Aldersgate Day

20150518-2May 24, 1738 –

Aldersgate Day is celebrated on May 24 (or the Sunday closest) to commemorate the day in 1738 when John Wesley experienced assurance of his salvation.  Wesley reluctantly attended a group meeting that evening on Aldersgate Street in London.  As he heard a reading from Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans, he felt his “heart strangely warmed.”   Wesley wrote in his journal that at about 8:45 p.m. “while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

Charles Wesley only a few days before had also had a conversion experience in the same place. The building where the meetings took place no longer exists. Aldersgate Street has been shortened by common Methodist usage to simply Aldersgate. The word has come to represent both the place and the experience.

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

Wow!  Tonight was the capstone of several months work. Our community ministerial association gathered together and we held a Baccalaureate Service for the seniors of our local high school.  We have been working on this service since we moved here.  It was a wonderful evening that celebrated our students and honored God as well.  I am so proud of our seniors and proud of our community.  In many ways, this brings to a close the first year in the ministerium.  We will take a bit of a break during the summer, however, we usually do some kind of lunch for the teachers right before school starts.

11 Years Old

Today the blog turns 11…what?  How did that happen.  I started this blog on the third Sunday night of May, after a homecoming service at Preston.  Who knew it would last this long?

This week we are preparing for the Memorial Day parade in Eldred.  Our community is very patriotic and they have been holding a Memorial Day parade for many years and I really want to see us be part of it.  We are planning the float this week.  Other than that we are kicking back just a bit this week.

I initially neglected to mention that we had a surprise guest this morning – a bat.  He started flying around the sanctuary while I was playing and singing before Sunday School.  Believe it or not – I opened a door and within 5 minutes, he left himself out.

We did have a good service this morning and God was with us.  I could tell people were tuned into the message…I am thankful for God’s favor and grace as the pastor of McCrae Brook.  That about takes care of it.  Have a great week!

cropped-resurrection-website-banner.jpgSixth Sunday of Easter

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sixth Sunday of Easter (May 21, 2017)

1 Peter 3:13-22 | New Living Translation (NLT)

13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. 17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!

18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

19 So he went and preached to the spirits in prison— 20 those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood. 21 And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

22 Now Christ has gone to heaven. He is seated in the place of honor next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers accept his authority.

I know that I’ve written this before, but sometimes I wish our scriptures – especially the letters written by Paul and others were missing the chapter and verse notations – and missing the descriptions of the paragraphs.  Why? Because we forget that these were letters written to churches – usually meant to be read aloud in one sitting.  We have been looking at the first letter of Peter for several weeks now, and I can see several themes.  One is the hope of life beyond the grave because of the work of Jesus being raised from the dead.  We have an inheritance in heaven, if we live according to the way of Christ.  This hope is unlike the hopelessness that we inherited from our ancestors.  Our hope has been placed in God and we have been washed clean.  That hope once again shows up in this week’s passage.

Another theme that shows up in Peter’s letter is trials or suffering.  He reminds us that trials show that our faith is genuine.  Trials test our faith.  They are part of everyday living for the believer.  In chapter 2:17, we are reminded “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors.”  Several times Peter tells us that “if you suffer for doing good…endure it patiently.”  This theme of suffering or trials again show up in today’s passage.

One other theme that shows up is holy living.  Peter reminds us that that God wants us to live holy lives.  Pam has been reading through the Old Testament – listening to it audibly. Occasionally, I get the chance to listen with her.  I am reminded as I listen to the books of the law, that God wants his people to live differently.  God wants his people to be holy.  God wants his people to be set apart. God wants his people to obey his commands.  God wants is people to be above reproach.

So that brings us to our text for today from 1 Peter 3:13-21.

From the start we again have this idea of suffering for doing good.  I love the question that opens up the passage. “Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?” It seems like a dumb question. Why would people want to harm people who are doing good?  Why would someone want to harm a person who is living a holy life?  Even more interesting is that Peter doesn’t answer the question. He leaves it more as a rhetorical question. He goes on say, in effect, it doesn’t matter whether someone wants to harm you for doing good…do good anyway!  We are reminded that there is a reward for doing what is right in the sight of God. Here is a key component – doing right in the sight of God.  You may remember this verse from Judges 17:6: There was no king in Israel in those days. Each man did what he thought was right. In other versions it says and everyone did what was right in his own eyes. I think Peter would be quick to point out…if we suffer for doing what is right in our own eyes – that doesn’t count too much in his book…but if we suffer for doing good in the sight of God’s eyes…that is what we are looking for.  Peter even goes on to say that if we suffering for doing right in God’s eyes, that we don’t need to be afraid of their threats.  I know that is tough. It’s tough to ignore the threats.

Last week in church I shared about Junior High.  I would not want to go back to Junior High for any money in the world.  I think most of us have seen those awkward junior high pictures…believe me…I have my share of those.  It wasn’t easy living out my faith in those days.  I really wish I could have been invisible.  I remember being teased and being called names – I remember my books being knocked out of my hands on purpose…in a crowded hallway.  In most cases, I was suffering for being a junior higher…not a believer…but that didn’t make the pain any better.  It was tough to ignore the taunts.  I know that I thought to myself many times, “I’m already an outsider…how in the world does God want me to share my faith?”  One of the things that I did, was to try to live like Jesus…the best that I knew how.  I had a wonderful legacy in my parents and grandparents.  Yes, there were days that it was tough. Kids, especially peers can be cruel. But I had this living hope.  I still don’t know what I would have done if someone would have asked me why I was so different.  I was shy and introverted – how could I share the hope?

I think I understand it better now.  Of course I have a lot more experience – and I’m not near I shy as I used to be.  I think there are people who don’t believe that.

And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.  But do this in a gentle and respectful way.

This is a reminder that we do have a wonderful hope…we who are living for Jesus…those who have placed our faith in Him and in the inheritance that he has promised…we have a hope. It is important to share our faith.  I think we need to remember to be gentle and respectful.  There are times when Christians have harmed themselves in trying to preach the gospel because we felt we needed to be bold and aggressive.  Peter’s words are the opposite.  Peter tells us to witness not only with our words…but with our actions, so that our conscience will be clear…people will know that we are living what we are teaching.  It is important that we don’t teach or preach one thing and then live quite the opposite – doing that is hypocritical.  But if we live out what we believe, preach, and teach…then our actions will speak out against those who speak out against us.  When they see us living a life for Christ, their conscience will be convicted.  Again we are reminded of the need for holy and right living…”it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!”

I know that those are not easy words…perhaps that’s why Peter now tells us the reason for the hope that he has.  He begins in verse 18:

18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

This is a concise statement of what the Gospel is all about…it is the hope that we all have.  When we are having a great day…it is the hope that we have. If we are having a bad day…it is the hope that we have. If the “world is all as it should be…” it is the hope that we have.  It we are walking on the road of suffering…it is the hope that we have.

One of the amazing things about God is that He transcends space and time.  God is the original time traveler.  Christ’s sacrifice – Christ’s suffering – Christ’s death on the cross was one time – for all sins – for all people – before and after the crucifixion.  Christ’s death on the cross is completely sufficient for the salvation of the whole world.  Christ died to save us sinners.  Christ died a physical death and if that is how the story ended, it would be a tragedy, but the Spirit raised Christ back to life!

While on this earth, we may suffer physically…and if we understand Peter correctly…suffering is part of our life here on planet Earth.  But because Jesus was raised back to life…we know an end is coming to the suffering.  That end to suffering is only promised to those who place their trust…to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ.

In today’s crazy world…where do you place your trust…where do you place your hope?  Do you hope in our government?  I sure hope not!  Do you hope in your own intelligence… in your own ability…the ability of others…the intelligence of others…I could go on and on.  These are not where we are to place our hope.  Listen to this quote from Chuck Colson:

“Where is the hope? The hope that each of us have, is not in who governs us, or what laws are passed, or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. And that’s where our hope is in this country. And that’s where our hope is in this life.”

Where are you placing your hope today?