The Heartbeat
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. - Romans 8:22

Many people have commented on the seemingly increasing regularity and intensity of natural disasters: hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, record snowfalls, and so forth. To top it all off, maybe you have seen the recent reports of seismic activity near Yellowstone National Park – indications of a potential volcanic eruption. In A Short History of Nearly Everything author Bill Bryson highlights what a major volcanic eruption in that area could mean for the U.S. (and the entire globe)…and it is not good. So what is going on?

As we come closer to Reformation Sunday (October 29) on this 500-year anniversary of Martin Luther's bold stance for truth, it seems like a most appropriate time to focus in on what the Protestant Reformation was all about. While historians may focus on the growing independence of nations and sociologists focus on how the printed page helped to bring about the end of feudalism, theologians tend to focus on the doctrinal shift that took place in the church as a result of the Reformation. Over the course of this and the next four Sundays I am going to highlight this shift (with scripture). But here is how that shift has often been capsulized or summarized. It is called the "Five Solas."

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." – 2 Corinthians 3:18

As we come into this season of especially remembering the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, I want to remind us all that reformation is an ongoing process. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:18 we are BEING transformed. It is not that we WERE transformed. Our spiritual change, brought about by the Spirit of Christ, was not and is not a once and done event.

When I was still quite young in the faith, I ran across a book that proved to be a spiritual gold mine for me. It was entitled They Found the Secret: Twenty Transformed Lives by V. Raymond Edman. I'll explain WHY it was such a gold mine in a minute. But first let me tell you about my past week…

While visiting a new family at the church, the woman told me about how, back in the 1970s, God did such a marvelous work of grace in her life. She said that though she had named Jesus as her Savior since the time she was young, it was at this later time, when she was now an adult, that she came to know and experience the Holy Spirit.

"See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction." – Deuteronomy 30:15

The destruction brought about by Hurricane Harvey and its relentless rain is difficult to grasp. At least 23 dead; 100,000 homes damaged, if not destroyed; tens of thousands living in shelters. One has to wonder what good could come out of all this.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely…" - Hebrews 12:1a (ESV)

This September 10 marks 35 years that Ruth and I have been in the same house. Given that Americans move, on the average, once every five years, this is, we think, quite monumental! Certainly the Lord has been good to us and blessed us. We thank Him every day.

"All things are lawful for me," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful for me," but I will not be enslaved by anything. – 1 Corinthians 6:12

For the moment, let us assume that the possession and use of marijuana will be legalized in Pennsylvania. Under that scenario one could legally (or lawfully) purchase, own and use marijuana. If that time comes, what should be the Christian's attitude towards this? A number of points…

"Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret." - Ephesians 5:11-12

This past week I received a phone call from a man asking me a question about Burning Hearts that I have never been asked before. He said, "Are you (meaning the church) LGBTQ friendly?" Now, how would YOU answer that question? When the call was finished I mentioned it to Ruth saying, "I've never been asked that question before." She said, "I bet it is not the last time you are asked it either."

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children…" - Deuteronomy 6:6-7a

This past week was a big week for Burning Hearts Community Church for it was the week of our first endeavor at having a Vacation Bible School. This may not seem like much to many of you but for the church's Education Committee and for those involved it was a BIG undertaking. Here is my feedback on it…

One of my father's many quips is "Nothing ever stays the same." While on vacation (in the Adirondacks of New York) and upon coming home, that statement proved to be more than true. Here are some things that happened in the 10 days we were gone…

The church parking lot was repaved! In every way the church property is looking better and better.

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." - Exodus 20:8

Just as Israel was commanded to give a tenth (tithe) of all their increase, they were commanded to set aside one day in seven as a holy day, void of any and all labor. From a purely economic perspective, neither of these commands made sense as the one resulted in a giving away of 10% of one's wealth while the other prohibited laboring (for income) 14.3% of the time. Added to this is the fact that God commanded all men within ancient Israel to three times each year leave their homes and travel to Jerusalem to take part in Israel's various feasts.

"…When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" - Luke 18:8

The above statement by our Savior is rather enigmatic. It is impossible to know exactly what he meant by his question. Nevertheless, the standard approach to the verse is to state that Christ is here referring to his return – his "second coming" – and that he is rhetorically asking what faith among people he will find come that time.

"…the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Jacob's sake…" – Genesis 39:5

You can call it "The Secret" (the Law of Attraction), call it just being lucky, or you can call it by its Biblical name: the Lord's blessing. But we all know what it means to have it or not have it. "Some people have all the luck" is how our world might put it. It's the exact opposite of "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all" (from the song Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me).

"…The Kingdom of Heaven…the violent take it by force." - Matthew 11:12

Three times a day we take our small dog, Rocky, for a walk. The early morning and late night walks are very brief while the midday walk is lengthy. This midday walk usually lasts about 15 minutes or more. On this walk, Rocky makes a point of urinating on pretty much every tree, bush, or post that we pass by. There is a mandatory sniffing at each object before Rocky leaves a small amount of pee on the object. Clearly – at least this is how we interpret it – Rocky is marking off "his" territory. He is letting other dogs know that he has been here and is therefore a contender in the field of dog supremacy.

"As he came from his mother's womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand." – Ecclesiastes 5:15

As things would be, my father is almost exactly 25 years older than I. Because of that, his life has served as a good measuring stick by which I might look ahead and say, "That's me in 25 years," or "That's what I'll likely be facing in 25 years." Now when you are 10 or even 20 years old, 25 years sounds like a very long time. But as one who has now lived 64 years, 25 years doesn't seem like all that much time.

"The church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth." – 1 Timothy 3:15b

In last Sunday's sermon I made the statement that "The church is not a club, or a business. It's not even a hospital. The church is the church." Although no one commented to me about the "hospital" comment, I would like to explain that part a bit further.

It is not unusual to hear someone say something to the effect "The church is not a museum of (or for) saints, but it is a hospital for sinners." To date I have never heard anyone argue against that idea. But I would like to, so let me explain…

"…That through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery." - Hebrews 2:14b-15

I was so saddened when I received Bonnie Gish's phone call this past Wednesday morning telling me of her husband's stroke. Upon arriving at the hospital, I found Rich and Bonnie in the Trauma Unit. It was then that I heard the story in detail: how in the middle of the night Rich sensed something was wrong, and though he was able to get up out of bed and even walk around the room he knew that he dare not go downstairs as he might not be able to make it back up the stairs. Within minutes of these thoughts, paralysis struck the left side of Rich's body. The ambulance arrived soon after.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." - Romans 8:18

This past week was our annual GO BEYOND week – a week of service to the community doing everything from picking up roadside trash to packing meals for starving people in Somalia. It was a good week but it was also a hot week.

It was on Wednesday (not yet the hottest day of the week), while picking up roadside trash near the junction of routes 283 and 30, that I started to grow quite weary. By this point I had already spent many hours over the past couple days constantly bending over to pick up trash. I was sweaty, I was tired, and I was quite dirty.

"Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned." – Proverbs 31:30-31a (NIV)

My younger sister, Marilou, called me last week to let me know that our dad, who has been living with her in Arizona, is not doing well. He willingly went to the hospital as he was in such extreme pain (left shoulder and right leg). The doctor said he could not find anything wrong with him other than he is simply old (he is 89), and so they sent him home. Since then Marilou has said that she has seen a notable change in him physically. He is very weak.

"…Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:16

This is now the third year that I have committed Burning Hearts to be involved in the Go Beyond week of service. To date, I have done so with the blessing of the elders, but I am not certain I have always done so with the blessing of the congregation. After all, is this not just "one more thing" to do?

"You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world" – Matthew 5:13a and 14a"You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world" – Matthew 5:13a and 14a

Recently we had the most bizarre thing happen to one of our cars. While driving down the road, I heard the noise of air coming from the sunroof of our 2008 VW Passat. This is the car that Jonathan drives on a daily basis. I pushed the button to open the roof and then pushed it to close it. Still the sound of air. So again I opened it and then closed it. No change. I opened it a third time and this time when I went to close it I heard a "SNAP!" sound.

Upcoming Events

Adult Sunday School
04 Dec 2022 - 09:00AM
Worship Service
04 Dec 2022 - 10:30AM
Prayer Meeting
07 Dec 2022 - 07:00PM
Adult Sunday School
11 Dec 2022 - 09:00AM
Worship Service
11 Dec 2022 - 10:30AM