Sunday Night Thoughts

Post # 2,748

Watching The Sun Set

Here it is as the sun is setting on another Sunday.  The weather in the Shenandoah Valley has been nothing short of hot and yet, it’s not as hot here as it is in other places.  It looks like we are heading for a more moderate stretch over the next week.  Temps next weekend will range from 85 during the day to 63 at night.  That is much better. It’s hard to imagine that when I was a child, the only place that had air-conditioning was public places like stores, although as they built newer buildings they would add it.  This evening I sit at the kitchen table in beautiful air conditioning, however, this evening the air isn’t too bad.

Mulching the Flower Bed

This past week, a load of mulch was delivered to our house.  This week I spent putting down weed fabric and spreading the mulch.  It looks so nice now and hopefully, James and I won’t have to weed as much.  We could really use some rain.  Thursday I cut the grass – the first time in 10 or 12 days, because it is growing slow and only had to mow it to get rid of the tall weeds.

Waiting on New Running Shoes

Last March when I bought my new Acsics running shoes, Dick’s Sporting Goods offered me a replacement warranty.  This past week, I decided to try it.  I am waiting for a gift card.  If it works $10 wasn’t a bad amount to spend on the warranty.  What I need is a second pair of shoes.  I’m currently running on my old running shoes – which I wear everyday and I believe that has slowed me down.

How Can I Keep From Singing

We had a great worship service at Parkway this morning.  God really spoke to us through the scripture reading, prayer, songs, offering, and the message.  The team did a great job today.  This morning was one of those mornings that leading didn’t really feel like leading.  There was freedom to worship and sing and the congregation really did sing an engaged in what we were singing.

That’s about all I have for the day…Have a great week…Seize the Day!

Sunday Set List

July 31, 2011
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Welcome and Announcements                                                                           

Call to Worship and Invocation

Isaiah 55:1-5

Songs of Worship

We Want To See Jesus Lifted High

How Can I Keep from Singing

Mighty to Save

Connecting Through Prayer

Songs of Worship

I Am Resolved

Enough

Worship through Giving

Worship Through God’s Word

Finding Moses On the Interstate

Lying

 Closing Song

Offering

Benediction

A Transformation

Proper 13 (18)
July 31, 2011

 22 During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. 23 After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions.

 24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”

   But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

 27 “What is your name?” the man asked.

   He replied, “Jacob.”

 28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

 29 “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.

   “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.

 30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” 31 The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.

Today we continue the narrative of Jacob.  We find out that Jacob wrestles with an angel all night.  The only way Jacob will let the angel go is if the angel blesses Jacob.  This is really a turning point in Jacob’s life.  We know this because he named the place where this meeting happened “Peniel” and we learn that Jacob saw God face to face and yet did not die.  It is at this place also that Jacob’s name is changed.  Jacob means deceiver – Israel means “God fights.”  Interesting – at this turning point — at this meeting of God — Jacob goes from being the deceiver to being God’s fighter.  It’s a story of transformation and really so is the whole Bible — it’s a story of God transforming people from what they were to what they can be with God working in their life.  The question for us today is how is God transforming you?

A New Perspective on the Christian Walk

This past weekend I walked my first 5K. I walked in 41:30 min which was a personal best. As I was walking my mind went to the passage where Paul talks about running the race – which is one way he viewed the Christian walk. Saturday gave me a whole a new perspective of what Paul was talking about. I started the race not sure what I would face during the 5K, but I had the goal in mind of finishing the race. New Christians have a new strength to face the unknown. The new Christian believes that with Christ in their lives that they can face anything.

At the beginning of the race I was walking with another woman and it was really nice to have someone to talk to who had walked this 5K before. As new Christian it is great to have someone to come along side of us who has been a Christian for a long time to give us support and pointers on how to live the Christian life. My confidence started to lessen when the hills came into my focus. We live in the Shenandoah Valley and there are lots of hills. When you are walking and trying to go fast and is hot, those hills might as well be mountains. It only took me a couple of steps to learn the best way for me to make it up the hill was to look down and forget the hill I was climbing. I know when you are walking or running you should look toward your goal.  My thought was every step was a step closer to the top of the hill. I was over whelmed when I looked at the hill. As a Christian, if we are facing obstacle’s we need to remember where we were before and where we are today. Sometimes the obstacles can overwhelm us.

One of the humorous things about the race was toward the halfway point.  There were some cows in a field and they were watching us crazy humans running and walking as fast as we could on a hot morning.  Do you think they wondered why we weren’t just taking it easy – wondering why we didn’t just try to find a cool spot and chill. There will be some people who see us Christians and think we are crazy trying to live the Christian walk. They wonder why we worry about the way we live. Many times in the race I thought how easy it would be to quit the race.  I even had questioned if I could even finish the race. Paul had that fear at one point in his live.  I did want to quit. I know I would not win anything for walking the race.  My goal became finishing the race so I could say that I walked and finished a 5K. There are Christians who have thought the same thing about their Christian walk – that they would like to quit – and did just that.  Then there are those who have thought about it but they kept in the race and their prize was much bigger.  Paul says that all of us need to run the race to win the prize – the prize of heaven.  We don’t compete against each other – each one who finishes the race, wins the prize.

As I was walking up the second last hill I thought I had gotten to the finish line and it hit me. I had one more hill to conquer. Sometimes we think that we are at the end of our lives and realize God is not finished with us yet. When I was heading to the finish line, Dale, Anna, and James came out to meet me and walked with me back to the finish. They were cheering me on to the end.  It gave me a boost of strength to finish the race. In our Christian walk, the Bible tells us that we have witnesses who are cheering us on. This should each Christian a boost of energy to keep on the pace in our Christian walk.

The Only Proper Focus

Vagueness about the object of our praise inevitably leads to making our own praise the object.  Praise therefore becomes an end in itself, and we are caught up in our own “worship experience” rather than in the God whose character and acts are the only proper focus. [emphasis mine]

Michael Horton, A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship

What Is Your Purpose?

It seems hard to believe, but the end of this summer will mark two years of running and exercising.  A good portion of my running and walking has been done in our local city park – Gypsy Hill.  I believe that one of the reasons that it is so popular with runners and walkers alike is that it has a loop of 1.3 miles.  The park has a personality that changes with both the time of day and the season of the year.  Lately, Pam and I have been out early trying to beat the heat.  There are the early walkers and runner – most of the early walkers are older and there are also the dog walkers.  I tend to move my running time depending on the weather.  From Spring to Fall, I run or walk early – to beat the heat.  As winter arrives, we will move our time to the afternoon – when it is the warmest.

It really is interesting to see the various people and why they are there.  There are very few walkers who walk alone.  Almost every walker has a buddy or a group of buddies.  Each morning as we walk, we say “good morning” or “hello.”  When we are walking together, Pam and I tend to be fast walkers — walking with a purpose.  The faster we walk, the less we talk.  We tend to pass many of the walkers.  For many of the walkers, their purpose is to walk, but also to talk and discuss the day’s events.  They like to tease us about our fast pace.  There is one man in particular.  His walking buddy is his dog.  This morning, his purpose was to walk his dog, but also talk to as many people as he could.  In the time that Pam and I walked the full 1.3 mile loop, he only walked a couple hundred yards.

It got me to thinking.  People come to the park for all kinds of reasons — to walk with others, to walk their dog, to run, to run with their dog, to go to the pool, to play on the playgrounds, to feed the ducks or the fish, to go to concerts and so on.  The same thing happens in the church.  Each one of us has a particular reason we go to church.  Sometimes those reasons come into conflict.  It is no secret that some churches are full of conflict.  What is the purpose of the church?  Why do we exist?

While on staff in Michigan, I was introduced to a book, “The Purpose Driven Church” by Rick Warren.  I know people have different feelings about this book and it’s author.  The concepts in the book are excellent.  Several years later I was taking a class on Intro to Theology.  One of the books we had to read was “Exploring Our Christian Faith” by W.T. Purkiser and published by Beacon Hill Press.  It was originally written in 1960 and I was amazed when I came to the chapter on the church.  Here are the functions of the church and its purposes:

  1. to interpret religion
  2. to provide worship and training in the devotional life.
  3. to promote and enrich the fellowship of Christians.
  4. to extend the fellowship to include an everincreasing number of people.
  5. to provide incentive, training, and opportunity for individuals to participate in efforts to improve society.
  6. To aid individuals.
  7. To enlist and train workers for the local church, community, and world.
  8. To maintain a wholesome and effective institutional life.
He goes on to say that these functions and purposes may be summarized this way:
  1. to provide and maintain worship in order to fulfill the requirements of the first four Ten Commandments.
  2. To go into the highways and hedges and to the uttermost part of the earth making disciples of all men, turning them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in Christ.
  3. To teach them to observe all Christ has commanded.
  4. To build them into a harmonious fellowship of the saints.
  5. To love and serve all men, thereby helping to relieve suffering and sorrow and to establish the rule of Christ in society.
The church does not exist simply for one of these reasons – it exists for each one of these purposes.  It is what makes a balanced approach to ministry.  Churches that do all of these well are well-balanced churches and healthy churches.  Some churches tend to emphasize one over the other and that is where conflict can occur – we need each one of these elements.  So for which of these purposes does your church exist?  Something to think about on a Tuesday morning….

Sunday Night Thoughts

Welcome to the longest running regular feature of Worshiping…In Spirit and Truth.  This will be post #2741.  We passed the fifth anniversary back in May.  This little blog started way back in May of 2006.  Even I can’t believe how long this run has lasted.  Over the last few weeks, I have had more things to write about, so that has been a nice addition.  On a Sunday back in May 2006, this blog and this long running feature was started.  I blogged about our Homecoming service at Preston.

Why all the reminiscing?  Because sometimes writing is hard — it requires you to think.  Earlier this evening I was struggling with what to write, but over the last few hours – as sunlight fades into darkness, God has given me something.

Hot, Hot, Hot

This has been an amazingly warm (let’s just call it hazy, hot, and humid.)  Thursday through Saturday we were under either a heat advisory, or an extreme heat warning.  Today was the first break from that crazy hot weather.  It was even punctuated this afternoon by a nice long, windy, rain-like-crazy thunderstorm.  The wind was driving the rain so hard, it came under the door in the kitchen.  Also, because the rain was coming down so fast, we had a little flood outside the basement door.  It turned out there was debris on the drain grate.  Once that was taken care of, we were good.  The excess water went to the sump pump and we don’t have any water damage in the basement – Cool!

Running

Saturday, Pam walked and I ran in a local 5K – it was free so it was like getting in a free training run.  Both of us set personal records, which was incredible considering the heat and the humidity.  Tomorrow we get back to our regular running/walking routine.  Because of the run, I had tapered back my running.  Tomorrow it is back to an hour run (somewhere between 5.5 and 6 miles.)  I’ll be running over the hills of Staunton, so that may slow me down a bit.

Beautiful One

We had a good worship service this morning.  There was an amazing team on the platform.  Four singers, myself, flute, drums, and keyboard.  That is quite a team and they did a great job in leading worship.  We did a new song (to us) – Tim Hughes’ “Beautiful One” and a very old song, “Be Thou My Vision” (an 8th Century hymn.)

Faith Lesson

Several months ago, we started a new Sunday School class at Parkway.  Both Pastor Barry and I enjoy not having to teach.  We have two outstanding lay teachers teaching the series “Faith Lessons:That The World May Know.”  It is an excellent series. We are currently on the third volume “Life and Ministry of the Messiah.”  The first lesson in this series is on Herod’s Palace.  It was called “The Herodian” and it was a very large, magnificent palace in the vicinity of Bethlehem.  From the biblical accounts, we often think that Herod’s palace was in the city of Jerusalem, but more than one of them resided outside of Jerusalem.  Herod was a magnificent builder.  The Herodian actually cast a shadow on the little town of Bethlehem.  It really gave the Christmas story a whole new perspective.  Why did Joseph and Mary escape to Egypt.  It happened that Herod was leery of Egypt because of the reign of Cleopatra.  Herod would not chase them there.  Also after viewing the DVD, I understood how difficult it would have been to escape Bethlehem without someone at the Herodian noticing.  Which means both Joseph and Mary and the wise men made some amazing under-cover-of-night escapes.

Why do I bring this up?  This morning it was mention that Jesus was born in the shadow of all this power and opulence.  So many times we play the victim – I can’t because (you fill in the blank) I don’t have the talent, I don’t have the money, Satan is attacking me, etc.  Here was Jesus in the little town of Bethlehem and Herod in the magnificent palace.  What if Jesus or Mary and Joseph would have said, “It’s impossible!”  God can use us – no matter what.  We listed many people this morning that (in our eyes ) were imperfect – Jacob, Rahab, Tamar, Ruth, David, Bathsheba. Yet, each one of these is listed in Matthew’s geneology.  Sometimes, we feel that we can’t make a difference and yet, God uses each one of us despite our imperfections (and I have way too many!) God has always used His people to give him glory – to give him honor.  What a great thought!

Seize the Day!

Sunday Set List

Sunday, July 23, 2011
Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship and Invocation

Psalm 105:1-3

Songs of Worship

Forever 

Beautiful One

We Fall Down

Worship Through Prayer

Songs of Worship

Be Thou My Vision

Sanctuary

Worship Through Giving

Special Music

Made Me Glad

Worship Through God’s Word

Finding Moses on the Interstate: A New Look at the Ten Commandments

The Sin of Stealing

Exodus 20:15

Song of Committment

Give Us Clean Hands

Benediction

Sweet Dreams 5K

Despite the heat and humidity, Pam and I decided to run in the Sweet Dreams 5K in Stuarts Draft, VA.  Actually, Pam walked.  We both did very well.  I completed the 5K in 31:49 which is a PR (personal record) for me.  That was a 10:13 mile which is the fastest I’ve ever ran in a 5K.  Pam walked a 41:30, which is also a PR for her and a 13:14 mile, which is very good!  I am so proud of her.  Here are some pictures from today.