Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

Wow! it’s quiet around here.  This was a different kind of week. We had a holiday – no one had to go to work – Anna was off for two weeks for a brief Summer break. She goes back for Summer School tomorrow.  Just an hour and a half on Monday and Tuesdays – so it’s not too bad.  Pam and I are going to make plans around those days to exercise while she is in school saving us some trips.  I go back to van driving on Wednesday for another three weeks and then we get another break.

Last Monday we took our grandson back to Syracuse.  It was fun but exhausting – he is quite all boy and quite a bit of a bundle of energy.  We had great fun with him, especially celebrating Canada Day on July 1st.  We however took it easy on the 4th, especially with Anna in recovery mode.  It was nice to just get the needed tasks done. I haven’t had many of those kind of weeks.

This week I had two opportunities to play.  My regular opportunity on Friday night at Emmaus Road.  We did learn that the church that sponsors the service has voted to continue it for another year! This is a major praise as they try to reach the city of Bradford for Jesus.

We had originally planned to go south to York County, PA for a family event, but Anna was still not up for the long trip.  So instead I took up an invitation to play at a local Christian Music Festival.  I did the acoustic thing and had a great time.  There was a little praise and worship, a little southern-style acoustic rock, a country ballad and so on.  We love partnering with our friends over at First Wesleyan.

I even made two contacts with some local pastor friends of mine about future activities.  God is on the move in McKean County.  We are excited about what God is doing and look forward to the next things he has in store for us.

Which brings us to today.  We had a good service.  I preached on the having the fruit of peace.  We looked at the difference between what we think peace is and what peace (or Shalom) is.  Shalom is a harmony, peace, wholeness, completeness. It was God’s original intention for his creation.  Several in the congregation were visible touched by the sermon.  Like I said, God is on the move.

That’s about all I have for this week.  Blessings….

Prayer for the Week

cropped-cropped-cropped-worship111.jpgO God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Struggle


Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
July 9, 2017

Romans 7:15-25 | New Living Translation (NLT)

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

We are continuing our walk through Romans this week.  We come to a passage that is a troublesome one for Wesleyans.  For those from other theological persuasions, it is not nearly as troublesome a passage.  But as we look at this passage in the greater context of the whole letter and the whole of scripture, I think we will see what Paul is getting at.

Paul has already declared that sin’s power is broken through by the grace of God.  We are reminded that we are not under the law anymore but under grace and God’s grace rules over sin.  Paul asks a rhetorical question, should we then go on sinning so that God’s can show us more and more of his grace?  Paul’s answer is an emphatic, “No!” He goes on to say that how can we who have died to sin, continue to live in it.

God’s grace is not an excuse to sin and now Paul starts talking about the law.  We are free from the law and now makes the case that the law only shows how sinful we are.  If we were still under the law, we would be just as incapable as the Hebrew were at following the law.  God’s law only reveals how sinful we are.

This is the point that Paul is getting at here in the latter part of Romans 7.  I really believe that Paul is making the point that without Christ working our lives, without the help of the Holy Spirit living in us – and yes, I’m getting a bit ahead of the text here – we remain in our old sinful state.  Paul makes the case that it was not the law that was the problem.  The problem is the sinful state of humankind.  Paul states that it is the sin that lives within us that causes us to sin.  James echoes this:

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. – James 1:14-15

Sin comes from the depths of our heart and that is the point that Paul is trying to make.  The law is not the problem – the law only reveals how sinful we really are.  The point in this passage is that without some outside, intervening force, it is impossible to please God.  In Deuteronomy 6:4-6 we have these words:

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.

Jesus tells us that this is the greatest commandment – and yet the people of Israel were unable to follow it – even though they loved God and they were God’s chosen people. What hope do we have of following it?

At the very end of this section, Paul gives us the hope and the answer and we will look at it more next week.  But for now here is your sneak peek:

Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 7:24b-25a

The answer to our troubles – the answer to our sin trouble is Jesus Christ who will free us from this life – and I like the way that Paul puts it “dominated by sin and death.”  Jesus Christ is the key.

By the way, I don’t think Paul is making the arguments that many say that he is making here.  He is not saying that believers sin in thought, word, and deed everyday.  That would be a sad state of affairs.  How are we supposed to look different from the world if we sin in though, word, and deed everyday?  Paul has already told us that if we are in Christ, we can’t keep sinning and remain in Christ.  Paul here is telling us that the reason the law was given was to show how sinful we are and the reason that Jesus needed to come to earth.

Do you want freedom from the law? Do you want freedom from sin? Do you want freedom from death?  Then place your trust in Jesus.

Independence Day


Today is the 241st birthday of the United States of America.  As I’ve done in the past years, below is the text to the Declaration of Independence.  I hope you have a great day.  It will be the first 4th of July that I have had off in several years, so I am looking forward to the day.  Have a safe and happy 4th!

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah BartlettWilliam WhippleMatthew Thornton

John HancockSamuel AdamsJohn AdamsRobert Treat PaineElbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen HopkinsWilliam Ellery

Roger ShermanSamuel HuntingtonWilliam WilliamsOliver Wolcott

New York:
William FloydPhilip LivingstonFrancis LewisLewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard StocktonJohn WitherspoonFrancis HopkinsonJohn HartAbraham Clark

Robert MorrisBenjamin RushBenjamin FranklinJohn MortonGeorge ClymerJames SmithGeorge TaylorJames WilsonGeorge Ross

Caesar RodneyGeorge ReadThomas McKean

Samuel ChaseWilliam PacaThomas StoneCharles Carroll of Carrollton

George WytheRichard Henry LeeThomas JeffersonBenjamin HarrisonThomas Nelson, Jr.Francis Lightfoot LeeCarter Braxton

North Carolina:
William HooperJoseph HewesJohn Penn

South Carolina:
Edward RutledgeThomas Heyward, Jr.Thomas Lynch, Jr.Arthur Middleton

Button GwinnettLyman HallGeorge Walton

Sunday Night Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

Yep, I know it’s only the afternoon.  It’s been a good day so far.  We woke up to fog, which isn’t unusual for The Brook.  It quickly burned off by 9 and left us with some beautiful blue skies.

It has been a bit of a crazy week for us.  Last Monday, we drove to Syracuse to pick up our grandson Robert.  This was his first long overnight stay.  I know his mommy and daddy miss him a bunch.  Tomorrow we make the trip again to get him to his daddy.  We have loved having him around.  He is quite the talker – easily his favorite words are “well” and “excuse me.”  So cute.  It’s going to be very quiet around our house starting tomorrow evening.

Both of our daughters came through surgery this week.  Tuesday we spent the day at the hospital.  God came through in a big way, cutting through some last minute insurance red tape.  I don’t often get political, but, please, please congress, let’s get this health care thing done right AND affordable.

We had Robert over Canada Day which is their equivalent to our Independence Day.  Canada celebrated 150 years.  We celebrated with Fried Dough and Poutine.  Because we had Robert, we didn’t get much else done, but it has been a good week.

We did have a good worship service on both Friday night at Emmaus Road and this morning.  I spoke on the second of the Fruit of the Spirit – Joy.  Joy is a response to what God has done for us.  When we think of the cross and the empty tomb, that Christ came when we were enemies of God – we weren’t his friends and yet the work of the cross and the tomb made us friends of God, how can we not have joy?

That’s about it for the week…Blessings….