Blogging and Computer Musings

I found this post, How Often Do You Google Yourself several days after I had tried it. Kem is the Communications Director at Granger Community Church. The reason I mention it is that several days ago, I did exactly that. The search results were typical for the most part; places that I have left comments, or blogging friends of mine. I was surprised when my name showed up here under Pastors Who Blog. You never know where your name might show up, hopefully in a positive light.

In other news, I have been enjoying the new laptop the church has purchased as a result of a grant from our district. It is a Dell Vostro 1500 with 2 GBs of RAM and a 160 GB HD. Yes, it is running Windows Vista and there have been little bugs here and there, mainly trying to get my desktop XP machine and the laptop to communicate. I was dissapointed that I couldn’t try the Wi-Fi feature. None of the places we stopped had Wi-Fi. I may take it with me around town this week and try one of the local places and blog from there.

I took the laptop with me on our trip this week and it was nice to unload the pictures from the camera right away to view them, instead of viewing them on the small digital camera screen. If I would have had the right cable, our friends had a DV video camera and I would have loved to try the “firewire” port. The laptop comes complete with Windows Movie Maker and it was amazingly easy to make a short silent movie with the videos from my digital camera.

This week we get to finally try out the laptop with the video projector for Mosaic and I’m looking forward to it. I might try the evaluation copy of EasyWorship instead of using Powerpoint. I’ll let you know how that goes.

We’re Home

We arrived safely back in Martinsville this afternoon. We went to visit some Marine friends of ours in Jacksonville and we had a great time. We were treated to a wonderful dinner at Shogun and it was the first time I had tasted Japanese cooking unless you count the Tokyo Express here in Martinsville, but I don’ think that will count. We were also served up some tasty home cooked short ribs. To our wonderful hosts, thank you. We look forward to seeing you soon.
We also finally got to see the Beruit Memorial in honor of those Marines killed at the embassy many years ago. It really make you think about those who have faithfully served our country over its long history. Thank you for your service!

Pastor’s Pen – August/September 2007

Wow! What a short summer. It seems that Rebecca just graduated and now we are preparing to take her to college in just two weeks. As I write this Rebecca has just received her laptop that her grandparents bought for her. She got a great deal on it because Dell has an agreement with Southern Wesleyan. So, Rebecca is getting closer to going to college.
This is a time of transition for the Argot family. Because Rebecca was waiting for her laptop, (the tracking number let us know that it would be delivered today) We took the two younger ones to lunch and take care of some church business. In just a few weeks, it will be just Pam and me and Anna and James.
Back when Rebecca was attending Kindergarten, we were living in Indiana. We lived right on the edge of the Indiana Wesleyan campus. As Pam was walking Rebecca to Kindergarten with Anna in tow, she observed the mom’s crying, leaving their freshmen girls at college. The mothers told Pam, “I won’t be long till you are in our shoes.” And here we are. Now the opposite part of this comes at the end of the spring semester, when the fathers would complain about how much stuff the girls had accumulated since the fall. I’m sure I’ll be one of those fathers.
So we are entering a new time or season in our life. Solomon put it this way:
1 There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to rebuild.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6A time to search and a time to lose. A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak up.
8 A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
Many years ago, when we found out Pam was pregnant with Rebecca, we called the pastor who got us together and married us. He said the thing about having children is that they are part of your legacy. My prayer is that as Rebecca goes to college that she will be part of the legacy of building the Kingdom. That is my prayer for you as well — to leave a legacy of building the Kingdom. God bless you and I love you. Pastor Dale.

Sunday Night Thoughts,

Who could have known that when we woke up this morning the kind of day we would have. As we got ready to go to church this morning, I sensed that there was spiritual warfare going on. I couldn’t put my finger on it. We progress through Sunday School and were progressing through the worship service, when I put my foot in my mouth. Have you ever done that? I apologize later in the service, but as we went home and the afternoon progressed my heart and mind were conflicted.

We went over to Martinsville Speedway for their open house and enjoyed what they had going on over there before the showers came. (By the way, you can pray for us in this area, we really need some rain in Martinsville.) Isn’t interesting, some parts of the country have way too much and others way too little.

We got back home and the devil kept working on me. I was miserable for the rest of the afternoon and was dreading our service this evening. I took some time to pray about it and felt the Lord was leading me in a certain direction. We started out with two little choruses, “Lord, Be Glorified” and “Sanctuary.” Then I shared with the congregation that had gathered a hymn story. It was the story of Isaac Watts and his hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.” We listened as Dr. Bud Bence narrarated the story and then the Indiana Wesleyan University Chorale sang this wonderful “song of human composure.” After that I shared with the congregation what had been going during the afternoon and then we prayed…AND THEN the Holy Spirit “showed up” in a mighty way. We started praying at about 6:20…when we finished it was 7. God is really AWESOME! How about that; an old-fashioned Holy Spirit led prayer meeting on a Sunday Night! How cool is that? We have been praying for a spirit of revival. God is working.

Today, God reminded me why He called me here…He has called me to be a small town, rural church pastor. Small Places Are Magnificent (Thanks, Mark!)

A Visit to Martinsville Speedway

As noted in the title of my blog, NASCAR visits Martinsville twice a year. However, the speedway is here year round. As part of the speedway’s 60th anniversary, they had an open house today. We had full access to the entire speedway to take a look around. The track gave away hotdogs and Pepsi and even let people take their cars on the track for a few pace laps. It was very cool.

A rare view from the back side of the track. Directly behind us our the Norfolk and Southern railroad tracks. They were moved back several years ago to create this space. There are only a few hundred bleacher seats along the back straight just beyond the parking barriers.

Turns 1 and 2 from the Main Grandstand

Turns 3 and 4 from the same placeThe start/finish line from the flagman’s position

Looking down the front straight from the flagman’s stand.
They also showed various classes of stock cars. Here Pam has her picture taken in front of one of them.
Getting ready to take a few pace laps around Martinsville Speedway in the Kia Sedona. Wayne, I can’t believe I actually did this! Don’t be too jealous 🙂
I’ll give tons of credit to NASCAR drivers. This is not as easy as they make it look on TV. Martinsville’s corners are tight and very flat.
During our pace laps, I had three motorcyles following me. It was very interesting and very cool at the same time, but it also required all of my attention.

In less than two years our church will be celebrating it’s 60th anniversary. This little open house got me to thinking, how could we use our 60th anniversary to reach out to our community? How could we give them a way to “test drive” our church? It leaves me something to think about.

Worship Boxscore

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 26, 2007

Call to Worship – Psalm 34:1-2
Songs of Worship – Yes, Lord, Yes (Keesecker), I Will Serve Him (Gaither), The Longer I Serve Him (Gaither)
Song of Worship – Little is Much When God is In It (Kittie L. Suffield)
Ministry through Music – Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us (Thrupp/Bradbury)
Worship through Prayer
Worship through Giving
Song of Worship – More Love to Thee (Prentiss/Doane)
Worship through the Word – Samuel: Dedicated to God

Samuel: Dedicated to God

Last week we began a transition from our summer series on stories in the Old Testament. The next few weeks we will be looking more specifically on God’s call in our lives. Next week, I want to take a look at something called the American Dream. Then the following week we are going to transition into a contemporary social issues series. I’ve never done anything like that, so I would covet your prayers as we move toward that series.
Today we want to look at the prophet and judge Samuel. Samuel comes to us in a unique way. His story is found in I Samuel. He will be the last judge following Eli and before the first king of Israel – Saul.
There was a man named Elkanah who had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Now Penninnah had children, but Hannah did not. Remember that in this culture, having children was a sign of God’s blessing. Having lots of children was just like us having lots of money. Each year Elkanah would go to the tabernacle in Shiloh for the yearly sacrifice. He would give a choice portion of the sacrifice to each child and wife. Because Hannah had no children, she only received one portion, while Peninnah received several. Now it seems that Peninnah and Hannah were almost like sisters because Peninnah would taunt Hannah because of her lack of children. Having children was a sign of God’s blessing. The taunting was so severe that it would reduce Hannah to tears and even cause her not to eat. Her husband was no help, because he would ask her why she was crying. He would say, “Why are you so sad just because you have no children? You have me and that should be better than having ten sons.” It appears that Elkanah was quite full of himself.
Finally Hannah could take no more of it and one year when the family went to Shiloh, she got up from the sacrificial meal and went to pray. Hannah was in deep distress as she prayed. Most of you know that when you are in deep distress you typically don’t make a sound even though your lips are moving. It just so happened that Eli (the current priest and judge) was sitting nearby and saw all of this happening.
Hannah prayed, “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”
This was a sincere prayer and you can imagine Hannah’s shock when Eli comes over and tells her to get out. He believes her to be drunk, because he saw her lips move and yet nothing came out of her mouth.
Hannah replies that she isn’t drunk, but is praying to the Lord.
Eli says, “Very well, go in peace and may God grant the request you have asked of him.”
Hannah is well pleased and thanks Eli and is not sad anymore. Sometime later Hannah gives birth to a baby boy. She does not go with the family to the tabernacle that year instead she wants to wait until the baby is weaned and then present him to the Lord at the tabernacle.
Finally the baby is weaned and Hannah and Elkanah take Samuel to the tabernacle to be dedicated to the Lord. They gave him up to the Lord’s service.
Can you imagine asking God for a child and then giving him back just after you have finished nursing him? And yet this was the agreement she had made with God. I will be the first to admit and I did so last week, that it is difficult to release our children. Each one of our children has been dedicated to God. And my prayer is that they follow the path God has laid out before them and that whatever they do they would give glory to God. That is our purpose as human beings – to give glory to God.
They present Samuel to Eli and Hannah asks Eli if he remembers her praying at the tabernacle. She says, “The Lord has given me this boy and now I present him to you – He will belong to the Lord his whole life.” Then they worship the Lord and Hannah prayed this beautiful prayer.

1 Samuel 2:1-10

Hannah realizes that God is sovereign – that He is in control. He will protect us – We cannot do it on our own. Can you imagine praying that prayer and leaving your baby boy – he was still young – at the Lord’s tabernacle? And yet that was Hannah’s faith. She promised she would give the child to God and she did.
God was also giving Eli a second chance of sorts. His sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were well known for their wickedness. In the NLT it even calls them scoundrels. They were priests in God’s tabernacle, but there was no end to the way that they would violate God’s house. They would steal the peoples hard earned sacrifices – this was serious sin all by itself, but they even brought in some of the idolatrous Canaanite practices – they would seduce the young woman coming to the tabernacle. To make matters worse, Eli knew all of this – he knew how evil his sons were. He even went as far as to tell his sons to stop doing such evil, but they wouldn’t. It was then that God put into place a way to bring order back to his holy place. He warned Eli by way of a stranger that Eli’s days were numbered and so were those of his sons.
All of this time Samuel was serving in the tabernacle with Eli. What’s really cool is that because Hannah was faithful to keep her promise, the Lord blessed her with even more children – three sons and two daughters. Samuel was a good boy and a good assistant in the tabernacle.
One night while Samuel was sleeping, he heard a voice, “Samuel” it called out. “Yes,” Samuel replied. He even ran to Eli and said, “What is it? Here I am.”
Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.”
So Samuel did. As soon as he got back in bed the voice called his name again. Again he went running to Eli and again Eli sent him back to bed.
The voice called out a third time and once more Samuel went running to Eli. Now Eli realized that God was about to speak to Samuel and he gave him instructions how to respond. Samuel went back to bed and the voice called again. This time Samuel replied, “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.” God tells Samuel all about the destruction of Eli and his sons. Then Samuel goes to sleep.
In the morning, he was quite afraid to tell Eli what God had spoke, but Eli warned Samuel to tell him everything and Samuel did. It wasn’t long after that that Hophni and Phinnehas were killed in battle and the Ark of the Covenant was captured. One of the servants escaped and told Eli what had happened. When he heard the news that his sons had been killed and the Ark was captured, he fell backward off his seat and died.
Meanwhile Phinehas’ wife was pregnant, when she heard the news, she went into labor and as she delivered the baby she called him Ichabod (which means “Where is the glory?”) and then she died.
What a tragic end to those who don’t follow God’s commands. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We have two examples to follow this morning.
On one hand we have the example of Eli and his sons. Eli knew his sons were doing evil and yet still let them perform their duties as priests desecrating everything that was holy. Instead of being a man and disciplining his sons, he put his sons feelings over those of God. A prophet even comes to town and asks Eli, “Why do you honor your sons over God? You were chosen by God and yet you have not honored God by following him.” Is this you this morning? Has God chosen you? Have you elevated your family’s honor over that of God?
Or are you more like Hannah. Here is a woman who had no children and yet asked God to give her one. She didn’t ask for two so that she could give one back, no, she asked for one, knowing full well she was going to give him back to God. That’s amazing. She honored God above family. She wanted to make sure that her son would follow God’s path. Considering the sin that was happening in the tabernacle, it is quite amazing that Samuel grew up the way he did, but he was dedicated to God and that can make a huge difference.
So which way is it for you today? Who is receiving more honor; family or God? Students let me ask you as well, who is receiving more honor; you or God? I encourage everyone today…God may be calling you into ministry – volunteer ministry, part-time ministry (although I doubt there is any such thing) or full-time ministry. Have you ever thought about what God was calling you to do with your life? Have you been dedicated to the Lord’s service? My prayer is that you could sing as we are going to sing, “Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.”

Weekly Lectionary Readings

Proper 16
August 26, 2007

How appropriate God’s words from the prophet Jeremiah are for me today. Tomorrow I am planning on preaching from 1 Samuel where Samuel is born and dedicated to God’s work. The words from God to the prophet are meaningful. “I knew you before you were in your mother’s womb.” Jeremiah protested, “I’m too young.” God tells Jeremiah don’t worry about it, because I have appointed you. That is comforting to think of when we are in the Lord’s work. If God has appointed us, nothing others can say or do should derail us from doing God’s work, whether we are young or old, male or female.

The words of the psalmist echo the words of Jeremiah. He acknowledges that God knows who we are and He has a plan for us. When the trials come…when those things come or people come that threaten to derail us or our ministry, remember that God is my rock…He is my fortress. This is a great comfort in times of storm.

The writer of Hebrews reminds us of how the Israelites came to Mt. Sinai and how God spoke to them through the multi-media experience. Even though they had all of that to remind them of who God was, they refused to listen. They refused to listen many times to what God’s man of the hour had to say to them. Then we are reminded that we are not unlike the Israelites…we need to listen to God, because someday this heaven and earth will be shaken. There will only be one thing that remains…the unshakable kingdom of God and so 28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire. Is the work you are doing building the shakable or unshakable Kingdom?

We are reminded in Luke, that God’s Kingdom doesn’t always look like our kingdom. The Pharisees were upset that Jesus, once again we’ll assume, healed someone on the Sabbath. He reminds them that Kingdom work is no different than taking care of animals on the Sabbath. Some things need to be done no matter what day it is, especially Kingdom work. Lately, I have been very excited about all the new technology that has come my way. I enjoy technology especially after working all day at RadioShack dealing with customers. This scripture reminds me that people are still part of the job. Technology (computers, internet, projectors, and software) is just a tool to get the job done…it is not the job. The Pharisee thought the laws were the Kingdom and that the Kingdom had to serve the laws when it really is the other way around…the laws serve the Kingdom. Technology only serves Kingdom building. It in itself is not building the Kingdom. That’s an interesting thought and even a convicting one for me this evening.