Last week I traveled to Milford, Connecticut for work training at the Neopost USA corporate headquarters. New England in Autumn has such refreshing weather, with the leaves changing to Fall colors. Friday when I woke up it was a brisk 52 degrees. It’s one of the many things I miss about the Northeast. The weather that follows a few months later… not so much.

For many years friends had urged me to repent and do a special father-son trip with my oldest, Cody. We finally took that trip to northern NJ where I grew up when he turned 18. The goal was to show him my high school, my old home, and places I frequently visited. Then we would go to Mountain Creek and let him snowboard while I watched the NCAA basketball tournament indoors at the lodge. When I was Cody’s age, I’d joined the ski club, but before the ski season started, I broke both bones in my leg during a soccer game vs Kittatiny HS in November. I would not ski that season or ever…  A day after we arrived in Sussex County, unfortunately, a blizzard messed up a lot of those plans and we were snowed in a couple of days in Newton. We did have some snowball fights and wrestled in the new 12″ powder, but we didn’t get to do everything. Getting the thick snow and ice off the rental car was quite challenging and navigating the slick roads after they were plowed was a renewed treat…    

A few months after I got my driver’s license, I had several “ice” experiences. On Easter in 1980, I swerved to avoid hitting a white rabbit running across the road. I did a 360 and ended up skidding to a stop unscathed. Another time I stopped on top of a hill at a red light but slid into the back of an old pickup truck at the bottom. We were both fine, with our old vehicles just having an extra dent, but it was still unsettling. I had several near misses in wintry weather, but God had plans for me, I hoped…    

We did eventually make it to the ski resort. Just walking from the car to the lodge, I thought I was going to freeze to death, my tears were frozen. Cody loved every minute somehow. It was a great bonding experience and he describes it as one his favorite memories to this day. I know I enjoyed being in that weather when I was younger. You prayed for a snow day (listening to the AM radio and holding your breath as each closed school in NJ was read, hoping you’d hear yours), then grabbing a sled and heading to the highest hill with your friends. Most of that happened in the icy streets. How none of us ever got struck by a car is unbelievable. Over the years I’ve gotten pretty wimpy when it comes to the cold, I guess.

As we get older we change and that brings us to today’s service. Serena Scott lead our thoughts during our communion this morning. She shared how abusive her father was to her and her mother, despite his career of being a pastor. She ended up in the foster system with her little brother. The foster family took them to church, where she found her faith and the courage to change as she grew older. Serena was baptized a few years ago and now feels worthy of God’s love and purpose. Her foster parents, the Scotts, bonded with Serena and her brother after that and officially adopted them, and have since been baptized themselves. The whole Scott family is doing well spiritually now. 

This is week 4 of the “This Series Could Change Your Life” sermon. Tony started by sharing this quote from Bishop Ryle in 1856… “There is morbid dislike of strong language today, an excessive fear of giving offense, a constant flinching from directness and plain speaking”. Most haven’t changed in 150+ years and not likely to in another 150. Sometimes the Bible and the truth are offensive to those that don’t want to hear the truth. John the Baptist calls the leaders, soldiers, and crowds who came to him to be baptized, in Luke 3:7, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”. These Jews responded with “We have Abraham as our father”. They play the race card. They just wanted the privilege of religiosity and looking righteous, but they didn’t want to truly change. John was preparing the surface of their hearts to hear the good news of God. Romans 3:10 says “There is no one righteous, not even one…”  All of us, left to ourselves, are children of the devil. John addresses there is a cure of this brokenness. “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” Luke 3:8. Baptism is worthless without change and repentance. Godly guilt is correct, and when transformed becomes personal responsibility, which leads us to repentance and ends in forgiveness and liberation.      We are all capable of change, but are good intentions are rarely followed up with actions. Let this week be one of the exceptions where are actions and intentions match.    

Have a great week !