14520478_10154534488461505_2564851462090834388_nProper 22 (27) (October 2, 2016)

2 Timothy 1:1-14 | New Living Translation (NLT)

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I have been sent out to tell others about the life he has promised through faith in Christ Jesus.

I am writing to Timothy, my dear son.

May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.

Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News. And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of this Good News.

That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.

Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus.Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.

This week we start on the second of two letters that Paul wrote to Timothy.  We sort of skipped right through the first letter.  We will be taking a look at four sections in this letter and it appears that I may using part of this letter for a sermon series in October, so what you see here, you may also hear from the pulpit.  But not this week, Pam is finishing up our series on The Church: Why Do We Exist? She will be preaching on Ministry Service.

Let’s get back to the scripture.  Paul is writing this letter to Timothy and is commending him for his faith.  He commends Timothy for following in his mother and grandmother’s footsteps of faith.  Paul reminds Timothy to keep the flame burning.  I think that is a reminder that is needed for all ministers.  It is possible for the flame to be snuffed out by all the stuff of ministry.  We need to be reminded why we were called.  Tomorrow night is our district ordination service.  I love the litany as each of the ordinands respond to the vows they are making to God and to the church.  I listen and renew those vows that I made as the ordinands make their vows for the first time.  It is always a powerful thing.  I love what Paul writes next and I chose it for the picture this week: For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 

I know in my own life, God had to do quite a bit of convincing to get me to the point of preaching.  I’ve always struggled to get words out and yet when the Holy Spirit comes upon me during a sermon, I forget all about that.  Paul writes that line as a reminder because we should never be ashamed of telling others the good news.  Paul writes, “For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time – to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.  And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News.” Wow!  Paul lays it all out.  Here is the Good News once again.  Notice that our salvation is more than a ticket to heaven.  Paul does not say that we were saved to go to heaven – no – there is so much more than that.  We are saved by Christ and called to live a holy life.  We don’t hear much about this any more.  God has called us to more than salvation.  He has called us to live lives that are set apart – for his use – and we don’t even deserve it.  I think about that in my own life. It’s been many years since I’ve been saved, but this idea that we have been called to more than that – to live holy lives – becomes clearer with each passing year.  When Christ comes into our lives, we are transformed – we are made new.  We don’t have to live in our old life because of the power of the cross and more importantly the power of the resurrection.  The old life – the power of the “old man” has been broken through Christ resurrection.  Not only has Christ broke the power of death and sin, but he has illuminated the way to immortality.

There’s an interesting concept.  What would you give for immortality?  What if death wasn’t the end?  The Good News is that death is not the end for those who are in Christ.  Paul tells us that those who are in Christ are immortal.  We are new creatures – the old is gone the new has come writes Paul in II Corinthians 5:17.

Paul says don’t be ashamed of this Good News – and don’t be ashamed of me because I am in chains because of the Good News.  Paul is in prison specifically for preaching the Word – the Good News.  Paul says don’t be ashamed and don’t pity me.  I know who I trust – and I know that God – Christ – the Holy Spirit will keep me — he will guard me — he is able — he is worthy to be trusted – until the end of the age – or as Paul puts it until the day of Christ’s return.  What a lesson for us today.  We have much turmoil in our nation.  It appears that we have “gone off the rails.” Yet, we trust in the One who will keep us — he will guide us — he will guard us — he is able — he is worthy to be trusted — until we go to home to our Savior – or he comes back for us!

It is for this reason – I am sure that Paul reminds Timothy to “hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me.”  I like the definition from the dictionary of wholesome:

  • : helping to keep your body healthy : good for your health

  • : morally good

  • : suggesting good health or behavior

I think we could safely say that wholesome spiritual teaching promotes good spiritual health and behavior.  Paul says this wholesome pattern of teaching is grounded and shaped by the love and faith that we have in Jesus Christ.  I think that is important – wholesome teaching is grounded in Christ and nothing else.

Paul says guard the precious truth that was given to Timothy – and again, he says that to us – his followers – his teachers – his preachers.  The only way we can hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching is by the power of the Holy Spirit  – who lives in us – who works in us.  The Holy Spirit helps us, enables us, empowers us to guard that truth that has been entrusted to us.

That same Holy Spirit works in our lives – to give us power – for love and for self-discipline.  For my preacher and teacher friends – remember this as you step in the pulpit tomorrow and preach the Word!

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

Its the first Sunday of Autumn here in The Brook.  We have had a great week. It was a little different than normal – No meetings (church or otherwise.) We did have our weekly prayer meeting.  One of the unique things that happened is that one of the members of our church took us out to meet our neighbors.  It was a great time as we were introduced as the pastors of McCrae Brook.  Most of the visits were short, but we did spend around 20 to 30 minutes at one of the houses nearest to us.

Anna started substituting this past week and has three assignments this week.  Tomorrow I am going for my physical and finger printing so that I can substitute bus drive for the local school district.

My favorite part of the week was yesterday going to Letchworth State Park.  This beautiful park along the Genesee River has three waterfalls in a massive gorge.  Often called the “Grand Canyon of the East,” it really is beautiful.

Today we had a wonderful service as I preached on the importance of fellowship – think of the word Koinonia – check out the word in the Greek – it is so much more than we think it is.  This afternoon we went to Sheetz – it’s about 15 miles away, so it’s not somewhere we go often.  It was fun.

Well that’s about all I have for this week.  Have a great week!

Prayer for the Week


O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Running Update

x354-q80Here we are on the last Saturday of September.  Two months ago we were celebrating our first Sunday at McCrae Brook Wesleyan Church.

Since we have moved here my running routine has really evolved into something much more than it had been.  It has been feeling good and for the first time in over a year, I feel like I am accomplishing something in the area of running.  It hasn’t been easy to re-establish, but things are going well.

So far I have 127 miles (now that includes walking and running miles.) The last time I had that many miles in a month was June of 2014.  That month I ran and walked 140 miles.  At the moment I have an outside chance to beat that.  If I do that means I’ve walked and ran more miles this month than I did since October of 2013 – which was the month before the Richmond Marathon.  That’s wild!

Not only am I picking up the miles, this week I ran (just running not including walks) almost 30 miles.  In addition to that I ran a 7 miler at under a 9 minute mile pace. I haven’t run that distance at that pace in a long time – probably sometime back in 2014, since that is where it seems all fell apart.  I am really confident at the moment – as long as I can stay healthy – the last two years have involved a lot of pain and injury – that I can kick-start – hopefully before the cold sets in too much here.

I do have a race in the future.  I will be running the Purple and Gold 5K at Houghton College for Parent’s Weekend.  I don’t expect to place – I don’t think I have that kind of stamina yet.  So as you can tell I am happy with where my running is at the moment and I continue to press on!

Godliness With Contentment

9636492-1474627704305_640x640Proper 21 (26) (September 25, 2016)

1 Timothy 6:6-19 | New International Version (NIV)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fightof the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Our reading for this week contains one of the most misquoted scriptures in the Bible — For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. What I’ve put here is what Paul wrote, however we often say that “money” not the “love of money” is the root of all evil.  This reading actually puts it all in context.  For some reason we humans like to pull things out of context.  Probably even more so now since we live in a sound byte culture.  It is so easy to take a snippet of something that someone said and turn it something completely opposite.

In this scripture Paul is telling us what is better – Godliness with contentment is great gain. The question here and now is what is the most important thing in your life? What are you pursuing?  Paul says that we should be content with food and clothing, and we could probably add a place to call home.  Pam and I have lived in various size houses.  When we lived in Marion, we were in a tiny house – it was bigger than the houses in the current tiny house craze but compared to the houses we have lived in since, it was tiny.  Our current kitchen, dining room, living room is near the size of the entire house in Marion.  But we loved that little house.  Paul reminds us to be content with what we have.  Those who want to get rich fall into temptation.  One only has to look around to see the empty lives of those who have spent their lifetime pursuing riches. Paul says that is a trap and leads to ruin and destruction.

Let me balance this for a moment before going on.  The “grandfather” of our movement, John Wesley is quoted as saying “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” It is said that over the course of his lifetime he earned more than 6 million dollars.  However the pursuit of money was part of his greater mission.  Wesley died with enough money for him to be buried.  All the rest was given away.  Our pursuit of money should be to help others and make a difference – our pursuit of money should always be less than our pursuit of God.

So what should we do?  Paul encourages Timothy to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith.  Take hold of the eternal life.  This is what living the life of faith is all about.  We are not to put our hope in riches – but we are to put our hope in God – pursue him – pursue his righteousness – pursue his godliness – pursue his love – and do that with endurance …perseverance…and gentleness.

We are told to put our hope in God because he richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  We are commanded – instead of hoarding for ourselves – to be rich in good deeds – to do good (we need that in our world – especially in light of recent events) – to be generous and to share.  Why?  As Jesus commanded we are to lay up our treasures in heaven…where the rust and moth do not destroy.  I like how Paul finishes out this section…”In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

What are you pursuing today?  Are you pursuing temporary treasures that you lay up here?  Or are you pursuing the treasures that we can lay up in heaven?  Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.

Standing for the Flag

Several weeks ago our country remembered 9/11.  As you may remember there was and still is some controversy in the NFL.  Just this week several players on our hometown Eagles decided to protest.  This is a clip from 12stone Church where Kevin Myers is the pastor.  12stone is our largest Wesleyan church.  I encourage you to watch this clip all the way through.  Our country is in a world of hurt and we really are in need of justice for all.