Skip to content

Archive for

Psalms Help You Get Real – Comeuppance: from Whom?

approaching-godKey Bible Verse: Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, For it is written, “… I will repay those who deserve it.”  – Romans 12:19

Bonus Reading: Psalm 69:22-25, 27-28

The open vindictiveness expressed in the Psalms unsettles those who’ve learned to bottle up such feelings. But when David asked God to erase his enemies from the Book of Life (Psalm 69:28), he gave up his own right to do the erasing. “Such rage isn’t only brought into Yahweh’s presence,” notes Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann, “it’s submitted and relinquished to him.”

Human nature being what it is, we might try to retrieve our rage and act on it. But if we continue praying in the mode of the Psalms, over time we’ll surrender our vindictiveness to the One who claims the sole right to it—who alone can execute vengeance justly.

Begin offering to God your hurts and desires to get even. Don’t mentally rehearse ways to make your boss pay for treating you unfairly. Don’t give your wife the silent treatment. Instead, hand situations like these over to God to deal with.

The psalms won’t let you hide yourself from God for long. As you pray them, take inventory of your heart. Ask God to show you any vengeful feelings you need to release. Then you can turn the other cheek, rather than slapping the cheek of the one who hurt you.

—Mark Roberts in No Holds Barred

My Response: A deep hurt I need to turn over to God is ____.

Thought to Apply: When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, “It is talking to me, and about me.”  —Soren Kierkegaard (Danish philosopher)

Adapted from Mike Singletary: One-on-One (Regal, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Thank You, Lord, for psalms that show how a man after Your own heart approached You. Help me learn from them.



Psalms Help You Get Real – Pro-Victim, Anti-Villain Prayers

approaching-godKey Bible Verse: The godly will rejoice when they see injustice avenged. … Then at last everyone will say … “surely there is a God who judges justly here on earth.”Psalm 58:10-11

Bonus Reading: Psalm 35:1-10

At an L.A. community college, I was leading a Bible study on Jesus’ command to love your enemies. I offered that God helps us love those who hurt us. “But sometimes it’s very hard,” Ricardo observed.

I agreed, but again made such love sound simple. Ricardo kept stressing its difficulty. So I asked, “Do you have a hard time loving your enemies?”

“Very hard,” he responded. As a teenager in Central America, he told us, he was part of a movement of Jesus followers that shared the gospel with its neighbors. They had no political agenda. But local government officials, fearing that they would become politically uncooperative, ordered them to cease their evangelistic efforts.

Ricardo and his friends refused to comply out of faithfulness to Christ. Police stormed a prayer meeting they were holding, grabbed the leaders, took them outside, and shot them. Ricardo escaped and fled his homeland.

Since hearing Ricardo’s story, when praying through the Psalms, I’ve put myself in the shoes of victims, and prayed in solidarity with them. The vindictive psalms help us pray both for and with suffering Christians. As we do, we also learn to pray against the enemies of God.

—Mark Roberts in No Holds Barred

My Response: The next time I pray, I’ll stand in the shoes of ____.

Thought to Apply: Most scriptures speak to us; the Psalms speak for us. —Athanasius (bishop of Alexandria)

Adapted from Mastering Monday (InterVarsity, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Thank You, Lord, for psalms that show how a man after Your own heart approached You. Help me learn from them.



Psalms Help You Get Real – Convicted Convict

approaching-godKey Bible Verse: Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Psalm 51:14

Bonus Reading: Psalm 51:1-4, 7, 9-10

Jason Richards, a prisoner, stumbled onto what the Bible is all about. Here’s the way he describes it:

“I hadn’t been long in my sentence and I was very confused. I was carrying an awful lot of guilt. I was looking for answers. I read a lot. I read Buddhism. I read Islam. I started reading the Bible. And the more I read the Scriptures, the more I became aware of God.

“I didn’t believe in God. I was actually an atheist—or at least I thought I was. But the more I read, the more I came to believe that God existed. And the more I became aware of God, the more I became aware that I was a sinner—and I got more and more desperate.

“Then one night I opened the Bible at the very first psalm. I started reading, and when I got to Psalms 50 and 51, I realized that God would forgive me. I didn’t know [why Psalm 51 had been written] then. But the thing I knew was today’s Key Bible Verse. I knew that God would forgive me. I didn’t know anything about Jesus or the Bible or the Church. I just knew.

“I read all the rest of the psalms on my knees—and almost from that point for me they became psalms of praise. It was like I was beginning to worship, and I didn’t know what worship was!”

—Tom Wright in For All God’s Worth

My Response: I felt a desperate need for forgiveness, and the elation of being set free, when …

Thought to Apply: Saving faith is grasping God with the heart. —source unknown

Adapted from Touchdown Alexander (Harvest, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Thank You, Lord, for psalms that show how a man after Your own heart approached You. Help me learn from them.



A Hymn of Hope and Comfort: “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light”

Here is an amazing arrangement of this beautiful hymn by Kathleen Thomerson, as performed by the Baylor University Men’s Choir.

You may note that this arrangement is in 4:4 time, while we are accustomed to hearing and singing it in its original 3:4, giving us the opportunity to hear this hymn with new ears.


I want to walk as a child of the Light
I want to follow Jesus
God set the stars to give light to the world
The Star of my life is Jesus.


In Him there is no darkness at all
The night and the day are both alike
The lamb is the Light of the city of God
Shine in my heart Lord Jesus.

I want to see the Brightness of God
I want to look at Jesus
Clear Son of righteousness shine on my path
And show me the way to the Father. (Refrain)

I’m looking for the coming of Christ
I want to be with Jesus
When we have run, with patience, the race
We shall know the joy of Jesus. (Refrain)

Coronavirus: A Teacher’s Song

Here is a wonderful, short video from a morning show on Canada TV that showcases a song written and performed by a school music teacher to express her feelings about the transition from in-class teaching to online teaching due to the coronavirus.

After a few weeks at home, this song really captures our feelings as well.
We understand that our organist is working on a transcription for our choir for our first week back in corporate worship!


Psalms Help You Get Real – Warts and All

approaching-godKey Bible Verse: I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. For I am overwhelmed.  – Psalm 142: 2-3

Bonus Reading: Psalm 142:1-7

The Psalms are an extended refutation of the widespread notion that prayer is “being nice” before God, politely raising our hand when we have a question about what he’s teaching us.

Prayer, the Psalms shows us, is something quite different. It’s engaging God. And that, at least in its initial stages, is more like a quarrel than a conventional greeting, more like a wrestling match than a warm embrace.

After all, this isn’t a neat and tidy world in which we’re in control—and that scares us. It’s not a dream world in which everything works out according to our adolescent expectations. There’s suffering, poverty, and abuse at which we cry out in pain and indignation, “You can’t let this happen!”

Using the Psalms as a school of prayer, we get a feel for how to bring our lives into attentive and worshiping response to God as he speaks to us. As we do this, we begin to realize that in prayer anything goes.

Virtually nothing human is excluded as appropriate material for prayer: reflections and observations, fear and anger, guilt and sin, questions and doubts, needs and desires, praise and gratitude, suffering and death. Prayer is an offering of ourselves, just as we are.

—Eugene Peterson in Eat This Book

My Response: When was the last time I prayed an honest, intense, from-the-heart prayer?

Adapted from Devotional Ventures (Regal, 2006)

Prayer for the Week: Thank You, Lord, for psalms that show how a man after Your own heart approached You. Help me learn from them.



Psalms Help You Get Real – I Brake for Psalms

approaching-godWho Said It … Steven Graves

As a partner in The Cornerstone Group, Steve, an expert in organizational analysis and strategic planning, mentors and speaks at business seminars.

Prior to his work with Cornerstone, he spent a number of years as a high school teacher and football coach. Later he earned a doctorate in ministry and launched Opening the Bible Ministries. Steve is an avid fisherman.

What He Said … I Brake for Psalms

A professor at a religious college once told me that he liked to speed-read the Psalms. In his opinion, there wasn’t much substance in those 150 chapters, and themes just kept repeating themselves. I remember thinking that of any book in the Bible where the need-for-speed impulse ought to be avoided, Psalms was it.

Why?  Because essentially each is a prayer between a needy individual and his great God. David, and other authors in that collection of poetic intercession and praise, used them as time-stoppers and as speed bumps.

They’re supposed to slow us down, to act as brakes—not as accelerators—on our daily rhythm. Whatever block of time we have to give to devotions in our schedule and wherever they take place—from a quiet corner in the house, to your office, to Starbucks—they ought to redirect our focus for some span of time. The Psalms should serve as thought-provoking, bite-sized morsels of truth that give us pause. They need to be read after taking a deep breath.

Adapted from Influencing Like Jesus (B&H Publishing, 2008)

Prayer for the Week: Thank You, Lord, for psalms that show how a man after Your own heart approached You.  Help me learn from them.



The Virus Might Still Be Keeping Us Inside, But Church Goes on!

(Beaver County, PA) For over a month now, reaction to the coronavirus pandemic continues to force the suspension or cancellation of large gatherings, including worship services across Pennsylvania.

Along that line, WBVP, WMBA and 99.3 F.M. are pleased to be the “pulpit” of the airwaves during this time and help nearby preachers reach their flock by putting their voice into the radios in the dashboards of cars,  console stereos, boom boxes, ear buds  and even computers and smartphones.

Local listeners and parishioners can tune in to WBVP. WMBA, 99.3 F.M. and the Beaver County Radio live online audio stream to six different local church and faith based programs this Sunday.

The Line Up For Sunday April 26, 2020:

The day starts off with “Sounds of Faith”, a two hour inspirational segment  of worship and praise music that airs from 7 until 9 A.M.

At 9 A.M. on Sunday morning, April 26, live Sunday Mass from St. Monica Catholic Parish in Chippewa will still take place even though the church is closed to the public.

St. Monica Catholic Parish, Chippewa Township worship site.

Then at 10 A.M.,  a recording of Rev. Lee Bittner’s message, along with special music from Mike Neely from First Presbyterian Church In Rochester will reach the”radio congregation”.

As in previous weeks, The Soma Gathering in Beaver Falls is again sponsoring the 10:30 A.M. slot featuring Pastor Jan Davis from Central United Methodist church in Beaver Falls, who will engage with listeners via a recorded sermon.

At noon, Senior Pastor Cliff Reynolds from Word Alive church in Ellwood City will be featured with a recorded message entitled “Blanket of Peace”  The Word Alive broadcast is sponsored by Hamilton Tool and Supply in Beaver Falls.

Word Alive Church in Ellwood City. Photo courtesy of Matt Reynolds, Word Alive Church.

Finally, from 1 to 2 P.M., a special live broadcast will be aired from The New Galilee Church of the Nazarene featuring a special guest filling the “drive in church” pulpit. Andrew Flowers  will lead the radio worship this week with inspirational piano music and preaching.  Much like the old drive in movies of years past, Andrew Flowers plans on preaching from the parking lot and inviting people to pull up, park, and tune the car radio in to 1230 WBVP, 1460 WMBA or 99.3 F.M. to hear his special  Sunday message.

All six segments will air on WBVP,  WMBA,  99.3 F.M. and The Beaver County Radio Live Audio Stream.

Central Church – Online Worship Service – Sunday, April 26, 2020

On this second Sunday after Easter, when the coronavirus prevents us from gathering in Central Church’s Sanctuary to worship in body, let us join together in spirit for with our online worship experience!




To begin, simply click on the photo below to join with the folks who have already made their way into our digital Sanctuary:




Central Church on WBVP Today!

Local reaction to the Corona Virus pandemic has forced the suspension or cancellation of large gatherings, including worship services across Pennsylvania.

WBVP, WMBA and 99.3 F.M. are moving to be the “pulpit” of the airwaves during this time.

Members and friends of Central Church can tune in at 10:30 A.M. on Sunday, April 26, to hear a recorded version of this week’s message from Central Church by Pastor Jan!


Here’s where to tune in:


Be sure to tune in this Sunday at 10:30!


Central Church on WBVP Today!

Local reaction to the Corona Virus pandemic has forced the suspension or cancellation of large gatherings, including worship services across Pennsylvania.

WBVP, WMBA and 99.3 F.M. are moving to be the “pulpit” of the airwaves during this time.

Members and friends of Central Church can tune in at 10:30 A.M. on Sunday, April 26, to hear a recorded version of this week’s message from Central Church by Pastor Jan!


Here’s where to tune in:


Be sure to tune in this Sunday at 10:30!


Thankful? For What? – Appreciation

giving-thanks-to-godTempted by the Devil to turn the wilderness stones into loaves of bread (Matthew 4:3-4), Jesus quoted from this section of Moses’ address to the Hebrews preparing to enter the Promised Land. Real life, he affirmed, is based on more than satisfying our appetites.

Recalling what God has provided should lead us to total commitment to him—and grateful praise.

Interact with God’s Word:  Deuteronomy 8:2-18

  1. Memories of the preceding 40 years centered (vv. 3, 15) on how God supplied manna and water. What are obvious ways God has provided for you?
  2. Less obvious were the negative outcomes (v. 4) from which they’d been spared. List some easy-to-take-for-granted blessings that you experience daily.
  3. Verses 6-9 describe a land where they will lack nothing. How (v. 10) should the people respond?
  4. When (vv. 12-13) do God’s people especially need to be on their guard?
  5. What dangers associated with prosperity (vv. 11, 14) were the Israelites about to face?
  6. Why (vv. 17-18) would crediting your standard of living to your own hard work and cleverness be off base?
  7. How can a person experience life more fully by feeding on every word of the Lord (v. 3)? How should feeding on God’s Word promote trust, obedience, and praise?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Ask God for a fresh appreciation of His provision and protection, both material and immaterial, and praise Him for thes

Deuteronomy 8:2-18

2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

6 Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. 7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; 8 a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; 9 a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.


Prayer for the Week: Give me a fresh awareness, Lord, of those gifts I’ve taken for granted.




Thankful? For What? – My Strange List

giving-thanks-to-godKey Bible Verse: O Lord my God … Your plans for us are too numerous to list. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them. Psalm 40:5

Bonus Reading: Psalm 16:1-11

I don’t expect to ever again make the kind of money I made playing baseball, or receive the acclaim I received as a major-league pitcher. God’s idea of prosperity for us goes much deeper. He wants us to prosper in our relationships—in our families, with others, and ultimately with him.

That’s why last Thanksgiving, when I sat down to make a list of the ways God had blessed me, I came up with a strange list, including a bad marriage; infertility; my drinking problem; Christine’s broken neck; the end of my baseball career; and four adopted special-needs children, including Nicole, a brain-damaged, one-handed little girl who may or may not ever by potty-trained, say “I love you,” or call me Daddy.

I can honestly say I’m thankful for those things because each has played a major role in drawing me closer to the Lord. Take Nicole. She throws her arms wide in joyous welcome whenever she sees me across the room, and clings tightly to me when I hold her. Her unconditional love challenges me every day. She’s like an angel in the midst of our family, modeling God’s perfect, abundant love.

—Tim Burke in Major League Dad

My Response: A difficulty I’m experiencing that God may have designed with a blessing up-side is …

Thought to Apply: The more mature prayers of thanksgiving are for obstacles overcome, insights gained, lessons learned, help received in time of need, strength to persevere, opportunities to serve others.     —Fleming Rutledge (minister)

Adapted from Major League Dad (Focus on the Family, 1994)

Prayer for the Week: Give me a fresh awareness, Lord, of those gifts I’ve taken for granted.



A Hymn of Hope and Comfort: “To God Be the Glory”

Here’s a gospel hymn, one by Fanny Crosby, and revived from relative obscurity by the Billy Graham crusades.

The choir sings with gusto, and the inventive Dr. John Gearhart can really make that 947-rank Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ sing.

On a lighter note, sometimes choir members are caught off guard when the organist does something unexpected. 

For a chuckle, check out the reaction of the red-headed choir member (middle row, left) at 2:12 to an expected punctuation from the organ!  It’s priceless!

(By the way, she’s ready for him at the same place in the next verse, and shoots him a sideways look at 3:06.  Ah, the joys of corporate worship! )


To God be the glory, great things he has done!
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
and opened the life gate that we may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father thro’ Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he has done!

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood!
To ev’ry believer the promise of God;
the vilest offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus forgiveness receives.

Great things he has taught us, great things he has done,
and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
but purer and higher and greater will be
our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

    – Fanny J. Crosby

Thankful? For What? – Bad News About Good Times

giving-thanks-to-godKey Bible Verse: My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life.  – Psalm 23:5-6

Bonus Reading: Psalm 23

Griping rises with income, concluded two economists who studied the U.S. and four other wealthy nations. “People who were otherwise statistically similar complained more about the ‘time squeeze’ as their incomes rose. The more money people have,” the economists concluded, “the more things they can do with their time; as time becomes more valuable, they increasingly resent that they can’t create more of it.”

Similarly, as choices multiply, notes The Paradox of Choice author Barry Schwartz, people feel overwhelmed by the burden of having to research the best option. After they buy, if they feel they made the wrong choice, then they’re miserable.

Gregg Easterbrook’s book The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse, documents how as people’s material lives have improved dramatically, their inner lives have declined. Depression, loneliness, and frustration are all much higher than 50 years ago. Easterbrook’s prescription? Stop focusing on ourselves. Instead concentrate on being grateful for our daily blessings, on the deeper truths of what really matters in life, and on how we can help our neighbors around the world.

—Ellen Vaughn in Radical Gratitude

My Response: Do I match the research profile of resenting a “time squeeze” and feeling overwhelmed by choices to be checked out?

Thought to Apply: It is a rare person who, when his cup frequently runs over, can thank God instead of complaining about the limited size of his mug!  —Bob Russell

Adapted from Radical Gratitude (Zondervan, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Give me a fresh awareness, Lord, of those gifts I’ve taken for granted.



Thankful? For What? – Prosperity’s Pitfalls

giving-thanks-to-godKey Bible Verse: “When you have eaten your fill … that is the time to be careful!”Deuteronomy 8:10-11

Bonus Reading: Deuteronomy 8:2-18

The saying goes, “I’ve been poor, and I’ve been rich. Rich is better.” Those who’ve only experienced poverty are certain that plenty is more appealing. And those who’ve experienced both would probably agree. But the writer of Proverbs understood the perils that came with plenty. “Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs,” he wrote. “For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name” (30:8-9). A remarkably mature—and rare—attitude!

As the children of Israel prepared to enter a land of plenty, the Lord told Moses to warn them about the perils. In their wilderness journeys, the strict discipline imposed on them had forced obedience. And because the Lord alone provided food for them, they had no alternative to trusting in him. But once they entered the Promised Land, they’d encounter plenty, and were to respond in praise and thanksgiving.

But sometimes plenty provokes pride. The more successful men become, the more self-sufficient they tend to be. The wiser men become, the more thankful they are to the Lord who gave them success.

—Stuart Briscoe in Devotions for Men

My Response: In what ways have I trusted in my own successes rather than in God’s provision?

Thought to Apply: Prosperity constantly tempts us to believe we’re secure without God and that money can be an adequate substitute for real family values. —Robert Lewis

Adapted from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men (Tyndale, 2000)

Prayer for the Week: Give me a fresh awareness, Lord, of those gifts I’ve taken for granted.



A Hymn of Hope and Comfort: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”

Here is a recording of this hymn from“A Service to Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of The Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” in Westminster Abbey, Tuesday 4th June 2013:

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation;

O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation:

come ye who hear, brothers and sisters draw near,

praise him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,

shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth:

hast thou not seen all that is needful hath been

granted in what he ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;

surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;

ponder anew all the Almighty can do,

he who with love doth befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!

all that hath life and breath come now with praises before him!

Let the Amen sound from his people again:

gladly for ay we adore him.

Thankful? For What? – Come to Your Senses

giving-thanks-to-godKey Bible Verse: Ears to hear and eyes to see—both are gifts from the Lord.  – Proverbs 20:12

Bonus Reading: Deuteronomy 29:2-4

We are as accustomed to seeing and hearing as we are to breathing and to the operation of the cardiovascular system. So we pay no attention to any of them—until something goes wrong, of course.

The writer of Proverbs commended equal appreciation of both eye and ear. We need to make use of our God-given opportunity to enjoy the wonders of the created world laid out in such profusion and grandeur before our eyes. We need to listen to the wealth of knowledge, beauty, and experience available to our ears. Rather than taking sight and hearing for granted, these sensory faculties and what they provide for us should take on even greater significance when seen as gifts from God.

To embark on a day with eyes literally wide open and ears pricked so as not to miss a sight or a sound is to live at a higher level. Doing so from time to time will enrich the life, because God planned for it to be so enriched. At the end of the day, to reflect on what you have heard, and to give thanks to the Giver of gifts who made it possible, is to live with a sharpened sense of enjoyment and a richer sense of worship.

—Stuart Briscoe in Devotions for Men

My Response: What sights and sounds have I been taking for granted?

Thought to Apply: How hard I find it to see what is right in front of my eyes! —Ludwig Wittgenstein (Austrian philosopher)

Adapted from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men (Tyndale, 2000)

Prayer for the Week: Give me a fresh awareness, Lord, of those gifts I’ve taken for granted.



A Hymn of Hope and Comfort: “I Know that My Redeemer Lives”

Here is a recording of this hymn from a Higher Things conference:


I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my everlasting Head.

He lives triumphant from the grave,
He lives eternally to save,
He lives all-glorious in the sky,
He lives exalted there on high.

He lives to bless me with His love,
He lives to plead for me above,
He lives my hungry soul to feed,
He lives to help in time of need.

He lives to grant me rich supply,
He lives to guide me with His eye,
He lives to comfort me when faint,
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.

He lives to silence all my fears,
He lives to wipe away my tears,
He lives to calm my troubled heart,
He lives all blessings to impart.

He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly Friend,
He lives and loves me to the end;
He lives, and while He lives, I’ll sing;
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.

He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives and I shall conquer death;
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.

He lives, all glory to His name!
He lives, my Jesus, still the same.
Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives,
“I know that my Redeemer lives!”


    – Samuel Medley, 1775


Central Church connects Communities and Congregations through Food and Prayer

Feeding bodies and souls at our weekly free community Friday Soup Kitchen

Begun over 20 years ago, dedicated volunteers and partnering local churches and individuals are preparing and distributing hot, nutritious meals as part of the community feeding ministry of Central United Methodist Church in downtown Beaver Falls

Usually we serve a hot meal like pork chops, potatoes, vegetables, and bread – and we always have soup for lunch on Tuesdays during cold months. But recent weeks have been different because of concerns about coronavirus. We’ve had to convert from dining in our Fellowship Hall to a take-out-only arrangement from our Fellowship Hall door so we can practice social distancing.

We don’t want to forget the folks in our community – the people that we know, and new faces that we are meeting during this time – and we want them to know that we will reach out in faith to help them.

With a weekly worship service in recent years of less than 20 dedicated souls, we have been blessed to partner with area congregations and other volunteers in order to maintain and expand our community feeding outreach.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, we were providing about 13,000 meals to our community each year.  Now, with many folks unable to work due to the stay-at-home orders, the number of meals that we are providing has skyrocketed to an annual rate of over 36,000 meals. That’s stretching our finances and volunteers to the breaking point, even as the need for food continues to grow.

In addition to lunch on Tuesday, our dedicated volunteers and partners provide dinners on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, as well as breakfast on the first two Saturdays of each month.

Our outreach is good for people who don’t have the necessary things to make do.  Those who are economically disadvantaged are even more disadvantaged now because of the coronavirus pandemic, and folks who didn’t used to struggle a week or two ago are struggling now, so, if we can do anything to help them, that is what we want to do.

Like our congregation and the congregations of our partners, a lot of our usual volunteer workers are elderly, which means they’re at high risk of getting COVID-19, so we are now relying on our younger volunteers and partners to help carry the load during this unprecedented time.

There may have been changes in how the food is distributed at Central Church, but the focus of the ministry remains the same.

Our community feeding outreach ministry is a collaborative effort of Central Church, several additional area churches, and other kind-hearted folks in the community, so, it really is about bringing people together to support and lift up folks in our community.

Volunteers now wear masks and gloves and do their best to maintain social distancing by keeping six feet between themselves and community members. The need to do so is vitally important but even after nearly a month people are still adjusting to the new normal.

In the midst of this pandemic, we could feel our world getting smaller and smaller, even as we’ve done a lot of telephone calls, e-mails and texts to check on our family members, members of our congregation, and friends. We need to be face-to-face even if that means being at a six-foot distance with people. We need to get our hands engaged for Jesus.  Despite all the work required to provide meals, our days and evenings of preparation for each meal have enlivened our spirits again.

Our Church ladies serving a free, hot lunch to the community on “Soup Tuesdays”

People coming to Central Church for food smile at the love, kindness, and generosity that is all around them, even though chilling rain falls on many days.

The outreach has also impacted the lives of the volunteers and partners who come here each week.  It means that people are still reaching out into ministry no matter what is going on in the community, and that they’re willing and able to come out and help despite what’s going on.

Jesus says that there is hope. Jesus says that when we go through the grave, we come out the other side, and there is new life on the other side. We firmly believe that whenever the fog lifts from this COVID-19 pandemic, we will have been in this crucible of discipleship and we will emerge as resurrection people.

As we pray for one another, continue to wash our hands frequently, clean our homes and workspaces, and practice social distancing, the ways that we are in ministry are changing, but the need for us to minister to and with people remains the same.

As believers, we have to be the hands and the feet of Christ in our community.  Even when it’s uncomfortable or it makes us afraid to go forth, we are called to spread the love of Jesus wherever we go.

A Hymn of Hope and Comfort: “Thine Be the Glory, Risen, Conquering Son”

The second Sunday of Easter always features a favorite biblical narrative, the story of Thomas the Apostle, the Doubter.

Let’s face it: the Christian story is foolishness to our human minds. It is ludicrous. That we would believe in a Savior crucified and risen is nothing short of absurd.

But yet we believe. In faith, we believe the day will come when we shall see Christ as he is, with wounded hands and broken side, and we shall bow and proclaim as Thomas did, “My Lord, and my God.” Until then, let us continue to proclaim our faith in Jesus crucified and risen.


Thine be the glory, risen, conqu’ring Son:
endless is the vict’ry thou o’er death hast won;
angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave-clothes where thy body lay.

Thine be the glory, risen, conqu’ring Son;
endless is the vict’ry thou o’er death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing,
for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting.

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
life is naught without thee: aid us in our strife;
make us more than conqu’rors, thro’ thy deathless love:
bring us safe thro’ Jordan to thy home above.


Thankful? For What? – Ben’s Prescription

giving-thanks-to-godWho Said It … Stuart Briscoe

This British-born pastor has taught fellow pastors and lay leaders in more than 100 countries. He is currently minister-at-large for Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, after serving as its senior pastor for 30 years.

Stuart has also ministered with his wife, Jill, through their Telling the Truth media ministries. They have three children and thirteen grandchildren.

What He Said … It’s a Small, Small World

Benjamin Franklin’s saying, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” contains more than a grain of truth. Whether or not there’s an exact correlation between good sleep habits and “the good life” is hard to say. But Franklin’s epigram does identify three areas of concern for men in all ages: health, wealth, and wisdom. These issues are often discussed in the pages of Scripture.

David admits, in Psalm 30:6-7, “When I was prosperous I said, ‘Nothing can stop me now!’ Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain.” But sadly, the prosperity the Lord had granted him led him away from a life of trusting obedience. “Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.”

Lost wealth is drastic medicine; so is lost health. But men absorbed with their own lives respond to little else. When the Lord restores lost health and wealth, and men respond by praising the Lord, they get wise. So be wise—get to bed early, but rise up to bless the Lord.

Adapted from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men (Tyndale, 2000)

Prayer for the Week: Give me a fresh awareness, Lord, of those gifts I’ve taken for granted.


Central Church on WBVP Today!

Local reaction to the Corona Virus pandemic has forced the suspension or cancellation of large gatherings, including worship services across Pennsylvania.

WBVP, WMBA and 99.3 F.M. are moving to be the “pulpit” of the airwaves during this time.

Members and friends of Central Church can tune in at 10:30 A.M. on Sunday, April 19, to hear a recorded version of this week’s message from Central Church by Pastor Jan!


Here’s where to tune in:


Be sure to tune in this Sunday at 10:30!


Central Church – Online Worship Service – Sunday, April 19, 2020

On this first Sunday after Easter, when the coronavirus prevents us from gathering in Central Church’s Sanctuary to worship in body, let us join together in spirit for with our online worship experience!




To begin, simply click on the photo below to join with the folks who have already made their way into our digital Sanctuary:




New LED Lights in Our Downstairs Hallway!

New LED Lights in Our Downstairs Hallway!

Feast your eyes on the new LED lights in our downstairs hallway that Jeff has been tirelessly working on for us, finishing the installation today!

The new LED fixtures are even brighter than the old fluorescent tubes, all while saving us 62% in electricity!

It’s not often that you can get more and pay less!

Many thanks to Jeff for working tirelessly on removing the old fixtures, getting adapters so the new flat panel LED lights would fit, installing the new lights, and getting everything to work together for a truly wonderful result.

Just remember to bring your sunglasses the next time you walk down the downstairs hallway!

Listen to the Spirit – The Leading of the Holy Spirit

Central Church's Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Central Church’s Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Zechariah wrote (in 7:11) about a people so determined to ignore what God was saying to them that they “put their fingers in their ears.”

God gave Isaiah a message to deliver to a people whose hearts had become hardened and rebellious beyond repentance. So a fed-up God made the punishment fit the crime.

He decreed that even when they heard they wouldn’t learn anything. However, when Jesus quoted this prophecy to his disciples, he put a positive as well as a negative take on it.

Interact with God’s Word:  Matthew 13:9-17

  1. What reason (v. 27) did Jesus give for not worrying about our needs?
  2. What did Jesus observe (vv. 26-30) about the welfare of birds and flowers?
  3. What conclusions about worrying (vv. 26 & 30) did Jesus draw from this?
  4. What (vv. 31-32) should distinguish Jesus followers from the unbelievers around them?
  5. What frees them up to be different?
  6. What is promised in verse 33? What must we do to receive this promise?
  7. What does verse 34 tell us about daily struggles? Why do you think Jesus ended his words on worry with these sobering thoughts?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Three times in this passage, Jesus told his disciples not to worry. Ask God for the resolve to treat this as a command rather than take-it-or-leave-it advice.

Matthew 13:9-17

9 “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables,

For they look, but they don’t really see.
They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.

14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,

‘When you hear what I say,
you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
you will not comprehend.
15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.'”

16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to tune out distractions and to pick out and respond to the voice of Your Spirit.



A Hymn of Hope and Comfort: “Come Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain”

Here again is the Aeolian Skinner and fantastic musicians leading the congregation of St. John’s Church in Detroit, Michigan on another fantastic Easter hymn.


Come, ye faithful, raise the strain
of triumphant gladness!
God hath brought his Israel
into joy from sadness:
loosed from Pharaoh’s bitter yoke
Jacob’s sons and daughters,
led them with unmoistened foot
through the Red Sea waters.

‘Tis the spring of souls today:
Christ hath burst his prison,
and from three days’ sleep in death
as a sun hath risen;
all the winter of our sins,
long and dark, is flying
from his light, to whom we give
laud and praise undying.

Now the queen of seasons, bright
with the day of splendor,
with the royal feast of feasts,
comes its joy to render;
comes to glad Jerusalem,

who with true affection
welcomes in unwearied strains
Jesus’ resurrection.

Neither might the gates of death,
nor the tomb’s dark portal,
nor the watchers, nor the seal
hold thee as a mortal:
but today amidst thine own
thou didst stand, bestowing
that thy peace which evermore
passeth human knowing.

    – John of Damascus, 8th cent.; trans. J. M. Neale

How God Uses Isolation to Advance His Kingdom

Several years ago I wrote a book entitled Change Agent: Engaging your passion to be the one who makes a difference. During the writing of that book I discovered 6 unique stages God took his leaders through to become His change agents. One of the 6 stages I discovered was a Time of Isolation.

It seems God often set aside a leader away from his normal life for a greater purpose. For some it was jail time like the apostle Paul. Paul wrote many of his epistles when he was imprisoned. This would be said of Jeremiah, Isaiah and many others. And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He has hidden Me, and made Me a polished shaft; in His quiver He has hidden Me” (Isa 49:2).

The apostle John was put on the Island of Patmos where he received the vision of Revelation. He did not die on this island, but God used his time of isolation on Patmos to download an important part of the Bible for God’s people.

John Bunyan was imprisoned twelve years for preaching the Gospel. What came from his time in prison was one of Christianity’s greatest classics – Pilgrim’s Progress.

Sir Isaac Newton’s Greatest Discoveries Came in a 2-Year Time of Isolation

On Christmas Eve in 1664, a London resident named Goodwoman Phillips was found dead in the run-down district of St. Giles-in-the-Fields. Telltale “buboes” on her corpse left no doubt about the cause of death. Her house was sealed and the words “Lord Have Mercy On Us” were painted on the door in red: Phillips had died of bubonic plague.

Only a few other deaths from plague were reported over the next few months. But by April, the numbers had begun to climb markedly. When summer arrived, death was everywhere. Records from mid-July showed 2,010 deaths, spread among every parish in London. The death toll a week later had jumped to 7,496. Over a period of 18 months, the Great Plague of London, as the epidemic came to be called, would claim more than 100,000 lives – roughly a quarter of the city’s population.

Then as now, social distancing was an important response to the deadly outbreak. Urban residents who could afford to do so fled to the countryside. Among the institutions that closed for the duration was Cambridge University, and among the students who headed home for what today we would call self-quarantining was a 23-year-old mathematics student by the name of Isaac Newton.

For the next year and a half, Newton remained at his family’s farm in Lincolnshire, reading, studying, and thinking alone. While the bubonic plague raged elsewhere, Newton embarked on what he would later describe as the most intellectually productive period of his life.

One subject that had always interested Newton was light and color. Two years earlier, visiting the annual Sturbridge Fair near the university, he had purchased a small glass prism. He had been fascinated by the way the prism seemed to change white light into a spectrum of rainbow-like colors. No one understood where those colors came from; one theory was that the glass somehow added color to otherwise colorless light.

This wasn’t the only discovery Newton made during his time of isolation. Newton’s laws laid the foundation for classical mechanics, and upon it, generations of physicists would build towering edifices. The mathematics required to derive these laws – which involve multiple variables with continuously changing quantities – did not exist in Newton’s day. So he invented an entirely new mathematical discipline. Without calculus, modern mathematics, engineering, and statistics would be impossible.[1]

God often used isolation to prepare his leaders for a greater assignment. Joseph was sold into slavery and later accused of a crime he did not do which landed him in prison. God used over 13 years of preparation for what would be an 81-year assignment as second in command of Egypt.

Nelson Mandella would be imprisoned for 27 years for his anti-apartheid, revolutionary political activities in South Africa. He would move from the jail cell to the presidential palace for five years as president of South Africa from 1994-1999.

He turns messes into messages and messengers.

What I observed is God turns our messes into messages and creates messengers in the process. God initiates a time of separation from past dependencies to realign values of the leader. King David was forced to flee Saul, who was trying to kill him. He ended up in the Cave of Adullam as his hiding place. During his time in the cave he wrote three of the Psalms — Psalm 34, 57, and 142. The down and outs joined him in the cave. They became known as David’s Mighty Men.

God often gave the leader treasures in darkness. “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, Who calls you by your name, am the God of Israel” (Isa 45:3). I recall God doing this in my own life in the mid-nineties. I was in a time of isolation from a difficult season. I began to reflect on what I was learning in that season that resulted in my writing a devotional series entitled TGIF Today God Is First. That devotional is now read in 105 nations around the world. Recently I wrote another book during a time of isolation that is just now being released called The Hidden Place: One man’s journey to freedom.

How might God be using this quarantine time in the nations for His purposes? Maybe you are being isolated right now. Perhaps there is a book or a message God is downloading to you right now.  Use this time to listen.

Listen to the Spirit – Voice-Activated

Central Church's Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Central Church’s Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Key Bible Verse: “Be sure to pay attention to what you hear. The more you do this, the more you will understand.”  – Mark 4:24

Bonus Reading: Mark 4:23-25

[continued from yesterday]  I will never forget Aaron’s dug-in response: “Well, I’m still not doing what God said.”

I explained to him that that was his choice, but this is what would happen. If he rejected the voice of God coming from deep within and chose to disobey his guidance, his heart would become hardened, and his ears would become dull.

If he continued on this path, there would be a day when he would never again hear the voice of God. There would come a day when he would deny that God even speaks or has ever spoken  to him.

But if he treasures God’s voice however it comes to him—through the Scriptures, through his conscience—and responds to him with obedience, then his heart would be softened, and his ears would always be able to hear the whisper of God into his soul.

Aaron chose to stay, I’m grateful to say. If he had chosen differently, he would have begun the path toward nominal discipleship. Perhaps he never would have rejected the faith overtly. He might have even chosen to be a faithful attender at a church and been by everyone else’s estimation a good man, but he would no longer be a close Jesus-follower.

—Erwin McManus in The Barbarian Way

My Response: Have I resolved to obey God’s voice whenever I hear it?

Thought to Apply: The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.  —Tom Watson (founder of IBM)

Adapted from Jesus, Lord of Your Personality (Howard, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to tune out distractions and to pick out and respond to the voice of Your Spirit.



A Hymn of Hope and Comfort: “O Sons and Daughters, Let Us Sing”

Here is a fantastic Easter hymn from St. Bartholemew’s Church in New York City.

A Fran­cis­can monk, Jean Tis­ser­and found­ed an or­der for pen­i­tent wo­men.  He is al­so said to have writ­ten a wor­ship ser­vice com­mem­o­rat­ing Fran­cis­cans mar­tyred in Mo­roc­co in 1220.

The words to the hymn listed below are a slightly more modern version than what you’ll hear the congregation sing in this video from St. Bartholemew’s Church.


Alleluia, alleluia,
alleluia, alleluia!

O sons and daughters of the King,
whom heavenly hosts in glory sing,
today the grave has lost its sting.

That Easter morn at break of day,
the faithful women went their way
to seek the tomb where Jesus lay.

An angel clad in white they see,
who sat and spoke unto the three,
“Your Lord has gone to Galilee.”

When Thomas first the tidings heard
that some had seen the risen Lord,
he doubted the disciples’ word.
Lord, have mercy!

At night the apostles met in fear;
among them came their Master dear
and said, “My peace be with you here.”

“My pierced side, O Thomas, see,
and look upon my hands, my feet;
not faithless but believing be.”

No longer Thomas then denied;
he saw the feet, the hands, the side.
“You are my Lord and God!” he cried.

How blest are they who have not seen
and yet whose faith has constant been,
for they eternal life shall win.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

    – attr. Jean Tisserand, 15th cent.; trans. J. M. Neale

Why is the Easter season 50 days long?

United Methodist founder Charles Wesley’s Easter hymn “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” is a celebration of resurrection and new life. Image by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

Easter for Christians is not just one day – it’s a 50-day period.

The season of Easter, or Eastertide, begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church (see Acts 2).

Easter season is more than just an extended celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. In the early church, Lent was a season for new converts to learn about the faith and prepare for baptism on Easter Sunday. The initial purpose of the 50-day Easter season was to continue the faith formation of these new Christians.

Today, this extended season gives us time to rejoice and experience what it means when we say Christ is risen. It’s the season when we remember our baptisms and how, through this sacrament, we are “incorporated into Christ’s mighty acts of salvation.” As “Easter people,” we celebrate and ponder the birth of the Church and gifts of the Spirit (Pentecost), and how we are to live as faithful disciples of Christ.

Many churches use these weeks to teach the theology of the sacraments and help people discern their spiritual gifts and callings. Congregations may have a service of commissioning laypersons into ministry as part of their Pentecost celebration.

A Hymn of Hope and Comfort: “He Leadeth Me”

Here is a lovely arrangement of a classic hymn from Fountainview Academy in Hawaii:


1 He leadeth me: O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be,
still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, he leadeth me;
by his own hand he leadeth me:
his faithful follower I would be,
for by his hand he leadeth me.

2 Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
sometimes where Eden’s flowers bloom,
by waters calm, o’er troubled sea,
still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me. Refrain

3 Lord, I would clasp thy hand in mine,
nor ever murmur nor repine;
content, whatever lot I see,
since ’tis my God that leadeth me. Refrain

4 And when my task on earth is done,
when, by thy grace, the victory’s won,
e’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
since God through Jordan leadeth me. Refrain

The need for giving when church doors close

Offering plate. Photo by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications

The church has left the building.

This saying in faith-based circles has increased in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic when social-distancing guidelines have recommended that churches throughout the world close their physical doors. The result in not gathering for usual worship services has been swift to the balance sheet.

Seventy-six percent of United Methodist churches say that giving is down and one-third report that giving is down by 40 percent, according to new research by United Methodist Communications of 1,000 United Methodist churches.

Although there are no offering plates making their way down the pews these days, United Methodists are encouraged to continue contributing to their local congregations.

“It’s important to remember that just because the building is closed doesn’t mean that the church is closed,” says Ken Sloane, director of Stewardship and Generosity, Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church.

“Ministry is led by leaders, clergy and lay leaders,” he notes, adding that “the need for the church’s ministry has gone up dramatically” in recent weeks.

“Because people are staying in their houses, there’s a growing concern (among church leaders) about anxiety and a concern about people feeling discouraged,” he says. “A message of hope is more important this year than any year in recent memory.”

With this in mind, many pastors are working to connect with church members throughout the week with phone calls, texts, cards and other outreach methods. Church services are happening online.

“There is ministry that goes on just because the church is locked up,” Sloane points out.

As church leaders seek to do church differently these days, members may need to handle giving differently.

For those whose giving routine is to drop the check in the plate, consider dropping it in the mail instead.

If churches offer electronic giving, now is the time to sign up, if that hasn’t already happened.  Church staff members can offer step-by-step tutorials, if needed. Some newcomers to online giving may be concerned about security. Giving websites, like banks, are encrypted with security measures to keep financial information safe.

In the same way that a church’s income may have been negatively affected, there are many whose financial situations have changed significantly.

“One of the realities of this is that some people may have no income at all,” Sloane says. “But some people have not been financially hurt and may be in a position to do more. We’re really asking people to do what they can, but, if they can’t, we understand.”

Listen to the Spirit – Voice Recognition

Central Church's Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Central Church’s Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Key Bible Verse: “If someone calls again, say ‘Yes, Lord, your servant is listening.'”1 Samuel 3:9

Bonus Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-18

My son, Aaron, was five or six when he began asking me, “What does God’s voice sound like?” I didn’t know how to answer.

A few years later, Aaron went off to his first junior high camp at Big Bear. In the middle of the week, I went up with another pastor at Mosaic to see our kids. Aaron, I learned, had started to assault another kid but had been held back by his friends. He was unrepentant, wanted to leave camp, pulled together his stuff, and shoved it into the car.

I asked him for a last talk with me before we drove away. We sat on two large rocks in the middle of the woods. “Aaron,” I asked, “is there any voice inside you telling you what you should do?”

“Yes,” he nodded.

“What’s the voice telling you?”

“That I should stay and work it out.”

“Can you identify that voice?”

“Yes,” he said immediately, “It’s God.” It was the moment I’d waited for.

“Aaron,” I said, “do you realize what just happened? You heard God’s voice. He spoke to you from within your soul. Forget everything else that’s happened. God spoke to you, and you were able to recognize him.” [continued tomorrow]

—Erwin McManus in The Barbarian Way

My Response: I know when God speaks to me because …

Thought to Apply: It’s not a voice coming from the outside in, but a voice coming from deep within. —Erwin Raphael McManus (California pastor)

Adapted from Mike Singletary: One-on-One (Regal, 2005)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to tune out distractions and to pick out and respond to the voice of Your Spirit.



Don’t Waste Your Quarantine

Across the country (indeed across the world) people are encountering something powerful in larger quantities than they have perhaps experienced in a long time.

In the coming weeks, a number of us will likely find ourselves quarantined in our homes. Many public schools have been closed down for the rest of the school year, institutions of higher education have closed their campuses and moved online, and many “essential” businesses are telling employees to remain home if they even suspect that they are sick.

Indeed, it is likely that as COVID-19 continues to spread many of us will find ourselves strictly quarantined at home for the foreseeable future. However, the powerful substance is not COVID-19, but one of its results: ­free time.

Free time is one of the most powerful elements of our lives because of its ability to both shape and reveal who we are. Employers direct our time at work, teachers direct it at school, but we direct our free time.

How we spend our free time reveals who we are because it is self-directed time. We decide whether to go for a walk, watch the latest show, read a book, call a friend, play a video game, scroll on Instagram, etc. When we are given time to spend as we wish it, it reveals our wants, desire, aspirations, and (despite ourselves) faults.

But it does more than that, it also shapes who we are. Not only does self-direction grant added revelatory weight to free time, but it also grants it a particularly powerful formative influence. What we do when we could do anything has a particularly strong impact on who we are as people. Our hobbies shape our desires, tastes, preferences, hopes, and fears. Just as continued use of hammer will form calluses on the hand or consistent exercise will build strong muscles, so the way we spend our free time spent will shape our soul.

What do you do now that you find yourself quarantined at home for a few weeks? How will you spend your time?  Will you nap? Will you Netflix and chill? Will you scroll social media? Will you practice an instrument? Will you exercise? Will you learn to cook? The possibilities are vast.

For some of us the prospect of weeks off is exciting (we’ll finally be able to get everything done we’ve been planning to do), for others it is daunting (we have no idea how to fill those empty voids). For all of us that time will be spent, one way or another, the only question is – will it be wasted or invested?

Here is our plea to you: Do not waste your quarantine. Fight at all costs the enemy Distraction who would have you constantly clicking, constantly scrolling, constantly watching. Do not be a-mused (literally, unthinking).

We live at a time and place in which it would be easy to fill idle days with only a few shows on Netflix or spend them scrolling in the endless shallows of social media. We live in what Neil Postman termed the “Peek-a-Boo” world, a world in which we are bombarded with endless factoids and images, all hoping to capture our eyes and information for just a moment before we shoot off down another trivial pursuit.

As digital natives, it is easy to take the state constant distraction as a given, neither good nor bad. However, as Alan Noble has noticed, “The constant distraction of our culture shields us from the kind of deep, honest reflection to ask why we exist and what is true.” (Disruptive Witness, p. 3).

Blaise Pascal noted nearly four hundred years ago the happiness of kings consists in their ability to be constantly distracted so that they are prevented from ever engaging in introspection! In that sense, we are all kings now.

But there is a way to fight back. The most powerful weapon against distraction is attention. Attention is what allows us to ignore the endless barrage with which this digital age fights for our eyeballs and information and instead allows us to cultivate habits of virtue. Attention is the prerequisite for knowledge, wisdom, and love. Without the ability to ignore and attend, we are like magpies – always flirting to the shiniest object that catches our eye.

So during this current quarantine, practice the art of attention.

  • Attend to yourself, so that you may know the state of your soul.
  • Attend to your neighbor, so that you would know how to love him.
  • Attend to God, so that you may grow in your knowledge and enjoyment of Him.

God’s word is not silent on the use of free time. Ultimately, it is not ours to spend how we wish, but a gift given to us by God that we must steward. God claims ownership over all of our time, we must use it to glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:31). Indeed, He tells us to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16).

So, in your quarantine, consider how you might spend it to cultivate attention, fight distraction, and grow in the knowledge of God. In addition to investing time in prayer and Bible reading,

Here are some recommended Christian classics, all of which are available online, and which are arranged from shortest to longest (and include how many pages to read per day in order to read each of them in two weeks).

Pick a few of the shorter ones or one of the longer ones. Let them be your conversation partner for the next few weeks. Swim in their waters and let the clean sea breeze of the centuries blow through your mind.

Silence your phone, close your laptop, turn off the TV, and attend to those things that are true, good, and beautiful.

Global United Methodist virtual choir brings Easter anthem

Listen to the Spirit – Get the Point?

Central Church's Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Central Church’s Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Key Bible Verse: “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost … shall … bring all things to your remembrance.”  – John 14:26 KJV

Bonus Reading: John 14:15-17, 25-26

One problem with language is that it changes. Without realizing it, we can be misled into repeating phrases that have lost their original meaning. One example is the way the King James Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter.” The seventeenth-century translators didn’t envision a sympathetic ear.

The Bayeux tapestry helps us comprehend what the word meant. This massive cloth was produced in France to commemorate the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066, and their victory at the Battle of Hastings. It depicts one of Duke William’s supporters prodding a reluctant Norman soldier into battle with the point of a spear in his rear. Underneath is the incisive comment that King William “comforteth his soldiers”!

The comfort the Holy Spirit brings is not an arm around us, but an empowering and equipping to mobilize us for battle. His anointing power isn’t only for the healing of the broken-hearted, but also for the defeating the enemy. That power does make him a great “Comforter”—just not in the sense the word conveys today.

—Clive Calver in On the Front Line

My Response: When have I sensed the Spirit giving me an empowering push rather than a hug?

Thought to Apply: Jesus promised his followers that “The Strengthener” would be with them. This promise is no lullaby for the fainthearted. It is a blood transfusion for courageous living. —E. Paul Hovey (Idaho pastor)

Adapted from Jesus, Lord of Your Personality (Howard, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to tune out distractions and to pick out and respond to the voice of Your Spirit.



A Hymn of Hope and Comfort: “The Strife Is O’er, The Battle Done”

Here is a fantastic hymn, sung by the choir and congregation at Washington National Cathedral.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The strife is o’er, the battle done,
the victory of life is won;
the song of triumph has begun.

The powers of death have done their worst,
but Christ their legions hath dispersed:
let shout of holy joy outburst.

The three sad days are quickly sped,
he rises glorious from the dead:
all glory to our risen Head!

He closed the yawning gates of hell,
the bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
let hymns of praise his triumphs tell!

Lord! by the stripes which wounded thee,
from death’s dread sting thy servants free,
that we may live and sing to thee.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

    – trans. Francis Pott, 1861

How Are You Doing?

We hope that you and your friends and family are doing well, and are praying for the quick resolution of the coronavirus pandemic.

Please let us know if we can be of any assistance to you as we all continue under the shut-down.

Here’s a quick update on things at Central.

Worship – As you probably already have realized, there can’t be any worship at Central for at least the next two weeks due to the current federal and state shut-down orders, which is a shame since the annual creepy Lenten music is over. (Oh well, there’s always next year!)

Feeding bodies and souls at our weekly free community Friday Soup Kitchen

Feeding Ministry – In contrast, the feeding ministry based at Central has vastly expanded the meals that we are providing although it’s now on a “take-out only” basis. (For the duration of the coronavirus shut-down, folks now come down the outside Fellowship Hall stairs and knock on the door, and we bag up out as many hot meals packaged in Styrofoam as they say they need.)

Where we have been providing about 13,000 meals a year for the past few years, in conjunction with our partners, we’re now providing meals on more days to more folks, as the number of hungry people coming each day continues to increase as the rate of unemployment continues to rise.

We’re now operating at a level to provide an incredible 45,000 meals a year!

Our feeding ministry is important not only as a community outreach of Central Church, but is also playing an important role in fighting the coronavirus since many who come to us would not be able to eat if we didn’t provide the food, and hungry people get sicker faster.

Offerings – Please remember that Central’s expenses and utilities continue each week, even when we can’t gather together for worship, so please continue to send in your tithes and offerings either by mail or in person by using the mail slot in the 13th Street ramp door.

If you’re on our website (, you can even give electronically by clicking on the “Donate” button, which will take you to our secure PayPal site that accepts all major credit and debit cards. (Yeah, look at us going into the 20th century as the world goes into the 21st century!)

Online Worship – While we’ve all been stuck at home, I hope that you’ve been able to read the daily devotionals on our website, hear Pastor Jan on WBVP at 10:30 each Sunday, and view our online worship services for Palm Sunday and Easter. The videos are available on both our website and on Facebook, but here are the direct links to the Facebook videos:

Palm Sunday –

Easter –

Our videos have been viewed 222 times for Palm Sunday, and 84 times so far for Easter!

Central Church’s Congregation welcomes you!

How Are You Doing? – As a consequence of the stay-at-home orders, many of us are still healthy, but fairly bored. We have hundreds of channels on TV, but “there’s nothing good on”!

Please let us at Central Church know how you’re doing.

And, while there’s nothing good on TV, why not take the opportunity to check in with your relatives, friends, and the other folks at Central Church to see how THEY are doing, and to ask if there’s anything you can do to help.

Remember Dr. Robert A. Cook’s closing line on his daily radio broadcasts, “Walk with the King today and be a blessing”?

Who knows, in this time of trial, YOU could be somebody’s answer to prayer today!

Listen to the Spirit – From Sour to Soaring

Central Church's Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Central Church’s Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Key Bible Verse: Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles.Isaiah 40:31

Bonus Reading: Romans 8:5-14

Before I learned the way of the Spirit, I was like a man running with a self-wielded goad sticking in my ribs, a self-dangled carrot bobbing before my eyes. My motivation for doing the right thing was guilt if I was falling short, pride if I was out in the lead. I experienced neither the zing of God’s pleasure nor the sting of his rebuke. I feared, rather, to incur the scorn of church-folk and hankered after their nodding approval. A few seasons of this made me weary in doing good, and sour as Jonah.

I can’t point to a single revelation that changed my mind. But gradually I realized that Jesus lived in me by his Spirit, and that I could live as he did by simply paying attention, listening to his gentle whisper, responding to his nudges. As I attended to the Spirit, I was able to trade in my motivations of guilt and fear for an invigorating hope, a vision, an invitation. More and more, it’s for the joy set before me that I run the race.

The Spirit is a wind. I’m learning to run with his gentle pummeling on my back, keeping me from growing weary. Some days, I spread my arms like wings and catch that wind beneath them and for moments I fly.

—Mark Buchanan in Hidden in Plain Sight

My Response: How could I trade in self-generated motivation for Spirit-empowered inspiration?

Thought to Apply: Living one day in the Spirit is worth more than a thousand lived in the flesh. —Richard Owen Roberts (pastor)

Adapted from Discipleship Journal (11-12/03)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to tune out distractions and to pick out and respond to the voice of Your Spirit.



A Hymn of Hope and Comfort: “Give Me Jesus”

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria

Today’s hymn comes to us in a stunning arrangement from the Stellenbosch University Choir in South Africa, and finds its roots in the time of the Civil War.

Give Me Jesus finds its origins in the time of slavery.  This is actually an African American spiritual song, and depending on the version you sing, there are anywhere between 4 to 5 verses.

Each verse takes the focus off our circumstances, our pain, ourself, and puts the focus on Christ who can satisfy us.

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus


Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Give me Jesus.

When I am alone,
When I am alone,
When I am alone,
Give me Jesus.

When I come to die,
When I come to die,
When I come to die,
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
Give me Jesus.

Central Church’s East 5-lancet stained glass window – “Father”


Happy Easter Monday!

Listen to the Spirit – Tune In

Central Church's Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Central Church’s Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Key Bible Verse: If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.  – Galatians 5:25

Bonus Reading: John 16:5-15

God certainly can speak in many ways. Most often, it seems to me, he speaks through his Word and in a small voice—even a whisper—and uses the Third Person of the Trinity to do it.

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit spoke to a few people directly and enabled them in special ways. In the New Testament, Jesus was limited to how many people he could address or touch because of his physical body and its restrictions. But after Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, who isn’t limited in this way, became available to everyone. From that point on, if the person knew Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit resided in him.

To hear the Holy Spirit, we have to get in tune with Jesus. And the better we know Christ and live like him, the clearer the voice of the Spirit becomes. Sin quenches his voice, but obedience turns up the volume—or at least enables us to hear the small voice.

It’s a lot like DW driving a race car. When he knows his car, what it tells him can keep him from wrecking. This illustrates what happens as we get to know Jesus. When we listen intently to the Holy Spirit, we won’t wreck as much.

—Jay Carty in Darrell Waltrip: One-on-One

My Response: Have I attempted intense listening? What have I heard?

Adapted from Jesus, Lord of Your Personality (Howard, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to tune out distractions and to pick out and respond to the voice of Your Spirit.



2 Easter Myths

Although Easter Sunday is over, Eastertide is just beginning.

Easter for Christians is not just one day, but rather a 50-day period. The season of Easter, or Eastertide, begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church (see Acts 2).

While the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection is still fresh in our minds it’s a good time to bust some Easter myths you may have seen circulating online.

* Myth #1: Easter is a pagan holiday. Sorry atheists and grumpy, keep-bunnies-out-of-Easter Christians, but this one’s not true. Christians didn’t rip off Easter from a fertility goddess or hijack the holiday from a bunny cult.

It turns out Christians were celebrating Easter by the second century. It’s not as exciting as the conspiracy theories but it turns out that Easter simply traces back to the miraculous resurrection of the Son of God from the dead.

* Myth #2: Easter celebrates the glorious fact that Jesus didn’t die or go to purgatory. If you haven’t heard this one, the respected news outlet, NPR, fell for it.  Thankfully they ran a retraction: “An earlier version of this post incorrectly described Easter as ‘the day celebrating the idea that Jesus did not die and go to hell or purgatory or anywhere at all, but rather arose into heaven.'”

Happy Eastertide!

When is Easter over? What comes next?

For Christians, Easter is not just one day, but rather a season of 50 days. Easter season begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends with Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church (see Acts 2).

Easter season is more than an extended celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. In the early church, Lent was a season when persons who wished to become Christians were learning how to live the way of Jesus and preparing for baptism on Easter Sunday. The original purpose of the Easter season was to continue the formation of new Christians in the faith.

Today, this extended season gives us time to rejoice and experience what we mean when we say Christ is risen and that we, as the church, are the body of the Risen Lord. It’s a season for focusing on the core doctrines and mysteries of the faith and for preparing for the ministries the Spirit has empowered us to undertake in Jesus’ name.

Many churches use these weeks to teach the theology of the sacraments and help people discern their spiritual gifts and callings. These congregations may include a service of commissioning laypersons into ministry as part of their celebration of the day of Pentecost.

The season after Pentecost begins with Trinity Sunday and concludes with Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday. The purpose of this season is to support our common work of using the gifts we have been given accountability in the name of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Because our contexts for ministry can vary widely, the lectionary readings were chosen to permit more flexibility during this season. The three readings are not related to each other. Pastors and worship planners can create series that follow any one of the three different streams of texts (Old Testament, Epistle, or Gospel), whichever seems to be speaking into the missional context of the local church the best.

Lenten Devotional – Easter Sunday – A New Thing

Scripture:  Isaiah 43:19

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

One of our most generous sweet potato growers experienced a desert last year. The ground was hard and dry. It was the second year of erratic weather, each year including a fierce drought that killed his crop. To get through the wilderness, Mac had to sell a large portion of his land.

He was worried about us, though—about the Society of St. Andrew and the hungry people we fed with his sweet potatoes. Mac brainstormed ideas about how he could do a new thing to help us. He offered other talents to help us raise funds as a trained auctioneer and thought he could auction things to raise money and feed our hungry neighbors.

Christ makes a way in the wilderness, and in this farmer’s loving offer, I saw Christ. The gracious gift Mac was offering, in spite of his own dire loss, called  to mind the widow’s mite. It called to mind the woman who spilled nard over the feet of Jesus. It called to mind Jesus, who, even though humanity killed him, gives humanity abundant life.

At Society of St. Andrew, I’m blessed to be surrounded by this kind of love, the love of the living Christ, embodied every day by the generous souls who give of their harvest, their time, and their funds. Some days I fail to perceive it, but on that day, I saw it in Mac.

Prayer: God of all creation, bless the ones who feed us. May the rain fall and the sun shine, each in accordance to your will, so that your children can be fed. Thank you for the ones who live lives of sacrificial generosity, for we see Living Water in them. Amen.

  – Jeannie Hunter | Nashville, TN


Listen to the Spirit – Track Instincts

Central Church's Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Central Church’s Holy Spirit Stained Glass Window

Who Said It … Darrell Waltrip

Darrell Waltrip started racing go-carts at age 12 and entered his first stock car race just four years later. During his NASCAR Winston Cup career from 1972 to 2000, “D-Dubya” won 84 races, fourth on the all-time list. Now an analyst for Fox Sports, Waltrip dishes up colorful commentary with a Southern accent for NASCAR Nextel Cup telecasts.

DW and his wife, Stevie, live in Franklin, Tennessee, where he hosts a weekly Bible study in his garage.

What He Said … Track Instincts

Racing drivers must use all their senses. When you’re in tune with the car, it speaks to you with a small voice. When something’s happening, you smell it; you hear it in the changing tone of the engine. If my car was starting to go, my senses would come alive. As I hit the pit, the crew chief would ask, “What’s wrong?”

“It’s getting ready to blow up,” I’d say.

“Are you sure?” he’d ask. I’ve driven for people who wouldn’t believe me. I’d have to let the car blow up before they did. That usually meant a wreck; it sometimes meant getting hurt; it always cost lots of money.

Several times I’ve had the crew pull an engine out of a car when it was running fine. “I don’t know what’s wrong,” I’d say, “but something is.” They’d pull the engine. “You were right,” they’d admit later. “We were scuffing a piston,” or “It was losing a lobe on a camshaft,” or “The rod bearings were about ready to fly out of the thing.”

Adapted from (Fall/80).

Prayer for the Week: Teach me, Lord, how to tune out distractions and to pick out and respond to the voice of Your Spirit.



Central Church on WBVP Today!

Local reaction to the Corona Virus pandemic has forced the suspension or cancellation of large gatherings, including worship services across Pennsylvania.

WBVP, WMBA and 99.3 F.M. are moving to be the “pulpit” of the airwaves during this time.

Members and friends of Central Church can tune in at 10:30 A.M. on Sunday, April 12, to hear a recorded version of this week’s message from Central Church by Pastor Jan!


Here’s where to tune in:


Be sure to tune in this Sunday at 10:30!


Central Church – Online Worship Service – Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020

On this Easter Sunday, when the coronavirus prevents us from gathering in Central Church’s Sanctuary to worship in body, let us join together in spirit for with our online worship experience!




To begin, simply click on the photo below to join with the folks who have already made their way into our digital Sanctuary:




Lenten Devotional – Day 40 – Holy Saturday – Right on Time

Scripture:  Proverbs 16:9

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

Some might call me a late bloomer. For example, graduating from college took longer for me than the traditional four years like most of my high school peers. Also, I didn’t marry until my mid-thirties, although was a frequent bridesmaid in my twenties. Instead, I focused on defining success in my chosen profession while setting goals and making them happen. Charting the course to become one of the first female vice-presidents at my company took education, energy and time. Achievement brought promotions, and life was good.

My work ethic played well until our only child was born a month before my 42nd birthday. I found myself longing for more time with my family. Business trips and board rooms lost their appeal. The life I had and the one I desired  stood worlds apart. The dream to be a stay at home mom surpassed the dream of being a corporate executive.

The transition home proved challenging, but God provided for all of our needs and right on time. Answered prayers and opened doors allowed me to serve my family, church and community. I never looked back. My new life was, and still is, my best life.

This Lenten season may we celebrate the new life God offers each of us through Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord.

Prayer: Father, thank you for making all things new, changing hearts and changing lives. Amen.

  – Marylane Wade Koch | Byhalia, MS