When We Were Utterly Helpless

blindfolded-1732539_640Second Sunday after Pentecost (June 18, 2017)

Romans 5:1-8  New Living Translation (NLT)

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

If I’m not mistaken, we are picking up in Romans, right where we left off before Lent and Easter.  The reason I say that is that I remember writing about being made right in God’s sight through faith.  Again a reminder that Paul did not write with chapters and verses – it was one long letter.  He gets done telling us that we are made righteous with God through faith and then goes into today’s passage. Because we are made right with God through faith, we can have peace.  Whoa!  (and I say that in a good way.)

I’ve come to this passage many times because it reminds us just how great God’s love is for us.  We are reminded that we can have peace in our hearts because of the work that Christ Jesus has done for us through his death and resurrection.  Because of our faith, we are in a unique place – it is a place of grace – it is a place of undeserved privilege.  Because of our faith, we know that we will be able to share in God’s glory.

Here Paul reminds us of why we go through trials and why we suffer.  It’s a passage I’ve quoted many times.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Trials help us develop endurance.  As a runner, I have been relearning this endurance thing.  This winter in Eldred was tough and I lost much of the endurance that I had just regained back in the fall.  Finally my body is starting to respond.  Endurance takes time to develop.  We need to have perseverance. The old saying goes “Rome wasn’t born in a day.” Things take time. We live in an instant society.  Trials help us develop endurance. Endurance produces strength of character – we need people – we need believers who have a strength of character. Strength of character then strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  See the progression…God dearly loves us. He gave us Jesus to save us from our sins and we have the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

How great is God’s love – Paul tells us when we were utterly helpless – when we couldn’t even help ourselves – much like a little baby is after it is born – completely dependent on its parents.  This is what we were like before Christ – completely helpless.  When we were completely and utterly helpless – Christ came and died for each one of us – all 7 billion people on the planet now and everyone who died before.

We are reminded that Christ came to die for us, not because we were good – but because we were sinners. We know that we would have a hard time dying for someone who didn’t deserve it – we wouldn’t like dying for someone who was worthy of dying, but Christ, in his great mercy died for us…He took our place. He didn’t wait until we got our act cleaned up. No, we were too helpless for that.  He came when we were sinners.

The sacrifice that Christ made, makes us right in God’s sight through faith – it saves us from God’s condemnation – and it restores us back to the relationship with God that was designed in the Garden of Eden – Christ was the second Adam.  Because of Christ’s work, we can be friends of God – and we can rejoice in this wonderful new relationship!

Flag Day


Today is Flag Day.  It is a “forgotten” holiday in that it is not a federal holiday, so people don’t get off of work and almost all businesses remain open.  We do celebrate today.  This is the day in 1777 that Congress adopted the current American flag.

In addition, June 14 is significant in that it is also the birthday of the US Army.  Today marks the 242nd birthday of the US Army.


Our flag is a beacon of Liberty, a symbol of hope for all people who “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed — that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…” On this Flag Day, we American Patriots display and pay homage to our national flag.

Trinity Sunday

trinity5Trinity Sunday (June 11, 2017)


2 Corinthians 13:11-13 | New Living Translation (NLT)

Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.

Greet each other with a sacred kiss. All of God’s people here send you their greetings.


Athanasian Creed


I shared this during my sermon this morning.  It is a creed developed by the church, to express what the Trinity is all about.

Whoever desires to be saved should above all hold to the catholic faith.

Anyone who does not keep it whole and unbroken will doubtless perish eternally.

Now this is the catholic faith:

    That we worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity,
    neither blending their persons
    nor dividing their essence.
        For the person of the Father is a distinct person,
        the person of the Son is another,
        and that of the Holy Spirit still another.
        But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,
        their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.

    What quality the Father has, the Son has, and the Holy Spirit has.
        The Father is uncreated,
        the Son is uncreated,
        the Holy Spirit is uncreated.

        The Father is immeasurable,
        the Son is immeasurable,
        the Holy Spirit is immeasurable.

        The Father is eternal,
        the Son is eternal,
        the Holy Spirit is eternal.

            And yet there are not three eternal beings;
            there is but one eternal being.
            So too there are not three uncreated or immeasurable beings;
            there is but one uncreated and immeasurable being.

    Similarly, the Father is almighty,
        the Son is almighty,
        the Holy Spirit is almighty.
            Yet there are not three almighty beings;
            there is but one almighty being.

        Thus the Father is God,
        the Son is God,
        the Holy Spirit is God.
            Yet there are not three gods;
            there is but one God.

        Thus the Father is Lord,
        the Son is Lord,
        the Holy Spirit is Lord.
            Yet there are not three lords;
            there is but one Lord.

    Just as Christian truth compels us
    to confess each person individually
    as both God and Lord,
    so catholic religion forbids us
    to say that there are three gods or lords.

    The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten from anyone.
    The Son was neither made nor created;
    he was begotten from the Father alone.
    The Holy Spirit was neither made nor created nor begotten;
    he proceeds from the Father and the Son.

    Accordingly there is one Father, not three fathers;
    there is one Son, not three sons;
    there is one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.

    Nothing in this trinity is before or after,
    nothing is greater or smaller;
    in their entirety the three persons
    are coeternal and coequal with each other.

    So in everything, as was said earlier,
    we must worship their trinity in their unity
    and their unity in their trinity.

Anyone then who desires to be saved
should think thus about the trinity.

But it is necessary for eternal salvation
that one also believe in the incarnation
of our Lord Jesus Christ faithfully.

Now this is the true faith:

    That we believe and confess
    that our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son,
    is both God and human, equally.

     He is God from the essence of the Father,
    begotten before time;
    and he is human from the essence of his mother,
    born in time;
    completely God, completely human,
    with a rational soul and human flesh;
    equal to the Father as regards divinity,
    less than the Father as regards humanity.

    Although he is God and human,
    yet Christ is not two, but one.
    He is one, however,
    not by his divinity being turned into flesh,
    but by God’s taking humanity to himself.
    He is one,
    certainly not by the blending of his essence,
    but by the unity of his person.
    For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh,
    so too the one Christ is both God and human.

    He suffered for our salvation;
    he descended to hell;
    he arose from the dead;
    he ascended to heaven;
    he is seated at the Father’s right hand;
    from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
    At his coming all people will arise bodily
    and give an accounting of their own deeds.
    Those who have done good will enter eternal life,
    and those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.

This is the catholic faith:
one cannot be saved without believing it firmly and faithfully.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

[This is version 2 of this post. The other version disappeared – lost in cyberspace.]

My first thought as I pulled up the logo for the top of this post was, “this really needs updating.” Perhaps I just might work on that this week. As I write this tonight, I am listening to a playlist that I have made in Spotify and trying to relax and rejuvenate. Right now I am listening to an arrangement of “Immortal, Invisible” called “Your Great Name We Praise.” It was arranged by Bob Kauflin and adds a new chorus. Bok Kauflin was the keyboardist and song writer for the band Glad in the late 70’s and 80’s.

Speaking of the 80’s – that’s where the temperature ended up today.  After a very rainy, dreary couple of weeks, the sun poked it’s head out Thursday and it has been gorgeous.  We went from Spring to summer. I finally had to get serious about the air conditioners in the house.

God’s favor was apparent this morning as we gathered to worship. That would be the theme of the last few months – God’s favor.  Pam and I have been able to be used in ways that we never imagined.  The seeds of the Gospel are being planted.  We are been used by God to spread his word in McKean and Potter Counties.

All of this happened despite two emotional weeks.  Two Sunday nights ago, we were sitting with friends from Virginia as we mourned a dear friends tragic death.  Pam and I were again the comforting end of the spectrum this week – as we ministered comfort to a family from this area.  I am amazed how God is working.

As I already mentioned, God’s favor was apparent this morning as I tackled the topic of the Trinity – this idea of a God who is Three and yet one.  God helped me preach this message.

So it’s time to sign off – have a great week and blessings…

Prayer for the Week

trinity-stained-glassFirst Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the
power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with
the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 139:7-18

9636492-1496867922421_640x640I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
          if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
          if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
                    even there your hand will guide me,
                               and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
          and the light around me to become night—
                     but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
          and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
          as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
          before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them;
          they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
          you are still with me!