Prayer for the Week

lens-reflection-2757801_960_720Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive
the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Time Is Short

pocket-watch-1637396_640.jpgThird Sunday after the Epiphany (January 21, 2018)

  • First reading
    • Jonah 3:1-5, 10
  • Psalm
    • Psalm 62:5-12
  • Second reading
    • 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
  • Gospel
    • Mark 1:14-20

1 Corinthians 7:29-31 | New Living Translation (NLT)

But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.

This Sunday will be the Third Sunday after Epiphany.  The scriptures during this season reflect the mission of Jesus.  Today’s scripture comes from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth.  The first letter is one of Paul’s longer letters, but in the middle of the letter we find these instructions.  In context, Paul is generally speaking about marriage in this part of the letter, but in doing so, he reminds us what is important.  What is important, is that Jesus is coming again – that this world will soon fade away.  As I read these words this morning, my prayer is that I would not be so focused on the things of this world.  God has given us the beauty of this world.  He has given us the beauty of marriage.  God has freely given us the things that we have – the things that we can purchase – and these are all things that can be used to spread the gospel and build the Kingdom.  But, we all know that it can be easy to lose our focus.

This morning in just these three short verses we are reminded that time is short. As I write, I am reminded of the song “Ground Zero” by Kerry Livgren.  Below are the lyrics and following that is the song.  Time is short – so very much remains to be done.  Let’s be focused on that.

Days are short and time so dear. So very much remains to be done. It’s time to speak of one so near ‘Til all hearts have been won.

The wall is high beyond is much to find. A barrier we built so long ago. With fearful hope and a faith that is not blind. From clouds of joy we’ll see the depths below.

Across the sea and far away the eyes of all the world await the Passion Play. The final act at last begun; the new is born the old is bound to pass away.

No more the turn of the pages; and now the hope of the ages; for all the bondage is broken, all who see.

The oracles, the prophets of the past; the miracle of knowledge was revealed. The plan was laid upon a strong foundation. So long ago the future was sealed


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

mlk-jr-05.jpgToday we commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Today’s post is a collection of pictures and thoughts and songs, that I believe represent the message of Dr. King.  Several weeks ago, before Christmas, the Lord brought to me a verse from Micah 6:8.  It is a familiar verse:

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Over the last couple months, I have been convicted to live my life in this way.  God has been showing me how to be more merciful.


The second item in this collection is a song by Matt Maher, called Sons and Daughters.  It includes audio clips from Dr. King. It reminds us that we are all created in the image of God. I’ve used the words before imageo dei. Each person who lives on this earth was created in God’s image.  We were all created equal.

By now you might notice a theme.  The third item in the collection is another Matt Maher song, called “The Least of These.” This song struck me hard.  Christ came for the least of these.  Christ became the least of these.  Remember Paul’s words in Philippians

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Christ has called us to care for the least of these.  Christ knows what it is to be the least of these, because through his incarnation, he became the least of these.

As I was typing this post, I came up with one more for my collection. First the song story from Mandisa.

And now the song:

Today on the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Let’s remember to do what is right – to love mercy  – to walk humbly with our God!

Sunday Thoughts


We have been on the weather roller coaster over the past week.  I mentioned last Sunday that we began the day at -15 (F).  We didn’t get quite as cold this morning only getting to -7, although parts of McKean County did see double digit cold.  So as you see on either side of the week, we had some frigid cold temps.  But we also did see a bit of a spring preview/January thaw.  The snow that sits on the ground this afternoon is all new snow.  The snow we had last week, all melted.  On Friday, we had some serious rain and temps that topped out at 58 degrees (in January!)

It was a week that I thought would be very busy, but several things got postponed or canceled – not because of weather but because of circumstances.  We did have a very good community ministerium meeting and made plans for the Lenten season.  We have a great schedule lined up to take us through this important season.  I again will be leading our community choir and have chosen a piece called “The Road To Calvary.”  It’s got some great songs in it and it is a worship musical.  One of the songs featured in it is “Jesus” by Chris Tomlin.  We have sung this song at several key moments in our ministry this year.

On Friday night, we led worship at Emmaus Road and I preached.  In the year that we have been doing this, I have only preached there twice. Usually Pam sub preaches there.  It was a good rehearsal for this morning.

Pam and I have been hitting the gym, trying to take off some of the winter pounds already.  I already have more miles for this January than I had last January. My goal is to at least double last January’s miles.

This morning I kicked off a new series at McCrae Brook called “A Story Telling Savior: The Parables of Jesus.” This week we looked at the parables of the yeast and the mustard seed.  The message was well received.  My emphasis was the small things.  God can do great things with small things – just like the yeast and the mustard seed.  I am looking forward to the rest of this series as we think about the Kingdom of God.

That’s about all I have for this week.  Have a great one and see you next Sunday!

Prayer for the Week

lens-reflection-2757801_960_720.jpgAlmighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshiped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Honor God with Your Body

pexels-photo-685530.jpegSecond Sunday after the Epiphany (January 14, 2018)

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (NLT)

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. You say, “Food was made for the stomach, and the stomach for food.” (This is true, though someday God will do away with both of them.) But you can’t say that our bodies were made for sexual immorality. They were made for the Lord, and the Lord cares about our bodies. And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead.

Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Sometimes we really wonder if the Bible – if God’s Word is really relevant for today.  As we look at today’s scripture, I think we can say, “yes, it is.” The church at Corinth was a messed up church.  It was a messy church.  It had its problems.  In chapter 5, Paul mentions a situation that was happening in the church. Even by today’s easy-going sexual standards, it sounds a little weird and yet the people of the church didn’t say anything.

In the second part of chapter six, Paul gives us instructions on how we should conduct ourselves when it comes to sexual matters.  It doesn’t sound like Paul’s situation was much different from the situation that we find ourselves in today.  Paul’s culture was hedonistic.  I think our culture shares the same characteristics.  So many times we feel we need to give in to what our body and mind craves.  I don’t blame us for feeling that way.  We are told by the media and others to give in.  Paul reminds us that we are not slaves to food or sex or sexual immorality, because our bodies were made to honor the Lord.

Paul reminds us that God created our bodies and that he cares what we do to our bodies.  I know that we could make this specifically about sex, but what about the other things.  I know that I have been guilty – even lately with food.  I don’t treat my body the way it deserves to be treated when it comes to food.  I haven’t been exercising the way I should and I have paid the price.

Our bodies belong to Christ.  in many ways you could say as those who have surrendered to Christ is that we are married to Christ.  As one who is joined with Christ, we should avoid the things that the Lord tells us to avoid.  We are told to run from sexual sin, whatever that may be.

We are reminded that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit.  In the Wesleyan Church and its predecessors, we often talked about temperance and tobacco and the sexual sins, but we never really talked about what I call the food factor. It is the one vice that we (for many years) were allowed to have.  I don’t know that I have heard many sermons on gluttony in my time.  I know that I try, these days, to live like my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.  I try to eat right and I try to exercise regularly.

Why?  Paul tells us our bodies do not belong to us, but to God, because of the high price paid by Christ on the cross.  We must honor God with our bodies!