Sunday, October 21, 2007

Kentucky

This past weekend I went up to Ashland, KY and preached. This church is about 5 hours away from home and is nestled right up on the Ohio River bordering Ohio and West Virginia. The church is fairly small, there were probably 30 in attendance for my sermon which is ok because I am still getting accustomed to preaching. I thought I had been to the Ashland Church before on a music tour with Highland but I had obviously not been there because I got lost getting to the church on Sabbath morning and I barely made it in time for the service which was first and then Sabbath school was second. As I drove to Ashland on Friday and then returned Sabbath afternoon I was struck by the beauty of Eastern and Central Kentucky. I had not been to many of those parts since I was a student at Highland when we would go on music tours. Of course fall is around the corner so the leaves are starting to turn and this is brought out in its full beauty as you can see this in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. As I went through Lexington yesterday I realized that this is a town I could live in. The rolling hills, the white fences, the horses, all of this made me nostalgic to actually live there. Although I am not sure how I would deal with all of the University of Kentucky fervor. At any rate, if you live around here maybe take a day trip or go camping in to some of these parts as I believe this is some of the most beautiful country in the U.S. If you don't live here and are reading this maybe you should consider moving to Kentucky or Tennessee, it doesn't get a lot better than here:) No bias from my perspective of course. Hope all are doing well that are reading this.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Church and its Challenges

It is Friday, October 12 and I am thankful to have arrived at the end of another long and hard week. The responsibilities and the amount of things that need to be done for my work at the Conference office has not let up and does not seem to be letting up as I am routinely working between 50 to 60 hours a week. We are short staffed in the Treasury Dept. and we are hoping to turn the corner and get caught up but it has been an uphill battle ever since I started this past December as I am still undergoing training and the learning curve. So hopefully in the future when I am more comfortable with my responsibilites the hours will not have to be so long. Although I am spending many hours I still count it a priviledge and a tremendous blessing to be working for the church and ever so grateful to God for His leading. With all this being said it is remarkable to me at how much is going on in the church and the problems that it is facing. I just came from a Bible study tonight at the Highland church, the second largest church in our conference. The study has been going through Dan. 11 the past few weeks and it has been very interesting and insightful but tonight was spent just discussing the problems and challenges that the Highland church is facing. There has been a severe division in the church in regards to worship style and the direction that the church should go. This is not the only church that is having these problems. As I listened to the challenges and trials and the absolute turmoil that this church has been through it becomes very hard and somewhat discouraging to listen to and to contemplate. How as an overall church are we to move forward when there is so much division and disunity. It pains me greatly to see our members struggling with issues of belief. standards, styles of worship, and a host of other things. Again, I must say this is not just at Highland but at other churches as well. I was talking to our Conference Ministerial Director about these issues in our churches. He said something quite meaningful in my estimation which was that the problems that we as a church our facing is not just the surface issues that our glaring such as worship style, standards, etc. The root is the understanding of the salvation process. Are lifestyle issues, reform, standards, victorious living is this all essential in the process of salvation or is it not? This is the crux of the issue. As a result it is seen where sides are being drawn and how divisions are taking place. There are so many issues in the church that it is way beyond the scope of this blog to address them. Which is my point, why do we have to face so many problems when if we as a people could take seriously our message, study it, and live it then I believe so many of these problems would dissappear. I do realize that this is wishful thinking though. So again I must say i write tonight having a feeling of somewhat discouragement to see what is happening amongst our people. I firmly believe though that God is behind this church and is still leading its path. I know not whether the shaking is taking place or not but I do know that we should be living our lives in preperation as if the shaking is occuring and all we can do is earnestly plead for the Spirit in our lives to remove any obstacle in our lives from being like Jesus and being able to receive the outpouting of the latter rain. I am preaching in Ashland, KY next Sabbath and I am not sure if I will use a sermon I have preached before or if I will try to develop more some of the things I have posted tonight. As you can see my thoughts have not been organized as well I would like them to be but I am trying to put into words the feelings of frustration I am experiencing. I will close with a quote from Ellen White from the book Maranatha Chapter 195. Although I know we have not reached the magnitude yet of the seriousness of this quote I look at it with great faith as to how God will still work and lead His church. " Satan will work his miracles to deceive; he will set up his power as supreme. The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out--the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place. None but those who have been overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths.... The remnant that purify their souls by obeying the truth gather strength from the trying process, exhibiting the beauty of holiness amid the surrounding apostasy. "