Monday, June 26, 2017




Then Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath. He’s in charge!” (Mark 2:27).

 
This verse came to mind as I was heading out on vacation. Only this time, in addition to reading this verse in my New Revised Standard Version Bible, I also looked it up The Message Bible (quoted above).

That wordlackey” jumped out at me. It’s not a word I use, nor is it a word I come across very often. A quick Google search took me to merriam-webster.com and its definition: “Servant...someone who does menial tasks or runs errands for another.”

Jesus came to serve; yet nothing He does is menial. After all, as God coming to us in human flesh, Jesus Christ is in charge.

I find this “lackey” definition a helpful reminder when it comes to taking time off; particularly with technology following us to nearly every corner of the globe. You see,

You see, I was debating whether or not to turn off my cell-phone during vacation because there’s always the thought that if something comes up I can always be reached…and I must always be reached – right?!?!

Yet if I leave my cell phone on, am I really fully taking time off? But, when I turn my phone off, why do I feel guilty? Especially when almost ¾ of people surveyed say cell phones add to the stress in their lives. Isn’t the purpose of vacation to be a stress-reducer?  

We come across lots of occasions in the Bible when God’s people took way too much control of way too many things, and that still happens today. This would explain my own conflict about what to do with the cell phone on vacation.

I think the struggle I felt about turning it off is a symptom of something more; that is that we get used to taking charge, and our controlling things then becomes a habit that leaves God standing there on the sidelines.

May this conflict be our reminder that God being-in-charge is God giving us a clean and clear conscience to renew ourselves – it’s God saying “I got this…so go ahead, enjoy yourself!”

Together We Serve,
Pastor Mike

Tuesday, June 6, 2017




“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1-2)

I’ve been thinking a lot about laughter lately. There was lots of laughter throughout everything tied to our recent Yard Sale and Plant Sale, and with those proceeds going to our General Mission Fund, our prayer is those funds will bring laughter to many parts of the world where laughter is hard to come by.
Instead of laughter, what is heard is weeping.

Might the best way to measure a community’s health begins by listening for laughter?
Something laughter and weeping have in common is they’re both an emotional reaction.

A study was done by the University College London involving two groups of people; people living in Britain, and the Himba tribe. The Himba live in an isolated part of Namibia with no electricity, no running water, no formal education, and no contact with people from other groups.
In the study, participants listened to a short story based around a particular emotion. At the end of the story they heard two sounds from the other group such as crying, and laughter. They were asked to identify which of the two sounds reflected the emotion in the story.

Researchers found that basic emotions including amusement and sadness are among the most easily recognizable -- and one positive sound was particularly well recognized by both groups was laughter.
What if we imagined people very different from us yet laughing like us…

...and laughing with us as we laughed with them…

...and let that guide our every action?
Based on Scripture and based on science laughter is the one emotion we all desire and the one language we all understand.

Join us Sundays at 10AM as seek, and work, to make laughter very real for all.
Pastor Mike
 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017





“How much further to Boulder, Colorado?” I asked the desk clerk as Kathleen and I were checking in to our motel at Rock Springs, Wyoming during our recent vacation.
"Not really sure…should be no more than 5 to 10 hours” she replied. I was surprised to hear this since: that’s quite a wide range; and, Interstate 80 is a preferred route into Boulder, and Rock Springs is along the way. (To her credit, she did offer to Google it).
At dinner we also asked our server who didn’t know either. Both had spent their entire lives in Rock Springs, which is one of only a handful of communities along Interstate 80 as it stretches over 300 miles through southern Wyoming. Everything they knew about life came from this one pocket of existence.
Kathleen and I talked about this as we drove through those open spaces; the vastness went as far as our eyes could see. I held this image in contrast with our daughter Allison’s neighborhood in Philadelphia; there you see streets bordered by sidewalks on both sides with row houses starting at the edge of the sidewalk jammed in side by side and that’s all that you can see for blocks and blocks and blocks.
We wondered: what would it be like to suddenly drop the Rock Springs motel clerk into that Philadelphia neighborhood, and vice-versa; taking somebody there and put them in that southern Wyoming hugeness.
And then, if we were to bring them together after 30 days; what did one view as common and the other as surprising? What would prompt shared feelings? How might there be some very different impressions from the same experience?
Our life’s history forms the lens for the way we view things. This is good for us to keep in mind as we keep growing here at PPC; that while we all look to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the foundation of our faith – each of us looks through our own lens which means we likely focus on different aspects of Jesus, and we might even see things differently.
And that only as a community can we best see the fullness that Jesus Christ has to offer.
Together We Serve,                                                                                                                                      Pastor Mike

 
 

Monday, March 20, 2017


“...and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ 4So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ “ (Exodus 17:3-4)

I admire the honesty we find in the Bible; like in this account of the people who knew themselves to be God’s chosen people quarrelling with Moses. Moses - the very same guy they were convinced was chosen by God to lead them out of slavery and out of Egypt and “into the land of milk and honey.”

Only now Moses fears for his life at their hands.  

And if they were to stone Moses? That’s not going to lead them to water, it’s just going to leave Moses dead – and put them in violation of the commandment “thou shall not murder.”

Their thirst threatens to separate them from God.

Sometimes we fall into the habit of letting “the way it is” determine our willingness to “see things the way they are” and that can put distance between God and us.

We’re half-way through the season of Lent, a time some of us Christians use to let go of habits, or at least suspend them in order to draw ourselves into newer and even deeper relationship with God.

God did quench the Israelites thirst from the least likely of places.

Likewise, God offers to quench our spiritual thirst by sending Jesus Christ to us from the least likely of places ("Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" John 1:46).

Join us Sundays at 10AM as we take a big thirst-quenching gulp and strive to see things the way God-in-Christ sees them.

Together We Serve,
Pastor Mike

Monday, February 6, 2017

 
“To God be the glory.”
This is how we come together following our time of reflection at the end of the sermon. We find this phrase in Galatians, and there are differences among the translations:

·         “To God be the glory forever and ever!” (The Good News Bible).
·         “All glory to God through all the ages of eternity.” (The Living Bible)
·         “May He have all the honor forever.” (New Life Version)

We quickly begin to see the enormity of this declaration as it means glorifying God through all time and at all times which includes all times within each of our lives!

So with this understanding then we should be doing those things that glorify God every second of every hour of every day of every week – month – year throughout our lives. A lot of those times in our lives that we more or less walk through without much thought now take on the urgency of always being, and always doing, the extraordinary for God.

As I think about how this applies to my own life, I would have to admit that this would go so far as to be a radical ambition for me as an ordinary Christian. It leads me to ask whether I’m saying “To God be the Glory” as a reality - or - is it a goal?

In his blog “A Few Thoughts About Being Ordinary Christians,” Tim Brister puts these ideas about ‘ordinary’ head to head against ‘radical’ as he raises similar questions. He concludes with: “At the end of the day, I don’t want to be ordinarily ordinary, but ordinary in every sense that Jesus defines ordinary. It just seems that such a notion is, well, a radical thing to do.”

May we strive to be ordinary in every sense that Jesus defines ordinary.
To God be the glory!
Pastor Mike

Monday, January 23, 2017



 
Are we really “one nation under God, indivisible?”

It’s a fair question to ask given the events of the past few months, and more specifically around the recent inauguration.

And that phrase we find in our nation’s Pledge of Allegiance comes surrounded by divisiveness as the pledge developed.

Colonel George Balch wrote the nation’s first pledge in 1887 which was quickly deemed too juvenile and lacking dignity by Francis Bellamy.

As Mr. Bellamy re-wrote the pledge in 1892 he wanted to include the words ‘equality’ and ‘fraternity’ but because of prevailing views at the time concerning women and minorities he felt those words would be divisive, so he left them out.

The words ‘under God’ were added to our current version of the pledge in 1954, and addition divides people today.

Throughout the development of our pledge and its call for unity, it’s carried the tension of divisiveness.

So how do we as citizens, and more specifically those of us who call ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ, make this goal of unity work?

First of all, following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ we remember that power is never to be used at the exclusion of fairness.

Secondly, we take hope as Craig D. Lounsbrough writes:

“Contradictions are the impossible chasms that create forever separations. God is the forever bridge that creates impossible reunions.”

I invite you to join us Sundays at 10AM as we dare to cross this bridge.

Together We Serve,
Pastor Mike