Mar 31, 2017

The Positive and Negative Golden Rule

Scripture Verse:
“Do not say, “I will do to others as they have done to me;
I will pay them back for what they have done’ ” (Proverbs 24:29).

Many doctors have shown the faith they had in their discoveries by first trying them on themselves. Jonas Salk, whose polio vaccine virtually wiped out that disease often tested serums on himself. The German surgeon Forssman, who developed the procedure of heart catheterization, did it first on himself.

Who would go to a doctor who refused to take his own medicine? Yet, many people are long on prescriptions for others, yet woefully dismal in taking our own medicine.

We who prescribe purity of life must ourselves be pure. We who urge honesty must ourselves be honest. We, who recommend truthfulness, must ourselves tell the truth.  The world expects Christians to take themselves the medicine they prescribe for others. They expect us to live by the rules we recommend.

Action focus: Spend one whole day living the golden rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).

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Mar 24, 2017

Deliver Us From Enemies: Fight Fire With Prayer

Scripture Verse:
“And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High.  Melchizedek blessed Abram and said,
‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
maker of heaven and earth;
and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’
And Abram gave him one tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:18-20).
A church in Georgia published a rather long prayer list. They thought it would be helpful to identify the reason for each one being on the list. In this way, people could pray for specific needs and problems, rather than praying in vague generalities. There were all the usual things: hospitalized, bereaved, and those facing surgery.

But beside the name of one individual on the list was written “pain in the neck.” Most churches have a member or two who deserves that description, but few put it in print! And it does seem sometimes that only prayer can cure that affliction. Prayer is a powerful spiritual weapon against the forces of evil. Pray today for Arlington, for your church, and for our nation. Prayer is our best and brightest hope.

Action focus: Pray for both your friends and your enemies if you want to be more Christ-like!

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Mar 16, 2017

A Walking Billboard for the Christian Faith

Scripture Verse:
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences” (2 Corinthians 5:11).
When Harland Sanders began his Kentucky Fried Chicken business, he had little money and no assets for advertising. So he grew a little beard, got a white suit, and as a Kentucky Colonel he became a walking advertisement for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

As Christians each one of us is a walking advertisement for our Christian faith. We would prefer not to be that, but it is unavoidable. So Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12). Each of us influences many people and the funny thing is—we scarcely realize it. Live what you believe and perhaps other will catch on. It’s certainly worth a try.

Action focus: Pray about ways that you can live what you believe in several concrete ways.

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Mar 10, 2017

Share Something Good

A few years ago, newspapers in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, carried the story of a man who not only planned his own funeral, but also attended it—alive and well. He arrived at the church sitting in the back of a hearse. He sat up front among the flowers while people said nice things about him. He said it served no purpose for people to say all those good things about you after you were dead and couldn’t hear them.

The man made a good point. How often do we wait too long to express appreciation, gratitude, or love? How often are the words we speak at the funeral words we should have spoken long before?

Action focus: Take today, and share something good with those around you. Let’s make a better world.

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Mar 3, 2017

World Day of Prayer

“The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me” (John 16:32).
Sometimes prayer seems like a lonely and solitary sort of exercise. Perhaps we should remember when we pray we join with millions of others who have been where we are—through the centuries and around the world.

There is a road near Colorado Springs, Colorado, that leads through Williams Canyon to the Cave of the Winds. It’s an incredibly narrow, winding road, and there is a spot on the thoroughfare that is appropriately called, “The Narrows.” When a person first approaches “The Narrows,” she or he is certain that the car is not going to squeeze through that space. But a sign appears at that point that reads: “Yes, you can! A million others have.”

There is a magnificent lesson here for life. When any of us face problems, whether they be health problems, financial problems, or problems with relationships, the overwhelming feeling is that we are in this problem by ourselves. On the World Day of Prayer, today, it is important to remember others have gone through what we are going through and they made it. We can make it too.

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Feb 24, 2017

Our Lenten Journey

We are about to begin the Lenten journey together—Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 1. We will have a imposition of ashes service that Wednesday evening at 7:00 PM (see below for all Ash Wednesday worship opportunities),  and when we say “imposition” we mean it. The realization that we are from dust and to dust we will return imposes on our nice lives the fact that we are mortal. We generally do not like to be reminded of this truth—perhaps this is why Ash Wednesday worship services are so poorly attended.

Some of us are eager for the journey, but many of us are too afraid, or bored, or apathetic to rummage around inside our souls and find out just exactly who we are and who God wants us to be. But for those who are ready, the discovery of who we are in God’s realm is as exciting as anything we will ever do.

Everyone tries to tell you who you are. Your occupation, employer, teachers, parents, friends, advertisers, preachers, writers . . . everyone! Too many of us derive our worth from who others say we are. But THANK GOD, there is another story. This is the story about whom we find ourselves to be during the time of Lent each year. It is a story that always occurs between the mountain of transfiguration and the mount called Calvary.

I hope you will join us as we pray, confess and worship the one who has given us a better definition of ourselves than anyone ever could. We are daughters and sons of the living God. Lent is a time when we struggle against all the idolatrous definitions of who we are and what is important in this world—like success.

Paul writes:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). 

These are the things—death, rulers, things present, things to come, powers, heights, depths—that attempt to tell us who we are. Jesus calls us to answer his question: “But who do you say that I am?”
May we find the answer together during Lent.

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7:00 am | Imposition of Ashes | Covered carport on Mesquite St.
We will have pastors offering Imposition of the Ashes in both English and Spanish to anyone that would like.

11:00 am &3:15 pm | Imposition of Ashes | North end of our parking lot 
We will have pastors offering Imposition of the Ashes in both English and Spanish.

12:00 pm | Afternoon Service | Vandergriff Chapel
Scripture, prayer, reflection, and song. Led by Rev. Kay Lancaster & Dr. Alfie Wines

7:00 pm | Evening Service | Sanctuary
Rev. David N. Mosser preaching with the Chancel Choir and Youth & Chancel Orchestra.

Feb 17, 2017

A Reminder

A few summers ago,  I preached a sermon titled “Contemplative Practice.” It was part of our worship series we called “Practicing Faith” and the text was Ephesians 3:14-19. Besides the Bible, the book we used for the series was Brian McLaren’s 2008 book The Return of the Ancient Practices: Finding Our Way Again. McLaren’s book discloses faith practices and explores them for modern people. In fact, McLaren and others in the “emerging church” renders a different way of being a Christian than simply defining ourselves by either what we believe or what we do not believe.
Anyway, a friend reminded me of a quotation in that sermon she said was helpful and she used often in her teaching and presentations. Here is what was in that sermon:

There is a splendid quotation in Eugene Peterson’s The Contemplative Pastor. Originally from Moby Dick, the quotation follows Melville’s sketch of the chaotic commotion aboard the Pequod when the crew sighted the great whale. Amidst the shouting and maneuvering a lone person stands poised and patient. It is the harpoonist. Melville writes:

To insure the greatest efficiency in the dart, the harpooners of this world must start their feet out of idleness and not out of toil.

As the whalers go out on their hunt, there is one alone who must sit still. He is the harpooner, and his most important assignment is to anticipate, focus. Everything rests upon his concentration, his attentiveness to respond in the moment.
Being in tune with the bigger picture—in contradistinction to most of the rest of us—is what allows the harpoonist to do what he does. What allows us to do what we do? And, by the way, what are we doing?

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