“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8
At a recent eye exam, John learned his vision had worsened and he needed a new pair of prescription glasses. His optometrist’s office called a week later to tell him that the glasses were ready.
When John first tried on the glasses, the world around him looked blurry. But he figured since he hadn’t updated his prescription in a few years that he simply needed to get use to the new lenses.
But the blurriness didn’t go away. Now, John felt dizzy and bumped into things. He even had trouble parking his car one night and hit a mailbox, leaving a long scratch on his car door. That’s when his wife urged him to make another appointment with his optometrist.
At the second appointment, John’s doctor checked the prescription. He quickly realized that someone on staff had accidentally switched John’s lenses with another patient’s glasses. This was the cause of John’s accident and his visual problems.
It wasn’t that the world around John had changed. Rather, the problem was John couldn’t see clearly.
This can happen to us, too. An illness, job loss, or tragedy can make you think that God has changed or moved, which can alter the way you see God. But, remember, while your circumstances might shift, God never changes and never abandons God's children.
Danny C. Murphy
Have you wanted to support emergency relief for those fleeing violence in Ukraine? If so, here's how.
You can support emergency relief for those fleeing violence in Ukraine by contributing to the Disaster Relief - International Refugee Programs (DR000156) of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Russia began invading Ukraine on February 24, 2022, in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian war that began in 2014. It is the largest conventional military attack on Europe since World War II.
After Ukraine's Revolution of Dignity in February 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and Russian-backed separatists seized parts of south-eastern Ukraine and started the war in Donbas. In 2021, Russia began a major military buildup along its border with Ukraine, sparking an international crisis. During this period, Russian President Vladimir Putin espoused Russian irredentist views, questioned Ukraine's right to statehood, accused NATO of threatening Russia's security, and demanded that Ukraine be banned from joining the alliance. Putin also groundlessly accused Ukraine of committing genocide against its Russian speakers.
The United States and others accused Russia of planning an attack or invasion of Ukraine, which Russian officials repeatedly denied as late as February 23, 2022, one day before Putin announced a "special military operation" to “demilitarize and denazify" Ukraine. Minutes later, missiles and airstrikes hit parts of Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, followed shortly thereafter by a large-scale ground invasion from multiple directions.
This has created a massive evacuation and a humanitarian crisis for the people of Ukraine. However, you can support emergency relief for those fleeing violence in Ukraine by contributing to the Disaster Relief - International Refugee Programs (DR000156) of the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Danny C. Murphy
Be careful what you believe because that is what you will experience. Your belief system is a mechanism which is uniquely yours. It is powered by your desire and controlled by your thoughts and actions. In other words, your success is measured by the strength of your belief.
What is it that you desire?
Often people do not have a clue what it is they want; they just know what they do not want.
Now is a good time to evaluate your goals and determine the end result you want to achieve. Put your goals in writing and place them where you can see them throughout the day. Read them frequently to keep them fresh on your mind. As you do so, consider the following characteristics with respect to your goals.
1. Be inquisitive. Research and learn as much as you can on how you can achieve your goal. Use all possible resources such as books, audiobooks, podcasts, courses and people. Yes, people. Talk to as many people as possible who are already successful in what you want to achieve. Ask, ask and ask some more about what they did to reach success. Do not limit your contacts to only the people you already know. Introduce yourself by phone, mail, email, or Zoom. Explain your purpose for contacting them and ask for a tip. The worst thing that can happen is that they ignore you. The best thing that can happen is that they become your mentor and offer support and encouragement. Chances are you will receive at least one great tip from many of the people you contact. This method is the least expensive and most rewarding.
2. Be unique. Next, take the ideas you learn, embellish them and come up with your own creative process. Think of how you can approach your goal in a way that no one else has. Dare to be different. Don't be afraid to take risks. Use your imagination. What do you have to lose? Write out a list showing the worst things that could happen and then list all of the best possible outcomes. Always maintain your concentration on your desired result.
3. Be willing to fail and keep on trying until you succeed. When you were a child and saw your older siblings or friends riding a bike (without training wheels), you didn’t look at their scraped knees and elbows and say, “Whoa, I could get hurt doing that.” Instead, you begged to try it for yourself. With a great deal of practice and often pain, you gradually learned how to maintain your balance. When you fell, you would get back on and try again with even greater determination. From your very first effort, you believed in your mind that if you got back on, you would eventually learn to ride. I bet you even knew in your mind you would be the best in the neighborhood, in your school, in the state, in the world!
4. Be positive. If you see obstacles before you, then you will also only see problems. If you have hesitations that your plan will not work, then it will not work. As Henry Ford once said, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right." If you are influenced by the power of negative people, then you will never be any better than they are. Believe in yourself and what you are capable of achieving with God's help. When your desire to succeed is stronger than the pain, fear or frustration of failing, there is no turning back. I challenge you to view your goals just like you did when you were a child before you learned about self-doubt and negative criticism.
Since today is the first day of Black History Month, it is important to note that people of African descent in this country survived the horrors of the peculiar institution of slavery because they had a strong belief in freedom and equality.
Remember, Jesus said, “All things are possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23, ESV). Therefore, make a commitment that you will not let anything or anyone, including yourself stand in your way of reaching your goals.
Danny C. Murphy
What Are Churches That Are Doing Well During the Pandemic Doing Differently Than Those That Are Not?
In the midst of a new and predictably less severe surge of COVID-19 this winter season, the question has been asked: How have churches fared through all of this?
The congregations of Trinity Presbytery have fared differently across the board. From two church closures, Queens Memorial and Welcome, to churches regaining momentum with new hybrid worship services, where participants worship together in-person and via live-stream.
Thom Rainer, founder and CEO of Church Answers, studied data and anecdotal information from churches that have struggled like all other churches but are doing well during the pandemic. Although they face lower turnout rates than before COVID-19, they are starting to grow, gain new momentum, and see opportunities that other church leaders may not have seen.
According to Rainer, while some churches have incorporated a few of these 12 traits, churches doing well during the pandemic have incorporated all 12 traits into the life of their congregations.
What are the 12 traits?
Trait 1. Faithfully preach and teach the Bible. Of course, this seems obvious. However, these healthy churches give top priority to the preaching and teaching of the Bible. People need to listen to God more than ever in these days of unprecedented uncertainty.
Trait 2. Intensify your evangelistic efforts. There are two realities related to this second trait. First, most, if not almost all, churches lost their evangelical focus and priority before the pandemic. Second, in the transforming power of God, these healthy churches decided to renew their commitment to evangelism.
Trait 3. Give hope and encouragement during the pandemic. The leaders of these churches seem to know how to proclaim God's redemptive work in a way that gives believers encouragement and hope. Members of their churches continue to feel that God has not abandoned them, that God is working for their good in difficult times.
Trait 4. Stay away from political struggles. You will not find the leaders of these churches on Facebook discussing the latest hot topic. They stay focused on Christ and his work. "Most of the time, the members of your church will follow your example," says Rainer.
Now, I must admit that this trait of Rainer's leaves me a little perplexed because the role of Prophet is definitely the work of Christ. I believe there are times when we have to perform the Prophet's role and prophetically speak truth to power. The reluctance and outright unwillingness to focus on Christ and this aspect of his work, in my opinion, is a contributing factor that has made the Church complicit in the racial inequalities and systemic racism that exist in America today.
Trait 5. Re-evaluate your staff structure. Churches across our country are at the start of a massive staff realignment. These healthy churches have leaders who recognize that they are on the verge of a mass movement. They want to understand it so that they are ready to make the right changes.
Trait 6. Support or adopt churches. These churches actively try to help other churches. Sometimes the kind of help is providing resources and people for a season. This is fostering church support. Other times, these churches become multisite congregations by formally adopting a church into their family and making it an offsite campus of their congregation.
Trait 7. Do more to become a welcoming church. The leaders of these churches recognize that many members and guests return to in-person worship with a sense of hesitation and uncertainty. They understand that whoever greets them when they arrive is more important than ever.
Trait 8. Pay close attention to your groups and the structure of your small groups. A church with healthy groups is likely to be healthier in evangelism, service, assimilation, and administration. The importance of caring relationships to the health of the church only increased during the pandemic.
Trait 9. Raise the bar of expectations. This trait seems contradictory. If people are less engaged in church, today, why not adjust to the lower level of engagement. Conversely, healthy churches see the pandemic as an opportunity to raise the bar in a culture of low expectations.
Trait 10. Become a friend of your community. Although the communities in which they live may not be respectful of Christian values, these churches still see a great opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ in a meaningful and tangible way. They continue to maintain an outward incarnational focus as they seek to find a wound and heal it or find a need and satisfy it. As a result, some of these churches are winning over their communities.
Trait 11. Form mini prayer groups. The leaders of these churches are not too busy organizing large prayer meetings. Yes, it is great when many church members come together to pray. However, these leaders celebrate when only a few members get together to pray. Mighty prayer can come from a few.
Trait 12. Stay persistent. The frustration and confusion are as real to these church leaders as it is to any other leader in the midst of these troubled times. Nevertheless, the leaders of these churches are not giving up. They really feel that God will see them through the uncertainty and confusion. They may not understand what is going on, but they know God is still in control.
On a scale of 1 to 12, how many of these traits are active in the life of your congregations?
Danny C. Murphy
Pastor Appreciation Day is Sunday, October 10, 2021. This celebration happens in the month of October, which also happens to be Pastor Appreciation Month. The celebration of this day began with the idea to celebrate the contributions of priests, ministers, reverends, and pastors to the country, especially in the United States. It is also the day that encourages ministers and pastors to keep up with their good work and continue their contributions.
As Pastor to Pastors in this Presbytery, I know how much more difficult the work has become for these pastors over the past nineteen months, as they've had to pivot and adapt to the challenges of being the Church in a pandemic that has entangled many in a wired and wireless world. One of our pastors even had a baby during this pandemic! She and her husband presented their baby daughter for baptism during worship on Sunday, September 19, 2021.
While Pastor Appreciation Day officially started in 1992, nearly two-thousand years prior to this, the Apostle Paul admonished the members of the congregation in Thessalonica with these words, "And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders, who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love" (1 Thessalonians 5:12, The Message).
Pastor Appreciation Day provides you with an opportunity to thank our pastors for his or her service to the church and community. It is my hope that, either on Sunday, October 10, 2021, or some other time during the month of October, our congregations take time to overwhelm their pastors with appreciation and love.
Danny C. Murphy
A worldwide pandemic, coupled with recent extreme weather conditions during the month of August 2021, makes one wonder: When is it ever going to end?
We have seen cases of Covid-19 continue to rise as the more contagious Delta variant leads to spikes in infections and hospitalizations across the globe. In the U.S., southern states experienced a surge in cases, with many hospitals at or near capacity. According to a recent New York Times article, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Texas are reporting some of the highest case rates in the country.
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake stuck the Tiburon Peninsula in the Caribbean nation of Haiti. At least 2,200 people were confirmed dead, 12,260 were injured, 136,800 houses and buildings were destroyed or damaged, 24,400 people were displaced, and 650,000 people required humanitarian assistance.
Floodwaters inundated Middle Tennessee, where Waverly, a city in Humphreys County, Tennessee, was the hardest hit. Search and rescue efforts were suspended after identifying 20 people who were killed as a result of water topping the banks of area waterways and flooding the county. Among the dead were 7-month-old twins, swept out of their father’s arms by floodwaters, and 55-year-old Linda Almond Bryant. Bryant started a Facebook Live video. “We’re being flooded right now,” she said as water pushed debris by a door. “Really scary.” It was the last video she appeared to post to her Facebook page. The flood claimed her life, according to her son.
Flash floods swept across western North Carolina in the wake of Tropical Depression Fred. Five people were killed and one person was missing in Cruso, NC, where homes were swept off their foundations. The flood caused at least $300 million worth of damage and destroyed 225 structures in Cruso. This figure did not include damage in the towns of Canton and Clyde.
Ida, a category 4 Hurricane, blasted ashore in Louisiana as one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S., knocking out the New Orleans power grid, blowing roofs off buildings and reversing the flow of the Mississippi River as it rushed from the Louisiana coast into one of the nation’s most important industrial corridors. Hurricane Ida made landfall exactly 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the state to become one of the deadliest and the costliest hurricanes to hit the U.S. in recorded history.
The devasting Caldor wildfire that set California ablaze has caused thousands of people to quickly flee South Lake Tahoe as the resort city came under an evacuation order and the wildfire raced toward the lake. Our Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center in Nevada, has so far been spared from the furious wildfire raging in California and the Tahoe basin, and has become a safe haven for more than 100 people. At least 729 structures, including nearly 490 homes, have been destroyed by the Caldor Fire.
I am pleased to announce that through our Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) program the Presbyterian Church (USA) is responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic and to each of the natural disasters mentioned above.
Due to the connectional nature of our denomination, you and/or your congregation may join with other presbyterians and help support our Church’s response using the links below.
PDA pulled 2.7 million dollars from reserves to seed the COVID-19 ongoing response fund, both in the United States and internationally. These are funds that have been given by donors to PDA’s general fund, meant to meet the response needs of disasters, small or large, that are not able to be funded by special appeals.
Support the COVID-19 response with designated gifts to DR000148
Working closely with Presbyterian World Mission, our traditional partners on the ground and ACT Alliance, PDA is responding to emergency needs such as WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), emergency power generators, shelter, food, first aid and more.
Support the Haiti Earthquake response with designated gifts to OG100000-Haiti
PDA is responding to this disaster and processed initial assistance grants to meet emergency needs.
Support the Tennessee Flooding response with designated gifts to DR000191
NORTH CAROLINA FLOODING
PDA is working with Presbyterian leadership on the ground as they assess the flood damages caused by Tropical Depression Fred.
Support the North Carolina Flooding response with designated gifts to DR000191
PDA is responding to Hurricane Ida. The initial assessment of the damage is staggering. The needs of those impacted is changing daily due to lack of access to power, refrigeration, water and housing.
Support the Hurricane Ida response with designated gifts to DR000169
PDA is responding to U.S. wildfires.
Support Caldor Wildfire response with designated gifts to DR000165
PLEASE NOTE: If you would like to serve on a response team that is mobilized to help people who are suffering due to natural disasters, then please contact Elder Laura Jordan, the moderator of Trinity’s Disaster Assistance Team (TDAT), at 803-466-8440. If your church has a disaster assistance/response plan in place, please share that information with Laura, as well.
Danny C. Murphy
Live spelled backwards is Evil. We are to live a life that moves us forward into a deeper relationship with God. However, when we live a life that’s backward, we succumb to evil and move in a direction that takes us away from God.
The good news is that with the Holy Spirit’s help we don’t have to succumb to evil by giving in to vengeance, revenge, and retaliation. We can conquer evil by choosing to live our life by doing good toward those who mistreat us.
Dear Siblings in Christ,
On July 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reinstated their recommendations for wearing masks in indoor gatherings, regardless of vaccination status. This change is due to the emergence of the Delta variant of COVID-19 and subsequent rising case numbers and hospitalizations in some parts of the country.
According to the most recent CDC data, South Carolina is a state in the high-risk category. In fact, as of August 3, 2021, all eleven counties that comprise Trinity Presbytery are either in the high* or very high-risk categories (Abbeville, Aiken, Edgefield*, Fairfield, Greenwood*, Laurens*, Lexington, McCormick, Newberry, Richland, and Saluda*).
Every pandemic throughout human history has ended. We know that this pandemic will end, too. While we are yearning to speak of this pandemic in the past tense, the reality is that it continues for the present and immediate future.
Therefore, as Sessions establish criteria for all church-related gatherings, including return to in-person worship and other indoor gatherings, the Presbytery Executive Coordinating Team strongly encourages everyone to continue to use common sense, wisdom, Christian love for others, and abide by all safety protocols.
If you have returned to in-person worship and have not submitted a copy of your return to in-person worship plans for inclusion in your church files at the presbytery office, as directed by the Presbytery Coordinating Team, then please do so today.
For more information, please check the CDC website:
For the most up-to-date information on vaccination status and rates of infection, please visit https://www.covidactnow.org and https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/us-map. These websites are real time U.S. COVID Risk & Vaccine Trackers.
To find a vaccination site near you, please visit:
Danny C. Murphy
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV
I find it so easy to be thankful when everything is going well. When my prayers are being answered; when things that I've been visualizing are physically manifesting themselves in my life; and when I'm executing the plans and achieving the goals that I've set for myself, it's easy for me to be thankful. However, I find it more challenging to be thankful when things aren't going so well in my life.
How about you?
Do you find it easy to give thanks when your day is going well? You’re wearing your favorite t-shirt. You got a great parking spot. Your coffee is the perfect temperature with just the right mix of sugar and creamer. You get lots of likes on the selfie you posted to Instagram.
But what about those moments when things aren’t going so well? You spill your coffee on your jeans. You have to wait in a long line of customers at the bank or grocery store. You realize the battery in your smartphone is dead.
In moments like these, giving thanks is difficult. But giving thanks is also essential if you want to navigate these experiences with a positive outlook. This doesn’t mean being phony or pasting on a smile no matter what.
Rather, it’s about taking a moment to shift your focus. Instead of grumbling about the long line of customers, thank God for the cashier and pray for her family. When your smartphone needs a charge, thank God for all of the impressive technology to which you have access. Put differently, shift your focus by choosing to turn the uncomfortable moments in life into thankfulness.
God, when I’m tempted to complain and grumble, help to stop and shift my focus. I want to be someone who lives in continual gratitude. Let me never lose sight of the blessings You’ve poured out on me. In Jesus' name, I pray, Amen.
You Can Make An Incredible Play
Against Hunger With The
Souper Bowl of Caring
February 7, 2021
Watch the Video to Learn How...
One of the challenges of the church is to share God's love in tangible ways. The Souper Bowl of Caring is an effective way to accomplish this. I encourage all churches to join in this year's effort to raise 1 Million dollars in South Carolina!
Danny C. Murphy
Rev. Dr. Danny Murphy, SR.
The ultimate aim of Trinity Presbytery is to equip and empower our member congregations to become communities of faith, hope, love, witness and service, so that those who do not know Jesus might come to know, love and serve him and so that those who do know Jesus might come to love him more intimately and serve him more faithfully.