Monday, February 28, 2011

Now It's Completely Official

Yesterday the congregation of the Euchee Valley Presbyterian Church of DeFuniak Springs, Florida, voted to call me as their next pastor. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

It is a small country church that has, over the years, saved up some money and recently received a very generous bequest. Hence they are able to call a full time pastor for the first time in living memory. A manse comes with the call, which is a relief. And even if, over time, the church cannot afford a full time pastor, there are other small churches that could use some pastoral leadership on a part time basis. Plus I can sit for the Florida Bar Exam at some point and have an active law license.

So, the future looks hopeful. Again, praise the Lord!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lake Erie Presbytery Voted On Ordination Standards Today

At its stated meeting today, the Presbytery of Lake Erie voted against changing the current ordination standards by 44-36. One person each (both were elders) gave the main presentations for or against the change. The person speaking for the change was more effective than her counterpart. She certainly connected better with the commissioners. The elder speaking against the change was, to my mind, rather dry and negative (and I agreed with his position, so I am not being biased against him).

After that, speakers could comment from the floor, in alternating order (pro and con). There was a two minute limit for each comment (although it was not strictly enforced). I think everyone who wanted to speak was heard. The arguments on both sides varied in quality.

The vote was significantly closer this time than the last time Lake Erie voted. In 2009, the vote was 59-32 against changing the Constitution in this way. As mentioned, the vote was 44-36 this time. This matches the national trend of both a higher proportion of people in favor of changing the ordination standards, AND fewer people bothering to vote, period.

In Lake Erie, I don't expect many, if any, minds were changed from the last time we voted, but several ministers and elders who would have voted "no" were either absent, or had since transfered to another Presbytery (in the case of ministers).

It seemed to me like relationships were maintained pretty well. Some folks I like were on the other side. I don't think that has changed.

I am glad for these good relationships across these lines. Whether they will be enough to keep us unified as a denomination is much less certain. While people on both sides say they want the controversy to go away, no one is willing to give way.

After the results were announced, our General Presbyter delivered remarks that stressed the possibility of reconciliation and unity. He was rewarded by applause at the end. I think people on both sides want to stay in relationship with one another in our Presbytery. But again, is that sufficient to keep us united as a single church?

Friday, February 18, 2011

George Carlin was right about one thing ...

I was never a big fan of George Carlin's, but he really nailed it on one thing: he said at one point that a house is just a place for our "stuff." As we prepare to move, we are sorting through the amazing amount of "stuff" we possess, deciding what to keep and what to give away (or what to throw away). We really need very little of the "stuff" in this house!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spurgeon's Evening Meditation for February 17

Something I've neglected for too long is sharing the Biblical wisdom of Charles Spurgeon, one of the truly great preachers:

“Whereas the Lord was there.”

Ezekiel 35:10
Edom’s princes saw the whole country left desolate, and counted upon its easy conquest; but there was one great difficulty in their way—quite unknown to them—“The Lord was there;” and in his presence lay the special security of the chosen land. Whatever may be the machinations and devices of the enemies of God’s people, there is still the same effectual barrier to thwart their design. The saints are God’s heritage, and he is in the midst of them, and will protect his own. What comfort this assurance yields us in our troubles and spiritual conflicts! We are constantly opposed, and yet perpetually preserved! How often Satan shoots his arrows against our faith, but our faith defies the power of hell’s fiery darts; they are not only turned aside, but they are quenched upon its shield, for “the Lord is there.” Our good works are the subjects of Satan’s attacks. A saint never yet had a virtue or a grace which was not the target for hellish bullets: whether it was hope bright and sparkling, or love warm and fervent, or patience all-enduring, or zeal flaming like coals of fire, the old enemy of everything that is good has tried to destroy it. The only reason why anything virtuous or lovely survives in us is this, “the Lord is there.”

If the Lord be with us through life, we need not fear for our dying confidence; for when we come to die, we shall find that “the Lord is there;” where the billows are most tempestuous, and the water is most chill, we shall feel the bottom, and know that it is good: our feet shall stand upon the Rock of Ages when time is passing away. Beloved, from the first of a Christian’s life to the last, the only reason why he does not perish is because “the Lord is there.” When the God of everlasting love shall change and leave his elect to perish, then may the Church of God be destroyed; but not till then, because it is written, Jehovah Shammah, “The Lord is there.”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's (Basically) Official!

Well, it's official, or as close as you can get ... the Committee on Ministry of the Presbytery of Florida (which is more or less the Florida panhandle) voted to allow me to become a member of the Presbytery upon the congregation voting to accept my proposed call. The seach is, God willing, over, and we can get on with our lives and ministry. I am so grateful to the people who served as my references and helped me and my family during a tough period.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How God Speaks

I think one way God speaks to us is through the laughter of a baby.