The Pastor Challenge
Friday, December 25, 2020
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
I have often remarked about how similar much Reformed theology is to Rome, although they would never admit it and be horrified at the thought.
I read this quote recently (though sadly, don't remember where!), which says the same thing, just much better:
"The Reformed ran so far away from Rome that they circled the globe and wound up back there."
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Tuesday, November 3, 2020
A good read for you today . . .
1:30 pm update - I did not vote early. I am kind of an old fashioned guy who still votes on election day. Went to my polling place right after Noontime prayer and walked right in. No line whatsoever. 5 minutes tops. Thank you to everyone who voted early and waited in lines for hours to make my life easy today! ;-)
Thursday, October 29, 2020
With Reformation day on Saturday, a post for the Reformation . . .
Undoing the Reformation?
One of the things that greatly helped the cause of the Reformation was technology - the advent of the printing press. Could technology now be undoing the Reformation?
Before the Reformation, the people were largely spectators in church. People watched what was happening (when they could see), but didn’t participate. There was very little preaching. Many didn’t understand the language (Latin), they didn’t sing (the choir did that), they seldom received the Sacrament of the Altar. It was for most “ocular” communion - the belief that they could receive some kind of benefit just by seeing the Body and Blood of Jesus lifted up by the priest, whatever “hocus pocus” had caused the bread and wine to be changed. For most, it was the “professionals” who were doing what needed to be done. The people just watched (when they could see), or prayed at side altars.
The Reformation changed all that. With the German Mass, people sang parts of the liturgy in their own language. They sang hymns that taught the faith. The Words of Jesus in the Sacrament were spoken loudly and clearly for all to hear. They received the Body and Blood of Jesus (both kinds, not just one), and frequently. Church was for them again!
But today, and especially with the rise of Covid, many people have reverted to watching church again. Because people could not come to church, churches (including mine) now live stream services on the internet. But I wonder - are people participating? Certainly, they cannot receive the Body and Blood of Jesus at home, but what else are they not doing? Do they stand at the appropriate times? Speak the congregational parts? Kneel? Confess? Bow their heads? Or do people just sit and watch as spectators again? The situation is not quite as bad as before the Reformation, since the preaching and liturgy are in the language of the people, but I wonder how many are watching the whole service? How many fast forwarding to the sermon? How many not even listening to the whole sermon?
Live streaming and recorded services can be good and provide a valuable service . . . for those who must quarantine, those who cannot physically come to church, the sick, and perhaps also as an introduction to the church for those unfamiliar with it. It is easier to click and watch before stepping in the door. Those are good things. But if the electronic church becomes a substitute for those who can come, and should come, if it makes the people into spectators again (as sometimes happens in some “contemporary” services, which are more of a show than participation by the congregation), then are we unwittingly undoing the Reformation (at least in regard to worship)? Leaving church to the “professionals” again. That would not be good.
Thursday, October 8, 2020
I was informed about this video which explains viruses in general, and has a lot of information about the coronavirus in particular. The man presenting is a virologist and also the mayor of a town in California. His presentation is clear and easy to understand. I believe it is non-partisan, which seems to be hard to come by these days! (I cannot tell what political party he belongs to.) About 25 minutes into the video, after he gets through a lot of virus stuff, he starts to talk about the situation in California in particular - but not for too long. There is good stuff after that section, too, so don't turn it off at that point. So anyway, if you're not too Covid-weary and would like some clear information (and about viruses in general), click here.
Saturday, September 19, 2020
I never finished my vacation photos . . . I don't have many left, actually. After leaving southwestern Virginia, we went to Appomattox/Lynchburg and spent a couple of days there. We saw the site where Lee surrendered to Grant and the Civil War Museum there. Another day we went to see the Country Estate of Thomas Jefferson called Poplar Forest and the D-Day Memorial. So this was more of an historical stop than a hiking/outdoors spot, although our hotel here did have an outdoor pool that was OPEN, so we enjoyed that very much. :-) Anyway, a couple of pictures of the D-Day Memorial . . .
Thursday, September 17, 2020
So we've been wanting to replace our deck for a few years now. Here's what it looked like:
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
For exercise, one of the things I do is ride my bike on a stationary trainer in my basement. If you've ever ridden a bike indoors, you know that the times on the bike drags! It seems like a ride takes forever. But if I read while riding, the time usually flies. So that's what I do. Sometimes theology, but not always. I like to read other things as well, and as I am somewhat of a history buff, and especially American (Revolutionary and Civil War) history, I read a bunch of that.
So, I thought I'd share with you two books I recently finished:
Monday, August 31, 2020
So I was sitting out on my sun porch on Saturday working on my sermon when this little guy flew into the glass . . . pretty hard!
Saturday, August 29, 2020
Catchy name, huh? :-)
Before leaving southwestern Virginia, we had to hike to the Devil's Bathtub. It's a loop hike - about a two mile hike in one direction (and crossing 10 streams or so), and about five miles for the rest of the loop. I wanted to do the whole loop, but signs warned us that the dry, five mile section of the hike is not much used and therefore not as well maintained. So if we didn't have a map and a compass (which we did not), we should do the two mile out and back. So we did. :-)
We went early in the morning, and boy are we glad we did! Not because of the heat, but because of the crowds! We passed one couple coming back on our way out, but we must have passed 20-30 groups while we were returning. It's not an easy hike, but well-known and a popular destination. We saw some people we knew wouldn't make it the whole way. Not hilly, but the creek crossings could be tricky.
Anyway, some pictures . . .
Thursday, August 27, 2020
In Morning Prayer today, we read the following words:
. . . if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules . . .
~ 1 Kings 9:4
How could God say such things of David? Doesn't He remember Bathsheba, the adultery, how David tried to cover it up, and then finally murdered her husband?
Well, no, actually, He doesn't remember! David was forgiven. That means those sins of his were separated from him as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Now, when the Lord looked at David, He did not see an awful sinner - He saw a forgiven son.
And that is how He looks at you, too! Your sin, your unworthiness, your shame, your guilt, all that would separate you from your heavenly Father has been put on Christ and taken away from you. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). With the forgiveness of sins, that is all gone.
Pretty awesome, huh? :-)
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
After a couple of days in Shenandoah, we drove down to Roanoke and spent the weekend there. We went kayaking on the James River - no pictures, though, as I didn't want to risk getting my camera wet! But we went down the river for a few miles, including some rapids areas. A nice day.
We did get to see the "Roanoke Star" - a famous landmark there.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
So with all the Covid restrictions still in place, our VBS this year (as many are) is online. Craft packets were delivered to all the children ahead of time (thanks Jess!) and we can have some time together hearing God's Word in our WebEx room. Not ideal, but something, at least. A few pictures . . .
Wednesday, August 12, 2020
2:17 am. August 12th. My father was called home to heaven. My sister, wife, and I at his bedside, holding his hands. Very hard day. I miss him every day.
Tuesday, August 11, 2020
A lot of the hikes we took were specifically to waterfalls. My wife got a book out of the library to direct us to them. So the first few days in Shenandoah were hiking to waterfalls. There was some rain and we did get wet, but it was all good. One thing that was disappointing was not be able to watch a good sunset because of the clouds.
Some pics . . .
Monday, August 10, 2020
I promised some vacation posts . . .
Our first stop was Shenandoah National Park. We decided that in this Covid time, this would be a largely outdoor vacation - lots of hiking and stuff.
When we entered the park, we turned off at the first overlook and found a hiking trail up to a place called Mary's rock. A very good beginning. Pretty much uphill the whole way (and so downhill the whole way back!), but with a great view at the end.
Thursday, August 6, 2020
Monday, July 20, 2020
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Friday, June 5, 2020
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Let me answer that question: We will be the same.
During this time we have adapted, we have adjusted, and we have in some ways expanded. What we have not done is change. Before, during, and after this pandemic, the Church is all about Christ and His gifts. Before, during, and after this pandemic, same Christ, same gifts, same Gospel. As it was before the pandemic, so it is now, and so it will be after.
Perhaps there are some churches which have lost their focus and for which being church meant something else. For them, maybe things will not be the same - and that would be a good thing! A return to a focus - or a re-focus - on Christ and what really matters. And maybe we have learned (or re-learned) this, too. And that’s a good thing.
But as far as delivering the gifts - nothing will change. We will still gather as God’s people. We will still sing. We will still confess and receive the absolution. We will still proclaim Christ and him crucified. We will still have baptisms. We will still give the Lord’s Supper - including using the chalice. We have not stopped, and we will not. For all this is the life of Christ given to us. And there is nothing more important.
So when this is all over, or at least restrictions are eased, and you come back to church, you know what you will find? The same church. You might sit farther apart for a while, maybe some of you will wear masks for a while. But those things aren’t what the church IS. What the church IS will not change. You’ll recognize it. You’ll hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. And you’ll rejoice in His goodness and mercy, that has brought us through this time - and all times - until He brings us home to Him.
Thanks be to God!