Sunday Night Thoughts

This was an incredible weekend.  While the weather has been kind of weird, the Spirit of the Lord has been sweet.  I must say that as I write this, I am emotionally drained.  It has been a great weekend.

Our weather has been a bit unsettled of late.  You never really know if it’s going to rain, be cloudy or be sunny.  The weather has been changing quickly around here and yet for the most part the temperatures have been very seasonable, maybe a little on the warm side.  They were this afternoon.

This past weekend was our annual Missions Celebration.  From what I understand this is our seventh mission’s weekend.  It is exciting to be part of a church that sees missions as a primary focus.  Our sanctuary is decked out in flags from places that either we support a missionary or one of our own has gone, either on a long-term or short-term trip.  Currently we have fourteen flags and we need to purchase two more to represent additional countries were we currently support missionaries. Our missionaries this weekend were Drs. Dan and Joan Jones from Zambia.  It was exciting as we listened to what God was doing.  Our local missions team had lunch with them yesterday and then last evening Dr. Dan spoke as part of a missions rally aimed at teens.  Pastor Paul Haithcock and the teens from Parkway Wesleyan Church in Roanoke led us in a rocking worship set.  It was very cool to see their enthusiasm and their level of musicianship.  Our theme this year was Until the Whole World Hears. Last night the worship band did a great job and this morning we did an acoustic version of the song.  Our celebration continued this morning and again the Holy Spirit was working.  We did have some trouble with our projector.  I think we have blown a bulb.  It was interesting to sing without any media support (songsheets, books, or projector) but like I said the Spirit was working.  Drs. Dan and Joan shared during the morning worship service about the work in Zambia.  I was reminded once again how fortunate we are in America.  We complain about so much and yet we have a power grid that is reliable — we have water when we turn on the spigot — we have wonderful hospital facilities — we have roads that you don’t have to drive 15mph to make at 35 mile trip last 3 hours.  We are so blessed — we have so much.  Many in Zambia, make the equivalent of a dollar a day.  Think about that.  A family of 5 in America couldn’t even go to McDonald’s on what they make for a month.  It is quite humbling.

I believe that God is speaking to us (our family, our church) about radical discipleship.  Dr. Dan spoke about that last night.  Is the American dream what it is really all about?  Is that what we should be teaching our children?  Like I said it was a great and challenging weekend.

Yesterday I had the chance to go out and run.  Originally I had planned to run a half-marathon distance on Saturday, but had quite a bit to do, so I shortened it to 4 laps around Gypsy Hill.  I completed that very quickly — in under 55 minutes — very happy about that.  The plan for this week is a fast, short run tomorrow (5K) and then an easy hour run on Tuesday, a harder hour run on Thursday, and then I’ll attempt that 13.1 mile run on Saturday.  We’ll see how it goes.

It’s time to sign-off.  It looks like I may have a big week ahead of me.   Have a great week and Seize the Day!

Sunday Set List

September 25, 2011

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship                                    Children’s Ministry and Praise Team

He Reigns

Invocation

Songs of Worship

Come People of the Risen King

Hear the Call of the Kingdom

Mighty to Save

Worship Through Prayer        

Faith Promise 

Songs of Worship

Jesus Saves!

Worship through Giving 

Until the Whole World Hears

Worship Through God’s Word                                                   Dr. Dan Jones

Song of Commitment 

Song for the Nations

Benediction

(This is the service that was planned.  It’s not the way it came out because our projector died before the service this morning.  We didn’t sing Come People of the Risen King, and Hear the Call of the Kingdom.  I substituted “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” and “I Love You, Lord” on the fly and for a closing song we did “I Have Decided.”  Despite the distractions, we had a powerful service.  More on that in tonight’s edition of Sunday Night Thoughts.)

In your experience, what town has the most friendly people?

This was one of those weeks, that I really wanted to write something today, but had a major case of writer’s block.  One of the features of WordPress is that it will give you a writing prompt.  Here was a question from a few weeks back…”In your experience, what town has the most friendly people?”

I know that this is going to sound like a cop-out answer, but the truth is that Staunton has very friendly people.  I’ve tried to think about why that is.  I have several ideas.

  1. While Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County are rather small population-wise – The total population of the county including both cities is 110,000 – it sits at the cross roads of a major north-south interstate (I-81) and a fairly important east-west interstate (I-64).  I have discovered that while there is a good deal of native population (people who have grown up here,) there are also quite a few people who have moved (either by choice or because of jobs) to this area.  Several people commute to nearby Charlottesville or Harrisonburg (both are university towns.) I think that contributes to an openness toward outsiders.
  2. Another factor is the small-town atmosphere.  Yet, there is also a growing cultural (music/theatre/arts) community developing and is quite exciting.  Gypsy Hill Park is a gathering place.  When the weather is nice, the place is filled with people hanging out, walking, running, playing ball, swimming, and so so.  The crowd that gathers in the morning is quite interesting and friendly.  We have many of the benefits of being in a much larger community, yet we’re small enough to know everyone.
Those are at least two factors.  I love the Staunton area – known for being the hometown to the Statler Brothers – the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson – and for having some of the nicest people around.

Water From the Rock

Proper 21 (26)

September 25, 2011

Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32

 1 At the Lord’s command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of Sin[a] and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink. 2 So once more the people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded.

   “Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the Lord?”

 3 But tormented by thirst, they continued to argue with Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?”

 4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me!”

 5 The Lord said to Moses, “Walk out in front of the people. Take your staff, the one you used when you struck the water of the Nile, and call some of the elders of Israel to join you. 6 I will stand before you on the rock at Mount Sinai.[b] Strike the rock, and water will come gushing out. Then the people will be able to drink.” So Moses struck the rock as he was told, and water gushed out as the elders looked on.

 7 Moses named the place Massah (which means “test”) and Meribah (which means “arguing”) because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord here with us or not?”

Two weeks ago, we looked at the Hebrews crossing the Red Sea.  Last week, God provided them manna.  This week again we have the people confronting Moses and questioning his motives and questioning God.  Did God really bring them out to the wilderness to die?  Perhaps that is what they thought.  But we have seen several times now, how God has brought them through whatever they were facing.  It again reminds me of the saying, “It God brought you to it – He will bring you through it.”  I think I can understand where the Hebrews are coming from even though I don’t want to.  How many times has God intervened on my or my family’s behalf and I just go back complaining to Him again when I come up against the next trial.  It is so crazy.  We know the Lord is working in our life and yet, just like the Hebrews, we forget time and time again.  It’s at times like that, we remember God’s great love for us.  Last night we were reading Psalm 136, which repeats the phrase over and over and over, “His love endures forever.”  God is so patience with us, even when we don’t deserve it.  I don’t think God minds questioning, but when He has provided over and over and over again, I think it gets old.  This place was named for what happened here – Massah/Meribah — Testing and arguing — I don’t think that’s a good thing.  Jesus warned the devil about unnecessarily testing God.  He said we should put God to a foolish test.  This is a good reminder to all of us about how we should respond in light of God’s great mercy and love toward us.

Radical

This past Saturday I went down to Roanoke for a District Missions Team meeting. The main purpose of this committee is to equip district churches to reach the world for Jesus.  It has people who have a love for missions and telling others about Jesus. The reason I am on this committee is because is I am the district Wesleyan Kids for Mission director and have an interest in the military. I am still trying to understand why I am the military champion when there are three military vets on the team and how I became the military person. J The director of our team gave each person a book entitled, “Radical – Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream” by David Platt. We were asked to read it and give some feedback.

This book was a great book and made me look how much stuff Dale and I have in our lives. Every time we move, we see the reality of how much stuff we have that we do not need.  When we moved from New York to Virginia, we found we had boxes that we never unpacked from our move from Michigan to New York. We decided to get rid of things we did not need. We packed our van four times with stuff to donate to a thrift store which used the money they made to help people in our community who were in need. We filled the van twice with toys to donate to a local Head Start. Some our other toys were given to our church for the nursery.  On top of all this we sent nine hundred pound of junk to the dump.  We even put some stuff out on the front lawn and let people take it.  David challenged the people who read this book to give away your stuff. He tells a couple of stories about people who gave away their stuff. He also encourages the reader to start living on less and give to those who are in need. He uses the John Wesley as example of a person who did this in his life.  We are encouraged to go out and look for those who are in need and help them as much as we can.  Every community has those who are in need — not only with physically but spiritually. They will not care what we know till if they truly see how much we care.  We need to see their world through God’s eyes.

In Acts 1:8 we are told, 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.  One of my firm beliefs is that missions start right in your Jerusalem.  Many times we mistakenly believe that missions is only over there – the ends of the earth, but missions include ministering in our own communities.  There is a reason Jesus put them in that order – a series of concentric circles – much like ripples in a pond, starting right where you are and spreading outward.

A second point was made in the book about a brand new church was built at the price of $23 million dollars, while many were suffering because of a crisis in Darfur.  At the same time the church was being built, this church’s denomination sent $5,000 to help with the crisis.  Sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it.  Its times like that are ouch moments to believers.  This is always a fine line.  Should we be more aware of what is going on in the world and how we can help?  Absolutely.  Should we consider the amount of resources we put in to our local churches?  Absolutely.  Our churches should reflect the communities in which we are ministering.

The third thing that I believe is important is that we minister with the gifts and abilities that God has given us, in the way that God has called us.  Not everyone has been called to go overseas to the missions field even on a short-term missions trip.  Due to with a problem I have with my foot, it would be almost impossible for me to go on a trip where I am “roughing it.”  I did that this past summer at campmeeting and I spent the next week nursing my foot, keeping it up.  God has given me a calling and ministry that I can do right here.

This book makes several good points.  As I have already mentioned, how much stuff do we really need.  God has really blessed the American church.  I believe the reason God has blessed us, is that He expects us to bless others.  We see that throughout the Old Testament.  God tells the Israelites to bless people the way He has blessed them.  This book is a must read for all Christians. Warning there will be some ouch moments when you read it.

Objective Worship

True worship is fundamentally objective, not subjective.  The object of our worship is God.  It begins with Him and it must end with Him.  And everything in between is of Him and for Him.

Ron Owens, Return to Worship: A God-Centered Approach