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Showing posts from July, 2009

Life in Greencastle - The Word

"The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever." - 1 Peter 1:24,25

"For the Word is inexhaustible. One can only stand in wonder and point." - William C. Martin

I was coming back from a dinner with my dad and step-mom last night, and I took the back way home. This takes me along the old State Farm land near Manhattan and Putnamville, and as I drove into a valley where there is a small bridge I looked off to the west. The sun was doing one of those beautiful dances with the clouds - peeking below before it made its exit off stage for the day. It was a glowing fire, a burning orange. And below its radiance, two does stood silently over a field of beans.

I stopped the car right there in the middle of the road. Just to watch and to listen. The deer raised their heads and stared ahead at my car. Together we were matched in curious gaze. I didn't linger long. I put the car back in first gear and began again up the hill to ta…

Love Language

"True, whole prayer is nothing but love." - St. Augustine (as quoted in Richard J. Foster's Prayer)

This week we delve into Paul's letter to the Ephesians again - having looked at how God's amazing grace serves as the foundation and frame for the entire letter. Now, we turn our attention to a specific prayer Paul offers for the Ephesians:

"That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you - every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask - ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory - to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his follower, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him - endle…

Just Curious

I was talking to some of our worship team members several months ago about how worship is our way of communicating with God. Furthermore, there are different languages whereby God's people have communicated with God. In more recent days, there has been a shift in the language of the American church - moving from the more stately, glorified sound of organ and choir to sing an anthem to God to the campy, intimate sounds of guitar and a little rhythm from drums or keyboard. And, even more recently, the language has become more ardent and intense - complete with more power riffs and passionate singing and playing.

Allow me to give you a sample of the three different styles - all based off the classic hymn 'Take My Life and Let it Be', which we will sing in a few weeks.

Here is the classic version:

Here is a newer, slightly altered, with more room for honest, intimate expression:

Notice how the song picks up as it moves further and further into the prayer.

And here is a modern, r…

Levity and Laughter

"God, we believe, accepts us, accepts all men, unconditionally, warts and all. Laughter is the purest form of our response to God's acceptance of us. For when I laugh at myself I accept myself and when I laugh at other people in genuine mirth I accept them. Self-acceptance in laughter is the very opposite of self-satisfaction or pride. For in laughter I accept myself not because I'm some sort of super-person, but precisely because I'm not. There is nothing funny about a super-person. There is everything funny about a man who thinks he is. In laughing at my own claims to importance or regard I receive myself in a sort of loving forgiveness which is an echo of God's forgiveness of me. In much conventional contrition there is a selfishness and pride which are scarcely hidden. In our desperate self-concern we blame ourselves for not being the super-persons we think we really are. But in laughter we sit light to ourselves. That is why laughter is the purest …

Devotional Life

Are you looking for some solid devotional resources - a resource to help you in your conversations with God? Well ... I might just have the thing for you, but before I offer a few suggestions let me say this:

I have found over the years that my devotional resources have grown considerably. But just because I have ten books on prayer does not mean that I find myself talking to God more frequently or more deeply. Walking with God - to me - is like exercising. I can buy all the fancy gear in the world (like devotional books or prayer books), but it always comes back to the essential task: actually carving out space and then being disciplined in the practice. It is the same with prayer for me. No book can do the important, essential task: sitting still, opening myself to God's Word and allowing myself to be formed to His will.

That said, devotional books and prayer books can be tremendously important and useful. After all, you wouldn't run a marathon with no athletic gear.


Life in Greencastle - Personal

As I have said on a few occasions, one of the things I really enjoy about being back in Greencastle is how personal everything is.The evidence of the intimacy and interrelatedness continues to come:articles in the Banner about neighbors and church family, connections made, bumping into new friends at the store.Everything is personal here.And that is what I enjoy about this place.It’s also what I enjoy about our congregation, about our church.But, do you know what? “Personal” and “local” really aren’t all that popular in the modern world.I was reminded of that again this week as I spent forty minutes on the phone – being bounced around from person to person in AT&T’s elaborate (that’s the nice word) customer service system.We have been told and promised that big business and modern conveniences can deliver the world to us in seconds … until you actually want to talk directly with someone on the inside.Then you feel like you’ve gone in search of the Wizard of Oz.This – to me – is al…

Life in Greencastle - My Hope

When I began writing these letters to you I had an unspoken desire. I wanted to help you see God at work in your life … wherever you were, whatever you were doing. I still have that hope. I hope that these correspondences help remind you that God cares for you, for your life … even for our little city called Greencastle.

I wanted us to see God outside of our church and in our daily lives because I know the tendency is to stop looking around, to stop looking outside of ourselves.

I am afraid to say it, but it is true: many churches can fall into the tendency of making themselves magnets – feeling like their purpose is to pull more and more people into their “field.” And when churches become magnets, trying to draw more and more people to them, it is inevitable that the majority of the attention goes towards all that’s going on within our church.
This can be so dangerous. It is dangerous because it leads to playing the game of attraction.

When churches start operating as magnets, the…