Seven Years


Today is a big day.  I’ve recounted these over the last couple of years, but today I stepped on the track at Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, VA and ran/walked a mile or 4 laps. It wasn’t too back, except that it was hot.  The next day I went out and did the same thing.  Since I had just had a birthday, I wasn’t so sure that I was going to make it to my next birthday.  But every other day I would go out and run/walk some more miles – till about eight weeks later, I ran an entire 4 miles and by November I ran in my first 5K (3.1 miles) and didn’t finish last.  I finished that race in 36:59.  I was so proud that I finished in under 37 minutes.  That was a serious accomplishment, especially for someone who was still over 250 pounds.  We had a tough winter that year in Staunton, so over the winter it was tough to stay consistent…but I tried and had a good accountability partner.  I wasn’t really serious about running for another year, but I stayed consistent.  It wasn’t until I wanted to start running some longer races that I got serious.

Running is simple, but it isn’t easy.  I am a testimony to that.  Our senior pastor at the time had tried to help several others run, but it never took.  By myself, I had tried to lose weight several times, but it never took.  But with some gentle encouragement and much patience and a willingness to be out of breath and to work hard, I was able to accomplish what others have not done.  Over the last year or two I have struggled with injuries…that has made the last two years difficult, but I am thankful that for some reason, my natural running form has come back and over the last month, I am running better and slowly – as I take the weight back off – I am getting faster.

Seven year of pressing on and counting!

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

It is Sunday night, August 28th.  That means I’m writing this on my birthday.  I was looking back through my memories on Facebook this morning around five years ago, I celebrated my birthday by having the youth take over our worship service.  That morning James preached and did a great job…this morning was quite different.  This morning James was off at college.

This past Friday, we packed up the van and took James up to Houghton, NY – the home of Houghton College.  It is weird because he is only an hour away and yet it seems as far away as the girls were when they were at Southern Wesleyan.  It’s just very strange not having him around the house.  I know that he is deep in the orientation weekend by now and classes start tomorrow.

Yesterday, we also said goodbye to our kids in Canada as Michael, Rebecca, and Robert headed back to the great, white north.  It is always good to have them visit and at least now they are much closer.  We got the chance to take Robert out to the park one afternoon.  Robert has an interest in soccer so we kicked the ball around in the back yard as well.  We even got out James’ wagon and had him roll down the hill in the back yard.  I really need to get my sled back home for this winter when we have snow.

For the most part we are not residents of Pennsylvania – having official driver’s license – registration and we had one of the cars inspected.  We are waiting on the title transfer of the other vehicle, which will take a few weeks.  I’m really hoping that we get to “settle” in this week and get to some sense of normalcy.

We had a good service at McCrae Brook Wesleyan.  You will notice that the spelling has changed several times, but after some research, I have discovered that the above spelling is the official spelling, so I have been working to get our internet presence all the same so that people can find us.  This morning we looked at the topic of worship and that it is one of the reasons that the church exists.

That’s about all I have for this week…have a great one!

Prayer for the Week

Prayer_Banner_22-760x176Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Sacrifice of Praise

sacrifice-of-praise_t-960x250Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Proper 17 (22) (August 28, 2016)

Hebrews 13:1-8 | New Living Translation (NLT)

13 Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.[a] Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.

Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,

“I will never fail you.
    I will never abandon you.”[b]

So we can say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper,
    so I will have no fear.
    What can mere people do to me?”[c]

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:15-16 | New Living Translation (NLT)

15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

The Sacrifice of Praise

The title of this week’s devotional reminds me of the old praise and worship chorus of the same. name.  I remember that it seemed quite contemporary at the time, even though it seems dated now.  In the late 90’s the writer added some verses, slowed it down to get rid of the um-pa beat. It was one of those songs that we sang so much that we got tired of it and yet the principles that are listed in this week’s scripture are as relevant today.

These are the final paragraphs of the letter to the Hebrews – a letter that was written to the Hebrew people that were scattered throughout the world.  It was written to show the place of prominence that Jesus had over the Old Covenant – Jesus was the perfect replacement for the old.

In these few verses, we see some things that would have been familiar to God-fearing Hebrews.  The writer admonishes them not to forget the down and out – the aliens and strangers – to keep on loving each other. It’s interesting even to see the parallels to Jesus’ teaching – to show hospitality to strangers – to visit those in prison – to give a cold cup of water in Jesus’ name.  We are suppose to have empathy and compassion – the writer says remember those who are being mistreated – as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.  In our culture today, it is way too easy to dismiss. After all we need to assert our rights – I say that sarcastically, because that is not what the writer is saying…the writer says have a compassion for those who are not well-off – it really doesn’t matter how they got there.  It is interesting because while Israel did get in trouble for not remaining holy as God is holy, they also got in trouble with God because they forgot the alien and stranger – the widows and the orphans – those who were down and out.  God gives the Israelites some very specific instructions – in fact, we see some of those in the book of Ruth, when Ruth is gathering the grain that has been intentionally left behind for those who couldn’t afford it – the widows and the orphans.

The writer then goes on to remind the Hebrews to keep marriage sacred – to remain faithful to your partner…God will judge those who are immoral…and those who commit adultery.

We are getting quite a list of things that honor God – a list of the sacrifices that please God.  We are reminded – much like Paul writes in Philippians to be content with what we have…not to be lovers of money.  For remember…money is not the root of all evil, but the love of money is.

We are reminded to be content with what we have — interesting – that could apply to money or things – or even what is mentioned in the paragraph above about relationships.  So many are looking for the right relationship, that they forget the relationship they have right in front of them.

We are to remain content because God will take care of us.  This was something that became very clear in the year that we were in transition.  Even now God is taking care of us.  I try not to worry – I think that is some of my personality – but God is taking care of us.  The words of the writer remind me of the Christ Tomlin song Whom Shall I Fear God of Angel Armies. The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people to do me?

We are then reminded to think of leaders who have set the pace – who have been faithful to preach the Word of God – the examples that they set – the great cloud of witnesses – and we are encouraged to follow after them.

These things are what the author means when he says to offer up the continual sacrifice of praise.  Even though we don’t need to constantly sacrifice animals because of Christ’s once and for all sacrifice, we are commanded to praise him continually – to do the things that please Him – because through this we proclaim our allegiance to God.  I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to pledge allegiance to anything but God and his Kingdom.

The writer finishes with where he started – don’t forget to do good and share with those in need, because these are the sacrifices that please God.  I want to encourage you today – even as I preach about worship on Sunday to offer up to God the things that are pleasing to him.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

It is Sunday evening, so that means it must be time for another installment of Sunday Night Thoughts.  As I’ve mentioned before this is the longest running column on my blog – starting way back in the Spring of 2006.  It’s hard to believe it’s been over 10 years.

Finally this week, we are starting to get into a routine.  This week, Pam and I became official residents of Pennsylvania. We now have our Pennsylvania Driver’s License and our van has a temporary registration and the title has been changed.  Getting my license was a particularly stressful – especially the part about establishing residency.  Add to that, I forgot my wallet at home.  It was a 20 mile drive to Bradford – a trip that we had to make a second time.  It was interesting because we met an old acquaintance at the Driver’s License Center.  The staff there was great.

While I was getting our title transferred I was asked if I would like to substitute drive for the local bus/transport company.  So, I’ve submitted my background check for that.

In addition to all that – like I said, a busy week – I had to get everything ready for this week’s worship service.  Yesterday was cool however.  The local high school that is just across the state line in New York, opened their high ropes course to the public.  We had a great time, both James and I climbed the rock wall and rode the zip line down.  In addition, I tried the high ropes obstacles.  It was a bit nerve wracking at first, but after a while I calmed down and had a great time, even when walking tightropes and similar obstacles 40 feet in the air.  We even got to meet some locals with ties back to our church – it was very cool.  Here is the link to the pictures if you are interested.

Today we had a good worship service at “The Brook.” The Brook is the nickname for the hollow that our church is located.  As we started the day, we had showers of blessing – it rained hard for awhile – now the sky is blue and the dew points are going down as well as the humidity.  It looks like it might be a wonderful morning for running.  We celebrated communion this morning and the Holy Spirit was active.

This afternoon, James and Anna took me out to eat for my birthday – yes they are a week early, but this coming Friday we will be taking James to Houghton College for him to begin his freshman year.  This week will be filled with activities as we host our kids from Canada and take James to college.

Tomorrow the local clergy – also known as the Otto-Eldred Ministerium will be serving lunch to our local elementary school teachers as they begin their first in-service day for the year.  We are looking forward to getting to know even more people in our community.

Whew! no wonder I am tired and looking forward to hitting the bed tonight.  Have a great week!

Prayer for the Week

Prayer_Banner_22-760x176Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory 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.