April Recap

It’s that time again — the end of the month and the end of the month review.  We had 910 views this month which is about the average for 2009.  

Top Ten Posts for April

Wednesday Night/Mosaic Update 27
About Dale and Pam Argot 21
The Reason for Communion 16
Love Grew Where the Blood Fell 15
Wesleyan Bloggers 12
Humble Obedience and Submission 11
Under Appreciated Missional Bloggers 9
Maundy Thursday Service 9
Uncle Buddy’s Prayer 6
The Lost Pussy Cat 6

Answering the Call

I found this video yesterday.  It was posted on the page for the Center for Women in the Ministry on Facebook.  This morning I searched YouTube and found the same video.  This video tells some of the history of women in ministry in the Wesleyan Church.

Wednesday Night Mosaic

Beautiful Weather

After a very hot end of week and a somewhat hot weekend (even for Summer), today was gorgeous — it was a tad humid, but the temp was nice — it’s 77 as I write with a chance of rain through the weekend.  The rain over the last few months has caused our grass to grow and yesterday I cut it for the second time.  It was getting a little long — especially the church grass.

Busy Day

I normally don’t work on Wednesdays because I like to save it for getting ready for Sunday and Mosaic, but there were things that needed to be done — so off to work I went.  It was a good day and I several good workers with me.  I always like when that happens.  I rely on those who are doing community service, so that doesn’t always happen.  We got the job that we were working on about a third of the way done.  That leaves Thursday and Friday.  Hopefully we will get it done and it won’t put us too far behind on our pickups of donations.

Mosaic Student Ministries

It’s Wednesday, therefore it must be Mosaic.  We had a good crowd tonight and we were missing several students.  We had 21 students and 7 staff.  I’ve issued our students a challenge to beat by the time we depart for Staunton.  My challenge is to have 40 (students and staff) on any Wednesday between now and the last Wednesday of June and I will receive a pie in the face for their efforts.  We have reached a high of 38 several times in the last four years.  In the next eight weeks, I want to see 40.  I think they can do it.  

Mosaic was good tonight — the students seemed interested in worship tonight — even when we did a “new” song.  We did Every Move I Make, Famous One, and Mighty to Save.  The “new” song was Famous One.  But they even did that one well, maybe because they heard it on the radio (I can hope at least.)  

Well, I have another busy day ahead of me tomorrow.  Time to relax and get ready for bed.  

Seize the day!

Sunday Night Thoughts

Summer’s Here

Over the last few days, it has been down right hot.  We’ve been in the 90’s for the last three days.  One of those days topped out at 97 degrees.  That is warm, even for the Southside — those are July and August temps around here.  Hopefully by mid-week, we will be back to close to normal and get a little rain in the process.

What a Great Service!

This morning we had a wonderful service at Preston.  The tone was set as we enthusiastically recited The Apostle’s Creed.  It helped that our friend Mike was back in service after a hospital stay.  I think that made every one a little excited.  We had some great congregational singing and that pumped me up for the sermon.  Many mentioned that they had never heard me preach like that.  But when your preaching on how the resurrection can make all the difference in your life, how can you help from being excited.  I’m still excited from the service this morning

Local Church Conference

Today I presided over my last Local Church Conference at Preston Wesleyan Church.  It was bittersweet, but we had a good meeting.  Chairing the Local Church Conference is not a responsibility of a staff pastor – so this won’t be something that I will have to do next year.  It’s hard to believe that in just two months, we will be leaving this congregation and begin a new journey at our new church.

What a Race

After dinner, we stopped by to see one of our friends and watched the end of the NASCAR race.  What a finish!  I was really hoping Jr. was going to pull out a win and I’m really glad that no one was seriously injured in that crash at the end of the race.

Jamming

This evening I had a chance to jam with a local Southern Gospel band.  Their bass player is temporarily out, so I filled in.  It was good, even thought it was warm in our sanctuary.

What a great day.  Now it’s time to relax and enjoy what’s left of the evening.  I hope you have a great and blessed week.  Remember to seize the day!

Worship Recap

April 26, 2009

Third Sunday of Easter

Call to WorshipApostle’s Creed

Welcome

Song of Worship – See, What a Morning (Getty/Townend)

Invocation

Songs of WorshipLord, I Lift Your Name on High (Founds); Forever (Tomlin)

Worship through Prayer

Worship Through Giving

Song of WorshipVictory In Jesus(Bartlett)

Worship through God’s WordIt’s Not In Vain! [audio]

Song of PreparationI Will Rise (Tomlin, Maher, Reeves, Giglio)

Worship at the Lord’s Table

Song of CelebrationHe Lives (Ackley)

Benediction

It’s Not In Vain

[audio]

Two weeks ago we met together and celebrated the resurrection of Jesus together.  We want to continue in that theme as you can tell by the songs that we sang.  Today is also our Local Church Conference.  For those who are new to our church, once a year the church body meets to elect the leadership for the coming year.  In the Wesleyan Church the Local Church Conference is the highest governing body at the local level.  The next level is the Local Board of Administration.  These are elected to one-year terms.  We will be doing that following lunch.  While those who are allowed to vote must be members of Preston Wesleyan Church, anyone is allowed to observe.  With all that in mind, I want us to take a look at the mission of the church in light of the resurrection.  Probably one of the better passages of scripture that relates to that is in the 15th chapter of Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth.  We will start with verse one.

1 Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. 2 It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you-unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.

3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. 4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 5 He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. 6 After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. 9 For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.

10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me-and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 11 So it makes no difference whether I preach or they preach, for we all preach the same message you have already believed.

What is the good news?  Some would say that it is Jesus dying on the cross — hat His blood paid the penalty for our sins — that His life was traded for ours.  And while I like that idea, to present it that way is only presenting part of the gospel.  Too often I believe, we forget that that Jesus dying on the cross is only part of the story.  The rest of the story as Paul Harvey would have put it is in the resurrection.  Paul says the gospel, or the good news (which mean the same thing) is that Jesus died on the cross for our sins – that he was buried – and on the third day he rose up from the grave.  Paul reminds us that Jesus was seen by all the apostles except Judas and was seen by at least 500 at one time.  This is important because in Jewish culture, a testimony was valid as soon as two witnesses agreed.  Paul reminds us that good news needs to be preached by all.  He says it doesn’t matter whether I preach or they preach – for we all preach the same message.  I’ve said this before – yes, I am a Wesleyan and I believe strongly in our message and in our theology – I believe it lines up with scripture and yet I allow that maybe we don’t have it completely right.  I do believe in the great cloud of witnesses.  The church is much bigger than the Wesleyan Church.  I pray for all my brothers and sisters in Christ as we preach the good news.  There are so many people that need to hear the good news, why should anyone try to monopolize it.  If you are preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ – go for it and you have my blessing, no matter what church label you may wear.

As we continue, it appears that there was a controversy within the Corinthian church.

12 But tell me this-since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? 13 For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. 15 And we apostles would all be lying about God-for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. 16 And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.

Here is why I say that if we only preach the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross we are missing the big picture.  Some in the Corinthian church were saying there was no resurrection – it was a contradiction.  But look at what Paul says, “If there is no resurrection of the dead and Christ hasn’t been raised from the dead, then lock the doors, stop all your preaching, your faith is dead.”  If Christ is not raised then are sins are still upon us – they have not been forgiven – we have no power over sin at all.  I believe some Christians are living as if Christ was still in the tomb.  Their lives have no power.  If Christ was not raised, we are lost.  I like what Paul writes, “if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied and anyone in the world.”  If the resurrection of Christ did not happen and we believe it – we are sad souls indeed.  But Paul writes: 20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.

21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. 23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back…

So Christ is raised – that makes all the difference.  And it makes a difference in more than one way.  It gives us a reason for living.  It gives us reason for hope.  It gives us reason to tell the Good News.  Paul reminds us there is something beyond the grave – a beautiful hope.

51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

The resurrection makes all the difference in our lives.  The resurrection makes all the difference in the life of the church.  Because of the resurrection, we can preach the good news with confidence.  Because of the resurrection, Paul tells us to “be strong and immovable.  Always work enthusiastically for the for the Lord, for nothing know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”

This morning we are going to celebrate communion.  Yes, celebrate is the word, because today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ as we take communion.  Yes, Jesus blood was shed for our sins – Jesus body was broken for us.  We remember that in communion.  But we also remember that Jesus rose again from the dead for us – to break the bonds of sin.  Not only that we celebrate communion to remember that Jesus is coming back for all of those who have placed their trust in him.  When you go through the good times – it’s not in vain.  When you go through the bad times – it’s not in vain.  Let’s prepare are hearts for partaking in the Lord’s Table.

Weekly Lectionary Reading

jr_sunriseThird Sunday of Easter

April 26, 2009

Acts 3:12-19  •  Psalm 4  •  1 John 3:1-7  •  Luke 24:36b-48

We continue our examination of the resurrection of Jesus.  This week’s passage comes from Acts 3:

 12 Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? 13 For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this. This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him. 14You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact!

 16 “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.  17 “Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. 18But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. 19 Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.

Peter begins to preach at the temple following the healing of a man who was crippled.  The crowd is amazed at this, but God is showing his power — his resurrection power.  Peter declares that although Jesus was crucified at the hands of humankind — (the same humans that God created) — God brought Jesus back to life.  Peter goes on to say that he and the other disciples were witnesses.  Jewish law only required two witnesses to establish a valid testimony.  All eleven disciples witnessed the resurrection of Jesus and so did over 500 others.  Peter goes on to say that we (humankind) crucified Jesus out of ignorance, but it was only in fulfillment of prophecy.  What is the cure for what each one of us did to Jesus? 

John writes in his first letter:   

1 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. 2 Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 3 And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

 4 Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. 5 And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. 6 Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.

 7 Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous.

The cure for what we did to Jesus is to turn from our sins — in other words — repent — but not only repent but turn to God, so He will wipe our sins away.  It is only the resurrection that gives us the power to live lives free from sin.  Peter is calling for transformed lives.  God still calls people to repent and turn to God and to be transformed by the power of God.