Skip to content

Archive for

When Asking Beats Telling – Gospel-paving Questions

Everyday EvangelismKey Bible Verse:  As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. Acts 16:14

Bonus Reading:  Acts 17:1-5a, 16-20, 32-34

A pastor urged his congregation to open the door to evangelism by challenging the prevailing slogans of our day. “The next time someone at work says, ‘Image is everything,'” he told them, “Respond, ‘No, it’s not! The glory of God is everything!'”

I agree with his theology. But a better response would be a puzzled look and “Really?” After getting the coworker’s attention, you could add “What do you think is everything? What would you say is the most foundational thing in life?”

When your cousin asks, “Why are you so narrow-minded as to believe that all Buddhists are going to hell?” don’t indignantly quote, “No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Ask her, “What have you found about Buddhism that convinces you that its adherents are worthy of heaven?”

When your neighbor asks, “Why do you think that Jesus was more than just a good moral teacher?” don’t take out your Lord-liar-lunatic diagram just yet. Ask her, “What makes you think that Jesus was a good teacher? Have you read a lot of His teachings? Which messages impress you the most about Jesus’ teaching ability? What would you say was Jesus’ main message?”

—Randy Newman in Questioning Evangelism

My Response: Who is someone with whom I could have this kind of give and take?

Thought to Apply: More and more we should hold back our answer, and with a question, pave the way to receptivity. —Randy Newman

Adapted from Questioning Evangelism (Kregel, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me share the Good News in a less cut-and-dried manner, softening hearts through relational give-and-take.

When Asking Beats Telling – Wake-up Questions

Everyday EvangelismKey Bible Verse: With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God.  – 2 Corinthians 10:5

Bonus Reading:  2 Corinthians 10:3-5

When people say things that, given some thought, don’t add up, we must help them see the fallacy of their statements. A good way is a one-word question: “Really?”

When people say, “I think all religions are the same,” We could respond with “Really?”

After they begin to awaken, we can elaborate by asking, “Do you really think your religion is the same as all others?  How about the religion that led people to kill themselves when they saw the Hale-Bop comet?  They thought that it was going to take them to heaven.  Do you really think their religion is the same as yours?”  The ensuing discussion could explore which religions are ridiculous, which credible.

When people say, “I think all people are basically good,” we could respond with, “Really? Does that include Osama Bin Laden? Or the boys who killed their classmates at Columbine High School?” If they’ll concede that they didn’t mean all, it’s worth exploring where the lines are drawn between good, not so good, pretty bad, and downright evil.

This waking process might hurt. So say the word really with as little sarcasm in your voice as possible.

—Randy Newman in Questioning Evangelism

My Response: An illogical belief a friend must question before he can receive the gospel is …

Thought to Apply: Confronting a prospect with unpleasant truths doesn’t work in sales, but it is essential in evangelism.—Randy Newman

Adapted from Questioning Evangelism (Kregel, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me share the Good News in a less cut-and-dried manner, softening hearts through relational give-and-take.

When Asking Beats Telling – Reflecting the Heat Back

Everyday EvangelismKey Bible Verse: Let me ask you a question first … . Did John’s baptism come from heaven, or was it merely human?  – Luke 20:3-4

Bonus Reading:  Luke 20:1-8

At a dorm-room Bible study, the host’s antagonistic roommate showed up—along with a handful of likeminded friends. “I suppose you think all those sincere followers of other religions are going to hell!” said one, more as an attack than a sincere inquiry.

“Do you believe in hell?” I responded.

After a puzzled silence, he said, “No. I don’t believe in hell. I think it’s ridiculous.”

Echoing his word choice, I said, “Then why are you asking me such a ridiculous question?” I wanted him to honestly examine the assumptions behind his question. His face indicated that he was considering issues of judgment and God’s righteousness for the first time in his life.

Another guy chimed in, “I do believe in hell. Do you think everyone who disagrees with you is going there?”

I asked, “Do you think anyone goes there? Is Hitler in hell?”

“Of course, Hitler’s in hell.”

“How do you think God decides who goes to heaven and who goes to hell? Does He grade on a curve?”

From there, the discussion turned civil, and serious interaction about God’s holiness, people’s sinfulness, and Jesus’ atoning work ensued.

—Randy Newman in Questioning Evangelism

My Response: Do I really need to know all the answers to represent the gospel?

Thought to Apply: Learn what questions non–Christians are asking (some indirectly), and what to ask to move the conversation in a Christ–ward direction.—Randy Newman

Adapted from Questioning Evangelism (Kregel, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me share the Good News in a less cut-and-dried manner, softening hearts through relational give-and-take.

When Asking Beats Telling – Beyond Take It or Leave It

Everyday EvangelismKey Bible Verse: When they handed him the coin, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”   – Matthew 22:19-20

Bonus Reading:  Matthew 12:9-13

I usually answer non-believers’ questions with a question because I’ve grown tired of having my answers rejected.

At times I’ve responded to questions with biblically accurate, logically sound, epistemologically watertight answers, only to see questioners shrug their shoulders. My answers, it seemed, only further confirmed their opinion that Christians are simpletons. My answers had hardened them in their unbelief rather than softened them toward faith.

I realized that, instead of moving people closer to a salvation decision, an answer can push them further away. Rather than engaging their minds or urging them to consider an alternative perspective, an answer can give them ammunition for future attacks against the gospel.

So I started answering questions with questions, with far better results. Answering with a question brings to the surface the questioner’s assumptions. It also takes the pressure off you—the one being asked—and puts it on the one doing the asking. Shifting the burden is important because as long as we’re on the defensive, the questioners aren’t really wrestling with issues. They’re just watching us squirm.

—Randy Newman in Questioning Evangelism

My Response: Have I pictured witnessing as a monologue or a dialogue?  Why?

Adapted from Questioning Evangelism (Kregel, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, help me share the Good News in a less cut-and-dried manner, softening hearts through relational give-and-take.

Central Church – Online Worship Service – 18th Sunday after Pentecost – 9-26-2021

On this warm, sunny eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, when the Delta variant of the coronavirus again prevents many of us from gathering in Central Church’s Sanctuary to worship in body, let us join together in spirit with our online worship service.

  • Today’s online worship service includes a favorite HYMN with lyrics so you can sing along!


AND…

  • Both the video on Facebook and the video on YouTube now have closed captions (if you turn them on) so you can read along with the spoken words during the service!
    •  To activate captions in Facebook, click on the Settings “gear” symbol in the bottom right corner of the image, and then click on the “Off” button to change it to “On” for “Auto-Generated Captions”.
    • To activate captions in YouTube, click on the “CC” icon in the lower right corner of the image to toggle captions On and Off.
      • A brief comment on our new closed caption capability – The closed captions on our videos use voice-recognition software similar to that used on Television broadcasts, and with similar accuracy!  Sometimes, the captions are not entirely accurate, so if you read something incongruous, back up the video a few seconds and listen carefully for what is actually being said.

To begin, simply click on one of the links below to join with the folks who have already made their way into our digital Sanctuary.  You can find this week’s online worship service on both Facebook and YouTube at the following coordinates:

(If the video doesn’t come up after clicking on the link, just copy and paste the address into your browser search bar.)

 

 

When Asking Beats Telling – Hold That Answer

Everyday EvangelismWho Said It…Randy Newman

Randy Newman—not the famous singer/songwriter—has served with Campus Crusade for Christ for more than 20 years, relating to students on college campuses. He also teaches a seminar every week at the Pentagon for Campus Crusade’s Christian Embassy.

His book, Questioning Evangelism (Kregel, 2004), is designed to help believers deal with objections to the gospel in an engaging manner.

What He Said…Hold that Answer

Because I’m Jewish, I grew up with dialogues that went like this:

Randy: “How’s the weather down there?”

Granny Belle: “How could the weather be in Florida in the middle of July?”

Or …

Randy: “So, how have you been?”

Uncle Nat: “Why do you ask?”

Or …

Randy: “How’s your family?”

Aunt Vivian: “Compared to whom?”

So that may explain why I think this way, responding to questions with questions. I’d like to think, though, that it’s because I’m following the example of Jesus.

Try reading through the four Gospels to see how the Rabbi answered the questions put to Him. A clear, concise, direct answer was a rarity. Answering a question with a question was the norm.

A rich man asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what should I do to get eternal life?” (Mark 10:17-18). What a great setup for a clear, concise gospel presentation! But how did Jesus respond? He posed a question, “Why do you call me good?

Adapted from Questioning Evangelism (Kregel, 2004)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, help me share the Good News in a less cut-and-dried manner, softening hearts through relational give-and-take.

God Promises Blessings, Not Prosperity



Here’s a short article by Michael F. Bird with important insight into the promises of God and the dangers of the false “prosperity gospel”.


A friend of mine was once doing a short internship at an African-American church in the United States. During the Sunday morning service, when the offering was taken up, the congregation would sing a song about sowing in generosity and reaping a blessing. My friend would always shake his head at this, feeling somewhere between bemused and alarmed at this flagrant display of prosperity theology. He felt no small dose of shame when it finally dawned on him one day that the congregation was in fact singing the words of St. Paul in 2 Corinthians:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8.

Just to be clear:

  • God is not a slot machine. We do not put money into him and hope that the odds are in our favour and he pays off big sometime soon.
  • Neither is God a Ponzi scheme where we offer him our financial gifts with a view to sharing in his riches until it all goes bust.
  • Nor is God an investment opportunity where we get the the inside track of an exciting new project with the guarantee of exponential profits after a short period. God is nothing like this.

What is certain, because it is scriptural, is that God is generous and he generously blesses his people.  It is from that blessing that we in turn feel the tug of the Holy Spirit at our hearts to bless others out of our abundance and to bless God back out of thanksgiving.

Divine generosity creates a contagious habit of giving that exponentially increases as it is experienced and shared with others. This isn’t about algorithms or karma, it is the circle of divine generosity that begins with God and ends with God, because God is the giver of all good things, and we are part of that circle in our own giving and receiving of gifts.

It is dangerous, because it is so obviously alluring, to think that if we give to the church or to charity, that God somehow owes us.  That’s not true, never has been, never will be.  Who can lend to the Lord that the Lord should owe him or her anything?  God has no creditors, only debtors, those who have been redeemed from debtors prison!

What is true, however, is that if we give to this circle of divine generosity, we will contribute to an abundance of blessing for those in need (sowing) and we ourselves will benefit from it in due course (reaping).  The little boy who gave Jesus five barley loaves and two small fish saw his gift miraculous multiplied and used to feed others and himself probably ate more than he brought along that day.

When we engage in feats of generosity, we are never to think about what we can get out of it.  Rather we should be driven by thanksgiving and a desire to bless others as we ourselves have been blessed.  We are to believe that from our meager or mighty resources that God is able to do much, and as much as we give, we can confidently expect the circle of divine generosity to spin faster and wider, and to find ourselves experiencing the exponential blessings of its increasing revolutions.


Central Church

 

What Are Your Favorite Hymns?

Hymns are sung in traditional worship because we need the grounding, the shaping, and the “rootedness” that it brings us, while looking for new and creative ways to express our Christian story.  Because it reminds us of what has already been done in Christ, and what one day will be.  These are things that all worshipers need, regardless of our own preferences.

But one byproduct of historic Christian worship is that, through active participation and repetition, it helps our faith become a part of us.  Most of us who grew up with hymns undoubtedly have some that are our favorites, usually those in which we have found meaning, instruction, solace, and encouragement.  Many of us learned these hymns as a kid, and it’s nothing but a benefit to us to have them in our hearts and heads as we go through the seasons of life.

One of the main problems with the current commercial repertoire is that it’s not created to last.  By its own definition, contemporary worship has little use for anything that isn’t current and that doesn’t produce a limbic response.

Even the few hymn texts that remain are usually restrung into a pop performance piece.  It becomes a bit like striking a match.  It’s exciting for an instant, but then it’s gone, and we’re left to try and recreate it.

When we choose songs to sing in worship, we ought to be doing so with an eye toward lighting a candle, a lasting flame that will stay with us.

When we ask for your favorite hymns, we’re really asking for a deeper answer.  We’re not looking as much for the hymns that give you a strong sentimental connection.

We want to know which hymns are the ones that stick with you throughout the seasons of your life, nurturing the flame of Christ’s gospel inside your heart.

Below are some popular hymns, in no particular order.  We want to know yours, as well.  Give us your own top ten, even if in no particular order.  If you can’t come up with ten, make it five, or even three.

We’ll be checking the comments on this post, along with any we can view on Facebook, as well!

God Is Here!

Fred Pratt Green, 1979; rev. 1988 (ABBOT’S LEIGH)

Lord of all, of church and kingdom,
In an age of change and doubt
Keep us faithful to the gospel;
Help us work your purpose out.

Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know

Johann C. Schwedler, 1741; trans. Benjamin Hall Kennedy, 1863 (HENDON)

This is that great thing I know;
this delights and stirs me so:
faith in Him who died to save,
Him who triumphed o’er the grave,
Jesus Christ, the Crucified.

Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

Attr. Ignaz Franz, c. 1774; trans. Clarence Alphonsus Walworth, 1858 (GROSSER GOTT)

Lo! the apostolic train,
Join thy sacred name to hallow;
Prophets swell the glad refrain,
And the white-robed martyrs follow,
And from morn till set of sun,
Through the church the song goes on.

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Charles Wesley, 1747 (BLAENWERN, also BEECHER, HYFRYDOL)

Finish then thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in thee:
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Martin Luther, 1529; trans. Frederick Henry Hedge, 1852 (EIN’ FESTE BURG)

That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth.
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also.
The body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still.
His kingdom is forever.

Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above

Johann Jacob Schuetz, 1675; trans. Frances Elizabeth Cox, 1864 (MIT FREUDEN ZART)

Sing praise to God who reigns above,
The God of all creation,
The God of power, the God of love,
The God of our salvation.
With healing balm my soul is filled,
And every faithless murmur stilled:
To God all praise and glory.

There Is a Fountain

William Cowper, 1772

When this poor lisping, stamm’ring tongue
Lies silent in the grave,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song
I’ll sing Thy pow’r to save.

Thine Is the Glory

Edmond Louis Budry, 1884; trans. R. Birch Hoyle, 1923

No more we doubt thee,
Glorious Prince of life!
Life is naught without thee;
Aid us in our strife.
Make us more than conquerors
Through thy deathless love;
Bring us safe through Jordan
To thy home above.

Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, 5th c. (DIVINUM MYSTERIUM)

O, that birth forever blessed
When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bore the Savior of our race,
And the babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed his sacred face,
Evermore and evermore!

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!

Reginald Heber, 1827 (NICAEA)

Holy, holy, holy!
Though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye of sinful man
Thy glory may not see.

Central Church

COVID-19 – Beaver County Metrics – 9-23-2021

Here are the weekly COVID-19 statistics for Beaver County, PA as of September 23, 2021, showing the highest numbers since the peak of the last Winter cycle in December 2020.

 

Note:  Starting 8-12-2021, we have shifted from using the PA Dept. of Health statistics to using the CDC statistics for Beaver County.

The primary differences are that the CDC divides the middle category into two categories, and some of the category labels have changed.  Here’s the comparison:

  • The Incidence Rate increased from 393.4 to 442.2 (an increase of 48.8, or 12.4%) in the HIGH category.
  • The PCR Positivity Rate has moved down from 11.4% to 11.0%, in the SUBSTANTIAL category.

(Allegheny County’s figures moved up during the past week from 123.6 and 6.2% to 381.6 and 19.8%.)

    • Beaver County is now classified as SUBSTANTIAL on the original PA DOH scale and HIGH on the CDC scale.

(If both metrics are Moderate, the PA Dept. of Health’s recommended school instructional model is Hybrid Learning.)

  • The Delta COVID-19 variant first identified in India is more contagious and can cause more severe illness than other known variants.  The variant can produce 10 times the amount of virus in people’s airways as the one first identified in the UK.  In other words, it’s more contagious than the viruses behind MERS, SARS, Ebola, the 1918 flu, and smallpox.

  • Vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections – an estimated tens of thousands of people in the US each week – may spread delta as easily as unvaccinated people.  However, they’re less likely than the unvaccinated to get infections in the first place – or to get severely ill or die.
  • Of all the people who died of COVID-19 in July and August, 99.8% were unvaccinated, making it more important every day that we do all that we can to protect the people who come to our Church.

On April 5, the CDC issued a “Science Brief” outlining that, in addition to people becoming infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects,  the principal mode by which people are infected with COVID-19 is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus.


  • Small Group Meetings (Sunday School, AA, other meetings):

The current guidance on when and how gatherings can take place is based upon the threshold of infection rate.

For Indoor meetings/Sunday School to resume, the 7-day average of daily cases for gatherings that include unvaccinated folks should be:

    • 1.5-2.0 – for everyone except those at high risk; and
    • Less than 1.0 for those at high risk.
    • Our current level is 63.1, so resuming small group meetings will not be feasible until we can provide sufficient active air filtration in light of the latest CDC guidance and the deadlier variants now in the USA.

As the pandemic continues, we are continuing our efforts to:

  • Disinfect Central Church prior to every worship service and feeding ministry event using EPA-registered products in compliance with CDC standards to kill germs and reduce the risk of spreading infection, and in compliance with EPA criteria for use against SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; and

  • We are also employing HEPA-13 air filtration equipment to help reduce any airborne coronavirus in our Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall. 

  • Our new HEPA-13 air filtration equipment is rated to remove COVID-19 from the air, and provides 5.7 complete air changes every hour in our Sanctuary (every 11 minutes),  (5.0 air changes per hour is the EPA’s general recommended standard.)  

Central Church

High-Profile Turnarounds – Through God’s Eyes

CelebritiesWe all become aware of the vices and virtues of people in the public eye. But God doesn’t view them as special cases.

Just like us, they become Christians through His unmerited favor—not as the result of any effort, ability, intelligent choice, or act of service.

They are, however, specially visible examples of the way He transforms lives. That is the focus of this Scripture passage.

Interact with God’s Word:  Ephesians 2:1-10

  1. What does verse 1 tell you about the original status of “all of us”?
  2. What do verses 2-3a tell you about the natural condition of “all of us”?
  3. Why were “all of us” under God’s anger (v. 3b)?
  4. What does Paul say (vv.4-8a) God did to liberate us from our hopeless predicament?
  5. What else is implied in “all he had done for us through Christ Jesus” (v. 7)?
  6. What is it that you “can’t take credit for” (v. 8)? Doing good things? Believing?
  7. In what ways are you God’s “masterpiece” (v. 10)?

Spend Time in Prayer: Thank God for making you “examples of the incredible wealth of his favor and kindness.”

Ephesians 2:1-10

1 Once you were dead, doomed forever because of your many sins. 2 You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us used to live that way, following the passions and desires of our evil nature. We were born with an evil nature, and we were under God’s anger just like everyone else.

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so very much,5 that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s special favor that you have been saved!)6 for he raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with him in the heavenly realms—all because we are one with Christ Jesus.

7 And so God can always point to us as examples of the incredible wealth of his favor and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us through Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Prayer for the Week: Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.Psalm 51:1

High-Profile Turnarounds – The Goal

Paul HendersonKey Bible Verse: The power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death. Romans 8:2

Bonus Reading:  Romans 8:1-11

Most mature Canadians know exactly where they were on September 28, 1972, during the final hockey “Summit Series” game against the Russians. With 34 seconds left, Team Canada’s left winger Paul Henderson banged home the winner!

Despite the ensuing fame and fortune, within months Paul grew restless. “I’d buy a new car or set of clubs,” he says, “and in two weeks, I was bored with them.” What’s wrong with me? he wondered. Why can’t I sleep at night?

Paul pictured God as a cosmic killjoy; a man’s man, he assumed, couldn’t be a follower of Christ. But finally, in desperation, he picked up a Bible he’d received as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. For two-and-a-half years he laboriously studied it and grilled a Christian friend. “I came to believe there really was a God, and that He loved me,” he says.

But in the same breath in which he surrendered his life to Christ, Paul warned God, “Don’t expect me to tell anybody about this! I’ll never have the guts to do it.” Today, as director of Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada’s Leadership Group, he’s told tens of thousands about something more important to him than scoring The Goal.

—Judy Nelson in Worldwide Challenge

My Response: With whom could I share the story of my own turnaround?

Thought to Apply: Once I was blind … and now I see! And the difference is the good news of God’s love. —Walter Brueggemann (professor)

Adapted from Worldwide Challenge (3-4/98)

Prayer for the Week: Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.Psalm 51:1

High-Profile Turnarounds – Mel Gibson’s Search

Mel GibsonKey Bible Verse: He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 1 Peter 1:18-19

Bonus Reading:  Colossians 2:13-15

At the height of his stardom, Mel Gibson had achieved everything he ever hoped for—except a sense of purpose. Gibson felt he was drowning in fame, wealth, drink, and despair. This led the one-time “sexiest man alive” to his knees and back to God. In a Reader’s Digest interview, Gibson told Peggy Noonan, “I was really searching, asking ‘What’s on the other side? Why am I here?’ I might have looked like I’m living the high life, making movies and jetting around the world, but true happiness resides within. I was spiritually bankrupt. It was like a spiritual cancer starting to eat its way through. I simply had to do something or it was going to take me.”

This 12-year pilgrimage led Gibson to the Gospels and the passion of Christ. He realized what Jesus did on the cross. Gibson described it to Noonan this way: “The purpose of the sacrifice [of Christ] was to expiate the transgressions of all mankind. The testimonies from the Gospels speak of love, of ransom, and a complete forgetting of self for the sake of all others, which is really the height of heroism. Jesus became the whipping boy so that we have a chance, because we can’t make it on our own.”

—Matt Neace in PreachingToday.com

My Response: I’ll thank Jesus for becoming the “whipping boy” for my sins.

Thought to Apply: Once I was lost … and now I am found. And the difference is the Gospel.—Walter Brueggemann (professor)

Adapted from PreachingToday.com (4/4/04)

Prayer for the Week: Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.Psalm 51:1

High-Profile Turnarounds – “Pat Summerall Here”

Pat Summerall and John MaddenKey Bible Verse: But God is so rich in mercy … that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life.  – Ephesians 2:4-5

Bonus Reading:  Ephesians 2:1-10

For 45 years Pat Summerall’s voice and face have spelled football. After his own career as a star kicker, Pat went into broadcasting, at first covering golf and tennis. Teamed for years with John Madden, he was a Sunday afternoon voice of Fox TV NFL football.

But Pat was an only child whose parents divorced before he was born, leaving him feeling empty and alone. He became an alcoholic, living from drink to drink as his body broke down. During the 1994 Masters tournament, he faced up: “I’d been getting sick a lot, throwing up blood—and I got sick again at 4 a.m. I looked in the mirror, saw what a terrible sight I was, and said to myself, ‘This isn’t how I want to live.'”

Pat spent 33 days in the Betty Ford Center in Palm Springs, California. This helped alleviate his alcohol problems but didn’t address his spiritual vacuum. Then he bumped into his old coach, Tom Landry, who explained about his spiritual need and connected him with Dallas Cowboys chaplain John Weber. Pat’s life was transformed, and he was baptized at age 69. “Summerall was once the life of every party with a drink in his hand,” Weber says. “Now he gets his power from another source.”

—Art Stricklin in Sports Spectrum

My Response: How has the Spirit’s power broken destructive patterns in my life?

Thought to Apply: Once I was enslaved … and now I am free! And the difference is God’s rescuing merc —Walter Brueggmann (professor)

Adapted from Sports Spectrum (11-12/01)

Prayer for the Week: Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.Psalm 51:1

High-Profile Turnarounds – My 180-degree Turn

Darrell WaltripWho Said It…Darrell Waltrip

Darrell started racing go-carts at age 12 and entered his first stock car race just four years later. He became a full-time NASCAR Winston Cup competitor in 1975. In the 1980s, he earned its Driver of the Decade award. Today, he holds 84 Winston Cup victories.

Darrell is currently a commentator for NASCAR Fox Sports and hosts a weekly Bible study in his garage for 75 men. He and his wife, Stevie, have two children and live in Franklin, Tennessee.

What He Said…My 180–degree Turn

I was a church kid. So I knew when I was doing something wrong, but I’d do it anyway. I lived that way as an adult, too.

After Stevie put Jesus first in her life, she was on me about going to church. I raced on Sunday; that was my excuse for not going. Then a friend told us about a church that met in a high school on Wednesday night, and I lost my excuse. We went. Everything the pastor said seemed directed my way. God was getting my attention.

We were at church one July night in 1983. That racing season wasn’t going well; neither was our marriage. I was desperate enough to ask our pastor to pray for us. Then I prayed. I asked the Lord to come into my life and get me out of the mess I was in. I told Him I was a sinner and asked Him to forgive me.

God didn’t flip a switch; rather, my life and outlook slowly started to improve. God had changed me.

Adapted from Darrell Waltrip: One-on-One (Regal, 2004)

Prayer for the Week:  Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.Psalm 51:1

Central Church – Online Worship Service – 17th Sunday after Pentecost – 9-19-2021

On this warm, sunny seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, when the Delta variant of the coronavirus again prevents many of us from gathering in Central Church’s Sanctuary to worship in body, let us join together in spirit with our online worship service.

  • Today’s online worship service includes a favorite HYMN with lyrics so you can sing along!


AND…

  • Both the video on Facebook and the video on YouTube now have closed captions (if you turn them on) so you can read along with the spoken words during the service!
    •  To activate captions in Facebook, click on the Settings “gear” symbol in the bottom right corner of the image, and then click on the “Off” button to change it to “On” for “Auto-Generated Captions”.
    • To activate captions in YouTube, click on the “CC” icon in the lower right corner of the image to toggle captions On and Off.
      • A brief comment on our new closed caption capability – The closed captions on our videos use voice-recognition software similar to that used on Television broadcasts, and with similar accuracy!  Sometimes, the captions are not entirely accurate, so if you read something incongruous, back up the video a few seconds and listen carefully for what is actually being said.

To begin, simply click on one of the links below to join with the folks who have already made their way into our digital Sanctuary.  You can find this week’s online worship service on both Facebook and YouTube at the following coordinates:

(If the video doesn’t come up after clicking on the link, just copy and paste the address into your browser search bar.)

 

 

High-Profile Turnarounds – Holy Edge?

Franklin and Billy GrahamKey Bible Verse: Jesus replied, “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God”  – John 3:3

Bonus Reading:  John 3:4-17

Upbringing is never enough to give anyone an “extra push” into heaven. Ask Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy. Talk about having spiritual connections! But Franklin will be the first to tell you that it wasn’t enough. Raised in the spiritual greenhouse of the Graham home, Franklin went through the right motions: baptism, regular church attendance, and exposure to a steady diet of the gospel. But deep inside, Franklin knew he was hollow.

One evening in Switzerland Billy Graham confronted his son. “Your mother and I sense that you’re struggling in your heart, Franklin. You need to face the truth; you need to make your own decision. Until you do, you won’t have peace.”

Angered by his father’s words, Franklin decided to run from the truth. He ran to several Middle East countries trying to fill his life without committing it to Christ. Then one night in a hotel room in Jerusalem, the very place where Jesus had conversation with Nicodemus[John 3:4-17], Franklin decided Jesus was right. He prayed, received Him into his life, and was born again. Now he was more than the son of a world-renowned preacher. He was a child of the living God.

—Skip Heitzig in Jesus Up Close

My Response: Do I sense that I’m hollow … or know that I’ve been reborn?

Adapted from Jesus Up Close (Tyndale, 2001)

Prayer for the Week: Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.Psalm 51:1

Ban the ‘D’ Word – Divorce

DivorceThe Pharisees were trying to corner Jesus by getting him to take sides in a controversy over interpreting Moses’ regulation about divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).

Could it be granted for a variety of reasons, or only for marital unfaithfulness? By quoting Genesis 1:17 and 2:24, Jesus pushed the discussion back to the prior question of God’s design for marriage.

Interact with God’s Word: Matthew 19:3-9

  1. Why, according to Jesus (in v. 6), does dividing a husband and wife run counter to God’s plan?
  2. Why (v. 6) are human attempts to justify separation usurping God’s authority?
  3. To what human failings does God attribute the breakup of a marriage (v. 8)?
  4. How does Jesus describe God’s allowance of Moses’ provision for divorce (v. 8)?
  5. How should current rationales for divorce, such as “incompatibility,” be viewed in light of Jesus’ statement in verse 9?

Spend Time in Prayer: Ask God for the unshakeable resolve and sacrificial love required to keep your marriage intact for a lifetime.

Matthew 19:3-9

3 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for any reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ 5 And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’

6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.” 7 “Then why did Moses say a man could merely write an official letter of divorce and send her away?” they asked.

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce as a concession to your hard-hearted wickedness, but it was not what God had originally intended. 9 And I tell you this, a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.”

Prayer for the Week: Lord, make my marriage a faithful illustration of Your eternal love for the church.

Scenes From A Pandemic Leave A Lasting Impact

Priest giving last rites

Rev. Chris Yost, is the senior pastor at Wesley UMC Greenville (North Texas Conference).

In the brief article below, he shares his account of praying with patients, families and caregivers at a local hospital.

This is a rare opportunity to see behind the doors that are normally closed to us to see what is actually happening now in Intensive Care Units all around the country, inundated with dying COVID-19 patients.

After reading this summary, please say a prayer, not only for the hospitals in northern Texas, but also for the beleaguered hospital workers in your own area.


About six weeks ago, our local hospital sent out a countywide appeal to clergy to come pray over the ICU patients and staff and the COVID Unit. Since then, I have gone every Monday from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  and Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon. My mission was to pray over the patients, with any families who wanted to pray together and check on staff in between their frenetic work. 

I was asked to share the following after talking to a group of fellow United Methodist clergy. If you take nothing else from this, know this: Our healthcare providers are walking through the valley of the shadow of death every day, every hour, for months on end. Is God with them?

This is the abridged experience I had with them. This occurred in less than 60 minutes. This is every day for them.

***

Chris YostThere was no usual “check in” at the ICU nurses station; it was too busy. I waved, the charge nurse acknowledged me, and I started praying outside the negative pressure rooms housing COVID-19 patients.

Within a few minutes, one nurse stopped me and said, “Oh good, you are the pastor right?”

“Yes, how are you today?” I asked.

Her eyes squinted, revealing a smile behind her mask. “The man in room 8 is going right now. We have given him what we can to keep him alive for his family to arrive. He’s not going to make it. Will you go pray with him?”

“Absolutely.”

She raced off down the hall saying, “Thank you so much, you do not know what this means to us.”

I donned the PPE and entered to see his last faint attempts to gasp for air … this was a prayer of thanksgiving for whatever life he had among us; he was already gone. 

***

It seemed 3 minutes later the same nurse popped in to say, “We need you in 4 right now. She is dying, there is family with her and they asked for someone to pray.”

“Do I switch out PPE?” I asked.

“Yes” barely made it to my ears before the door closed behind her. I removed the gear and donned another set to enter 4 – these nurses do this multiple times an hour, I thought.

Sure enough, her heart was on the AV node generated beat. Her daughter and two others surrounded her with fogged up face shields Their masks were soaking wet from tears and stuffy noses. Others were on a compassion iPad joining remotely to witness their loved one’s passing. I prayed with the family.

A short time later, we walked out together clumsily removing gear and talking. The hospital chaplain, Rev. Bill Shaddox, arrived to be with them. I introduced them and continued on my rounds.

***

I walked around the corner to see the ICU shift nurse in the closed end of the hall, facing a man whose arms were flailing about. He was yelling about not wanting to hear what she was saying. The first few weeks, I heard multiple stories of family members getting rough with staff. I drew near in a way that would make the man take notice of me. It also created the need for him to shift his body position so he was no longer blocking the nurse’s way.

“Who are you!?”

“I am a clergyman here to check on you.”

With a yellow sticky note in one hand, he pointed aggressively with his other index finger nearly yelling, “I want you to find this son of a b**** doctor so I can kick his a**.  He just told my son he has a 1% chance of living off the ventilator and 5% if he goes on it. I want a piece of him.”

This was a classic case of the doctor and nurses speaking facts to a person who did not need facts, but someone to understand: his 41-year-old son was dying and he had nothing but a sliver of hope left.

“It seems like you feel the information reported directly to your son like that felt like they were taking away his hope,” I said with all the empathetic compassion I could muster.

“You’re G*d d*mn right they did!”  

“As a father, we would do anything to spare our kids this kind of suffering” I said. 

“My son doesn’t need to hear this, tell me, not him.”

Tears streamed down his face as he balled up the yellow sticky note and put it in his pocket. (His son, a father of five including a newborn, passed away over the following weekend.) 

***

I left the ICU and made my way upstairs. I approached the nurse’s station to see a younger nurse visibly disturbed. They had a 50-something-year-old man who walked to his room 48 hours before plummet with COVID and died.

Our conversation did not suffer much chit chat. She quickly reported how she felt: “There is so much pain. I feel so much pain. Some of these people hate us, I can feel it.” She has her hand over her solar plexus.

I asked her if she believed she “felt people,” as in she could sense things about people without anything being said.

She said with relief and exasperation, “Yes, I am so tired of feeling all of this pain. It hurts.” 

For the record, I have never entered into such a spiritually deep and intuited conversation this fast in my life. In less than 5 minutes, I was talking about the gift of feeling people like this.

“The way I understand it is this is a gift, although I have not always considered it a gift. I equate it with a door or a valve. While I have found I do not have much control when ‘it is open’ or when ‘it is closed,’ the direction of the ‘flow’ can be up to us. In other words, if we feel such things coming into us from people, we can ‘tap into’ the presence of God and that gift of God’s presence can also flow out of us.”  

We spoke about patterns of prayer that can keep us “filled up” with God so when the “door opens, we can let that flow out.”  I did not know what else to say, except to offer what someone would have said to me 20 years ago when I noticed a similar phenomenon.    

***

Here are some other interactions to consider:

“We are fine so far. The day shift really had it bad. They lost five, we lost a dozen over the weekend.”

“The first round was almost all people who had had a good life. It just may have been time for them. These are young people this time. These are my best friends’ husbands, siblings, my friends. I went to school with these people (30- to 40-year-olds). I can’t save them.”

“I am so sick and tired of people talking on TV and social [media] about what they know. They do not know anything! I wish we could do tours down here [ICU] and let them see what is happening. It does not take long to see, this is hell. This is real.”

“I am just numb. I guess this is just the way it is. We save people, we can’t save these people.”

“Everyone except one is unvaccinated.  This is ALL preventable.”

“I am in the grind now. I just have to accept these people don’t get it. Then we care for them, because it’s not like we will not care for them. They just don’t have to go like this … but, yes, we are going to do everything we can to save them.”

“We’ll keep doing all we can. I’m a nurse, I will give everything to everyone. It’s not enough, but we’ll keep giving it all.”


Central Church

COVID-19 – Beaver County Metrics – 9-16-2021

 

Here are the weekly COVID-19 statistics for Beaver County, PA as of September 16, 2021, showing yet another significant deterioration over last week.

 

Note:  Starting 8-12-2021, we have shifted from using the PA Dept. of Health statistics to using the CDC statistics for Beaver County.

The primary differences are that the CDC divides the middle category into two categories, and some of the category labels have changed.  Here’s the comparison:

  • The Incidence Rate increased from 288.5 to 393.4 (an increase of 104.9, or 36.3%) in the HIGH category.
  • The PCR Positivity Rate has moved down from 9.0% to 11.4%, in the SUBSTANTIAL category.

(Allegheny County’s figures moved up during the past week from 115.2 and 5.5% to 123.6 and 6.2%.)

    • Beaver County is now classified as SUBSTANTIAL on the original PA DOH scale and HIGH on the CDC scale.

(If both metrics are Moderate, the PA Dept. of Health’s recommended school instructional model is Hybrid Learning.)

  • The Delta COVID-19 variant first identified in India is more contagious and can cause more severe illness than other known variants.  The variant can produce 10 times the amount of virus in people’s airways as the one first identified in the UK.  In other words, it’s more contagious than the viruses behind MERS, SARS, Ebola, the 1918 flu, and smallpox.

  • Vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections – an estimated tens of thousands of people in the US each week – may spread delta as easily as unvaccinated people.  However, they’re less likely than the unvaccinated to get infections in the first place – or to get severely ill or die.
  • Of all the people who died of COVID-19 in July and August, 99.8% were unvaccinated, making it more important every day that we do all that we can to protect the people who come to our Church.

On April 5, the CDC issued a “Science Brief” outlining that, in addition to people becoming infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects,  the principal mode by which people are infected with COVID-19 is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus.


  • Small Group Meetings (Sunday School, AA, other meetings):

The current guidance on when and how gatherings can take place is based upon the threshold of infection rate.

For Indoor meetings/Sunday School to resume, the 7-day average of daily cases for gatherings that include unvaccinated folks should be:

    • 1.5-2.0 – for everyone except those at high risk; and
    • Less than 1.0 for those at high risk.
    • Our current level is 56.2, so resuming small group meetings will not be feasible until we can provide sufficient active air filtration in light of the latest CDC guidance and the deadlier variants now in the USA.

As the pandemic continues, we are continuing our efforts to:

  • Disinfect Central Church prior to every worship service and feeding ministry event using EPA-registered products in compliance with CDC standards to kill germs and reduce the risk of spreading infection, and in compliance with EPA criteria for use against SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; and

  • We are also employing HEPA-13 air filtration equipment to help reduce any airborne coronavirus in our Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall. 

  • Our new HEPA-13 air filtration equipment is rated to remove COVID-19 from the air, and provides 5.7 complete air changes every hour in our Sanctuary (every 11 minutes),  (5.0 air changes per hour is the EPA’s general recommended standard.)  

Central Church

Ban the ‘D’ Word – Renewable Vows

DivorceKey Bible Verse:  A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does … let her remain single or else go back to him. And the husband must not leave his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11

Bonus Reading:  Hosea 2:7, 14, 23; 3:1

John Cayce, the chief justice of the Court of Appeals for Texas’s Second District, and his lovely wife, Diane, have two daughters and one lively granddaughter. There were the usual struggles early in their marriage. They occasionally fought. Eventually the tensions crowded out the romance, and John and Diane were divorced.

After being separated for around four years, John and Diane remarried—each other! They worked through their hurt, anger, frustration, and rebellion—and found their love on the other side. Whatever they had before wound up being replaced by something more beautiful and enduring. Romantic love became mature, complete love. The solution, as John and Diane happily tell anyone who’ll listen, is inviting God to the marriage, not just the wedding.

As miraculous as their renewed vows seem in our disposable society, John and Diane didn’t stop there. They now host a Marriage Reconciliation seminar in their church. Since it was initiated several years ago, more than 100 other couples have renewed their vows—with a beaming Chief Justice John Cayce presiding, and a proud Diane and one fidgety granddaughter looking on.

—Jody Dean in Finding God in the Evening News

My Response: I’ll set a time with my wife to repeat our wedding vows.

Thought to Apply: A successful marriage demands a divorce—a divorce from your own self-love.—Paul Frost

Adapted from Finding God in the Evening News (Revell, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, make my marriage a faithful illustration of Your eternal love for the church.

Ban the ‘D’ Word – Bailout?

DivorceKey Bible Verse:  Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.  – Luke 9:62

Bonus Reading:  1 King 19:19-21

Hernando Cortés had a plan. He wanted to lead an expedition into Mexico to capture its vast treasures. When he told the Spanish governor of Cuba his strategy, the governor got so excited that he gave him 11 ships and 700 men. Little did the governor know that Cortés had failed to tell him the entire plan.

After months of sailing, the 11 ships landed at Veracruz in the spring of 1519. As soon as the men unloaded the ships, Cortés instituted the rest of his plan. He ran the ships aground and dismantled them!

Like it or not, they were now committed. By disassembling the ships, Cortés eliminated the options. He didn’t know what he’d encounter on his expeditions to the interior. He didn’t know the strength of the people he’d be fighting. But he did know this: There were no escape routes for his men. If the fighting got too fierce, or the expedition got too exhausting, there’d be no talk of going back to Veracruz and sailing home. In one fell swoop Cortés had eliminated their options and created an intensely powerful motivation to succeed.

Men, there’s only one way to save our marriages. Commitment is saying that no matter what comes in the future, we’re going to stick it out. We have to dismantle our ships.

—Steve Farrar in Point Man

My Response: What escapes from a difficult marriage am I ruling out?

Thought to Apply: When the Coast Guard band strikes up “Semper Fidelis” and your husband says, “They’re playing our song,” you know you’re married.—Erma Bombeck

Adapted from Point Man (Multnomah, 1990)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, make my marriage a faithful illustration of Your eternal love for the church.

Ban the ‘D’ Word – Faceoff

DivorceKey Bible Verse: Anyone who divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Luke 16:18

Bonus Reading: Matthew 19:3-9

I heard that Alan was divorcing Karen. I immediately called Alan and arranged to meet. His first words: “You don’t know the whole picture, Kenny.”

“Really?” I replied. “Can I tell you what I do know, Bro? I think you’re throwing your wife under the bus after 15 years of a good marriage. In a matter of three months, she’s somehow gone from being the best thing that ever happened to you to becoming Cruella de Vil. How convenient for you and your new friend!”

“It’s best for me and for Karen,” Alan responded defensively.

“Right! Alan. You get to have sex with a beautiful woman half your age. You don’t have to change or grow or take responsibility for the day-to-day demands of raising the kids. You can have your cake and eat it too.”

Alan mumbled that he’d “think about” what I said, but I could tell he believed his sin nature’s lies: “It can’t be God’s plan for you to live in a miserable marriage. The kids will eventually understand, and you make enough money to provide for them.” Otherwise, how does a guy go from being dedicated to God, his wife, and kids to becoming an alimony-paying divorcee living in a one-bedroom apartment?

—Kenny Luck in Every Man, God’s Man

My Response: What steps could I take to redeem a “miserable” marriage?

Thought to Apply: Marriage is our last best chance to grow up.—Joseph Barth (pastor)

Adapted from Every Man, God’s Man (WaterBrook, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, make my marriage a faithful illustration of Your eternal love for the church.

Ban the ‘D’ Word – Bedrock

DivorceKey Bible Verse:  “I hate divorce!” says the Lord. … “So guard yourself; always remain loyal to your wife.” Malachi 2:16

Bonus Reading: Malachi 2:13-16

Our culture treats marriage as a contract—a civil agreement between two parties that can be broken if either feels its terms have been violated. Most people don’t take divorce lightly, but many see it as a back door exit if their marriage doesn’t “work out.”

In contrast, Scripture teaches us that marriage is a lifelong union. God’s relational power and presence mysteriously bring two people together and make them one. The bond between a man and a wife is a covenant, a binding promise both partners make to one another, with their Maker as a witness. This bedrock, upon which a lifelong relationship between a man and a woman can be built, requires much of both spouses. Yet it offers life, protection, and security as no mere legal contract can.

Our individualistic culture has profoundly shaped me. The covenant of marriage demands that I lay down my imbedded independence and self-sufficiency for the sake of another. God doesn’t grant me permission to renege on my promise if disappointment or suffering in marriage seems overwhelming. The marriage covenant is a solemn oath before God to honor, esteem, and care for my wife—’til death do us part.

—Adam Holz in Discipleship Journal

My Response: How may cultural assumptions about marriage have eroded my allegiance to the biblical standard?

Thought to Apply: A covenant cannot be terminated. It can only be violated.—Ross T. Bender (seminary professor)

– Adapted from Discipleship Journal (7-8/04)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, make my marriage a faithful illustration of Your eternal love for the church.

Ban the ‘D’ Word – Two Phony ‘Facts’

DivorceKey Bible Verse:  The man who finds a wife finds a treasure and receives favor from the Lord.  – Proverbs 18:22

Bonus Reading:  Ephesians 5:31-33

  • “Everyone is sleeping around.” – Despite what you hear in popular music and on TV sitcoms, research reveals a high degree of fidelity.

A study by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center showed that 83 percent of Americans slept with only one person or else none in the course of a year. That leaves just 17 percent who were promiscuous.

  • “The annual American divorce rate is one out of two.” – This, pollster Louis Harris writes, “is one of the most specious pieces of statistical nonsense ever perpetuated.”

Think about it. On the block where you live, is every second home breaking up?

Out of the roughly 55 million current U.S. marriages, a tragic 1.2 million will end in divorce this year. But the other 53.8 million marriages, Harris notes, “just keep flowing along like Ol’ Man River.”

The one-in-two superstition arose by comparing 1.2 million divorces in a year with 2.4 million weddings in a year. But the couples getting divorced aren’t the same couples who just got married; the two numbers have no direct link. So Generation X shouldn’t be afraid of getting married! You can make a go of it—especially if you put God at the center of your relationship.

—Dean Merrill in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Church

My Response: I’ll ask God to preserve the marriages of families in my community.

Adapted from Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Church (Zondervan, 1997)

Prayer for the Week: Lord, make my marriage a faithful illustration of Your eternal love for the church.

Central Church – Online Worship Service – 16th Sunday after Pentecost – 9-12-2021

On this warm, sunny sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, when the Delta variant of the coronavirus again prevents many of us from gathering in Central Church’s Sanctuary to worship in body, let us join together in spirit with our online worship service.

  • Today’s online worship service includes a favorite HYMN with lyrics so you can sing along!


AND…

  • Both the video on Facebook and the video on YouTube now have closed captions (if you turn them on) so you can read along with the spoken words during the service!
    •  To activate captions in Facebook, click on the Settings “gear” symbol in the bottom right corner of the image, and then click on the “Off” button to change it to “On” for “Auto-Generated Captions”.
    • To activate captions in YouTube, click on the “CC” icon in the lower right corner of the image to toggle captions On and Off.
      • A brief comment on our new closed caption capability – The closed captions on our videos use voice-recognition software similar to that used on Television broadcasts, and with similar accuracy!  Sometimes, the captions are not entirely accurate, so if you read something incongruous, back up the video a few seconds and listen carefully for what is actually being said.

To begin, simply click on one of the links below to join with the folks who have already made their way into our digital Sanctuary.  You can find this week’s online worship service on both Facebook and YouTube at the following coordinates:

(If the video doesn’t come up after clicking on the link, just copy and paste the address into your browser search bar.)

 

 

Ban the ‘D’ Word – Shatterproof Homes

DivorceWho Said It…Richard Land

Richard Land is president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The Commission works to keep the public informed on critical issues facing the family and the nation.

He was also appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Dr. Land (with a Ph.D. from Oxford University), has also served as pastor, professor, and adviser to a former Texas governor.

What He Said…Shatterproof Homes

Speaking at his father’s funeral, former Vice President Al Gore said something penetrating, “My father, Albert Gore Sr., was the greatest man I ever knew. And the greatest lesson that my father ever taught me was the way he loved my mother. I knew that nothing was ever going to shatter my world.”

What did he mean by this observation? Quite simply this: he knew that his dad was never going to leave his mother.

God intends that kind of security for every child. It’s a telling difference that the biggest differences in lifestyle and personality between Al Gore and George W. Bush on the one hand, and Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich on the other, can be traced to the fact that Al Gore and George W. Bush were raised in homes in which they knew their dad loved their mom and wouldn’t leave, and Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich didn’t.

Evidence continues to mount that divorce has devastating effects on children well into their adulthood.

Adapted from Real Homeland Security (Broadman & Holman, 2004)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord, make my marriage a faithful illustration of Your eternal love for the church.

A Heart for Holiness – Impure Thoughts

Impure ThoughtsMuch of the letter of Paul’s that we call 2 Corinthians is an emotional response to sniping by his detractors. He acknowledges that his actions may appear to be out on the edge—even a bit crazy. But he explains what drives him to his extreme behavior.

The primary thrust of this section is about evangelism; but a strong secondary emphasis concerns a lifestyle that zeroes in on God.

Interact with God’s Word:  2 Corinthians 5:10-11, 14-15

  1. What is the reason for our “solemn fear of the Lord” (v. 11)?
  2. Have you absorbed the teaching of Scripture that God’s gracious gift of eternal life doesn’t exempt you from standing personally before God’s judgment seat?
  3. What motivation is stronger than fear for Paul (v. 14)?
  4. What evidence is there that you have died with Christ to the old life you used to live?
  5. What indicators can you cite that demonstrate you are no longer living to please yourself, but to please Christ?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Thank Jesus Christ for dying for you. Ask for His power to live the new resurrection life that will please Him.

2 Corinthians 5:10-11, 14-15

10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies. 11 It is because we know this solemn fear of the Lord that we work so hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.

14 Whatever we do, it is because Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them.

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

COVID-19 – Beaver County Metrics – 9-9-2021

 

Here are the weekly COVID-19 statistics for Beaver County, PA as of September 9, 2021, showing yet another significant deterioration over last week.

 

Note:  Starting 8-12-2021, we have shifted from using the PA Dept. of Health statistics to using the CDC statistics for Beaver County.

The primary differences are that the CDC divides the middle category into two categories, and some of the category labels have changed.  Here’s the comparison:

  • The Incidence Rate increased from 240.9 to 288.5 (an increase of 47.6, or 19.7%) in the HIGH category.
  • The PCR Positivity Rate has moved down from 9.8% to 9.0%, in the Moderate category.

(Allegheny County’s figures moved up during the past week from 115.2 and 5.5% to 123.6 and 6.2%.)

    • Beaver County is now classified as SUBSTANTIAL on the original PA DOH scale and HIGH on the CDC scale.

(If both metrics are Moderate, the PA Dept. of Health’s recommended school instructional model is Hybrid Learning.)

  • The Delta COVID-19 variant first identified in India is more contagious and can cause more severe illness than other known variants.  The variant can produce 10 times the amount of virus in people’s airways as the one first identified in the UK.  In other words, it’s more contagious than the viruses behind MERS, SARS, Ebola, the 1918 flu, and smallpox.

  • Vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections – an estimated tens of thousands of people in the US each week – may spread delta as easily as unvaccinated people.  However, they’re less likely than the unvaccinated to get infections in the first place – or to get severely ill or die.
  • Of all the people who died of COVID-19 in July and August, 99.8% were unvaccinated, making it more important every day that we do all that we can to protect the people who come to our Church.

On April 5, the CDC issued a “Science Brief” outlining that, in addition to people becoming infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects,  the principal mode by which people are infected with COVID-19 is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus.


  • Small Group Meetings (Sunday School, AA, other meetings):

The current guidance on when and how gatherings can take place is based upon the threshold of infection rate.

For Indoor meetings/Sunday School to resume, the 7-day average of daily cases for gatherings that include unvaccinated folks should be:

    • 1.5-2.0 – for everyone except those at high risk; and
    • Less than 1.0 for those at high risk.
    • Our current level is 41.2, so resuming small group meetings will not be feasible until we can provide sufficient active air filtration in light of the latest CDC guidance and the deadlier variants now in the USA.

As the pandemic continues, we are continuing our efforts to:

  • Disinfect Central Church prior to every worship service and feeding ministry event using EPA-registered products in compliance with CDC standards to kill germs and reduce the risk of spreading infection, and in compliance with EPA criteria for use against SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19; and

  • We are also employing HEPA-13 air filtration equipment to help reduce any airborne coronavirus in our Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall. 

  • Our new HEPA-13 air filtration equipment is rated to remove COVID-19 from the air, and provides 5.7 complete air changes every hour in our Sanctuary (every 11 minutes),  (5.0 air changes per hour is the EPA’s general recommended standard.)  

Central Church

A Heart for Holiness – Worth Fighting For

Impure ThoughtsKey Bible Verse: To others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 23

Bonus Reading:  Revelation 3:4-6

An ermine is a cute little animal that lives in northern regions. It has shiny black eyes, short legs and a narrow body. In summer its coat is a rich chocolate brown. But in winter the color changes to snow-white, broken only by a black tip on the tail. The ermine seems to realize the beauty of its coat and takes great pride in maintaining it. Indeed, the animal’s most unusual characteristic is its hatred of anything that might soil its fur.

Hunters who know this will fill an ermine’s burrow with filth and wait with their dogs for it to return. Once the ermine spots the dogs, it will dart for the safety of its burrow. But finding its home fouled, the ermine won’t enter, but will fight the dogs to the death, preferring to die with a bloodstained coat than live with a dirty one. Its instinct for purity outweighs its survival instinct. That’s why for centuries the robes of European rulers and judges have been lined with ermine fur. It symbolizes the purity of justice.

Christian men need a similar instinct. When we understand the holiness of our God that He’s imparted to us through His Son, we’ll realize that personal holiness is a value worth fighting for.

—Bill Perkins in Six Battles Every Man Must Win

My Response: How have I fought for holiness this week?

Thought to Apply: The Christian must be consumed by the conviction of the infinite beauty of holiness and the infinite damnability of sin.—Thomas Carlyle (Scottish historian)

Adapted from Six Battles Every Man Must Win (Tyndale, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

A Heart for Holiness – Foundational Fear

Impure ThoughtsKey Bible Verse: God has come in this way to show you His awesome power. From now on, let your fear of Him keep you from sinning! Exodus 20:20

Bonus Reading:  2 Corinthians 5:10-11, 14-15

I recently phoned an influential organization leader who I’d covenanted to call regularly. “Henry,” he told me, “I’m so grateful you called. You’ve no idea how important this call is.”

When I asked why, he said, “I’ve never been been so utterly terrified. God began to deal with sin in my life bringing to mind what He sees as sin and how serious it is with Him. For three weeks, he brought up things I haven’t thought about for years. Things from my youth I’ve never dealt with—things that have affected my marriage and my assignment. A few days ago I cried out to God and asked why He was doing this to me. He responded, ‘Because you’ve lost your fear of Me.'”

When you don’t fear God, you won’t fear sin. There’s a direct relationship. Many people believe that as long as they don’t feel something is bad, it isn’t; as long as they feel okay about it—and God doesn’t deal with them immediately—it must be okay. They can continue to do it.

People in Old Testament times would have been put to death for many things people do today. We’re moving closer to an absolute confrontation with a God who makes no exceptions.

—Henry Blackaby in Holiness

My Response: An area of my life about which God is dealing with me is …

Thought to Apply: When a man is getting better, he understands more and more clearly the evil that is left in him. —C. S. Lewis (British scholar & writer)

Adapted from Holiness (Nelson, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

A Heart for Holiness – Hard Drive Dilemma

Impure ThoughtsKey Bible Verse: Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable … excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

Bonus Reading:  Ephesians 6:10-12

When I bought my computer two years ago, I thought a 40 GB hard drive would be plenty big. But soon, with bigger programs and my penchant for keeping things, I found it nearly filled.

After checking into the cost of upgrading my hard drive, I realized there had to be another answer: cleaning out the garbage. When I did so, I found that more than half the space had been taken by stuff I didn’t need anymore!

What about my brain?

For 50 years I’d been stuffing information into it. Could my gray matter be needing a storage upgrade? Or did it also just need a good cleaning? I asked God to show me.

He revealed sin areas that were putting stress on my operating system, pointed out past offenses still stored there, and showed me erroneous thoughts still logged in my memory bank.

Through repentance, I moved all that garbage to the recycling bin and clicked to empty it. Up popped a message asking if I was sure I wanted to permanently eliminate those files. My fingers hesitated as the enemy whispered in my ear all the reasons I should hang on to that stuff. But God’s voice was stronger; I clicked the yes button.

—Rod Nichols in Washington

My Response: I’ll ask God to reveal the garbage that needs to be deleted from my mind.

Thought to Apply: Spring cleaning should begin with the head and end with the heart.—Source Unknown

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

A Heart for Holiness – Traffic Flow

Impure ThoughtsKey Bible Verse: When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. Romans 7:19

Bonus Reading:  Romans 7:15-25

One morning I was driving alone to speak at a men’s Bible study, enjoying the uninterrupted flow of my private thoughts.

The thick traffic flowed steadily. As I slowed for a traffic light, I was relieved to see that I would make it through the intersection on the next green light. As I braked, the car next to me saw a “hairline crack” in front of me and, without warning, swerved over. I slammed on the brakes and checked the rearview mirror. So far so good. Anger swept over me but, since I was on my way to speak at a Bible study, I quickly recovered and kept my spiritual glow. I even forgave the bum for being such a spiritual degenerate.

The light turned green and the long line inched toward the intersection. Guess who was the last car to make it through the light? You guessed it! He made it, but I was stuck in line at the red light. That did it for me, Bible study or not! I let out an audible expletive that came from a part of me not surrendered to God.

If this were an isolated incident, then I wouldn’t be too concerned. But every day we each battle for control of our thought life. The real battlefield for the Christian is the mind.

—Patrick Morley in The Man in the Mirror

My Response: Am I chalking up any victories on this battlefield?

Thought to Apply: Sanctification is the mind coming more and more under the Holy Spirit’s control.—David Jackman (British pastor)

Adapted from The Man in the Mirror (Zondervan, 1989)

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

A Heart for Holiness – Displacement Dictum

Impure ThoughtsKey Bible Verse: I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 77:11-12; 104:34; 119:48, 97

As you set out to rid your mind of years of impure thoughts, remember that merely trying to stop thinking bad thoughts won’t work. You must fill your mind with the crystal-clear Word of God. There is no alternative plan. We overcome the father of lies by choosing the truth!

Picture your polluted mind as a pot filled to the brim with stale black coffee. It’s dark and smelly. There’s no way to get the pollution of coffee out of the liquid. However, sitting beside the coffeepot is a huge bowl of clear ice cubes. Your goal is to purify the contents of the pot by adding ice cubes to it every day. I wish there were a way to dump all the cubes (words of the Bible) in at one time, but there isn’t. Every cube dilutes the mixture, though, making it a little purer. Since you can only put in one or two cubes a day, the process seems futile at first. But over the course of time, the liquid begins to look less and less polluted, and the taste and smell of coffee decreases.

The process will continue to work. But only if you don’t add more coffee grounds! If you read your Bible then look at pornography, you’re treading water at best.

—Neil Anderson in Finding Freedom in a Sex-Obsessed World

My Response: What am I displacing impure thoughts with?

Adapted from Finding Freedom in a Sex-Obsessed World (Harvest, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

Major Church Project Completed!

Over the years, several of our new pastors have remarked that one of the first things that a new person notices on the outside of Central Church is that paint on the upper wood fascia along the roof line and in our towers has been peeling away.

In order to correct that long-standing problem, our Trustees got started on a major project to scrape and paint all of that high wood trim.  The work began on July 4, 2019. 

To make the job even more difficult, several of our trim boards needed to be replaced after a wind storm.

After a lot of hard work during the global pandemic involving two separate contractors and rented hydraulic lifts and 40-foot ladders, the work was finally completed this week.  The weak or missing wood trim has been replaced, and all of the wooden trim, including the wooden slats in our high tower windows, have been given a fresh, new coat of paint!

  Our thanks to our dedicated Trustees for their tireless efforts                             to maintain and improve our Church!

Effective Stewardship – September 2021 Theme

Our September 2021 Stewardship Theme:

“Coercion” is action which makes us do something, usually by force or threat or punishment. For example, the threat of a ticket or the fine which results causes us to regularly check our speed when driving. We are “coerced” into obeying the law, whether we want to or not.

Some people give to God because of coercion. They envision God as a glorified “bully” who is seeking to extract from them some of their hard-earned money. They reason, howbeit incorrectly, that if they fail to give to Him, then somehow, divine punishment will result.

That concept is totally foreign to the Scriptures. In fact, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, God wants us to give not because we have to, out of fear, or because we are required to do so. Rather, His desire is for us to give because we want to, because we have decided in our hearts to give in a manner which makes our giving something to be richly enjoyed.

Search the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, and you will discover God’s universal principle concerning giving: Give willingly from the heart. Not because someone is “coercing” you to give. Not because in a moment of emotional duress you made a commitment to give. Not because you desire to avoid punishment or discipline. Give because you want to, because you’ve decided in your heart to give.

A gentleman known as “Chaplain McCabe” was seeking to raise a million dollars for missions. In his quest, he often struggled with discouragement and disappointment as he encountered tight-fisted Christians who refused to give to God. One day, while going through the mail, he came across a tattered note from a young boy. Written in a boyish scrawl and liberally punctuated with blots, the letter read: “I’m sure you’re going to get a million dollars for missions. And I’m going to help you get it, too. So here’s a nickel towards it. It’s all I’ve got right now, but if you need any more, just call on me.”

Chaplain McCabe told that wonderful story around the world, and it was greatly used by God to challenge people everywhere to give literally millions of dollars to missions. As far as we know, no one forced that young boy to give all he had or even to write a letter. No one pressured him to part with his nickel. He did so willingly because somewhere in the recesses of his heart, he had decided to do so.

As you consider the Central United Methodist Church ministry and all that takes place in and through our church for God’s glory, will you do the same? Will you give “not reluctantly or under compulsion,” but willingly from the heart, with the full realization that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7)?


Central Church

A Heart for Holiness – Fierce Fight

Impure ThoughtsWho Said It…Neil Anderson

Neil was raised on a Minnesota farm. After his Navy stint, he became an aerospace engineer. But then he switched to pastoral ministry for more than 20 years.

Neil next turned to teaching at Talbot School of Theology. He founded Freedom in Christ Ministries to equip churches to enable recovery from addictions.

Now retired in Carefree, Arizona, Neil works on his golf game and keeps on writing books about Christ-centered living.

What He Said…Fierce Fight

When I was a young Christian, I decided to clean up my mind. I had had a good upbringing, for which I am thankful, and had become a Christian in my twenties.

After four years in the Navy, however, my mind was polluted with a lot of junk. I had seen enough pornography aboard ship to plague me for years. Images would dance in my mind for months after one look. I hated it. I struggled every time I went to a place where pornography was available.

When I made the decision to clean up my mind, do you think the battle got easier or harder? It got harder, of course. Temptation isn’t much of a battle if you easily give in to it. It is fierce when you decide to stand against it.

Although you may despair, with all your steps backward, God won’t give up on you. Remember, your sins are already forgiven. This is a winnable battle, because you are alive in Christ and dead to sin, you can become all God has called you to be. The bigger war has already been won by Christ.

Adapted from Finding Freedom in a Sex-Obsessed World (Harvest, 2004)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

Give God Glory – Passionate Worship

Passionate WorshipMost of the psalms are prayer songs, and most include praise to God.

Praise expresses admiration, appreciation, and thanks to God, not only for what He does—His creation, His blessings, His forgiveness—but also for who He is—loving, just, faithful, forgiving, patient.

In Psalm 145, David anticipates a time when all people will join together in recognizing and worshiping God.

Interact with God’s Word:

Psalm 145:1-13

  1. If God blesses someone, His favor and protection assures that person’s well-being. But what does it mean (vv. 1-2) for you to bless God?
  2. Read verses 8 and 9 several times as an example from David of blessing God.
  3. How can you become one of the “faithful followers” (v. 10) who bless and praise God every day?
  4. Does the pace of your life leave room for meditation (v. 5)? Should it?
  5. In what ways is giving God glory a group exercise (vv. 4, 7, 11-12)?
  6. David assumes that every child of God will be talking about Him. List the verbs he uses to express this in verses 6-7 and 10-12.

Spend Time in Prayer:  Try just praising and blessing God in your own words.

Psalm 145:1-13

1 I will praise you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. 2 I will bless you every day, and I will praise you forever. 3 Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! His greatness is beyond discovery!

4 Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts. 5 I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. 6 Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness.

7 Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy of your righteousness. 8 The LORD is kind and merciful, slow to get angry, full of unfailing love. 9 The LORD is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation.

10 All of your works will thank you, LORD, and your faithful followers will bless you. 11 They will talk together about the glory of your kingdom; they will celebrate examples of your power. 12 They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign. 13 For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule generation after generation. The LORD is faithful in all he says; he is gracious in all he does.

Prayer for the Week: You are entitled to praise from all Your creatures, O God.  Free me up and energize me to do my part.

Give God Glory – Weekday Worship

Passionate WorshipKey Bible Verse: O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name. Psalm 44:8

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 63:1-8

Would it seem odd to worship God in a checkout line, sitting in traffic, or waiting for your computer to boot up?

Our lives weren’t made to turn off and on between the spiritual and the worldly. There’s no time or place to which our worship of God should be restricted. So how could I begin?

  • Speak praise to God (sometimes out loud, sometimes not). In your own words tell the Lord you love Him and are glad to be His son. Thank Him for His faithfulness. Review His attributes. Personalize verses that come to mind.
  • Sing songs to the Lord. Ask God to bring a song to mind that expresses your love for Him. Don’t worry about the vocal quality. Concentrate on truly meaning the words, and stay focused on the Lord.
  • Don’t neglect the physical. Lift up your hands to God. Kneel before Him. Bow down in reverence. Or walk about, praising the Lord with every part of you.
  • Meditate on the Word. Mull over a line of Scripture and ask God to reveal Himself through this biblical concept.
  • Give quiet adoration. There are also times to simply sit before the Lord and, in awe-inspired adoration, feel the joy of His closeness.

—Patrick Kavanaugh in Raising Children to Adore God

My Response: A recurring time in my schedule I could earmark for worship is …

Thought to Apply: Singing is for believers. The relevant question is not “Do you have a voice?” but “Do you have a song?”—Donald Hustad (church musician)

Adapted from Raising Children to Adore God (Chosen, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: You are entitled to praise from all Your creatures, O God.  Free me up and energize me to do my part.

Give God Glory – Hallelujah!

Passionate WorshipKey Bible Verse: Let every created thing give praise to the LORD, for he issued his command, and they came into being.  – Psalm 148:5

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 148:1-14

We praise each other by saying something to one degree or another complimentary, with the implication that if someone’s generous deed turned out to be self-serving, a different response altogether would have been called for.

The way Psalm 148 describes it, praising God is about as measured as a volcanic eruption. There’s no implication that under any conceivable circumstances it could be anything other than what it is.

The whole of creation is in on the act—the sun and moon, the sea, fire and snow, Holstein cows and white-throated sparrows, old men in walkers and infants. Their praise isn’t chiefly a matter of saying anything, because most of creation doesn’t deal in words. Instead, the snow whirls, the fire roars, the Holstein bellows, the old man watches the moon rise. Their praise isn’t something that at their most complimentary they say, but something that at their truest they are.

We learn to praise God not by paying compliments, but by paying attention. Watch how the trees exult when the wind is in them. Mark the utter stillness of the great blue heron in the swamp. Listen to the rain. Learn how to say “Hallelujah” from the ones who say it right.

—Frederick Buechner in Beyond Words

My Response: I sensed God’s creation praising Him when …

Thought to Apply: Worship is the overflow of the heart that asks nothing of God.—Carl Armending (pastor)

Adapted from Beyond Words (NavPress, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: You are entitled to praise from all Your creatures, O God. Free me up and energize me to do my part.

Give God Glory – Let’s Hear It!

Passionate WorshipKey Bible Verse: Unseal my lips, O Lord, that I may praise you.  – Psalm 51:15

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 145:1-13

I remember the first Promise Keepers conference held in a stadium. Twenty-two thousand men showed up. I was talking with my son when suddenly, from one side of the stands, I heard, “We love Jesus. Yes, we do. We love Jesus. How ’bout you?” I looked up in amazement. The other side of the stadium responded, only louder, “We love Jesus. Yes, we do. We love Jesus. How ’bout you?”

With each antiphonal response, the volume grew louder until it was almost deafening. Those 22,000 men were telling each other, God, and anybody within a mile radius that they loved Jesus! I’m quite sure that until that moment most of those men had never been so loud or enthusiastic about their love for Jesus. They hadn’t known it was appropriate for them to do that.

Telling God of our love isn’t just for crowded stadiums. Just as those men were unashamed to tell the world of their love for God as a group, so we need to tell our heavenly Father of our love as we pray individually. A fulfilling experience in prayer is hearing God say, “I love you,” and telling Him, “I love You too.” As simple as this sounds, our churches are filled with men unaware of the intimate side of prayer.

—Dale Schlafer in Fight on Your Knees

My Response: Right now, I’ll tell God how I feel about Him.

Thought to Apply: A Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot.—Augustine of Hippo (Fourth century bishop)

Adapted from Fight on Your Knees (NavPress, 2002)

Prayer for the Week: You are entitled to praise from all Your creatures, O God. Free me up and energize me to do my part.