End of Year Running Update


This is my end of the year running update.  2017 was an interesting year.  I got off to a slow start as you can see by the last column which records my running and walking miles.  The warm months were good, but since the first time that I started running, I scored a 0 on a month.  December was way to crazy.  2017 beat 2015, but didn’t come close to 2016.  Overall, I consider this a good year and hopefully we don’t have any repeats of December in any month of 2018.  It’s time to put 2017 behind me and look forward to the future!

But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Philippians 3:14-17

Sunday Night Thoughts


Happy New Year

Less than six hours remain in 2017.  This afternoon, I have been busy posting many of the end of year posts.  I have one more to post about my running season.  It was a good season until December.  More on that in another post.

Winter Has Arrived!

Last weekend it was raining and snowing, but the tide has turned.  We are in the middle of a cold snap, the longest cold snap we have experienced here in Eldred.  Because the lakes haven’t frozen, we tend to get what’s left of the lake effect snow.  We don’t have anything like what Erie has.  We have a few inches on the ground.  The last couple of days I have swept just a dusting of snow every morning.  Welcome to winter in NW PA. We are looking at some sub zero lows over  the next few days. It looks like we will get a break by next weekend.


This past week we took a bit of a vacation heading to the Poconos and to Allentown to visit family.  We got to eat a Chick-fil-A twice in one week. That’s the first time that has happened since we left Staunton.  We also got to eat hot dogs at Yocco’s – one of my favorite places for hot dogs.  We ate way too much, so that means it’s time to get back to the treadmill, even though I don’t like it.

This week we get to see our kids and grandchildren and we are really looking forward to that.  They arrive sometime tomorrow – weather permitting.

The Consolation of Israel

This morning I led the musical worship and preached.  My sermon was called Jesus Saves.  We had a good service with the faithful.  Being that it was cold and we had a wind chill advisory, I completely understood.  It may have been cold outside, but the fellowship and worship was warm and authentic.  We did however cancel the plans we had for a New Year’s Eve due to the weather. It’s cold even for hardy NW Pennsylvanians.

From our family to yours, we wish you a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Top News Stories 2017

Every year the major news networks put together a list of their top 10 news stories of the year.  I put together what I thought were the top stories of 2017. Interestingly enough, Dale checked my stories with others and we came up with many of the same selections.  Whether you agree or disagree – you may be on one side or the other of these stories – these stories made an impact on our culture and country this year.

  1. #metoo
  2. The National Anthem Controversy | NFL Players
  3. Charlottesville | Taking down monuments
  4. Racial Tensions
  5. Mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas
  6. Opioid Epidemic
  7. Hurricane devastation.

Worship Finds 2017 Edition

My worship finds list is smaller than in year’s past.  But I’d still like to share it with you.  Some of the songs that Pam listed in her post are duplicated on this list.  Again, in no particular order:

Interestingly enough the last song I found this year is the first. The gospel-tinged “All My Hope” by Crowder.

Your Love Defends Me | Matt Maher

It Is Well | Bethel Music

What A Beautiful Name | Hillsong

Jesus | Chris Tomlin

Awake My Soul (A Thousand Tongues) | Matt Maher

Just As I Am | Matt Maher

The Cross Forever Speaks | Matt Maher

Faithfulness | Matt Maher

You Were On the Cross | Matt Maher

Unbroken Praise | Matt Redman

The Garden | Kari Jobe

King of My Heart | John Mark McMillan and Sarah McMillan

End of the Year Music Post

Each year Pam and I put together a list of songs that we have enjoyed from the past year.  Now sometimes there is crossover from the year before.  The list of songs is in no particular order.  First up however is my nomination for Album of the Year

Matt Maher | Echoes

Probably that comes as no surprise.  This album is a well crafted album.  What I like about it is that Maher has taken the theme of the lyrics from several well known hymns and gospel songs and has redone them with new music and lyrics.  Just to give you an idea we have titles like “What A Friend,” “Faithfulness,” “Holy,” “Just As I Am,” “Awake My Soul (A Thousand Tongues). Each of these songs is based on a classic hymn.  Some of my other favorites are Your Love Defends Me (which will get listed below) and Least of These.

If I shared all the songs I like from this project you would have the whole album.

Here are Pam’s top choices for songs in 2017:

Even If | Mercy Me

Still | Hillary Scott

The Lion and the Lamb | Leeland

Forgiven | Crowder

Revival | Third Day

Run Devil Run | Crowder

Chainbreaker | Zach Williams

Home | Chris Tomlin

King of the World | Natalie Grant

Jesus | Chris Tomlin 

Pam’s 2017 Reading List

I have not read as many books then I normally do during a year. This year I have been sick and it was hard to read so some of the books I listen.

  1. William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace by Ian Doescher
  2. Elizabeth The Queen by Sally Bedell Smith
  3. Hallelujah What a Savior! By Kenneth W. Osbeck
  4. Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz
  5. She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poem selected and introduced by Caroline Kennedy
  6. Bridge of Spies by Giles Whittell
  7. Gateway to Freedom by Eric Foner
  8. Meet Generation Z by James Emery White
  9. The Photograph by Beverly Lewis
  10. Shock the Clock by Jeanette Levellie
  11. The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
  12. Small Town Jesus by Donnie Griggs
  13. I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divored
  14. When Janey Came Marching Home by Laura Browder
  15. Ablaze For God by Wesley L. Diewel
  16. Celebrating Food by NPR –  I do not know if this is a real book but the library had it with the audio books.
  17. Food by Jim Gaffigan
  18. 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman
  19. A Slave in the White House  by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor
  20. Finding Life by Jane Rubietta
  21. I Am  Hutterite by Mary-Ann Kirkby
  22. Notaries RBG by irin Carmon
  23. Turn by Max Lucado
  24. Immortal Irishman by Timothy Egan
  25. Into the Storm by Reed Timmer
  26. A Compact Guide to the Whole Bible Edited Robert W. Wall and David R Nienhuis
  27. God Rest ye Merry Soldiers by James McIvor
  28. Settle for More by Megyn Kelly
  29. I Dared to Call Him Father by Biquis Sheikh
  30. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
  31. Max Factor and Hollywood: A Glamorous History by Erika Thomas and Marc Wanamaker
  32. White Trash: 400 Years Untold History of Class in America  Nancy Isenberg
  33. Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O’Reily and Martin Dugard
  34. Letter of a Woman Homesteader by Elinore Paruit Stewart
  35. American Chronicles: First Ladies by NPR
  36. My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
  37. 11 Days in December by Stanley Weintraub
  38. The 1972 Flood in New York’s Southern Tier by Kirk W. House
  39. Out of Order by Sandra Day O’Conner’
  40. Speak of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism by Carl Medearis
  41. Portraits of Courage by George and Laura Bush
  42. Western New York Amusement Parks by Rose Ann Hirch
  43. The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows by Brian Castner
  44. Legends and Lies The Patriots by Bill O’Reilly
  45. Remarkable Women in New York State History by Helen Engel and Marilynn Smiley
  46. Along the Allegheny River: The Northern Watershed by Charles E Williams
  47. Sister In Law by Linda Hirshman
  48. Wonder Woman Unbound by Tim Hanley
  49. Mad Enchantment Claude Monet and the Water Lilies by Ross King
  50. History Buff’s Guide to World War ll: Top Ten Raanking of the Best, Worst, Largest, Most Lethal People, and Events of World War 2 by Thomas R Flagel
  51. Square Foot Gardening Answer Book by Mel Bartholomew
  52. The Story (We did this for Sunday school and I as the other to read it. So I read it.)
  53. The Problem with Pain by C.S. Lewis
  54. Preaching to Connect Truth to Live by Benji Kelly
  55. A History of Christianity In the United State and Canada by Mark A. Noll
  56. The Four Pages of the Sermon by Paul Scott Wilson
  57. Preparing for Change Reaction by Bob Whitesel
  58. The Doctor Will See You Now by Tamer Seckin, MD
  59. Grandmother By Another Name by Carolyn J. Booth and Mindy B. Henderson
  60. Call the Midwife Farewell to the East End by Jennifer Worth
  61. Family Christmas Treasury
  62. A December Grief by Harold Ivan Smith
  63. Slave, Women, & Homosexual by William J. Webb
  64. Find the Messiah by Jane Rubietta
  65. Building the Body: 12 Characteristics a Fit Church by Gary L. McIntosh and Phil Stevenson

At The Right Time…

nativity-447767_640First Sunday after Christmas Day (December 31, 2017)

Galatians 4:4-7 | New Living Translation (NLT)

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Three short and yet very powerful verses about the birth of Jesus.  Why was Jesus born?  Why did Jesus come?  Over the past four weeks, we have been looking at being prepared for Jesus’ coming.  On Monday, we began the celebration of his coming or better yet, His incarnation. Here is Jesus, the one who will save his people from their sins. That’s what the angel told Joseph.  Even his name means God saves.

Paul tells us when the right time came, that God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.  Interesting…I’ve heard theories about why Jesus was born at the time he was born.  In the ancient empire of Rome, it was the perfect time.  The Roman Empire covered most of the known world at the time.  The Roman roads were world renown for their construction and they connected all parts of the empire.  Therefore, it was easy for the news of Jesus birth to be spread throughout the empire.  We see this with the rise of Christianity after Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.  Christianity spread rapidly throughout the Roman empire.  Jesus was born at the right time.

Also interesting and Paul shares similar thoughts elsewhere, Jesus (as we learn in Philippians 2) willingly humbled himself – he gave up everything that made him God – and willingly made himself a human. He came as a human baby, with all of our limitations.  He came as a human body, subject to the same human laws that we are subject to. And also subject to the same law that His Father, God, laid down for the Jewish people.  Jesus emptied himself of all that made him God and became subject to his creation so that he could save us and purchase our freedom.  Before Jesus came, the people were subject to the law and as Paul reminds us in Romans, we are not able, as much as we try to live completely within the law.  Yes, I believe that there were righteous people – as we see in the Advent and Christmas narrative.  But it was their faith in God and their obedience to God that put them in right standing with God.  Jesus paid the price – one time and for all people – so that we are free from the penalty of the law, which is death.

What’s really cool in all this is that he wanted us to be his adopted children with all the rights and responsibilities of children born of God. How cool is that? Even more, God gave us the Spirit of his Son – the Holy Spirit so that we could live as sons and daughters and not slaves.  Here again Paul uses the phrase, “Abba, Father” which in the Greek literally means “Daddy!”  God wants us to be his children and he gave us Jesus so that we could have a way to a relationship with the Father.  Not only a relationship, but we are heirs, meaning that we inherit all of God’s riches.  One of the cool things about that is we don’t have to wait for God to die to inherit those riches…they are already available for us who are living by faith.  If we obey his commands and live by faith, receive Jesus into our hearts we have the same rights and the same inheritance as Jesus…just because Jesus came at the right time!

Prayer for Christmas Day 2

1.nativityAlmighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Christmas Day 2

Hebrews 1:1-4 |New Living Translation (NLT)

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.

Nativity of the Lord – December 25, 2017