Pastor Dave’s Blog

New Life (5/28/17)

When our oldest daughter, Katie, was two years old, her Aunt Mary passed away. Several years later, when Katie was nine, Mary’s brother, Kay, went to be with the Lord. When I found out that Uncle Kay had passed, I went into Katie’s bedroom to tell her. After I explained what happened and that Uncle Kay was now in heaven, she looked at me and said, “I bet Aunt Mary was waiting for him when he got there.”

This Memorial Sunday, we honor our family members who have passed from this life during this past year. We trust they are now living a new life in heaven if they knew Jesus as their Savior. And, just like Katie, we wonder what their new life in heaven is like for them.

While we’re encouraged about the hope we have of a new life in heaven, we don’t have to wait until we die to have new life. In Romans 5, Paul said we have peace with God because of what Jesus did on the cross. We need Jesus because Adam only had one law to follow. Don’t eat the fruit. As we know all too well, Adam disobeyed and that brought death and suffering to all of creation. Jesus’ resurrection, which came after millions of people had lived and committed countless sins, freed us from the curse of sin through God’s grace. Continue reading

The One Word That Kills Spiritual Growth (5/21/17)

Are there areas in our lives where we’re doing things which are in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus but we’re convincing ourselves that we’re innocent of doing anything wrong? We can all say “yes” if we’re really honest with ourselves. The next question is: Are we willing to change and be faithful to Jesus even if it means stepping out in faith, trusting God and perhaps even walking alone?

After all, there’s no question that following Jesus is downright difficult at times. Sometimes family members shy away from us because of our faith. Co-workers avoid us and perhaps even mock us for taking Jesus too seriously. Sometimes our bosses will ask us to do things that are morally wrong but saying “no” to them might cost us a good paying job. It’s easier to ignore people than it is to work at restoring broken relationships with them. Turning a blind eye to suffering and injustice is much easier than standing against it. And the list goes on and on… Continue reading

Hearing God’s Voice (5/14/17)

As most of you know, I used to be part of a family logging and firewood business. My father and I would visit our logging crews together on a regular basis while our office manager took care of the office. One time dad and I were going to check on a logging crew but our office manager happened to be off that day. My mom came into the office to answer the phone when dad and I left.

The area in West Virginia we lived in has very sporadic cell phone service. There was only one area where we had service between our office and the logging job. When we reached that area, my dad said, “Call mom and make sure everything is ok.”

I called and she answered, “Hello. Clearwater Timber Resources and Frontier Firewood.” Instead of saying, “Hey mom. Is everything OK? We wanted to check in before we got out of cell range.”, I disguised my voice and said, “How much is your firewood?” Mom didn’t recognize my voice. I carried on a conversation with her and she never realized who she was talking to her. Continue reading

Letting Go (5/7/17)

One of the things I like about the Church of the Brethren is our understanding of God. According to brethren.org, “The central emphasis of the Church of the Brethren is not a creed, but a commitment to follow Christ in simple obedience, to be faithful disciples in the modern world. As do most other Christians, the Brethren believe in God as Creator and loving Sustainer. We confess the Lordship of Christ, and we seek to be guided by the Holy Spirit in every aspect of life, thought, and mission.”

As Christians, we want to experience the love of God, the saving power of Jesus and to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which includes our thoughts. We should strive to be obedient to every person of the Trinity in everyday life and the ministries God gives us.

Stephanie and I have never questioned God called us to Snake Spring Valley Church of the Brethren. We’ve felt nothing but love from you and we’ve seen God working here from the moment we arrived. We also like living in Bedford County.

Still, there were areas in our lives where we needed God to work. Although we loved each other and had a solid marriage, after 30 years of being together there were a couple of areas in our relationship where we achieved the level of “miserable comfortableness.” If you’ve been married for a while, you know what I mean. I’m talking about those areas where you’re not happy but you know things may never change so you find a place where you can endure it. Stephanie and I were aware of these problem areas but we didn’t have the ability to change them on our own So, we kept praying: Lord, make my spouse the person I need and make me the person my spouse needs. Continue reading

Bearing Fruit (4/30/17)

During the summer of 2000, a friend of mine, Harry, and I decided to attend the NASCAR race at Daytona, Florida. As we made our plans, Harry said, “I’ll print a map off the computer so we know which routes to take.” (This was before GPS.) When I picked him up to leave for the trip, I asked about the map. He responded, “I didn’t print one. We just head south don’t we?”

I didn’t agree with his philosophy. When you’re going from Point A to Point B, you need a map. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting off-course or, even worse, completely lost. I went back to my house and got a road atlas.

God is calling us to go on a journey with him. He wants to take our relationship with Jesus to the next level. Since we’re going from Point A, where we are now, to Point B, the place where Jesus wants to take us, we need a map. We have one. It’s called the Bible. If we want to be all that we can be in Christ, we need to believe it’s true and live according to its principles and teachings. If the Bible says something is sin, then it’s sin. If the Bible tells us to love, then we need to love. If the Bible tells us to submit to Jesus, then we need to submit to Jesus. If the Bible tells us to walk with the Holy Spirit, then we need to walk with the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

Moving Forward (4/23/17)

Ten years ago, I weighed almost 300 pounds. I’ve lost over 80 pounds since then. It wasn’t easy to do so I did it in stages. When I was at my maximum weight, I began exercising and cutting back on the number of calories I ate each day. I lost thirty pounds but then something happened. I plateaued and quit losing weight. The only way for me to keep losing was to further decrease the number of calories I consumed. As my body got smaller, I had to keep eating less. What got me to one level wouldn’t get me to the next level. The only way I could get there was to change what I was doing.

During my first interview with the search committee at Snake Spring Valley CoB, I was told, “We’re looking for a pastor to help take us to the next level, whatever that is.” My question to you is this: Do you really want to go to the next level? The reason I ask is because what got you to this level won’t get you to the next one. If it could, you’d already be there. The only way to get to the next level is to change some things. Continue reading

Live (4/9/17)

Even though you’re here at church this morning, do you really know Jesus as your Savior? If you do know him as your Savior, how close is your relationship with him?

To help figure this out, we could do a series of Bible studies followed up by a questionnaire. Obviously, we don’t have time to do this right now so let’s simplify things. Please take a moment and honestly answer one question: The emotions I feel when I think about my own death are:

The way we answer this question reveals a lot about how much we really trust Jesus and how close to him we really are. The truth is that even though we’ve been taught Christians shouldn’t fear death, sometimes our attitude about it is the same as Woody Allen’s – I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Continue reading

The Benefits of Blindness (4/2/17)

The ministry training program I went through required my classmates and I to go to class on Tuesday evenings and every fifth Saturday. To be honest, these Saturday’s got long sometimes, especially when the professor wasn’t an animated speaker.

Occasionally, a professor would let us out of the classroom and take us on a fieldtrip. Once our class was told we would take a day and look at the problems facing the inner-cities. We would either go to New York City, Philadelphia or Allentown. I quickly spoke up and said, “Let’s go to Allentown.” At the time, I lived 100 miles from New York City, 60 miles from Philadelphia but only eight miles from Allentown. I really didn’t think there was any way we would go to Allentown since the other cities are so much bigger. But that’s where we went. Continue reading

The Realities of Ordination (3/26/17)

Today we are celebrating the ordination of brother Gary Koontz. It seems like it was only yesterday when a colleague and friend was preaching my ordination service. He touched on issues and topics that were relevant to serving the Church of the Brethren as an ordained minister. Over the years, I discovered there were a few things he didn’t tell me that I wish he would have covered so I might have been better prepared when they arose. I’ll briefly cover topics in both of these areas today. While I’ll focus on how they apply to pastoral leadership, please know these topics and principles also apply to every person and ministry in the church.

Several principles about serving God are found in Acts 4:1-22. It says, “The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand. Continue reading

Faith of the Centurion (3/19/2017)

In January 2005, God allowed me the privilege of going to Uganda and Sudan with other Church of the Brethren members. The trip excited me because I’d never done anything like that in my life. I was also a little nervous because I didn’t know anyone else who was going.

I flew to Chicago where I met the other team members. We then boarded a plane for London where we would catch another flight to Kampala, the capital of Uganda. A day and a half later, we arrived in Kampala and spend the night. The next morning, we went back to the airport so we could catch a commuter flight to northern Uganda. The name of the airline we were flying on is Eagle Air. The size of our group was 16 people but the airplane had 20 seats. Our group paid for the extra seats so we could use them to carry our supplies and luggage. Continue reading