Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Eve Prayer for Those Who Do Not Go To Church

This is a prayer written by Kenneth Carter. He is a District Superintendent in Western North Carolina:
"Lord, I don't go to church much. I don't go at all...Well, I go at Christmas. I'm home then. I feel drawn to it. I like the Christmas Eve service, the coolness of the air. I feel like a child's surreal. I know folks make fun of people like me. What can I say? I've drifted...but there is a pull back. Are You speaking to me? I hear something in the sermon, sometimes, but mostly it's the music and the candles. What is it about those candles? And the darkness?The darkness...or maybe it's the light, I suppose. Light and darkness. I know about light and darkness. I live in both. I've got some of both in me. I'm basically a good person, I think, but I struggle...I know about light and darkness. But I want to be closer to the light. I want to light that candle and sing those words: "And in the dark street shineth, the everlasting light..." I would like to live in that light, Lord.I would like to come home. I would like to be born again."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why Do We Worship on Christmas Eve?

This was an article that I wrote for the Courier=Times on December 17th, 2011.

This time of year I have visions of my childhood. I see candles being held by countless people. I see a sea of illumined faces singing of how silent a particular night was long time ago. I see families gathered together to lift up the name of their Lord. I see a well-worn ancient book opened to particular pages and read by people that have been shaped by the book.

These visions of my childhood remind me of the gathered church coming together on that “Silent Night” — that “Holy Night”. Some of my fondest memories growing up have to do with my family going out into the dark and cold of the night to worship the God who came in the flesh. This was a time to worship the God who was radical enough to be born like one of us. This God is Jesus Christ who is the Lord of lords and the King of kings.

In my first few years of living in Roxboro, I was shocked at how few people actually gather for worship on Christmas Eve. Countless folks would respond to my shock by saying that they were gathering together with family in different homes or out of town to do “Christmas”. I would then say: “Well, you know that they are invited to worship Jesus as well, and you know there are churches in other towns that gather for worship.”

Recently there has been a constant barrage of criticism at corporations and organizations that are attempting to be politically correct by saying: “Happy Holidays”, rather than “Merry Christmas”. I have heard this criticism emerge from the so-called Christian community. But I would ask, if we think that we are to remember that Jesus is the “reason for the season”, then I can think of no better way to remember the incarnation then by gathering together and worshiping the God who came in the flesh. This time of worship should then stir within us a desire to go and serve Jesus as the church he has called out of darkness into his wonderful light.

The word Christmas has evolved over the centuries. Christmas began as the “Christ Mass”, which was celebrated by the church over a millennium ago. This “Christ Mass” would be a gathering of the church to remember the incarnation of Jesus and then celebrate his coming in the flesh through communion.

What the “Christ Mass” has evolved into is what many churches call the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. At this service there traditionally is the reading of Luke 2, the singing of hymns, a reflection on how we are changed by the incarnation, the partaking of the Lord's Supper, and the lighting of individual candles as everyone sings “Silent Night”.

This is a time for all of us to remember that Christmas is not about us, and it is not about our desires and wants. Instead, we remember that the God of the universe came and was born in a feeding trough.

This year, bring your whole family to a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. If your particular church doesn't have a service then encourage your pastor to begin one. Grab a candle and gather with others as we go out into the night worshiping the God who came to us. Spend some time around the manger throne this season because we are given an opportunity to gaze in and reflect on God's great love for us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


“Now imagine the emotional state of a teenager who just found out she is pregnant and has yet to tell her parents. Not quite sure Mom and Dad bought the 'God did it' excuse immediately, if ever, and from that point on, God's blessing would only continue to bring pain into Mary's life—all the way to the foot of her son's cross.” Recently I read Mike Slaughter's book Christmas is Not Your Birthday. I really appreciated the things he had to say about the sacrifices that Mary made in preparation for Jesus' birth. As I consider that ---- I wonder what kind of sacrifices that we make in preparation for Jesus' coming? So often, this time of year we get caught up in what we want and what we need to be doing. For a moment, consider the sacrifices that need to happen in our lives in preparation for Christ coming. What is the Lord calling you to be about? What do you need to sacrifice to live into that calling?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I always enjoy thanksgiving. In my mind, this is the one holiday that has not been tainted by the ever imposing commercialism that is so apparent at other holidays. At the heart of it ---- thanksgiving is still about giving thanks. Granted that you do get enough sale ads in the newspaper ----- that one can literally fill up a small dumpster. In reflection on this year I have so much to be thankful for. I first of all thank the Lord for DeAnne and for all the blessings that she brings into my life. She keeps me grounded and causes me great joy. I also thank the Lord for four wonderful children. They have helped me to be a great father. I love hiking with them and exploring this wonderful world with their new eyes. But I also thank the Lord that he has called me to be a pastor. I have to say that it is the most wonderful calling ever. I hesitate to call it a "job", but I think I have the best "job". It is a true honor to serve the Lord and his people. To all of you, I thank you for your love and affection toward me. You all bring me great joy and I constantly thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for your presence in my life. My prayer is that all of you find much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Putting up the Bricks - 11.2.2011

How To Pack A Shoe Box

Operation Christmas Child - 2011

This coming Sunday we will be having our annual Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Packing event. Click on the image above to go to a link that will describe what we need to bring to this event. Bring all of the things you need to pack a shoe box, along with a shoe box ----- and then we will be packing them. This will be on Sunday, November 6th at 4pm in our fellowship hall. If you have any questions you can see Evelyn Duncan.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Psalm 107.1-16

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on Psalm 107.1-16. In this passage we hear a common theme ----- crying to the Lord. We find this particularly in verse 6, "Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress." As I have been thinking about crying to the Lord, I thought of the baby birds that cry out to their parents for food. They make quite a racket. While the birds are little, the parents will spend countless hours working to feed these criers. Recently I read a blog post that was encouraging supervisors / managers to not be enablers of the crying baby birds in their work places. But instead they needed to show tough love so that these people that refused to grow in their careers would be given the chance to fly. I understand the point ----- but for the Christian there is always the place of crying to the Lord in our distress and in our trouble. That might be summed up most succinctly in the prayer "Our Father". The Lord is our Father and we can ask him to provide our daily bread. For just a moment, consider if you need to spend some time crying out to the Lord? ----- rather than trying to handle situations by yourself. Always remember that God hears our prayers.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Yesterday's sermon

I got this as an email this morning. This is pertaining to yesterday's sermon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Psalm 106.1-6 & 19-23

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on Psalm 106.1-6 & 19-23. In this psalm the writer comes back to the story of Israel in the wilderness. During Israel's time wandering in the wilderness they rebelled against God and made the image of a golden calf to worship. The psalmist writes in verses 19-20: "They made a calf at Horeb and worshiped a cast image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass." Here we can see that the Israelites created an image that had to be fed ----- rather than worshiping the one true God that fed them manna in the wilderness. But, the psalmist hesitates to pronounce judgment on these past sins ----- because he judges himself along with Israel's mistakes. He says this in verse 6: "Both we and our ancestors have sinned; we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly." In this verse we can see the proper response to reading from the Bible. Instead of casting judgment upon the people of the Bible ----- we should realize that we have sinned and committed iniquity and done wickedly. Have you all ever cast judgment on the sins of those who have gone before us?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sermon from last week

I have had a number of folks tell me that the sermon that I preached from last week really hit home. As a result of this there has been much discussion about it. I would encourage you to listen to it if you haven't had a chance. I am sorry that there is a little background noise on it. We are working on that problem. Also, please add to the discussion. Are there traditions and stories that we need to do away with so that we can live into God's story? You can listen to this sermon either by clicking on this link to the church's sermon page. Or you can see a link over on the right hand side of the blog page (a little further down), but here is the link to that as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pouring Concrete - Part #4 - 9.9.2011

Pouring Concrete - Part #3 - 9.9.2011

Pouring Concrete - Part #2 - 9.9.2011

Pouring Concrete - Part #1 - 9.9.2011

Commissioning of New Church in Durham

“If there are good things that happen at Durham Resurrection Community, Warren's Grove gets the credit.” This was said by Pastor Ryan Quanstrom on Sunday, September 11th, 2011. He said this while preaching at Warren's Grove United Methodist Church here in Roxboro. This was to be Quanstrom's last Sunday with Warren's Grove, for he will be starting a church in Durham called Durham Resurrection Community, a Church of the Nazarene.

Two and a-half years ago Ryan Quanstrom was assigned to Warren's Grove as their Student Associate Minister. During that time Quanstrom learned what it meant to be a pastor and to be in ministry through a local church. In his sermon he described his experience with Warren's Grove this way: “Warren's Grove has embraced me and loved on me. You have been a church that has helped me to live into the calling the Lord has placed on my life.”

During Quanstrom's time serving Warren's Grove he has preached numerous times, visited the sick, lead a Sunday School class, helped with a mission trip to Outdoor Mission Camp, spoke at WikiWorship, started a young adult ministry, and many more things. Pastor Philip Chryst said this about Quanstrom: “Ryan has truly been a blessing to Warren's Grove. It is sad to see him go — while at the same time we are so proud of Ryan. We are excited to see the Holy Spirit use him to reach out to the community of Durham with love and compassion.”

In his sermon Quanstrom described why he is starting a new church in Durham. He said: “There are a great number of people in pain and people that are suffering in Durham. Durham is a community where tons of young people are lonely and need the love of Jesus, and it seems as if the church is not present in that pain and in that suffering. So we are going to be a community of faith that embodies radical hospitality.”

Later in the service the congregation of Warren's Grove came to the altar and laid hands on Ryan Quanstrom and members of his church that were in attendance. Many people in the congregation prayed for Durham Resurrection Community. They then commissioned the church to go and be in mission to the city of Durham. To go and make disciples of Jesus Christ.

The pattern of commissioning comes from the book of Acts chapter 13. In that chapter it says: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”

Since Durham Resurrection Community is starting from scratch, the people of Warren's Grove took up a love offering to bless the church. They collected over $1,200. This will help to get the church started with the basic necessities like office supplies.

If you would like to find out more about Durham Resurrection Community you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

In his sermon, Quanstrom concluded by saying: “We are going to refuse to buy into that fear that dictates so many peoples' lives. Instead, we will have courage. For we hope to be a sign and foretaste of the coming Kingdom of God.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Psalm 105.1-6 & 37-45

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on Psalm 105.1-6 & 37-45. In this passage the Psalmist is reminding us that we serve a God of covenant. That God has made a promise to us and will see it to completion. The Lord set the people of Israel free from the bondage of Egypt and set Israel free from the captivity of Babylon. It is vitally important for us to remember that this is the God we serve. And that is why the Psalmist recounts the story of Israel's captivity turning into freedom. And then it reads in v43: "So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing." The proper way to remember the Lord's redemptive work in the world is by singing and making a joyful noise. Today, carve out time in your day to make a joyful noise as you recount the great works that God has done in your life. For we serve a God who takes pleasure in his people. What are ways that you take joy in what the Lord has done?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Burlap to Cashmere

I just got the new CD from Burlap to Cashmere. It has a folk and latin feel to it. The song "Build a Wall" is one of those dance songs that get your body moving. The chorus for "Build a Wall" goes:
"Shade the light, down the song, close the shades, lock the door,
Burn the pages, of your life, as your body, hits the floor
And as you weep, you can hear, there's a an echo, of a call,
Through the valley, of the night, Nehemiah builds the wall."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Psalm 149

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on Psalm 149. This is the beginning of a sermon series on the book of Psalms. I have been surprised at how seldom to I hear a sermon (or preach a sermon) on the book of Psalms. It is almost as if we just have our eyes go right past it when we are preparing sermons for Sunday mornings. It is in the lectionary each week ---- but rarely do I hear any preaching on the book of Psalms. But, the book of Psalms is probably one of the most popular books in the bible. Probably more people can quote from Psalms then any other book of the bible. As a result of this conviction we will be starting out with Psalm 149. This is a psalm that starts out with the call: "Praise the Lord!" In this praise we are to sing a new song and to be glad in our Maker. And then the psalmist says: "For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory." We must always remember that the God we serve takes pleasure in his faithful ones. But what does that mean for God to take pleasure? Do we serve an emotional God?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Frederick Buechner - Faith

I heard a quote by Frederick Buechner at Duke Divinity School's Convocation in 2010. I was putting away some of my notes and came upon that quote again. The above video is one by Frederick Buechner talking about faith. The quote that I was referring to is below: “The common view is that life itself, whatever life is, does not care one way or another, any more than the ocean cares whether we swim in it or drown in it. In honesty one has to admit that a great deal of the evidence supports such a view. But rightly or wrongly, the Christian faith flatly contradicts it. To say that God is Spirit is to say that life DOES care, that the life-giving power that life itself comes from is not indifferent as to whether we sink or swim. IT WANTS US TO SWIM.” ~ Frederick Buechner

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day After the Footings Were Laid 8.25.2011

Earthquake & Hurricane

This last week we had an earthquake in our area of North Carolina. Now, at the latter end of the same week we have Hurricane Irene barreling through. This has caused much discussion at our home. We have discussed that this was probably a once in a lifetime occurrence for our children. They have experienced their first ----- and possibly last earthquake. We have discussed how that has impacted folks and what were the procedures for measuring earthquakes.

Then we discussed Hurricane Irene. [Quick parenthetical note ----- last time Irene was named was in 1999 and it came through the same part of North Carolina. DeAnne and I got married the day before it blew through.] One of my children asked why God makes hurricanes. My response was that I am not sure what hurricanes that God makes ----- but I am sure that God loves us and promises to never leave us or forsake us. Suffering is part of our existence as Christians ---- and that is why the Lord gives us one another to help each other carry the heavy loads we each bear.

The notion of God making natural disasters that kill people is hard for me to get my head around. Also, I am not sure if I can make those pronouncements on God's behalf. I am writing this because I would like to hear how you all answer questions like that.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jury Duty

For three days I was summoned for jury duty. The first day we were released after 2 hours and the second day we were released after 1 hour. Then on the third day I was selected to serve on a jury in a criminal trial. I got to come home and have lunch in the midst of that trial ---- and DeAnne decided to take my picture. I was actually excited about being picked as a juror ---- and she said that she had to take a picture of me because I am the only person she has ever met that was excited about serving on a jury. It really was a fascinating process and it was extremely different than I thought it would be. Our case was cut and dry so we were done with our deliberations pretty quickly. But I do think that our jury worked hard at being fair and weighing the evidence.

Old Well Filled In 8.9.2011

Footings being laid 8.23.11

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jamaica Mission Trip 2011

This is a video made about the Jamaica Mission Trip that was June/July 2011. Ashley Ayscue created this video.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ground Breaking Service.

This is our ground breaking service from Sunday, July 17th. We as the church broke ground for God's glory. Our prayer is that in everything we do we proclaim the Lord's goodness and majesty. This video was made by our Associate Minister Touger Thao.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Outdoor Mission Camp - Campability

Here is a video of our youth group helping to lead a camp called Campability. This was in Maggie Valley, NC and I would encourage you all to ask them about their experience.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

1 Corinthians 15.12-20

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on 1 Corinthians 15.12-20. The meat of verses 12-19 indicates that if we do not believe in Christ's resurrection, then in essence all of our faith and hope has been in vain. But then in verse 20 the Apostle Paul writes: "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died." We can find our hope in the one who overcame death and the grave. One thing that sticks out to me is the word "fact" that is used in this translation. This quote comes from the New Revised Standard Version [NRSV]. I did a quick search on other translations, and I found that the CEB and the ESV also use the word "fact". But the NIV, KJV, and NASB do not use the word "fact". When that word is used, in regards to the resurrection, how does that change your understanding of the resurrection in regards to history? Do you believe that the resurrection is a historical fact?
I think the word "fact", truly conveys Paul's emphasis on how important the resurrection is for the life of the Christian. But oftentimes, people get a little nervous with the word "fact" when it comes to the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Because we do not open history books and find pictures of the tomb empty ---- or Jesus standing with his disciples looking into his pierced side. So how does this word "fact" differ from our 21st century understanding of "fact"?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Doc Watson

This last June my family and I went to Boone, NC for a camping trip. One night we were hanging out in downtown Boone and saw that the entire street had been blocked off. The reason for that was the there was a statue being dedicated to Doc Watson ----- and he was there for the dedication! I am a Doc Watson fan ----- ever since I heard a PBS special called the Three Pickers [you can check it out here: It was awesome to be that close to such a bluegrass legend. Doc Watson was born blind. I have been told that he was able to wire his entire house, even though he was born blind.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

1 Corinthians 15.1-11

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on 1 Corinthians 15.1-11. In this passage we can see that the resurrected Christ appeared to the Apostle Paul. He explains how Christ appeared to Cephas, then the twelve, then to 500, then to James, then to the other apostles, and "last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me" (v 8). This is grace ----- for Paul was one who persecuted the church. That even one who had sought out death for the disciples of Jesus ----- was transformed into one that proclaimed that Jesus was the resurrected Lord of lords. How has the resurrection of Jesus impacted you? If you look back on your life, what grace do you see extended your way?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

VBS Video

Here is a Vacation Bible School video for this year. This was made by Ashley Ayscue. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vacation Bible School 2011

We have been having a great week at Vacation Bible School this week. Our theme has been Hometown Nazareth. We have been studying what it was like for Jesus as a kid. We have had great participation and turn out. And the kids have been learning ALOT! Our commencement is going to be on Sunday and I am super excited to see what the kids have in store for the congregation. I have been working with the youth doing local mission projects ----- therefore, I haven't been around to see some of the fun things they are doing. Looking forward to Sunday!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

1 Corinthians 14.12-25

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on 1 Corinthians 14.12-25. In this passage the Apostle Paul says "since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church" (v 12). We are called to use the gifts that the Lord has entrusted to us ----- for the upbuilding of the church. To edify one another in love. Recently, a team of 8 (6 of which came from Warren's Grove) just got back from a mission trip in Jamaica. We were there to help put in a floor in a church called Mitchell Town Methodist Church. This church had been devastated by numerous hurricanes, and they have been unable to worship in their sanctuary since 2005. We, along with about 40 people that came out from all over Jamaica, put together this project where we were able to lay a concrete foundation at the church. In this action we can see what spiritual gifts are to be used for. They are to be used for the upbuilding of the church ------ and this is to be done in love.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

1 Corinthians 12.1-13

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on 1 Corinthians 12.1-13. In this passage the Apostle Paul tells us about spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit entrusts to us. In verses 4-6 he uses the word varieties three times. We should all recognize that there are varieties of gifts that God entrusts to us. Those gifts are not all the same. But what is similar to all the gifts is found in verse 7 ------ "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." The gifts are given by God for the common good. The real question for us, as the church, are we using our spiritual gifts for the common good?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shown at Annual Conference 2011

The Global Young People's Convocation and Legislative Assembly - Berlin, Germany | 2010

About 350 youth and young people representing 32 countries -- from Angola to Zimbabwe --registered for the July 21-26 event, which is sponsored by Young People's Ministries, a division of The General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church.

The five-day event includes worship, Bible study and leadership development for the participants, who come together to bridge the social, economical, religious, ethnic and political gaps and differences that often separate and divide them.

During the convocation, 144 young people and adults who are attending as voting delegates convene a Legislative Assembly, which is designed to give young people a voice in the church through the legislative process.

Annual Conference 2011 - Rev. Tom Holtsclaw

This is Rev. Tom Holtsclaw and his wife Jan. Tom served at Warren's Grove from 1967-1971. Tom and Jan are retired and living in Roxboro, NC.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Annual Conference 2011

We are here in Raleigh at Annual Conference 2011. Tonight Bishop Hope Morgan Ward preached. In her message she spoke about how we are to know that the God we serve is exuberant and over the top ----- and because of this radical grace this God cannot be at our control. We trust this God who is love ----- and who has promised to never leave us or forsake us.

Also, I ran into some pastors that served Warren's Grove in the past:This is Rev. David Blackman and his wife Jackie. David served at Warren's Grove from 2002-2006. David is serving at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Laurinburg, NC.
This is Rev. Chuck Plowman. Chuck served at Warren's Grove from 1992-1996. Chuck is married to Rev. Sally Plowman. Chuck is retiring this year.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Warren's Grove Website

If you have been redirected to this website from the Warren's Grove site, it is because it is under construction. But we did want you to know what our service times are. We worship on Sundays at 8:45am (contemporary service) and 11am (traditional worship). We have our Sunday School classes at 10am. Also, you can call us at any time at 336.592.3400. Our address is 1511 Wesleyan Rd. Roxboro, NC 27573. See you soon!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Foundation For Evangelism - WikiWorship

Recently Colin Knapp made a presentation to the Foundation for Evangelism on WikiWorship. This was held at Duke Divinity School. Here is a transcript of what he spoke about. You can find this article by following this link.

"Generally speaking, my understanding of evangelism has deepened and expanded through my interactions with Professor Gunter and Warner. Meaning that I now am not limited to a specific “one-size-fits-all” evangelism. This has led to a creative freedom to dream, think and imagine what could be considered effective evangelism. Such freedom has directly translated into programs such as WikiWorship.

"WikiWorship is a very different way of looking at evangelism. What we have done is invited those with questions to gather within the Christian community to struggle together with the difficult questions that all of us have. In that struggle, we can see the authenticity of the gathered community –– while at the same time, allow everyone to be a part of the direction the discussion goes. We are allowing those from outside the Church to come in and have a real impact on the way the worship service goes. Our intention was not to go out into the community to tell sinners that they were in need of a savior, but rather we invited those from the community to come in and to participate in our faith community.

"The reason it’s called WikiWorship is based of off Wikipedia. And on Wikipedia anyone can edit the content of the website, and what WikiWorship does is that it gives space for anyone to edit the content of the worship service. Yes there will still be prayer, scripture reading, and singing, but what we did is let the questions guide the actual service. During the service we would start with a prayer, in a very informal worship gathering. We would sing a couple songs, and then we would address one or several of the questions that we had gathered. This answer would be concise and to the point, as to allow time for those who are gathered to chime in, we would pass around a microphone allowing anyone to add, subtract, delete, or change the direction of the discussion.

"My church, Warren’s Grove UMC, and I have been greatly impacted by the professors of evangelism at Duke Divinity School. It is my hope that they continue their great work for the Kingdom of God."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

1 Corinthians 11.23-34

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on 1 Corinthians 11.23-34. This passage tells us about how the Lord passed on to the Apostle Paul the institution of the Lord's Supper. And then at the end of those group of verses Paul says in verse 26: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." This is an intriguing way to look at communion. How do you think the church proclaims the Lord's death through the partaking of communion?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Jet Man Video - Check this out

You can read the story at this link:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

1 Corinthians 10.23-11.1

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on 1 Corinthians 10.23-11.1. In this passage the Apostle Paul continues his emphasis of using our Christian liberty for the upbuilding of others. But then he uses his self as an example and tells the Corinthians to imitate him. He says in 11.1: "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." That is quite a bold statement. But, at the same time, is that not what we all should be about as Christians? Should we not be able to say something like that to those who are new to the faith? If we cannot say something like that ----- then are we growing in our love of God and in our love for the neighbor? I would love to hear from you ----- could you say to a new believer ---- imitate me as I imitate Christ?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

1 Corinthians 10.1-17

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on 1 Corinthians 10.1-17. In verse 13 it says: "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it." This verse is a very reassuring verse ---- in the midst of a plethora of indictments laid against the Corinthians. For instance, in verse 9 Paul says: "We must not put Christ to the test." Paul is referencing the Israelites putting God to the test in the wilderness. Here the Corinthians are putting Christ to the test in their insistence to continue in idolatry. I agree with verse 13, where Paul says that God is faithful in those trials that we all experience in life ---- but what about when we test the Lord in our persistent turning to idolatry, arrogance, and sin? Does the Old Testament give us any clues to what happens when we continue to turn back to our own evil ways?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

1 Corinthians 8.1-13

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on 1 Corinthians 8.1-13. There is one famous debate that goes on in this passage ---- and that is the debate about eating food that was offered to idols. But, in reality that is not the only issue. There is a huge issue of where you eat this food. In verses 10-11 it says: "For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed." It wasn't just about the food -- but it also was about where the food was consumed. Very wealthy people would be invited to temples for parties -- and these parties had a very "public" component to them. Therefore, people could see who was attending. If these rich and "knowledgeable" Christians were seen in these temples -- apparently this would cause some to stumble. I have been racking my brain to think of scenarios that are similar for us in the 21st century -- I think I have some scenarios. But, I would love to hear what you think. In this first century situation people would be invited to these temples for parties -- and the acceptance of the invitation could cause some to fall because it would hurt one's witness. Where does this happen in our modern day context?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

1 Corinthians 6.11-20

This coming Sunday we will be starting back in 1 Corinthians. We took a break from 1 Corinthians during Lent ----- and now we are back. We will be focusing on 1 Corinthians 6.11-20. In this passage the Apostle Paul is looking at what it means to live a life of Christian freedom and liberty. He says in verse 12: "'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are beneficial. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be dominated by anything." We oftentimes look at freedom as having the ability to do whatever we want to do. That is a mistake as Christians. As Christians we are not free to do whatever we want to do ----- if that is the case then we are not free from ourselves. But I would love to hear what you all think it means to be free in Christ. What do you think?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Martin Luther

In Martin Luther's book, The Freedom of a Christian Man (1520), he writes this statement: "A Christian is a perfectly free Lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all. These two theses seem to contradict each other. If, however, they should be found to fit together they would serve our purpose beautifully." Do you think that these first two statements contradict each other?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Exponential 2011 - Orlando

I thought that I would write about my experience at Exponential Conference. I have been at this conference since Tuesday and we leave to come back home tomorrow. It has been a great time away with 20 pastors and we have been learning a lot about the missional church. If anyone is interested in discussing what that is ----- we will need to get together and have a cup of coffee and I will explain it. But the essence of it is this: the church is to look at itself as a mission outpost, rather than a building. Here are some of the highlights so far.That is a picture of a cool system that doesn't need a projector. I have projectors on the brain lately.That is supposed to be a picture of Rick Warren. I was in a Bible Study that he taught on Isaiah 49.We went to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville for Dinner on Wednesday night. We ate on the Porch of Indecision ---- not exactly sure what that means.This is the stage for the main part of the conference ---- they had three screens. There were over 4000 people in attendance.We went to the mall and I was really digging on this seating. I have had furniture on the brain as well.And plant decor.Profound statement at the mall. I think this is one of those moments where we should say: "Now that will preach." Or how they say it in Texas: "Now that dog will hunt."Not totally sold on the marketing strategy ------ and we did look around briefly for the brochures ----- I figured they were too small :-)This was the grill for a nice SUV of a lady that rode through a swarm of "Love bugs" in Sarasota, Florida. That just feels like it is a lot of bugs.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Colossians 3.1-4

Happy Resurrection Day. This Easter Day we will be focusing on Colossians 3.1-4. It starts out with this verse: "So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." Because Christ was raised — we are raised as well. And if we have been raised then why would we seek the things on earth — instead, let us seek the things above. Since we have died and have been raised from our death as new creatures — why would we turn to our old ways? This is a terrific time to remember that we have been claimed by the Lord through the baptismal waters. That Jesus has laid claim to your life. Are there things that you need cast aside to walk in that resurrected life?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Saturday

This is Holy Saturday of Holy Week. We will be having our Holy Saturday - Scripture Reading and Prayer Service today. It will be on Saturday, April 23rd at 12noon. It says in the creed: "was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell." At this service we will have a time to listen to the scripture readings and to meditate on God's Word. We then will have a time of prayer at the altar where there will be a time of candle lighting. All are invited to come.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Stations of the Cross - Good Friday Service

Last night we had our Maundy Thursday Service. I would like to invite you all out for tonight's service as well. Tonight is our Stations of the Cross Service - Good Friday Service. At this service we will begin in the sanctuary and continue to a total of 14 stations. At every station there will be scripture reading. We will be traversing the church yard. There will be seating at some of the stations. In this service we follow Jesus on his way to his death on Golgotha. This service is on Friday, April 22nd at 7pm at Warren's Grove. See you then.