Monday Morning Meditation 3-23-2020

One of my “newer” favorite songs is “In Christ Alone”.  On one hand, I love the Celtic rhythm, it stirs my Scot-Irish blood.  On the other hand, there is a line that I’ve always sung louder and more powerfully.

No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

In this day and age I’m sure you can agree that there is great assurance in the line “no power of hell nor scheme of man can ever pluck me from his hand…”  After all, we live in a time that is difficult.  Is this corona virus from Satan?  Is it a scheme of man?  Is it both?  We don’t know, but any way if we are in Christ, we need not fear.

But lately I’ve been thinking about the next part, “till He returns or calls me home here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”

The Power of Christ.

During this crisis I’ve been thinking a lot about the Power of Christ. John 14:12-14 says, Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

We are facing a global crisis.  We are followers of Jesus Christ.  And Jesus says we can do even greater things than He did.  Jesus healed.  Jesus drove out evil spirits.  Jesus raised the dead.  Brothers and sisters, if we can do far more, than through our prayer, we can bring about the healing of this world.  Join me in prayer.  Lord Jesus, in your name and power we can achieve far more than we can imagine.  In your name and power, we rebuke this Corona virus.  Bring healing.  Bring hope.  And help us to believe.  Amen.

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 3-16-2020

Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

On this surreal Monday of a surreal week we have only one recourse.  To be still and know that God is God.  We need to turn to God for our comfort and strength.

God knows it has been a trying time for many peoples and nations over the past few months and now we in the USA are experiencing the same thing.

We must not panic.  We must not scoff or ignore the warnings.  We must not hoard.  We must not blame ideologies.

What we must do is this; be still and know that God is God.

Keeping you all in prayer,

Pastor Bill

 

To view yesterday’s worship service and

special sermon, click:  Sunday 3-15-2020 Worship Service

 

 

Monday Morning Meditation 3-9-2020

I received an email to attend a church security workshop in New York.  It is one of many that I’ve received over the past few years as assaults on houses of worship have increased.  I have attended local meetings and webinars for this important topic.  Some of the many questions raised by these workshops include:

  • Should churches have armed security guards?
  • Should we lock all the doors except one?
  • What precautions do we use to keep the people safe?

In the end, there are a lot of complex procedures to create a sense of security.

Pastors have also been inundated with training, workshops, etc. for child safety.  Between clergy abuse scandals and the Penn State scandal, we have had to attend mandatory boundary training and create processes to assure all who volunteer with children have the appropriate three Pennsylvania background checks.

In the end, there are a lot of complex procedures to create a sense of security.

And now we have the Corona virus.  No amount of background checks, no locked doors, no security guards will protect us against a virus.  Rather we must protect ourselves.  We need to take those standard hygiene precautions that we should have  been doing all along, like washing our hands properly, staying home when sick, limiting our exposure to those who are sick (which is really hard for those who care for and visit the sick).

Right now, the church leadership is looking at options for the serving of Holy Communion (and I refuse to NOT serve the Lord’s Supper.  It is far too important to neglect).

In the end, there are a lot of complex procedures to create a sense of security.

Hopefully you’ve notices a commonality among these three issues.  We do what we have to do to be as secure as possible, but ultimately, we cannot guarantee 100 percent that nothing bad will ever happen.

I’m reminded of the Joseph saga in Genesis.  Joseph, as the youngest brother, is a real pain.  He tells his brothers, father and mother that in his dreams, his family will bow down to him.  The brothers decided to do away with him.  Joseph, through a series of events, ends up in an Egyptian prison, explains the dream of Pharaoh and becomes second in command in Egypt.

When he reconciles with his brothers, he says this: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

I do not believe God has sent us these viruses and problems to accomplish something, rather God calls us to use our faith to accomplish things in these times of crisis.

As you listen to the news, as you hear the panic, remember God.  Be still and know that God is God.  Have faith, take precautions and go out and live your life.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 3-2-20

Written in a question and answer format, the Heidelberg Catechism has been used to teach the faith since 1563. And the first question is one that I cling to throughout my day.

 What is your only comfort in life and in death?

  1. A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

We live in scary times when headlines continually tell us of bad things.  Wars, rumors of wars, earthquake, storms and the like are always present.  So too are the by-products of these things, refugees, homeless, pestilence, etc.

Today’s headlines are filled with the Corona virus and people are scared.  Many are cancelling both international and domestic trips, people are afraid to go out into public, many are already stockpiling food and water just in case something happens here.  Even churches are considering limiting the “passing of the peace” to a bow, or changing the Lord’s Supper, or even contemplating not meeting for worship.

While I think the Corona virus is dangerous and something we must take seriously, I cannot and will not enter into a “bomb shelter mentality.”  Rather, I remember that my comfort in life is that I belong, body and soul, to Jesus Christ.

Wash your hands frequently.  Limit contact with the sick (unless you are called to minister to the sick).  Use standard precautions.  Check in on those who have compromised immune systems.  Pray for all infected and all who battle this virus.

And be like Jesus.  Rest in His eternal arms while you be a Christ-like presence to those around you.

Peace,

Pastor Bill

The Theology of Psychology

Brain science has shown that it takes more than thirty days to change a negative behavior into a positive behavior.

In plain words, if you want to eat healthier, it takes a little over thirty days to make those changes.  If you want to exercise more, it takes a little over thirty days to make those changes.  And so on.  It takes that time to create neural pathways in the brain that lead to automaticity.

If you play an instrument or a sport, think of it this way:  in order to get that guitar chord, or piano hands, or grip on the baseball bat, you need to practice the correct way over a period of time.  Usually thirty (plus) days.

In the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament), we often hear the phrase “forty days”.  In Hebrew, forty days can mean either forty literal days, or “a long time” (longer than a month).

Now, put together the brain science (thirty plus days) with the Old Testament (forty days) and what do you get?  The time it takes to create a new and positive habit.

Enter Lent.  Lent is the forty-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter (except Sundays, which are “beyond time” as they are all celebrations of the resurrection).  Lent is the perfect opportunity to begin good habits.

Want to eat better?  Start on Ash Wednesday and keep going until Easter.  Want to exercise more?  Start on Ash Wednesday and keep going until Easter.  Want to pray more?   Hopefully by now you get it.

The Season of Lent can be more than a time of giving up something we like.  It can be a time of changing our lives by creating better mental, physical and spiritual habits.  We can use this natural time in the church calendar to begin a better life.

As we approach Ash Wednesday, take some time to consider what positive changes you want to make.  Write them down.  Create a goal.  Vision yourself achieving that goal.  And go for it.

May God bless you abundantly this Lenten season.

Pastor Bill

Monday Morning Meditation 2-24-2020

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins…” Isaiah 58:1

Most people hate it when preachers talk about sin.  But has been a reality from the beginning (see Genesis 3).  Sin creates lots of problems in this world.

This Wednesday is known throughout the Christian world as Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent.

Some Christian traditions include the imposition of ashes, where the

ash-wednesday

celebrant makes the sign of the cross on the people’s foreheads with ashes.  This tradition is taken from the Old Testament, where the placing of ash on the head meant you were in a period of repentance.

It also hearkens to Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by the devil.

Whether you observe the ashes or not, the 40-day period of Lent can be a great opportunity to stop, to contemplate your relationship with God and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you.

Over the Lenten season take time for more prayer.  Take time to give up a bad habit or form good ones.  Fast from those things that take you away from God.  Create an environment where you can hear God’s voice.

Peace,

Pastor Bill