Business as Usual???

images…the church at large is asleep.  Most of us have been lulled into basic inactivity and cling to a rather vague hope that somehow things are bound eventually to improve.  Significant segments of the church are paralyzed by a false optimism.  Because we thing church are surviving and not closing, because there are some good programs coming out, because we have Catholic schools , because Mass is still being said and sacraments are being dispensed, too many heads are in the sand.  We are satisfied with a pastoral strategy that is limited to providing religious services to support people on their way to heaven. 

Father Bob Bedard
We Are Called to Be Companions of the Cross

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night ThoughtsI want to get to this tonight, before it gets late and my brain turns to mush.  It’s been a great, but very busy weekend and it looks like we have another busy weekend coming up.  So let’s recap.

After a cool start to the week and another snowstorm, we had some very nice weather to finish off the week.  Yesterday was absolutely beautiful and I was able to get out for a nice run.  The grass is even starting turn green.  It looks like we are in for one more round of winter this week.  The temps turn cold tonight and will stay that way through Wednesday, with a chance of…wait…for…it…snow on Tuesday. I can’t believe it.  By the end of the week, everything should be much more spring-like again.

All this winter weather has made it difficult to get any kind of regular runs in and this week I had to run based on the weather again.  The Park to Park is just five weeks away.

One of the great things about this week, was that for the first time in several weeks, we didn’t have to pull the platform apart and put it back together for worship.  It was nice to get out of the portable church mode and this week, we also finished phase one of our sound improvement project.  I was very excited about that and it has made a huge improvement in the sound of our sanctuary – and all we did was put up sound panels.  I am looking forward to replacing some of our equipment now.

Part of the craziness this weekend was getting ready for our youth spaghetti dinner that we had after church today.  This morning I was up early making spaghetti sauce.  At first I thought I made a serious error – way too much salt, but thanks to the sauce cooking for almost 6 hours, much of that worked its way out and I received many complimentary responses about the sauce.  Our teens did a great job getting everything together.  And then cleaning up afterwards.

We had a great time of worship this morning as we continued to focus on the cross and the work that Christ did for us.  The worship team really outdid itself this morning – despite a technical issue we had with the keyboard on the platform.  I am so thankful for MIDI and we patched a different keyboard into the PA but used the regular keyboard as a controller.  It worked very well.

This evening we had a great choir rehearsal and I am looking forward to our choir singing over the next several weeks.

Tomorrow is long-run day and I’m hoping to do 13 miles, but will probably wait until the afternoon when it is a little warmer.  Until next week – pressing on! 


Sunday Set List

Sunday Set List MainMarch 23, 2014

3rd Sunday In Lent

Welcome and Announcements

Call to Worship and Invocation

Psalm 95

Songs of Worship

Beautiful Savior


Lamb of God

Worship through Prayer

Worship through Song

Glory to His Name

Power of the Cross

Worship through Giving

Worship Through God’s Word

Closing Song

God of Justice



Third Sunday In Lent

Prayer_Banner_22-760x176Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Breaking Out the Warm Weather Gear

aab9afe993ccc4cb_thumb_temp13464971375124769.xxxlargeWhile the picture to the right talks about a long run, today wasn’t my long run day.  That will have to wait until Monday.  Normally Saturdays are my long run day, but we have quite a few things at church over the next few weeks on Saturday, so it’s going to be tough to go long on Saturday.

This morning the men at our church had a breakfast so we could put the finishing touches on our Weekend Challenge in a few weeks.  I decided to eat light – oatmeal and coffee so I could go out running as soon as we were done.  Because of the snow this week, I missed getting out on one of my days so that left me a little short on mileage this week.  For that reason I decided to go a little longer than 6 miles.  I pulled out one of my older routes but forgot how long it was.  Turns out it was 6.7 miles and I was able to run it at an 8:21 pace.  I am really getting comfortable with that pace and the really good thing is that several of those miles were under an 8 minute mile.  Today marks five weeks until the Park to Park Half Marathon.  It’s strange because after preparing for that full marathon in the fall, I feel strangely confident – confident that I will finish – not so confident yet that I can beat last year’s time.  I need to pull off an 8:12/mile for 13 miles.  One of the things that I really want to work on – and that is going to be tough this week, because it looks like we have more winter weather moving in – March is making one last attempt at winter.  Five weeks is enough time to push down my time and I am looking forward to this year’s running of the Park to Park.  Let’s keep Pressing On!

Here Are 10 Ways to KILL Your Church


6.26.ChurchMembers_238768845Recently, one of the senior members of our congregation — who has been there for all 80 plus years — handed me a church newsletter that was written in 1959. As I delicately flipped through the tattered pages of this precious document, one article in the newsletter pricked my attention. The title, which I have borrowed for this blog post, was simply “10 Ways to Kill a Church”.

The thing that interested me the most is how this list of “church killers” written in 1959 looks so much like the usual suspects in many church deaths today.

Here is my slightly paraphrased version of the 1959 list of “10 Ways to Kill a Church”:

Come, Let Us Sing to the Lord

joyful-girlThird Sunday in Lent (March 23, 2014)

Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5:1-11; John 4:5-42

1 Come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come to him with thanksgiving.
Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
3 For the Lord is a great God,
a great King above all gods.
4 He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
and the mightiest mountains.
5 The sea belongs to him, for he made it.
His hands formed the dry land, too.

6 Come, let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,
7     for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
the flock under his care.

If only you would listen to his voice today!
8 The Lord says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah,
as they did at Massah in the wilderness.
9 For there your ancestors tested and tried my patience,
even though they saw everything I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with them, and I said,
‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me.
They refuse to do what I tell them.’
11 So in my anger I took an oath:
‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”

This would be another of my favorite Psalms. It’s one of the singing psalms – a command to worship our God, because He is great.  In some ways I find it strangely out-of-place to be read during Lent, especially when we consider that we are focusing on the sufferings of Jesus.  And yet in the middle of this psalm or song, we are called to worship and bow down – to kneel before the Lord our maker…why?

We are commanded to listen to his voice…here is where we can connect this to Lent.  The psalmist writes, “If only you would listen to his voice…” That is a great prayer for us today. The Israelites tested the patience of God with their complaining.  During Sunday School over the last year, we discovered that this complaining took place just days after God had miraculously delivered them out of Egypt.  God provided over and over for the Hebrews and yet, they continued to test God…

This morning I encourage you to sing songs to God…to celebrate his greatness…kneel down and worship before Him.  He is a great God.  He is worthy of our praise.  Why?  Because He has done great things for us.  God has provided a way of salvation for us through Jesus.  Jesus has provided salvation through death on a cross and his subsequent resurrection.

Give the Lord thanks, because He watches over us.

64 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief


This article was linked to my niece’s Facebook page.  She recently lost a beautiful 6-month old baby.  I think it’s a great article.

We think about grief a lot around here – we write about types of grief, grief theory, personal reflections, creative expression for coping with grief, practical ideas for managing grief, and on and on and on.  But there are some days that all seems like a lot to take in.  We think back to the basics.  Not the theory stuff, not the ideas about how to cope — just the really basic things that people never tell you about grief.  So, with your help, that is what we have today — a quick and dirty list of the things we wish we had known about grief, before we knew anything about grief.  If it’s in quotes, it is something one of our fabulous readers shared with us on twitter or facebook.  If you finish this post and you’re annoyed about all the things we forgot, leave a comment to keep the list going.

I wish someone had told me . . .

Continue Reading

Immigrant-Connection-5_focusFirst Wesleyan Immigrant Connection Site Approved by the Board of Immigration Appeals

The very first Immigrant Connection* site in The Wesleyan Church has been approved by the Board of Immigration Appeals (the governmental entity that certifies such work). Here is the announcement and the story behind the Church that has been transformed by reaching into its community with the hope and holiness of Jesus Christ:

Three years ago Riverview Wesleyan Church in Logansport, Indiana was headed for closing; but our God is in the business of resurrection! A little over two years ago Riverview became The Bridge Community Church, reborn with a desire to be a church that reflected the ethnic makeup of their surrounding community.

Ten years ago there was no need for Logansport schools to teach English to students who were from immigrant families. Now there are over 850 students learning English as second language. Nearly 1 in 3 individuals in Logansport are now immigrants or come from an immigrant family.

Continue reading about this exciting endeavor in the Wesleyan Church