Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Selah Time

The Sunday evening Selah service that we started last August has gone through some fits and starts and has struggled with leadership issues since its infancy. With attendance decreasing, we made the decision that, following this past Sunday's service, we need to give it a time of rest, go back to the drawing board, and begin planning now for a possible re-start at a later date.

Briana Stadtlander and Jordan Priddle did a wonderful job of stepping up to take over the leadership and planning when the former team could no longer continue. We took a short break over the Christmas weeks, but they have been so faithful to the service and deserve most of the credit for keeping it going since late last fall. They are incredible young women, and I'm sure God has great things in store for them if they keep listening to and following God's urgings.

Two others who have been integral to its continuation are Paige Hoyt and Julie Stadtlander. Without their support efforts, Selah would have ended much sooner.

I cannot thank the four of them enough for all they gave and sacrificed for Selah.

But for now, Selah needs some selah time for itself. Please be in prayer for this service and for those who will step up and join us in its resurrection.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

This and That

I'm having a hard time focusing today, which I need to get past as there is so much to get done! Erin is on break and will be here this evening. We're spending most of the day tomorrow working on getting ready for a family shower for Baby Clinger on Saturday. :-) That will be fun!

But that means that I have just today to get things ready for Sunday morning--EasyWorship projection schedule and sermon--and I need to have a good start on my sermon for Sunday night. We're starting a new service at 5:30 on Sunday evenings ( called "Selah") and I found out that I was going to be preaching it too late to do one sermon for both morning and evening, so I'm doing double duty this week and next. :-(

I've read the last of Francis de Sales, but I'm to distracted by the rest of my day to reflect much on what he wrote. Ah, well, RIP Francis.

Peace, love and grace.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Changing Bitter to Sweet

STOP! This is the kind of theology that just makes me nuts! In the section titled "They Change It into Honey," Francis says, "It is true that devout souls encounter great bitterness in their works of mortification, but by performing them they change them into something more sweet and delicious. Because the martyrs were devout men and women, fire, flame, wheel, and sword seemed to be flowers and perfume to them. If devotion can sweeten the most cruel torments and even death itself, what must it do for virtuous action?"

I'm not sure how Francis is using the word "mortification," but it seems to me to be one thing to deprive myself of something I like and something else altogether to be subjected to "fire, flame, wheel, and sword" by someone else. I find it hard to stomach the thought that "cruel torments" are made sweet. Is it a good thing that people were burned at the stake or viciously slaughtered because of their faith? The fact that they had enough faith, a strong enough faith to withstand their torment gives me a goal to aim for in my own spiritual development, but the fact that they were subjected to something so horrible is still reprehensible and in no way sweet! And if Francis is using "mortification" in the sense of inflicting pain on yourself, than I can't even go that far with him.

We need to continue to strive for spiritual maturity and depth of convictions so that if we're called to martyrdom, we'll have the strength to withstand whatever pain and torments might be inflicted upon us, but having withstood them will not change their bitterness to something sweet.

Peace, love and grace.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Spiritual Agility

In today's reading, Francis says that, "devotion is simply that spiritual agility by which charity works in us or by aid of which we work quickly and lovingly....To be good a person must have charity, and to be devout, in addition to charity, he must have great zeal and readiness in performing charitable actions." does devotion help us work quickly and lovingly? That's a bit puzzling to me.

I'm wondering what's up with his concern over "being a good person." There are lots of good people all over the world. While I agree that charity is a primary trait by which we judge goodness, I would hope he see more to the Christian life than just doing good works.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when we hear Francis say, "....

Peace, love and grace.

Monday, August 18, 2008


This morning I've moved on to reading an excerpt from Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales (1567-1622). Francis says that we all paint devotion with the lens of our passions. We think we're devout because we fast, but we don't see how our caustic remarks hurt someone. Or we pray three times a day, but then gossip about our neighbor.

He writes: "...many persons clothe themselves with certain outward actions connected with holy devotion, and the world belives that they are truly devout and spiritual whereas they are in fact nothing but copies and phantoms of devotion."

Ouch! That one hit me smack in the face!! It's one of the things I struggle with as a pastor. I may be wrong, but I have this notion that people look at their pastors and see people who are just a little bit closer to God than the average Jane or Joe. It's not something I try to foster, but perhaps I don't do enough to debunk the myth. Other than occasionally admitting my shortcomings in small groups and in sermons, I'm not sure how to do that. Maybe I need to call in the Myth Busters. Any suggestions?

Peace, love and grace.

Friday, August 15, 2008

True Religious Affections

Some of the affections of true religion are:
holy fear--trembling at the Word of God;
hope--sure and steadfast anchor of the soul;
love--God, neighbor, self;
hate--sin and evil;
holy desire--as the deer pants for the water;
joy--delight yourself in the Lord;
religious sorrow--blessed are those who mourn;
gratitude--thankfulness and praise to God;
compassion--God honors those who show mercy; and
zeal--what's missing from the lukewarm Laodiceans.

These are what Edwards gives as proof that all true religion comes from affections. And when I stop and think about it, I think I have to admit that I can't think of anything I've done (whoa, that's a whole lot of "thinks") that hasn't been motivated by some "affection." Can you?

Peace, love and grace.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Heart Deeply Affected

Edwards believes that we don't make changes unless we're moved by affections. My preaching doesn't move anyone to action unless I appeal to their affections. There's no effect without affect.

If this is true, how must I change my sermons so that people become not hearers only, but doers? Hmmm...

Any suggestions?

Peace, love and grace.