Today is October 31st – Reformation Day in some traditions. In honor of that – since this is a Monday and I normally post a worship video, I’ll post a version of A Mighty Fortress is Our God by the Indiana Wesleyan University Chorale. Martin Luther wrote the hymn. Also here link to a Seedbed article called 7 Quick Facts about the Protestant Reformation. Next year will be the 500th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door of Wittenburg Chapel.
Apparently I am more tired than I thought. Over the last few minutes, I’ve done some strange posting – and this is a reattempt at Sunday Night Thoughts. Tonight I am writing from our church’s “War Room.” It is our Fellowship Hall and it is also the basement of the parsonage. As I write I am listening to a CD called “Music Inspired by the Story.” The songs are inspired by the stories in the Bible. Starting next week, this will also be one of our Sunday School rooms. We are starting a new young adult Sunday School class, for which I am excited.
The weather up here has been a little different – and yet we haven’t gotten our first snow – not even snow flurries – in fact this Wednesday, the temp is supposed to be 68. It is interesting to see that there are still quite a few leaves on the trees. I am surprised that November 1st is right around the corner and yet there are still as many leaves on the trees as there are. We have had some cool and blustery days – Thursday and Friday.
My primary task this week was painting our office. It’s not finished – the painting is but not all the decorating – as soon as it is we will get some pictures up. The good news is that – except for a few minor things – we are unpacked from our move!
This week we have our regular meeting with the local ministerial pastors and on Saturday we have our church’s annual Harvest Dinner. Really looking forward to that.
Today was an awesome day – God is on the move at McCrae Brook – and I believe that it is because we are bathing our church in prayer. It was so dreary this morning and yet God showed up in a mighty way. We had over 25 in worship – that means we had over 25 in worship every Sunday in October. Our average is a little higher than that. Thank you for your prayers – God is working among us – and we are continuing to pray for revival – not only at our church – but in our community and the surrounding areas. We are planning on a revival this spring. We would appreciate your prayers.
That’s about all I have for this week. Blessings….
Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
I had a welcome surprise as I went out to run on this last Saturday of October. The temperature was 50 degrees. Not bad for the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania. I have been struggling to get in my mileage this month and was concerned at one point that I wouldn’t get in my 100 miles. The good news is that on Thursday I surpassed 100 miles for October and between, running and walking added another seven today. With plans to do a long run on Monday, I should be able to get into the mid 110’s. That makes three months in a row with over 100 miles and the fourth month this year at over 100. One month I had 95. As of today I have 136 miles to go to get to 1,000 miles for the year. That’s about 75 miles for November and December. I’d like to be over 100 for November if possible, because over the years December has been a struggle – and it will be colder here than it was in Virginia. My runs have been averaging right around a 9:15 mile – not terrible. I need to take off a few pounds in order to get faster. Right now I want to get into a maintenance mode for the winter and be ready to prepare for next year’s Park-to-Park Half Marathon in Virginia. I would like to finish that in under 2 hours.
As you can see, I am pleased with how things are going at the moment. Pressing On!
Yesterday, 130 years ago, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland. Below is a link to a 90 second history of the Statue from Time.com.
A couple of weeks ago I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about moving. I know she has moved but not hours away from where she grew up. I was telling her how stressful our latest move was. She replied moving is not that stressful.
So how is moving stressful? Here are some of the things you will never know about moving if you have never moved an hour or more away from where you have ever lived.
I tried to tell her that moving can be super stressful when you move state to state because of all the rules you have to follow. One of the things that was stressful for us was getting our new state ID’s (Driver’s License). In addition to that there was getting the titles and registrations transfered – and the required inspections. In the state of Pennsylvania, car registrations are supposed to be transferred within 20 days of moving. In order to do that you need a valid PA driver’s license and insurance. Where we live, our local drivers license center is only open two days a week and it is 25 minutes away – and only takes cash or check. Let’s just say those opening days were crazy, because you also have to have proof of residence – which for a pastor’s family – living in a parsonage can be difficult sometimes. Utility bills count as proof of residency, but as pastors – the church pays those – so they don’t come in our name. When we were looking for a new church, we were hoping to move to somewhere that had the same bank, so we didn’t have to change banks. Our bank in Virginia now has a presence in Pennsylvania, but doesn’t quite reach to where we are. Banks have similar rules – due to the Patriot act.
If you’ve never moved away from somewhere you have called home – you may never experience some of these, especially if you only move from one house to another in the same general area – say moving across the Shenandoah Valley, like we did when we first moved to Staunton.
When you finally get done with the all the above, that’s when the real fun begins. When you move you have to find things you need every day – grocery store, doctors, hairstylist, the best places to eat, etc. – the things that we take for granted every day, that we need to get everything done.
Then there is the loneliness that you have when you move and leave all your friends and do not know any one where you move. It is hard to fit in especially when you move to a small town where everyone has lived there all their lives. It is in these little town it is really hard to fit in. Basically, when you move you must start you with your life. Trying to find where you will fit in and make friends.
The good thing is that we are starting to feel more at home. Those first couple weeks were hard as we got acclimated to our new environment. Yes, we still miss our friends from Virginia. This week we even got a nice note – in fact, all this week, we have been getting encouraging notes – from all directions. God must have known we needed encouragement. We are getting settled into our new digs – Dale just painted our office and it looks really nice.
Thank you for all your prayers during our transition.
24th Sunday After Pentecost
October 30, 2016
- First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4 | New International Version (NIV)
Paul, Silas and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we wrap up this church year, we are going to look at the second letter of Paul to the church at Thessalonica. The church year ends on Reign of Christ Sunday, which usually falls on the Sunday before Thanksgiving here in the US. Then the church year starts all over again with Advent.
This letter starts out in typical Paul fashion – a salutation and a greeting – then thanks and prayer. Paul thanks the Thessalonian church because they are growing in the faith. It is what each one of us should be doing as believers. We should wake up in the morning and ask God to teach us one thing – when we go to bed, we should review the day and ask, “How did I grow my faith today?” God did not save us, just so that we could live the way we did before we came to faith – He calls us to grow in the faith. Not only are we called to grow in our faith, but we are called to grow in our love for each other. Paul is calling the church to grow in its love. We can see that Paul gives praise to the Thessalonians for growing in their love for one another. Again this is what the church should be doing. We should be growing in our love for one another – and growing in our love for the souls that are outside the church.
In this letter we are reminded once again that the churches are enduring some sort of persecution. Paul commends them for their perseverance – as far as even boasting to others of their perseverance and faith in the persecution and trials. As James reminds us…
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Our trials and our testings come to make us mature and complete. Another translation uses the word perfect. Our forefather in the faith – John Wesley – would agree. He defined holiness as “love perfected.” This is a pure love – the love that comes from God. It’s the love described in 1 Corinthians 13. Are you going through a tough time? Keep working through it – God is making you mature and complete – not lacking anything.
This leads to the second part of our text this week. If we are mature and complete – not lacking anything, then we will be able to live a life worthy of our calling. What a prayer that Paul prays for the church – not only the church in Thessalonica, but I believe the church – the universal church!
[We pray] that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
How do we live a life that is worthy of our calling? Paul lays it out in the prayer above. The key is living in the power of the Holy Spirit’s power. The Spirit’s power gives us the ability to live out the Great Commandment – “To love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.” Or as James puts it, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God the Father is this…to help the widows and orphans in their distress and to keep yourselves from being corrupted by the world.” The Holy Spirit gives us power to live holy lives – to love the Lord with everything we have – to keep ourselves from being corrupted by the world. The Holy Spirit also gives us power for works of service – to love our neighbor as yourself.
Why is this important? Because if we live in the power of the Holy Spirit – if we live a life worthy of our calling – if God brings to fruition our every desire for goodness and every deed prompted by faith – then Jesus will be glorified – Jesus will be glorified in us and we will be glorified in him. Jesus being glorified is the goal of the believer – in all things – may He be supreme. So live a life worthy of your calling through the power of the Holy Spirit.
I’ve put this one up before, but I thought it bears repeating. If you are discouraged on this Monday morning, put your trust in the Everlasting God. Check out Isaiah 40:30-31!