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Oh my beloved village, what a crazy world we live in! The world’s brokenness has been on full display. There are so many issues—injustice, racism, hatred, murder, disrespect, chaos, disease, political divide… and so on. But gang, there is only one problem—sin. What we teach our young folks at Maugansville Church is that sin is selfishness. It is the selfishness where you put yourself first, your desires, wants, thoughts, are your top priority. That means you have put God and your neighbors at a distant second or third. Sin, or selfishness, says “I matter more than anyone.” It means that we view ourselves not just as more important—but MOST important. All of the issues I mentioned above are caused by someone or a group acting as if they are the most important and relegating everyone else as not important.

When God created us, he did so in his image. That is, he made us to be like him. Our ultimate purpose is to put God’s characteristics on display for the whole world. Or to use churchy language—to glorify God. But sin, our selfishness, said that we would rather put our own glory on display, we wanted our decisions, our thoughts, ideas, and qualities to be on display for the world. Adam and Eve thought they were the most important and as their children, all of humanity has inherited that selfishness.

So what is the answer? Remember who we are. We are images of God, whose purpose is to show the world the goodness and glory of God. And right now, more importantly, it means that we also remember who our neighbors are: images of God. All of humanity, was created in God’s image. Imagine if we looked at each other right now, not as someone who agreed or disagreed with us, but as images of God. What would it be like if the police saw black men as God’s images? What would it be like if the protestors saw the police as God’s images? Could you imagine if President Trump and  Joe Biden spoke to and about each other like they were speaking to images of God? It seems radical, but it is true. That is why Jesus told us that after we are fully and completely in love with God that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Because the truth is, we are no different, we are both images of God!

Oh my beloved village, we can begin this revival of ideas and lead the way. The Maugansville I grew up in was lily white. The only diversity was whether you were Mennonite or Brethren. But now, the Maugansville I am raising a family in is the most diverse area of Washington County! They are people of every shade and color from all over the world. And whether you think that they look like they are from Lancaster, Russia, Africa or Guatemala, the truth is, they look like God. Let’s treat each other that way. Let’s bring some of heaven and God’s glory to this broken mess.

Love ya Maugansville!

God is JUST!

May 6, 2020 — Leave a comment

The Preacher of Ecclesiastes continues to shake his fist at God’s sovereignty. Looking to the one who made a season for everything under the sun, the Preacher scoffs at God insinuating that He forgot about a season of Justice. He looked to the courts and the temple and found wickedness–not justice. He accuses man of being no better than a beast and comes to this conclusion–there is no hope, so seize the day and any happiness you can find.

However, as disciples of Jesus, we know that there is so much more than what we see on earth. Our transcendent God has created us in his image, and with eternal life. Justice is coming and will be fulfilled in ENTERNITY.

As we look beyond the sun, we live our lives seeking to bring justice to the oppressed and yet yielding injustice done to us to God. We live today, looking to eternity.

Bible Study based on Ecclesiastes 2:18-26

The preacher of Ecclesiastes now looks to work for the meaning of life. From a secular worldview–work always fails us and in the end it is vanity. From a biblical worldview–we love work! It is a gift from God and he has called us to it.

This Bible Study on Ecclesiastes 2:18-26 was recorded on 4/29/30 @MBBC.

Bible Study Notes from 4/22/20

This is what Christians call Good Friday. Around 33AD, Jesus the Nazarene was crucified on a Roman cross. This happened the Friday of the Jewish Passover celebration. That celebration was a memorial festival for the Jews where they remembered God’s angel of destruction “passing-over” their homes and preserving their children. Jesus had been arrested late Thursday evening into Friday morning. Through the night into the morning he had been passed from leader to leader, both Jewish and Roman. The Jews accused him of blasphemy because of his claims of being the Son of God. The Romans accused him of treason because he had been called a King, the King of the Jews. Normally foes, the Romans and Jews came together to deal with their common problem—Jesus the Nazarene.

The decision was made, Jesus was condemned to the cross. He was beaten, mocked and scorned. He had to carry his own cross, the one that would die one, he carried it out of the city, up a hill and to its final resting place on Golgotha. There he was nailed to the cross, both hands and feet, and the cross was lifted up and dropped into its hole to stand. Around 3 p.m., after three hours of darkness, the man died. At the moment of Jesus’ death there was a great earthquake and resulted in damage to the Temple.

Friday saw a corrupt trial. An innocent man was tortured and killed. The Temple was damaged. Why in the world would we ever call this GOOD Friday? Is it sarcasm? Did we get it confused with the day after Thanksgiving?

No, it is rightly named Good Friday. It is good because God makes bad things good! Jesus’ death was bad. But God used it for good. Jesus from Nazareth was unique, there had never been anyone on earth like him. The historical records about his life say that he never sinned—meaning never lied, never stole, never disobeyed his parents, never went against God in word, thought or deed. Because Jesus was an innocent man, a man without sin, God used his death as a substitute for all of those who are guilty, who do sin. The death of Jesus satisfied the wrath of God against sin. But there is more—Jesus’ death was not final—two days later, on Sunday morning Jesus was brought back to life. The man who didn’t deserve to die, was raised back to life. In this moment, God also defeats the power that death has over humanity. We are told in letters that circulated in the first century after Jesus’ death and resurrection that his resurrection was the prototype for what God would do with the rest of humanity. The letters declare that those who know who Jesus was and trust in God’s plan will also be resurrected after they die.

It is a Good Friday. The two great enemies of mankind had been defeated—death and sin. God was able to do this because he makes bad things good. Remember that today. There is a lot of bad in the world. There is a lot of fear. There is a lot of talk about sickness and death. The news will tell every reason to be afraid. Jesus tells us not to worry. We don’t have to fear death anymore. We don’t have to fear COVID-19. Don’t get me wrong—its bad. But remember, especially on this good day, God takes bad things and makes good happen. If you have questions about this, or want more information, ask God to show it to you. He will.

Happy Good Friday! I love ya’ Maugansville!

arranged for family worship on 4/5/20 from ESV, editorial notes by Chad Carter

Decency is not canceled. Love is not canceled. Friendship is not canceled. Family is not canceled. Generosity, compassion and kindness are not canceled.

There is a lot we have been asked not to do for a time, but there is so much more that we are allowed to do. Please, use this time to check in on friends with a phone call. Take your time, talk awhile. Catch up with each other and pray together over the phone.

Use this time to mend fences. Reconciliation hasn’t been canceled. Do you have a broken or strained relationship with a friend or family member? Fix it. Fix it today. You really can’t say you are too busy. There isn’t really anything to distract you. You don’t have any good excuses right now. So pick up the phone, call the person and just say, “I was thinking about you and wondered how you are holding up with all that is going on?” Then let God’s grace do the rest of the work.

You are still allowed to read your bible. Pick it up, open it and listen for God’s call to you. Read it and look for the beauty of God. Search the pages for his holiness, the transcendent nature of God. Pour over his instructions about life and how to be in a relationship with him and your neighbors. The stories in the bible are full of life and loss, success and tragedy, crisis after crisis and yet God continues to move everything towards his purposes. Dozens of different authors over thousands of years, and there is one theme that rings through the whole narrative—God wants you. You have all of the time in the world right now. Get to know the greatest love story that was ever written, the Holy God in love with his broken servants. It too is a story of reconciliation, God is calling you and he has been ready to mend fences for a long time.

Don’t waste your time watching the news for hours every day. Redeem the time we have been given this week and do something productive and meaningful. Strengthen and rebuild the important relationships in your life. If you invest your time doing that in the next month, our community will come out of this pandemic stronger than we were before it.

Love ya Maugansville!

Don’t get me wrong, this virus sucks. This pandemic is serious. People are dying and that is nothing to take lightly. I am praying, as I am sure you are, that God will give the Health Industry wisdom to contain, heal and defeat COVID-19. I am ready to go back to church, watch baseball, go out to eat, walk my kids to school and sit down in a coffee shop and enjoy some coffee while writing these articles. I am ready for this to be over.

But I am not ready to go back to normal. Looking back—there are some things I don’t like about the old normal. It was busy. Every minute was filled with a task or obligation. My wife and I were in two different directions several nights a week, each chauffeuring a kid to some activity. And the worst part—I think the busyness became something I worshipped, an idol in my life. I felt like I was important because I was busy. In some weird way I saw my value as being measured by how many meetings, practices, lessons and activities I could fit in a day.

The last two weeks I have enjoyed everyone being home at night after work. Playing card games, cooking hot dogs over a fire, movie nights. Everything but my faith and family have been taken away, and I am happy. In fact I am more satisfied now than I have been in a while. With the busyness stripped away, I know my value is that of a father, husband, friend. My identity is a redeemed child of God, a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Neighbors, you and I have some decisions to make. When our first class Health Care System defeats COVID-19 and this pandemic is a history lesson, we will have to decide what to add back into our lives. We are learning right now what we truly can and cannot live without. What really brings us joy and what we really need. I’m not sure why it has taken 41 years to be so clear, but I know for certain today that all I need is God to be fully satisfied. And I am so blessed that he gave me my family to lead, disciple and enjoy.

So as things return to “normal”, I have resolved that I am going to have a new normal. I am only adding back into my schedule those things that affirm my identity as a disciple of Jesus, husband of Brenda and father to Aiden and Abigail.

Be safe my friends. Wash your hands. Stay away from each other. And take some time to figure out what really matters.

Love ya Maugansville!

Depression & Spirituality

February 26, 2020 — 4 Comments

It was almost 6 months ago that the doctor looked me in the eye and said, “Chad–you have depression.”

Can’t be… I love Jesus. I have the joy of the Lord. How can I be depressed? I’m a pastor for crying out loud. I’m just a little tired and run down. As soon as this season is over I’ll be back to my normal self. This too shall pass. I can’t be depressed, I’m a Christian, wouldn’t that mean I have a lack of faith? Or that I’m not a good believer?

These are lies from Satan that I believed. And lies that are still perpetuated by a misunderstanding of the church.

My physician could see the doubt in my eyes So, she showed me the test results of my bloodwork. She circled the four hormones that my body does not produce any more. She explained that without the right balance of chemicals in our body, we don’t have the capacity or ability to be happy. She was right.

So what is a biblical view of depression? Is it just something if we have enough faith that God will heal? Is it a spiritual defect that we need to repent of? Can loving Jesus fix it?

Well–what is the biblical view of a broken leg? Is it just something that God will heal by faith? Or did our leg break because of our sin? If I love Jesus harder and spend a day alone with him will my fracture be fixed? OF COURSE NOT!

Our brain is an organ in our body. Just as the appendix, heart and lungs are. It too breaks. It too needs nutrients and chemicals–that’s how God designed it. Would we tell a brother at risk of a stroke to not take blood thinners but repent? So why do we tell our congregations that faith is the answer to depression?

My friends, God does heal. And often he uses the wisdom he has given to doctors (including psychiatrists) to accomplish that healing. He gave the pharmaceutical developers the wisdom to create medicine (including anti-depressants) as grace to a broken world.

Please stop sharing Satan’s lies from the pulpit. Don’t put up with it when you hear it. It is a horrible destructive lie to say to a group of people that “you don’t have to be depressed, Jesus loves you.” The truth is, redeemed Christians get depression. Regenerated Christians have mental health issues. Born again believers have suicidal thoughts. Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ does not heal you from depression, addiction, congestive heart failure, ALS, cancer or schizophrenia. But it does cleanse you from your sin. It guarantees the presence of God will never leave you or forsake you. It brings hope of a better life to come. It restores your relationship to the Creator of the world.

Please stop with the nonsensical teaching that believers shouldn’t get depression. It damages more than you can imagine.

Its a special moment as a pastor when you find out that one of the saints has taken permanent residence in the presence of God. An honor to say you were their pastor. It hurts to see the family mourn, and yet you rejoice knowing your brother or sister have received the full inheritance of their faith.

Today is especially tough, and especially joyous. I hurt and celebrate with all of those from Catawissa and Maugansville.

Don Smith, Vera Davis–it is a privilege to say I was one of your pastors. It is a privilege to have proclaimed grace, the good news and resurrection to those who now know it fully.