Lord I Lift My Friend to You.

     Recently, I have found myself keenly aware of the struggles that many of my friends, colleagues, and congregants are going through.  Many are experiencing deep valleys in their lives.  I don’t think that this recent spike is actually a spike at all.  I have found that this Lent God has been making me more aware of people’s struggles. Now, I believe that I am a fairly observant and perceptive person but recently I believe that God has led me to moments of divinely inspired vision.  Regardless of the situation it seems that often the only true and reasonable response I can come up with is that, “I will pray for you.”  I have found myself adding a new addition to that response in recent days.  Following the standard “I will pray for you ” I have added, “no really I will.”  Continue reading

The Five “P’s” of Passionate Worship

    Passionate Worship is one of the “Five Practices” that Robert Schnase identifies when talking about fruitful congregations and fruitful living.  To be a congregation or individual who are bearing spiritual fruit we need to engage in worship that has its roots deep within the Spirit.  I will be the first to admit that there are days when worship is difficult.  Far too often the concerns of life crowd out my worship desire.

    Schnase identifies five “P’s” that people who practice Passionate Worship seek to have in their life: prioritize, prepare, participate, pray and persist.  Continue reading

Our Easter Welcome

     Easter is drawing ever nearer.  As it does, my mind drifts to the reality that each Easter churches through out the world see their attendance rise.  Christmas and Easter are two Christian holidays that are wonderful draws for both believers and non-believers.  I am encouraged each year to see many faces that for one reason or another are often missing.  I used to think negative thoughts about those whom we would often term “Christmas and Easter Christians.”  For many, life is such that regular attendance in worship is a challenge.  It is easy for those who are able to attend regularly to sit in judgment. 

     This year I wanted to shed a different light on the subject.  Continuing the idea from my sermon this past week, I believe that it is high time for our “Christian” communities to start acting Christ like.  Christ looked at the world with a very different eye.  When he saw those who were outside the community, he sought to figure out what was separating them and alleviate that burden.  Each week in the declaration of pardon we hear this echoed, “Who is in a position to condemn, Christ, and Christ came into the world to forgive sinners.”  Continue reading

Led By The Spirit?

Each month the Session of Christ Presbyterian Church meets to conduct it’s stated meeting.  Nine women and men selected “by God through the voice of this congregation” meet to hope, dream, listen and lead.           

I have been involved with Sessions for over twenty years.  I first served as an Elder in my home church at the age of sixteen.  I remember going to my first Session meeting with no illusion as to what we were to be doing.  This was a board that was supposed to make management decisions for the church and we met for the purpose of oversight and budget accountability. Continue reading

Is God opening a door?

Last nights Ash Wednesday Service has me praying about a sense that the world is seeking out God.  I am amazed at how much I have heard Lenten disciplines come up in conversation, on the radio and facebook.  Perhaps it's in response to the images of turmoil we see each day from around the world.  Perhaps it's a sense that with our economic troubles our sense of worldly security has failed.  I don't know why, nor do I really care. 

I wonder how many others are

feeling that God is providing us with an opportunity to speak a sacred message.   We have been entrusted with a message that will help our family, friends and everyone else find meaning, purpose, and dare we say hope of eternal life.  Lent/Easter is a great opportunity to evangelize and invite.  What better time to ask your friends to experience the reality of Christian life than Lent and Easter.  In just a few short weeks they can experience the deepest reality of our lives through our worship.  Jesus life, death and resurrection come alive in worship at this time like no other time.    This song by Casting Crowns has a passion to it that I believe we are all called to have.  Will you share your experience of Christ with others?

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Why “Do” Lent?

Lent is an interesting time in the life of the church.  It is a part of our tradition that we have only recently been able to appreciate and immerse ourselves in.

Lent is a season of intensified self-examination and repentance. While these practices are part of regular Christian life year-round, we give them special attention during Lent to assure they do not devolve into mere rote activities.

Self examination and repentance aren’t things that we do well as individuals or corporate faith bodies.  The work of looking deeply at ourselves is not comfortable and at times is unrewarding. Continue reading

Lenten Study: A Cure For Those Winter Doldrums?

It seems like only yesterday that we were engaged in the celebration of Christmas.  Last week, as I took a prayer walk in the Greenbrier Neighborhood, I noticed reminders of that celebration are still present.  Many houses have not been able to take down their Christmas decorations which now, having been battered by rain, snow and wind have taken on a sad if not eerie quality.  Smiling snowmen with their holiday wishes look out with sad eyes that seem to say, “it’s over isn’t it?”

I think that many of us find our faith life enter into a post-Christmas lull .  We put all we can into celebrating the religious and secular aspects of Christmas and then find that our spiritual energy has been used up.  Continue reading