February 26, 2010

Stepping in the Light

I remember growing up we used to sing the song “Stepping in the Light.” The gist of the song was about trying to walk in the steps of the Savior. (complete lyrics can be found here) That song became very real to me this past Saturday. I went on a hike in about 8-10 inch deep snow. I came to a crossroads where I wasn’t sure which direction to go, but I saw a set of footprints and followed that path. Occasionally, I’d step out of the footprints and make my own path, which made the next step very difficult. All the way up I kept thinking, Jesus has made a path for us and hasn’t made it easy, but He’s made it easier if we just follow in His steps.

It’s beginning to feel like the only thing I blog about is the snow–well today is no different. EXCEPT, This big snow missed us! whoo hooo! That doesn’t mean we haven’t got any snow, but we aren’t getting the 20+ inches. But we are getting sustained 25+ mph of wind with gusts up to 50. I had to get out this morning and it is blowing the snow everywhere. It was cool to see. I posted a video on youtube and you can see it here.

Our new quarter is approaching with only one week left in the current quarter. On Wednesday night we will finish our study of Ecclesiastes. I’ve really enjoyed that class and I think they have as well. It’s challenged me to re-think about my outlook on life. Often my priorities end up on the wrong thing. Not on bad things per se, but not on the best thing. I taught this book with Richard Chinnis back last summer and it’s amazing how much more I’ve learned this time through. It’s been a good study for me.

And this Sunday I’ll be teaching Scott’s class. Scott is going to be in Russelville, AL starting Sunday in a meeting, so he asked me to teach his class. Most times teaching someone else’s class is difficult, but not EXTREMELY difficult, to me this class falls into EXTREMELY difficult. The nature of the class lends to this. It is a class for us college-aged/young adults where we get to ask questions that we would like answers to, to better be able to help others see the truth. And so the question this week is “Where did we get the idea of the Trinity? Why do we consider the Father, the Christ and the Holy Spirit to be three parts of a whole?” I’m not sure there is a tougher question! One thing I am certain of is this: we’ll never know all the answers here on earth. So we are going to tackle this subject as best as possible.

Next quarter I’ll be teaching a Bible foundations class to newer converts or anyone wanting to brush up on the basics. I’m really excited about this class.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about personal responsibility and bc of that last week’s sermon dealt with taking personal responsibility for sin. Often we want to be like Adam and Eve and blame someone else, but we have the power to rule over our sin (Gen 4:7). Someone may be in the wrong and encourage us to do wrong, but that does not excuse us. This a lesson that I really needed.

This week it’s looking like I’m going to be preaching on “The Heart of God’s Worshipers” looking at his aspect from John 4. But it is only Friday and things are subject to change. I didn’t do a good job this month laying out my sermons in advance. I’ll get another shot in a few days.

Some of you have asked me about the young lady we had invited to the Mark study with us. Well, she was there this Sunday night and plans to be back again this Sunday. Also, I was at one of the grocery stores this morning where I had a put up a bulletin about reading the Bible together…And about 5 of the slots with my name, phone number & e-mail were gone. But I have received no calls or e-mails, so I’m not sure what to make of it. I’m hoping that people are looking at them daily and trying to work up enough courage to call or e-mail. Please pray for this endeavor.

Thanks again for all of your prayers, e-mails, facebook & twitter comments. They are very encouraging.

God bless,

Wes

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February 16, 2010

Things Aren’t Normal


Gettysburg has been buried in snow for quite some time now. We received 2 different snows of 20+ inches in a matter of about 5 days. It has affected not only our homes and work, but our Bible studies and services. Two Sundays ago we only got to meet one time in the afternoon. And on that Wednesday we had to cancel again. Those of us who teach on Wednesdays lost a lesson this quarter. I’m in a lucky situation where I can use the pulpit to cover some of the material we would’ve covered in class. The other teachers are not so fortunate. We are hoping that the big snows are done for the year and we don’t have to change any more studies or worship services.

Some of the things that have been going on here…The past 2 Sundays I’ve preached from the book of Ecclesiastes. The first lesson was from chapter 7:19-29 entitled “Wisdom Gives Strength.” We looked at 5 things that wisdom gives us the strength to do 1) Admit/Confess sin 2) Forgive others 3) Say, “I don’t know” 4) Recognize and escape temptations 5) Give God His glory.
The second lesson came from chapter 4:9-12 entitled “Two are Better Than One.” We looked at 3 benefits of having spiritual companions 1) Lift-up one another 2) Keep one another warm (motivate) 3) Fight alongside with one another.
This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to go and participate in a Winter Camp that is put on by Gardner Hall in New Jersey. It was a great day. Five teenagers and one college student went with me and they benefited tremendously from it as did I. Over the entire weekend they studied the books of Zephaniah, Haggai and Malachi. But since we were only able to go on Saturday and had to leave before too late we only studied Haggai. A book some of the kids had never studied the book before. Needless to say, they learned a lot.
Also on Saturday, Scott gave a lecture at the Gettysburg library refuting evolution. The turnout was not exactly what he had wanted or expected, but he did have 4 visitors from the community. So we were thankful for that, and he is hopeful for some follow-up with at least one of the visitors. But we’ll see how that goes. Just pray for this endeavor especially since he is planning to do this several more times at another library.
Some of you have asked me about our sermons being online…well, at the moment there are only a few on the website, but I’ve been asked to help do some work on the website. So Lord willing soon, I will be posting more sermons and articles online. We are going to try to use the website for a better teaching tool.
I hope everyone is well.
God bless,
Wes
February 4, 2010

Thursday Already?!


I’ve been out of it this past week.

Early Saturday morning my throat began to hurt and when I woke up Saturday morning I had a nice little fever. So I took it easy and slept. I felt even worse Sunday and slept all day again. Kyle (roommate) said he came into my room before and after services and I was lying in the same position and hadn’t moved. I’m not surprised at all. But I started to feel some better Monday once my fever began to break, but I still slept most of the day. In fact, I set a personal record for the most consecutive hours of sleep 17 1/2! Needless, to say by Tuesday I was stir crazy and wanting to feel better. Tuesday night I felt pretty much back to normal. And yesterday was a normal day.
So I don’t have a lot of new news regarding the work here. But I am hopeful that we will have a young lady starting to join us for our weekly study of Mark after Sunday evening service. A couple from Gettysburg had visited Home Depot one Sunday afternoon and met this young lady and invited her to come to worship. Well, she came with them that night and said she’d try to visit on Sunday evenings and Wednesday nights. So we hadn’t seen her for a while, but the family had been back to Home Depot a few weeks back and had invited her again. So she wanted to surprise them last night by being there..but as it turns out they weren’t able to make it out last night. Anyways, she normally works till about 7 on Sunday evenings and our study of Mark starts after 7 so she is hoping to start attending. Especially since she can’t make her normal worship period. So pray that she is able to start studying the book of Mark with us.
On a more frustrated note, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania A) is now requiring me to have an affadvit to prove that I live here B) Will not accept my original birth certificate from Alabama so I GET to apply for another one. whooo hooo (sarcasm). Nevertheless, the wheels are turning and seem to be making some progress.
BTW, we are expecting a big snow tomorrow. I’ve heard different reports but the two most common are 7-10 inches or 12-20 inches. My vote is 12-20 b/c I’ve never seen that much snow. But it will be a mess either way you look at it. We have several members who are in Florida for the lectures and will be traveling back Friday and Saturday please pray that they make it home safely.
I believe that is all for now.
God bless you all,
Wes
January 28, 2010

Bulletin Boards




It’s been a semi-productive week. One of my big goals this week was to get out to Gettysburg College and try to get some Bible readings set up. Things didn’t go as well as I had hoped on Tuesday. I got on campus and couldn’t find the student union building which was what I was looking for, but I did find the dining hall. I was hoping the dining hall would have a place to put up a flyer, but it didn’t. On my way out of the dining hall I spotted the library, and thought I’d use the library to study and also to post a flyer. I was able to do some studying, but I couldn’t find a place for a public flyer.

Even though I couldn’t find a place for a flyer, I decided to try to study as often as possible at the library in order to get more exposure with the students. So I went back to the library today.
I saw a couple of the same people as I did Tuesday, but no luck in getting any readings in place. But a positive for the day was that I found the Student Union building. It looks like the dorms at Auburn, so the other night I assumed it was a dorm but it was the union building. I found 2 community bulletin boards and put the very simple flyer on the 2 boards.
I’m hopeful that my phone and e-mail will begin to blow up, but I’m also realistic: one is better than none.
I was telling Ladonna about finding the bulletin boards today and she thinks some super markets have community bulletin boards too. So I will follow-up on that and if at all possible put flyers all around town.
I’m really enjoying the work thus far, and I hope that in some small way the efforts being made here are glorifying the Father.
God bless you guys
January 18, 2010

Time to Visit Some Colleges

Things are in full swing and going well, but it’s time to get out into the community. A downside to moving into a new area is not knowing a lot of people. But Lord willing that is about to change after I visit several colleges over the next few days. My intention is to head to each of the campuses find out if I can put information on the bulletin boards and see if any are interested in reading the Bible.

I’m planning to go to:
Gettysburg College a local private school about 5 minutes from the house. Most of the students live on campus and don’t appear to have cars, so people are walking around town and campus frequently.
HACC is a local community college with virtually all its students commuting to campus. This campus is also only about 5 mins from the house and even closer to the church building.
Messiah College is a private school about 30 mins north of Gettysburg. It is a “Christian college” with relatively moral students. The church here has been blessed by several students from this college over the years.
I hope that all of you are doing well. I truly appreciate your prayers.
God bless,
Wes
January 12, 2010

January Sermons

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I get to sit in my room and concentrate on class material and upcoming sermons. Well, today as I was working on some sermon ideas for the remainder of the month I realized the blog could be used as a place for your sermon requests. So if you have a topic or passage you’d like to hear a sermon on let me know.

I want to make it clear, that I will not always preach the sermon and it’s not because I don’t like you. Some times more pressing things will need to be addressed. Some times it will take more time to fully understand the topic and may not be preached immediately. But I would appreciate any input you’d like to contribute.
These are subject to change, but here are the sermons I’ve preached or will preach in the month of January
1/3/10: Glorifying God (based on Acts 9)
1/10/10: The Power and Love of God (based on Deuteronomy 10)
1/17/10: The Nature of Some False Teachers (2 Peter 2)
1/24/10: The Future of False Teachers, Their Followers & the Godly (2 Peter 2)
January 10, 2010

Doulos

It dawned on me late last night that some might read the title of the blog and say “What does that mean?!” so I will define the word.

Doulos is the greek word often translated as bond-servant.
In Philippians 1:1 “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants (douloi/doulos) of Christ Jesus.”
In Philippians 2:7 this word is used of Jesus, “but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant (doulou/doulos), and being made in the likeness of men.”
Doulos literally means:

Definition

  1. a slave, bondman, man of servile condition
    1. a slave
    2. metaph., one who gives himself up to another’s will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men
    3. devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests
  2. a servant, attendant
Christ made Himself a doulos/slave for mankind. Therefore, I am Christ’s doulos/slave!

January 9, 2010

The Start of a New Decade

Hello all,

Some of you have expressed interest in being able to keep up with the Lord’s work here in Gettysburg, PA and I’m thankful for that interest, and I will try to keep you posted as often as possible. I’ve chosen to do another blog to achieve this because honestly it’s less work for me and it’s easy to let you know when it’s updated. So I hope that you find it encouraging. I will inform you of updates via facebook and twitter.
Now for the update…
I’ve now been in Gettysburg for a week and half and it has been terrific. The brethren here have just taken me in as one of their own. I’ve been fed a lot and spent a lot of time with the brethren. They have a lot of Bible studies like you guys at EH. The teens get together twice a week to study. The adults have various studies throughout the week as well. It’s been a great encouragement to see their interest in spiritual things.
I’d be lying if I said the first week or so hadn’t been crazy. As most of you can relate, any time you move or start a new job you have to figure out the workload and your daily routine. Well, I’m still trying to feel my way through a routine. I’m starting to feel confident of one, but it’s not set in stone yet. Here is a rough idea of the things I’ll be doing here for the next few weeks:
I’ll be preaching once a week (which I’m not used to) but very thankful to do. I’ll be teaching the Wednesday night adult class on Ecclesiastes. I’ll be assisting Scott in teaching a topical class on Sunday morning with the college-aged adults. On Sunday evening after worship, I’ll be leading a study on the book of Mark with the college-aged adults. Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings I study with Scott from 10-12. We are studying the book of 1 Corinthians (M,W) and various topics on Friday. In two weeks, I’ll begin leading a study at the Bishop’s with a couple of their neighbors. I hope to soon have several individual studies with some of the high school kids. I’ll be attending a couple teen studies throughout the week, as well as some studies that Scott has at the moment.
I am thankful for all of these opportunities but there is more time to add additional studies. I hope and pray that the LORD will help me (us) to find those who need and are interested in hearing the gospel.
My prayer for you is the same that I pray for myself: “LORD may you be able to use me for your good.” May we all be vessels of honor prepared for every good work.
God bless each of you,
Wes
October 4, 2009

Final Night in the Northeast October 4, 2009

I can’t believe it is over! It has been 38 days since I left ATL (not even as long as the rain in Noah’s flood) and I’m ready to get home! But what an amazing 38 days it has been.

The final weekend of my stay in the Northeast was extremely encouraging. As some of you know, the church in Gettysburg, PA is considering a second man to work with the group and I was invited this weekend to “interview” for the opportunity. I don’t know how to describe it, but I’m impressed by the congregation here.
Most of you know the primary evangelist, Scott Smelser (he was recently at Embry Hills teaching his child training series). I met Scott after most of you did because I was not at the child training series, but I met him that Sunday at the Alabama leadership camp. I immediately appreciated his teaching and hard work after the week I spent with him in Alabama. Our paths crossed again at the Northeast leadership camp and that was when Scott asked me to come down and meet the brethren to see about the opportunity of working with the group. Scott’s opening words to me at the leadership camp were, “I’m going to try to convince you to stay in the Northeast.” My ears perked after that. So this weekend I spent the majority of my time with Scott and his wife Bertina and 4 of their 6 children: Breann, Tabitha, Zachary and Lucas.
I left NYC on Friday morning and arrived in Gettysburg at 4 p.m. A teen study was being held at the Smelsers at 7 so I was driven around the area by a young man named Kyle (who will be my roommate if I return) and Scott. They showed me where I would be staying for the weekend and if I return where I would stay (the same room I’m in right now.) We got back to the house and had a terrific ham dinner. The kids came over for the study. I honestly didn’t count, but I guess between 15-20. Really enjoyed it. We studied the story of the lost sons (aka the prodigal son/or a portion of the parable of lost things). I learned something new which is always great and spent time with some of the kids and a few of the parents.
Saturday I had a study with Scott in the morning and learned some more new things. We looked at how to show internally in the New Testament that Luke actually worte the book of Luke and Acts. It was interesting because some people do doubt the authorship. In that discussion we compared the sea voyages of the “they passages” (when it’s Paul and others on a sea voyage) and the “we passages” (when the author is present with Paul) it was amazing the differences of detail and such. That was a very neat, interesting study.
After that we had lunch with the family and went and chopped wood for one of the brethren who hasn’t been in the best health. I’m not cut out to chop wood, but I helped the best I could.
Scott had a cookout over at his home and got to meet several of the brethren Saturday night and play some volleyball. I really enjoyed the opportunity to sit and talk with some of the brethren. I was really impressed and excited about the zeal and their willingness to evangelize. I really enjoyed the evening.
And then this morning I taught the class on Korah from Numbers 16. Preached my “Praying Anxiously” sermon which most of you have heard and this evening preached my “Fishers of Men” sermon. I was pleased with the sermons and class overall. But I was more pleased with the friendliness and attentiveness of the group. They have a lot to offer in terms of helping me mature and learning more about the Northeast work.
If all works out it has great potential to be a huge blessing for both the congregation and myself. I ask that you all pray that whatever the Lord’s will is in this situation be done.
It is late and Google Maps says I have a 10 hr and 46 minute drive ahead of me tomorrow. I am excited to be home and to make the gospel meeting with Gary Henry at 7:30 pm.
The last 38 days have been a tremendous blessing for me. It wouldn’t have been possible without the elders from Embry Hills and the Lord’s help. Not to mention you guys praying constantly for me. I look forward to seeing you all soon.
Hope all is well wherever you are.
God bless,
Wes
October 1, 2009

Thursday October 1

I bade upstate New York adieu yesterday after spending a month in the beautiful area. I hated to leave, but it was time to start the trek back home. But I’ve got many miles to go before I reach Atlanta.

My first stop is the Big Apple. It’s my first time to enter anyone’s apartment in the city and I’ve now been in 5. I must admit the life in these tiny apartments is great, but wow it would take some serious getting used to. But we made the rounds yesterday for sure.
I am staying with Tim Bunting, a young evangelist in NYC, who mainly works with the youth. He and Roger Polanco have very similar roles and work quite a bit together with the youth. They have a niche work and I was able to follow him yesterday afternoon.
We ate lunch at a little Greek restaurant before we started our rounds–the food was fast, good and hot. It was a good little spot. After eating lunch we walked a couple blocks over to Aida’s home. Aida is a member at the Sherman Ave congregation. She is in a wheelchair and not in the best health so Tim goes and visits her every Wednesday. She was a pleasure to speak with. She spoke very good English, but of course much better Spanish. Aida has been a tremendous influence on her family and nurses that take care of her and several have become Christians because of her work for the Lord. She was an encouragement to meet.
After leaving her home, we walked back to Bill Sanchez’s apartment. I met Bill at leadership camp in Alabama back in the summer and really took a liking to him. Bill was not at home, but we spent the better part of an hour talking to his sister (who has been studying with Tim, but not a Christian) and several of his other relatives…Unexpectedly his cousin Kelvin (who I met at the northeast leadership camp) got home from school early and walked in the door. We spent a little time with Kelvin, but he went upstairs to his apartment to do some homework. I didn’t get to see Bill until later in the evening.
We left there and headed to the Bronx to visit the Cruz boys. There are 4 Cruz boys (Kevin, Daniel, Joel and David) and they were great (Kevin, Daniel, Joel, David) I had never met any of them, but they were great. We spent the first part while they ate dinner playing video games and then continued their study in Hebrews. Tim asked me to teach the class so I taught Hebrews chapter 2. It was a pleasure doing that.
We left there and headed back to Kelvin and Bill’s building because Bill was now back from school. Stopped in there 10 minutes then left and went down to the Lower East Side to do a little relaxing.
It was a busy day. Today I am meeting Don Bunting at 2pm. Don is the evangelist for the Upper West Side congregation. I won’t get to spend a lot of time with him, but looking forward to the hour or so. Then this evening I will be worshipping with Spanish congregation that meets on Sherman Ave. It should be a great day.
I leave for Gettysburg, PA tomorrow.
Thanks again for your prayers. Hope all is well wherever you are.
God bless,
Wes