Thursday, June 28, 2012

Morning Worship, 6/24/12

When Goliath saw David, he couldn’t help but laugh.  Not only had the Israelites sent a young man, but he didn’t even wear armor!  He held no sword!  Goliath assumed he’d already won.  And that’s precisely why David defeated him.  David refused to play by Goliath’s rules.  Hand to hand combat with armor and swords meant certain death for David.  He knew that as well as Goliath, so he innovated.  He introduced a new idea that played to his strengths rather than Goliath’s.  He threw a rock.  The underdog won, because the underdog changed the game. 


Prayer Request

We received the following note from Mike & Debby Moss (Navigators Ministries) yesterday. Please read it and remember those in the fire's path. Thank you. 

Dear Partners, as you probably have seen on the news in the last few days, Colorado Springs is experiencing terrible fires.  The Navigators headquarters which includes Glen Eryie Conference Center, Nav. headquarters, NavPress, and Eagle Lake Camp ground are in the direct path of the fires and has already claimed one building at the camp ground.  All buildings have been evacuated and Focus on the Family has
provided office space for 25 staff to conduct business until it is safe to return.  Please be in prayer for the situation out there in COS.  On a personel level, our daughter Juli and her husband, Justin also live and work in COS.  They can see the fires burning on the mountains from their bedroom window.  Its very close.  The air quality continues to deteriorate and ash is blowing all over. Thank you for your love and concern for the lives that are being affected and disrupted because of these fires.  Every prayer is greatly appreciated.  
                                   --Mike and Debby

Monday, June 18, 2012

Morning Worship, 6/17/12

Father’s Day can be an emotional day for us, and Jesus sympathizes with us in that regard. Tradition tells us his earthly father died when he was young.  Jesus, the simple country boy, probably grew up as the man of the house, helping to care for his mother and younger siblings.  I can’t help but think that was one of the seeds God planted when the earth began, for while it wasn’t easy for Jesus…it allowed him to grow.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

From the Moderator's Desk...

Rev. David Lee, who serves the First Church in Nitro, wrote a thought-provoking letter to the Council about our current transition and the future of the church. While it was written in the context of Council business, I think it speaks to the larger church context as well. I asked Dave for permission to share it, which he granted. Please take a few minutes to read his thoughts and respond with your own. May God bless you & yours! 
                                     --Peace, Rev. Stephen Baldwin (Moderator, Presbytery of WV) 

To the members of the Council, Presbytery of West Virginia

Grace and peace,

            As we saw on Thursday at the meeting of Council in Elkins, many of the conversations on our docket overlap. (And thank you, George, for allowing us to have the free-wheeling conversation that emerged, rather than constraining it to specific items of business!) Conversations about ministries become conversations about finances become conversations about futuring become plans or dreams or questions or... This felt very healthy and good to me, and I am grateful to have been a part of it today.

            It spurred me to thinking. As chair of the Finance & Development Committee, I have been assigned by the Presbytery to be part of the Negotiating Team, working with congregations seeking dismissal from our presbytery and denomination. So far, we have been working with pastors whom I know fairly well and count as friends. I appreciate their integrity that insists that they wrestle with hard questions and live out difficult answers. I also begin to see that it is not those pastors or churches who are leaving the PC(USA) but it is the PC(USA) who is leaving them.

            Your first reaction to that claim might be denial, or an immediate raising of defenses. Believe me, I understand... It is a very uncomfortable way to phrase what is already a highly charged situation. But it is NOT meant as a condemnation, or an attack. Instead, it is meant as an affirmation - even, dare I say it, a celebration. I believe that it opens up both possibilities and perspectives that otherwise would not be available. Please let me try to explain...

            The PC(USA) is, by the whole culture of its ongoing transformation, separating itself from the vast majority of the Body of Christ, both historically and globally. Supporters of the transformation would probably call it prophetic; opponents may call it apostate. I say that it simply is what is. Whether it is foolishness or fearlessness is something that only God can determine, and God seems to be in favor of revealing that information over the course of time. So regardless of personal opinions, theologies and politics, it is the reality - not only of the present but of the immediate future as well.

            I believe that this gives the PC(USA) and the PWV an opportunity to reinterpret their ministry and role in the world in a new (renewed?) and powerful way. We are PIONEERS... going where we (and almost everyone else) have never been before. If there are those who do not feel the call to leave the settled lands for new frontiers, there is no reason to punish them for their decision: they would hardly make ideal companions on the journey if they were coerced into it. Let them stay home with your blessing - where do you think the settlers who ultimately will follow you will be coming from?

            We are PIONEERS. This means that we are streamlining almost every aspect of our common life. When it is time to load the Conestoga, the whole house isn't going to fit. Pioneers pack only what they need, with the hope and faith that a time will come when they can settle again, and those creature comforts can be reintroduced into their lives. Until then, they take on only what is absolutely necessary. This is not the same as survival thinking. In survival thinking, a person (or church, or presbytery) spares every resource it can in order to prolong the dying process. In pioneer thinking, a person spares every unneeded resource while pouring every needed resource on moving forward. In survival thinking, everyone is a patient - a more or less inactive observer - except for the caregiver(s). In pioneer thinking, there are no observers: everyone is expected and required to commit themselves to the forward progress of the 'wagon train' or caravan. The entire journey is done with the firm expectation that we will reach a destination, as yet unknown, where we will settle and grow and flourish.

            I don't (usually) pretend to be omniscient. It may be that the naysayers and settlers are correct, and that the PC(USA) will wither into obscurity, living on only as a footnote to church history. But it may well be that they are short-sighted, and that the glory of the latter temple will indeed be greater than that of the former if we stay the course, pay the price and commit ourselves whole-heartedly to the task we believe that we have been given. It may be faithful to hold on to what we have been given, but it is faith-filled to dare to leave behind what has become cramped and crowded, where there is no room or freedom to live, love and serve in the way that we believe God has called us to do.

            As we, as a Council and as a Presbytery, go through this time of transition and cultural transformation, it is my hope and prayer that we will face the challenges and changes in the spirit of pioneers: willingly laying aside things that we once cherished in strong, sure hope of attaining something even more worthwhile. Perhaps we will have to make some difficult financial choices. Perhaps we will let go of some things we have done, not because we haven't done them well or seen blessing from them but because they just won't fit into the wagon. But if we can do this with the optimism and courage of pioneers, even the hardships become a part of the story of God's ultimate blessing.

            Thanks for letting me think out loud here. I pray that I haven't offended anyone, and that you will find grace enough to forgive me if I have.

Dave Lee

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Morning Worship, 6/10/12

     Have you ever been to a restaurant…and just when you were about halfway done with your meal, you stop to take a little break.  The waiter doesn’t know this and thinks you’re done, so he begins to take your plate.  “Excuse me, sir, but I’m not finished yet!” you might say.
     Surely, you've heard the chatter that the church is dying. Statistics in the Presbytery of West Virginia, the PCUSA, and the USA bear that out in some ways. But I say, "God's not finished with the church yet!"


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Morning Worship, 6/3/12

The word “Trinity” never appears in the Bible. Why is it so important to us that we celebrate Trinity Sunday?  Because the concept of the Trinity is found from cover to cover in the Bible, and that concept is vital to our faith.  What is the concept of the Trinity?  The idea that we are more than relational, more tan connectional, something like the "opposite of loneliness."


Morning Worship, 5/27/12

How do you know when you’re feeling the Spirit or when you’re just feeling good?  How do you know if you’re hearing the Spirit or your own voice?  How do you distinguish between the words of the Counselor and the words of one who would like you to think they’re the Counselor?