So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt

I mentioned this song during my sermon yesterday. Little did I know that yesterday was the 37th anniversary of Keith Green’s tragic plane accident. There is a great deal of truth wrapped up in this song – the Israelites rebelled against God and against Moses several times during the long journey out of Egypt and even during the wilderness wanderings – all they wanted to do was go back to Egypt instead of entering the land that God had promised them.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Instead of writing from the comfort of our home tonight, I am writing from the road. We are Refresh Retreat and Family Camp. It is our district’s family camp. We had a great start tonight with heartfelt worship led by Hannah Kerr – a Nashville recording artist who grew up in Buffalo and attended one of our Wesleyan churches in the Southtowns. Our speaker this week is Dr. Meredith Griffin. The musical worship is paired down and it was wonderful to hear the voices in worship. Like I said, it was a great way to start off the week.

This past week, I finished up running the school van for the summer. I have three weeks off until we start up again. It will be nice to have a little break. We are hoping to take one or two more day trips before James heads back to college.

Other than that, the week was pretty ordinary. The weather was much nicer this week – not so hazy, hot and humid. It was much more comfortable in worship this morning. It was beautiful to cut the grass on Friday.

Speaking of worship, we had a good service this morning. I preached on the 12 spies who checked out Canaan. The link is below, if you care to watch it. That’s about all I have. I hope you have a great week!

Prayer for the Week

O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Teach Us to Pray

Seventh Sunday After Pentecost | July 28, 2019

Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

Hosea 1:2-10 • Psalm 85 • Colossians 2:6-19 • Luke 11:1-13

11 Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:

“Father, may your name be kept holy.
    May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
    as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.”

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Luke 11:1-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus disciples come to him and ask him to teach them how to pray, just as John has taught his disciple to pray. He then says the words that we know as either The Lord’s Prayer or The Our Father. Last fall, Pam and I did a series called Teach Us to P.R.A.Y. The letters in pray stand for:

  • Praise
  • Repent
  • Ask
  • Yield

As we look at the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, these four elements are included in Jesus’ model prayer. Prayer begins with praise. We praise God for who He is. This is the most important part of praise, but we also praise Him for what He has done in our lives.

When we praise God for who He is and what He has done, we remember that He is God and we are not. We realize that we are not worthy and many times we remember how we have not lived as we should, which leads to repentance and asking forgiveness from God.

Once our hearts are clean, we move on to the part of prayer that many think prayer is – the Ask. As we have already seen, prayer is so much more than simply asking God for a long laundry list. Asking is only one small part of prayer. After we ask, then we yield to God’s will and not yield to temptation.

Then Jesus does some additional teaching on prayer. He tells His disciples that we must be persistent in prayer – that we must always be asking. Keep on asking – Keep on seeking – Keep on knocking. As Paul tells us, we must pray without ceasing. This is one reason that our prayers are not answer – but not always. We must be persistent in prayer and keep asking – after all God’s own Son, Jesus, told us we should be persistent.

Why should we be persistent in prayer? Because God is desirous to give good gifts to His children – just as we earthly parents like to give good gifts to our children when they ask. If we ask, he will give us the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that we will know how to pray, but we MUST ask.

The Call | Neal Morse Band

For today’s Music Monday post, we have something a little different. One of the bands that I like to listen to is the Neal Morse Band. This song comes from the 2015 album, The Grand Experiment. The band plays in what is called a progressive rock or prog rock style. The tune clocks in at over 10 minutes – it’s not your average pop/rock 3 to 4 minute song. The video is at the end of the post – it’s different than most things I have shared on here, but I really like the lyrics, which I’ve posted below. I encourage you to check out the lyrics. Have an awesome Monday!

Leave it all behind you
Time to let it go
Free the chains that bind you
Let your heart go and follow the call

With every beating of my heart
Every moment of my soul
Like the air surrounds the earth
I’m engulfed in who you are

But at times we find ourselves
In a place where it all comes down
And it seems there is no hope
And forever we’re falling

Far and away
There we will be
It’s all there for the making
If we’ll only turn the key
Close as your breath
Filling it all
So reach across the moment
And come following the call

Just as life can break your heart
And I know how you feel today
If you dare the dream you’ll find
When all you’ve got you just give away

Far and away
There we will be
It’s all there for the making
If we’ll only turn the key
Close as your breath
Filling it all
So reach across the moment
And come following the call
Following the call

Leave it now
You know it’s time
The grief you need you’re feeling
But your feelings don’t define
Who you are
You’re more than your mind
So reach for the connection
Leaving everything behind

Leave it all behind you
Time to let it go
Peace will surely find you
And let love shine a light on us all

Leave it all behind you
Time to let it go
Free the chains that bind you
Let your heart go and follow the call

Sunday Night Thoughts

Well, it’s been quite a few hot, hazy, and humid days. Even tonight the temp is still 80 degrees with a dew point at 70 degrees. That means it’s quite uncomfortable. The A/C has been working well for us. It looks like we get a break in the weather tomorrow.

This past week was really good. I was able to get all my regular van runs in. Except for yesterday morning, I got all my regular workouts in. 8 miles of walking and 13 miles of running. Tomorrow I plan to get my 6 miler in that I tried get in yesterday morning. When I woke up yesterday morning, it was thundering – not a good thing to go for a run when that is happening. Our plan as a family was to go to Erie, so I didn’t want to push back that too much, so I didn’t go out for a run.

We had a great time in Erie. Our family visited the Erie Maritime Museum. At the suggestion of the guide, we also went to Presque Isle to see two lighthouses. I am glad we did. The museum describes the events of the War of 1812, more specifically the Battle of Lake Erie. It was a great way to spend the day. We even got a visit to Chick-fil-A and Krispy Kreme.

Because the weather was so warm we didn’t do much the latter half of the week.

Today we had a wonderful morning of worship, despite the warmth and humidity. Pam did a great job of preaching. She preached on the story of Esther. I’ll include the link to the sermon below.

It’s been a good day and time to go play a little guitar to finish the day. Have a great week.

Prayer for the Week

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

What’s Most Important

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost | July 21, 2019

Adriaenssen, Vincent, 1595-1675. Christ in the House of Mary and Martha, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved July 19, 2019]. Original source:

Amos 8:1-12 • Psalm 52 • Colossians 1:15-28 • Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42 New Living Translation (NLT)

We continue our journey through Luke. Two weeks ago we looked at Jesus sending out his disciples. Last week we looked at the most important commandment. We are in Luke 10 again this week with a short story about Mary and Martha. Luke reminds us again that Jesus is continuing toward Jerusalem. He comes to the house where two sisters live, Mary and Martha. If you are like me, you’ve heard many interpretations about this passage. This afternoon, James and I went out for ice cream and I began to think about this passage again. While my application is similar – it comes with a little twist.

As you remember Martha welcomed Jesus and disciples into her home. If this is the same Mary and Martha who had a brother named Lazarus, they weren’t far from Jerusalem. We don’t get that sense in this passage. Martha is busy preparing a meal. Her sister Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him. We’ve all been there – working on a big dinner – trying to keep up with it all, but we would love someone to help us. Martha doesn’t say anything, but you know how that goes. You are working and working and it seems like nobody even cares. Finally she blurts out to Jesus, “Doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work?” She even tells Jesus what she wants out of it, “Tell her to come and help me.”

Jesus gently rebukes Martha, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it…” Ouch. I’m sure that Martha wasn’t expecting that.

So what can we learn from this little exchange? It wasn’t as if Mary was not concerned about the preparations for the meal, but Jesus was here! What would you be more concerned about if Jesus came to visit you in the flesh? Would you concerned what your house looked like? Would you be overly concerned about entertaining him? Apparently this is what distracted Martha, but Mary wanted to hang on to every word. She wanted to know how to follow Jesus more closely. Martha was busy taking care of business. It’s quite like us at times – we are like Martha busy taking care of the business of the church and fail to get close to Jesus – and yet there are those – who aren’t interested in going through the motions – they want to be like Mary and learn from Jesus. This is what discipleship is all about. It’s learning how to be more like Jesus.

But wait…there’s more. What if learning to be more like Jesus also means that we are doers of the Word – doers of Jesus? (James 1:25) Not doers like Martha was – who was simply concerned about the externals…not only listening to Jesus – being a disciple – being a Christ-follower, but doing what He tells us to do. Several weeks ago, I was reminded of this statement: “We are educated well beyond the level of our obedience.” Sometimes we hunger for more and more and more of God’s Word and yet God wants us to act on what we already know. Perhaps this is what Martha was lacking. Jesus knew that she needed to hear more from Himself (God’s Word) in order to obey the Word better. Sometimes we need to listen, but more often we simply need to act on what we already know.

Walking, Keys, and a Good Deed

Many years ago on this blog, I regularly shared stories of real life chronicles. Sometimes they had a spiritual edge and sometimes I shared them for the sake of sharing them. Today something happened that was worthy of a story.

On Wednesdays through Fridays I drive a school van. There are three hours from drop-off to pick-up. In order to save me a drive back to Eldred, I developed a routine this winter in which I started to exercise during that time.

This morning was no different, but I was concerned about the rain that might be coming. I had my phone, my wallet, and the key to the van I was driving and headed out for a walk after I dropped off the students. I parked in one of the parking lots for University of Pittsburg – Bradford. They have a great little paved walking/running/biking trail. What I did was walk a mile out to the end of the trail, turned around and walked another two miles, which took me into the downtown of Bradford, turned around and walked the mile back to the van. When I got back to the van, I looked for my key and discovered it was missing. What was I going to do?

When pulling into the parking lot, I noticed that the pastor’s husband (who works maintenance at UPB, was working in that parking lot. He was still there when I got back. I told him I had lost my key somewhere along the trail. I had already finished 4 miles and really didn’t want to do another 4 miles. Fortunately there was a student worker with them who took me out in one of the small maintenance vehicles. I should have had her start on the last part of the trail I walked. But we searched the first two miles I walked first – then went to the second two miles. About a half mile passed where my van was – there it was – my key to the van. I picked it up and she drove me back to the van. I was thankful for the help, because nobody was obligated to help me. It most definitely saved me some time. It was a great example of what we at Chick-fil-A called Second Mile Service. I was so excited that they helped me and that I found my key. The rest of the day was uneventful compared to that.