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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.

 

 

Here are the slides & scriptures for this week’s sermon (February 25th) on the Resurrection!

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Stop it. Stop it right now. Stop saying things like, “You took God out of the schools...”. Just stop!!! These statements, and you liking, sharing and posting fake T-shirts with that slogan just show that your theology is VERY broken.

God did not get kicked out of the schools. If you think that you are following a fake god you have invented. The God of the Bible is Sovereign, All-Present and Lord of all. If you really think God can be “kicked out” of ANYWHERE than you clearly haven’t read your Bible and your statements and posts prove you to be Biblically ignorant. God has revealed to us through Scripture that He is EVERYWHERE. Jacob, when seeing the vision of the ladder and angels ascending and descending says, “I didn’t realize God was here.” In Ezekiel, the whirling merkabah was God demonstrating, “I can even be in Babylon.” When God decimates the fake gods of Egypt, right in the very heart of a country against Him, it was all to prove HE IS.

God did not get kicked out of the schools. He is there. He was at the Columbine shooting and strengthened the faith of those who wouldn’t recant. He was at Sandy Hook when teachers threw themselves on top of their students. He was there when a football coach sacrificed himself for others. God was there.

And I have seen Him in our schools. He was there when

Becky 2
This young girl decided to follow Jesus IN SCHOOL

two rival gang ridden schools in Hagerstown started to prayer after football & basketball games. He is there every time a bible study is led by an FCA character coach–I’ve seen it. He was there when I watched a public school principal pray over an injured student waiting on an ambulance. God is there every time the Young Life leaders show up to make friends with the students. God is there when the teachers and coaches lead FCA huddle groups–every week in over a dozen schools in Washington County. God is there every time a CEF volunteer leads a local Good News club. He was there last Tuesday when a little girl asked Becky (a volunteer with CEF) about dying and told her she was scared. He was there as Becky led her to the Lord. AND He stayed there when another little girl wanted to know more about Jesus and Becky explained it again. God was there and regenerated those girls hearts and gave Becky the words to say to explain what God was doing. God was there when I stood in a local high school’s graduation ceremony and proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ. Listen–the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Child Evangelism Fellowship, Young Life–they are in the schools and they need YOUR help and support. 

But something is missing… the church. The church quit going into the schools. The church makes excuses and points its guilty finger. You are right, there is no longer a fruitless morning prayer over the loudspeaker for everyone whether they believe or not–but daily teachers and students who know and love God pray fervently for each other and their lost friends. You are right–they don’t teach the 10 commandments anymore. Do you? Do you care SO much about the 10 commandments that you taught our children and grandchildren? Do they know them? I have noticed that many who write “they took God out of the schools” have taken themselves out of church. God is so important to them that they are willing to give Him an hour or two a year.

Stop making excuses and start making disciples. You want “God” in the schools? Then YOU GO reflect His image and character by volunteering there. Meet some young people and build relationships with them. Make a difference by proving God’s presence because YOU were there representing Him. So please stop. Stop making ridiculous statements that are Theologically WRONG. Stop liking posts and picture that point out your own neglect of disciple making. Stop blaming others for not making disciples in YOUR community.

I am so proud of MBBC and the commitment it has made to reflect the character of God to our community. I am so excited that two of our pastors, another two staff members,  two missionaries in our congregation and six volunteers are in the schools 4-5 days a week. If you would like to know more about how to disciple your local school or partner with ministries that already are, let me know. Have your pastor call me. We would love to share with you how we see God moving in the schools in our community

HELPING WELL

August 30, 2017 — Leave a comment

It was 6 years ago this week. Hurricanes Lee &

Ariel Shot of the 2011 Lee/Irene Flood

Irene turned into tropical depressions and overlapped their path in Northeast Pennsylvania. The result–devastating flooding.

This was my crash course in leading in times of Natural Disaster. Our area was hit hard with a flood. Our town became an island–stranded for almost a week. By God’s grace the parsonage was on higher ground. But my neighbors lost their homes. My friends lost their businesses. Some of our church families lost everything.

What I learned through the next 4 years of leading disaster recovery is how to help well.

Here is what I learned about the “dos and do nots” of helping well:

  1. Pray. Beseech God to make Himself known in the midst of this disaster. Ask God to give mercy, grace and restoration to those affected. Cry out to God that the 1st Responders are given a hedge of protection.
  2. Search the Scriptures. Read your Bible so that you may know God better, that you can understand who He is and the truths about Him. Remind yourself about God’s characteristics. See how He has moved in the past–know He moves the same way today. Know He does not change.
  3. Donate money. BUT, please know, it will take up to 3 years for that money to hit the area you are donating it to. I recommend the Mennonite Disaster Service and the Southern Baptist Men Relief. I have worked with both in Pennsylvania & Louisiana.
  4. Do Not Give to Individuals–give to ORGANIZATIONS. There are so many scams out there. Unfortunately–these folks kick into high gear during disasters. I have seen at least 3 scams on facebook.
  5. Do not donate used items. Most of these items get thrown out. And, if the disaster is somewhere else–like Texas–there are transportation costs incurred to transporting what will be tossed away.
  6. Understand This Will Be A DECADE of Recovery. Right now the flood waters are high in Texas. There is NOTHING we can physically do to help right now. BUT, we can help in the months, years and decade following. We will plan on short term teams–beginning as early as April. The NationalVOAD director is a friend of mine and will get us connected to relief organizations. 
  7. If you are ERT trained. Let me know. That is the national certification for Early Relief Teams to come and stabilize homes that can be saved. These will be the first volunteer teams allowed on the ground after the waters subside. We would need a self-sufficient team of at least 6 to go. We would work to muck out homes, tarp roofs, set houses up to dry out.
  8. The best time to help is BEFORE the disaster. Get involved with local relief agencies who are working with folks here. REACH, the Hope Center, the Red Cross, Maugansville VFD #13, Food Banks etc. Help those that feel the bite of loss and poverty EVERY DAY. Then, when the disaster hits here, you are plugged in and ready to go!

May the God of all Grace, Peace & Mercy make Himself known to the people affected by flood & fire. Give us the grace to make the invisible reign of Jesus Christ visible.

If you have questions, please let me know.

Experiencing God

August 11, 2017 — Leave a comment

 

Worship is designed to move us into the presence of God. To call His glory down. The tabernacle was God’s design for His people’s movement towards experiencing Him.

TabernacleThe curtains, the furniture, the alters, laver’s, candelabras–they all reminded the people of who God was–a Holy, Providing, Delivering God. Several of the psalms were written to aid the pilgrims heading to the temple to prepare their hearts as they ascended the hill of the Lord.  As they moved into the Tabernacle and toward God they were reminded of God’s character, Who it was they were approaching.

The Gathering Near to God is the celebration, the opening ceremonies of God’s activity in our lives over the past week. We have come to proclaim that “God has delivered us!” To make that proclamation, we celebrate the character of our Deliverer by rehearsing the characteristics of God through testimony, hymns and scripture.

Experiencing God

The next movement of worship is experiencing God. When the high priest would enter the Holy of Holies, he was entering the place where God’s manifest glory would come down and reside over the ark of the covenant. The priest was now in the presence of God.

Being in the presence of God is a life changing experience! Take Moses for example–when Moses came before God’s presence–Moses was changed. God revealed His will to Moses through the law and direction for leadership. God’s glory radiated from Moses’ face, Moses had to veil his face in order to protect the people from overwhelming power of God’s glory radiating from him.

When we worship, we experience the revelation of God through His Word. The scriptures contain the self-revelation of God. Scripture is sufficient & efficient. In other words, the Bible contains all of the information about God that we need to know to be in a right relationship with Him. They are sufficient in that no other information is needed outside of the scriptures, not tradition, not reason, not experience. God’s word and God’s word alone. They are efficient in that the truths of God’s self revelation are effective and true–they rightly show us who God is, who we are, and how God has made a way for us to stand before Him.

On Sunday this is the preacher’s job–aided by the Holy Spirit. The preacher is to read the Word of God, explain the Word of God and encourage the hearer to trust the Word of God. This is accomplished through expository preaching. The style where the preacher starts with the text and explains the text, exposing God in the verse or verses. Expository preaching grows us in our understanding of God. The alternative of this is topical preaching–where the preacher picks a topic and then looks for scriptures to prove his point. The problem with topical preaching is that the preacher picks his belief, opinion or stance and then finds scripture to prove his point–often taking scriptures out of context or manipulating them from their original meaning. The preachers job is not to entertain, not to wow the audience or display his own oratory skills. It is simply to expose God as He is found in His scriptures.

Experiencing God as He has revealed Himself through our worship should change us. We are convicted by the law, transformed by grace and sent forth to reflect the character of God as it radiates from us.

This Sunday, would you come ready for that? Please come expecting to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Please come expecting to meet God in the worship. Please come ready to be moved towards God, changed by Him and leave radiating His glory!

 

 

Why do we do that?

August 2, 2017 — Leave a comment

IMG_5576One of my first assignments in seminary was to create an annotated order of worship. The task was to design worship, and then give a narrative explanation of why each element was included, placed where it was and what is the theology behind that decision. What Dr. Cook-Moore was teaching us, is that worship design needs to be intentional, theologically reflective and explained to the congregation. In other words, why do we do and say the things we do? The answer is not because, “The pastor likes this song” or “the organist picked the hymns.” And especially not, “We have always done it this way.” Worship is a design with purpose and intentionality. Unfortunately, pastors and worship leaders don’t usually let the congregation in on what the purpose and intention is–so everyone else is left in the dark. 

You may have noticed a change in the order of worship at MBBC. If you’d let me, I’d like to explain to you the purpose and intention of the design of worship.

There are three movements to the worship at MBBC: Gathering Near to God, Experiencing God & Our Response to God.

Gathering Near to God

The first part of worship is when we Gather Near to God. The purpose of this movement is gather as a body and proclaim, “We have made it through another week!”. In other words, God has sustained us, provided for and moved in our lives so that we survived another week in this broken world. It is meant to be an opening celebration! (Think of the opening ceremony at the Olympics.) We have lived our lives separately all week, and now we are coming together, as one body from many different places, to report and celebrate God’s movement and saving activity in our lives. It’s our Ebeneezer stone! We have reached this moment because “the Lord has helped us!” (1 Sam 7:12)

Gathering Near to God can consist of a scripture reading, hymns, testimonies or songs that exclaim the characteristics of God.

  • Songs & Hymns: The intention of the music is to put to voice who God is, and how it is that He has saved us and delivered us this week. He is “Holy, Holy, Holy”. If we had a 1,000 tongues, it would be enough to give God the praise He deserves.
  • Calls to Worship (aka “responsive readings”): The Calls are usually scripture readings or creeds that teach truths about God. The intention here is to teach truths and engage the congregation, allowing the whole body to participate in the proclamation.
  • Testimonies: When we share what God has done in our lives, we witness to the world who He is and how He is redeeming humanity. The testimonies are intended to be a witness and encouragement about the activity of God.

This week, as you get ready for church or during the drive, think about how God has been active in your life this week. What do you have to celebrate? What are you thankful for? How has God been your help this week? Bring your reports of God to worship and proclaim them for all to know!

Dear Friends & Family,
I am excited to tell you that I will be leading a short term mission team to the Mi Refugio School in Guatemala. The trip dates are Sept 29—October 6, 2017.
 Photo Mar 02, 2 02 15 PM
Many of you have supported this trip in the past and I want to thank you for that. Kari Engen, who started Mi Refugio, is a phenomenal mission partner. We are able to support the ministry she does by pouring into the “dump” kids she teaches, build them new classrooms, repair facilities, vaccinate their family members and share the love of Jesus. Some of our team will be teaching abandoned women how to sew, while others will simply hold their babies while they learn. On the campus is large garden and chicken coup to help feed the 250+ children, some of us will be working and maintaining that. There are retaining walls to build, roofs to fix and children to teach.
This has been a transformative experience for so many that I have been with. That is why I am excited to lead my FOURTH team from Maugansville. On this trip, it will be the first trip out of the country for at least 5 travelers.
But I could use your help: Would you consider being a Prayer, Player or Payer? or Donating Supplies?
 Photo Oct 04, 10 37 05 AM
Be a PRAYER! There are so many details to take care of, God needs to be the one to work those out. Also, the devil hates when we do this, not only will it help the ministry in Guatemala—this will catch the folks from MBBC on fire for the Lord—and he doesn’t want that. Pray for a hedge of protection.
 
Be a PLAYER! I still have some slots open if you’d like to come along!
Be a PAYER! The cost of this year’s trip will be about $1,300 per missionary. If God lays it on your heart to help with the financial cost, please let me know.
DONATE Supplies! I am hoping to take a suitcase full of Children’s Vitamins & Ibuprofen for the Medical Outreach team. Would you be interested in helping with that?
Thanks for being my friends & family. We love you guys!!!
In Him,
Chad

Leadership is a balancing act, right now I feel like I’m on the tightrope halfway between “the old way” and “a new future”.


An organization has a tendency to fixate on a period of time and gauge all other events, epochs and metrics against that one period. In a church it is often the “Good ole days,” or as a friend from Carlisle once told me, “Back when  the church had 4 busses and a bowling team.” 

There can also be the dreamers and visionaries who are fully engrossed with the future. The future becomes the period they are fixated on. Earlier this month I resigned from the Executive Board of an organization whose vision was to unite the church in the greater area to work together for poverty (at least I think that was their vision at one point). They decided that vision wasn’t going to work anymore they want to build/renovate houses. They were paralyzed by an over focus on the future they couldn’t do any good right now in the present.

In the last week I have been focusing on leadership and I have come to a few conclusions that I wanted to share.

  1. The past is almost always romanticized. The church in Carlisle never had more than 2 busses–and yet the Good Ole Days claim was that they had 4. Or a church who always had over 400 people when the sanctuary only sits 350 (and definitely not 350 people built like me!) Often our attendance, sales, giving, participation–whatever your metric–is more fondly remembered than historically accurate.
  2. We have to know who we are NOW. One of the greatest retail blunders of our times is the Sears demise. Forever, Sears was known for their catalog–you could buy ANYTHING in it–from an Ice Cream maker to a suit to a house. (Seriously, my mom’s neighbor lives in a Sears house–you ordered it, they delivered the materials and you built it.) Sears was never able to settle the needle on life after the catalog. They didn’t know who there present customers were and what their shopping styles and preferences would be. Take Walmart–they KNOW their customer. They build everything around who they are NOW. Leaders need to know who they are leading RIGHT now. The church needs to know the community it was planted in as it stands right now. Maugansville 2017 is heads and tails a different population than Maugansville in 1987–trust me, I was here then and am here now.
  3. The future must be in view. The other morning I was trying to navigate the bedroom and get ready for work. The difficulty was that it was dark and I couldn’t see what I was doing. I was noisy, I woke everyone up, I stubbed my toe and it took me three times as long to get ready. To lead, we must have a future in sight, an end destination we are taking our organization to, one that folks can see. It also needs to be attainable. It cannot be so far out, so long away, so beyond the scope of understanding that we cannot see it.

Balance. We need balance as we lead our folks. As I move forward and attempt to lead it will be with the balanced model of Know, Understand, Look Forward.

Know the History of the organization, where they have come from, what they went through. Honor the legacy and how God has used the past.

Understand the Present. We are not who we were, nor are we who we will be. The old  ways may not be tried and true with a new group. Identify who you are working with TODAY.

Look Forward. There is no way to make any organization move without giving them a target they can see, and work toward.

Leadership is a balancing act, right now I feel like I’m on the tightrope halfway between “the old way” and “a new future”. Thankfully, this is God’s, and no one can  accelerate, slowdown or thwart His plans.