Faith & Reason ... a mystery

Monday, September 30, 2013

All Good Things Come to an End!

Our time at Park Chapel Christian Church is coming to an end. God has lead us to accept a new Lead Minister Position with Howard Christian Church in Howard, PA. The follow is my resignation letter.


Our Dear Brothers and Sisters,

My heart is full as I share the following details of how God is working in our family. We serve a good God. The past seven years have been a joy and filled with gracious gifts of love. The foremost being the gift of an exceptional minister's wife. Karen always has a smile, gives supportive advice, and reminds me of how good our God truly is. So, from both of us, we thank you for your support and willingness to strive for excellence in connecting people to Jesus at Park Chapel Christian Church. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians church, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

These moments bring celebration for the good times, while trying to forget the harder times. It is as the close of a summer day, the twinkle of the lightening bug and the glorious sunset that remind us that good things come to an end. We are reminded in the vastness of God's evening sky that is filled with strings of stars and a sudden streak of a shooting star of how fleeting life truly is. The Holy Spirit grants comfort in the night by His assurance that a sunrise is just around the corner. Our good God will bring His renewed faithfulness and fresh mercies in every morning.

Karen and I have felt God's call in the last few months. He has been guiding us to a place of humility and sacrifice so as to take our family to a new leadership role in His Kingdom. God has laid on our hearts to serve and influence people toward spiritual growth as their preaching minister. Last week, we answered that call by accepting the position as the next lead minister for Howard Christian Church in Howard, PA.

Therefore, I humbly ask that you receive this letter of resignation, effective October 31st, 2013. God does not leave a void and it gives me comfort in knowing that the Park Chapel leadership will take this transition very seriously and work in discerning a very proactive future. I encourage you to continue praying for the work that God has in store for each of us. God will be faithful and will bring good things to those who wait on Him. God is a good God.

Always remember that your commitment to connect people to Jesus is a light to our community. You are a blessing beyond words. My prayer is that you will think of the good times we have shared while taking the opportunity to embrace the spectacular gift that God is good. Think on those great moments of streaking light that unified our efforts while growing in the power of God's love offered in Jesus.

You will always have a place in our hearts and you know we love you. To God alone be the glory.


We are in our farewell phase, but for our Park Chapel Friends....you can always remember that I love ya and always will, Don

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Greatest Serve with Expectation!

Jesus offers the expectation for those who serve in the Kingdom of God. He states in Luke 22:29-30, “And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Jesus teaches that the greatest in the kingdom serve with the method of expectation. Jesus expects us to serve and he also tells us to serve with an expectation that God is a good God, with the expectation that we can expect the person in who we are serving will receive a blessing from our service...even if that person does not appreciate it. At the time Jesus tells his disciples these declarations of a kingdom, they did not appreciate that God's kingdom is a kingdom built on serving others.

I love this picture...so many of us serve with the expectation that we will be served in the process. That we will serve and turn into this super buff spiritual Christian...yet we are so busy thinking about the “me” that we forget that service is about the “THEM.” The church is filled with soft cuddly puppies sitting on a cushion waiting for God to rub their belly because of their service...the greatest in God's Kingdom serve with the expectation that God will be served, God's name will be recognized as worthy of allowing me to serve, and transformation will take place within the one serving....

Serving with expectation is not about the “me,” serving in God's Kingdom is about serving the “THEM.” 

You know I love ya, Don 

Monday, September 23, 2013

The greatest serve with persistance!

Luke 22:28 Jesus says, “You are those who have stood by me in my trials.” Persistence is defined as continuance till the end. And endurance is defined as using strength to continue despite pain and fatigue. The difference between the two is that persistence is remaining steady in hopes to finish while endurance is bearing pain so that you can finish. Christ-followers cling to the hope that “Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, Son of God and that he will carry them through.

I am always amazed at water. It is the model of persistence. Water has a way of pushing through amazing obstacles, one drip at a time. There have been many instances where what seemed to be an insignificant drip was really a tiny part of a dam pushing through a little at a time. Water is also very adaptable to what it wants to accomplish. Water can be calm and peaceful, but become raging and destructive. A lake can rise inch by inch and suddenly become a flood. A bay can combine with wind to be an agitator and bulldozer.

We need to be more like water. We need to be determined to push through our obstacles to serve whether by peace or by force. Imagine our lives as if it were a stream. It can trickle along gently, flowing across pebbles and shaping them as we move over them. Water changes things...persistence changes things. It exerts gentle pressure over time and softens hard rocks into rounded pebbles. Water combines with others to gain power. A stream joins with other streams to make a river. A river combines with other rivers to make its way to an ocean. Water is not satisfied with being a mere drop, but makes its way drop by drop to being a grand ocean.

Water carries things. It carries life along its banks. It carries progress from place to place. Water moves people and things from where they are to where they need to be. The persistence of waters..serves others...the persistence of believers also serves others.

Water is a change agent. It changes barren lands to fertile grounds. It can cut off or it can bring together. Even when it divides, it can still be crossed. Water changes the power balance. Water rises to the occasion. When life pours too much in it, it just finds new paths for it to flourish. When life tries to contain it, water pushes through to where it wants to go. 

As a servant... we need to be more like water and find a way to push through. Water is persistent. We need to be persistent as well. We need to move towards our goals, one step at a time. Our goals will not be reached overnight, but through the diligence of continued steps. We need to combine our strengths with others to form alliances that get us to where we want to go. When we add and multiply our strengths, we will eventually overflow our present boundaries and flow out into our full destiny. We need to carry ourselves from dream to reality to prosperity. We should not be satisfied with stagnancy, but keep current and keep moving toward a life full of productivity and creativity and fruitfulness.

Most of all, we should be full of life. Full of life-giving nourishment. Full of life-giving hydration. We should add to, not take away from. We should rejuvenate, not suck the life out of others’ dreams. We should bring forth creativity, not stifle.

If ever we need encouragement, we should think about a drop of water. We should think about how water gets where it wants to, drop by drop, building pressure that eventually results in a breakthrough. There is so much power in a drop of water. It is just the beginning. It is only the promise of what is yet to come.

If a drop of water can move a mountain through persistence, then surely we can serve through the method of persistence as well.

Serving with persistence is not about the “me,” serving with persistence is about clinging to the hope of our salvation and serving the “THEM.”

The greatest in the kingdom of God serve by methods of persistence.

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Greatest Serve with Endurance!


The greatest in the kingdom of God serve by methods of love, endurance, persistence, and expectation.
 
The Greatest Serve with Endurance:

Consider Luke 22 verse 27 where Jesus says, “I am among you as one who serves.” God could have easily walked away from his creation. We certain walk away from him. We chose to do it our way. Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley sang it...”I did I've loved, I've laughed and cried , I've had my fill, my share of losing And now, as tears subside I find it all so amusing to think I did all that and may I say, not in a shy way not me, I did it my way.”

In contrast, God faithfully served and demonstrated his love our direction. Romans 5:8 states, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He faithfully served. Jesus also demonstrates to us that the greatest do not consider their way...but consider the way of serving faithfully. Believers serve through rejection, through hurt, through sorrow, through hard times...the greatest serve with endurance.

During World War II, England needed to increase its production of coal. Winston Churchill called together labor leaders to enlist their support. At the end of his presentation he asked them to picture in their minds a parade which he knew would be held in Piccadilly Circus after the war.
First, he said, would come the sailors who had kept the vital sea lanes open. Then would come the soldiers who had come home from Dunkirk and then gone on to defeat Rommel in Africa. Then would come the pilots who had driven the Luftwaffe from the sky.
Last of all, he said, would come a long line of sweat-stained, soot-streaked men in miner's caps. Someone would cry from the crowd, 'And where were you during the critical days of our struggle?' And from ten thousand throats would come the answer, 'We were deep in the earth with our faces to the coal.”
Not all the jobs in a church are prominent and glamorous. But it is often the people with their "faces to the coal" who help the church accomplish its mission. Those with there faces to the coal are serving with endurance. Christ-followers serve when it is not easy to serve, they serve when it is not pleasant to serve, they serve even when it is painful....
Serving with endurance is not about how much pain this is putting on “me,” … serving with endurance is about being comforted in the hope of our salvation and serving the “THEM.”

Let me ask you....do you serve with endurance?

You know I love ya, Don


Monday, September 16, 2013

The Greatest Serve with Unconditional Love!

 Jesus reminds us that the greatest serve. The question develops on how does Jesus expect us to serve? What are the methods of service that Jesus teaches His disciples? What methods are God's expectation in serving in His kingdom?

The greatest in the kingdom of God serve by methods of love, endurance, persistence, and expectation.

Consider Luke 22, verse 26 where Jesus says, “The greatest among you should be like the youngest.” Jesus says that we are to serve like the youngest...how does the youngest of children serve...unconditionally loving those around them. A servant that desires to be the greatest, will serve unconditionally. This person will not be driven to serve because they love praise of service...but will serve with love and never expect to be praised in return. Just like a young child will love those around him or her.

This is a picture of our youngest, Nathan. He is a bundle of love. You just have to kiss those big chubby checks. All babies are made to love and be loved. Jesus says we are to be like the youngest and love unconditionally. Believers in Jesus are the ones that reach out and serve in love...unconditionally.

Just a few weeks ago, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr's, “I have a Dream” speech. Dr. King believed anyone can serve...he said, “"Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." I could not agree more!

Serving with love is understanding that serving is not about the “me,” serving with love is about serving the “THEM.”

Let me ask you....do you serve with unconditional love?

You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Move over bacon...there's something meatier!


There was an old commercial when turkey bacon hit the market...it was "Move over bacon, there is something meatier available." There is a great teaching point available in this marketing label.
No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame,
but they will be put to shame
who are treacherous without excuse.- Psalm 25:3
There are times my day seems like everyone is an "expert" and my job is to follow submissively. It is usually the same day that I want everyone to do what I tell them to do. Then I read psalm 25 and see that God does not override people's will, and we are not to do so either. Instead of trying to control people or situations, we are to pray that we will "hear" God's leading.

I am working on taking this approach; "If someone persists in doing something his or her own way, I am going to demonstrate confidence in God by stepping aside." I may learn a new way or they may learn a new way. God is big enough to get both of us out of any mess we make. The successful key is...He will get the glory and I get the honor of trusting Him. A successful and productive person is willing to move over and let the learning take place while watching and learning themselves.

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, September 9, 2013

The World Does Not Revolve Around Me...or YOU!

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands.” Psalm 138:8
“It’s all about You, Jesus” is a popular phrase taken from Matt Redman’s chorus, The Heart of Worship. We would do well to make that our refrain, not just Sunday mornings, but everyday. In essence, for the believer, every day and every moment should be “worship-full.” That is God's purpose in me. In other words, God’s grace and mercy is given to us every moment, thus every moment is demonstrating the worth of that grace. God's grace does not revolve around me...or you!

A simple test of your worship, is to ask yourself, “How much is God worth to me?” Is He worth a penny or a dollar or priceless? Your level of how much God is worth is defined in how much you respond in service and dedication to the God you worship. Thus, if He is priceless, a worshiper views every moment as an opportunity to worship God and every moment is about Him. The priceless view releases us from worship styles, worship venues, and personal desires in times and family worship. Worship is not about me, but all about HIM!

Imagine the effect it would have on our lives if we stopped and realized, “It’s not about me.” Imagine the peace we will gain when we understand that whatever happens in our lives is because “it’s not about me; it is about Him.” When things don’t go the way we want, we understand that it’s not about us, it is about God’s bigger picture, God’s glory. When we face suffering and difficulty, we understand that it’s not about us, it is about Him and how He is developing in my life.

Whatever fills our days, whatever God calls us to do in any moment, whatever valley we travel or mountain top we crest, we can remember that if we do the task with Him as our focus, we are accomplishing life because it is all about Jesus. That infuses whatever we do with eternal significance. The Apostle Paul states it this way in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (NIV)

Have a great day - you I love ya - Don

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Requirements of a busy life!!!

I love this picture...ever feel like the woman at the desk. I am starting my Graduate Degree Project and at this moment, I am feeling a little like that woman at the desk....

I have several irons in the fire... raising the four children, being a husband, Grad School, preaching next Sunday, Worship responsibilities, getting ready for winter, DADS group, and trying to maintain this blog. Lots of things in the works and some more important than others, yet there is a special need in each one. It has become more and more apparent to me that in order to maintain a good schedule for each of item I must maintain my relationship with God. H. Cecil Pawson in England wrote:

FEW are called to be leaders like Moses, but all are called to make things; for God who is our maker gave us this instinct. And soon we begin with bricks, sand, and blocks to express this desire.
We were made for full employment. Some make laws; others ships, cars, homes, and gardens. More important, in all our making of things, we are being made ourselves for better or for worse.
Are we consciously working, day by day, in accordance with God's design? In obedience to God's command, Moses rose up early in the morning to be alone with God. The result of his keeping that appointment was the glory of God upon his way and upon his face and knowledge concerning his life's work.

God made this world and saw that it was good. We seek, through Christ, to find and to do God's will in all things in this world that God created. In this way, we help fulfill God's redemptive love and purpose, both in us as individuals and in the world around us.

Even Jesus as God new how important it was to pray and to have connection with God, the Father. In Mark 1:35 we read; "In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there." Being connected to God is what I am made for. It is also essential in order to complete the purposes and the goals that are laid out for me.

Striving to be connected to Jesus...you know I love ya, Don

Monday, September 2, 2013

So many of us want to GO...maybe we are being sent!

"After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.  “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing." -John 9:6-7

The cultural milieu of John 9:1-12 is Jewish. That is to say the text has a combination of individual perceptions of politics and intentions as well as the community of persons perceptions of politics and under the influence of social culture of the Jews. There were some Greco-Roman influences in the time period, but in this text we only see evidences of the Jewish culture and its traditions. Thus, I have chosen to focus this study on the Pool of Siloam.

Waterways were very important in the ancient cultures. Just as in today, we need a fresh supply of water for the basic needs of life: to drink, to cook, to clean, and to bath. In our text of John 9, we learn that Jesus uses water to test the blind man’s faith. The Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land states of a pool:
In prehistoric and early historic times man was very limited in his choice of sites for dwelling places, since he had to be in the immediate vicinity of permanent sources of water such as rivers, springs or freshwater lakes. But he learned at an early date to excavate cisterns in order to store water for long periods, thus greatly increasing the number of places where he could settle. In the biblical period, however, rivers, lakes and springs were still the most important sources of water, though artificial devices gradually came into use.1
The pool of our text has a great deal of historical significance and it was well known for providing for the well being of the community around it.

It should also be noted that it took a great deal of effort to collect water in the Palestinian region. The geographical location is well known for being a dessert like terrain even today. In the early New Testament time period things were not much different. The New Bible Dictionary described the work that went into the collection of such water. It states, “During the summer, water which had collected in pools during the winter and spring formed an important source of supply. The ability to collect and keep water in artificial pools enabled the Israelites to settle uninhabited parts of Palestine (*Cistern). Artificial pools were dug inside walled cities (the *Moabite Stone records one) often fed through a tunnel leading from a spring outside, ensuring a supply in time of siege”2 Thus, unlike our modern culture of running water through a focet in the kitchen or restroom, the people of this culture understood the necessity of water and the work that it took to get a pool.

Many pools were made of tunnels and used to flow water to a larger group of people. Siloam was no different. Siloam can also be known as Shiloah or translated as sent.3 Siloam was is recorded in the New Bible Dictionary as:
One of the principal sources of water supply to Jerusalem was the intermittent pool of Gihon (‘Virgin’s Fountain’) below the Fountain Gate (Ne. 3:15) and ESE of the city. This fed water along an open canal, which flowed slowly along the SE slopes, called šilôa (‘Sender’; lxx Silōam, Is. 8:6). It followed the line of the later ‘second aqueduct’ (Wilson) which fell only 5 cm in 300 m, discharging into the Lower or Old Pool (mod. Birket el-amra) at the end of the central valley between the walls of the SE and SW hills. It thus ran below ‘the wall of the Pool of Shelah’ (Ne. 3:15) and watered the ‘king’s garden’ on the adjacent slopes.
This Old Pool was probably the ‘Pool of Siloam’ in use in NT times for sick persons and others to wash (Jn. 9:7–11). The ‘Tower of Siloam’ which fell and killed 18 persons—a disaster well known in our Lord’s day (Lk. 13:4)—was probably sited on the Ophel ridge above the pool which, according to Josephus (BJ 5.145), was near the bend of the old wall below Ophlas (Ophel). According to the Talmud (Sukkoth 4. 9), water was drawn from Siloam’s pool in a golden vessel to be carried in procession to the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles.4

Within the Jewish culture, the Pool of Siloam was a significant place. Jesus’ choice to use it for the man to wash the spit/mud combination is interesting to note. Jesus grants the man an opportunity to exercise his faith and follow through with what Jesus told him to do. It worked and the man eyesight was restored. The water did not save him, but that he was willing to be sent and then followed through demonstrated his belief that he could be made to see. The special location of Siloam heightens our appreciation in that we too are sent and need our faith by following through.

Have a great day! Together we can seek out, reach out, and step out on faith to where Jesus is sending us. You know I love ya, Don


1 Negev, A. (1996). The Archaeological encyclopedia of the Holy Land (3rd ed.). New York: Prentice Hall Press.
2 Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (941). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
3 Cornwall, Dr. Judson & Smith, Dr. Stelman (1998). The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names. Gainsville, FL.: Bridge-Logos.
4 Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. (1996). New Bible dictionary (3rd ed.) (941). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.