Friday, January 13, 2006

Poconos this weekend!

Hi all--if you're reading this, be in prayer:

1) for our church's youth as they're away this weekend learning, growing and having fun;

2) for me as I travel back to preach Sunday AM--roads could be icy.


Pastor Mike

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Seeing through new eyes

Hi all--today is my last doctor appointment from a severe eye injury I sustained eight months ago.

I've had to wrestle with the fact that my vision will never be exactly perfect again. Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful to see at all and my vision is fine, just not exactly as it was before. But the fact today is my last appointment means that there is no more healing likely to come--all healing has happened by now.

Call it a wake-up call or whatever, but this 27-year-old has had to learn mortality, the fact that our bodies don't always cooperate with what we want them to do. So for me, this eye injury is the first realization that our bodies break down and decay, that youth doesn't last forever. Of course, I knew this in my head before, I've done enough funerals--but now I know it in my heart in a new way.

So I struggled with it--what does it mean that my youth is fleeting, is disappearing and will someday be gone?

I decided it was good news.

Because while I've enjoyed my youth, it hasn't been so great that I can't let go of it. God has something greater in mind for each of us than our youth. Our youth is so full of uncertainty, of stubbornness, of anxiety--wouldn't it be terrible if youth was the pinnacle of our existence, like the world keeps insisting it is?

No--to truly live is not to be young nor to have perfect vision. To truly live is to be in Christ--to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are loved by Christ and called to a royal ministry of service to the world (as all Christians are). To truly live is to live a life of grace, nourished by the Word, Table and Presence of God, and to know that this glorious life is but a foretaste of the true life with God in eternity.

And to think some would trade that for a young body and perfect vision. What a blessed hope we Christians have!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

January 15 Worship

Hi all...have picked the hymns and Scripture texts for worship this Sunday. Please take some time to reflect on these texts and songs that we'll be using together to glorify God.

The service is designed to bring us face to face with God's sovereignty, a key theme of the book of Jonah. Throughout the book, it is clear that it is God that is ultimately in charge--of the sailors, of the seas, of the Ninevites, and most importantly, of Jonah. The texts and songs this week are chosen to give us a strong sense of God's power and rule. We start by reading Psalm 81:1-4 as a call to worship: "Sing aloud to God our strength..." in essence because God desires us to sing his praise. We will sing together "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," a magnificent hymn of the church that moves us to awe both lyrically and through the powerful music.
Following the prayer, children's sermon, and anthem, we will join together to read Psalm 46: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble...The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."

Following the offering and the peace of Christ, we will sing "May the Mind of Christ My Savior" as a plea for God to enter and rule our minds. We will then read the Scriputre for the day, Jonah 1:1-16, and I will preach on the text focusing on Jonah's stubborn resistance to God, which gives way to his danger and ultimate yielding to God. We will close the service with the singing of "All Heaven Declares," a new hymn that again focuses on God's sovereignty and the praise due him:

All heaven declares the glory of the risen Lord
Who can compare with the beauty of the Lord?
Forever he will be
The Lamb upon the throne
I gladly bow the knee
And worship him alone.

I will declare the glory of the risen Lord
Who once was slain to reconcile us to God
Forever he will be
The Lamb upon the throne
I gladly bow the knee
And worship him alone.

Hope the service is meaningful to you, made moreso with a little bit of preparation beforehand.

Monday, January 09, 2006

More than the belly of a whale

I've decided to preach a four-week series on Jonah at Exton in the upcoming few weeks.
Jonah's a little bit like the cousin you used to see all the time but moved away and found new hobbies and new friends: as long as he remains at a distance, you can assume you know everything about him, but once you see him again, many years later, you find out you might not know him so well.

You think you know the book of Jonah, that it's about a guy in the belly of a big fish, who sulks and mopes his way through a successful evangelistic campaign. And in a sense that is the point of the whole book. But there is much more to be mined there, much more I'm having fun discovering and wrestling with. Most of it seems to be around the idea that God is sovereign, and that when God desires to reach a person, He can do so despite infinite obstacles and objections to the contrary. It also is about the deadly cost of choosing our way over God's, and it's about humanity's never-ending desire to do just that.

Should be a good series--join us for it if you are in the Chester County area!

The Goodness of God

So often, we have a picture in our mind of what God's goodness is--a gentle snowfall, perhaps; a kind word given in time of need; maybe a good meal or a conversion moment of spiritual growth. And it is all true--all are good gifts of God.

And yet, we must remember that God's goodness is not only comprised of those things that make us happy. To truly love God's goodness is to love all the things that are truly good about God--perfect love, perfect truth, perfect justice, perfect mercy. Most of us make God's goodness too small, preferring our little bite-sized chunk to the life-changing goodness of God.

We show that we love God's goodness when we seek to love others completely, when we follow truth no matter where it leads us, and when we honor both justice that sets things right and mercy that turns everything upside down.

May your New Year be blessed with the goodness of God.


Hi all--welcome to my new blog!

Here you will find posted:

  • my weekly sermons
  • church-related news and updates
  • occasional thoughts about current events
  • devotional thoughts related to what's going on in my relationship with God

My hope is that this website will be of value to you in your walk with God, as you pursue God's goodness and truth.