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269214_10200971400988466_2035316015_nLast night I found out that one of my dear friends lost his life in a motorcycle accident yesterday.  Even as I type this, it’s hard to even think about.  Pam and I met Allen and his wife Donna when they started coming to Parkway.  Over the years that they attended while we served on staff there, they became really good friends – along with some other really good friends – most of whom we have talked to over the course of the last 24 hours.  It has been emotional for me.  This is the first time I have lost a close friend who wasn’t a member of the family.

Allen was a big, huggable, teddy bear – a gentle giant.  There was always a smile.  He lived out his faith and we talked about it…that’s how we became good friends.  We liked to talk about worship and church history.  He was so good to us, always willing to lend a helping hand.  One year for pastor appreciation, he offered to take care of the basic mechanic needs of our vehicle.  When he couldn’t take care of it, he would always steer us in the right direction of a capable mechanic.

After we got home last night, I wanted to pretend it was all a dream, that somehow it would go away.  I even kept looking at Facebook, but the more I looked at it the more real it became.

When we resigned at Parkway, Allen made himself available to write a letter of recommendation and he and Donna prayed for God to show the way.  I am so thankful that I had a chance to get to know him.  He was well loved by everyone – looking at his Facebook feed over the last 24 hours made that quite clear.

I was thinking about this.  Last night we sang Revelation Song during our worship service in Bradford.  It is a wonderful picture story of the worship that is happening in heaven, most of the words are taken straight out of Revelation 4.  Little did I know (we found out about the accident after the service) that as we were singing those words, Allen was already worshiping at the throne of God.

As we drove home from Bradford, I thought about the MercyMe song “I Can Only Imagine.” Allen no longer has to wonder what heaven is like.  He knows for sure.

Today I dedicated my long run (of ten miles) to the memory of Allen and especially motorcycle awareness.  I really encourage you – NO – strongly encourage you to watch out for the people who share the road with you.  Whether it be someone who rides a bike, motorcycle, a walker or runner.

At our last service in Waynesboro (Allen was there) I quoted my friends who gathered, “Here, There, or in the Air,” a quote from a Dana Key song from many years ago.  Little did I know then that when Allen and Eric (who also helped us move to Eldred) said goodbye and prayed for us that evening, it would be the last time that I would see Allen on this earth.

Today, Allen is part of the cloud of witnesses written in Hebrews 12.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

Yesterday Allen finished the race – and now he is part of the cloud of witnesses cheering us on in our life of faith.  Let us run with endurance – keeping our eyes on Jesus the one who perfects our faith!!!!

Godspeed Allen – you will be missed.  It was my pleasure to get to know you!

Pressing on!

 

My Musical/Worship/Pastoral Journey

Today I spent some time cleaning up some old posts.  They are biographical in nature and had pictures to go along with them.  The posts were originally written on the Blogger platform before I moved over to WordPress – in the process of the transfer, some of the pictures got lost, so I spent sometime adding back in the missing pictures.  At some point I need to go back and do that for all my posts – but that requires some time.

Next week, I want to write next part – so I thought it would be good to give just a little review.

Next week, I will bring you almost up-to-date.

Mileposts

images (3)This year caught me by surprise.  It is a year when me and my family have reached several significant anniversaries or mileposts.  Usually these anniversaries fall on years ending in 1 or 6 – years that I graduated from high school or college and even toured with The Continental Singers.  Pam reminded me earlier this summer that this is a significant anniversary in our family’s life.  No, it is not our wedding anniversary – that happens in years ending in 7.

In a time that seems like a long time ago, I graduated from college with my Associates Degree.  At the time they called it Data Processing.  Now we would call it Information Technologies.  I have used that education throughout the years since graduation from Lehigh County Community College.  In fact, at most churches that I have served, I have served as the technology person.  I even did that to work my way through Indiana Wesleyan University.

Another milestone that happened this year is that 20 years ago, we left most of what we knew and our family and made the long trip out to Indiana to attend Indiana Wesleyan University.  We were following what God had called us to do and that was to go into full-time ministry.  It was hard to do that.  Like I said, we were leaving the familiar Lehigh Valley and moving a long way from family.  However, God was calling and it was important to follow what He called us to do.

Five years later – after waiting – I entered the ministry, which means that this year is also a significant year.  I was reminded of that at ordination service this year as I received my 15 year service award.  It seems hard to believe that I have been serving either on staff or as solo pastor now for 15 years.  Six of those years have been on staff – the first two in Flint, MI and the last four here in Staunton.  The other 9 were spent in Fort Edward and Martinsville as a solo pastor.

It is important to remember the milestones in our lives. One of the most significant milestone ceremonies in the Bible occurs in the book of Joshua, chapter 4

19 The people crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month. Then they camped at Gilgal, just east of Jericho. 20 It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River.

21 Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. 24 He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”

Notice the purpose of the memorial stones.  Joshua set up the stones so that all the nations might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful and that we might fear the Lord our God.  What are some of the significant milestones in your life?

Worn

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Yesterday was just one of those days…it felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.  I know Pam feels much the same way.  While preparing for the day today, I heard the song “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North on the radio.  I’ve shared the video below along with the lyrics.   Then the Lord reminded me of these words, from one of my favorite passages in the whole Bible.

PSALM 121

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

Be encouraged by these words from the biblical psalmist – along with the lyrics from a modern day psalmist.

I’m tired, I’m worn, my heart is heavy
from the work it takes to keep on breathing
I’ve made mistakes, I’ve let my hope fail,
my soul feels crushed by the weight of this world
And I know that You can give me rest,
so I cry out with all that I have left

Let me see redemption win,
let me know the struggle ends
That You can mend a heart that’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
from the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can
be reborn ’cause I’m worn

I know I need to lift my eyes up,
but I’m too weak, life just won’t let up
And I know that You can give me rest,
so I cry out with all that I have left

My prayers are wearing thin,
I’m worn, even before the day begins,
I’m worn
I’ve lost my will to fight, I’m worn,
so Heaven come and flood my eyes
Yes, all that’s dead inside will be reborn,
though,
I’m worn, I’m worn

PSALM 121

I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

In Loving Memory…

Five Years Ago – Three Days Ago

A Young Dick and Shirley Christman

A Young Dick and Shirley Christman

Five years ago, Pam’s Shirley Christman went home to be with the Lord.  This has been a particularly emotional week.  Earlier this week, Pam’s dad Dick Christman joined Pam’s mom with the Lord. Even as I write this the tears flow. It is hard to believe that five years have passed.  We were living in Martinsville at the time and Rebecca got the chance to ride a train for the first time.  In just a few hours, Anna will be getting on the train in Clemson, SC and heading home for a funeral this weekend.   Rebecca, Michael and Robert are currently driving through New York and Pennsylvania to join us in York tomorrow.

This has been a rough day for Pam – with the death of her dad this week and the death of her mom five years ago on this day.  Over this past week, Pam and I have discussed many times how our faith in Jesus has gotten us through.

I find great comfort in the words of Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians.  In chapter four we find these words:

13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.

15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.

Yes, we cry tears of sadness.  Rev. Dick Christman leaves a wonderful legacy.  He was able to teach and preach the gospel for many years.  During those years he pastored churches in the Evangelical Congregational Church and also served as an evangelist.  Because of his faithfulness in preaching the gospel, many people were saved and had their lives changed for eternity.  Dick and Shirley’s legacy shows in that all of their children are serving the Lord.    Two of his children are ordained ministers and two are married to ordained ministers in churches of various denominations.  I almost feel that their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are as numerous as the stars.  I am sad that he was not able to see in person our grandson or two of the great-grandchildren are on the way.  Thank you, Dick Christman for serving the Lord so faithfully.  You will be missed!

Tomorrow we head to Pennsylvania to see the family and say our final earthly goodbyes, but that is not the end of the story.  We don’t grieve as those who have no hope.  Christ’s resurrection from the dead, give us the hope that we too shall rise.  While my father-in-law was on the road in evangelism work, he traveled with a youth musical group.  I’ve heard and old recording and they weren’t bad at all.  In fact, they were pretty good and quite contemporary for the time.  He always encouraged me to play my music for the Lord. His church gave me several opportunities to play both as a solo artist and at least one time with a band that I was in at the time.

I say all that because I want to leave you with two songs: “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin – a wonderful song about the hope of the resurrection we have and then “Save a Place for Me” by Matthew West.  Dick and Shirley – Save a place for us!  God speed!

Some Early Reflections on Being a Grandfather

819366_10151384534136505_1018635621_oAs I write this, it is 1:40 AM on January 31.  It is my son James’ 16th birthday, so first of all, Happy Birthday James!  At 11:30 AM yesterday morning our family began the long trip back to Staunton, VA after seeing the birth of our first grand child.  It was an amazing experience and well worth the wait.  The weather coming home was a little crazy, so between the coffee and trying to unwind, I’m still up and not quite ready to sleep.

That being the case, and the fact that Robert Benjamin Clement’s birth seems to have made me wax philosophical over the last day or two – lot’s of thoughts have been running through my head – thoughts that were different than when my children were born, so I thought I might share them.

  • I don’t know why, but little Robert laying my arms, just simply amazed me.  He was so tiny, much tinier than I remember our own.  Tuesday morning when I got to hold him for the first time, Immediately David’s words came to mind, “For I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Seeing Robert reminded me of just how amazing God has made us.
  • When Pam and I found out that we were going to be grandparents, I was a bit in denial.  I thought to myself, “I’m too young,” but eventually I got over that…The full excitement didn’t really hit me until Robert was born – and then I became a pile of mush.  It was so hard to leave our kids in Ottawa and especially difficult to leave our grandson.
  • Another thought that came to me was how amazing the incarnation was – that Jesus came to earth in the flesh.  Robert is completely dependent on those around him.  How could it be that the creator of the world, humbled himself that he had to be completely reliant on his own creation to take care of him as a human?  That just boggled my mind this morning.  Jesus really loves us!  Jesus really loves you!
  • As I mentioned above, I was a bit in denial at first and on Tuesday morning when Robert was born, I said something about becoming a grandparent and someone reminded me that I was already a grandparent before Robert was born and you know, she was right.  The psalmist tells us that even when we were in our mother’s womb, God knew us.  That’s amazing!
  • It’s a different feeling being a grandparent vs. being a parent.  I haven’t been able to put it into words, yet and Pam mentioned it as well. Perhaps sometime next week, we’ll put our heads together and see what we come up with.

Well, that’s about it.  The wind has really picked up and sounds like it’s going to blow us off the hill.  I’m getting sleepy so, I’m going to sign off.  Blessings….

Welcome to Our World

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The anticipation was so worth it. In the wee hours this morning our grand son Robert was born.  He looks so healthy and is 7 lbs. and 21 inches long.  I was reminded of the psalmist words from Psalm 139

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.

Robert is so handsome. Of course I’m a little biased 🙂  I can’t believe how much I’ve fallen in love with him already.  It is amazing how that little bundle of joy will grow and grow and grow.  Those little fingers had quite the grip this morning.  Welcome to our world!

Anticipation

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our grandbaby and all of us are starting to get a little punchy…so in honor of the little dude taking so long to make his arrival, here is Carly Simon’s “Anticipation.”

Deja Vu

Pam is planning on sharing more about today’s adventures in more detail.  It’s interesting how we don’t learn the lessons that God is trying to teach us the first time.  Again God reminded me, that there is no need in worrying and getting all stressed about it.  We had (like many in VA, WV, and OH) a massive wind/thunderstorm roll through here yesterday.  Many are still without power (including a part of Staunton) and yet we are blessed this evening.  I was worried that the food in the freezer would spoil – it didn’t.  The traffic was crazy on the road today – and yet God protected us.  Apparently my lesson learned hasn’t quite been learned yet 😦  I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to worshiping with our church family in the morning and sharing with them, just how good God is.

Lesson Learned

Today was an interesting day – to say the least.  June happens to be the month that our van has to been inspected.  I was dreading this moment and put it off and put it off.  Yes, in some things I am a procrastinator.  One of the reasons, I procrastinated was because I was sure that we would need not only new tires, but brakes.  The last time we put tires on our van, they were expensive.  It seems everything is expensive for this van.  Being that the end of the month was coming in a hurry – it ends tomorrow – that was the first thing on the agenda following a morning walk.

There is very little need to say that I was stressed.  There were several in line for inspections because in Virginia, the auto car care places are not allowed to schedule appointments.  After about an hour, the mechanic came back and said we were finished.  I asked if it passed and he said, “Yes,” at first and then double-checked. No it didn’t pass, but the brakes were fine but the tires would need to be replaced along with the license plate lights.  They didn’t have tires in stock, so I checked a couple of places and finally found a place that would give me a great deal.  I was a little less stressed until I checked our bank account and found out that for some reason our deposit from yesterday didn’t show.  I called the bank, but they didn’t offer me an adequate explanation.  So we headed down to the bank.  After a little bit of detective work, we found out the check had been deposited in one of our daughter’s accounts instead of ours.  At this point, God was reminding me to count my blessings instead of worry.

While we did get a great deal on the tires, the tire place was a little out of the way, but more than paid for itself because the price was so good.  I actually drove right past the place and at the bottom of the hill found a short little cul-de-sac to turn around – my third blessing.  God really wanted to remind me that he was in control and that I didn’t need to worry.

The lesson learned is that God had it all under control in the first place – there was no need to worry.  As I began to think about that, the Lord reminded me of one of the scriptures that will be in this week’s sermon – So I got an early sermon this week. So here what the Lord taught me:

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:25-33 (New Living Translation)

Turns out that I procrastinated and worried and made much to do about nothing.  The Lord worked out everything that I was stressed about.  What are you stressing about today – what can you give to Jesus – what burden can you lay down?