50 Women You Should Know

The following article appeared in the October 2012 issue of Christianity Today.  It is a list of today’s most influential Christian women leaders.  Two Wesleyans are among the women – our General Superintendent, Dr. Jo Anne Lyon and President of Houghton College, Dr. Shirley Mullen.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/october/50-women-you-should-know.html

Yes, there are always dangers in these kinds of lists.  Just looking through the few comments that were posted – there were several “why wasn’t so and so listed” and so on.  I think it’s pretty cool that out of 50 leading women, two are Wesleyans.  The Wesleyan Church is a small denomination compared to many others and yet, here are two of our great leaders profiled in this article.  Check it out.

Forgiveness

This is a two video post…It’s been something that God has been working on me for some time now.  There are several songs on the radio right now will similar themes – “Losing” by Tenth Avenue North, “Proof of Your Love” by For King and Country, and most recently a very powerful song called “Forgiveness” by Matthew West.  I’ve included the acoustic version video and then the story behind the song.  It’s really important to know how these songs came to being and I love hearing the story behind “Forgiveness.”

Who is God asking you to forgive?

The Four-Fold Worship Structure

From its earliest days, the church observed a specific pattern of worship, which many churches still follow today.  Although much of its form was borrowed from Jewish liturgical traditions, it took on new meaning because of Christ’s atoning work.

Christians gather to celebrate the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption.  This worship is not a program, but a movement of God’s people, who enter to hear the Word, respond in thanksgiving, and go fort to love and serve the Lord.

Bruce Barton, gen. ed., Praise and Worship Study Bible (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1997) 1351

Not A Fan – A Choice

Everything in Moderation…or…Giving It All?

As we have mentioned before, our church is in a series based on the Kyle Idleman book, “Not a Fan.” This has been a powerful and convicting series, even for the pastoral staff.  We have been seeking God’s will each week, planning the songs, planning the message, watching the videos and (for me) helping to teach the teen’s small group.

At the end of last Wednesday’s youth group, a question came up – we were studying Luke 9:23 and the end of Luke 9:

57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

58 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”

59 He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”

The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”

60 But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”

61 Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”

62 But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

These are strong words from the mouth of Jesus.  Our pastor will be dealing with this passage on Sunday.  I haven’t seen the notes, so I may or may not cover the same territory – but God has really been speaking to me about these verses. In today’s culture these verses seem harsh.

On Sunday we were learning about how the early disciples translated the concept of Elijah to a Greek world that knew nothing of Elijah.  The prophet Elijah was a man of God – a man of passion.  Yes, it also seems he was prone to large mood swings, but he was a man who believed in God and God in return used Elijah in a powerful way.  James records “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”  (5:16b) He then goes on to mention Elijah specifically as a man of prayer.

Like I said, Elijah was a man of great passion.  He was willing to stand up to Israel’s wicked king Ahab and against the 450 prophets of Baal and the 450 prophets of Asherah. Elijah challenged these prophets to a battle of the gods.  The god who answered with fire, was the true God.  Baal’s prophets went on and on and on and yet no fire fell.  Then Elijah rebuilt the altar – dug a trench around it – poured water on the altar and the trench – drenching it completely.  Elijah starts playing and before he even says “Amen,” God sends the fire down – it consumes everything – the wood, the sacrifice, the water and the altar.  The people bow down and declare “The Lord is God.” Elijah kills the prophets of Baal and then goes to pray.  He prays seven times – SEVEN times – the seventh time his servant tells him, “I see the cloud the size of a human hand.” At that Elijah tells Ahab, “Get going the Lord is sending a mighty rain.” Elijah runs ahead of the chariots and according to the video Sunday – ran 20 miles to Jezreel.  That’s pretty amazing.

So how do you describe this passion?  The early disciples described it in what are now to me some very familiar ways – running.  As many of you know, I am getting ready to run my second half-marathon this coming Saturday.  I have been training since early August for this race.  This Saturday, I will race.  Racing is different than training.  Racing requires giving it all you got.  When I get to the end of the race on Saturday, I don’t want to have anything left.  I want to give it all — everything.

So many times as Christians, it seems like we don’t operate in that vein.  Listen to the words of the writer of Hebrews: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” 

The Greeks and the Romans would have been very familiar with this concept of running.  They were, afterall, the founders of the Olympic games.  This is how they translated the passion of Elijah to the Greco/Roman culture.  The write of Hebrews talks about the great cloud of witnesses and we are to run.  Paul says we run to obtain an eternal prize.  He says that we need to run to win!  It’s worth every effort you make.

Let’s see if I can try to pull this all together and make some sense of all of this.  You can tell this has been on my heart, because this is one of my longer posts.

Some people look at Jesus’ words in Luke 9 – especially verse 23 and say that these are radical words.  I would agree, especially in our American culture.  In our culture, we are all about comfort and it seems – to me at least — that American Christianity is all about comfort – it’s all about convenience – it’s all about “what’s in it for me.”

Jesus speaks to these three men – and the gist of his words is this: “You need to be ready to be a follower of Jesus – whoever He calls – whenever He calls – whatever he calls us to do.

In the “Not a Fan” videos, several times the words “everything in moderation” are used – as if that’s how we are supposed to operate in God’s economy – in God’s culture.  I don’t know that I can find that in scripture.  In fact, the gist of “everything in moderation” can actually be found on the temple of Apollo at Delphi – a pagan/Greek temple.  So it really is the opposite of what Christ calls His followers to do.

In Philippians 2, Paul records the words to one of the earliest church hymns:

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

In verses 6-8, I don’t see anything that looks like everything in moderation.  Jesus Christ came to earth and gave everything He had to save us.  He took on the position of a slave – He gave up his divine privileges – He died a criminal’s death — to save us.  He didn’t just save us to give us a ticket to heaven.  It’s more than fire insurance.  He calls us to be his disciples – he calls us to be his followers — he calls us to go and make disciples – he calls us to go and make more Jesus followers.  That’s the Great Commission – Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teach these new disciples everything that I have taught you.

This is not easy believism – this is not a life of works – this is a life of following Jesus and doing what He has called us to do.  Let me finish with this powerful verse from James 1:27:

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

So are you an everything in moderation believer or are you giving Jesus all?  Are you a Fully.Committed.Follower?

God’s Relentless Pursuit

“God’s relentless pursuit of us is stunning. In the midst of our shame and guilt, it’s hard to believe that God has any intention of returning to restore us and even rebuild a relationship with us. We live in a world that makes us pay when 

we screw up. Even when others extend grace to us, it feels as if we have to do something–anything–to fix the problem. We are chronic self-fixers. But God continues to pursue us on this wilderness journey with a love that strips away our old selves. In time we’ll learn to relinquish control and to receive the love God wants to give us.”
Chuck DeGroat

Sunday Night Thoughts

Post #3364

It’s hard to believe that another week has gone by so quickly.  This has been an amazing week.  Fall is in full swing in the Shenandoah Valley.   This afternoon Pam, James, and I headed west out of town.  We drove out on US250 past Churchville and up to the top of Shenandoah Mountain and the Augusta/Highland County line.  We visited the site of the Confederate Breastworks, which was a battle line set up during the Civil War.  We forgot our good camera but did take some pictures on our cell phones and you can see some of our pictures below.

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The fall colors are so beautiful…I have been enjoying the colors during my runs in the park this week.  This morning we watched as came up and lit up the leaves.  While we were getting ready for church, a deer (a three point buck) walked right by our patio.  But then again we have had our share of rabbits and groundhogs, deer and skunks around of late.  Yesterday a bunny sat right by our side door.

I am so amazed at God’s creation – Fall is my favorite time of year.  One of the things I struggled with this week was our Trunk-or-Treat sign.  Finally I was able to get it the sign up and it’s finally not falling apart.

We also finally got all the tires fixed on our van. This fall has been rough – we’ve managed have three different tires get a nail or a screw in them.  Every few days, we have been filling up the tires, so it is so nice not to have to do that routine tomorrow.

I have two runs planned for this week – a 7 miler (around an hour tomorrow) and a 5 miler for Thursday and then the 1/2 marathon in Danville on Saturday.  I am really looking forward to see how this training season has improved my running.

We had a great worship service this morning – it all came together (the music, the message) was amazing.  The praise team did a great job. We learned a new song – 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman.  The congregation really sang this new song well.

This evening we had another good choir rehearsal and I am really looking forward to presenting this in December.

Well that about wraps it up for tonight.  Have a great week and keep Pressing On!

Sunday Set List

October 21, 2012

21st Sunday After Pentecost

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship and Invocation

Songs of Worship

How Can I Keep From Singing

Blessed Be Your Name

10,000 Reasons

Worship Through Prayer

Song of Worship

O God Our Help in Ages Past

Worship Through Giving

Special Music

Worship Through God’s Word

Not A Fan

Following Jesus: A Passionate Pursuit

Luke 9:23

Song of Commitment

Be Thou My Vision

Benediction

Prayer for the Week

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

In The Taper Zone

The Danville Half Marathon is just a week away.  I really should be well into my tapering for this event.  It has been tough to back off on my training this time.  For one, I am feeling so strong and this morning’s run really brought that to light.  Part of my struggle was to get in one more long run – especially since my long runs have been on Monday.  I was able to get in one more run with plans to run a 7 miler on Monday and a 5 miler on Thursday. Then on Saturday we will be getting up early to head to Danville.

This morning’s run was pleasantly surprising – 11 miles at an 8:20 pace. I was trying out some energy gels that look like they will work out real well for Saturday.  It has been a great training season, especially considering that I have really only been training hard for about 12 weeks.  It has been amazing to watch my pace come down since early August, when I was struggling with 9-minute miles for short runs.

So here are my goals for this coming Saturday: (Good, Better, Best)

  • 1.) Finish in less than 2 hours (this is a 9:06/mile pace) and would also give me a PR (Personal Record for the distance of 13.1 miles.) – The way my training runs have gone, I have a fairly reasonable chance of making this goal. Still, there’s any number of things that can go wrong, so there are no guarantees.
  • 2.) Finish in less than 1:55:00. I have been running in the 1:55 type pace over the last few weeks.
  • 3.) Finish in less than 1:50:00. If everything is perfect, I may be able to get this, but that’s why you set multiple goals

Following next week’s race, I plan on working on setting up a base plan for the winter.  One-hour runs twice a week; a short (45 minute) speedwork session; and an 1-1/2 run.  I’d like to run some short 5k’s if the opportunity presents itself.

My future running plans include a return to the Park-to-Park 1/2 Marathon from Waynesboro to Stuarts Draft.  Then I would like to run a marathon in the fall, more than likely that marathon will be the Richmond marathon.

Well that about wraps it up for the week. Can’t wait for Saturday – Pressing On!