Letter of Hope

Last Sunday at the end of the sermon I gave everyone a stamped envelope and a couple sheets of paper.  We had just looked at how the apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Thessalonica to encourage them with a message about our hope in Jesus Christ.  So I challenged everyone to write a letter to someone to encourage them by sharing their hope in Jesus.

In the middle of the week, someone in the church who is really in a tough situation herself told me that she had just mailed off her letter and was eager to see its effect.  How satisfying it is as a pastor to see someone respond to a message like that!

I pray God rewards her for it and brings good things out of her effort.

Published in: on October 31, 2008 at 6:24 am  Leave a Comment  

An Important Day

Today is the anniversary of the day centuries ago when Martin Luther famously banged on the door of the church at Wittenburg and demanded they give him 95 pieces of candy.

Or something like that.  I get it mixed up.

Published in: on October 31, 2008 at 5:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Hooper’s Feast

Last night Hooper’s Crab House on the bay in Ocean City held a fundraiser for the Training Station.  Fundraiser, indeed–the place was packed!  They are very generously giving every penny to the preschool.  It was a ton of fun hanging out with everyone!  And, of course, the food totally rocked.

Published in: on October 31, 2008 at 5:20 am  Leave a Comment  

My Pastors

With tomorrow being the last day of Pastor Appreciation Month, this post is about 30 days overdue.  Lately I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am for the many people who pastor me, and those who have pastored me in previous seasons of my life.

So here is my tribute to some of those people that God has currently placed in my life to be my pastors (this list is not comprehensive and the names are not in any particular order):

  • Berry McCready.  Whenever I hear the word “pastor,” Pastor McCready is always the first person who comes to mind.  He is one of the truly great men this world has known.  It was under his ministry that I became a follower of Jesus Christ and heard the call to vocational ministry.  He’s the one who performed our wedding.  Even in his retirement, he’s my pastor.
  • Daryl McCready.  In this case, the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree!  When Carolyn and I got married, Daryl was my best man.  He has been a true friend, mentor, encourager, and pastor for the past decade.  Except for my wife and my parents, he has probably influenced me more than anyone else.
  • John Coleman.  Like Daryl, John is part of the group of pastors I meet with weekly.  (Bryan Pugner and Kyle McDaniel are also in the group and are also men who I consider my pastors, but I haven’t known them as long and hey–I had to draw the line somewhere!)  Anyway, John is one of the first people I go to whenever I need someone to hear me out and offer some feedback.  He’s been a great encourager.  Other than my wife, I don’t think I have as much fun or laugh as hard as I do when I’m with John and Daryl.
  • Josh & Christi Engle.  I don’t even know where to begin with these two.  Amazing servants of God, completely committed to His church, faithful friends, gifted leaders, role model parents, excellent encouragers….  God has repeatedly used these two to keep me going.  Whenever I’m plagued by doubt or discouragement, they’re still holding to God’s vision for our church.  If every church member was like the Engles, everybody would want to be a pastor.
  • Steve & Linda Doherty.  My in-laws and two of my closest friends.  They’ve been cheering me on for nearly 10 years now.  Steve & Linda have supported and encouraged Carolyn and me in so many ways it’s just unbelievable.  They share their lives with us so generously, and even feed us every week!  And for some reason Steve seems to have an inside connection to God when it comes to praying for me.  To find out what God is going to do in my life, all I need to do is find out how Steve’s been praying for me.  Our little baby who will arrive in about seven months is going to be very blessed to have Steve & Linda, as well as my parents, for grandparents.
  • Merv Stoltzfus.  Good ol’ Merv.  He’s one of those people I can just talk with all day.  And we’ve nearly done that several times!  Merv is a great listener and is one of those honest people who will tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.  Like the others on this list, he has been a great encourager.  Even though I haven’t known Merv for even two years, whenever I’m with him I always feel like we go way back.
  • James Wenger.  James is an absolute treasure.  Our church conference assigned him to me as a mentor, and what a blessing it’s been!  He has so much wisdom and experience that he applies to the situations I’m going through.  His life has been so adventurous they could make a Harrison Ford movie series out of it!  Yet he’s so modest that it’s a long process to unearth all the incredible experiences he’s had.  On numerous occasions, James has driven from Baltimore to Ocean City just to meet with me, then turned around and driven back.  He’s so committed to Christ and His church that he’s only gotten more active in ministry since his retirement!
  • Carolyn Hyde.  Like I said, this list is not in any order.  If it was, my bride of over four years would be at the top.  I would’ve given up long ago if not for her.  She believes in me so much that it makes me uncomfortable!  As encouraging as everyone on this list is, she’s definitely my number-one encourager.  Even as I get to watch God at work in her, she encourages me to let God work in me.  I can never doubt God’s grace, because He has given me so much better than I could ever deserve by letting me be married to Carolyn.  And in about seven months she will become the best mom that ever lived.  I’m so grateful that I get to share my journey through this life with this magnificent, Christlike, loving, faithful, funny, sweet, beautiful woman!

To all of those who God has so generously placed in my life to pastor me: THANK YOU!  I appreciate you with all my heart!!!!

Published in: on October 30, 2008 at 5:52 am  Comments (2)  

God’s “To Do” List

If God had a “to do” list for today, that would be interesting to see what was on it.

Published in: on October 29, 2008 at 3:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom’s birthday.  But I won’t tell you how old she is, because you’re not supposed to give away a lady’s age, especially when she’s got more years than Heinz does varieties.  Happy birthday, Mom!!!

Published in: on October 29, 2008 at 6:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Station 7…We’ll Meet Again Someday

Yesterday I went to lunch with Daryl & John at Station 7.  It’s always great to hang out with those two!  I’ve learned so much from them about so many things, and now that list has expanded to include fatherhood; more specifically, they’ve been coaching me on the intricacies of being a husband during pregnancy and delivery.  There’s so much I’ve never heard of or even thought about before!

I got totally stuffed because Daryl talked me into getting nachos for an appetizer (it’s a huge serving I usually have for a whole meal) and a BBQ pulled pork sandwich.  But I have to admit I was rather easily convinced! 

I figured I might as well go out with a bang, anyway, as I won’t be eating out much for awhile.  Carolyn and I have decided to try to live solely on my income for the next seven months so we can see how it will work after the baby is born.  Meanwhile, we’ll deposit her paychecks into a special account that we can use for supplemental income during the baby’s first few months.  Bottom line: very, very limited trips to Station 7!  That’s alright though, ’cause I definitely went out in a blaze of glory.

Published in: on October 29, 2008 at 5:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Catalyst: Steven Furtick

Of all the speakers at Catalyst, the one who was the biggest hit had to be Steven Furtick, the founding pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.  His presentation and passion can’t be captured in notes, unfortunately, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Between God’s promise and its payoff is a process–a painful process.
  • Keep your vision in sight even when there is nothing to see.
  • Even when we don’t see results, God is actively at work.
  • Hang on to what I hear from God.
  • “Be faithful in the process.”
  • “God is preparing you for what He’s prepared you for.”
  • Hang on to the promise!
  • We’ve got to see the glory of God released in our generation.
  • Take what you’ve got and work it!
Published in: on October 28, 2008 at 10:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Real Life: Living in Hope

Yesterday at CrossWay we read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 and talked about the hope we have in Jesus Christ.  The podcast will be up soon!

Published in: on October 27, 2008 at 11:07 am  Comments (2)  

And the Winner Is…

With all the bad press we read about professional athletes today, it’s refreshing to read something like this.

Published in: on October 25, 2008 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment