Sunday Night Thoughts

Over the years I have done this post in a couple of different ways.  It’s been a long weekend, so I think I’ll do it bullet point style tonight.

  • Stick a fork in me, I’m done – It’s been a very busy 72 hours and I have been around people for almost the entire 72 hours.  For an introvert, that can be very draining.
  • I am currently writing this, while relaxing on the couch watching the Eagles play the Giants on Sunday night football.
  • This past week, the hometown Phillies were eliminated from playoff contention 😦
  • Fall is coming quickly – the leaves have started changing – and the grass is finally starting to slow down – but will need to be cut again this week.
  • We had a wonderful time at our district Minister and Spouses Gathering
    • It was interesting, because the Gathering was right here in Staunton, so we were on retreat and yet if we needed something, we came home to get it.
    • I love hearing God’s people – especially the called sing and praise God through music.  I thought we were going to take the roof off our conference rooms a couple of times.  That was the coolest choir I’ve ever heard.  You should have heard the old hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” sung by 75 pastors and their spouses – it was amazing.
  • Last night and this morning, our church hosted our annual Global Impact Weekend.  We had a great speaker who, because of security measures will remain un-named.  Let’s just say it’s exciting to see how God is working in places where the Gospel is being opposed.
  • Thanks to a 3.1 mile walk this afternoon, I set a new personal record for most miles run/walked in a month.  It was only bested by .5 miles, but my new record is 149.82 miles in one month.
  • This evening, we gathered as a cluster (zone) for a 5th Sunday Sing.  It was great (again) to hear God’s people sing God’s praises and it is an encouragement for all of us.

That’s about all I’ve got…Tomorrow it is time for another long run, probably the last long, long run before the half marathon.  Pressing On!


Sunday Set List

Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

September 30, 2012

Global Impact Weekend

Parade of Flags

He Reigns

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship and Invocation

Songs of Worship

Shout to the North

Awesome Is The Lord Most High

I Love to Tell the Story

Worship Through Prayer

Missions Interview

Faith Promise Presentation

Worship Through Giving

No Turning Back

Worship Through God’s Word

Song of Commitment

No Turning Back



Prayer for the Week

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Not Keeping Silent

Proper 21 (26) (September 30, 2012)

Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22; Psalm 124; James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50

7 So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet. On this second occasion, while they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, “Tell me what you want, Queen Esther. What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!”

Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request, I ask that my life and the lives of my people will be spared. For my people and I have been sold to those who would kill, slaughter, and annihilate us. If we had merely been sold as slaves, I could remain quiet, for that would be too trivial a matter to warrant disturbing the king.”

“Who would do such a thing?” King Xerxes demanded. “Who would be so presumptuous as to touch you?”

Esther replied, “This wicked Haman is our adversary and our enemy.” Haman grew pale with fright before the king and queen.

Then Harbona, one of the king’s eunuchs, said, “Haman has set up a sharpened pole that stands seventy-five feet tall in his own courtyard. He intended to use it to impale Mordecai, the man who saved the king from assassination.”

“Then impale Haman on it!” the king ordered. 10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai, and the king’s anger subsided.

20 Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to the Jews near and far, throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes, 21 calling on them to celebrate an annual festival on these two days. 22 He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy.

My daughters have always been fascinated with the story of Esther.  While I was teaching at Schenectady Christian School, our upper elementary chorus did a musical based on the story of Esther.  It is a great story of the difference that just one person can make.  That person was Esther and only she was in the unique position to save her people from destruction.  She did it at great risk (she could have been killed simply for approaching the king.) Yet, she responded and made a request of the king.  In the process, she was rewarded for it and saved her people.  What would have happened if she hadn’t spoke up?  For what or who is God asking you to speak up?  What important thing could you request that might save people from hardship?  It is a sobering question in these days?  I remember an old Phil Keaggy song that asked, “Who will speak up for the little ones?” And yet this is just one of many issues of those who are not on the receiving end of justice.  Who will you speak up for today?

For My Army Friends

This was shared by a good friend of mine on her Facebook page.  Many times we make sure that we pray for military personnel on special days. This is a great reminder that they need our prayers all the time.

Published on Sep 21, 2012 by 

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond Odierno declared a Suicide Stand Down Day be held throughout the Army on 27 September, 2012. In support of this effort, U.S. Army Alaska produced this video for the education of our Soldiers and to be shared with the wider Army in the hopes that the experiences of our troops might help save the lives of others.

Please visit our Vimeo page to download the HD version of this video:

My Pastoral/Musical/Worship Journey – Part 9 (Continued)

It’s been five years since I last wrote on this.  However, tonight I was writing another post and realized that this chapter – the 9th chapter was incomplete.  That post was written in July of 2007, just two years into our ministry at Preston Wesleyan Church.  Like I mentioned at the time, I was the senior/lead/solo pastor there.  I would play guitar and sometimes piano and occasionally my bass.


Table Rock Wesleyan Retreat Center

By the time we had moved to Preston, I had completed my FLAME training and was ordained just a few weeks before moving.  One of the things that God had really prompted me to do, is to reinvest in the lives of those who followed me in FLAME.  The church was gracious in allowing my to travel to FLAME twice a year during our four years there.  There were many stops on the FLAME tour during those years – Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church, Stroudsburg, PA; Victory Mountain Camp, Sophia, NC; Table Rock Wesleyan Retreat Center, Pickens, SC (several times); Frankfort Wesleyan Camp, Frankfort, IN (several times). I had the opportunity to lead several great bands at each FLAME.

table rock flame nov07 141

Leading worship at FLAME with my relatively new Ibanez Acoustic/Electric, bought in 2005 just before we moved to Martinsville. 

While we were at Preston, I also had the opportunity to attend an Emmaus Walk.  That was a real highlight. An Emmaus Walk is a 72-hour spiritual retreat/walk, designed to deepen your faith.  Several months later, I would have the opportunity to be on the leadership team, playing bass.  I was not able to be at the actual walk because of some critical family matters.  It was during this time that Pam’s mother became critically ill, eventually passing away and these were tough and difficult times for Pam and I wanted to be there to support her.


Ringing the bells for Salvation Army

In Martinsville, we also ended up working with The Salvation Army.  For the eight years since I was called to Fort Miller, I had worked bi-vocationally at Radio Shack, but the atmosphere at the Martinsville Radio Shack wasn’t the best and seemed no matter what…no matter what change in managers or personnel…to be filled with drama.  The Preston church was involved in a huge community yard sale and one of the members found out that Salvation Army was in need of a reliable truck driver.  She hooked me up and I interviewed and several days later, once I got through the background check…I was hired.  It was a good job and I had a chance to meet with many in the community. While we were in Martinsville, we ran the bells during the seasonal Red Kettle Campaign.  It was also interesting because many of my helpers were doing court-ordered community service.  Sometimes I had great help and sometimes not.


James in one of the many racing exhibits around Martinsville during race weekend.

Martinsville was cool because twice a year, NASCAR would come. During the early years when the economy was better there was quite the circus atmosphere all over town.  Many of the sponsors would set up racing simulators and fan experiences and car mock-ups all over town.  James and Pam would check them out each time.  As the economy got tougher the sponsors stopped doing that, so that was kind of sad.  One of our highlights while we were in Martinsville was during the 60th Anniversary of the track.  James and I got to take our Kia Sedona – behind a pace car and drive about five laps on the famed 1/2 mile oval.  That was cool.

Since the Preston church is in the Shenandoah District of the Wesleyan Church, we would attend the yearly district conference.  As part of the conference we would have rallies very similar to campmeeting, with contemporary worship and some great preaching.  Several years in a row, I took songs we learned at District Conference and taught them to our congregation.  I continue to do this even now.

It was during this time that I was first asked by our District Superintendent to lead worship for our Minister and Spouses Gathering.  This was a great privilege.  In fact, in later this week, I will be leading our district minister and spouses again.  That trip took us to Staunton, VA.  I remember saying to Pam that I loved the city of Staunton.  I knew that we had a church here and that at least for a while they were looking for a worship and youth pastor.  It had a very cool vibe.  Little did we know that coming that year would be instrumental in the transition to the next chapter in our journey.

There’s a couple of other things.  Martinsville is one place where bus ministry is still alive and well.  Churches of all sizes send out vans and buses to pick up students, bring them to church and then take them home.  That was a great ministry while we were there.  Sometimes it wore us out, but we touched the lives of over 100 children from K to 12th grade during those four years.

While in Martinsville, I also started blogging, influenced by my good friend, Mark Wilson.  It’s been an amazing 6 year run.

The other thing I remember about Martinsville was the bowling league.  I had never bowled in a league before, but I got pretty good at it.  For pastor’s appreciation two years in a row, the team chipped in to buy me a ball and shoes.  It was great.  Martinsville also taught me to never stop praying for someone who needs the Lord.  There was a man there who ran from God for over 60 years.  His mother had prayed and prayed and prayed and went to heaven praying for her son.  Near the end of our ministry there – though a set of crazy circumstances, he came to the Lord and was saved.  Several weeks before we moved to Staunton, I had the privilege to baptize him.

So just how did we get from Martinsville to Staunton?  I think I’ll save that for the next chapter, which is currently still being written…but now we finish chapter 9.  Seize the Day!

Not A Fan – Part 1

Our church is currently in a church-wide emphasis called, Not A Fan. This is based on the book by the same name by Kyle Idleman.  There is also a six-week video series that we are using among small groups. The first two video installments have been powerful.  This evening – even though it’s been a long day already – I stopped and watched the second installment so that I would know how the series is going.  I don’t want to give up any spoilers, let’s just say that Jesus calls us — even those of who could be considered a Matthew – so trapped in sin that they think they can’t escape – to follow him.  Matthew was a tax collector – a Jew, collecting tax for the “enemy” the Romans.  Through grace, Jesus called Matthew to follow Him.  He calls each one of us to follow Him.

Here’s where the story gets personal:

I’ve been a believer for many years now…I asked Jesus into my heart over 40 years ago now at a campmeeting near Danielsville, PA.  Throughout the years, Jesus has called me to follow him.  While I don’t remember much about those early years, I remember going to church – everytime it was open (I want you to know, that’s not a bad thing. I am very thankful that I was brought up that way.) What I remember thought is coming to a time when I had to make faith in Jesus and subsequently following Jesus mine.  I couldn’t just follow my parent’s Jesus.  In 1980, our youth group attended a regional youth convention put on by the Wesleyan Church.  It was during this youth convention – on the last day – Dr. Jimmy Johnson preached a message about following Jesus – following Jesus into full-time ministry.  That day I answered that call.  I was a senior in High School at the time and enjoyed music then as much as I do now.  Most everyone assumed I would attend one of our colleges and be a music director (we didn’t call them worship pastors at the time.) Eventually all that happened.  Some would call it a crooked road – but God and I started on a journey that day – a journey that, even now, is not completed.  Sure there have been several (many) chapters written in that story.

In year’s past I covered pieces of that story.

Some of the decisions to follow Jesus were tough…Like leaving Allentown…with everything we owned and two small children to move to a completely new place where at the time we knew no one.  A strange place with no mountains and attend college.

I know and so does Pam what it means to sacrifice and follow Jesus…in my bio for this blog, it talks about us being Christ-followers.  I believe we are and yet…in some ways I am still just a fan.

I was thinking about that thought this morning while running.  In Chapter Ten of the above story, that will be a major influence.  Over the last few nights, I have been going back over Facebook posts and blog posts to reconstruct my running journey.  Over the last three years, I’ve posted all over the place, but all the stats were never in one place.  About two years ago, I started using Map My Run, but never transferred the old information over to it, so it has always been an incomplete record.

While I have written about this transition from casual runner to avid runner, I never thought about it in terms of being a fan of running to being a follower of running.  As I have been entering the stats, you can see, when all that changed.  For many months my mileage totals were in the mid 30’s to mid 40’s for the whole month, then last year – during the summer, all that changed.  Most month’s except for those while I was getting ready for surgery and recovering, now are in the high 90’s to somewhere in the 100’s.

I think the interesting thing is that I’ve had people say to me, “I think you’re doing too much — you’re getting way too skinny — you’re going to hurt your knees — etc.” What they are saying is that I’ve become fanatical about running  – and I would say that they are right – but I am also a follower — and yet this morning while finishing up my exercise, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit.

Here I am, someone who has been more than a fan for his entire life and the Holy Spirit was convicting my that sometimes I am more of a fan of Jesus than I am a follower of Jesus.  Needless to say, the Holy Spirit’s because of the Holy Spirit’s prompting, I will be making some changes in my devotional life.  Isn’t amazing to be open to what Jesus wants for us.

The question is for you today, “Are you a fan or a follower?”


“Someone defined worry as a small trickle of fear that meanders through the mind, cutting a channel into which all other thoughts flow. For some of us, worry is as inherent as breathing because fear doesn’t release its tenacious grip easily

. How can you not worry when your outflow exceeds your income or your loved one is diagnosed with cancer? Our first reaction may be a surge of panic and a sense of alarm. But that’s when the Lord tests our faith, leading us into hardship, teaching us wisdom, showing us His ways and helping us to consult the Scriptures for guidance. When we are in a difficult place, we must realize that the Lord either has placed us there or allowed us to be there, for reasons perhaps known only to Himself.”
Robert J. Morgan