We need a fresh movement of the Spirit

This morning I listened to the first three chapters of the book of Acts.  In the early parts of the book, “something like a rushing wind” came and what had been planned and scheduled for the day was suddenly interrupted by the coming of Holy Spirit.  Everything that seemed important before the Holy Spirit came suddenly paled in comparison.  I had thoughts going through my mind about when Peter was preaching and 3,000 people were baptized and counted as new Believers.  I thought about how difficult it is to gain new Believers today in our society.  I wonder how many of the 3,000 people who were baptized and saved fell away, back to their old lives.  And how many were truly changed.  I wondered if that would be my sermon for next Sunday.

Then, I went to a news site to see what happened in the world while I was asleep. I was saddened to read about 50+ dead and at least 400 wounded in a Las Vegas shooting.  Then I got on Facebook to check on my ex-brother in law who lives in Vegas and likely would have been at the concert, and to check on my nephews. All seem to be OK.

I have not been blogging as much as I would like for the past six weeks because I have not had the time.  I was going to blog this morning and after I read about Las Vegas, I knew I could not write as if the shooting did not happen.  I hate to be seen as one who takes advantage of this tragedy for a blog post.  I am still not sure what, or even if, I should post a blog today.

Every incident like this becomes fodder for people with agendas.  I guess you could make the argument that I am no different than others with their agendas.  I am writing about it from the perspective of one who believes that our society and the world is in desperate need of Jesus.  The saying that makes the rounds at times like this is that we have a heart problem, and that is true.  We need a fresh movement of the Spirit of God.  And my worry is that a fresh Wind for our country and the people here is not in the cards.  It seems as thought the best we can hope for is the occasional soul who feels the breeze of God and responds accordingly.  Yet, I hope.  I hope because throughout the Bible, just when all hope seemed lost, God would do something.  All hope seems lost. Come, Lord Jesus. Do something.

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Posted in Hard times, prayer | 1 Comment

It was awful, but it is good.

Diane has been going to the local YMCA in the mornings for classes. Some days is water resistance exercises in the pool. Some days it is Pilates. Today was Pilates. When she got home and I asked her how her morning was, she said, “It was awful, but it is good.”  I said, “Thanks. You gave me my blog for today.”

“It was awful, but it was good for me” is how I interpreted what she said.  It brings to mind a quote from CS Lewis that I repeated in a sermon Sunday, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”  Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Understand that the trials and the hardships can go either way.  When they produce a harvest of faith and work to strengthen us and make us more like Jesus, they end up being a blessing.  On the other hand, when they are cursed and despised, producing nothing but bitterness, they end up being “awful, and bad” instead of “awful and good”.

Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.… ~ Romans 5:3-5

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Posted in Hard times, Obstacles, Walking the Walk | Leave a comment

How I make money online

There was a video being advertised along side the “Your Love Defends Me” video by Matt Maher.  It was titled “How I Make Money Online”.  I did not click on it, but my best guess is that the guy makes money by  getting people to click on his YouTube videos.  When you post a video, YouTube makes money on it through selling advertisements.  If you upload original content, and if you have a whole bunch of people watch your video, you can sign up to get Google (who owns YouTube) to pay you a small percent for each person who watches it.  Sometimes things are pretty predictable. It would be so predictable for a religion to require you to pay so much, pray so much, and do so much to earn God’s favor.  You “do” and you get back in God’s good graces.

Occasionally, however, things are remarkably unpredictable.  The unpredictability of it all is what makes Jesus and the cross so believable to me.  For a Creator to die Himself in order to be reconciled with those He created? That is unpredictable and unbelievable.  Who would make that up?  Logic would lead one to make up a religion that makes sense.  The cross is foolishness to proud and self sufficient people.

What must we do to be saved?

  • Humble yourselves.
  • Repent.
  • Receive grace through Jesus.
  • Turn from your own ways.

It is the difficulty of preaching to the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the wealthiest country ever known.  Society’s response to the Gospel is so predictable.

It is also predictable that I was not going to try to teach you how to make money online 😉

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The grace in falling short

We’ve been having the church kitchen remodeled.  Yesterday it had progressed to the new kitchen sink and a range being ready to use.  Someone was in the kitchen and asked why the painting did not go all the way to the new counter top.  I told them that there will be a formica back splash that will be covering the part that had not been painted.  Once the back splash is installed, it will cover up the unpainted area and it will no longer be visible.

It is a reminder to me that nothing I do or do not do will surprise God today.  He is not waiting to see what I do or what I say.  He already knows it all – the good and the bad.  He knows all the ways I will glorify Him and all the ways I will fail Him.  As Jesus hung on the cross paying for my sins, every sin that I ever committed and every sin I will ever commit was covered by His blood.  By God’s grace, through my faith in Him, He covers me with forgiveness.  His grace is sufficient.

I do not go into the day knowing I have permission to do and say whatever I want, and to live however I want.  But I do go into this day knowing I have permission to fail in my efforts to live a holy life, knowing it is covered by the grace of God.

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“Stick”ing Out vs. Blending In

This morning I saw a Phasmida, what we commonly know as a walking stick.  I think it was a momma and a baby.  They were on the church parking lot and I thought they must be lost.  So I put down my flip flop, let it walk on it and then moved them to the grass.  I then moved it further from the asphalt, next to the building, just to be safe.

Seeing the difference between the walking stick on the grass and then looking at it against the dirt and twigs at the base of the church was a stark contrast. What immediately came to mind was when Jesus, on the eve of His crucifixion day, told the disciples in John 17 that they were to be “in the world and not of the world”.  When He said not “of the world”, He meant “not like the world”.  It was and is His will for His followers to influence the world, not be influenced by the world.

It is way too easy to blend in with the world and be like the world!  When a group of His followers are doing what they are supposed to do, they will stand out in the world, like the walking stick stands out on the grass.  And I do not mean stand out like the Westboro Baptist Church. I would argue that WBC is actually being like the world – uncaring and selfish.  I mean, stand out by serving and loving those in the world. When the church does things just to point people to Jesus, not to receive recognition nor anything in return, I believe they are following Jesus command to be in the world, not of the world.

It is sad commentary of the American Church today that a group of people who constitute a church that does these things even stands out from other churches.

Today’s blog could very well be a continuation of a Facebook post I made on Sunday:

The American church is shrugged off by society as irrelevant and self-serving because, for the most part, they are right. What if your church was different? What if you were different? What if we cared more about a lost world than we cared about the church building? What if we not only told the world of Jesus’ love, but what if we showed them?

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Posted in Walking the Walk | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

I can’t wait to see what God does now

The other day these nail files showed up in the Operation Christmas Child shoebox room.  Someone has obviously had them for a while.  They have Kelly Springfield on them.  The Kelly Springfield tire company used to be in Cumberland and closed 30 years ago.  They have been in storage for some time, but the time is right for them to be shared with 15-18 year old young ladies throughout the world in the shoeboxes.

You have heard the phrase, “timing is everything”.  God’s timing is something that is hard for me to accept sometimes. In life and in death, through the good and the bad, God’s timing is perfect.  His timing for these fingernail files is perfect.  I frequently think about the fact that at any given moment, God has known about that moment since before there was time.  He knows who will read this blog post today.  He knows which of the children at the local day care centers in the area will be helped by the Travis Phillip Moreland Recovery Center in 12 years. He knows which teenagers will find help at the Union Rescue Mission in 10 years.  He knows the day I am going to die.  He knows your heartache and heartbreak.  He knows every church’s struggles and every pastor’s struggles and every church attenders’ struggles.  He knows everything.  And His ways and his timing is perfect.  Romans 5:6 begins, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time…”  He knows the plans He has for these nail files and for me and for you.  Sometimes the plans have us in a holding pattern and sometimes His plans are to go.

He knows His plans for Emily.  Emily is a young lady in church here Sunday for the first time, the guest of another young lady in our church. My sermon was about being the salt and light from Matthew 5:16-18.  And in talking about Jesus calling His followers to make a difference in the world, I asked Emily if that wasn’t what she wanted to do with her life.  She shook her head affirming that she wants her life to make a difference.  I want my life to make a difference.  I want to lead a church that makes a difference.  All for the glory of Jesus.

This past Sunday I told some people that I cannot wait to see what God does now.  I believe He has placed people and positioned our church for a time such as this.  I said I believe He has brought in the right people to accomplish His purposes through Wesley Chapel Short Gap.

I just get the feeling it is time.

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In my front yard

Travis Moreland

In January I got a visit from Allen Moreland and his sister Christy Moreland  Allen’s son Travis had died of an overdose and Allen wanted to have the funeral here at the church.  Rev. Benny Brakeall would preach.  Of course, we were happy to help Travis’ family in any way we could so the funeral was held at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church in Short Gap.  It was the second funeral for an overdose in 5 months at our church, the first being Missy White, whose parents Bob and Eileen White attend Wesley Chapel.

Little did we know then, that the Lord has plans for Wesley Chapel to do more than hold funerals for overdose victims.  Meetings commenced with the Morelands setting up the Travis Phillip Moreland Foundation, and no fewer than 6 meetings have been held at Wesley Chapel in the last 6 months.  In June, the Moreland family asked me if Wesley Chapel would be willing to allow them to get a recovery center started.  It would require us to open our church for “office hours” for the recovery center – three hours a day, three days a week. It would require us to allow Narcotics Anonymous to meet weekly at the church.  The foundation has bigger plans than being in our church.  They will be working through the Potomac Highlands Guild to acquire grant money to rent a large place that they can run full time, offering many more services.  Our church will just be used to get the recovery center off the ground.

Missy White

I presented this to the administrative board in August. After some discussion, the board voted unanimously to allow the Travis Phillip Moreland Foundation to use the church for the recovery center and Narcotics Anonymous.  We told them we would give them 9 months and then see where everything stands.

Our church board was well aware that it may cause some questions and perhaps even some uneasiness in the community.  I have my own concerns.  I will be the one who is here after hours if anyone comes needing help.  It is in my front yard.  Will anyone come knocking on my door at 2 a.m.?

I had a talk this evening with the Wednesday night dinner crowd.  We had nearly 70 people for dinner and I told them that the NA meetings will be Wednesdays at 7, hoping that the people who come to the NA meetings will join us for dinner at 5:30 and a sermon/devotion at 6:15. I am sure that some of them are unsure what it could mean to our dinners. I am unsure.

Everyone agrees that there is a drug problem. Nobody is immune. The people who have lost friends and loved ones, or who worry about losing friends and loved ones to addiction are just like me and you. It could very easily get a hold of someone you or I love. And everyone agrees that something needs to be done about it.  But what do we do?  The church and Christians are famous for saying we will pray about something. Sometimes we have to do something.

If you have questions or concerns, please call the church at 304-726-7215.  Someone will return your call. And please pray.

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Posted in Hard times, Walking the Walk | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment