sense of stability to the situation because people recognized that this was God’s choice for the nation and so respected Saul as King, as God’s chosen representative. We will see later on that even David, in midst of being hunted by Saul, refused to lay a hand on God’s chosen and anointed leader. It was God’s choice to install Saul as King, and it would be God’s choice to remove him.

It is easy to get down on Saul, he wasn’t exactly a rousing success as a King. But he starts out well enough, believing and obeying Samuel, defeating the Ammonites and bringing unity to the tribes of Israel.

Samuel’s final speech reflects all of this. Saul was the King God appointed in response to Israel’s desire to have a King. Saul was to walk in obedience to God and the people were to honour and respect him. But the other element in Samuel’s speech is a reminder to Israel that having a King does not replace God as their true leader. They must remain faithful to God above and beyond their King and monarchy. They must remember to obey God, follow his decrees and worship Him only. Samuel is wise in reminding Israel of this distinction, because the time will come when Israel will follow their Kings away from God, forgetting their true KING entirely and prostituting themselves with idols.

It is difficult for us to apply the idea of anointed leaders to our day and age. I would hazard to say that many of us do not see our political leaders as anointed and appointed by God. We might even wonder how some of our leaders were appointed in the first place, let alone by God. The truth is our governing system does not really take God into account at all. Sure I would hope that Christians would make determining who they choose to vote for a matter of prayer and petition before God, but I honestly doubt that many of us think about it that deeply. We have completely bought into the “separation of church and state” policy that runs our nation, and I believe we’re the worse off for it.

We need to be praying for our leaders, for God to get hold of their hearts, for God to influence our legal and political systems with his will and for his glory. We need to prayerfully petition God to direct us to vote for the right people, not because they wear the right colour but because they honour the King of kings.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Samuel 13-14

1 Samuel 4-8: Head and hands

You know the question that popped into my mind when I was reading for today? Why Dagon’s head and hands? The only explanation I could find talked about the possible parallel to a military execution. God was executing Dagon as a conquered foe.

There are some interesting parallels in chapter between Dagon and Yahweh. After their victory over Israel, the Philistines took the Ark with them, thinking that just as Israel would serve Philistine, so the Israelite God would serve the Philistine gods. What a surprise when they find Dagon prostrate before the Ark, not once, but twice. The first time in submission, the second time conquered and defeated. Also notice that the Philistines had to stand Dagon back up. Like all pagan gods, Dagon was unable to sustain himself, he needed human help. Yahweh requires no such help.

In fact, notice who saves the Ark and returns it to Israel. It is not Israel, not some crack team of commandos sent in on a covert mission (if this were a Hollywood movie, that’s how it would go). God himself gets the Ark back to Israel. God has no need for human help. Commentator Stephen Andrews writes: “He can fight the Philistines by himself. The ark won’t need to be rescued; he will bring it back by himself. In fact, Israel won’t need to carry Yahweh. Yahweh will carry Israel.”

This is a perspective that is interesting. God is not dependent on us to do his will. He wants us to serve him and work with him, but I think we arrogantly assume that God needs us to accomplish his will. This account of the Ark in a foreign land, God in confrontation with a foreign god, reminds us that God is powerful and able to care for himself.  This account also reminds us of Yahweh’s battle with the gods of Egypt and his judgement on them.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Samuel 9-12

1 Samuel 1-3: Beginnings

In so many ways, the beginning of 1 Samuel marks a transition for us in our journey through the Old Testament, the beginning of a new chapter. We are moving away from the story Israel’s birth as a nation and entering into the story of its maturation.  Essentially, Samuel 1 & 2 are dominated by three figures: Samuel, Saul and David. All of the accounts, the secondary persons, the significant teaching comes in relation to these three people.

As we being this part of our journey together, let me begin by reminding you that these are not made-up characters or stories. These are historical accounts of people, who lived, breathed and died. We must be very careful not to fall into the mindset that these are “stories” in the fictional sense. I try to be very careful to use the word character or story in relation to Biblical accounts because we need to remember the reality of these people and their lives. I will instead strive to talk about accounts, figures, personalities or persons.

In particular to today’s reading, let me point out the way vows play into the account. Vows are quite a ways outside of our cultural context. We may talk about contracts or agreements, but “vow” is outside of our vocabulary. You will vows a lot in these books. Vows made from one person to another, vows made to God, even vows made in such a way as to ensure the truthfulness of a statement (may the Lord deal with me, be it every so severely if…)

A vow was made as a way of asserting the truthfulness of your claim and your intent to follow through on what you have said. So Hannah makes a vow before God, promising to dedicate her child to his service if he will bless her with a child.  This is a vow she keeps. In truth, that is one of the main points in dealing with vows in scripture: are they fulfilled and what are the consequences if they are not. God takes vows very seriously, and so should we. While we don’t deal in the currency of vows very often now-a-days, we do make them from time-to-time. We make vows in our minds and our hearts (I will never be like my father/mother; I would be happy if this place burnt down, etc.)

Vows are binding on us, and can have spiritual ramifications. One spiritual exercise that I have participated in is asking God to reveal any vows that I had made, consciously or unconsciously and show me how they were affecting me. It is surprising what comes out of such a venture.

The other thing to notice is how God honours those who seek after him. Hannah approaches God as Lord Sabaoth (God of hosts/armies). This title for God acknowledges the infinite resources and power that are at God’s disposal as he works on behalf of his people. But Hannah believes that “the power of the Lord of Hosts was not confined to military exploits; she believed he knew all about her and could give her a son.” (Joyce Baldwin, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: 1 and 2 Samuel, pg 17). Her faith led her to pray, believing that it was well within God’s power and ability to give her a son.

Cultivating such faith is something we should all strive for.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Samuel 4-8

Ruth 1-4: Love story pick-me up

Love songThe band Maroon 5 has a song title “Payphone” that includes the line: “One more stupid love song, I’ll be sick” (at least the clean version of the song uses those lyrics). It tells the story of someone who has come to the end of a relationship and is working through those emotions. To be completely honest, I think part of the reason that song is popular is because it resonates with people. The concept of the love story is soured for so many people. Divorce rates are 50% or higher, the number of people living common-law is increasing (it gives people an out I think), sexual activity is happening at younger and younger ages (it would help if the school system would stop teaching 9 year-olds about sex). A lot of people are jaded about the whole idea of love and what it means to be in a loving relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, love is messy even in the best of relationships.

Ruth is a good love story. Sure, there are scriptural themes and motifs that I could draw out of it, and I will be doing some of that on Sunday during my sermon, but for this post, I just want to encourage you to experience Ruth as a love story, plain and simple. A woman goes through tragedy, show loyalty to her mother-in-law when it would have been “better” for her to return to her own family. She overcomes adversity and falls in love. Simple. Love needs to be redeemed, and this little story goes a long way in doing that.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: 1 Samuel 1-3

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