Today I am announcing that I will be shutting down the Sangre de Cristo Journal website I created just three years ago. I’m not able to continue to maintain this one and the one I hope to begin shortly for our church. I had hoped someone from the seminary would take this one over but didn’t get any volunteers. Thank you for your support but more importantly, I hope you will support the Sangre de Cristo Seminary with your prayers and financial gifts.
May God bless you richly!
Picture courtesy of my dad
My graduation from Sangre de Cristo Seminary was a bittersweet day indeed! Sweet because the culmination of the degree I had started at Southwestern in 1990 was finally completed. Bitter, because after developing wonderful relationships with the three men in this picture, their families, and many others, we had to leave. We loaded up our Penske truck on Tuesday and headed east. As I type this post, we are in Merrillville, Indiana but preparing to go see the Riverwalk in Chicago for the day, then we head to Ohio for one night before going on to Meadville. We’re excited and the drive to accomplish our next goal helps us overlook how tired we are from the miles. Beyond all of that, we do it all for Christ! He is worth it all! That was the theme of my graduation message, “What Really Matters.” When you skim away all the dross of human effort, worldly pleasures, goals and dreams, Christ is the One Who really matters. That was Paul’s perspective, passion and pursuit in Philippians 3:7-14 and it should also be true of us as we follow Him. This will also be the sermon, Lord willing, that I will first preach at St. Paul’s.
I always find it interesting to see what “news” is being reported each day. In fact, I am usually surprised if there is any good news being reported at all. Occasionally, one might hear of the stock market going up or a new development in technology that is going to solve some medical problem, but very rarely will one get good news from the media these days. This fact only goes to show how fallen man is. I am thankful, that everyday, I can get up in the morning and read some really good news – the gospel! The good news is that Jesus Christ paid for my sin! What a contrast between the good news of the Bible and the so called “news” the media puts out today.
I remember when I was a child visiting my grandparents who lived in Sedan, Kansas, the local newspaper would call and ask, “Do you have any news to report today?” My grandma would say, “I have my grandchildren from Oklahoma visiting with me this week.” The next Sunday there would be a little article saying how Irene McAfee’s grandchildren from Oklahoma were in town visiting her. That may not seem like much to most people, but to my grandma, that was a pretty big deal. And I can just see her going to the grocery store or to church and having someone ask, “So your grandkids came to visit you this week?” and she would gleam about what we did together while we were there.
I’ve decided to compile a list of what might be some really great news stories below:
- The Screen Actors Guild vows to never use profanity or nudity in movies
- The Supreme Court decides the Constitution really is the law and that it should be interpreted plainly
- Congress decides to become a truly ethical institution
- Blue laws become popular again
- Gas prices drop to below $1 a gallon
- Congress passes a 10% flat tax and balances the budget accordingly
- News outlets commit to becoming truly fair and balanced
- Manners, courtesy and politeness become the norm of society
These are just a few examples of good news that I would love to see reported and perhaps my readers can think of more. Feel free to add your two cents in the comments section and maybe I’ll add them to the list.
As I sit here listening to the sound of rain drops falling, the thunder echoing off the mountains and feel the gentle breeze blowing though my window, I can’t help but sing a doxology of praise to Jehovah Jireh, the Lord Who provides! God does answer the feeble prayers of His people! Hallelujah! Amen!
As I contemplate the next three months, my last semester here at Sangre de Cristo Seminary, and the prospects of a new and exciting ministry in Meadville, PA, I have resumed the process I started some time ago of looking at where I am now. What I mean by that is this: I am appraising areas where I need to improve for the sake of the kingdom of God and the ministry that lies ahead. My whole purpose for returning to seminary was that I recognized the need to better equip myself for the Lord’s work. I could have stayed where I was, pastoring in a city that needed and still needs the gospel, but I realized by finishing my seminary degree I would be doing a greater good in the grand scheme of things. I have no regrets, and know beyond a doubt if faced with the decision again, I would not change a thing.
These are some of the areas I am working to improve myself: First of all, I am working harder at Scripture memory. In Philippians 3:7-15, the apostle Paul has just listed his accomplishments in life providing a synopsis of his resume which would be very impressive to most people. But in this passage he expresses an attitude that all of those things are meaningless compared to the knowledge of Christ. I want to know Christ better…and the only way I know how to do that is to know His word better.
Secondly, I am trying to get back in good physical condition. While I have been blessed with good health, I am also aware that I am not getting any younger. Paul described the kingdom work with words like “struggle” and ”fight,” and even relating it to “boxing” or “running a race.” A group of people have expressed a certain degree of confidence and hope in me to shepherd them and minister the gospel in their community. To borrow the Army slogan, I want to “be all that I can be” for the sake of Christ first and also for them. That will mean that I will need all the stamina and strength I can muster, and so I have been working at physical conditioning and eating better…in short, being more disciplined for Christ and His kingdom.
Thirdly, I am constantly researching my ministry field, trying to learn more about the community and its resources, strengths, weaknesses, and needs. I read the local newspaper and look at local websites for any information that may help me prepare for ministry. I look forward to getting to know the congregation and sharing in their lives, hopes, joys and sorrows. I also look forward to meeting the various pastors and hope to build lasting relationships with them in the spread of the gospel, and I look forward to their fellowship. I am prayerfully seeking the Lord for wisdom and vision for St. Paul’s and while I know that will become more apparent when we arrive in Meadville, the Lord can start preparing me for what lies ahead. I have placed the picture of St. Paul’s sanctuary on my desktop at work and my laptop at home to continually remind me to pray for God’s people there. I know they have been praying for us and have the same desire to see God work in a wonderful way in their church and community. Lord willing, our first Sunday there will be September 9th.
We are trusting that the Lord will direct us to a two or three bedroom house we can rent and be comfortable in. So if you are in Meadville and know anyone with a house to rent that will allow us to have our golden retriever, Angel, please let us know!
Paula and I are humbled and thankful for God’s lovingkindness, mercy and provision for the opportunity to accept the call to pastor at St. Paul’s in Meadville, PA. Last Sunday, the congregation graciously voted in favor of extending to me the call to be their next pastor. Our plan is to begin the Lord’s work there by September 9th. St. Paul’s Church is a conservative, reformed congregation and as I said in a previous post, we were very impressed with their warmth and felt the presence of Christ in our meeting with them. We now look forward to sharing our lives with them in worship, ministry and fellowship as we serve the King of kings together.
I woke up this morning to about a half inch of snow, but it didn’t stop there. It is now 6:40 PM, and the snow is still falling. Counting what has melted, we probably have gotten about 7-8 inches here at 9,000 ft. It doesn’t look like it is going to let up anytime soon. We had some pretty good thunder earlier in the day which made for a nice afternoon nap. The tree limbs are heavy laden with wet snow and the temperature is 32 degrees. One of the pictures below shows our hummingbird feeder. We have already been having a red throat visit us for the last couple of days, and I hope he has a dry place to hang out. The other pictures show our deck rails and a look toward the northwest. I never complain about the snow up here, but thank God for it. (“Every good & perfect gift comes down from the Father of Lights in whom there is no shifting shadow.” James 1:17)
It’s probably a good thing the guys from Council Grove Christian Church came when they did. It might have been hard to accomplish everything they did if they’d been here this week. What a blessing to look out at our front porch and see their handiwork, not only to our porch, but for the whole seminary.
This is the rails of our front porch with the bicycle/woodshed in the background.I thought I would include a photo of the wood pile the Council Grove guys split for us.
Guess I should have added a picture of the wonderful potato soup Paula made for dinner. A great meal for a cold, snowy day!!
Sangre de Cristo Seminary was extremely blessed to have a group of men from Council Grove Christian Church, Council Grove, KS come for a weekend of much needed work. The wind storms from last fall had left the seminary grounds and some of the facilities with a need for cleanup and repair. Pastor John Messer led his group to come on Thursday through Sunday. Our cabin was one of the beneficiaries of their hard labors. There was dry wall work, deck work, window trimming, railings replaced and general cleanup of limbs and debris from the storm. The men worked during the day but also held devotions after the evening meals. I found them to be a really great bunch of guys who exhibited the love of Christ in so many ways. The theme of their weekend was “Men 2 the Mountain” emphasizing that their work was for the Kingdom of God. We were certainly thankful to the Lord for their service to Him and the seminary.
Council Grove Christian Church Men’s Group pictured next to Sangre de Cristo Seminary Chapel are: back row left to right, K.C. Olson, Danny Wenzel, John Steinkeuhler, Andrew Zeller (seminary president), Shawn Tiffany, Jason Fillmore, Tyson Buchman, J.B. Jackson. Front row: Charles Olson, Johnathan Mayhill, Blane Fillmore, John Messer (pastor), Joel Messer.
Paula and I were excited for the opportunity to travel to Meadville and were thrilled at the warm reception we received from the people there. We fell in love with everyone right away. Joel DeAngi, the interim pastor, picked us up at the airport in Pittsburgh on Friday and upon arrival at Meadville, we went to a wonderful Italian restaurant called “Chovy’s” – yum! Then we had ice cream at Hank’s Frozen Custard (owned by one of the members at St. Paul’s). We enjoyed the frozen yogurt and a wonderful 76 degree evening.
Joel’s hospitality shined throughout our time there and we were really impressed with his gifted piano playing, but we had an immediate bond of fellowship and saw the love of Christ in him. Joel’s wife Yumi is a physician and Paula and I really enjoyed her fellowship as well. They have two beautiful children.
Saturday morning, we toured the church property. It was much more beautiful than we had anticipated and the facility proved to be very neat and well cared for. We walked through just about every room and were impressed with the daycare area and how it was so well maintained. After leaving the church, we toured the city and looked at homes before stopping for lunch at the Rib and Chop House. It rained almost all day and for the matter, the rest of our time in Meadville.
Saturday evening, we met with the consistory and the pastor search committee at Joel’s house for pizza and an informal Q&A. I was struck by how warm and friendly everyone was, and how they seemed excited about the future prospects of the church.
We discussed more pointed issues of interest to both parties and I think we were both pleased with how that meeting went. The official call of the church is not to be voted on until the next congregational meeting on May 20th so we are prayerfully seeking the Lord’s will each day. For my part, I think St. Paul’s and Meadville would be an great place to preach the gospel and minister. I will update this post at a later date.