Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

Somehow I think I forgot to post something last week.  It was a busy weekend last week. Pam and I did two surprises.  The first is that we went to Pennsylvania to attend a surprise birthday party for Pam’s oldest sister and her husband.  They were both turning one of those magical numbers that is older than us – that’s all I’ll say.  One birthday is in February and the other is in April, but their kids wanted one large surprise birthday party so that’s what they did.  It was a great time to see two of Pam’s sisters and I think they enjoyed the surprise.

Toward the end of the party, I called my mom and dad to see if they wanted company overnight, so we drove to their place in Allentown and then attended worship at Trinity Wesleyan in Allentown.  It was good to be back at our home church.  Following church we went to Yocco’s  – a local hot dog place and then pointed the car back home.  For dinner we stopped at Taco Bell in Winchester.  I even took a picture of our romantic road trip anniversary celebration.  Pam and I celebrated 29 years together last Sunday.

We got home just in time for the snow on Monday morning, which cause James’ and my shift to be canceled at Chick-fil-A.  It all melted pretty quick and we were back at it on Tuesday.  I picked up a shift in kitchen for Wednesday, which means I worked five days straight – not great for getting my running groove back, but then it was cold most of those days.  I did get a run in yesterday and hoping to get one in tomorrow morning before work.

I would appreciate your prayers as we begin this week.  Wednesday, we will be talking to two District Superintendents about the possibilities of moving to their district.  We are praying for God’s direction in all of this and want to be where He wants us to be.  Hopefully between those calls, Pam and I can celebrate our anniversary in better fashion than Taco Bell, since I have the day off.  I like weeks where I work two days, have one off, work three more and have another off.  It is much less straining on the body.

We had a good morning of corporate worship this morning at Waynesboro Wesleyan – and we had some problems with some of our technology during children’s worship.  Since I was already planning on being with Pam – I called and audible and helped her teach the lesson on the Good Samaritan.  We had some fun teaching it in a contemporary way.

This afternoon, James and I had a team meeting with the Chick-fil-A crowd.  We had a good time and then came home and relaxed for the rest of the day.  Tonight is unusual in that as soon as I get this typed, I can get to bed because Anna has off tonight.

Pam and I would appreciate your prayers this week that God would open and close the right doors as we seek his direction.  Blessings….

Prayer for the Week

Lent-CrossO God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I Run Because…

irunbecausewrap1For the first time in twelve days I was able to get out for a run.  Oh, how good that felt.  Not because it was easy.  In fact, I had to stop about 600 meters into the run and walk the rest of the way up the hill in the park because I was breathing way too hard and it all hurt.  I was determined as soon as I got to the top of the hill I would start running again – and I did and didn’t stop again until I reached four miles.  I think part of what happened is that I was so excited to be running again that I went out too fast.  The good news is that walking stretch evened me out and I slowed down a little and finished out the run.  There was no way I was going to have a DNF (Did not finish) on today’s run.  February has been a tough month to get out because I have to do my running in the morning – because it is really tough to run after work.  My legs don’t like to move then.  I have a grand total of 13 miles in and I am hoping to get in twenty by month’s end.  With the forecast warmup in March, I am hoping to get out at least three days a week and get around 20 miles a week.  That’s my first goal.

I can tell that I haven’t run in a while and today’s run was like good medicine.  I feel so much more relaxed and less stressed.  It also makes my body feel better and I want to get running on a regular basis because I feel much better.  So I run because…I like the way it makes me feel.  Pressing On!

Stay True to the Work

path sunsetSecond Sunday in Lent (February 21, 2016)

Philippians 3:17-4:1 | New Living Translation

Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.

We continue our journey to the cross this week.  Our reading comes from Paul’s missionary letter to the church at Philippi.  The church was one of Paul’s supporters and he was writing to tell them how things were going and how the church could pray for him.  It was also a letter of encouragement.  The reading picks up right after my life verse about pressing on toward the goal.

Paul is reminding the church at Philippi to stay true to the work of Christ.  Paul with the help of the Holy Spirit working in his life is leading a life that is Christ-like.  Jesus called us to pick up our crosses daily and follow Him.  Paul is encouraging his readers to follow his example of a life of surrender to Christ and to pick up their crosses and follow Jesus.  I don’t think – given the nature of the letter – that this was a warning, but an encouragement to continue to do what they were doing.  There is also an encouragement to continue to learn – learning to be discipled is an important part of being a Christ-follower.  We should always be learning – we should always be challenged in our walk.

Second, Paul warns the congregation not to be enemies of the cross.  There are those, who call themselves Christ-followers who are really enemies of the cross.  They are not following the way of Christ. Paul gives several examples.  He mentions that their god is their appetite.  I know that even after losing the weight that I lost, sometimes I feel as if my appetite has control of me instead of the other way around.  This could probably be applied this way.  If your appetite is for anything other than following Christ, whether it be eating – I know that’s not a popular stance – drinking, smoking, pursuit of pleasure – however that may look in your life, perhaps its time to re-evaluate and make a change.  It’s interesting because Paul goes on to say that these whose god is their appetite, brag about these shameful things and that these things are only temporary. They will only last as long as we are on this earth.  I do believe that there are those who call themselves Christian who only think about their life on this earth.  In someways that shows in church attendance.  They attend church only when they don’t have something better to do.  We can’t live without a community of believers consistently and still be a Christ-follower.  At least not as easily as some would think.  We’ve made Christ-following an individual exercise rather than a community exercise.  We need each other – to build each other up – to teach one another – to admonish (when necessary) one another.

Third, Paul reminds us that we are citizens of heaven.  Again a reminder that we need to be about the Father’s business.  Too many times we live as citizens of earth.  We are too easily distracted by the things around us and forget that we are citizens of another Kingdom.  Jesus is coming again – as Paul writes, “We are eagerly awaiting for him to return as our Savior.” I like the part where it says He will bring everything under his control.  With the current climate we are in, it is certainly a reminder that God is in control and He put Jesus in control.

So let’s continue on our journey to the cross. Let’s stay true to the work of Christ.  Let’s pick up our crosses daily. Let us shed off everything that is not of Christ and be everything that we can be for Christ.

A Judge-Free Zone | Part 3

Meeting people where they are

So how do we minister to people like my physical therapist? We meet them where they are just like Jesus did. Jesus never expected any one he ministered to be perfect or fit in what he believed in. We should never expect non-Christian to live to our standards or even God’s standards before they are believers. You have to meet everyone where they are in their journey.

One of my best girlfriends is an example of how we do that.  She was connected by way of family to one of the churches we attended.  I started to visit her because her husband was deployed and she moved back to the area while he was deployed. I started visiting her and she told me right off the bat that we shouldn’t expect her at church, because she knew the people at church. I had my work cut out in building a relationship. She really wasn’t the type of person that a pastor’s wife would hand out with – at least if you think of the pastor’s wife role traditionally.  But I figured if Jesus was living there, he would hang out with her.  I spent quite a bit of time building a relationship – at times I’m sure it was uncomfortable for both of us.  I did it because I needed somebody to connect with…it was great because she was a young mom and that’s how we connected. As our friendship grew I could see changes in her life for the good. It was cool to see these changes and have a positive influence on a person.  Eventually the time came and she started asking about spiritual things. At one point she told me that she actual read the Bible numerous times and Dale and I were the first Christians that lived the way the Bible says a Christian should live.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been writing about a judge-free zone. The church is a hospital – it’s a place for the saints and the sinners.  We see how Jesus managed to deal with both – he spent time with the disciples – teaching them how to live as Christ-followers – He spent time with the sinners – and yes that got him into trouble as well.  Check out Mark 2:15-17.

Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?  When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

Dale and I often find ourselves ministering to the fringe – the almost Christian – the ones who are seeking – the Christian, but not sure I fit into “the church.”  Sometimes this gets us in trouble, but it got Jesus in trouble, so we are in good company.  As I’ve mentioned before, Jesus harshest words were reserved for the “religious” not the sinners.  Most sinners already know they are sinning.  It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict.

So one Sunday, without my invitation, my friend showed up in church, with her children. I greeted her like I would anyone else that came to the church. Some immediately judged her for what she was wearing – or who she was – or any number of things – you could tell that by their faces.  That morning I sat in the nursery with her son so she did not have to worry about him. She came to church most Sunday mornings till her husband came back home and they moved away.  Some may wonder, “Was it worth it?”  “Did she get saved?”  I don’t know – but this I do know is that we showed her love – the kind of love that all Christ-followers should show. After her family moved away, she and her husband invited us to their home and while we were there I gave her a Bible. I told I had a gift for her and she could chose not to take it if she did not what it. It would not have hurt my feelings at all. She took the Bible.  Dale and I have left a door open to her and husband.  Even now we occasionally “check-in” on them.

There are people who are seekers – there are people on the fringe – the almost Christian – the “I’m not sure I’m part of the church” people.  Sometimes they are solid believers, but they end up being judged because we don’t take the time to get to know them and show them the love of Jesus.

There is a quote that is attributed to John Wesley – the grandfather of our movement.  I’ll paraphrase it a bit here.

The church is a place that should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. 

So many times the church afflicts the afflicted and comforts the comfortable.  That is not the way it should be.  My challenge to you is to find those who need the love of Jesus – whether it would be outside the church or even inside the church.  There are people who are hurting – and they are everywhere – show them the love of Jesus – comfort them with the love of the God of all comfort.  Your job is to love them – really love them.  Let the Holy Spirit do the convicting.  If the Holy Spirit is doing the convicting, they will be uncomfortable enough for all of us.  Let’s make the church a judge-free zone.

Borrowed Time | Matt Maher

Here’s an interesting song that was playing as part of my playlist on the way home.  I’ve been listening quite a bit to this Saints and Sinners album, which by the way has been nominated for a Grammy.  I’ve included the words below.

Where do you go from here
When love tears down the fortress that you’ve made with all your fears
There are years of regret, of shame and condemnation
But God comes to you today to say “Today is your salvation”

Well the clock is ticking
Are you gonna start living
Cause you’ve really only got this life
And we’re living on borrowed time
Don’t you know what you’ve been given
So while the world’s still spinning
Light a candle in your heart and shine
‘Cause we’re living on borrowed time

No one’s getting out alive
But maybe life is how you live the days before you die
Do you have the strength to be empty-handed and forgiven,
Can you hear the angels screaming, “Today is your salvation?”

Well the clock is ticking
Are you gonna start living
‘Cause you’ve really only got this life
And we’re living on borrowed time
Don’t you know what you’ve been given
So while the world’s still spinning
Light a candle in your heart and shine
‘Cause we’re living on borrowed time
We’re living on borrowed time Last night

Right now Next week Somehow Love’s the same, Love won’t change

Well the clock is ticking
Are you gonna start living
Cause you’ve really only got this life
And we’re living on borrowed time

Don’t you know what you’ve been given
So while the world’s still spinning
Light a candle in your heart and shine
‘Cause we’re living on borrowed time
We’re living on borrowed time
We’re living on borrowed time I’m giving you all of mine
And we’re living on borrowed time
We’re living on borrowed time
We’re living on borrowed time I’m giving back all of mine
As we’re living on borrowed time

I think there’s an important lesson for all of us in this song.  Each moment that we have – every second that we have – every minute that we have is a gift from God.  I think about the disciples who were standing on the hill after Jesus’ ascension.  They just stood there standing.  They had just been given the command to be Jesus’ witnesses to the whole world and they were just standing there.  Two angels came and reminded them, “Get going….be about the business of Jesus! – Don’t just stand here!”

What are you going to do with the borrowed time that Jesus has given you?

Prayer for the Week

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan; Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses ofeach of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Call Upon the Name of the Lord

Romans 103First Sunday in Lent (February 14, 2016)

  • First reading
    • Deuteronomy 26:1-11
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
  • Second reading
    • Romans 10:8b-13
  • Gospel
    • Luke 4:1-13


Romans 10:8-13 | New Living Translation 

In fact, it says,

“The message is very close at hand;
    it is on your lips and in your heart.”

And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Our lectionary passage from Paul’s letter to the church at Rome is short, but very powerful.  It is a “gospel” passage – this passage preaches the Good News.  This is very similar to the the passages that we looked at on Ash Wednesday.  We learned that we should return to the Lord – that today is the day of salvation.  I think that is is interesting that we complicate the gospel so much.  Is living for Christ easy?  Will turning to Christ make your life easier?  Probably not.  After all, Jesus called us to take up our cross daily.  But here at the beginning of Lent, we have this call to return to the Lord and today we are presented with a simple gospel invitation. What is necessary to become one of God’s children?

  1. Declare that Jesus is Lord – Does Jesus have authority over you (not the church, but Jesus?)  Is He your ruler?  Yes, those are scary thoughts – to turn your life over to Christ and live for him completely – no longer living for yourself, but living for Christ.  You live by His rules – not the rules of the church, nor of the culture, nor of society, but Christ’s rules.  He has complete authority in your life?  If you can do that, you have completed the first step.  Again, it’s not easy, but I think it is worth it.
  2. Do you believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead on the third day? This is a key piece of theology.  So many times we talk about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, that his blood paid the sacrifice for our sins.  This is important, but even more important is the fact that Jesus rose from the dead – to conquer sin – to conquer death – to conquer the grave.  If you believe that Christ was raised on the third day, you will be saved.  This is wonderful news!
  3. You will notice that we must believe with our heart – this is not just head knowledge – but a deep intimate knowledge – deep with in our heart that you are justified – that is just as if I had never sinned.  That is amazing.  We are restored to the relationship that God designed way back in the beginning.
  4. The we must declare our faith – This Good News is not something that we keep to ourselves – we must share it.

This Good News is for all – Jew and Gentile – we all have the same Lord, who will – and this is important – save ALL who call on the Lord.  As Wesleyans, we believe that all of humankind can be saved – not just the elect.  Jesus died – for all of humanity for all time – once and for all.  That is a great thought.  Jesus death and resurrection transcends time and space.

I would encourage you today – if you don’t know Jesus, to seek Him out.  This is a great season to do that. What a great way to prepare your heart for Easter.  What a great way to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.  What a great way to be thankful for what Jesus has done for us.