Christ is Able to Save | Tommy Walker

Thanks to a friend on Facebook, I have just discovered that Tommy Walker, who wrote He Knows My Name and That’s Why We Praise Him, among others has release to projects of hymns, called Generation Hymns.  I was checking them out this morning.  I love the fact that all generations are represented in the choir.  I encourage you to check these projects out.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

So here we are on the last Sunday of February.  Today was a beautiful Spring preview kind of day.  So nice that we walked in the park and by the time we completed one lap (1.36 miles) I took my long sleeved running shirt off and walked in a t-shirt.  It was so good to feel the warm sun and work up just a bit of a sweat.  Pam and Anna both joined me.  We took more of a casual walk instead of a power walk, but a power walk would have been tough with the pedestrian and car traffic in the park.  Many others had the same idea.

Hopefully the weather will stay like this and I will get some quality runs in this week.  This past week, I had two phone interviews with district superintendents.  I would continue to ask for your prayers as we seek the Lord’s direction.

This morning we worshiped once again with our friends at Waynesboro.  Our numbers were a little smaller because one of the charter members are in her last hours on this earth and many of the congregation were with her.  Despite that there was a good spirit in the service as we learned about the power of prayer.

So that is the short version tonight.  I don’t have to pick up Anna at Cracker Barrel so I’m heading off to bed.  Have a great week!

Prayer for the Week

LentAlmighty 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.

If You Think You Are Standing Firm…

Christ Smitten 1Third Sunday in Lent (February 28, 2016)


1 Corinthians 10:1-13 | New Living Translation

10 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.”[a] We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.We should not test Christ,[b] as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!13 No temptation[c] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[d] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[e] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.


If You Think You Are Standing Firm…

Be careful that you don’t fall.

This might sound like a proverb…a wise saying…but here in Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, we have this warning.  As we think about the journey to the cross that we are calling Lent, we need to think about repentance. It seems that each of our passages over the past few weeks have mentioned this idea of repentance.

Here in 1 Corinthians, Paul is telling the story of the Israelites during the Exodus and wilderness wanderings.  Paul recounts the story and how the Israelites have received the blessings of God – they had God’s protection – remember the Red Sea crossing.  God led them personally with a cloud by day and a fire by night.  He gave them water – provided them manna.  They had everything they needed…God would make sure of that….and….yet…I even don’t like typing this, because we are the same way…and yet they didn’t realize God’s provisions in the wilderness – at least most of them didn’t.  Instead of recognizing God’s blessing and provision and shelter, they grumbled, complained, did evil things, were idolaters (remember the Golden Calf?), indulged in revelry, committed sexual immorality…and the list goes on.  God was not pleased and many of them died.

Perhaps in this season – as we journey to the cross – we should examine our lives – especially those of us who claim to live for Christ.  We have been given this warning – take heed lest you fall.  Right after this powerful warning, Paul gives encouragement…Christ is the answer…God is faithful…God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  This echoes the words found in Hebrews 4:14-15, “1So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” 

Sometimes it is easy to feel a bit smug in our Christian lives – sometimes we get prideful about the way we are living – after all – I’m not living like those sinners, would be our typical reply.  Be careful when you think you are standing firm…Paul’s words echo in my thoughts tonight.  Think about two words – sin and pride – do you notice something?  Both words have an “I” in the middle.  During the fourth century, the “desert fathers,” began this idea of the seven deadly sins.  You may of heard of them before and they include pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. The seven deadly sins are called “capital” because they are the origins of other vices. I once heard it discussed that even these seven sins could be collapsed onto one – the first, pride.  It really seems to me that pride is at the root of most sin.  After all, Satan fell from heaven because of pride.  Satan used the temptation of pride to deceive Adam and Eve.  He even used that tactic on Jesus.  I find the times that I sin are the times when my pride has gotten in the way.  It’s when we feel prideful – we better be careful…be careful that you don’t fall.

That’s why I love the season of Lent.  It allows us to examine our life…to set aside the things that are not like Christ…to ask the Holy Spirit to come in and cleanse us…to help us not to fall…because God is faithful…because God made a way through Christ – his incarnation – his death on the cross – his resurrection.  Through this Christ has made a way and has broken the curse of sin, death, and the grave.  Christ can help us when we are tempted – He can provide a way…

Almighty 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.  

God of wilderness and water,
your Son was baptized and tempted as we are.
Guide us through this season,
that we may not avoid struggle,
but open ourselves to blessing,
through the cleansing depths of repentance
and the heaven-rending words of the Spirit. Amen.

The Church As A Community

As Dale and I have been looking for our next church, we have been asking our children —  who are millennials — what kind of church would you have if you could design you own church.  Why are we so interested in what our children would think about the church?   Because our churches our not reaching millennials. The Millennials are now the largest age group in the United States. Both of our children have told us that they look for a church that is a community (or a relational church.) Notice, they did not say a friendly church. Most churches believe they are friendly.  If you ask most churches what their greatest asset is, they will say that they are a friendly church.  In most cases, they mean they are friendly to those who are already there – but not so friendly to the outsider, especially if they sit in their pew. Churches really need to examine to see if they are really a friendly church or just friendly to the insiders.  Our children want a church that they feel like everyone has an equal say and power – no matter age, sex, race, or economic statue. Our son told us that churches have too much politics in them.  I have to agree with him. Churches waste too much time with the politics and running the church then they do being the church to the world that needs Christ.  The point of this short series of weekly posts is to point out to the church that the church should be a place where everyone is welcome and if you are a Christian this is a place for you to fit in as well.

Ross Parsley writes in his book, Messy Church,” the idea is simple: church is meant to be like a family table, where children and parents and grandparents all gather to share a meal.  Children will need to be patient and bear with Grandpa’s and Grandma’s rambling and sometimes repetitive stories, and Grandpa and Grandma and Mom and Dad will need to find a way to deal with the with the energy and messiness of the children at the table. Some churches would rather have a “kids” table, where the noise and the mess can be contained. But a healthy family lets the generations overlap so wisdom can be passed down and energy can flow up.” A healthy church life doesn’t end with getting everyone to the table; that is way it begins, “Discover the Mystery of Faith by Glenn Packiam.

Every person has something to give to the church no matter who they are and no one should have to worry about being judged.  They should be welcomed for the person they are. In God’s eyes we are all equal according the Galatians 3:28

There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Honestly, as a pastor I know this is not easy to do but it is something every church should aim for. Nor do I have the answer to how this actually looks like – to balance the church –  to keep the older people happy and yet attract the younger people.  The good thing is that our leaders in our denomination are going to churches and explaining to them that they need to start changing so younger people are attracted to the church so the church can keep ministering for years to come.





Feeling Out of Sync

Karlan-bannerAs I have written before, we are currently seeking the Lord’s direction for our lives and seeking where He might have us serve.

I have been feeling a little out of sync with life at the moment.  The routine that we had has been disrupted.  While we have a place that we call home as far as church goes, it’s not quite the same.  The people of Waynesboro Wesleyan have been great.  We have been welcomed by Pastor Craig and Vilene and the congregation.  But there is something that is just not quite the same. (That almost sounds like the title to a Kansas CD.)

Part of that is curating the worship for the church.  It’s hard to explain but I’ll try.  Over the last six years I was the worship pastor, which means in addition to planning what songs we sing, I would choose scripture passages and/or videos for our Call to Worship and developing a theme through the worship service.  In doing so, I would follow the church year – Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost.  This means the song selection would follow the theme of the season.  We would even have special services (Lessons and Carols, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Covenant Renewal, National Day of Prayer) that for the most part I would put together in their entirety.  While I have done some of that in our current situation, it’s not quite the same.  I miss the rhythm of the church seasons. For one, they connect us to the greater Gospel narrative and the natural ebb and flow of the seasons.  Two, they remind me that we are not in this alone – there are believers all around the world following the same calendar.

One of the things that I discovered recently was a Lent Playlist.  It is a playlist of songs on Spotify that are great for reflecting on the themes of Lent.  Over the last few days, I have been listening to it and have been contemplating the sacrifice of Jesus.  If you are curious, here is the link

Lent Playlist

I hope this encourages you as we journey toward the cross during this lenten season.