Friday, August 31, 2007

Time to clean...


As I was looking for a file that I save my writings in, I found a number of old files that could have been deleted long ago.

I found an insert for a Church in the Park service that was held in August (last August!). I found Posters and letters from long ago. I found pictures that I have used in various applications that have long since been deleted.

I found that if you don’t keep on top of things, they will fill up. Disks will become cluttered, and computers will work much slower. When they work slower, they just don’t function as they should.

I suppose this is a principal that applies to a lot more than computers. I think attics and garages can fill up the same way. Every year or so, it’s a good idea to take a day or so (it’s always the ‘or so’ for us) and do some cleaning out. Otherwise, attics and garages can no longer be used.

Our lives are like that, too. Our lives can fill up, just like our computers, just like our garages and attics. When our lives fill up, they can no longer be used – they’re just to full for anything else. Schedules won’t permit those things we used to enjoy. We’re to busy for anything else.

How can God call on you if you don’t have any time? How can God use you if you’re too busy already? And how can you claim to be fully surrendered to Him, if you’re so busy yourself?

Take a day or two and clean our your lives. Start with your schedule – what activities, appointments, functions, might actually be preventing you from doing things that God might be calling you to? What activities might you be able to do without? Remember that we all have the same amount of time in a day, those that accomplish more in that time are just better at sifting through and getting rid of the fluff – the stuff that’s not necessary.

After cleaning and clearing your schedule, look at your mind – what are you filling your mind with? Are you watching things on TV, reading things, hearing things (speakers, radio, etc) that might be drawing you away from the Lord? Make sure enough of the things of the Lord get in that your mind is filled with the Lord. If you fill it with other things, your life is filled with other things, and you can’t be surrendered to the Lord if you are filled with other things.

God wants us fully surrendered to Him. He can’t use us unless we are fully surrendered to Him. But sometimes we let things become cluttered with other things.

Is it time to “clean-up” your life?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Paul and Cindy Talley visit Almond...


We were especially blessed this past weekend with a visit from Paul and Cindy Talley. Paul and Cindy are musicians and evangelists, traveling around the country sharing their gift of music and their faith with churches along the way.

On Saturday night, we had a Coffee House, with the Talley’s providing the music. It was a great evening, we heard about them and their background as they shared their testimony with us, and we were blessed by Paul’s music. He played the accordion, keyboard, and trumpets, not all at the same time, but often two at once. In addition to that, his great voice and lyrics added meaning to the old hymns, the story of the gospel, and some new praise songs that He has just wrote.

On Sunday, the Talley’s did the entire service for us. Again, they blessed us with some inspiring music of praise, and Paul’s message assured us that God does have a plan for our lives, and if we are fully surrendered to Him, He will use us.

If you missed them, you missed something great! But it doesn’t have to stay that way – the Talley’s are still in the area, and will be performing again in Alfred (at the park) on Friday night, August 31, beginning at 6:30 PM. You will be blessed!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sent on the way...


We have been sharing the reflections and devotions from my week at Advanced Sailing Camp at Camp Whitman on Seneca Lake. The last day of the week we looked at the theme of being “Sent on the Way.”

Our Scripture Reference to this days theme was a familiar one, often called the Great Commission, “the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world”. (Acts 1:8 CEV)

Do you know why Jesus wanted them to start in Jerusalem? Perhaps you think there was something deeply spiritual or theological about their beginning in Jerusalem? Perhaps because it was the City of David, because God has a special place in his heart for Jerusalem. I believe that He does, but that’s not why.

Jesus wanted them to start in Jerusalem because that’s where they were! Nothing spiritual or theological about it. Just be obedient now, where I ask you to be obedient. Start where you are!

Jesus has called us, as believers, to tell everyone about him also. And He expects us to start where we are. Start now.

In 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 5, Paul tells us that we are ambassadors for Christ. An ambassador is sent by someone to represent his or her interests. An American ambassador in China is sent to China to represent America. If we are Christ’s ambassadors, we must represent Christ. How can we represent Christ if we don’t ever talk about Him?

If we are people of faith, we must represent Christ. This is your role as a believer. How are you doing? Have you talked about him today?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Rejoicing on the way...


We have been looking at the devotions at my week of camp. They allowed for a good time of reflection, so I wanted to share them with you. On day five, the theme was “Rejoicing on the Way.” For the devotion, we looked at the passage in Acts, where Peter and John healed a man who was lame from birth. Imagine not be able to walk ever. Seeing Peter and john coming, and expecting a few coins at best, yet being given the gift of your legs!

Would you be happy! That would be an understatement, wouldn’t it? You would be incredibly joyous! You would be beside yourself! You wouldn’t be able to stand still. It would be a time of rejoicing, a time when you just had to tell everyone about the joy you felt, about the experience you had.

When was the last time you felt that way? Have you ever felt that way? I remember times in my Spiritual Walk when I felt that way over a glimpse of understanding in Scripture. I remember finding things in the Old Testament that explain thing that I never really understood before in the New Testament. I accepted them, but didn’t understand why they were important. But then I would find a small little, almost meaningless (so I thought) passage that, when I understand that was what the Israelites clung to, made the New Testament come alive. Now I know why that was important to them! I felt a joy down deep, and I wanted to share what I found!

That doesn’t compare to gaining the use of your legs after being crippled since birth, but it’s something I could relate to. It’s something that most of the campers could relate to, and I hope that it is something that you might be able to relate to.

It is important to rejoice along the way. Remember those times that God touched you. Maybe it was in a quite time alone with your Bible. Maybe it was a comment in a Sunday School Class, or a line in a Sermon Message. And something just clicked, and you understood something new.

Maybe it was a miraculous healing, or a job struggle, or a family crisis, and you just knew that the hand of God brought the result. Rejoice. Thank God for the miracle.

God is still in the miracle business everyday. He still reaching through our struggles to give us a leading hand through them. He still gives us a nudge now and then to help us avoid them. He still heals. Rejoice!

Rejoicing is an important part of our spiritual walk. Don’t forget to rejoice in God.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Challenged on the Way...


We have been looking at the devotions at my week of camp. They allowed for a good time of reflection, so I wanted to share them with you. On the fourth day of camp the theme was “Challenged on the Way”, and we looked at when Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, and how He was tempted by Satan when he was there.
Challenged on the way was an appropriate theme for the day. We held an all camp tug of war, dragging each other through a very muddy nasty section of the camp pond. What a challenge!

For the devotion, we looked at how Jesus was tempted, sharing the different ways that he was tempted. I noted that I read somewhere that those three temptations that we read about represents physical wants (the loaf of bread after a 40 day fast), prideful wants (angels lifting him up after jumping off the temple), and lustful wants (desiring power over all the kingdoms of the world). These three areas represent all the temptations we face, and that is how we can say with confidence that Jesus has been tempted just as we have, in every way.

We looked at how Jesus resisted those temptations, he didn’t fall, and he used Scripture. We talked about the role of know Scripture by heart to give the strength in resisting temptation. Jesus used Scripture to resist Satan’s attacks.

We need to know Scripture. And we have to have it committed to memory, because when a temptation comes, we aren’t going to be able to run home to our bookshelf and grab a concordance to look up that verse that will help us. We need to know it, and use it, when we are tempted.

How well do you know Scripture? Do you have some favorite verses tucked away that will help you stand firm under temptation? Do you read daily, looking for other verses that will help you stand firm under temptation?

Memorizing Scripture seems to be a children’s drill. We work with our children, helping them to memorize Scripture, but we rarely work at it anymore ourselves. Yet, as adults, we are more likely to be faced with the temptations that require knowledge of Scripture to resist!

So stand firm in your faith, don’t give into to temptation, and memorize Scripture! It will help you stand.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Walking on the way...


This week I am reflecting on the lessons for the week of camp. Today we will look at the third day’s focus, “Walking on the Way.”

On this day at camp we looked at relationships and how they help us experience God. We looked at the story of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi was an Israelite from Judah, but she and her husband had moved from Judah to Moab. She had two sons, who both married Moab women. But as the story progressed, both her husband and her two sons had died. She was alone with her two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah.

Since there was no one to take care of them, and a famine was coming upon them, Naomi decides to return to her homeland. She encourages, almost tries to drive off, the two daughters, Orpha leaves and returns to her family, but Ruth will not leave. In fact, she delivers a message that most of us are familiar with: “I will go where you go, I will live where you live; your people will be my people, your God will be my God. I will die where you die and be buried beside you.” Wow! Do you get the feeling Ruth was committed to this relationship???

We talked about how God honored that relationship – if you look in the first chapter of Matthew, you will find her name again, listed in the genealogy of Jesus. Because of the strength of her relationship with her mother-in-law, God included her in the line of faithful people that brought His son into the world.

Relationships really are that important. How are your relationships? Scripture calls us to love others as we love ourselves. How do we do on that one? Are we giving in our relationships? Are we willing to give others the best of what we have? Ruth left everything to follow Naomi. What are you leaving to follow those important to you? What are you leaving to follow Christ?

Think about your relationships for a few minutes. Are they Godly relationships? Do they help to bring you (and keep you) in the will of God? Do they help you to grow as a person? Or are they a diversion from the growth that is expected? Bad relationship can do that.


Watch your relationships. Limit those diversions that help you avoid growth. Invest everything in those that help you grow.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Being Led on the Way...


This week I am reflecting on the lessons for the week of camp. Today we will look at the second day's focus – being "Led on the Way." The devotion for the second day looked at the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt, and how God led them with a pillar of cloud by day, and fire by night.

We saw how God was with them, even when they complained and didn’t follow. He continued to lead. We talked about how God might lead us today, and the importance of knowing where He is leading, and being open to following His leading. I would like you to reflect with me for a couple of minutes on how God leads you. I don’t imagine He uses a pillar of cloud or fire with you as He did with the Israelites. He isn't usually that obvious. Yet, if we know Him, we will know where He is leading. How does he get your attention? How does He speak to you? How does He lead you?

When our campers reflected on this, they reported that they usually get a feeling that they should do something. We talked about these feelings, that they usually come during or after prayer times, or during or after times of Scripture reading. We talked about the importance of running these feelings past a trusted friend – maybe a parent, a pastor, or a believer that you feel comfortable sharing with. Sometimes these feelings come from sources other than God, so it’s good to test them. But it is true that is how God often leads.

Be attentive to His leading in your life. Watch for those feelings, test them, then be obedient. If you are a believer, He is trying to lead you. Are you seeing Him? Hearing Him? Following Him?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Some reflections on a week at camp...

I got home Friday evening from a tiring week at Camp Whitman on Seneca Camp. It was a great week as director at an Advanced Sailing Camp, and since sailing is one of my passions, I had a blast. But it was more than just fun, as I’m sure you know. We didn’t just teach our campers how to sail, we taught them a little about how to live.

The theme for the week in our daily devotions was “On the Way.” We talked about our life journey’s, from childhood to maturity as adults. We also tied in our Spiritual Journey, which parallels our life journey in that we start as babies in the faith, grow into childhood, learning more and more, trusting more and more, until we become mature believers.

This week I will share some of the camp stories, at the devotions. As we reflect on our faith, I want to lead you through the curriculum, at least in a very simple and quick way, so that you might have an opportunity to reflect on some of those things the campers reflected on.

The day was “Blessed on the Way,” and we looked at some of the ways that we were blessed. We looked at the story of Abram and Sarai in Genesis 12, and we saw how God had called them out of their hometown, to a place He would lead them to. They left everything and went, not knowing where they were going. Just knowing that God would go with them, and that he would bless them.

Would we be willing to do such a thing? Would we leave everything based on God’s call and promise of blessing? Would we leave our friends, our family, our job, our home? None of our campers thought they would do that. How about you? How many of you would be willing to do that?

We also talked about God’s promise to bless them. We looked at ways that we are blessed, then we looked at ways that we are a blessing to other people. We had them go through a stack of magazines to look for pictures that might represent these, and make two posters – one showing ways they are blessed, and one showing ways they are a blessing.

How are you blessed? What things really bless you? What pictures would you use to represent these? What would your poster look like?

And even more important, how are you a blessing to others? What pictures would you choose here? How do you bless other people? And is there a relationship between the two? Could it be that we are blessed to the extent that we bless others? Do we intentionally look for opportunities to be a blessing?

As believers, we are called to love others as Christ loves us. We cannot do this without intentionally blessing others.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Going to camp...

I will be away the week of August 12 to the 18th.

My next post will be the following the week sometime. I'll have some camp stories, as I will be an Advanced Sailing Camp Director for a week at Camp Whitman on Seneca Lake...

Thanks for reading, I'll see you next week!

Allowing God to work in you...

Nearly ten years ago I was discerning a call to ministry, and talking with my pastor at the time, wondering where God was calling me. His call was very clear, and I felt pastoral ministry all the while was where He was calling, but I wasn’t real sure.

When I started seminary, I asked my pastor if maybe I should be going into youth ministry. He balked at the idea, and said he didn’t think that was the right course of action. I really didn’t, either, but knew that many people started in youth ministry, and wondered if I should, too. Looking back, it wouldn’t have been a good fit at the time.

However, here I am many years later, excited about going off to camp. I will be the volunteer Advanced Sailing Camp Director for this week at Camp Whitman, a Presbyterian camp on Seneca Lake, and I’m really looking forward to it.

What I think is a little ironic, is that for the next week, I will be in youth ministry. It has come full circle, and where I thought I should be going many years ago, I will be at, even if just for a week. And though I was uneasy about the idea then, I am excited about it now. And I know that it’s the one-week commitment that makes things much easier, and I don’t want to sign on full time, but I know also that I have grown over the years.

God has brought me to this point, and I am willingly following, and excited about the prospect. There is an excitement about truly following God wherever He might be leading, knowing that He is leading, and that He will be using you to reach others.

Many people don’t know this excitement. Many people who claim to follow Him don’t know the excitement of truly allowing Him to work through them. If you don’t know that excitement, take the chance, go out on a limb, and follow next time you hear His call. Listen to what He is asking you to do, and then do it, and see if you aren’t blessed. Ask God to use you, to work through you, and be obedient when you feel His word. It will be small things at first, but as He knows He can trust you to do what He asks, He will use you for big things, too. But every time, He will bless others through you. Look for the opportunity, and listen for small voice within.

The neat thing about working with God to bless others, is that now matter how much you bless others, you walk away blessed even more.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Family


Last week, the hosts at Family Life Network’s morning show were doing live programming from Kingdom Bound at Darien Lake. As I understand from listening to them, they had a tent set up and they were broadcasting live from the tent, and would often talk to people who stopped by. Mostly people from the crowds, people that were staying at the park for the event. But also, they had a number of the performers and speakers come by and chat.

Pam Stenzel had stopped by one morning. Pam is a speaker and author that promotes sexual abstinence for teens. While the message was a good one, what really struck me was an acrostic for the word FAMILY. She talked about parents not having enough time for their kids, or wanting to do their own things, and leaving the kids to fend for themselves. Her response is simply and boldly that they shouldn’t have had kids… The acrostic is:

Forget
About
Me,
I
L
ove
You.

Forget about me, I love you. What a wonderful way to think of family. It is a commitment, no one would deny that. But it’s a commitment for life. It’s a commitment to be there for your children no matter what else you would rather do. We sometimes forget that. Sometimes there are other pressures, such as financial pressures, that push it into the work place right away after a child is born. Sometimes, we might lack the maturity to make this commitment. We aren’t willing to let go of our lives to be there for our children. Sometimes, when our children get a little older and we think they can be home alone, we start planning our own lives. And children, often in puberty years, or young teen years, are forced to be in charge long before the maturity is developed.

Tomorrow I will touch on some statistics that I have come across recently. It seems more people are willing to make the commitment. More and more are staying home, realizing the importance of our presence in the lives of our children.

God has made you responsible for the raising of you children. Don’t trust your school system, your day-care center, or your baby-sitters, to assume that responsibility. Make the commitment yourself.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Looking out for number one...


Have you ever realized how hard it is to do the best thing in a given situation? I have noticed this. It’s not that we don’t want to do the best thing, it’s that we have such a hard time identifying the best thing.

It’s almost like we are hard-wired for self-preservation and self-promotion, and it is very difficult to get past what is best for me, to get to what is best for a family, or a group, or a congregation. In some sense, we are always (unconsciously) running our thoughts through these filters of what is best for me in a given situation.

A few years ago this was a mantra – “Look out for number 1.” But rarely does that attitude bring about the best possible outcome in any given situation. We have to be able to look beyond ourselves to really see what is best for everyone.

Some aren’t willing to look beyond themselves. Some will even tell you they don’t care about others, as long as they are satisfied themselves. They just don’t care. I meet people like this occasionally. They are, for the most part, very frustrated and very angry people. If only they could see beyond themselves, and work for the common good, they would find some of the satisfaction their life lacks now.

I suppose the tendency to “look out for number 1” is part of our sinful nature rearing its ugly head. And we do it unconsciously, we don’t even realize we are doing it. And that is what makes it so hard to stop.

That’s why I really admire those I see that seem to conquer it. John the Baptist was one of those that was able to look beyond what was best for John, and see what was best for God. In the gospel of John, in 3:30, he writes (of Jesus), “he must become greater; I must become less.”

The scenario is that Jesus and his disciples are baptizing people in the Jordan River also, not far from where John the Baptist is. And more and more people are going to see Jesus, than are going to see John. Some of John’s followers are getting worried by this, and they finally say something to John. This verse was John’s reply. He must become greater; I must become less

There was no looking out for number 1 in that reply. John was looking ahead, knowing that people must stop following him, and start following Jesus. He knew that what was best for God, indeed what was best for Israel, was for people to follow Jesus.

That same thing is what is best for America today. And if we can stop worrying about what’s best for us, we can start thinking of what’s best for God, because God is what is best for America. Maybe then we will truly glorify God, and show others faith in something far bigger than ourselves. The faith that can save a struggling people.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

You can give without loving, but cannot love without giving...


I came across this saying some time ago, and it was one of those that I had to write down for later use. I think that this speaks volumes on the love that Christians have for one another.

Anyone can give. We can give to people in need, we can give because people are hounding us, we can give because we want to be thought of as good people. We can have any number of motives for giving.

Loving is a little harder. But it is true that we can love for any number of reasons also. We often start loving someone for what they can do for us. That is a very selfish motivation, but it is true that that’s how we usually start loving. We might love how we feel when we are with someone. We might love them for the things they do for us. I think of parents, especially. Children begin loving their parents because the parents are always there for the kids. The parents provide the food and shelter and protection. The children respond with love. It’s not until after the children have matured that they begin to love the parents for who they really are.

The same is true in our special relationship, those who are most special to us. We love them for how they make us feel, and for what they might do for us first. Then, as our relationship matures, we begin to love them for who they are.

I think the same is true in our relationship with God. We love God because He first loved us. We love God because we have seen the answered prayers, we have seen His provisions and His guidance. But as our faith matures, we just love God. We love God for who He is. Our love becomes more unconditional. He doesn’t always have to be answering our prayers. He doesn’t have to be always proving, always guiding. We will love Him anyway. We love Him because He loves us.

This love in a mature relationship brings us right back to giving again. We can’t love unconditionally, in a mature relationship, with out giving. When we love God, we give to others as an expression of that love.


We can’t love with out giving...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Daily maintenance...


If you’re like me, it’s the day-to-day stuff that gets difficult. I like to dream big, and set up things in big steps. Usually these things require regular maintenance, and that’s where I struggle.

A great example is our church website. Last night I spent hours updating the site, and even added a new section for Church News. We had a coming events tab, but after the event, there was no place to report how the event went. This Church News tab will do that.

It wouldn’t have taken hours if I were better at keeping it up at least weekly. It had gone over a month, and was quite outdated. The problem is, while a website is a great tool for telling people about the church, an outdated website tells them a lot also. An outdated website can actually hurt a church. It can imply the church is outdated, or that it doesn’t take care of things. If we are committed to using a website to tell people about the church, that website has to be current.

This web blog is perhaps another example. My daily thoughts aren’t always daily – more often than not they average out to ever other daily… The day-to-day maintenance is the tough stuff.

Of course, our faith is the same way. It’s great to stand up in church and proclaim your faith, to respond to a message, an alter call, to make a commitment to get serious about God. But that’s a lot easier than living your decision. Making a proclamation of faith and getting serious about God requires us to live that decision in the day-to-day stuff that we struggled through before. That decision won’t mean anything to us if we don’t. So, how do we do it???

We need to be serious in our daily Scripture reading and in our prayer. If we aren’t serious about it everyday, pretty soon, we’ve missed several days, and we’re lost. These practices, reading Scripture daily and regular prayer, when done regularly, will bring us closer to God. But when we miss a few days, we begin to drift away again. There is no status quo in our faith, we are either growing in the Lord, or we are falling away.

Just as failing to maintain a web site can hurt a church, failing to maintain our daily practices can hurt a believer. The day-to-day stuff may be the hardest, but when we are faithful daily, that’s when we grow.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Opportunities...


I can’t help but think that we missed a huge promotional opportunity tonight. It’s Friday night, and this is the end of a long but very exciting week. It was VBS week – Vacation Bible School – and we had about twenty kids for a very high-energy week full of games and music. At least, if you ask the kids, they’ll tell you about the games and music. Truth is, intermingled in all of it was some very well grounded Bible lessons that the kids really took to heart, but they learned in a way that most didn’t know they were learning. And I bet the lessons will stick longer this way, too.

Anyway, back to the missed opportunity. Our theme this year was Avalanche Ranch (Group Publishing), and had a western theme. We’ve been hootin’ and hollerin’ all week and the kids have been having a blast. Since it was the last night, we had a special surprise for the kids – we had arranged for a hayride through town. They had a blast, and you can imagine the hootin’ and hollerin’ that took place on that wagon ride.

People all over town came out to see what was going on as the horse-led wagon trotted past their homes in the middle of this village. I immediately thought (at least after the wagon was out of sight of the church) that it would have been a great promotional thing to have a sign on the side to let people know this wagon was from our VBS.

Oh well, the town will be talking about it anyway, and I know how things spread here, everyone will know soon enough.

I wonder why people don’t talk about their faith as freely as they talk about the horses that trotted through the village earlier…

Friday, August 3, 2007

Do you feel powerless...

Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel overwhelmed? Have you ever felt that you were powerless against those struggles you face? Have you felt that all the odds were stacked against you, and it wasn’t looking good? I think we have all been there.

I was reminded of a verse that helps us on those days. It’s from Joshua 1:5. Joshua had reason to feel overwhelmed. In chapter 1, God is telling him that he will be the successor to Moses. He will lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. It’s all up to Joshua from here on out. Actually, God didn’t say that part, but I bet that’s what Joshua was thinking.

What God actually said was, “as I was with Moses, so shall I be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.”

How many times has God led us to something, and we’ve felt so overwhelmed at what God brought us to, that we didn’t hear his promise to be with us? Maybe there was a Doctor’s diagnoses, maybe a pink slip from the boss, maybe your stocks dipped to far, and now the future of your retirement, which was heavily invested, is up in the air…

When something like this happens, we feel powerless. We might even feel hopeless. But God’s promise to be with Joshua is a promise that’s repeated over and over in Scripture. And it’s been repeated over and over since. He’s made that promise to you. God will be with you.

You don’t need to fear, God is with you, and will never leave you nor forsake you. You may feel abandoned, but I bet that when that happens, you will find yourself focusing on the problem before you, rather than the God beside you. Because the same God that had Joshua in awe when he worked through Moses is with you. The same God that brought Joshua and the Israelites into the promised land, is with you. The same God that has been working through ever Bible hero in the pages of Scripture, is with you.

None of them did anything on their own. In fact, they were as scared and powerless as you are. But they relied on God, and God was more than strong enough to bring them through. He is more than strong enough to see you through. Rely on him today.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Pew Sitters, and other church ministries...


Are you active in church?

Several years ago I heard a story, and I don’t remember the punch line as well as I wish I did, but it goes something like this. A man meets another man on the street, and they begin discussing their common faith. The first asks the second where he attends church, the second replied. The first was from a very large and very active church in the middle of town. The second was from a much smaller church, also in town.


The first then asked what the second does at that church, what ministry was he involved in. The second said that he doesn’t do anything, really, just attends worship services every week.

The first looked at him a little suspect, then replied, “you a pew-sitter?” The second hadn’t heard it put that way, but after thinking about it for a minute, said, “yeah, I guess I’m a pew-sitter.”

The first said, “We don’t have any pew-sitters in our church!”

That has always brought a chuckle to me, but not because I can relate to the first church. Perhaps because I can relate to the second, but I suppose that’s not too much to chuckle about. It’s important for every member in a church to be an active member. It’s important for all to be a an active part of the Body of Christ, and to act that out in how they serve the church. Every member a minister. Every member serving in some way.

We aren’t there yet in Almond. Yet, as I write this, there is the sound of kids playing games outside the office window. This is VBS week, and we are currently, as I write this, doing our third evening VBS. The amazing part is, that I have the time to sit and jot down these thoughts.

Yesterday, I had told several people that we had more volunteers this year than we have ever had. That afternoon, three of those volunteers announced they couldn’t come back. But God provided, and all the holes were filled. Today, two others couldn’t make it, and again, God provided, and I have an opportunity to think about today’s post.

God provides, pew-sitters become active members, and our Church Body sees God revealed in how He works among us. I can’t think of a better praise than that!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rasberry cookies (and other tempations)...


We listen to Christian radio exclusively, and our station of choice is Family Life Ministries in Bath, NY. Family Life operates a network of stations and translators that covers most of Western NY and nearly half of PA. So it’s a big network, and I love their programming and their people, and they are regularly included in our prayers.

A couple of weeks ago, the sports announcer, Randy Snavely, was talking about a youth camp that he was speaking at. At this particular camp, he was discussing the food at camp. He always seems to eat particularly well when he goes to the camps, enjoying the food as much as the kids – and he really loves the kids!

He spoke about a minor little temptation after one dinner. They had raspberry cookies out. Apparently, Randy loves raspberry cookies, and so he had one. A little while later, he wandered past again, and had another. Then, another…

As he was telling this story, I was thinking of sin in our lives. Not that having a raspberry cookie or two is a sin. But sin sneaks into our lives just as innocently. We are tempted by something that doesn’t seem to matter, something that seems fairly innocent enough, so we do it. Then something else, just a little more sinful, barely enough to even recognize. And this can be repeated several times, until we are stuck in something that is plainly sinful. We never set out intentionally to sin. But sin can still sneak in when we don’t expect, often in little increments that go almost unnoticed.

Be on guard not to sin, and particularly watch the little things…

The Lord Knows Those Who are His

If you’re following along in the Devotion and Prayer Guide in the bulletins each week, the bible readings suggested will g...