Sunday Afternoon Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

This week’s edition, as you can tell is a little earlier than usual.  In about an hour, Pam, Anna and I will be heading north to Houghton so she and Anna can attend a pastor’s wives gathering.  I don’t think I will feel like writing when I get back, so….that’s why you’re getting this now.  As I write I’m listening to something called the Daily Mix on Spotify.  It is a playlist generated by the music I listen to on Spotify.  This particular list is based on classic CCM – Dana Key, Paul Clark, Andrus Blackwood & Co., ect.

It’s been a good week here in the McCrae Brook valley.  We have been making plans for several things on the horizon.  We have a community National Day of Prayer service coming up on Thursday and we are also making plans for our Baccalaureate Service.  These community services have been keeping me busy.  As I have mentioned, we have a good group of community clergy and I love working with them.

My bi-vocational position continues to go well and it looks like I will be pursuing a CDL to drive the larger busses. I have been regularly subbing on the smaller busses.  It does provide a challenge.

This week we (the church) are preparing to take cookies to the church in support of Teacher Appreciation Week.  It’s one of the things about being in a small community and I love it.

We did have a good worship service this morning.  We had a representative from Gideons here this morning.  He did a good job explaining the role of Gideons in missions. We are thankful for his presentation this morning.

That about wraps it up for the week.  Have a great week!

Prayer for the Week

cropped-resurrection-website-banner.jpgThird Sunday of Easter

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Running Update


This marks the penultimate day of April and yet this is my first issue of my running update for 2017.  Needless to say, getting used to running in northwestern Pennsylvania in the winter is going to take some getting used to – and this was a mild winter as winters here go.  January and February had 20 miles each and March had 30.  April was a quite different story, clocking in at 80 miles. Woo Hoo!  I need to take some winter poundage off, so hopefully adding the mileage will help.  The winter has made me a bit sluggish. Before winter I was averaging between 9 and 10 minute miles – right now my average pace is around 10:15 min/mile.  Today I was able to go out for a long, slow distance run – a short – long, distance run – 8 miles.  The last mile was tough.  The good news is that I am not nearly as sore as I was last Saturday at 7 miles.  The plan for the next week is two five milers, a three miler, and another long 8 miler on Saturday.  But for now I am glad I am pressing on again.

The Eternal, Living Word

seedlings-1586462_640Third Sunday of Easter (April 30, 2017)

1 Peter 1:17-23 | New Living Translation (NLT)

And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.” For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake.

Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.

This morning’s text takes me back a year to when we came to McCrae Brook.  This is the text that I preached from that morning.  My message that morning was called “Empty.”  This passage tells us that we were saved from the empty life that we inherited from our ancestors.  Peter is primarily writing to Jewish Christians, but when you think about it, our faith is needs to be our own.  While our parents and grandparents can be great examples of what it means to live a godly life, we cannot simply inherit their faith.  We must make our own choice to follow Christ.  I am thankful for my godly heritage. I am thankful to parents and grandparents and many others who lived a godly faith.  But they don’t save us.

It is Christ who saves us through his sacrifice on the cross – the precious blood of Christ that paid our ransom.  And this was the plan from the very beginning.  Peter tells us that God chose Jesus before the world began.  God loved us so much that he knew what was going to happen and had a plan in place from the very beginning.

As I mentioned during last week’s devotional, the cross by itself does not complete the work and here again, Peter reminds us of that, “Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead…”

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we have been cleansed of sin because we obeyed the truth.  Interesting choice of words – First Peter uses the word truth and as this passage wraps up he uses “the eternal, living word of God.”  Both of these words describe Jesus.  We often think of the eternal, living word of God to be the Bible, but as we are reminded in John…”In the beginning was the Word…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

This is the truth and because we obeyed the truth, we are reminded to show sincere love.  I like that…sincere love…not a love that is fake…or superficial…but a real love…to each other…to those who are part of the faith…to those who are outside the faith.  We are to love each other deeply with all of our heart.  After all, “Jesus reminded us that the second greatest commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself.” We are reminded that all people are our neighbors.

As this passage concludes we are reminded of the hope that we have because of the risen Christ – the eternal, living word of God.  We are reminded that this new life that we have because of Christ, will last forever.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

Watching baseball…One of the things that I love to do on Sunday afternoons – especially on a day that has been busy – is to watch the MLB network.  What I’m really doing is watching the highlight reels.  Just got done seeing the Phillies hit back to back to back homers.  Nice!

It has been a good week here in the brook.  It looks like I’ve finally been able to kick up the running habit again, even if it means my legs are crazy sore.  For the last three weeks, I have averaged 20 miles a week.

Spring has really arrived here.  We have had the windows open on several days.  Last week the tree were bare and this week they are bursting open.  It is beautiful up here in the PA Wilds area.

Since it is the week after Easter, things have slowed down a bit, but we still have a few community events in the next couple of weeks.  We will be doing a community National Day of Prayer service and we are also doing a Baccalaureate service as well.

At the moment we are Facetiming our kids.  It has a been a good day.  We had a good day today that started off with breakfast.  One of our people cooked breakfast – one of the things we had was scrambled eggs, peppers, and sausage with leeks.  It was delicious.  Following that we had our regular worship service which was great and following that we had a community Sunday brunch to raise money for a scholarship.

I think that’s about it this week.  Blessings….

Prayer for the Week

cropped-resurrection-website-banner.jpgSecond Sunday of Easter

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Salvation of Your Souls

ResurrectionSecond Sunday of Easter (April 23, 2017)

1 Peter 1:3-9 | New Living Translation (NLT)

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

The Salvation of Your Souls

In the early church, each Sunday was in effect a mini resurrection celebration.  Over the next few weeks, the New Testament Epistle Lectionary texts take us to the 1st letter of Peter.  It also happens that I have chosen these texts for my preaching during the Easter season this year.

As we think about salvation and the work of God in our lives, we often focus on the cross and the saving work that happens because of the cross.  As we look at this passage today, we see that Peter writes, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.” If we look at Paul’s words in Romans we hear something very similar.  Paul writes, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” We see that the resurrection – the fact the Jesus rose from the dead – plays a big part in the work of salvation.  It is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead that allows us to live in eager expectation.  This resurrection gives us hope of eternal life.  Peter writes that because Jesus was raised from the dead, we have the hope of an eternal inheritance.  Because Christ is risen from the dead, we can live with great expectation.

When we think of inheritances, we think of relatives of ours who die before we do.  I’m sure most of you have seen the bumper sticker that says, “I’m spending my children’s inheritance.”  Some of us will receive a great inheritance and some will receive little, if any inheritance – at least as it applies to this life.

But those who hope in Christ – those who hope in his resurrection – we have an inheritance that goes beyond the grave.  It is an inheritance that awaits us in heaven.  I love the fact that it says that this inheritance that we receive from Jesus is pure and undefiled – more important it is beyond the reach of change or decay.  We have several antiques that we have inherited over the years.  Sometimes those antiques – have to be kept in places where they don’t decay – think of special clothes or newspaper clippings or similar pieces.  The great, amazing news is that the inheritance that Jesus gives us (if we hope in him and place our trust in him) will never, never, never, never, never decay…it will never, never, never, never change.  It awaits in heaven for those who place their trust in Jesus.  This is the hope of the resurrection – this is the hope of eternal life.

Peter goes on to say that if you have faith in Christ, that faith is protecting you by God’s power…until you receive it on the last day when it is revealed.  We don’t have to worry when we encounter various trials.  Because we are told that those trials only serve to strengthen our faith.  We often think of trials and testing as a bad thing, but we are reminded that when our faith is tested – when we go through various trials, it is like what happens when gold is refined by the fire – the impurities are taken out – they rise to the top and are scooped out.  We often think of gold as being one of the most precious metals (certainly one of the more expensive metals) that we have on this earth. Peter reminds us that our faith is more precious than gold.  How does that make you feel?  Gold is the most valuable thing here on earth – and yet our faith is more precious to God than gold. That is amazing.

We don’t like to go through trials – as humans we don’t like to be uncomfortable and yet listen to these words from Peter: “So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”  How cool is that?

We have an eternal hope.  In the Gospel of John we have the story of Thomas.  You may remember that Thomas was not with the disciples on the Sunday evening when Jesus rose from the dead.  The other disciples told Thomas that they had seen Jesus.  Thomas was unconvinced.  He said “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” Eight days later the disciples were together once again – this time Thomas was with them when Jesus appeared to them.  He spoke to Thomas: “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

In the next paragraph John writes that the Gospels were written so that we may believe. The Gospels were a first hand account of the life of Jesus.  Peter writes to us who lived after Jesus walked on this earth.  He tells us:

“You love him even though you have never seen him. Though, you do not see hem now, you trust him: and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.  The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”

I would encourage you to check out this Jesus, because Jesus is alive we have a wonderful inheritance – it is the salvation of our souls.