Sunday Night Thoughts

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A picture looking up the hollow.  Fall is beginning to show its beautiful colors.

We now enter the in-between.  Over the last few weeks, we have seen several seasonal businesses (drive-in theatre, and ice cream shops) close up.  We have a cider mill that makes cider and doughnuts that opened the beginning of September and closes around thanksgiving.

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Apple Cider and Doughnuts! 

It’s been a good week here in the Brook, even though it’s been dreary.  At least the first part of the week was.  Thursday evening was gorgeous.

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We had a wonderful worship service this morning.  I led worship and preached as we continued the series, “Teach Us to Pray.” Our sermon today was that prayer begins and ends with praise.  The Holy Spirit was evident as we worshiped.

Following worship, we headed across the mountain, and led a worship service for the Bradford Ecumenical Home.  It was good to be with the residents there.  One of our members is a resident there as well.

I finally did get the grass cut on Friday, but it was very swampy.

The other thing that went very well this week was my running.  Monday and Tuesday, I was able to get in six miles each, Friday I did 10 and Saturday I did six more.  This gives me 800 miles for the year.  It’s been a good year so far and I really want to get to 1,000 miles this year.  That’s about all I have.  Have a great week and seize the day!

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Prayer for the Week

lens-reflection-2757801_960_720O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Together Through Prayer

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Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22  •  Psalm 124  •  James 5:13-20  •  Mark 9:38-50

James 5:13-20 | New Living Translation (NLT)

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.


We’ve come to the end of a very quick trip through the Epistle or letter of James.  This is one of my favorite letters in the Bible.  Perhaps because James continually reminds us that faith by itself is dead.  Faith always requires action. Through our actions, people should see that we belong to Jesus.  If they can’t, then something is wrong with our faith.

This section is even more powerful of late.  We have had several sick in our congregation and it was just over a week ago, we found one of our congregation was in bad shape.  It was this passage that I read to the family.  It is the power of the church working together through prayer. We really learn that we are not lone rangers in our faith and our actions.  Our faith and our action must be worked out in community.  John Wesley is oft quoted saying, “There is no holiness without social holiness.” I’m not discounting the fact that Christ has told us to take care of the least of these, but the deeper meaning to Wesley’s quote is that our holiness must be worked out in community.  That, in large part, is what James is getting at as we close out this letter.  James really shows us the power of corporate prayer.  As I think about the rest of the letter, James also reminds us of the power of the tongue.  John Wesley wrote, “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise.” Here we are reminded the power of corporate prayer and worship.  Are any of you?  Several times, James asks that question.  He doesn’t say are you…, but are any of you.  It is faith being worked out in community. Paul talks a great deal about the the body of Christ – that when one part suffers, the whole body suffers.  James encourages us to pray for those suffering hardships – to rejoice with those who are rejoicing – praying over and anointing the sick in the name of Jesus.

Our American Christianity is such a personal – rugged – individualistic faith.  As James says, earlier, brothers and sisters, this ought not be.  We are told to confess our sins to one another – This is not something we like to do…what will people think of me if I confess my sins?  But it is the confession of sins that brings physical and spiritual and emotional healing.

We need each other.  God has brought this so much to the forefront of my ministry over the past few years.  Just imagine the power of the church at corporate prayer.  What could we do for God by working together through the power of his Holy Spirit.  Let’s work out our faith together — in community – the way it was designed to be lived out.

Traveling Mercy

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Dear one,
Tears are good.
Tears are holy.
I created them
To help you feel,
To help you heal.
Don’t be afraid of the grief.
But don’t turn away from me
In your pain,
Because I love you
And long to comfort you
In your suffering.
Take time with your tears
Take time with me.
Express your anger
And your pain
And together we will journey
Toward free.
Free to be,
Free to love,
Free to dream.

Finding Your Dream: From Famine to Feast – the Life of Joseph – Jane Rubietta

Sunday Night Thoughts

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This was the picture from our parsonage last night.  It was a beautiful way to end a dreary week and a great way to begin autumn.  It’s been a good, but wild week – a little bit of a roller coaster ride, but such is life in the ministry.

I continue to believe God has great things in store for McCrae Brook.  It was a good day of worship.  There was a wonderful presence of the Holy Spirit during our worship service this morning.  Today we started a new series called, “Teach Us to Pray.”  We are looking at the Lord’s Prayer for a model of our prayers.

This past week, Pam and I went to our district leadership meeting and I had the privilege to lead worship for my peers.

Yesterday, I ran nine miles for the first time this year.  That felt good. I am still on track to reach 1,000 miles for the year.  Otherwise, we were able to relax, especially on a week that was such a roller coaster ride of emotions.

That’s about all for this week…Seize the Day!

Humble Yourself

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18th Sunday after Pentecost | September 23, 2018

Proverbs 31:10-31  • Psalm 1  •  James 3:13 – 4:3, 7-8a  •  Mark 9:30-37

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts…

James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a New Living Translation (NLT)


James is very practical in his writing and he pulls no punches.  The word that stuck out to me as I read this passage was the word humility.  As I look around at our culture, it’s not something we easily find. Those of us who are older will remember when Mohammed-Ali proclaimed, “I’m the greatest!” We live in a world that says that if you don’t promote yourself, you will be left behind – if you don’t promote your church, you will be left in the ashes.  This self-promotion is what causes much of the conflict in our lives and in our churches.  James reminds us to live a life like Christ.  We are reminded to live our lives with humility – with the wisdom that comes from above.  We should ruthlessly eliminate jealousy and selfish ambition from our lives because that his not where true wisdom comes from.

Pure and true wisdom comes from above and produces different kinds of fruit than jealousy and ambition.  It “is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”

James asks the question, “What causes quarrels and fights among you?” It is the desires that come from within…it is those same desires that tempt us and cause us to sin.  Again, Jealousy and selfish ambition rear their ugly head.  James tells us that we don’t get what we ask for because we don’t ask and even if we do ask, we do it with selfish motives.

Is there any hope for us?  Yes!

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts…

These are powerful words…but again it is what Jesus did while he was here on this earth.  Jesus humbled himself by dying a criminal’s death on the cross so that we could be free from sin.  As we humble ourselves before God and draw ourselves closer to God – he will draw closer to us.