Feeling Blessed…

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I already posted this video over there this morning.  Sometimes running and working out brings out some strange thoughts.  I had finished an intense 4 mile run and 1.7 mile walk and was doing my stretching and upper body workouts, which also includes a set of leg presses (100 to be exact.)  While I was doing that, I thought how incredibly blessed I am.  I especially thought of these last three years since we moved to Staunton.  I’ll probably share more specifically about that at the end of the month, because at the end of the month I hit a significant milestone.

After finishing up my workout, I went into the car.  Our “local” (local – sort of – they are based out of Lynchburg, but have transmitters and translator throughout Southwestern Virginia.) Christian radio station is celebrating its 18th birthday today.  I got back into the car and a lady was sharing via telephone how Spirit FM had blessed her.  Immediately the dj’s started playing the song “Blessings” by Laura Story and immediately I thought how God has blessed me.  God is good.  While the song does talk about trials – and we have been through some trials over the years – currently the river seems pretty calm.  As the song was playing, I thought of how God has blessed me and my family. Tonight, I thought I would share some of those blessings.

  • First and foremost – God – I owe everything to Him, after all, He saved my from myself.  I thank God for creating the world.  Jesus for saving humans, and the Holy Spirit for guiding us in this Christian life.
  • Second – my wife, Pam – she is an amazing person, and I love her with all my heart.  She is an amazing mom and an amazing pastor.  I love you very much and my life is blessed because you are a part of it.
  • My children: I thank God for my children – Rebecca and Michael (and thankful for Michael’s godly parents) and the child they are expecting; Anna and James.  I love the fact that they love the Lord and his church and are serving Him.
  • My parents and Pam’s parents – Because of their example, Pam and I have an example for our children.  Thank you for your investment in me.  Related to that is our brothers and sisters.  You are a blessing to us.
  • Our church – both Parkway and the Wesleyan Church – it is a privilege to serve and we are blessed to serve our church.
  • Our lead pastor – Barry Lawson – his gentle persuasion, literally changed my life.  What a godly example of a leader!
  • Our many friends – here in Staunton and literally around the world….there are way too many to list here, but one I would mention is my good friend Wayne Richards.  Thank you for investing in my life – thank you for the blessing you are to me.  I can’t wait to be in Frankfort next week.

This list could go on for a long time, but this post is almost 500 words already.  I praise the Lord for his many, many, many blessings!

 

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Why It Matters When We Gather for Worship. — Skye Jethani

We need to remember that there is a deeper reason why the church has worshiped on Sunday mornings–one that is still relevant today.

When Jesus rose from the grave, he was doing more that conquering death. He was doing more than displaying the vindication of God. He was doing more than giving us hope for our own resurrections in the age to come. Jesus’ resurrection is the first fruit of the New Creation. His raised and transformed body, as Paul lays out in 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 8, is indicative of the transformation that awaits all the saints and the creation itself.

Following the creation account in Genesis 1, Sunday is the first day of creation. So Jesus is raised on a Sunday to mark the beginning of God’s new creation. This fact was not lost on the early Christians. They did not worship on Sunday because it was convenient. They gathered on Sundays because they were people of the new creation, people of the resurrection, and people of the in-breaking Kingdom of God.

The move away from Sunday worship can have many motivations, and some of them are honorable and even Spirit-guided. But I sense some congregations opt for non-Sunday worship without considering these deeper realities. In other words, the merely utilitarian reasons on which which we abandon Sunday may be another sign of how theologically, historically, and biblically ignorant we have become. We view our gatherings as a time of self-improvement, therapeutic enrichment, social connection, or artistic expression–and it can be these things. So we make human-centered, self-centered decisions about when these functions can happen most conveniently during the week.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Up Early

I was up early this morning – I was lured by the promise of a cool morning – don’t you just love cool, early, Sunday morning walks?  I know that I do.  It is the last week of July and we are caught squarely in the dog days of summer.  We have been fortunate to have some low 60 to mid-60 mornings, but most of last week, the morning temps were near 70.  This morning it was really nice to have some cool temps.  The morning temps are supposed to be that way for most of the rest of the week.  The grass is back to growing like crazy, especially with all of last week’s afternoon thunderstorms.  I got to get it cut tomorrow, so that I can cut it again on Friday.

Sweet Dreams 

I wrote about my exploits yesterday – so I won’t say much more about it, except that it was a good, solid mid-summer run on a bit of a warm day.

Basking In the Glow of the Day

Today has been a great day – from start to finish.  I already wrote that I went for a walk this morning.  That was great.  Then it was time to get ready for a busy day.  We had a great day of worship with our church family at Parkway.  The worship team did a great job in leading us in worship.  The congregation was really singing today.  Pam and I co-taught elementary church.  She is currently on a series on worship, so I have been helping out here and there.  We spent part of the time planing a kids take-over Sunday.  We are planning that for September 9.  It should be a great Sunday.

This afternoon we got ready to worship with our Waynesboro church – not only our Waynesboro church, but our Monticello church as well.  These churches are both part of our cluster.  We have tried to start a new thing where we gather together on months with five Sundays for a musical praise and worship service.  It was great tonight to be with Pastor Barry, Pastor Craig Horton (Waynesboro), and Pastor John Hannan (Monticello) and each of their congregations.  God was already there – we showed up and He made himself known.  It is always fun to pack out a tiny sanctuary with people who want to sing.  It was pretty amazing as we worshiped both congregationally and with special music.  Pastor John brought a great message to close the service.  I can’t wait for our next 5th Sunday Sing.  It was a great encouragement to all our churches.

Getting Ready for FLAME

This week I have a few things to get ready for church – one is to get ready for our fall launch of Student Ministries – the other is to get ready to head off to Frankfort and FLAME.  I am looking forward to being with my friends, and by looking at the roster, I will be meeting many new friends this time around.  The band looks great – I have played with many of the musicians before – most of them lead worship at their home churches.

Renew/Restore

It’s time to get to bed to renew my body for the week so that I can Press On!

Sunday Set List

 

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

July 29, 2012

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship and Invocation

Songs of Worship

Your Grace Is Enough

Mighty to Save

Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)

Worship Through Prayer

Songs of Worship

In Christ Alone

Jesus Messiah

Worship Through Giving

Special Music

Worship Through God’s Word

Lighten Up: Laying Down Our Heavy Burdens

The Burden of Hopelessness

Psalm 23

Song of Commitment

The Solid Rock

Benediction

Prayer of the Week

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sweet Dreams 5K – 2012 Edition

Finishing the Sweet Dreams 5K. If you look at my feet, you will see that I really was flying. Neither foot is touching the ground!

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This morning I was up before dark to prepare for this year’s edition of the Sweet Dreams 5K.  This is the first race that I’ve run three times.  It’s a race that I use as a measure of my fitness – usually because it’s run in the heat of the summer.  The first year I was 236 pounds.  The second I was 225.  This year a slim 178, just shy of a 50 pound loss in the last year. Up until this year, I have never run it under 30 minutes.  Even in the weeks leading up to this race, I didn’t have any aspirations of completing a PR (Personal Record) today.  For one, this is the hottest race I run in.  Today’s temps were relatively cool and yet with the summer sun – it still made it tough (more on that in a moment.) Really my goal for this race was to complete a PRC (Personal Record for the Course) – that was my minimal goal.  My main goal was to finish between 24 minutes (my current PR) and 27 minutes (my previous PR.)  I realize that’s a fairly wide window of 3 minutes, but it would be a considerable improvement on last year’s time.

One of the things about this race is that it is a free race, so I am free to try different fueling, speed methods.  While I’m not completely sure I know what works, I now know one thing that doesn’t 🙂  On the way to the race, we stopped at Sheetz (which the service is usually pretty good, but they were really slow today.) I got myself a frozen mocha latte. Not a great idea for racing.  About a mile into the race, my stomach started letting me know it was very displeased with my choice of pre-race fuel.  I was trying to use the caffeine to give me a boost.  This is an out and back race.  Pastor Barry and I were able to run together until the turn around.  As we headed back toward the finish line – it all started to fall apart.  My legs were fine, but I couldn’t get enough air and my stomach started cramping.  As I slowed my pace, Barry moved ahead of me and stayed there for the remainder of the race.  That means I won a race this year and he has run a race this year.  Overall however, we are about tied when it comes to overall time.  I finished 15 seconds ahead in May.  Today he finished 15 seconds ahead of me.

So, how did I do?  I finished the 5K in 25:32 – for an 8:14/mile.  My second best 5K time – just a 1:31 slower than May, but a significant improvement over last year’s 31:49 – a full 6 minutes faster than last year and almost a full two minutes per mile faster than last year.  I set a PR for the course, which was a goal and I gave myself a sizable challenge for next year.  That’s about all I’ve got – Pressing On!

What A Tangled Web We Weave

Ninth Sunday After Pentecost

Proper 12 (17) (July 29, 2012)

2 Samuel 11:1-15; Psalm 14; Ephesians 3:14-21; John 6:1-21

11 In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home. Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”

Then David sent word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David.When Uriah arrived, David asked him how Joab and the army were getting along and how the war was progressing. Then he told Uriah, “Go on home and relax.” David even sent a gift to Uriah after he had left the palace. But Uriah didn’t go home. He slept that night at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

10 When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he summoned him and asked, “What’s the matter? Why didn’t you go home last night after being away for so long?”

11 Uriah replied, “The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields. How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife? I swear that I would never do such a thing.”

12 “Well, stay here today,” David told him, “and tomorrow you may return to the army.” So Uriah stayed in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 Then David invited him to dinner and got him drunk. But even then he couldn’t get Uriah to go home to his wife. Again he slept at the palace entrance with the king’s palace guard.

14 So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver.15 The letter instructed Joab, “Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.”

This is one of those stories that so good that even Hollywood can’t write them like this.  The very first line tells us how David got into trouble – it was when he should have been doing what a king does.  Instead he stayed home and it got him in all kinds of trouble.  David does all kinds of things to try to “cover-up” his little affair — his “little mistake,” but is unsuccessful.  Even if you read beyond verse 15, it doesn’t get any better.  David’s sin is found out and the consequences are tragic.

The question becomes  – at least for us – are you where you are supposed to be — doing the things that you are supposed to be doing?  Are you going to get caught?  David got caught in the trap of sin and then covered it up.  What is there in your life that might trip you up?

Today is the day to come clean.  Better to come clean now – if only David had come clean earlier, it might have all turned out differently.  How about you?