LDJ Setlist

  • Scripture: Psalm 19:1-4
  • Indescribable
  • Your Great Name We Praise
  • Build My Life
  • Unison Reading: John 1:1-5, 14
  • What A Beautiful Name

Sunday Night Thoughts


Back to Church Sunday is now in the books.  It was a wonderful day – a busy and exhausting day, but a wonderful day.  The summer heat and humidity continues.  By this time last year, we were barely running the A/C and if I recall, we had the windows closed in the church and may have even run the heat.  I always like when we can get to October before we need to turn on the heat.  We have two weeks yet, but the forecast turns colder later this week.

This past week, we spent preparing for our Back-to-Church Sunday and Tailgate Picnic.  I preached a message from John 8 on the woman caught in adultery.  The story doesn’t end the way we expect it to end. The woman represents us. The Pharisees represent the law and Jesus represents grace and mercy.  All of us have been caught in the trap of sin.  The law says we should die for that and yet, Jesus came so that we may have life.  He was the perfect Lamb of God and died for our sins so that we don’t have to.  Jesus is willing to forgive our sins if we believe in Him and confess our sins to Him.

After church we had a wonderful picnic.  Hotdogs, hamburgers and other tailgate food.  Huge shout-out to our friends Dan and Dawn.  For fun everyone came to church dressed in their favorite football teams gear.

Yesterday in preparation for the day, I cut the grass, trimmed with the weed-wacker, and painted a banister that needed painting.  I also changed out a few light bulbs in the church to get us ready.  Oh, I forgot about the flood that we had on Tuesday – thanks to the remnants of Gordon. Fortunately, I caught it and was able to shopvac it before it got to the carpet in the basement.  Hopefully we don’t have a return with the remnants of Florence tomorrow night.

That’s about all I have for this week.  Our District Leadership Meeting is this week, and I get the privilege of leading musical worship for the meeting.  I always look forward to that.  Blessings….

Prayer for the Week

lens-reflection-2757801_960_720O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Tongue is a Fire

flame-1345507_640.jpg17th Sunday after Pentecost | September 16, 2018

Proverbs 1:20-33   •   Psalm 19  •   James 3:1-12  •  Mark 8:27-38

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.

James 3:1-12 New Living Translation (NLT)

James begins this section of his letter with a warning, especially to us to teach or preach in the church.  We are warned that God’s judgement will be more strict to us.  This warning comes just before he starts teaching about the tongue.

It’s interesting in the first part of the letter, James tells us that “Temptation comes from our own desire, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow is gives birth to death.” This is a very similar thought to what Jesus teaches, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Our tongues really show our heart. He says that if we could control our tongues, we could control our whole being.  Think about that for a moment…the tongue only speaks what is already in the heart…our tongue is not the evil…the evil that our tongue speaks comes from deep down.

James goes on to tell us how difficult it is to control the tongue.  We often say, sticks and stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me. How untrue these words are…we know the power of hurtful words. Those words can sting for days, weeks, months, and even years, even decades.  It seems that words that we heard when we were young, can sting – and can be recalled 40, 50 years later.  Those words we heard – the words that hurt can still affect us.

We are reminded how a little spark can cause a great forest fire.  I think we can see how the tongue can create havoc.  The tongue has the power to sooth or the tongue has the power to inflame.  All we have to do is look at the riots that happened in Charlottesville last year.

James goes on to tell us how we can tame all sorts of wild animals, but yet the tongue is hard to tame, because it is connected to the heart.

I love the hymn, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” The rest of the phrase goes, “my great Redeemer’s praise.” Sometimes we have enough trouble with one tongue.  James wonders how we can praise God and curse people with the same one tongue.  It’s not possible.  He says, “Brothers and sisters, this is not right.” We wouldn’t see fresh water and bitter water come from the same spring.  A fig tree does not produce grapes…fresh water doesn’t come from a salty spring.

We can’t praise God and curse people at the same time.  Remember the tongue is a fire. But one of the best things we can do is have a change of heart…because when our heart changes, our tongue will change.

17 Years

maxresdefaultOver the course of this blog, I’ve shared this story more than any other.

It was a beautiful morning in Upstate New York. We were living in Fort Edward, NY at the time.  I was pastoring a small Wesleyan church there.  We had gotten the girls on the bus.  Like I said, a beautiful blue sky, no humidity – just beautiful.  I was scheduled to go to work at Radio Shack later in the day – I worked 12 to 8 on Tuesdays.

On that morning, I had gone over to the office in the church to work on my message.  Just a little before 9, Pam came over and told me a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I was thinking, “that’s strange.” My first thought was that it was a small plane and perhaps the weather was different 2-1/2 hours to the south.  I continued to work on my sermon, when Pam came back over and said a second plane crashed into the other tower.  Immediately, my thought was that is no accident, so I rushed over to see the news.

We sat there watching the events unfold before our very eyes…just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it did.  I still will never forget holding James after hearing that the first tower fell.  Pam had gone up to get some lunch. After she got home, we ate and then I went to work.  We watched the coverage and tried to process it all.  I think for my generation, it was the equivalent to Pearl Harbor or the shooting of JFK.

Today we remember when the world stopped turning…