Pastor's Blog

September 2017

Over the past few weeks I have found myself thinking about the question “what if?” What if I had not shut off the mower blades, what if I was laying on my back when the mower rolled over me, what if the mower would have rolled over my head in-stead of my back? All of these questions of “what if?”


We can conjecture answers for the “what ifs” of life, but in reality it is better to focus on the hand of God and His grace that has brought us through.


For this purpose I wish to side-step my usual KT article and just write a thank you note to all of you. Thank you all for your prayers and concerns. I do not consider myself ‘lucky,’ I consider myself fortunate to be where God has me and ministering to such a fine group of His kingdom. Thank you all for your phone calls and well wishes. Thank you all for your words of encourage-ment and fattening “treats” of love. We, meaning my family and I, really do appreciate all you have done for us.


Thank you to Pastor Isaac for the way God used him in min-istering to you as a flock when I was not able. I am blessed to have such a wonderful individual to co-labor with in the name of Christ. Thank you to Harold Paul and John Souder for handling the Word of God when I was still recuperating. Your labor will not be in vain in the Lord.


Thank you to my family for making sure I was taking my medication and following the doctor’s orders when in all ac-counts I would have not done so.

All in all, I am blessed. Thank you all. And Grace to you all.


P.S. I can’t wait to mow again!!!!

July 2017

“What are the weights” is the continued topic we are exploring in the issues of the Kitchen Table. The next “weight” I wish to highlight, and I am not talking about my physical weight, but I am going to share with you a spiritual weight that God brought to my attention that I had to get rid of in order to proceed in His call for my life.


When the Lord moved me from being the pastor at the previous ministry, Nancy and I began the long and tedious search for a church we could minister in and be fed the word of God. For 6 months we would spend at least 3 weeks at a church listening to the preaching and teaching in order for us to make sure we were not making a hasty decision of whether to stay or continue our search. We wanted to make sure we gave ample time to the pastor of each church as he opened the Word of God and preach. We didn’t think only hearing the pastor once was a good idea because, as I am fully aware of, sometimes pastors, shall we say, lay an egg as they preach. Believe me!!! I know!!!


Well, after spending time at each church, I would leave the worship service saying, “I know I can preach better than that!” “Oh really,” I heard the Holy Spirit say to my heart. “And what makes you so sure you can?” Again my heart was challenged. All in all, what I needed to deal with was the dreaded weight of “pride.” Pride is the wall builder that keeps us from hearing and following God because we are so wrapped up in ourselves and our abilities.


Pride diminishes our dependence on God and shifts our attention on what we think we can do because we believe we can handle our situations all by ourselves. In other words, we want to be like God (Gen. 3:5).


So what did God do to help me win the battle of this ‘weight?’ First, on my knees, scrubbing a toilet, I said, “please forgive me God of thinking more of myself instead of focusing more on you!” Second, I waited for God to use me where I was as well as preparing me for where I am now. Thank you Lord for where I am now. Pride still tries to come and whisper but I drown it out with the voice of scripture and a song of praise. Does pride have a home in you, all I can say is, start at the bottom of a toilet and as you scrub, talk to God. He will hear, forgive, and strengthen you for the journey ahead. Take it from someone who knows.


May the Grace of our God be with you all.

June 2017

For this issue of the Kitchen Table I thought I would break from my writing about “what are the weights,” as described in Hebrews 12:1, to inform each one of you about what is going to happen during the months of June through September 3, as we transition from 2 services to having 1 service. Remember, the Worship service begins at 9 AM followed by Sun-day school at 10:15 AM.


The ministry of the Nursery is going to change by dividing the nursery aged children into 2 separate groups. The children new born and 1 year olds will be ministered to in the regular nursery room and the children ages 2 and 3 will be ministered to in what is known as the Veggie Tale Room which is room number 5. The purpose for dividing these age groups is two – fold. First, this will alleviate any overcrowding of children in the nursery during the morning worship service and second, this will help in protecting the younger children from the scurrying around of the older aged children. Then during the Sunday school hour, the 2’s and 3’s will just stay in the Veggie Tale Room where they will be ministered to in the nor-mal fashion, as well as the newborn and 1yr. olds will remain in the nursery and be ministered to there.


During the morning worship service, Nicole Campbell has volun-teered to lead the children’s church ministry for ages 4 through 2nd grade. This group will meet in the room that is usually designated for children’s church.


Some questions have arisen as to what will be the form or style of music used in the morning worship service during this transition. The an-swer to this question is “both styles will be used.” We will at times have organ and piano led singing during service as well as times when we will have the worship team leading the singing. Then there will be times when we will incorporate both styles in the service as we have already done dur-ing the Easter Sunday celebration service.


All in all, we believe this transition for the summer will be a positive experience for us here at Grace Community Church. May the Lord bless as we follow His leading.


Grace to You

May 2017

In trying to explain or I should say develop the thought of “what are the weights” as described in Hebrews 12:1, I could not help but capitalize on the reality of the resurrection and the events surrounding this glorious truth as the introduction to the “weights” issue.

Scripture tells us the disciples were hiding “for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19) in fact, the verse says, “When the doors were hut where the disciples were assembled.” The disciples bolted and locked the door so that no one could get to them. Let’s face it dear people, they were afraid and worried that they would most likely be hunt down and be the next ones to be killed.

Worry is the fertile ground for fear. The weight of worry hangs on our neck and overloads our spirits which eventually causes us to look downward toward the earth. Worry locks and bolts us in a room of darkness and gloom with no hope in the midst of our trials. We worry about the future because things on this earth look grim. We worry about our finances because all we can see are the riches of this earth. We worry about our health because all we can see is the suffering of those around us and we wonder if we are next in line to get the next disease. Worry is debilitating and degrading because we can’t see the wonder of heaven.

Philippians 4:6 instructs us to “be anxious for nothing.” In Matthew 6: 25-34 the Lord Jesus spoke on why we should not worry. If you compare both of these passages you will find a common theme as the cure for worry; the theme is God. Paul says, “let your requests be made know to God.” Jesus said, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”

The weight of worry can only be removed if we change our perspective of vision. We need to be continually looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We need to train our eyes to see the wonder and glory of heaven that yet awaits us. We need to remain focused on the truth of the Word of God and especially as the Word speaks concerning our walk that is not by sight but by faith.

If you really desire to be set free from the weight of worry, do what Jesus says, “seek after God, He will protect and provide.”

Grace to you!

April 2017

Last month I commented on a verse from the book of Hebrews 12:1 which says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”My comment was centered around two phrases in this verse. One phrase awakens us to “lay aside every weight,” the other phrase highlights “the sin which so easily ensnares us.” As promised, from last month’s article, I want to offer for each of us what I sense to be the “sin that so easily besets us.”

 

From the overall context of the book of Hebrews it appears the sin that so easily besets us is “unbelief.” I don’t sense this word, “unbelief,” has anything to do with whether a person goes or does not go to heaven. I can’t help but think the intent of this word has to do with a believer’s proper focus or center of purpose while living a life in honor to the Lord. Chapter 11 of Hebrews reminds us that this live we presently live is to be a life of faith. And verse 2 of chapter 12 describes our focus of this faith which is “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”


I know a written article for a monthly news publication cannot fully delve into all the intricacies of this thought, but, we can at least pause and think about our own life and how unbelief causes us to get side tracked from our race of faith.


Using the context of Hebrews we can see that the Hebrew Christians of this era had a problem in being settled in the truth that Jesus Christ is greater than all of their issues. He is greater than the angels thus Jesus’ protection is supreme. He is greater than the Law thus Jesus’ words are supreme. He is greater than the patriarchs thus Jesus leadership is supreme…. Etc. The problem of unbelief was keeping these 1st century believers from experiencing the greatness and freedom that is in Jesus Christ.


Unfortunately, many believers, and I do include myself in this statement, loose focus of faith when we take our eyes off of Jesus. We become caught up in our circumstances by neglecting Jesus’ promises. We allow the specter of “unbelief” to whisper in our ears, “Is this life really worth it?” We find ourselves looking to go backward instead of looking to go forward. Unbelief sets us up for failure even before we come to the threshold of God’s promised provisions. We become frozen in time while at the same time we become hardened in heart.


My point is this. When unbelief comes calling to you, look unto Jesus and His word and there you will find the strength and purpose to continue to run the race of faith. Yes, even if the race takes you to places you have never gone before. Which, by the way, is what a marathon is all about. 


Grace to You!


March 2017

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,…..”


By now I am sure you are all aware that the life of a believer is not a quick sprint but a long marathon. The writer of the book of Hebrews calls it a “race.” This race is set before us by the very direction and determination of God for the purpose of developing our faith and for our faith to exalt Him as we follow His leading.


The issue here is a little phrase that arrests our attention to a finite detail. This race can be interrupted and at times even derailed by what is referred to as “weights, and the sin that so easily ensnares us.” We are instructed to lay aside every weight, and the same is true of the sin that so easily ensnares us, we are also to lay aside this sin.


Notice, the word sin is used in the singular tense not the plural. In this case, there appears to be a single sin that ensnares and many weights that we are to put off. In other words, the success in running this race is determined by what we will do and obviously what we will not do. Laying aside “every” weight and being aware of “the sin” are crucial for a successful finish of this race, which we can call the race of “faith.”


In the following issues of the Kitchen Table, we are going to discuss the sin and every weight that hinders our running faithfully our race. In our discussion, I am sure there will be “weights” that you will not find difficult to deal with. Then again, there will be those “weights” that will need extra attention to in order to lay them aside.


The key issue will be “the sin” that so easily besets us. What is “the sin” that this passage is referring to? Well, next month’s issue will be the leading article to discuss this very thing. I trust as we journey through the next few articles we will all be strengthened and encouraged as we prepare ourselves to faithfully run the race of faith for the honor and glory of our God.


Grace to You!


January 2017

The last Christmas cookie is gone. The memories of another Christmas, though still fresh in our minds, will soon fade as the morning mist of a new dawn as it meets the warmth of the sun. The lights are removed, you know, the ones that highlighted our doors, sidewalks, roofs as decorations for the celebration of the previous season. In other words, 2016 has come and gone as the previous two thousand and sixteen years have done. There is nothing new here, just another calendar year ending and the new one on the horizon.


As with each passing year I find myself asking, “Where did it all go?” The years just seem to flow by as a cool spring meanders along its banks interrupted only by the turn of its course and a few stones here and there. Time passes and so do the days, weeks , months and years. It is the charted course that God has established as a reminder of His faithfulness and goodness as long as we stop and look back to remember the previous year.


Some of us have experienced big changes in our lives over the past year. Others are caught in the system of saying, “What’s new?” “Ah! nothing much!” Yet there is one big change that has happened whether we realize it or not. We are one year closer to the coming of Jesus to take us home.


Think about it! One year closer than we were last year. 10 years closer than a decade ago, and 100 years closer than a century ago… you get the idea.


With each passing year the promise of the Lord’s return is ebbing that much closer. We may not know exactly when that day will be but we can be sure of this, we are closer than even yesterday. With this in mind, have you ever considered what you would like to be doing when Jesus comes? I wonder how our outlook of life would be?


Here is an idea for a new resolution for the New Year. Live each day as if Jesus Christ was coming that day. Wow! What a course of life change that would be. What a glorious way to live for 2017… Grace to you all.

December 2016

No matter how many times I read that story. No matter how many times I think about the events. I am still get excited when I think about the shepherds and angels having a meeting on a hillside just a short distance from Bethlehem. I mean… the stillness of the night suddenly ablaze with the glory of heaven as the angels came and serenaded the scared to death shepherds with the greatest news that ever came from Heaven.


“For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord…… Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace goodwill toward men.”

I know I am preaching to the choir here, but can you even begin to imagine that glorious scene as it is described in Luke chap-ter 2? In my days I have seen some pretty glorious sunrises and sunsets, as I am sure you also have. I have seen some pretty spec-tacular waterfalls and mountain ranges. I have seen hot springs ex-plode into the air with a magnificent force all on an amazing time schedule.


Yet none of these can even begin to capture the wonder of my thoughts as the events of Luke chapter 2. I am a pretty senti-mental fellow and each time I read that passage my eyes well up with tears of joy and amazement as I envision the gathering of an-gels all singing in heavenly harmony that the earth has never heard before and I can only speculate how “awesome” that was. It is one of those moments that send chills up my spine and it sends my thoughts to the heights of the heavens.


No wonder the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem to see this thing the Lord has made known unto us.” Did you catch the scene? They were so amazed that they could not stand still, they had to go, they had to see, they had to worship, why? Because the Lord made this news known un-to them, that’s why.


I know there have been times in all our lives when God has made known to us something great that we just had to go see it. Let me remind you of that time, it was when you trusted Christ as your Savior. You like the shepherds just had to go see…. That is what makes this story so special. That is why I love this time of the year! Grace to you all.


november 2016

Most recently, when my family and I were out near Pittsburgh to visit our daughter and her family, I drove past a baseball field that was being used that day by young children just learning the idea of what hitting and throwing a ball is all about. The day itself was not what you would call “good baseball weather,” but despite the light drizzle, cool breeze, and cloudy sky those little tikes were out there giving their all with the dream of one day playing in the big leagues.


There was another group of individuals there also. Yep, you guessed it, parents. The parents of those future stars were all there holding their coffee cups, donuts, and conversations as they interacted with the other parents as well as giving encouragement to their children on the field. I can imagine the parents seated in the stands on the side lines all reminiscing about their past days of ball playing and most likely holding on to the dream that they once had of playing in the big leagues.


As I drove by this event I thought of the scene that is described in the book of Hebrews 12. Obviously the scene is not the exact same thing but the thought is ultimately identical.

In Hebrews 12 we have the scene of those on the field and those in the stands surrounding the field. Those on the field are being watched by those in the stands and I also sense those in the stands are shouting encouragement to those on the field. No, the ones in the stands may not be holding coffee cups or donuts but I believe you can catch the imagery described there in the opening verses of the chapter.


I can imagine Abraham shouting, “stay faithful.” King David encouraging, “stay strong!” Peter, James and John proclaiming, “stay connected and committed!” As well as Paul whispering, “stay protected!”


Each one of their lives is recorded in the Word of God for our encouragement and strength as they lived their lives for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ. Their purpose in life is the same for us today. Understanding that all we need to endure for Christ is already provided from the strength of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. We are equipped, encouraged and energized by the very power of God to live a life honoring for the person of God because we are the children of God. Now get out there and live! Remember, we are being watched. Grace to you all!

October 2016

On the day I received my new hip I was given instructions that warned me against doing certain things. I was not to be jumping or running or engaged in any activity that these two exercises would be prominent. For me this was no problem, I mean, come on….. It wasn’t like I was overly involved in these activities prior to surgery. This was not going to be an issue. Yet I was also warned about making sure I complete my exercises to strengthen my muscles around the new hip to aid in healing and strength.


As I relate this thought with what the Apostle Paul wrote, under the in-spiration of the Holy Spirit of God, in Ephesians 5:1-21 I am aware of 3 styles of walks that for some of us would not be a problem, but in all accounts, some-thing we must do to insure proper spiritual strength.


In Ephesians 5:1-7 we have what is called the “Walk in Love.” This spiritu-al exercise is highlighted by the fact of the type of Love Christ displayed for us in that “He gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” This type of walk is best displayed in a life style on how we relate to one another, especially when in our relating, are we really being a sweet-smelling aroma to God? Is my life really different from the picture Paul paints or is my life too close to what Paul describes as something that should not be “fitting for saints?”


Next we have what is called the “Walk in Light.” In verses 8-14 the apos-tle Paul contrasts the difference between darkness and light. To me this high-lights our walk as we live in and amongst the world. I know we are “in the world,” but in the same token “we are not to be of the world.” Our life is to be a light that exposes the unfruitful works of darkness not to be partakers of them. We are different, we are strangers, we are light and we are children of God. The world needs to see this as we walk.


Lastly, we have what is called the “Walk in Wisdom.” This walk is to fo-cus on pleasing God. We are told to “understand what the will of the Lord is.” In verses 15-21 we are told to sing and make melody in our heart, give thanks always for all things to God, and submit to one another in the fear of God. Stop and think about it! The very way we interact with each other is in many aspects the way we interact with God. Our “walks” are on display for all to see. How are we doing?


We have for us some instructions on what not to do and what we need to do. Let’s make sure we are exercising properly so our walk will be both a blessing to others as well as a testimony to God. Grace to you all.

SEPTEMBER 2016

I begin this article with a statement. What I am about to write may cause you unrest and even anger, but I must share my heart with you. I am sure you are aware of the fact that this is an “election year.” Most of the news coverage has focused on this election as being an historical event, seeing one of the candidates is a female. Whether this is historical or not, what I see is even more historical or should I say alarming!


Have you noticed that for the first time in the election cycle both of the major candidates have not been open about any personal rela-tionship with God. In fact, from all the coverage that the news media has given, I have not heard anything from the lips of the candidates that would even give a slim indication that either one of them find God im-portant at all. To me this is an alarming situation.


The words of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 12:34, echo what I see as the major flaw in both candidates. Jesus said, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Knowing that the word of God is true and everlasting I really wonder what will happen to this country when God is no longer important in the lives of those who will ultimately hold the highest office in our government.


Certainly not to be totally surprised, our government has taken steps to exclude God from the very foundation upon which this country has been formed. “One nation under God,” “In God we trust,” and even in the Declaration of Independence the phrase, “being endowed from our Creator” has come under scrutiny of unbelieving hearts whose pas-sion is to erase all mention of God from the records.


2Timothy 3:1-5 gives a pretty clear picture of what might very well be the condition of this nation. But my heart breaks when I see those who claim Jesus as their Savior being involved with the list from 2 Timo-thy. If our relationship with Christ is viewed as not being very im-portant to believers, then how can we expect our government officials to act according to the principles of the Word of God?


This article may seem way off base but I had to at least write what is on my heart. Seek out the scriptures and be prepared to vote accord-ing to the Word of God. Grace to you all.