Dirty Jobs

For our children, a stay in a hotel has many charms.  The pool, of course, is at the top of the list.  Hotels without pools fall into the “emergency only” category.  Booking a room at such a venue is seen as a breach of paternal trust.  But our children also enjoy the freedom to jump from one bed to another (before 9:00 pm) as well as the carb-overloaded cereal bins in the breakfast area.  And then there is television.

We have a television at home and recently got basic cable, but we rarely watch anything that does not stream from Roku or spring from a DVD.   Unless we have a hankering for big-pharma or big-auto commercials, we never venture past the evening news into TV land – except when the Olympics are on.  But when we are at a hotel, we enjoy a small dose of cablevision, especially “Dirty Jobs.”  While the show’s host, Mike Rowe glories a bit in the “muck and mire” aspect of each episode, I appreciate the heroic light he shines on those who work these jobs, day in and day out.  But “dirty jobs” are not for everyone.  It demands special people to work these special jobs.  Despite the natural revulsions these jobs may inspire, each one is of value and produces something that makes our lives better.

As far as I know, “Dirty Jobs” has never done an expose on the work of elders in the church, though it certainly might qualify.  A mentor of mine once declared, “working with sheep is a dirty business.”  And, so it is with any helping and caring profession from the work of an elder, to a nurse or caregiver.   But the value of this work extends far beyond the here and now, into eternity.   For this reason, the Apostle Paul writing to his apprentice, Timothy, instructs him to instruct the church in regards to what type of men God calls into the work of elder and deacon.

Paul declares that anyone who sets his mind on this work desires a “noble task,” then sketches the qualities of elders as men who have been tested in life and leadership.  They have a proven track record of living and leading consistent with their creed.  But Paul’s instructions are not just for Timothy and an elite group of executive recruiters in Ephesus.  They are for the whole church, so they may know what type of leaders to desire and how to pray for the leaders they have.

Join us this Lord’s Day, January, as we examine 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and consider what type of men are to be desired and selected to do the dirty job of shepherding the flock of God.  We meet on the square in Pottsville, right next to historic Potts’ Inn at 10:45 am for worshipGet directions here or contact us for more info.   We look forward to seeing you.

Bonfire and Hymn Sing – Rescheduled!

The Pottsville Associate Reformed Church is hosting a Bonfire and Psalm/Hymn Sing, Saturday, May 19, 2018.  We will get started at 6:00pm at The Manse.  The Church will provide drinks and each family will bring a favorite Middle-Eastern themed appetizer, entree or dessert. Bring your friends and family and join us for a night of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs!  Click here for directions or email us at pottsvillearp@gmail.com for more info.

Bonfire and Hymn Sing

The Pottsville Associate Reformed Church is hosting a Bonfire and Psalm/Hymn Sing, Friday, April 6, 2018.  We will get started at 6:00pm at The Manse.  The Church will provide drinks and each family will bring a favorite Middle-Eastern themed appetizer, entree or dessert. Bring your friends and family and join us for a night of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs!  Click here for directions or email us at pottsvillearp@gmail.com for more info.

The God Who Sees

Recently our Congress extended permissions for the NSA to continue to dumpster dive in the flotsam and jetsam of your digital wake.  For another six years, so long as they happen to be hunting foreign terrorists, our government can keep a benevolent eye on us through the cyber tracks we leave everywhere in an ever-broadening desire to be connected.

Our pocket-palantirs are ever listening, watching and reporting.  In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien unwittingly prophesied the doubled-edged benefit of smart phones when he conceived of the Palantir.  The Palantir were seeing stones that let the characters in Tolkien’s world see and communicate with one another across time and space.   They also revealed the potential futures of those peering into them.  Sounds great, except that anyone looking into a Palantir could be seen by anyone possessing another Palantir, especially Sauron with his “all-seeing” eye.  Magic rings and Palantir are tempting productivity tools, but remember there is an “all-seeing” eye.

Many of my friends have tape on their smart phone camera, keep wifi and mobile data off, and never enable GPS because of concern that their pocket-palantir makes them seeable by an ambiguously benevolent higher power.  But this is not a new idea in the history of the world, just a different tool and new set of players.  Men have always had concern over whether they are being watched.  Jesus noted that men prefer darkness to light so that their deeds may remain hidden.  Yet the scripture notes that even darkness is as light to God and that the Lord sees everything, down even to the deepest thoughts and intents of the hearts.

The Nazca Indians of South America sensed this, even in their spiritual darkness, and constructed mammoth images on the desert floor to please the gods above whom they believed to be angry because of the lives of men.  Men throughout history have distressed over an awareness that the God Who Is, is a God Who Sees.  The Psalms speaks of those who try repress the knowledge of God’s omniscience through idolatry and atheism. Yet, this thing which men’s darkened hearts fear, is their greatest hope.  For the God who sees is the God who saves.  The God who sees is the God who loves the loveless and relieves the afflicted in their affliction.

Genesis 29 is a complicated story of an ancient family dealing with the whole cadre of modern sins.   Jacob deceives and is deceived, faces drama and jealousy, plays favorites and shirks his obligations and labors under caustic relations with in-laws.  What hope is there for such a family?   What hope is there for our complicated families?  Buried in this passage is the sad tale of Leah, the unloved wife and woman.  Her father trundled her off to Jacob to defraud him out of seven additional years of labor.  Her new husband despised her.  Her wedding bed was shared with her sister.  She was the contempt of her husband, father and sister – but not of the Lord who Sees.  He saw her in her affliction.  He saw that she was not loved.  He loved her and gave her the gift of children, whose love would fill up her empty spaces.

Join us for worship this Lord’s Day, March 11, at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we examine the story of Leah in Genesis 29 and consider how God, who sees us for what and who we are, is the God who loves us with steadfast and redemptive love.  Click here for directions.  We look forward to seeing you.

A Service of Readings and Songs

“What thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinner’s gain; mine, mine was the transgression, but thine the deadly pain.  Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ‘Tis I deserve thy place; look on me with thy favor, vouchsafe to me thy grace”  Bernard of Clairvaux

Join us this Good Friday, March 30, 2018 at 7:00pm at Pottsville Associate Presbyterian Church for a Service of Readings and Hymns.  For directions, click here.  For more information email us at pottsvillearp@gmail.com.

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

While old campaign slogans may be catchy and the memorabilia that immortalized them collectable, the issues they expressed are hardly relevant or even discernible in our day.   As we approach the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on October 31, 2017, our social media feeds will be burgeoning with memes and sermon series announcements related to the Five Solas, or Reformation era slogans, expressing the central concerns of the Protestant Reformers.  These slogans are:

  • Sola Scriptura, By Scripture alone,
  • Sola Gratia, By Grace alone,
  • Sola Fide, By Faith alone,
  • Solus Christus, By Christ alone,
  • Soli Deo Gloria, For God’s Glory alone.

As a Reformed Church our identity and our name is connected explicitly to a Sixteenth Century historical movement in Western European History, while our faith and practice is staunchly defined and directed by a book that has not been updated in almost two thousand years.

Are we not a living, breathing anachronism?   Are we not irrelevant to culture and a world that has advanced and moved on from the historical context into which we were born?  Does the Reformation still matter?  Do the Five Solas have any more relevance for our lives today than “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too?”  Or are we just worshiping and practicing our own outdated style in a world that is moving on without us?  These are weighty questions which we need to ask and answer as we consider “who” and “what” we are as a Reformed Church in the Twenty-First Century.

Join us this Lord’s Day, October 8, for worship at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we consider the question, “Why Does Sola Scriptura Still Matter?”  For directions click here. We look forward to seeing you.

Apathy

Scientists announced today that they have discovered a cure for apathy. However, they claim no one has shown the slightest interest in it.      George Carlin

Apathy can be deadly.  Apathy takes us off our guard and makes us vulnerable to accident or attack.  As soon as we overestimate our ability or underestimate our opposition, trouble begins to brew.  The scripture is filled with admonitions against apathy both in regard to physical life and spiritual life.

The giant, Goliath, was apathetic.  He overestimated his ability and underestimated his opposition.  He thought he was facing a mere shepherd boy in David, but he was dead wrong. The Philistine said to David,

“Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down…” 1 Samuel 17:44-46

To be apathetic toward God’s word, power and judgment is a deadly business. In His Letters to the Seven Churches in Asia in Revelation 2 and 3, the risen Christ rebuked the Laodicean church, not for gross immorality or doctrinal compromise, but for it’s apathy.

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16

Are you apathetic toward God?  Is your spiritual life cold and dry?   Are you unconcerned about the condition of your soul?  This is the sorry picture that confronts us in Genesis 19.  As the men of Sodom stand upon the eve of judgment, their only thought is to gratify their selfish and evil desires.  Even when it is obvious that judgment is upon them, they still plod forward in sin.  Their apathy proved deadly.

Join us this Lord’s Day, October 1, for worship at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we examine Genesis 19 and consider our own responsiveness to the realities of God’s judgment and discipline in our lives.  For directions click here. We look forward to seeing you.