Monday Ministerial Musings: Coin Counters

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 23

July 8, 2019

Coin Counters

Years ago, before banks had coin counters, I collected coins in a jar. When the jar filled up I would roll the coins to bring to the bank. I would sit with stacks of coins in front of me, counting and rolling. My daughters accused me of looking like “Scrooge Mc Duck” the character from the animated version of “A Christmas Carol.” It was a good learning tool. I used it to help my daughter’s with their math and currency skills. It was rather good learning.

All this changed when banks got coin counters. I got lazy and began to take my coin jar to the bank. I was surprised one day to discover that the coin counter was gone. I have heard two explanations for this. The first is that these machines were “skimming” money. The second is that these were not cost effective for banks. This doesn’t explain why Supermarkets still have them.

Now I am back to coin rolling. As my jar fills up, I roll the coins, write my account number on each roll and take them to the bank. Recently I was surprised to learn that at my local TD Bank, these rolls are opened and the coins are dumped into a common bag. The bagged, un-rolled coins are then sent out to be counted by a machine in another location.

Does this make any sense to you? It doesn’t to me. To me it seems to be a redundant waste of time to roll coins only to have them un-rolled. Or is it? If we use the task well it is a good math/currency lesson for our children. If we choose not to roll, there are plenty of supermarkets that gladly supply us with coin counters.  Some things in life make no sense, yet we do them because systems and organizations require them. There are some silly things that we simply have to put up with.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                            #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                    #CoinRolls

#TimeWasted                                                                      #UselessDeeds

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: 

Four Lessons From The Story of Naaman
The Faithful and The Unfaithful

Gehazi was the servant of Elisha. He had seen Elisha do incredible deeds in the name of the Lord.

He has witnessed the miracle of oil when Elisha blessed a poor widow. He witnessed the miracle that his master worked in granting a child to an older woman who had shown him hospitality, long after she had given up hope of a child. Later, when the son died, Gehazi was instructed by Elisha to revive him by placing Elisha’s staff on the boy. Gehazi failed and it was only Elisha’s intervention that brought the boy back to life.

After seeing the power of Elisha, Gehazi was given another job. He was to greet Naaman at the door of Elisha’s house and give this powerful warrior the message that Elisha had sent.

To be cured of leprosy, Naaman must dip himself in the Jordan River seven times.

I wonder what Gehazi was feeling. Was he fearful? Did he worry that Naaman would be angry at the message and blame the messenger? Did Gehazi hate this enemy General who had caused so much harm to the people of Israel? Was he secretly hopeful that Naaman would leave Elisha’s presence without finding a cure? Was Gehazi hoping that Elisha would do his patriotic duty and strike Naaman dead, as such a ruthless warrior deserved?

Gehazi’s worst fears were not realized. He was not harmed by Naaman, but neither was he pleased with Elisha’s treatment of this General of Aram.

Naaman reluctantly accepted the advice of his servants, and did what Elisha had told him to do. He dipped himself in the Jordan seven times and received the healing that he sought.

When Elisha refused to accept the material compensation that Naaman offered, Gehazi was not happy. This enemy of Israel got off way too easy.

Don’t you feel a bit of sympathy for Gehazi? Why would Elisha give grace to a self-proclaimed enemy of Israel? Why give healing to one who makes border raids into Israel, takes captives, and demands tribute? Why would Elisha take no compensation? The gifts from Naaman could have been used to bless those who have been harmed by Naaman’s raids. Some of that heavy tribute could have been recovered. Am I the only person for whom that sounds like a good idea? Doesn’t that seem like justice to you?

Would Elisha last long in one of our pulpits? Can you imagine one of our ministers showing grace to an enemy of the church? Even more, how long would a minister last if he/she turned down a large financial donation? Do you want your minister saying “no” to a substantial gift to the church?

Gehazi sought justice on his own. He invented a lie and pursued Naaman who was returning to his own country. The lie he told was that Elisha needed some of the wealth offered by Naaman. The general gratefully turned it over. Gehazi took it home and hid it in Elisha’s garage.

Knowing the power and insight of Elisha, how did Gehazi ever think he could get away with such a deception?

Elisha confronted his servant. Gehazi tried to lie his way out of his deceit. But there was no deceiving Elisha. The leprosy taken from Naaman would rest on Gehazi! It was a harsh punishment, apparently without any grace whatsoever.

So it is with all of us who wish to be servants of God, who want to claim to be servants of God. Much is expected from us. Let those of us who are disciples of Jesus be warned. Let those who have ears to hear, listen.

This is the fourth and final part of a series on Elisha and Naaman. The earlier parts are found on the three previous consecutive Sundays here on The Twelve.

Mark Ennis

Mark Ennis

Mark William Ennis had his first book, “The Circle of Seven: When His Servants Are Weak,” recently published by Deep River Books. An ordained minister of the Reformed Church in America for 35 years, Mark served as a chaplain at the opening of the National 911 Memorial Museum in New York City, ministering to survivors, first responders and their families.  

God Didn’t Do It My Way

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 22

July 1, 2019

God Didn’t Do It My Way

There are countless lessons on prayer in our Bible. One of my favorites was King Hezekiah being told that he was going to die. Quickly he prays for healing and is granted fifteen more years of a healthy life.

Jesus in Luke’s gospel tells the story of the persistent prayers told by a widow seeking justice and how God will hear us if we pray continually. In John’s gospel he tells us that we can ask anything in his name and it will be given us.

Armed with these lessons on prayer, I have been praying for a young mother with cancer. Our whole congregation has been praying 24/7 for her.  In May I used this blog to request further prayers for her. I received many promises that constant and persistent prayers would be said for her. I was pleased with this prayer response and was faithfully waiting for the healing miracle that we were confident in seeing.

God did not answer these prayers my way. Maria’s health continued to decline. More that a week ago she was moved into hospice care. She died several days later. Our prayers to cure her were not answered in any way that I, or her family desired.  Instead, her husband is now widowed and her young son is missing his mother. Her family, her friends, our congregation and I, are all dealing with a mixture of sorrow, grief, and a bit of anger. Why didn’t God answer our prayers? Were the lessons on prayers lies or exaggerations?

God is God. There are times that he answers prayers in his own way, and not in ways that are clear to us. Now I am relying on another scripture. I have been binge reading Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord.”

Dispite my anger and sorrow, I still love Jesus and trust that something good will come from this loss. I may or may not ever see the good that comes from this, yet I am forced to trust it and hope that he will give me the gift of seeing what good will come from this. Even in despair, I must trust the Lord.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                            #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                    #Miracles

#Prayers                                                                                 #Cures

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: 

The Circle of Seven

Going Somewhere or Going Nowhere

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 21

June 24, 2019

Going Somewhere or Going Nowhere

My daughter is moving. Her last call ended and she has not yet received a new one. In the meantime, she  will be moving in with my wife and I. As much as is possible, family members have been driving to her place to help her pack boxes. She is going somewhere but in the long-run we don’t know where.

I wasted two hours of my life waiting in traffic on Friday going nowhere. Usually this trip takes about one hour, not two. An accident, miles ahead on the New Jersey turnpike kept me from moving. I knew where I wanted to go, and why I wanted to go there but despite my best efforts, I was not going anywhere.

This day was, for me, a symbol of God’s callings to us. There are times when we, like the disciples, are called to go somewhere with Jesus. There are also times when God is calling us to stay right where we are. Not everyone who heard Jesus followed him. Some stayed home, reflected on his words and were faithful to him despite their lack of travel.

This week’s lectionary records the story of a man who is filled with demons, so many that he refers to himself as “Legion.” This crazy man lives naked among the tombs, has the strength to break chains, and terrorizes all those around. Jesus heals him and the man wishes to travel with Jesus. Instead, Jesus gives him the task of staying in his home village and testifying to what God has done for him.

Are we called to testify for Jesus in our home towns or become “roadies” and follow Jesus around as part of our testimony? Is God calling us to go somewhere or go nowhere? Such questions are often not easily answered. It takes some spiritual discernment. Yet, whether we are called to go or stay, we are still required to give testimony to the great things that God has done for us. May we do it and do it well! We must be His witnesses.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                     #Exorcism

#Disciples                                                                              #Testimony

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: 

The Circle of Seven

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 19 June 10, 2019 Is Your Child Happy?

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 19

June 10, 2019

Is Your Child Happy?

I grew up in a different era. We were brought to church whether we wanted to go or not. We were taught to say our prayers before going to bed. Although my family did not adhere to the practice of daily devotions, I knew families who did, my wife’s family did each night after dinner. If we wanted to do other activities, they waited until our church obligations had ended. Church was first and all other activities were secondary. We grew up rather happy for the most part.

Better Homes and Gardens recently published an article that summarized a study done by the Harvard School of Public Health. The study demonstrated that Children who attended church or other religious institutions benefited from the religious training were happier, much more likely to participate in volunteer programs, and were less likely to have sex at an early age and less likely to do drugs. The conclusion from Harvard was that weekly church attendance was good for children to experience. 

Are we helping our children be happy? Do we keep them over-booked over competitive and neglect to bring them to worship weekends? We have now raised a generation of children who are competitive and hyper-organized. But are they happy? Have we so over-scheduled our children that we have neglected their happiness? Kids today are so programmed that I wonder if they are happy. 

I am concerned that we have raised a generation of unhappy kids. We forgot the basics of how we were raised to be happy.  Are we raising the next generation to be un-happy? Maybe it is time we challenged ourselves to bring our children back to church. Their happiness is at stake. Do you want your children to be happy? Get them to church! It will them, and you, a great deal of good.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                     #HappyChildren

#ChurchAttendance                                                            #ChildrenInChurch

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: 

The Circle of Seven

Monday Ministerial Musings By Rev. Mark William Ennis Blog Number 17 May 27, 2019 Happy Memorial Day?

Monday Ministerial Musings

Monday Ministerial Musings

By Rev. Mark William Ennis

Blog Number 17

May 27, 2019

Happy Memorial Day?

Today is Memorial Day. It is the day that we set aside to remember those members of our military who made the supreme sacrifice and died in our wars. At least that is what it is supposed to be. I wonder if we do spend time reflecting on the sacrifice of others in between our parades picnics and parties. Perhaps we cannot really feel the need for this day of remembrance unless we ourselves know people who have died or are close to friends who have.

My Godfather was a CB on Guam Island in World War II. He survived the war but suffered chronic depression following his was experiences. It was un-diagnosed, but perhaps it might now be called PTSD. His depression waxed and waned over the years be got much worse during retirement. He self-medicated, at times, with alcohol. Ultimately, he committed suicide during the summer of 1980. I believe that he was a casualty of war just as much as any combat casualty. I think of him every Memorial Day.

In the mid-1980’s I first met the Muser family while pastoring a church in Hoboken. They understood Memorial Day. Their son was one of the casualties of Vietnam. He was an only child. This was a family that did not participate in shopping on this day. Instead, they went to their son’s grave to remember. For them, it was not a “holiday” but a “day of remembrance.” They understood this day better than most of us.

Yes, this afternoon I will be at a picnic this afternoon, spending time with friends and celebrating friendships. But first I will be praying at a wreath-laying ceremony and marching in our local parade. All day I will be thinking of Kenneth Kizer, Louis Muser II, and all those who sacrificed for my freedom. I hope that you will join me in remembering our fallen heroes.

#ReformedChurchInAmerica                                             #ClintonAvenueReformedChurch                                                     #MemorialDay

#CasualtiesOfWar                                                               #SupremeSacrifice

To read more of Pastor Mark’s writings, please order a copy of his book: