Pastor Blogs

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Courageous Living

This article is printed by permission of Dave Braneky, Pastor of Baptist Church of West Chester, PA. The article was originally published on the church blog.

Profile picture(1)Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I invite you to ponder what you think you would have done in the following situations:

What would you have done if you were a utility meter reader in a small town in Montana in the 1980’s and you noticed lots of people in their late 40’s and early 50’s were home during the day and on oxygen tanks?   Would you have ignored this weird thing?  Or would you’ve tried to find out what was making these people sick?

If you were a lawyer sent to Afghanistan in 2008 to train Afghan lawyers for nine months, would you have decided to stay in Afghanistan after the first nine months, set up your own law office and continue to represent female clients in Afghan courts even after you’ve been detained, accused of being a spy, running a brother and have had a grenade thrown at your office?

If you were a doctor campaigning for total transparency in medicine, calling upon doctors to reveal their conflicts of interest to patients, would you continue your campaign after people threatened your life and your livelihood?

If you were a religious leader, would you have confronted soldiers in your military telling them to return the prisoners and plunder they brought back from war?

What would you have done in these situations?  Would you have had the courage to keep researching for a reason for why your neighbors were sick?  Would you have had the courage to keep representing Afghan women?  Would you have had the courage to continue your campaign for total transparency?  Would you have had the courage to confront the soldiers in your military?

Three of these stories are from the recent past as heard on NPR’s Ted Radio Hour.  The other is an ancient story from II Chronicles 28:8-15.  This Sunday we’re going to explore what does it take to be courageous?  Is it an automatic response or a conscious choice?  Can everyone be courageous?  How can we live courageous lives?  What role does our Christian faith play in living courageously?

See you on Sunday,

Pastor Dave

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Just Do Something

This article is printed by permission of Brittany Tasch, Ministry Coordinator at City Alliance Church. The article was originally published on the church blog.

just_do_somethingI was chatting with my brother-in-law this morning who is probably the most ambitious, hard-working person I have ever met. He was sharing his dreams with me. He longs to work hard now to build a super successful business (he runs a personal training company), so that one day he could have the freedom to travel and do missions work all over the world. Yet in the meantime he is trying to reach his clients with the Gospel and thinking of new and innovative ways to bring Jesus into his workplace, into his daily life, in order to impact people in the here and now, where God has placed Him in this moment. He’s choosing to live missionally. He’s just doing something.

And this just got to me to thinking, as conversations and dreaming usually does, about the importance of taking risks and just doing something…right now. Trying something. Trying to reach our neighbor and build relationships, trying to impact our community, working hard for the glory of God and the good of our city. I think so often people (I know I find myself in this place a lot) can get so caught up in thinking they might say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, push someone away, not do something helpful, that they fear helping at all. We almost paralyze ourselves to doing anything because we are so afraid of doing the wrong thing. But that is the beauty of being human and serving a perfect God. We will always get it wrong, we will always mess it up. And I don’t mean that to sound defeating, but instead it should take the pressure off. God just wants us to try, to do something, that something often being a complete faith and trust that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do and will use us to do it.

I’ve been reminded a lot lately how much our enemy just wants to keep us paralyzed, incapacitated almost. The worst place for a Christian to be is to be regretting the past, worrying over our mistakes that we can’t move because we are so afraid of repeating our mistakes or messing things up. So we just idle along, afraid of ourselves and of the outcomes we may bring to something, that we give up trying. That is the worst place we can be. I find myself there all too often. And yet God is ever so gracious that He knows we will find ourselves there time and time again, which is why He tells us not to fear, not to worry, and just to come to Him. Because the best thing we can do as Christians seeking to change our community is to come to God, with all of our mess, full on knowing that we will continue to mess it all up, but that God can turn any mess into complete beauty if we just relinquish control and that deadly fear of failure to Him. That if we just try and we just do something, God will use it and will make it better than we could ever dare to imagine!

Love is an action. It is doing. Bob Goff, in his book Love Does, says, “You don’t need a plan; you just need to be present.”

Here’s to doing something. Here’s to being present and letting God guide our journey to figuring out what is best for our community and how to reach others in love and goodness.

Be light,

Brittany, Ministry Coordinator 🙂

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How Prayer Reveals the Heart

This article is printed by permission of Rev. David Scudder. Rev. Scudder has served as senior pastor of Bethel Chapel Church at 4100 K St. in Philadelphia since 1992. His blog is printed weekly in the Juniata News, a local paper in Philadelphia.

kneeling_in_prayer-300x214If you pray, why do you pray? That may sound like a silly question, but it’s not. Many people don’t understand the main reason God gave us prayer. I often meet people who tell me that they pray a lot. When I ask them what they are praying about, the answer usually relates to what they want God to change about their lives. Their prayers are centered on having better health, better relationships, or less stress.

It is true that bringing our physical needs to God is an important part of prayer (Matthew 7:11), but here is a challenge for all of us: Praying for things is NOT the main purpose for prayer.

I think Pastor John Piper hit the nail on the head when he said that “…prayer is not finally about getting things from God, but getting God.”

Prayer, in other words, is primarily a way to get to know God better. The Bible talks a lot about having a passion to know God better: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God” (Psalm 42:1); “Behold, I long for Your precepts; revive me through Your righteousness” (Psalm 119:40); “My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God” (Psalm 84:2).

If we have surrendered our lives to Christ, then we have been adopted into God’s family (Ephesians 1:5). Our Father in heaven wants us to spend intimate time with Him, just as anyone does in a good relationship. Because we are so prone to forget how much we need God, He often uses difficult circumstances to remind us to spend more time with Him. Hard times reveal what is in our hearts. That is how prayer reveals our heart. Do we just want to be comfortable, or do we want to experience more of God’s presence?

I recently found a quote by George MacDonald (1824-1905), a Scottish author, poet, and Christian pastor that challenged my heart: “How often we look upon God as our last and feeblest resource! We go to Him because we have nowhere else to go. And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us, not upon the rocks, but into the desired haven.” Charles Spurgeon said much the same thing in a different way: “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” “Rock of Ages” is a common name for God. It is the storms of life that show us how much we need Him.

If you long to know God better, then every genuine prayer of yours will be a success. I know this is true because God has made this promise: “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Do we just want God to do things for us, or is it our heart’s desire to be closer to Him?

Pursuing Christ in private prayer is important, of course, but Rev. Donald Whitney points out that “praying regularly with others can be one of the most enriching adventures of your Christian life.” Praying with others who also love Jesus helps us pursue a closer relationship with God. That is why we have regular times of prayer here at Bethel Chapel Church (Wednesdays at 7:00 PM and Sundays at 9:15 AM). All in the community are invited.

We would love for you to join us as we seek to get closer to Jesus. We want to partner with you as you pursue a better relationship with the God of the universe through Christ. “O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

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