Monday, January 31, 2011


What are you grateful for today?

What I'm praying for--
Ron & Marcia Young, as they continue to struggle forward
Ashley & Max, as they prepare for their wedding
Bill & Sybil Bryant
Egypt--I don't know what to pray for or how to pray, but I'm trusting that God does!

Psalm 6
Prayer for Recovery from Grave Illness

To the leader: with stringed instruments; according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger,
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.
3 My soul also is struck with terror,
while you, O Lord—how long?

4 Turn, O Lord, save my life;
deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who can give you praise?

6 I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
7 My eyes waste away because of grief;
they grow weak because of all my foes.

8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
9 The Lord has heard my supplication;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror;
they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame

Psalm 25

Psalm 25

My feet make a way through the meadow. I trail along, wildflowers reaching for my legs before falling away, left behind to revel in the sunshine as I lament my brief passing. I wish to stop and enjoy each one, but my feet carry me forward, and I am grateful for it.
I could spend my life cavorting in the meadow, trying vainly to treasure each flower, gazing upon its beauty and promising to remember it until the next comes along, stealing my attention and holding my attention for a spell. I would spend my life twirling in the sun in the presence of beauty. Not bad, but not good, either.

For no work would get done on the garden. The weeds would grow wild and free, far from my pruning shears. I would be intoxicated by the beauty, but there would be no discipline to accompany my amorous ways. I would be in love with beauty, rather than devoting my time to the one who has created the beauty.
Somehow my feet have gathered this and carry me home, to the true seat of my soul, not far from plentiful distractions, but near enough to my task that I am reminded of my labors. As I pass through the meadows, I implore God to cover over the paths of my youth, the destroyers of my innocence. I beg God to close that gap between the trees in the forest, where I would slither through to partake in shadowy revelry. I pray that trees might collapse and build some impenetrable wall that might never release that history to the world. Might the path my feet carry me upon now cover over those misdeeds?

My garden appears, and the fading paint reminds me of so many sins. So much time away, attention tuned to wildflowers, to mushrooms growing in decay, to every alluring object that promised fulfillment and delivered none. The list is lengthy, but I draw nearer to the garden and I see my weedeater, lying idle, covered in stains from my recent work, and I draw myself upright. I know my broken past, but I know my strong Savior better.

He is mighty to save, quick to love, and free with his mercy. He who shatters the proud with his rod sweeps up the pieces with his other hand and has the Spirit guide us as we re-assemble them, not in the same pattern but in new ways, watching in awe as our hands create something more beauty than we believed we were capable of. It is the Spirit’s leading that guides my feet to my garden, and God’s grace that gives my hands, my will, the strength they need to toil in this place rather than chase wildflowers all day. My hope is in the Lord, who is mighty to save, my strong deliverer in the midst of the storm. What a God we have!

Chapter XXV: The Gifts Given Freely to the Kirk (Church)

Although the Word of God truly preached, the sacraments rightly ministered, and discipline executed according to the Word of God, are certain and infallible signs of the true Kirk, we do not mean that every individual person in that company is a chosen member of Christ Jesus.

We acknowledge and confess that many weeds and tares are sown among the corn and grow in great abundance in its midst, and that the reprobate may be found in the fellowship of the chosen and may take an outward part with them in the benefits of the Word and sacraments. But since they only confess God for a time with their mouths and not with their hearts, they lapse, and do not continue to the end. Therefore they do not share the fruits of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension.

But such as unfeignedly believe with the heart and boldly confess the Lord Jesus with their mouths shall certainly receive his gifts. Firstly, in this life, they shall receive remission of sins and that by faith in Christ’s blood alone; for though sin shall remain and continually abide in our mortal bodies, yet it shall not be counted against us, but be pardoned, and covered with Christ’s righteousness. Secondly, in the general judgment, there shall be given to every man and woman resurrection of the flesh. The seas shall give up her dead, and the earth those who are buried within her.

Yea, the Eternal, our God, shall stretch out his hand on the dust, and the dead shall arise incorruptible, and in the very substance of the selfsame flesh which every man now bears, to receive according to their works, glory or punishment. Such as now delight in vanity, cruelty, filthiness, superstition, or idolatry, shall be condemned to the fire unquenchable, in which those who now serve the devil in all abominations shall be tormented forever, both in body and in spirit.

But such as continue in well doing to the end, boldly confessing the Lord Jesus, shall receive glory, honor, and immortality, we constantly believe, to reign forever in life everlasting with Christ Jesus, to whose glorified body all his chosen shall be made like, when he shall appear again in judgment and shall render up the Kingdom to God his Father, who then shall be and ever shall remain, all in all things, God blessed forever. To whom, with the Son and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, now and ever.  Amen.

Arise, O Lord, and let thine enemies be confounded; let them flee from thy presence that hate thy godly Name. Give thy servants strength to speak thy Word with boldness, and let all nations cleave to the true knowledge of thee. Amen.


We come to the end.  Thursday, November 20, 2008 was the date of the first chapter of the Scots Confession.  Here, over two years later, is the 25th chapter.  I'm a little ashamed that it's taken me this long.  Of course, considering that it took me seven months to get from Chapter 1 to Chapter 2, I have to say I've picked up the pace a little--otherwise it would have taken me over 12 years!  I'll have to pray about carrying on through the rest of the Book of Confessions.

What I get from this last chapter is an overwhelming desire that God alone be seen as the judge.  It is so tempting, at times, for us to start making a list of who will be saved, but here, in the last chapter of the confession, the authors cry out that it is not for us to be judges, but should leave that task to God.

If we give up our role as judge, then we are free to be humble, to go forward grounded in faith in Christ, but also filled with humility at the fact that we do not have all the answers.  We believe in salvation through Christ alone, in the power of His saving hand, but accept that God's ways are bigger than ours, that God's love and grace is deeper than we can imagine, and that God alone knows exactly how everything plays out in the end.  We cannot say much with certainty, but we can say that we are held in the hand of God, that all of life is an offering to Him, and that He will reign this day, and forever more.


Egypt & Such

Here's a link to a fascinating article about what's going on in the Middle East.  Hard to believe this has all happened so quickly, sweeping from one country to the rest.  People see what is possible when change happens next door, and the dominoes begin to fall as people take to the streets, demanding change from years of being silenced in the political process.

It makes me appreciate the politics of this country.  Whether or not I agree with the parties in power, I am grateful that they gracefully leave office if the people vote them out.  They don't need the army to come usher them from power, and they don't disregard the elections and continue to rule anyway, as those leaders of many countries do.

It makes me wonder how much change is truly possible.  Will these countries simply shuffle around the leaders, doing enough to appease the people while still maintaining ironclad grips on power?  Will they quiet the opposition, crushing them where the press cannot see, until they can return to live as normal?

Or will they actually submit to the will of the people?  I'd be shocked if this was the outcome, but I have been shocked before.  I'm surprised most of these demonstrations haven't been crushed yet.  Perhaps some good will come from them.

Regardless of the outcome, regardless of how little we know about what is going on, we should pray.  We must pray.  For all people in these lands, that they may be safe, that God's will prevails, for peace.  There is so much we do not understand, but that should never stop us from praying.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

How True it is

January 27 E-Newsletter


School Supplies--We’ll be continuing our school supplies drive for East Brainerd Elementary for another week.  Look for the insert in the bulletin--#2 pencils, glue sticks and crayons are the most requested items.  

Kids Nite Out—This Friday, 6-9. 

Pray for…
Bill Bryant, who remains in Erlanger

New Hope News
Evelyn Piatt is will be moved to Life Care of East Ridge tomorrow.


Safe to say that in the next few months we’ll be reading about a lawsuit that resulted from this news story.

What do you wish you knew half your life ago?

The current threat level will no longer be orange.  Soon.  Until then, do whatever an orange threat level means.

Text for this Week

Luke 12:13-21

13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’18Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

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Red Hot

Is it the greatest video ever made? Probably.


Good morning, God.

Thank you for another day.  Thank you for the grace and peace of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Thank you for a roof over my head and a community that surrounds me with love.  Thank you for your wisdom and love.  Thank you.

God, I don't understand how marvelous you are.  I can't fathom the depths of the oceans or the width of the universe.  I can't understand how you have guided the world to this point, and I can't grasp the depth of your love.  My entire life, I have been hearing about Jesus Christ, but I still can't quite understand how you made the decision to sacrifice your Son.  Help me to see that love today, Lord.  Change me once more, that I might be altered by radical grace and drawn nearer to you, closer to you.

I hope everything I do today proclaims your glory.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chapter XXIV: The Civil Magistrate

We confess and acknowledge that empires, kingdoms, dominions, and cities are appointed and ordained by God; the powers and authorities in them, emperors in empires, kings in their realms, dukes and princes in their dominions, and magistrates in cities, are ordained by God’s holy ordinance for the manifestation of his own glory and for the good and well being of all men. We hold that any men who conspire to rebel or to overturn the civil powers, as duly established, are not merely enemies to humanity but rebels against God’s will.

Further, we confess and acknowledge that such persons as are set in authority are to be loved, honored, feared, and held in the highest respect, because they are the lieutenants of God, and in their councils God himself doth sit and judge. They are the judges and princes to whom God has given the sword for the praise and defense of good men and the punishment of all open evil doers.

Moreover, we state that the preservation and purification of religion is particularly the duty of kings, princes, rulers, and magistrates. They are not only appointed for civil government but also to maintain true religion and to suppress all idolatry and superstition. This may be seen in David, Jehosaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, and others highly commended for their zeal in that cause.

Therefore we confess and avow that those who resist the supreme powers, so long as they are acting in their own spheres, are resisting God’s ordinance and cannot be held guiltless. We further state that so long as princes and rulers vigilantly fulfill their office, anyone who denies them aid, counsel, or service, denies it to God, who by his lieutenant craves it of them.

I suppose this is further evidence of God's sense of humor--one minute I'm lamenting the fact that I don't have much honor and respect for many politicians, the next thing I know I open up the confessions and discover that I am on the chapter regarding the respect, honor and love (love!  How many of you confess to loving your local politicians?  Be honest!) of those in power.

I've always struggled with this idea.  I understand the roots of it, and the necessity of it, at times.  But what of those despots intent on enriching themselves at the cost of the citizens--what are we to say to Mugabe, to Duvalier, etc?  What about those who instill terror in us to this day, such as Stalin and Hitler?  How are we to resist those who support laws we find unjust, such as slavery and abortion?

I suppose Jesus would tell me I am supposed to love them even though it may be easier to demonize them.  I imagine Jesus would say that I am supposed to enter into dialogue, to explain my stance and pray for the Spirit's guidance.  I suppose Jesus would tell me that I am still to have honor and respect, even while I work and pray for change.  Considering that my Lord and Savior told me to love my enemies, I doubt he would let me off the hook simply because I deem their political maneuverings or opinions to be reproachable. 

I often fall into the trap of believing that love is a feeling--something warm and fuzzy for the heart.  Love is a command, an action verb, and I am to love myself, my neighbors, my enemies--every single one of God's precious children.  Even when they make it hard for me to do so.

State of the Union

  I will freely confess that I did not watch the State of the Union last night.  I wasn't tempted to watch it, and have not been for many years.  I'd like to be interested--but will freely admit that I grow more frustrated than anything, and have decided that it is best for my blood pressure to simply avoid most political events.

  It makes me think about the power of our words.  One of the most frustrating aspects of political speech is that, so often, their words reflect a highly distorted view of reality.  I have grown cynical of most things that are said or promised by politicians, and have seen numerous individuals from both parties promise change, only to recognize that business as usual continues in Washington, D.C. and state capitals around the country.

  I think about how the church is shaped by our words.  Our lives are formed around the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  We know that God's words translate directly into action--we can read in Genesis about the creative power of God's holy words, or how they can heal and transform lives.

  When we read the Bible, do the words in it shape us?  Do we read it with hearts and minds ready to be transformed by the stories, by the witness to Christ?

  When we pray, do we expect the habit, the time spent in prayer, to change us?

  When we discuss matters of faith, do we recognize the importance of making sure that our actions match our words?  Do we see the harm that is done to the name of the church when we fail to live with integrity between our words and our actions?  Do we heed the call of Christ to follow, with words and bodies?

  I wonder how many people have tuned out the church because we, like so many politicians, fail to match our actions with our words.  I wonder how people might be surprised to see us lead with our actions, and follow with our words.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Psalm 24

Psalm 24

Standing there in that river, overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounded me, I did a foolish, wondrous thing. I laid down.

I could say that it was the cold water temporary freezing my ability to think. I could use the wind as an excuse. But the real reason was that I was simply overwhelmed at God’s creation.

All of this earth is God’s. He made the garden of my soul and set me to live within it. He has made the shadowy forest that attempts to infringe upon the precious light that reaches my garden. He has made the meadows through which I trod and the birds that soar above them. All of this world has been made by God, and somehow I manage to live in some blissful state of ignorance, failing to recognize all the majesty that is inherent in this creation. For some reason, standing in the cold stream brought awe and wonder into the forefront of my mind. There I stood, in solitude and amazement, suddenly feeling so tiny in the face of it all and so overwhelmed that this God loves me.

For some reason, that gave me the sudden urge to bathe. Not to sit and be still in a tranquil environment, but to suddenly try and wipe every crumb of indecency from the surface of my body, and perhaps from within as well. The cold water was no longer an obstacle to my immersion; despite the shallow depth of the stream I covered myself in its waters, frantically splashing the invigorating current over myself, as though some sudden wetness will wash the stains of all those years away. For some minutes I went through frenzied motions, certain that my own hands could remove the dirt, when God spoke through the river.

It wasn’t the voice of God booming down from on high. Rather it was the gentle singing that somehow broke through my frenetic mind and reminded me that all of the earth is God’s, and that God’s grace abounds. My own mortal hands cannot do what divine ones have already done. There are no motions I can copy to save my precious skin from the fate it deserves, for the fate I deserve has been destroyed and no longer holds sway. I am destined for a far more glorious one, because the God who created me also restored me.

When that song returned my concentration to God, all I could do was kneel, sopping wet there in the river, lift up my hands, and thank the King for coming in. Who is this God, this Lord of hosts and King of glory?


Good morning, God.

Thanks for another day.  I don't know if I used the one yesterday to proclaim your glory, but I hope and I pray that you were glorified through my words and deeds.  I tried, Lord.

  What do you have in store for this day, Lord?  I wonder what it must have been like for those disciples the day after Pentecost--did they expect such a thing to happen every day, tongues of fire to give them the fire and passion?  Or was the experience that happened on Pentecost enough to fuel them for the rest of their lives?  How might I recognize the presence and calling of your Spirit?  How might I mold my life to fit your kingdom?  How might I recognize that all I truly need in this life is you?

  Please, Lord, sustain me by your grace, that I might learn, that I might know, how to live here on earth as a member of your Kingdom.  I long to be a faithful disciple, a child of God, a servant for you.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Psalm 15 (I missed this one)

Psalm 15

As my thoughts return to my own garden plot after visiting some of the most immaculate gardens I have ever seen, I am left me feeling small and vulnerable, unworthy of the beauty planted within. Those gardeners welcomed me, shared some of their story and all of their love with me; they told me tales of love that was more selfless than I had imagined a human could be. They told of hours spent carefully crafting the soil in their garden, of spending days, weeks and even months in the garden of a friend in need, neglecting their own garden and yet returning to find it more beautiful than ever. They did not spend time on the paths in the forest; the chaos that waited beyond the meadow held no sway in their hearts, for they had long ago seen that dragon slain and had no desire to resurrect it. Some of them knew the allure and told me how they fought back the temptation to venture into the shadowy depths of the heart’s wayward desires, but each told me of the fear and honor they had for the one who created the garden, who planted the beauty, who cared for the soul.

 They knew how the weeds crept in, how the ugliness polluted this place when they chased after vapid cares, so they turned from the wicked, selfish ways of those who chased sensory pleasures, choosing instead to wear down their knees in order to try and create more glory for the beauty that was already blossoming in that place. They knew that the garden was beautiful because of someone else, and they knew their efforts would ensure that their gardens would not be swallowed up by the chaos; they would not disappear into the darkness, but rather would stand firm in the clearing, with a clear view of the sun and the nourishment it offers.

I stood in my garden. What did it say about me? To what greater truth did it testify? Does it reflect my heart’s desires, or am I simply another wanderer, content to chase pleasure in the hope of catching its fleeting glory? I wish for a garden that shall not be moved, for a protector to stand around this holy place, to dwell in this holy meadow and offer myself, my very being, for the glory of one who is far greater than I. To tend such beauty in the hopes of offering my humble life for the glory of God, surely that is the only eternal joy.

Steve Harvey

It does prompt the question... how would you introduce Jesus Christ?


Good Morning, God.

Thank you for another day. You have blessed me once more, surrounding me with your love and your grace. A new day unfolds, filled with possibility, filled with your Spirit, and I pray that as I go forward into this day I will be aware of the Spirit's presence around me. Open my eyes, Lord, to opportunities to serve, to love, to give. In Jesus Christ you show us what love is--teach me to be willing to follow his example, to love like He does. You are true love, and I stand in awe before your holy throne.

May I glorify you on this day, Lord.


Friday, January 21, 2011

1/20 E-News

School Supplies--We’ll be starting our school supplies drive for East Brainerd Elementary this week.  Look for the insert in the bulletin--#2 pencils, glue sticks and crayons are the most requested items.  

Session reading—Want to read along with the session?  We’ll be reading Glenn McDonald’s The Disciple-Making Church this year.  Used copies are available through Amazon for around $5, including shipping.

Pray for…
Lloyd’s father, Harry Hoover
Ellie Ivey’s father, as he continues to recover from his surgery
Our new session, as they begin their leadership
New Hope News
Evelyn Piatt is in Siskin, getting worked over and on the road to recovery!
The best article I’ve read on the shootings in Tucson.
You can have some fun on this website—lots of great articles.
Want to keep up-dated on the news of the PC(USA)?  Here is a page to make choices.
A 10-minute video discussing how Jesus spent his last time here on earth
102 keys???  What kind of world is this? 

Text for this Week

Luke 12:1-12
Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered by the thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops. 

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. 

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 

When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.”


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Thursday, January 20, 2011


What are you grateful for today?

What I'm praying for today--
Ellie's Dad--recovering from surgery
Our church, that we continue to grow in faithfulness to Christ

Psalm 3

Trust in God under Adversity

A Psalm of David, when he fled from his son Absalom.
Lord, how many are my foes!
   Many are rising against me; 
many are saying to me,
   ‘There is no help for you in God.’

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me,
   my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. 
I cry aloud to the Lord,
   and he answers me from his holy hill.

I lie down and sleep;
   I wake again, for the Lord sustains me. 
I am not afraid of tens of thousands of people
   who have set themselves against me all around. 

Rise up, O Lord!
   Deliver me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
   you break the teeth of the wicked. 

Deliverance belongs to the Lord;
   may your blessing be on your people!

Babette's Feast

I finally watched Babette's Feast.  I don't even know how many times I'd heard about this movie before sitting down to watch it the other night.  It waited for weeks on our shelf, and as it was holding up the queue from finally reaching Inception, Rachel and I finally sat down to watch this movie so we could send it back.  It's a French movie, and all in subtitles, and though it is pretty old, there is a beautiful story hidden in here.

To summarize, it's the tale of a French religious community, one that appears to be fairly strict.  The leader of it passes away, and leadership falls to his two daughters, beautiful women in their time who were strongly encouraged not to wed by the father.  The two women, in their advanced age, take in as a servant, a refugee from Paris.

I'm going to spoil the plot, because blogging about this movie without revealing the ending doesn't leave much to write about, but I don't feel badly about it since the movie came out in 1987.  If your going to be upset that I ruined a 23 year old movie...well, deal with it.

Babette wins the lotto, a considerable sum of money, and spends it all on a lavish feast for the strict religious community.  Turtle soup, quail, you name it.  I didn't know what half the dishes were, but it was fine French dining, and the French are pretty passionate about their food.

The sisters are astonished that she spent all this money on one meal, but it was Babette's chance to give away her art.  'An artist is never poor,' she tells them.

It reminds me a lot of what Seth Godin talks about, the idea of giving away our art.  What is it that you're really good at, that you love to do, and how are you giving that away?  Are you?  I think that often we don't give away our art, holding onto it because we don't think it's good enough, or that we might lose out on money down the road.  Give it away, and see what happens.  God has given us each tremendous and different gifts--let's use them for the glory of God, and let God continue to transform the world through us.  May we give away what has been freely given to us.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


What are you grateful for today?

What I'm praying for today:
  •  No more snow!
  • Soldiers who have returned home and struggle with the adjustment
  • The Williams Family (Norma's friend)
  • Rachel's grandmother (General health struggles)

Psalm 2

God’s Promise to His Anointed

Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and his anointed, saying,
‘Let us burst their bonds asunder,
and cast their cords from us.’

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord has them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
‘I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.’

I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
He said to me, ‘You are my son;
today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
with trembling kiss his feet,
or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way;
for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Happy are all who take refuge in him.

CHAPTER XXIII To Whom Sacraments Appertain

To Whom Sacraments Appertain

We hold that baptism applies as much to the children of the faithful as to those who are of age and discretion, and so we condemn the error of the Anabaptists, who deny that children should be baptized before they have faith and understanding. But we hold that the Supper of the Lord is only for those who are of the household of faith and can try and examine themselves both in their faith and their duty to their neighbors. Those who eat and drink at that holy table without faith, or without peace and goodwill to their brethren, eat unworthily. This is the reason why ministers in our Kirk make public and individual examination of those who are to be admitted to the table of the Lord Jesus.


I've had the infant baptism discussion many a time, and I will freely confess that I still wrestle with it.  I love the idea of our identity in Christ being rooted from the time we are young.  I appreciate the theology that we recognize that God claims us long before we ever discover the wisdom to seek to live out our gratitude with every fiber of our being.  I love the depth of the acknowledgment that we are a part of a community, and in baptism the entire community of faith makes a promise to help raise the infant in the church, as a Christian.

I just want control.

I want to be able to say that it was my decision, that it was my wisdom that led me to my decision to be saved through my baptism.  I want the first word, cutting God off before God gets a word in edgewise.  It's hard to depend on someone else's wisdom, even when that someone is God.  I still want to live by my rules.

I think that's the heart of my opposition to infant baptism.  Others make well-reasoned cases that I respect and acknowledge.  They have great theology and simply do not believe that anyone should be baptized without their consent.  Often, I find myself swayed by their arguments.

But in my own case, I think it is a matter of control--I find it so hard to accept that God's love is unconditional, because I see the depth of my own sin.  I wonder how it is that God can freely choose to love me, even knowing all the sins I have committed and will continue to commit.  I am trying to dredge up all the sins that God has cast deep into the ocean, and I guess I want God to try and win God's love, even though I can't, even though God loves me more than I will ever understand.  For some reason, God's free gift of abundant grace just doesn't seem to make sense to me, so I wrestle with it.

For whom are you praying?



Good morning, God.

  The sun may not be up quite yet, but I know that you are at work, for you never rest.  Your care and love never cease, and even when I slumber, you still sustain me by your hand.  I trust in you completely, Lord, for your love is far wider and deeper than I can even imagine.

  I know that you are at work in the world, Lord, and that you will be all the day long.  I know you will be active in the hearts and minds of those with whom I interact, and I pray that you will help me to see how you are at work.  May I rise to the challenge of living as a disciple on this day, and may it all bring glory to you, Lord.  You are my strength, my shield, and all I could ever need.  May I see that today.

  Teach me, Lord, that I may grow in faith today.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What I'm praying for today

What I'm praying for today:
--Jacob Geerlings, as he moves forward in seminary
--John Brandon, who performs tonight for God's glory in Carmen

What are you grateful for today?
--I am grateful that it is raining, not snowing.
--I am grateful for a roof over my head.

Psalm 1

The Two Ways

Happy are those
   who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
   or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
   and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
   planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
   and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper. 

The wicked are not so,
   but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement,
   nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
   but the way of the wicked will perish.


Good morning, God.

  Once more, you have sustained life for one more day.  Your awesome and amazing hand has held up creation, and I have the incomparable joy of wandering into the world once more.  May I take the time to be amazed at what you have done--from the mighty trees to the smallest rocks.  Holy Lord, I pray that this day might be one in which I hear the voices of the rocks as they cry out their praise songs to you.

  I pray for Evelyn this morning, as she heals.  I pray that you might grant her the strength, the peace and the ability to progress down the healing road.

  I pray for justice, Lord.  I pray for the kind of world Dr. King worked to help create.  I pray that my heart and my life will contribute to the equality of many, that my hands might reach out in love, in peace, to be used by you for your work, rather than my own glory.  I pray, Lord, for all people in every land, those dealing with flooding in Australia to poverty in Chattanooga, that we might all learn to work together for good, for your glory.  Reveal yourself in powerful ways through the lives of your servants, that the light of Christ might shine for all to see.  Vanquish my fear, O Lord, that I may no longer cower in uncertainty but rather go forth in boldness. 

  You are King, Lord, and I love you.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

1/13/2011 E-Newsletter

Please brush the snow off the top of your car before you drive somewhere!

Ashley’s bridal tea has been rescheduled for Saturday, 1/22. (Still 2-4)

Our parking lot is still rather…um…exciting?  Please be VERY careful whenever you might be coming to church.

Pray for…
Lloyd’s father, Harry Hoover

New Hope News
Evelyn Piatt had hip replacement surgery this morning

A must-read.  May we endeavor to offer the same to anyone who needs it.

Looking for freedom?

Text for this Week

Luke 11:37-54

While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 

Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you. “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practiced, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.” 

One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you are witnesses and approve of the deeds of your ancestors; for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that this generation may be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” 

When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.



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