Monday, June 13, 2011

Pentecost Worship 2011

Yesterday was Pentecost. At Faith Community Church we celebrated the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2.17* “‘In the last days,' God says, 'I will pour out my Spirit on all people.'"
Let the River Flow


Create in Me a Clean Heart, He Reigns, Spirit of the Living God

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

Brown-Bag Sermon (kids' moment)
Joel 2.28-32*, Acts 2.1-8, 11-16*, Ephesians 5.17*
Be Being-Filled

Create in Me a Clean Heart


*New International Version, 1984

[2 responded to the call to be Spirit-filled, 1 to begin an intimate relationship with Jesus by praying at the altar! Hallelujah!]

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hide Thou Me

A tribute to Patria Louise Anderson. Her favorite song, published in 1926 when she was 10 years old.

Hide Thou Me

Sometimes I get discouraged and thinnk my life in vain.
I'm tempted oft to murmur and of my lot complain.
But then I think of Jesus and all He's done for me.
Then I cry, "O Rock of Ages, hide Thou me."

O Rock of Ages, hide Thou me.
No other refuge have I but Thee.
When life's dark vale I wander far, far from Thee,
Then I cry, "O Rock of Ages, hide Thou me."

Sometimes it seems I dare not go one step further on
And from my heart all courage has disappeared and gone.
But I remember Jesus and all His love for me.
Then I cry, "O Rock of Ages, hide Thou me."

O what a friend is Jesus, sure Anchor of my soul.
So tender, true and gracious, I'm safe in His control.
My Help in time of danger, my strong Defense is He.
O Thou Blessed Rock of Ages, "Hide Thou me."

O Rock of Ages, hide Thou me.
No other refuge have I but Thee.
When life's dark vale I wander far, far from Thee
Then I cry, "O Rock of Ages, hide Thou me."

Monday, May 16, 2011

42 and Graduation

I am 42 years old. My son Eli will be graduating from kindergarten in a few weeks. He will be 6 years old. I will go and proudly witness his transition to "real school" and out of early childhood. I will weep and hug and thump my chest. He is growing up so fast.

When my dad was 42 years old, he attended my graduation -- from college. I was 22 years old.

Little difference in perspective and significance, don't ya think?

But I hope he proudly witnessed my transition to "real life" and out of adolescence. I hope he wept and thumped his chest. I don't remember the hug. Our relationship at the time could best be described as a cessation of hostilities to reload.

Things are better now, and I think Eli has a lot to do with that. Grandparents relate to their grandkids differently than they did with their kids. We all know that.

I think they relate differently to their kids, too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What They Saw

John records the events of the Resurrection Sunday in chapter 20 of his Gospel. Eight times he says someone saw something. Let's reflect on What They Saw.

Mary saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance (verse 1).

She assumed the worst -- that Jesus' body had been stolen by His enemies. It was lost to his followers. She (others are implied in her report to Peter and John "we") could not complete His honorable burial. Not only had they crushed her hopes and killed her Teacher, they now desecrated His resting place!

didn't investigate the situation any further. She ran in panic. Her only desire was to find Jesus and give Him a proper burial.

What she saw was not enough.

John "looked in at the strips of linen" (Verse 5).

He awaited the others --
He and Peter had started running to the tomb together. John arrived first. He stopped at the entrance and only looked in. This meant he saw just a part of what was inside to be seen. Was he afraid of the places of the dead? Was he fearful that someone might be waiting in ambush for Christ-followers? Was he just catching his breathe from the run?

He went farther than Mary had gone. But he hesitated at the door and
didn't enter the situation fully. He remained outside. He paused for Peter. His caution limited what he saw.

What he saw was not enough.

Peter saw the strips of linen lying there as well as the burial cloth (Verse 6).

He acknowledged the obvious
-- the body was not there. He went inside the tomb and looked around. All he saw were grave clothes, but nobody -- no body. Other than strips of linen the tomb was empty. There was nothing else to see.

Peter went farther than Mary and John had gone. But he
didn't interpret the scene's meaning. He only viewed it for evidence that the body was gone. He saw nothing more.

What he saw was not enough.

John saw and believed (Verse 8).

He affirmed the miracle -- something amazing had happened. Finally, John joined Peter inside the empty tomb. He, too, saw the strips of linen and the burial cloth "folded up by itself, separate from the linen." Something about the neat arrangement of the grave clothes hinted that more than a grave robbery had occurred. Recall, only John's Gospel records the raising of four-day-dead Lazarus. Lazarus had brought his grave clothes out of the tomb with him. The burial linen of Jesus remained, folded neatly as if no longer needed.

John went farther than Peter and Mary. He recognized this was not a grave robbery, not the work of any man. Something more was happening. But he didn't integrate his personal insight with God's written revelation. He specifically states in verse nine that "they still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead."

What he saw was not enough.

They saw JESUS! (Verses 18, 19, 24 and 29)

Mary announced the resurrection. The Ten acquired their assignment. Thomas adopted the evidence. Seeing the stone rolled away wasn't enough. Seeing an empty tomb wasn't enough. Seeing something more than human happening wasn't enough. Only an experience of the Resurrected could make the resurrection clear and convincing! Only when these saw (participated with) Jesus alive again could they see (perceive) the resurrection.

Seeing Jesus was enough!

Jesus' own words punctuate the point when He said to Thomas, "Because you
have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (verse 29)

Then John sums up our lesson by stating, "
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

Have you experienced the Risen Jesus? When you look at this account of the empty tomb, what do you see?

Worshipping the Risen Lord!

Announcement: "He is risen! He is risen indeed!"
Call to Worship: He's Alive by Don Fransisco
Sharing the Good News / Greetings

Community Singing: Nothin' But the Blood Tim Allen arrangement
Mighty to Save by Samson / Morgan

Kidz Choir: Rainbow
The Resurrection Today Lisa Shinn

Community Singing: Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) by Chris Tomlin

Grateful Giving: Then Came the Morning by Christian / Gaither

Morning Prayers, Lord's Prayer

Teaching Time: What They Saw (John 20.1-18, 24-31 NIV)

Response Time: My Chains Are Gone (Chorus)

Dismissal with Blessing

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Bandages cause much pain in our little home. Yes, I know they are supposed to be part of the healing process. But Sister leaves them on too long and the adhesive damages her tender skin. Then there is more pain.

Having spiraled down this cycle a time or 2 (hundred), she now goes through the misery of anticipated pain. She gets hurt, wants a bandage, rejects the bandage in fear of future pain and then fights her parents' attempts to bandage her wound.

She doesn't believe there is a safe and pain-free way to remove the bandage. So it stays on and she later laments like Job, "what I feared has come upon me, what I dreaded has happened to me."

Her experience is too limited. Her conclusions faulty and based on imperfect data. She ignores the advise and perspective of one more experienced and knowing.

Just like I do. I know one story of my life and the outcomes of my choices. God knows another. The choice is who's story will be believed. Whom do I trust?

How many bandages need to come off?

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's SUPER Moon

Only every 18 years or so, the full moon appears on the moon's perigee. This perigee marks the closest distance from the earth in the moon's orbit. Pseudo-astronomers call it a Super Moon.

As family leader, I pull us toward nerdy activities. My wife, though glamorous and fantastic, has the heart of a nerd, too. So all day Saturday we talked up the Super Moon to our 2 children. We together worked them up into an almost Christmas Eve frenzy of anticipation and expectation.

As the sun sat, we all began looking eastward. As heavenly shades of night were falling, we loaded into the fam van and crused around looking for a high place to see the moon above the beautiful, but obstructing West Virginia hills.

We drove to one high point but could not see the moon. We drove to another. Still no clear view of the moon. Momma had googled that the moon appeared biggest when just breaking the horizon or tree line. But it was still behind the hill and we were now Bedtime minus 10 minutes! The static charge of tension was palpable in the famvan -- and growing...

...then on the last hillock, we spied through the trees the Super Moon. Momma and I "o-o-o-h-e-d" and "a-a-a-a-h-e-d" dramatically. The kiddos strained to see. Then the excitement faded as the moon did not appear in any way "Super."

Later that night, about 10pm, we could easily see the Super Moon from our kitchen window. We laughed about our family adventure and how un-super the moon turned out to be. Like so much we experience...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'd Like to Be Saved

Last night after E and I finished a couple of key chapters in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," we said bedtime prayers and lay down to sleep. Then in a small, trembling voice, E says, "Hey, Dad, I'd like to be saved."


So I held down my euphoria and asked, "What do you think that means?"

"I'm not really for sure."

So at this point I wanted him to be clear so I shared the meaning of an intimate/personal relationship with God. Our reading of Edmund's treachery, Aslan's trading places and dying (then coming back to life) had been used to soften his heart and were great connecting points to talk of our sinful selves (doing wrong things), Jesus trading places with us and our need to trust Jesus to be our savior and king.

Having talked through these issues, I asked, "Would you still like to be saved?"

"Yes. Will you do it for me?"

"I can't do it for you. You have to choose for yourself. You have to trust Jesus for yourself. I will help you if you want to."

"Okay, Daddy. Let's pray now"

And we did. As we finished our prayer, I told E he was part of God's people and should always remember that. Then I rushed out of the room to tell Momma.

When I came back with Momma, he told her the story of what happened. I walked Mom out and then returned to the room.

He was grinning from ear to ear. "You seem happy," I said, "what is making you happy?"

"I get to go to heaven now, Daddy!"

"Yes, boy, you do and you get to live with Jesus all the days of your life here, too!"

"Daddy, can we get to heaven another way?"

"No, Jesus says He is the only way."

"Okay, Dad. Goodnight."

This is the greatest joy of my life! This was my greatest privilege: to lead my own son the last few steps into trusting Jesus for himself. It was awesome!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's in the Bible -- but not Scriptural

While studying and preaching Luke 4 this weekend for Lent 1, I was confronted with something that happens during the exchange between our Lord and the Adversary. It has caused me some serious reflection. Here is some of it...

Satan tempts Jesus for 40 days while Jesus is in the wilderness. Then there are three specific temptations recorded. Stone to bread exchange, worship for power exchange and then jumping into God's promise. It is in the last event that I was confronted with today's issue.

In all the specific, recorded temptations Jesus responds with Scripture. When challenged to make stones into bread, Jesus quotes the OT that we do not live "by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Then when invited to worship Satan in exchange for the glory of the kingdoms of this world, Jesus again quotes the OT that we are to "worship God and serve him only."

So we see lived out the principle of meeting temptation with the Word of God. The sword of the Spirit can be used to fend off attacks from Satan. We overcome by way of the Word. Christ-followers then should read much, memorize much and interact much with the Bible. Jesus did.

Then Satan predicates the temptation to jump off the high place of the temple with a quote of Scripture. He quotes correctly a powerful promise most specifically directed toward the Messiah. He justifies his request with a proof-text for temple diving.

This points to the challenge for the church in every generation. Not only do we need to be able to proof-text our beliefs and behavior norms, we need an overall rule or rules to guide us in those issues whose opposite sides find Biblical support. Issues such as the Trinity, the Dual Nature of Christ, ending Slavery, and the role of women in ministry/the church all called for more than a list of proof-texts.

Back to our Lord. Why did Jesus reject the verse as advocating or at least allowing temple diving?

More to come...

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Jesus Only

Sunday will be Transfiguration Sunday 2011. As I have Children's Church duties I will not be sharing the sermon/teaching this week. I will share it here instead.

The Transfiguration according to St. Matthew (17.1-9, NIV)

1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

This episode in the life of our Lord involves the inner circle of Christ-followers: Peter, James and John. They experience a clear revelation of Jesus. During the vision, Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Jesus.

Moses and Elijah. Two icons of the Jewish faith.

Moses the law-giver, the writer of the the Pentateuch. He promised another prophet like himself would "be raised up" from among the people. He lead the people from slavery to the promised land. He was a deliverer.

Elijah was the prophet's prophet. He called fired down, prayed the rain to dry up and raised the dead to life again. He lead the people to worship the One, True God. He was caught up in a fiery chariot.

These two together might represent the Law and the Prophets, a first-century short-hand for the Hebrew Scriptures.

The inner circle saw them with Jesus. Then they heard the Divine Voice cry, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him!" They fainted in ecstasy and fear.

When they revived they saw JESUS ONLY. Only Jesus can help us. Only Jesus is declared God's Son and worthy to hear. We need to center our lives on JESUS ONLY. He will help us understand the Law and Prophets. He will guide us.

Monday, January 03, 2011

My Blogging Sabbatical

It would appear that in 2010 I took a sabbatical from blogging. I only posted 7 times in the whole year. Less than once a month...more like once every other month...

I hope this year to post more often, to reflect on the happenings of my life, to dream about what could be.

My wonderful family brings new joy and strength to my heart every day. My church family grows and grows closer to my heart.

I need to celebrate that more.

So on the third day of this new year, I have now posted 1/7th as much as I did all of 2010!

Off to a good start.