We resumed our regular bowling schedule tonight. We all had a good night. We took all three games plus total pins. We were tied for fifth place before the night started and there is a good chance we can move up in the standings this week. I bowled at 122, a season best 165 and a 126, giving me a 413 set or a 137 average for the night. This brings my season average up one point to 132. I love bowling when everything is clicking like it did in the second game. When it’s not clicking its just frustrating. Next week I get a week off because I will be in North Carolina serving at something called FLAME. I’ll probably post something about it later this week.
Thank you to the congregation of Preston Wesleyan Church. It has been a wonderful month of appreciation of our ministry. You will notice that I say our, that’s because my ministry is enhanced by my wonderful family. We have a great team. First of all, there is my beautiful wife and help mate in the ministry. Pam is a wonderful partner. She takes care of many little details and is my right hand in the office. She also enhances my ministry with her encouraging ministry. Pam spends several hours each week writing notes of encouragement to those deserving in our congregation. She also takes care of those missing you cards. She is an integral part of my ministry.
I also have some wonderful children who enhance the ministry as well. Rebecca did a great job on the pastoral prayer this morning, God is going to do some great things in her life. Anna, did well with leading the worship all by herself this morning. James is all boy and adds excitement to the parsonage.
Our congregation showed their appreciation in many ways:
- There was the cake during our Friend Day Celebration
- Several gave cards and money
- We went out to some local restaurants.
- The bowling team gave me a pair of bowling shoes
- I got a CD of one of my favorite groups from my high school days. It was a lost album from the Russ Taff Imperial days.
Thank you to the congregation of Preston Wesleyan for your thoughtfulness. I look forward to our years together in kingdom building. May God bless all of you.
What a great day we had today. Over the past few Sundays, my wife and I have been substituting in various Sunday School classes. Today was no exception. We taught our Middle School class and taught about prayer. We looked to the Lord’s Prayer as our example in how to pray. What are the essential elements of prayer?
P – Praise
R – Repent
A – Ask
Y – Yield
We had a great time with the students and then we went into our worship service, where we had a student ministries emphasis. Except for the offering and preaching, the students led all the worship; Welcome and Announcements, Call to Worship, Songs, Pastoral Prayer, Responsive Reading, and Benediction. They did a great job leading us in worship. They did have one overgrown student help with playing the guitar, set up the offering, and preach the message. Our congregation was very supportive of our students and we are looking foward to our next Student Ministries Sunday.
This morning’s message was “In Me.” We looked at the power of Christ in our lives. Peter is a great example. Before Pentecost, Peter had several glimpses of the power of Christ, but it was only temporary. It’s amazing to see what happened when Christ’s power finally infiltrated Peter’s life. We also looked that God calls each one of us to Christian service. Some he calls to be laypeople in the church, some he calls into “professional” ministry. Sometimes we think we don’t have what it takes, but if God calls us, he will give us all we need to fulfill His call. The cool factor came when two of our students came to the altar to pray at the end of the service.
It was a busy day as our family when visiting to the hospital together after church. We got to pray for one of our congregations room-mates as well as one of our members and his wife. Hopefully he will be home for good tomorrow. This is good news because we thought he would be in much longer.
The day finished off with our annual Fall Festival. It was a bit windy, so we had to cancel the bonfire portion which was a dissapointment for all of us. We had a feast of hot dogs (all the way, which means a hot dog on a roll with onions, chili sauce, slaw, and mustard) chips and cupcakes. I like my hot dogs “all the way.” (By the way, I’ll take slaw anytime over sauerkraut, betraying my German roots.) However, nothing beats a Yocco’s (if you’re ever in Allentown, PA check them out.) The festival is more of a fun time and we needed that after some of the serious times we have had of late.
All in all a great day. I have enjoyed winding down, working on my various websites and journaling the day’s activities. Thank you Lord, for the way you worked in our lives today.
Most of you have heard the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. This is one of the many miracles that Jesus performed while he was here on earth. Immediately following this miracle, Jesus sent his disciples off to get some rest away from the crowds. Jesus also sent crowds home. After everyone had left He went up into the hills to pray during the night.
It seems that this evening was going to be a stormy night. A strong wind came up over the water and the disciples were having trouble with the boat and fighting heavy waves.
Somewhere around 3:00 AM, Jesus decided to go to his disciples. Jesus didn’t use a boat to go to his disciples, no, he walked across the water. The disciples were terrified at the sight of Jesus walking across the water, thinking that it was a ghost. Jesus knew what they were thinking and called to them. He said, “Don’t be afraid, take courage. I am here!”
Peter thinks this is cool and calls out to Jesus, “If it’s You, Jesus, let me walk on the water with you.
Jesus tells him to come on out of the boat. Here’s where it gets interesting. Peter does get out of the boat and really is walking on the water by the Lord’s help. Unfortunately, Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to feel the strong wind and begins to look at the heavy waves and becomes fearful. As he becomes fearful, he begins to sink into the water and calls out to Jesus, “Save me, Lord!”
Jesus comes over to Peter and pulls him up and asks, “Why did you doubt me?”
I can only imagine Peter’s reaction. He was probably dumbfounded that he actually walked on water and then was embarrassed that he took his eyes off Jesus. Peter and Jesus get back in the boat and immediately the wind stops and all the disciples are amazed and declare, “You really are the Son of God!” and they bow down and worship Jesus.
They finish their journey across the lake and people start recognizing Jesus. Word quickly spread that Jesus was in the region and people began to bring the sick to Jesus. It sounds like there was quite a crowd, because they begged Jesus just to touch a part of his garment. Jesus let them and anyone who even touched Him was healed.
What does it mean to live a life with the power of Christ in us? Peter got an early glimpse of the power of Christ in him. It wouldn’t be until later on the day of Pentecost that Peter permanently received the power of Christ. That night on the lake, Peter saw the power of Christ working in his life. We all get down on Peter for losing sight of Jesus and that’s true, but when you think about it, Peter was the only one willing to get out of the boat. Everyone else was content to play it safe in the boat. Only Peter took a risk. Peter said, I’m willing to let Christ work in me. Look at the various times in this story where the power of Christ is mentioned. First, we have the feeding of the five thousand. This isn’t just five thousand, because only the men were counted. The crowd could have easily been up to 20,000 counting women and children.
What was the source of Jesus’ power? We catch a glimpse in that He went to pray alone. Before this incredible encounter on the water Jesus was praying. Think about this for a moment. If Jesus was God’s son, if Jesus was God of very God, and if it had to pray to receive God’s power, how do we think that we have any chance of receiving God’s power without spending time in prayer? The power of Christ to work in our lives only comes by spending time in prayer. Jesus knew that and he wants us as his disciples to know that as well.
So we have the feeding of the five thousand, then we have Jesus walking across the water, Jesus helping Peter walk across the water, the wind stopping at they step back into the boat and then people getting healed just by touching Jesus’ garment. Jesus can hold tremendous power in the life of the believer. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:20, “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” It is living by the power of Christ in us.
Many times people get nervous when pastors start talking about Christian service and especially when we start talking about “full-time” Christian service. I know in the past that I have heard people say, “I don’t want to say yes to God to go into full-time Christian ministry, because I don’t want to go to Africa.” Isn’t it amazing that we think that God will send us to places we don’t want to go? I know that I’ve shared in my testimony that if I would have known that saying yes to God would have led me to serving as a pastor of a church, I’m not so sure I would have said yes. I’ve even told you that as recently as seven years ago, I had no intentions of ever having a “preaching” pastoral ministry. I didn’t think I had the gifts. Depending on the sermon, I still question myself. But this much I know, that Christ working through me has given me all the power I need to do His work. Let’s take look at another of Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians 1:24-28:
24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
Every time I get into the pulpit, I am reminded that it is only through Christ’s power that I can do anything. I am thoroughly convinced that we can do nothing without the power of Christ working in us.
I say all that to remind each one of us that God desires to work within us. I want to speak specifically to our students this morning who led us in worship. God may be calling you to serve Him in full-time Christian ministry. That may be scary to you. I also want to speak to the adults. You are never too old for God to use you. Just this week my brother and I have been having a conversation about the call to ministry. While God called my brother and I at about the same age. It took much longer for me to fulfill the call of God in my life. In just I week, I will be going to North Carolina to assist in a FLAME conference to help women and men prepare for ordination in the Wesleyan Church. All of those who are attending the conference are over 28, many are older than that. God is calling women and men of all ages into His service. None of us can do it on our own; it is only through the power of Christ in us.
You may think you don’t have the ability to serve Christ. If you don’t think you have the ability, you are the prime candidate for Christ to work in you. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
God has called us to live a life of worship to him. Serving Christ is an act of worship to him. I’ve heard this before and if anything is true in my life this is. “God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” Even if God is not calling you into a life of full-time Christian service, God calls each one of us to live. In 1 Peter 2 we read this:
4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.
5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God…They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.
9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Yes, God has called some to “professional” ministry and perhaps God is calling you to that. You may not like the thought of being called to the “professional” ministry and you may feel like Peter did when he took his eyes off Jesus, but Paul writes to Timothy these encouraging words for each of us. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Yes, God calls us to “professional” ministry, but God calls each one of us to serve him, and He will give us the power we need if only we rely on Him.
Todd Agnew’s, Do You See What I See? I love this CD. We have only had it for about a week. Todd’s music is refreshing because is different. I loved his “Reflection of Something.” It was very bluesy. In a radio interview last year, he talked about how we always tell the Christmas story the same way with the same songs. This is not one of those CDs. While it doesn’t have the same bluesy feel as his non-Christmas CDs, it does have a different feel from most Christmas CDs. The only familiar songs would be “Do You See What I See,” and the Bob Kauflin classic “In the First Light.” Todd and his friends wrote the rest of these songs. Don Marsh did all the choir and orchestra arrangements, but they are used sparingly. I love the title track with its new bridge. Pam likes second track “No Room,” which is a bluesy song of the birth from the innkeepers point of view. There are some great tracks on this recording and I will probably explore some of the topics as we approach Christmas.
If you’ve been reading this blog any amount of time you know that my thinking has been greatly influenced of late by a CD by Casting Crowns. The CD is Lifesong. This past week’s message was based on the song While You Were Sleeping. Several in our congregation said the song sent chills up their spine as I sang it. If you are interested in reading the sermon, click here. When it comes to Jesus’ return, we often look to Matthew 24. I suggested that we need to look the next chapter, because that is part of the continuing narrative. Jesus tells three parables about what the Christian should be doing to prepare for the last times. In the first story of the ten bridesmaids, he tell us that we should watch and pray and be prepared for His return. In the second story of the boss who goes away and leaves his affairs in the hands of his employees, we are told that we should occupy the time. In other words, we should be doing all we can to fulfill the Great Commission. In the third and final story, we hear about the sheep and the goats. In this story, Jesus separates the believers by what and what they didn’t do in helping those who were the least. One of the things that we have decided to do as a congregation this year is help ring bells for Salvation Army. My brother and sister-in-law are in their second year of training in this organization. Even here in our own community, Salvation Army is doing a ton of good. I am proud to be counted among one of their supporters. As I look around at organizations, they really seemed to have balanced what James says in 1:27. “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” So many times it seems churches do one or the other, but God has called us to do both and time is running out.
Last night was an interesting night. It was either hot or cold, no in betweens. First, last Saturday for pastor appreciation, I was presented with a pair of bowling shoes by the team. That will come in handy and save a $1.75 every week to rent shoes. Thank you to the team for doing that for me.
We ended up bowling one of the best teams in the league. It was a great contest with every game being decided by 12 pins or less. Each game came down to the last ball bowled. I did alright in the first game bowling a 137, included in that was picking up a 5-10 split. It was all downhill from there. I bowled a 114 the next game, which included a gutterball on the first roll early on in the game. The worst part was that I had picked up a spare the frame before and complete wasted it. I did manage to pick up a spare after that gutterball, but then the next frame only picked up 4 on the first ball. I finished with 126 in the third game. I even picked up a double in that last game. Over all a very interesting night, my average will probably go down a few points, but that’s ok. Part of bowling is having fun and our team has lots of that.