500 Years of the Reformation

Today marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  It is the day that Martin Luther took his 95 Theses and nailed them to the door of Wittenburg Chapel. It really did change the course of Christian history.  Martin Luther never intended to split the church – he did however want to reform the abuses that were happening within the church and that he did.

On this Reformation Day, I thought I would share some links, especially those from a Wesleyan perspective – on Reformation Day.  But before I do that, I want to share the Nicene Creed.  It it what Christ-followers around the world hold to be their core beliefs:

We believe in one God,
      the Father almighty,
      maker of heaven and earth,
      of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
      the only Son of God,
      begotten from the Father before all ages,
           God from God,
           Light from Light,
           true God from true God,
      begotten, not made;
      of the same essence as the Father.
      Through him all things were made.
      For us and for our salvation
           he came down from heaven;
           he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
           and was made human.
           He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
           he suffered and was buried.
           The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
           He ascended to heaven
           and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
           He will come again with glory
           to judge the living and the dead.
           His kingdom will never end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
      the Lord, the giver of life.
      He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
      and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
      He spoke through the prophets.
      We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
      We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
      We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
      and to life in the world to come. Amen.

There are several videos available at Seedbed.com’s Seven Minute Seminary.  But I did want to embed this one in the blog. Here is the link to the rest:

Indiana Wesleyan professor Ken Schenck posted 95 Theses For The Church Today

As I close, I want to share Martin Luther’s famous quote from the Diet of Worms “Here I Stand.”

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason (I do not accept the authority of popes and councils because they have contradicted each other), my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. So help me God. Amen.”

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Least of These | Matt Maher

I’ve been listening – a lot – to this great new release from Matt Maher.  Many of the songs from this album were written during a difficult time in Maher’s life – the passing of his father.  Jesus told us to take care of the least of these.  Maher takes these words and reminded that Jesus came for the least of these – meaning us.  This is a powerful and moving song.

Matt Maher / John Tibbs

I’m a stranger in a foreign land
Passing through, when will I be home again?
You remind me, nothing here is permanent
But Your word and Your faithfulness

I was hungry, I was thirsty
I was weary, You let me in

When love became a refugee, He became my refuge
When love became a prisoner, He set me free
The widow and the orphan became the bride and children
When He stole my heart between two thieves
That’s when love became the
Least of these

I’m a beggar on the pilgrim’s road
Chasing echoes of a voice I hear among the poor
I’m a stranger in a foreign land
Oh the memories of the love that calls the broken things to mend

When love became a refugee, He became my refuge
When love became a prisoner, He set me free
The widow and the orphan became the bride and children
When He stole my heart between two thieves
That’s when love became the
Least of these

Sunday Night Thoughts

quotes-Sunday-Night-Thought

It has been an amazing day! It’s certainly not how I thought it would work out.  We woke up to a cold rain.  I suppose it could have been snow.  It meant that we would have to move our Trunk or Treat indoors tonight – we did do that.  At one point, I was really discouraged, but then one by one, people started showing up.  By the end of the night, we had at least 25 children, plus their parents visit our Trunk or Treat.  I am hugely excited about that.

We had a good service this morning.  Our regular worship leader was sick, so I led the music and preached, but had Pam take most of the other responsibilities.  I also ended up with a pie in the face.  Our church was challenged to raise $200 in change for World Hope International.  The pie in the face was if we met the challenge.  We met the challenge with flying colors, taking in $453.25 in change plus $50 more dollars.  I was beyond excited for the generosity showed by our congregation.

Speaking of generosity, our congregation appreciated us in grand style this month.  We never knew what was coming or when.  We have been blessed by our congregation this past month.  And the generosity keeps coming.  More on that next week.

Friday night our family led worship at Emmaus Road and we ended up being feature in the Bradford paper…how cool is that.  I hope this brings more people to this informal, acoustic, coffeehouse service.

This was one of those days that had a mix of emotions…by now you can tell that overall it’s been a good day, but it has had its moments when the enemy was shooting discouraging arrows.  But today we overcome and we keep pressing on.  I love the new Matt Maher song, “Your Love Defends Me.”  I want to leave you with those lyrics as I sign off tonight:

You are my joy, You are my song
You are the well, the One I’m drawing from
You are my refuge, my whole life long
Where else would I go?
Surely my God is the strength of my soul
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
And when I feel like I’m all alone
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
Day after day, night after night
I will remember, You’re with me in this fight
Although the battle, it rages on
The war already won
I know the war is already won
Surely my God is the strength of my soul
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
And when I feel like I’m all alone
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
We sing Hallelujah
You’re my portion
My salvation
Hallelujah
Surely my God is the strength of my soul
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
And when I feel like I’m all alone
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
Surely my God is the strength of my soul
Your love defends me, Your love defends me
And when I feel like I’m all alone
Your love defends me, Your love defends me

 

Prayer for the Week

cropped-cropped-worship111.jpgAlmighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Proclaiming the Good News

people-2604165_64021st Sunday after Pentecost (October 29, 2017)


1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 | New Living Translation (NLT)

You yourselves know, dear brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not a failure. You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition. So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery.

For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.

As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.


Today we continue our look at 1 Thessalonians, one of two letters that we have that Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica.  As I’ve written before, these were written as letters to churches – to be read aloud.  It’s also important to remember (again) that these were letters. Paul did not outline them with chapter and verses, nor did he put the headers in there.  All of that was added many centuries later.  Sometimes the chapter and verses are rather random and yet they help us to find our place.  It keeps us all on the same page, so to speak.

The reason I mention all this is that chapter 2 is really a continuation of Paul’s thoughts in chapter 1.  As we pick up the text today, we learn that while the church at Thessalonica gave them a wonderful welcome and treated them well, apparently there was some difficulty.  Paul speaks of the great opposition and declaring the Gospel boldly.  Apparently when they came to Thessalonica, they had just come from Philippi where the Gospel also suffered opposition.  This is where I see the continuity happening.  In chapter 1:5 Paul writes, “…it was not only with words, but also with the power of the Holy Spirit, so you can have full assurance.”

The words that Paul, Silas, and Timothy spoke were words of boldness…words of power…words of the Holy Spirit…words of the Good News.  This message was not deceitful…or from impure motives…or trickery.  What a reminder for those of us who are preachers of the Gospel.  So many times we try to be all slick – we like to get tricky with the words and their meanings. Paul reminds us as preachers of the good news that all of our preaching is in vain, unless the power of the Holy Spirit is working within us.

We are reminded of the great responsibility that we have as preachers of the Good News.  One of the most difficult things to do is when God has a message that you think might not be well received. It seems like it is easy when that message is from our hearts, but when it is from God…that’s quite another.  However as Paul reminds us, our purpose is to please God not people.  That can be hard for us as humans.  I know that I really don’t like upsetting people.  And yet there are times as preachers of the Gospel that we get a message from God that we know needs to be preached.  Again Paul tells us that we should never preach to win people with flattery.  It’s often said, “Flattery will get you no where.” Paul and his friends weren’t pretending – they were authentic.  I know that’s quite a buzzword of late, but I would much rather be real as I preach than trying to be a fake.  I love what Paul writes here, “…we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money!” Ouch!  Such a great reminder of preachers of the Gospel.

Paul mentions earlier that they spoke with boldness.  I know that some would read that and think, “I have the right to say anything that God gives me – any what that I want to say it.”  Look what Paul writes in verse 7, “As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you….” That is interesting.  Paul writes that he prays to preach the gospel boldly.  He says he has the right as an apostle of Christ to make demands and yet….he treats the church at Thessalonica as a mother would treat her children — feeding and caring for them.  Yes, Paul shared the Good News, but he also shared his life with them.  It seems some preachers want to preach, but they don’t want to invest in the lives of those they preach to.  I know, it’s always a struggle – especially for those of us who are introverts.  It takes all we can do to stand and proclaim God’s Word in the pulpit and then share our lives with our parishioners as well.  Again, that is where the power of the Holy Spirit comes from.

As we think about being proclaimers of the Good News, I think these are some good things to remember.