Great Summer Reading

My top 5 book series

5. The Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke

4. The Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Cutis Higgs

3. Abram Daughters by Beverly Lewis

2. The Postcard by Beverly Lewis

1. The Shunning by Beverly Lewis

My Top 10 Favorite books

10. Help! I’m Laughing and I Can’t Get up By Liz Cutis Higgs

9. Cracking Da Vinci’s Code by James L. Garlow and Peter Jones

8. God Came Near by Max Lucado

7. The Right Thing CMDR. Scott Waddle ( Ret.)

6. The Life You Always Wanted by John Ortberg

5. Take The Name Of Jesus by Judy Garlow Wade

4. The Wonder of Worship by Keith Dury

3. The Color Code by Dr. Taylor Hartman

2. Under His Wings By Patsy Clairmont

1. A Table In The Presence By LT. Carey H. Cash

I Think I Got It!

A couple of years ago we were studying Keith Drury’s book “with Unveiled Faces, ” which is about the spiritual disciplines. In the book he wrote about journaling as a spiritual discipline, which I could not understand how he got idea that journaling could be one of those. After we were done with the book, I did not think about it till Dale and I took the girls to Indiana Wesleyan University for the college preview weekend. While we were there, Dale and I met Dr. Drury and we had a chance to talk to him. I asked him about this idea of journaling as a spiritual discipline. He explained that there are people who like to talk and tell people their thoughts and others who like to write them down. At that time, I still did not understand the whole thing about journaling until my mother got sick. Then, it got easier to write things down than to tell other people what I was going through. I think it was that I really did not want other people to stress out on what I was going through and some people acted like they were getting tired of it. So I start journaling my thoughts here. I have heard from people who received a blessing because of my journaling. So all I can say is, “Now I understand.”

Here Sheepy Sheepy

This is a story that my brother told at my mother’s funeral. My mother decided to move a sheep from the barn to the pasture. She told my brother, “This is going to be easy. One day my mother had decided to you have you have to do is put food in a can and call, ‘Here sheepy, sheepy.’” Well, the sheep came out of the barn and looked at my mother, then at my brother and then he looked at the pasture. He turned and ran to the road. My mother and brother went after the sheep. My brother told my mother, “Just put a rope around his neck and pull him the pasture.” My mom said, “No! We are going to do it this way.” They tried it my mother’s way couple of time until mother gave in and put a rope around the neck of the sheep to move him. The sheep still did not move, even when my dad came out to help by pushing it while my brother was pulling it. So finally my brother just picked up the sheep and moved it.

So what does this have to do with the Christian? Jesus tells he is the Great Shepherd and that his sheep (us) know his voice and we will listen to him. How many times do we as Christians hear Christ’s voice and go a different way that could lead to danger, when all Christ would like us to be is to safe. Unlike my brother, Christ will not drag us to where he would like us to go. Christ would like us to go on our own free will to follow him. So next time you here Christ call, “Here sheepy, sheepy,” run as fast as you can to where he would like you to go.

The Graveyard of Lost Soul

Several weeks ago, Dale and I spent a lot of time drive back and forth to Roanoke. I have been taking a class for ordination and Dale has been auditing the class. We had a lot of time to talk and one of the subjects that came up was trying to understand why there are people in the Wesleyan Church who would like things in our church to go back the way they were in the 1950’s and 1960’s. They want legalism to come back and that to be the norm again.

Now I am not going to judge the people in our church who brought legalism in to our church because it is not my place; only God can do that. I also do not think we as the Wesleyan church should go the opposite way either. I would like those who think it would be great to have legalism back in the church to see what Dale and I have seen as we had ministered in different churches. To see the lives that have been hurt and those who will never walk in a church again because of the way they were treated in the church. They were told that if they did not act or dress the way someone felt they should, they could never make it to heaven.

I did not grow in legalism, but only read about it. If someone told me I could not wear bright colors or preach to me about the length of my dresses, I would have left the church. Dale and I have met many people in our travels that feel like there is no way they could ever please God or feel that God loves them because of the legalism of the past. Not only have we seen those who have left the church, but also we have seen those who are still in our church who sit in the pews every week and are in the chains of legalism. They were never taught that holiness is heart thing and not an external thing.

To them the life of holiness is laws to be followed; not doing certain things; dressing in a certain way. If you do not follow their rules, then you are not sanctified or even worse you aren’t even saved. But the life of holiness is not like that. This may be a simplistic definition of holiness, but I believe it means to “love the Lord your God will all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.” There are many things that we need to leave to God and the work of the Holy Spirit. We need to remember that is God’s job to judge each one of us. If we remember that we will know it is God and the Holy Spirit’s job to make the changes in people lives. When people grow spiritually and follow the ways of Christ, they will change; their dress and actions will be more Christ-like. I think it is great that more pastors are preaching that when we become Christians, that we need to have a change in our heart. The proof is in the heart – what is the heart putting out? If we are truly filled with the Holy Spirit our lives should be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self control; the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Just Off The Banana Boat

A couple of weeks ago, Dale and I were talking to one of our older members in the church. She was asking Dale and me if we knew the Southern Gospel song “Gone.” Dale told her that the first Easter we were in Martinsville; a mixed ensemble sang it at the Easter Dawn service. This brought back memories of the first time someone asked about that song. I do not know a lot of about Southern Gospel music period. let alone one song. I did know a popular country music song by the same name; which I started to sing. The chorus of the song goes something like this “gone like a soldier in the Civil War bang, bang gone”. It was a surprise to people who were there that their pastor’s wife would know a song like that; it was a shocking moment.

It happens at every church that we have been. Sometimes it feels like the people think we have born yesterday and that we know nothing of the culture around us. They will “protect” us from the things like music. One time Dale was helping one of the ladies in our church with her iPod. She was going through her CDs to see if she could find one that a pastor and his wife could listen. Dale and I sometimes listen to country music. We knew all the artists she had and some of the songs that they sang.

One of the things that Dale and I try to do is know the culture without immersing ourselves in it. Sort of what Jesus said by being in the world and not of it. We may not know as many references to pop culture as other pastors and their wives. Matter of fact, we really don’t care to know all the references. But, we do try to understand so that we can be effective ministers to the culture that God has called us.

It Is Time To Go, Now

A couple weeks ago I was teaching the young adult’s Sunday school class, the lesson was on Christ’s mission. Acts 1:8 (NLT)

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

I was so excited about this lesson. At had to wait a couple of weeks because of sickness in the church. The Sunday I taught it I felt like I was teaching to the choir because the only people that were there were Dale and a woman who is one of our supporters when it comes to missions. I guess this subject should be a passion of the Compassionate Ministries Director at the local church. Dale and I have heard people in the churches say, “God had called me into ministry but he did not open the doors to what I wanted.” Wow, I have learned in the ten years since we have been ministry that God puts us where he needs us — we may never know why God puts us in that place. We just have to remember that God is perfect and knows what he is doing. Truthfully, when God called Dale and I into ministry, I told God “Do not send me to the south”. Why? I do not like hot weather, but here I am in southern Virginia. Sometimes Dale and I wonder why God has sent us here. Dale jokes if he knew he was coming to Martinsville to be a youth pastor, he would have never come. But here we are and God is doing His part. Matthew 28:18-20

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

This commands us to go and tells others about Christ. So why are there so many in the pews that are not going. The number one job of the church is send people out to ministry — not to keep as many as we can in our pews.

Just For Fun

Favorite food:

Pam: Japanese food

Dale: Mexican

Perfect comfort food

Pam: Ice cream

Dale: Meatloaf

Favorite Hymn:

Pam: The Love of God

Dale: The Love of God and Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) and a host of others. This is never my favorite question to answer – there’s way too many!

Favorite Vacation spot:

Pam: Camp Lejuene

Dale: Worship Conference at Sea (saw this one advertised recently)

Favorite drink:

Pam: Diet Coke

Dale: Sweet Tea

Favorite Music Group:

Pam: Casting Crowns

Dale: Currently, Casting Crowns – others: Kerry Livgren/Kansas; Chris Tomlin

Dream job:

Pam: Military Chaplain

Dale: Worship Pastor

Dream car:

Pam: a red Mustang

Dale: probably the same as Pam

Your dream adventure:

Pam: Going to the Green zone and eating with military personal

Dale: Going back to Alaska, this time with Pam

If you could spend a whole day with someone who would it be?

Pam: Joanne Lyons

Dale: Kerry Livgren

Worship Recap

By the time our church gathers for worship tomorrow, I will be somewhere between Philadelphia and Indianapolis. My plane is scheduled to land at 11:22, so by the time worship is over, I should be on my way to Frankfort, IN to lead worship and serve tables at FLAME. This will be my last post for a while. There is no convenient internet access from where we are staying. Pam will be posting some things during the course of the week. I’m looking forward to a time of spiritual refreshment. Blessings…

PS. Here is this week’s (tomorrow’s) order of worship for those interested in those things.

Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 20, 2008

Call to WorshipPsalm 31:1-5,15-16
Song of Worship #75—This Is My Father’s World (Babcock/Traditional English Melody)
Song of Worship
#44—Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Chisholm/Runyan)
Worship through Prayer
Worship through Giving
Ministry through Music
Song of Worship
#283—What A Day That Will Be (Hill)
Worship through God’s Word

Weekly Lectionary Readings

CornerstoneFifth Sunday of Easter
April 20, 2008

Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; I Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14

Because I will be leaving for FLAME very early Sunday morning, I will not be preaching this Sunday. If I were, I know I would use the scripture from I Peter 2. I love how it describes what the church is. “…[Y]ou 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.” The passage in Acts tells of Steven’s stoning. Steven was a man of boldness and Steven was a man of God — a man who followed after Jesus. He followed after Jesus so much that he even used the same words that Jesus used on the cross. In one translation it calls the believers a peculiar people. Sometimes I get scared of that. I remember those junior high and high school years. I was a geek — and in a word I was peculiar. As much as we don’t like to admit it, our natural tendency is not to want to stand out in a crowd. But if we really want to follow Christ, that is what is going to require.

We were talking about this last night in our board meeting. One of the things that God has blessed us with is Mosaic Student Ministries. What Preston Wesleyan Church is doing is probably unique among the churches of Henry County. There’s probably nobody else doing student ministries like us. We have carved out a little unique niche. You almost have to here in the Bible belt. In a five mile stretch of Preston Road, which is 10 miles out of the city of Martinsville, there are close to a dozen little churches just like ours. In fact there are churches all over Martinsville and Henry County and most of them are small and by that I mean under 50 in worship attendance. With all that competition, we have to do something different and we are AND we are making a difference in the lives of 15 to 25 students each week.

But God has called us to be set apart from the world — He has chosen us to be holy — and he has chosen us to tell others about the wonderful things of God and to do good deeds so that others can see God’s light. In John 14, we are reminded that Jesus said, ““I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” We live in a world that says there are many paths to God, but Jesus states it plainly that only through faith in Him can we have eternal life.