The Last Post of 2011

Pam has already thrown her hat into the ring with her post on “Looking Back.”  As I mentioned before, one of my favorite movies of all time is “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  In this movie, George Bailey is given the opportunity that we – in most cases – don’t get and that is to see what life would be like without him around.  I think that I could easily theme this year as It’s A Wonderful Life.  This doesn’t meant that I look back at the past year with rose-colored glasses.  There have been many speed-bumps this year – a wrong turn taken here – another one taken there.  But as I look over the entire year, it has been an amazing year.

As the Worship Arts Pastor at Parkway, we have accomplished some great things, especially for a church our size.  It was only a few weeks ago, that we celebrated our church’s 90th Anniversary.  As part of that celebration, our choir sang and our worship band played.  About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a concert at a church in town and realized what a hard working choir that I have the opportunity to work with.  This choir had twice or three times the amount of singers and yet I think our choir sounds better — great diction — great spirit — we cut off and enter at the same time.  I feel privileged to work with the Parkway choir.  We also have some great praise teams that work with me from week to week in leading worship.  This past year, we added a drummer to the team and that has been a great addition.  I love standing on the platform leading worship and listening to our congregation sing — we have a wonderful singing congregation and they sing the old and the new and everything in between with enthusiasm.  It is an honor to be the worship arts pastor here. In addition, I have a small but committed group of teens.  They are wonderful and we have great discussions from week to week as we discuss God’s Word.  We also have a lot of fun.  As if all that were not enough, we have a wonderful man who is our lead pastor.  I am truly blessed to be on staff at Parkway.  This is a place where God is working in the hearts and lives of His people.

I have also been blessed by my wife Pam – she is a wonderful helpmate in the ministry and a great children’s pastor.  She completed all the educational requirements for ordination.  I love the ideas that she has.  She has a heart for the forgotten and the invisible – the people that many Christians don’t see.  If that weren’t enough – she makes awesome cookies.  And then gives them away to people as a ministry.  I am thankful to her for all of her love and our many years together.  I don’t know what I would do without her.

This past year, we saw our oldest daughter get married and move away – which is always a bitter-sweet time.  I love that she found a Christian man who loves the Lord as much as she does, but they have also moved a long way from home.  Pam and I also have two still at home/college and they are a blessing to us as we watch them grow up before our very eyes.  I am so thankful for my family.

This year was a big year for me and Pam fitness-wise.  I never thought I would see the day that I would enjoy running/walking/working out on fitness equipment, but here I am.  Pam completed over 830 miles on foot this year.  I completed 1,124 miles through running and walking this year and spend 217 hours doing it.  Last year I was 245 pounds, today I am 210 pounds, so I am 35 pounds lighter with at least that much more to go.  Hopefully I can knock off another 35 pounds this year.

Most importantly God has worked in our lives — he continues to transform both Pam and I into the people that He wants us to be.  We had the opportunity to read through the Bible again this year and as happened last time – I learned things that I never knew.  I am looking forward to see how God works this year.

I hope you have a blessed 2012!


Looking Back

As we look back at the year of 2011, some of will think of the songs that spoke to us — the big news stories that made the year and the events that happened to us this year. I think there is one more thing we need to think about — what difference did we make in people’s lives this year.  Every one we meet takes away something from us.  In the same way, we take something from them. Did we make a good or bad difference in their lives? I think of some of my friends who are in the military who have who have been transferred – what have I done to make their lives better?  I know the difference that they have made in mine – I am a better person for knowing them.  Are there people in your life that are better because they know you? Are you better because you know a person and that has made you a better person? Have you told them? As we leave the year of 2011 and look forward to 2012, maybe one of the goals we can have this year is to make a difference in the lives of each person that we contact in 2012.  We should make their lives better because they know us.

Name an attraction or town close to home that you still haven’t got around to visiting

This is an interesting question, because so many times we can end up living somewhere and not visiting any of the local attractions.  One of the things we did this past summer was take a Stay-cation.  While it did save us money, it also gave us the opportunity to visit many of the local attractions.  James and Anna planned the various days and we had great fun over the course of the week.  Last summer we ended up visiting many of the local attractions:

  • The Camera Museum
  • The Blackfriar Theatre (American Shakespeare Center)
  • Sunspot Studios (A stained glass studio) – We live in a very artsy town.
  • We visited “Jumbo” an antique fire truck
  • The Trinity Episcopal Stained Glass Windows.

Those were a few of the places that we visited, however, it did leave some more obvious places out such as

  • The Frontier Cultural Museum
  • The Ross Buckley Museum
  • The Woodrow Wilson Library
  • American Military Museum

In addition there are several Civil War battlefields not too far away as well as several caverns and caves.  So if you lived in the Shenandoah Valley, what would be some of the places you would like to visit?

My Favorite Songs of 2011

Here are some of my favorite songs of 2011 – in no particular order [ed. We had discussed this, but the list is missing at the moment, so I’m going from the songs I remember. ]

In related news:  The Wesleyan Church has announced a song writing competition and the winner will be announced at General Conference in 2010.  Check out the link here.

Christ Is Risen – Matt Maher

Turn Around – Matt Maher

Blessings – Laura Story

This is the Stuff – Francesca Battestelli

Courageous – Casting Crowns

Lift Up Your Face – Third Day

Here I Am – Mercy Me

Strong Enough – Matthew West

Let the Nations Be Glad and Sing for Joy

The ultimate goal of God in all of history is to uphold and display his glory for the enjoyment of the redeemed from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. His goal is the gladness of his people, because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Delight is a higher tribute than duty. The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy his glory forever. Since his glory is magnified most in the God-centered passions of his joyful people, God’s self-exaltation and our jubilation are one. The greatest news in all the world is that God’s ultimate aim to be glorified and man’s aim to be satisfied are not at odds. WORSHIP—The goal of missions, therefore, is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. “The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands BE GLAD!” (Ps. 97:1). “Let the nations BE GLAD AND SING FOR JOY!” (Ps. 67:4). The missionary command to be happy in God is simply a command for the consummation of praise. Professed praise of God without pleasure in God is hypocrisy. Therefore, worship is the fuel and the goal of missions. Worship is the goal of missions because in missions we aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory. It is the fuel of missions because we can’t commend what we don’t cherish. We can’t call out, “Let the nations BE GLAD!” until we say, “I REJOICE in the Lord.” Missions begins and ends in worship.

— John Piper, LET THE NATIONS BE GLAD!: THE SUPREMACY OF GOD IN MISSIONS, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1993, p. 231. ISBN: 0-8010-2613-X

There Is Always A Place to Start

No matter what the ruin of any life may be there is always a place to start. There is a place where you must begin. You need to apologize to someone. You need to go to somebody and straighten something out. You need to stop some practice that is wrong. You need to open yourself up to counsel. You need to seek advice. You need to get some guidance. There is always a first step. That is where you must begin.

Ray C. Stedman

Happy Boxing Day or Feast of Stephen

Since we now have kin who are from Canada, we are beginning to learn about a new holiday – Boxing Day.  Below is a guess at how Boxing Day came about.

From Time:

If you’re looking for something that explains the origins of Boxing Day, well, you’re not going to find it here. The day-after-Christmas holiday is celebrated by most countries in the Commonwealth, but in a what-were-we-doing-again? bout of amnesia, none of them are really sure what they’re celebrating, when it started or why. The best clue to Boxing Day’s origins can be found in the song “Good King Wenceslas.” According to the Christmas carol, Wenceslas, who was Duke of Bohemia in the early 10th century, was surveying his land on St. Stephen’s Day — Dec. 26 — when he saw a poor man gathering wood in the middle of a snowstorm. Moved, the King gathered up surplus food and wine and carried them through the blizzard to the peasant’s door. The alms-giving tradition has always been closely associated with the Christmas season — hence the canned-food drives and Salvation Army Santas that pepper our neighborhoods during the winter — but King Wenceslas’ good deed came the day after Christmas, when the English poor received most of their charity. King Wenceslas didn’t start Boxing Day, but the Church of England might have. During Advent, Anglican parishes displayed a box into which churchgoers put their monetary donations. On the day after Christmas, the boxes were broken open and their contents distributed among the poor, thus giving rise to the term Boxing Day. Maybe. But wait: there’s another possible story about the holiday’s origin. The day after Christmas was also the traditional day on which the aristocracy distributed presents (boxes) to servants and employees — a sort of institutionalized Christmas-bonus party. The servants returned home, opened their boxes and had a second Christmas on what became known as Boxing Day. 

I heard one of my Canadian friends compare Boxing Day to our Black Friday.  So in many ways, this feast that started with religious overtones has become commercialized much like some of our religious feasts — interesting…it is a federal holiday, so for many in former British Crown countries, it is another day off.  Any way, I hadn’t heard the story of Boxing Day before and found it interesting and wanted to share it with you.  To my Canadian and British friends…Happy belated Boxing Day.

Sunday Set List

December 25, 2011

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship and Invocation

Responsive Reading: God With Us

Songs of Worship

Go, Tell It On the Mountain

Good Christian Men Rejoice

What Child Is This?

Worship Through Prayer

Children’s Time – The Crippled Lamb

Songs of Worship

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

Silent Night, Holy Night

Worship Through Giving

Special Music

Worship Through God’s Word

God’s Christmas Present – 2 Corinthians 9:15

Song of Celebration

O Come All Ye Faithful


How Beautiful Are the Feet Who Bring the Good News

Nativity of the Lord – Proper III
December 24, 2011

Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-12; John 1:1-14

 7 How beautiful on the mountains
      are the feet of the messenger who brings good news,
   the good news of peace and salvation,
      the news that the God of Israel reigns!
 8 The watchmen shout and sing with joy,
      for before their very eyes
      they see the Lord returning to Jerusalem.
 9 Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song,
      for the Lord has comforted his people.
      He has redeemed Jerusalem.
 10 The Lord has demonstrated his holy power
      before the eyes of all the nations.
   All the ends of the earth will see
      the victory of our God.

What a great passage from the Old Testament that reflects the birth of our Savior.  Like the shepherds, we have been commanded to tell the good news.  That a Savior has come — That the Lord is demonstrating his holy power before the nations.  Have a Blessed Christmas!