Monday, March 30, 2009


Our 2009 Soup and Scripture series wraps up Wednesday night. Maria Nauman is leading a final study about resurrection morning. Our thanks to Roger and Lynda Fry, Sam Ruggiero, and Maria for providing great bible studies. We have between 20-30 each Wednesday evening. Soup is at 6. Scripture at 7.

More on Obama

Tim Clutter posted a comment to last week's blog on Mr. Obama (click comment at the bottom of that post). Thank you, Tim. You're the first person to comment back.

Not every "Christian" officeholder makes decisions consistent with his Christian values. Sometimes persons without a professed faith take positions with which Christians can agree even if they arrive at them by different routes. I tend to look at the position. For example, I am troubled by Mr. Obama's reversal of the Mexico City policy and the implied pro-abortion position it may ultimately impose on hospitals and medical professionals who are pro-life. On the other hand, the refocusing of the war on terror to Afghanistan seems consistent (at this point) with the government's biblical responsibility to restrain the evil doer (Romans 13).

The last I looked Mr Obama belongs to a Christian denomination, albeit one of the most politically and theologically liberal churches to be found in America.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I was blessed yesterday with a rare night off. My plan was simply to stay at home with Dianne, watch her TV shows with her (for Dianne Tuesdays mean NCIS and The Mentalist). Just as I started to settle into the family room, she announced that NCIS had not yet started. Mr. Obama was going to speak. Although I did not support his candidacy and disagree with him on many key issues, he is my President. Having held a couple of key presidencies myself (including that of my denomination during some turbulent days of transition), I understand it to be a tough, often thankless job. You have less freedom to lead than you think. Everyone, including your own party, has their own agendas--and their support of you wavers when you infringe upon their priorities. As my friend Lori Dixon once said in a memo, "Every sacred cow has a mother."

To say he has a challenge is an understatement. Expections were incredibly high when he was first elected, almost ridiculously so. My Lord and Savior would have had trouble living up to those expectations--especially since so many were at cross purposes. On top of it, he was elected by persons who supported his platform and others who were desperate for a change. More than one person, looking at the sinking economy, troubled by the persistence of the war in Iraq, frustrated with their unrealized dreams,simply voted for Mr. Obama because they desired a change.

I am not convinced that the solutions his administration has undertaken will succeed--but I agree with him last night on one point. They will take time and great self-dsicipline on the part of a people not noted for their delayed gratificiation. But I listen to what he says because in his attempts to lead, I am listening for where the Holy Spirit is saying, "Give this a chance, do your part. Your nation needs salt and light Christians who are solid, responsible, prayerful citizens. Party lines mean nothing when the ship is in trouble. People who know how to steer and how to sail and how to bail are what a democracy like the US needs to ride out this storm.

(You can send comments or questions to me at

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Core values is a hot button today. Education, industry, government, and churches speak of core values. Core values are important because values drive behaviors. Shared core values shape an orgnaization as a unified, powerful, and effective force capabale of accomplishing great vision.

Another way of describing core values is to speak of DNA. In our Creator's design, DNA are the molecular building blocks that determine of much of the uniqueness, character, and physical make-up that we possess as human beings. The church sees itself as having a DNA, a spiritual make-up that defines and determines who we are. We do not see ourselves as an organization but as an organism, the continuing body of the Risen Christ. As such, the implications of DNA are even more profound. We believe that church possess the DNA of Jesus Christ, the spiritual buildings that shape us to possess and exhibit a Christ-like character in our dealings with our world. More about DNA to come.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6.35

Jesus had just fed the 5000 plus. His disciples had located a little boy whose mother had packed him a lunch - five loaves and two fish. Jesus miraculously multiplied that into more food than the crowd could eat. Yet the crowd merely hungered for more from Jesus. They wanted to keep their connection with this miracle worker to keep getting what they desired.
Jesus knew this was not the hunger he wanted to foster, so he disappeared from them. They went in search of Jesus. "Where did you go?" was their question when they finally caught up with him. They wanted the handout from heaven to continue.

Yet Jesus knew that they needed more than manna, the daily bread provided in the wilderness that had sustained the Israelites in the exodus, It was journey bread. It had a half life of 24 hours and then it spoiled. Jesus knew that they needed "bread" that would sustain them. In saying, "I am the bread of life" he is telling all os that he provides more than manna for the moment. He gives us bread for eternity.

Note: This is my text and message for Sunday, Marchy 22, 2009 at the Church of God of Landisville. You can hear a fuller discussion at 8.15 and 10.45.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Now there's a word that probably did not exist 1o years ago. I suspect it was conceived in the mind of ESPN, (You have to have something to occupy the airwaves on a 24-hour sports network.) Each March, a whole lot of us become bracketologists as we pick the Final Four in the NCAA basketball tournament. The Final Four will be decided by the diligent efforts of a many fine athletes, the swings of momentum, the strategic sensibilities of coaches, and the judgment of referees, Until then, most of us study stats, listen to analysis, and make our picks. And if we are really smart, we do not bet the ranch on our choices,

So just for fun- here's my Final Four: Louisville, Pittsburgh, Memphis, and North Carolina - with Rick Pitinos Lousiville Cardinals on top after beating Pittsburgh.

Dianne's Birthday

Thursday will be my wife Dianne's birthday. I will not reveal on-line how old she is; but I will note that we are in our 38th year of marriage. She is one of God's best and most enduring blesings in my life. Dianne is also a constant reminder that there are real Christians, biblical ones who trust that God's Word will steer them right, that God's Spirit will empower your life, that connecting people to a God who loves them is the purpose of our life. My life is immeasurably more because God brought her into my life almost four decades ago.

God blesses us with people of impact and influence, whose character and whose faith remind us of the truth of Philippians 4.13, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." The big question is--do we let them into our lives, or do we keep them at arm's length because we want to be the only person to whom we are answerable?

And are you willing to be that kind of person to someone who God wants to bring into your life? (No, you don't need to marry them.) Jesus was once clled "the man for others" precisely because he understand his purpose from the Father was to impact and to influence so that people might once again find their place with God.

Note: Remember commentsd are welcome. Use the link at the bottom of the blog or email me at,

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Jake is my first grandson and my youngest grandchild. He was born last Easter Sunday morning. He had some problems at birth, minisiezures that for several weeks had us concerned and many friends across the natiion praying. I still retain a file of the letters and emails that I received from persons, some of whom were beforehand strangers, who were praying for his healing and a healthy beginning to his new life. Jake still has a prayer blanket knitted for him by Judy Byers, one of my church elders. When it was delivered, Christi, Jake's mother, placed it around him and said, "Now you are covered in prayer, Jake."

The minisiezures did not last. Now, except for some grumpiness prompted by the pain of teething, Jake is an incredibly happy child. He delights at his world. Smiles often. Laughs at the things that make little boys laugh. Loves to watch sports on TV with his Dad, Tim. Warms the heart of his high-powered executive mom with all the little baby steps and discoveries that are part of daily newness of toddlerhood. Yesterday my wife Dianne and I arrived at Christi and Tim's, a journey of 540 miles and all the road weariness left as soon as we were greeted by Jake.

God invites us to "cast all your cares upon (him) because he cares for you." Surrendering a concern, entrusting a loved one, releasing a situation in prayer is often the best thing we can do.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Lord, I am reminded of your love that was so great that you humbled yourself. No precincts of heaven with all of your Father's glory could keep you from taking on humble flesh to be the agent of an amazing grace. Sacrificial servanthood was the path you chose that we might be finally reconciled to our holy God. I pray that the life I live might reflect your attitude and heart in every way. May the life I choose be worth the price you paid. Amen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pastor Barry is Preaching

I will be on vacation this week, but Barry Sellers, our Associate Pastor continues the series "Just Who Does Jesus Think He Is?" His message at 8.15 and 10.45 on March 15th--"I Am the Good Shepherd." Don't miss our great choir at 8.15 and our rocking Worship Band at 10.45.

Lenten Thoughts

We are now about two weeks into the Lenten season. This is what we call a liturgical season, a time in the church year that is used to teach and communicate basic Christian beliefs. The central event in history for Christian is Christ's atoning death on the Cross for our sin and His resurrection three days later as our Living Hope. We believe that sin breaks our relationship with God, but we are utterly incapable of repairing that breach without God's intervention. "In just the right time, while we were yet powerless, Christ died for us (our sins)" says Paul in Romans 5.
Lent is the season when we reflect on Christ's sacrifice and breaking our bondage to sin. It is a time of self-examination, confession, repentance, and committing ourselves to live lives worth of God's amazing grace. Some people "give up" something for Lent, an act of self-denial to express how much more important Christ is than any earthly habit or material possession. It is also a reminder that Christ gave up his position in heaven with all of the perks of divinity, to share in the limits of our humanity so that we might find our salvation.
I would be interested in hearing what you are learning from your Lenten self-examination. Email me at and we can begin this conversation.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Yesterday afternoon North Carolina defeated Duke to capture the ACC Championship. I was only able to watch about 10 minutes of this magnificent ballet on the hardwood, but I was captivated by the athleticism of players like Taylor Hansborough, the shifting of momentum between two teams that epitomize excellence in basketball, and the intensity of two teams striving together to achieve the prize.
Next to baseball, my favorite sport is college basketball. I can hardly wait for "March Madness" to begin a week from tomorrow. My favorite team, the Buckeyes, are a bubble team and may not be invited to the tournament but if they don't make it, I suspect I will be rooting for those Tarheels of North Carolina. (It's kind of hard for a pastor to root for the Blue DEVILS.)
But what I will enjoy even more are days upon days of teams from all parts of the country giving their very best to achieve the prize of a national championship. Along the way I will find some new teams to root for (until they are eliminated) and learn of persons less famous than Tyler Hansborough, who work just as hard. It will an adventure of sheer delight.


Question: Have you started assembling your brackets? Who do you think will make that final four?

Friday, March 6, 2009


I practice Sabbath. This is part of my Judaeo-Christian heritage. It is rooted in the command, "Remember the sabbath and keep it holy." It was a command (precept) given by God to reinforce a principle. The principle was that work needs to be balanced with rest and renewal. In particular, a time to free yourself from your everyday labors and activities--to reconnect with God to replenish your soul and to rest to replenish your body.

Sabbath is not the same as leisure, especially in America where people play at their work and work at their play. It is not the same as a day off, especially in a nation that suffers from "hurry sickness"* and is burning out in its busyness.

Mark Buchanan** says that the test for a sabbath activity is whether or not it is necessary. Is it necessary to maintain house, job, finances, relationships? All of these are essentially part of our "work." The Sabbath concept - six days work and one day rest - implies that we do the unnecessary on the Sabbath. The other items need to be handled in the first six and if you cannot do so, you are trying to handle too many things.

So on my Sabbath, I try to practice "freescence"***. I try to do what on other days might be a "waste" because I need to be free to do what rests and replenishes. Golf, if the weather is warm is freescence--or breakfast with a friend--or time with a John Grisham novel--or puttering around the yard--or praying for no other reason than I like to talk to God. And if I can do it without guilt or regrets come the next "work day"--then I have truly had a Sabbath.


*phrase from John Ortberg ** THE REST OF GOD by Mark Buchanan *** phrase I first heard more than 30 years ago from Ken Prunty

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Soup and Scripture

Many churches, Protestant and Catholic, have a tradition of a simple community meal and a time of study of the scriptures during the season of Lent. Lent is the 40 days (minus Sundays) that precede Easter in the Christian calendar. It is a time of prayer and reflection, confession and repentance--and intentional recommitment to living more Christlike lives.
At my church, Church of God of Landisville, this is called SOUP AND SCRIPTURE. It meets every Wednesday night beginning this evening. A light meal of soup, salad, bread (the soup created by our great soup chefs) served beginning at 6:00 pm. Then at 7:00 we participate in an inductive Bible study. This year four lay persons and my associate pastor are leading a study on the events and teaching from Christ's last week before his crucifixion. Roger Fry, one of our elders and the teacher for one of our adult classes, Friendship, will be teaching. You can read more about this at our website,

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Many people think Christians have closed minds, more concerned with being the moral police than good neighbors. I believe that Christians are called to reflect the character of Christ--which means that loving God and loving my neighbor are two sides of the same coin. Rather than exhibiting a closed mind, it is important for me to possess the mind of Christ. The Christ portrayed in the Gospels possessed clarity and a deep commitment to the truth. That meant that he was open to people's questions and even taught the truth by asking questions, not merely making pronouncements. A mind committed to knowing and living by the truth is essential to being a genuine Christ follower. Having a mind assumes that you are required to think, ask questions, reflect, and respond. It also implies that your actions and values are the result of well-examined, open-minded (to the truth) conviction. As a sign I once saw on a campus minister's door proclaimed: JESUS CAME TO TAKE AWAY YOUR SINS, NOT YOUR MIND. (I welcome your questions and conversations at