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Not in Vain

I was reminded this week that my prayers are not in vain. It was in a moment of incredible sadness, when I was certain God had forgotten all the tears I have cried for souls, that God came. In a random statement from a friend, God spoke. He said He was storing my tears and my prayers in golden bowls.
Others do not see or hear the prayers I pray or the tears I weep for them. They do not know the prayers YOU pray or the tears YOU weep for the ones you love. But God does! God hears your prayers and stores them in golden bowls. And, at the right moment, He will pour out the contents of your prayers into the hearts of those for whom you pray. Your prayers and tears will be turned into mercy and grace. And a fragrant offering will be lifted up to the heavens. So hear the words of Brandon Heath as if God were speaking into your life today:
This one goes out to the world changer
Shining your light in the face of danger
Oh, tell us what you know
You’re a saint, you’re a son, you’re a promise keeper
Bottom of the well, still digging down deeper
Oh, how far you gonna goChasing down hope
Moving on dreams
Taking that path
Maybe it’ll lead you home
Maybe it won’tNobody knows why your heart is broken
Nobody cries while your prayers are going up
But Love does
Nobody walks on the road you’re paving
Nobody sees all the souls you’re saving
Oh, but Love does
Love does
Love doesThis is for the one on the front line fighting
Ringing that bell over everybody
Oh, tell us what you know
Knocking down doors in the midnight alley
Looking for a life in a desert valley
Oh, how far you gonna goChasing down hope
Moving on dreams
Taking that path
Maybe it’ll lead you home
Maybe it don’t

You are a renegade
You’re an outlaw of Love’s crusade
And they don’t know who you are
They don’t know
They don’t know
But Love does
I’m telling you, Love does

Somebody knows
Somebody cries
Somebody feels
Love does
Somebody walks
Somebody sees
Somebody knows
Love does

 

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Can I Wear Your Sweater?

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I went back to school to finish my undergrad while my children were still in preschool. Night classes were a simple solution, but it meant some nights away from my children. So, during my breaks between classes, I would call home to say good-night.

My daughter was barely three years old and many times she would be upset that mommy was not there to tuck her in at night. I would remind her that Daddy was a good bedtime story teller and “tucker inner”.

My daughter would sigh and tell me, “But Daddy doesn’t smell like you”.

It is true that we each have our own fragrance. It seems to be as unique as our DNA. When we were first married, we had a dog who used to steal our socks. But she preferred to steal the ones that were dirty and smelled like us. I guess little children are sort of like dogs. I would come home at night and find my daughter wrapped in my sweater.

“It smells like you, Mommy”, she would tell me. Somehow my fragrance brought her peace and comfort.

St Paul calls Christ followers the “fragrance of Christ”. Christians are called to walk closely with God and clothe themselves with Christ. When we clothe ourselves with Christ, we smell like Him. And if we smell like Him, maybe we can help usher in some peace.

Therefore, let us clothe ourselves with Christ. Let us clothe ourselves with His compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility, and patience. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, and let us become the fragrance of Christ.

You Say Good-Bye, I Say Hello

hello goodbye

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven –  A time to give birth and a time to die;A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted….He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,11

As a Church Planter, I have experienced some unusual things along the way. But none of the Church Planting books I read prepared me for today. Today I helped UNPLANT a church.

It was almost 2 years ago when our congregation (Plumb Line Community Church) began renting space on Henry Ruff Street. We had been meeting at the local YMCA. But the scheduling there became complicated and we needed to find a new location to gather for worship. So I started calling all of the churches in the area to see if we could rent space.

After many calls, we found a church that was holding their regular worship on Sundays at 2:00 pm. So we wondered if we might rent space at 11:00 AM. I know right? How crazy is that??

The people of Nativity United Church of Christ were and still are a wonderful congregation of God’s people. But, as happens to all congregations at some point, they had started to shrink in size. Some left, some became home-bound, and some went home to the Lord. And their numbers dwindled. Then, a year or more ago, their pastor left and they asked if I would lead their worship.

In December 2011, I began preaching for the people of Nativity UCC. So every Sunday for 18 months I have preached to a Nazarene New Start at 11:00 AM & a UCC aging congregation at 1:00 PM. One very contemporary, evangelical congregation. And one very traditional, reformed congregation. But all of them God’s people. All of them in need of a Savior, a Healer, a Counselor, a loving Heavenly Father.

Today, I preached my last sermon for Nativity UCC. They celebrated 57 years as a faith community. And tomorrow, they will sign papers to sell the facility to another congregation. They have been faithful to the Gospel and faithful to the Kingdom of God. They continue to be children of God tomorrow even though they no longer wear the badge of Nativity.

And their legacy will live on. It lives on in the lives of the people transformed by the Gospel. They ones who came to faith in Christ because of them. It will live on through the generous donations made to the local non-profit community organizations. And it will live on through Plumb Line Community Church. PLCC is the “other congregation” who will be purchasing their facility.

We will continue to worship at two gathering times. 11:00 AM contemporary worship and 1:00 PM traditional worship. And we will continue to advance the Kingdom of God in this community.

Today we said “Good-Bye” to a 57 year old faith community. Tomorrow we say “Hello” as they step across the threshold of a new faith community. But, together, we are doing God’s work from now until the Lord calls us all home.

Nativity UCC hear the words of your Heavenly Father, “Well done, My good and faithful servants. Well done!”

Keep fighting the good fight of faith!

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