A Blogging Milestone

The 1000 Milestone

I noticed that the total count of my posts, pages, sermons and comments on my blog has passed the 1000 mark.  More than five hundred of those blog events are posts.  Just over one hundred fifty are sermon manuscripts of messages prepared since coming to Copper Hill UMC.  To be honest, I thought I would reach this 1 K milestone much sooner.  But with a semi-retirement pastorate and two wonderful grandchildren in my life, I’m been much busier than anticipated.  In addition, my personal blog now has much more competition for my computer time than it did when I began in 2010.  Now I have a busy Facebook presence and a Pinterest account, plus I manage a second blog for our church, contribute to our church’s Facebook page, and help my wife with her blog-style website as well. 

 

Posts + pages + sermons + comments > 1000

 

New categories

 

 

 

New Page Software

 

 

 

Better Pictures

Renewing my blog

One goal as I reach this milestone is to renew my blog.  Change is inevitable.  It takes intentional change to create a fresh face and keep progressing.  

Toward this end, I decided that two new categories would be helpful both to me in initiating new material and to my readers.   The new category called “Country Touches” will be pure fun—interesting pictures and observations.   Another New Category named “Best Five” will be a vehicle for passing on to my readers some quick lists of top five in my experience in any area that comes to mind.  I hope it helps others tap sources of wisdom that I have discovered.

 

I’m also experimenting with new page creation software by SiteOrigin.  The Country Touch post about my sister’s outside décor was the first to use that software.   It looks like a hit.  I’ve experimented with a program called Sway as well but it did not format well online and I think SiteOrigin will replace it. 

 It is a constant goal to use higher quality pictures and pictures that fit the content better.   I hope there is a new phone camera in my near future to help this goal along.

Three goals for future blogging

This milestone has also made me stop and review my blogging goals.  What do I intend to do with my blog going forward? 

More wisdom

I plan to continue the emphasis upon wisdom.  Learntobewise.com has become more than my blog address, it has become a mission.  Wisdom is so lacking in our world today.  In fact, in general I believe we do not have wisdom enough to know we are short of it.  Action is valued; adrenaline is sought; acting is pursued; sports prowess is idolized, but wisdom is neglected. So I pray that by God’s grace I can make my blog a place where words of wisdom are shared, both ones I write and ones I find and forward to my readers via my blog.  I pray that God gives me wisdom enough to do so (James 1:5). 

More fun

I want my blog to be a place for some fun, both for me and for my readers. Look for more posts in categories like Americana, Country Touches, and on subjects like being a Grandpa, vacation accounts, daylily galleries and Christmas train set pictures. They are all blogging fun for me and I hope for my readers as well. 

More public messages pages

I plan to continue building the sermon archive on my blog as a reference and resource for parishioners, other pastors and Christian workers.   Crafting sermon outlines and writing messages for our congregation comes relatively easy to me and if I can provide resources to others, I would consider that a privilege.  It fits with my goal about sharing wisdom and it would extend the use of my gifts and my influence as a Bible teacher and preacher.   I am especially humbled to note that many readers of my blog are international.    And I am aware from my missions trips that Christian workers in other places often do not have access to all the Bible education that I have had.   Besides, it is wise use of time and resources to edit slightly what I already write each week as a part of my pastoral ministry to also build my blog. 

 

 

  More Wisdom

 

 

  More   Fun

 

 

 Message Archive

A New Name for my Blog

Today we have lots of knowledge and many experiences but little wisdom.   That is a poverty!
Today we have lots of knowledge and many experiences but little wisdom. That is a poverty!

Sometimes when I see one of those big flashing arrow signs on the highway pointing to a lane closure or a detour, I reflect on how we might wish that life came with flashing directional signals that we could not miss.  I know I have needed such a thing more than once.   But life does not, and so many people lose their way amid the maze of decisions, circumstances and pressures that face people every day.  I remember when I first felt called to become a pastor, one who helps others along life’s road, one of the objectives in my mind was to be used of God in helping to teach people how to live wisely.  I hoped to help folks learn to make wise choices.  It’s a dangerous and slightly presumptuous undertaking because no matter how old or educated one is, one must undertake the task while very much a learner along the road.

 

The Good News is that one of the purposes of the Bible is to provide the principles to teach us how to live wisely.   Consider, for example, the stated purpose from the prologue of the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament.

For gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
For receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
For giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
Let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance— Prov 1:2-5  NIV 2011

In addition, God’s Holy Spirit has promised to guide Christ-followers in their journey.   So there is hope!

The Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  Prov 2:6  NIV 2011

Recently, this focus on helping others live wisely has been impressed upon me again.   Accordingly, I have decided to change the title of my blog to: Learn to be Wise.  I hope that the change will accomplish several purposes.

  • It will help my blog focus more on wisdom for daily living. I want to write more in the wisdom category on my blog.
  • It will enlarge the blog’s appeal beyond those who normally look at the writings of pastors. This is an important factor in New England where fewer people have a relationship to a church that in upstate New York.
  • It aligns the title with the web address, an address chosen two years ago because we could not get one that looked like the old blog title. Could it be that God was already at work pointing in this direction?  I think so.

Of course, there will still be some family posts; that keeps the blog personal.   And there will still be some church-related posts; church gives me a great deal of context.   But overall, I trust the percentage of posts will shift toward practical comments on daily life and reflections that help us find wisdom for our daily choices.

Liturgy of pastoral transition

A blessed day at church

What a wonderful pair of worship services this morning.  Attendance was high (211) and excitement was higher as we sang from hearts that needed the reminder; I Walk by Faith and worshipped our heavenly Father on Father’s Day with choruses and hymns.  I played trombone with the worship team so it was not a quiet morning.   I apologized to all the fathers for choosing Father’s day as my last Sunday.  And we did take time to honor the fathers present too.  One of the awesome moments was when the children and teens prayed for me.  What an absolute joy to see them advancing in discipleship too and to be blessed by their prayers.   At the end of second service, knowing that I am a fan of his organ playing, Richard Filmer played a special for us on the organ.  It was excellent.   At the end of both services, Larry Nemitz,  Vice Chairman of the LBA, and Pastor Eric who is succeeding me, and I read a liturgy of transition.  It is very rare in churches to see this happen.   Most of the time there is a span of time between the leaving of the old pastor and the coming of the new.    It was a highpoint as well.  I have always prayed that God would grant a good transition at the end of my tenure here.  I believe that prayer is definitely being answered.  I am including the liturgy we used here.

 

Liturgy for 2013 pastoral transition

Larry Nemitz:   This is a special moment in the history of our church.  We are profoundly thankful for what God has done through the ministry of Pastor Kelvin and JoAnne.    Pastor has led many to give testimony to their faith through Christian baptism as the Scripture instructs us.    He has encouraged our collective worship through regular administration of the sacrament of communion.    He has faithfully taught us from God’s Holy Word to love God, love others and make disciples.   And he has mentored us by personal example, small group instruction and public exhortation.    He has presided over moments of joy in our lives such as marriages and the naming of children and he has stood with us in times of trial and sorrow too.

Congregation:  We are deeply grateful to God for sending us Pastor Kelvin and JoAnne to be faithful stewards of their gifts in this place and to exercise well the role of congregational leadership among us.

Pastor Kelvin:  It has been my privilege and my joy to serve as your pastor, with God’s help, for these last 22 years.   You have been a blessing to us too.

Larry Nemitz:   While we are happy for you upon your retirement, we admit that it causes us grief to let you go away because we have learned to love you both.   Yet in the providence of God we know that for everything, there is a season.   By his grace, God has planned another chapter both for you and for us, which we are ready to enter into.    Yesterday at district conference Rev. Dr. Eric Paashaus was officially stationed as our pastor for the coming year.

Pastor Kelvin:  It has been my privilege to be a mentor to Pastor Eric and today it is a great joy to see him stepping into the role of leading pastor here at Community Wesleyan Church.  Eric, as symbols of the transfer of stewardship of Community Wesleyan Church, I offer three ordinary gifts.   One is a key to the front door of the church.  It is a multi-faceted symbol.  It reminds me that often the pastor’s contact with people is the front door to the family of God.  It reminds me also that the pastor is the one who is ultimately responsible to God for the welfare of the church.  Then second, I hand to you a Bible.  It is a reminder to you and to the congregation gathered here that at your ordination service a Bible was handed to you by the denomination’s leaders and you were commissioned to take authority to preach the word of God.  God is now giving you a great opportunity to fulfill that entrusting.    Finally, I give you a towel.  It is a symbol of the Biblical truth that Jesus taught us all that we are not here to be served but to serve.   This is one of the great secrets of a successful pastorate.

Pastor Eric:  It is with joy and with an awesome sense of responsibility that I accept your gifts.  It is a privilege for Magda and myself and our children to become the pastoral family at Community Wesleyan.  We covet your prayers.   We look forward with great anticipation to what God intents to do among us as we work together with God.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever!

Larry Nemitz:  On behalf of the local board and all of God’s people here, we welcome you as our pastor and pastoral family.   We look forward to laboring together in the kingdom of God.

Congregation:   We heartily welcome and accept you as our pastor and pastoral family.   God helping us, we will pray for you and listen carefully to the Word of God preached through you.  May God richly anoint you with his Spirit and guide you as you lead us in following Jesus.

Downsizing a library

 

Books to give away to mentees
Books to give away to mentees

 

At this time in my life, as I get ready to move, and try to sort through the accumulations of 22 years living in one house, I’m reminded of the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4-6 (NIV)

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: …

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away…

This has been particularly obvious as the time has come for my wife and me to sort through our libraries.   While the parsonage that we are moving into may have more square footage than the current one, the amount of book space and office space may be less.  That is because my office will now be in the parsonage as opposed to having a separate office in the church.   In addition, there is the simple issue of weight. Movers charge by the weight of the shipment and books are heavy; so it is best to take only what you will need.  Furthermore, there is the whole issue of what is happening in our culture with regard to books; books you hold are slowly losing ground to electronic ones.   A few weeks ago we sorted out four or five boxes of used books from our home and took them to two used-book stores.  One bookstore owner sorted out a few and paid us about enough to buy one new paperback; the other did not want any.   So we donated the rest to the Salvation Army.   A great deal of this is due to the rise of electronic books.  As a result of these facts, my wife and I have set a goal to downsize our libraries by at least one third.    

How are we doing it?  Here are some guidelines we’ve used to achieve the goal.

  1. If I haven’t read it in all these years, is it going to make it to the top of my list anytime soon?  I’m giving away some brand new books because I felt the answer to that question was “no.”
  2. Is this a reference book that I do not need to use any more because I have access to the material in a program or on-line?   My Bible program has replaced several of my books, including at least one set.
  3. Will this book help one of those I have been mentoring more than it will help me?  If so, let it go. 
  4. Is this a book I do not need because by a combination of experience and material I have read, I have covered the material?  If so, I should let the book help someone else, even if it is one I have valued in the past. 
  5. Is this a book I have quoted often and will probably continue to cite?  If so I should keep it.
  6. Everyone has favorite authors.  I’m keeping almost all the books by my three or four favorite authors – John Maxwell, Jim Cymbala, E. Stanley Jones, Bruce Wilkinson.
  7. Is the book outdated?  Unless an older book is by a famous person, it will not be that useful to quote.   A few may be useful to read anyway.  They might be by someone else’s favorite author.
  8. Is the book a classic I wish to pass down in my family?    We don’t have many of these, but there are a few.

With these guidelines, I am getting it done, as the picture shows.  My mentees and church teachers will be able to choose from the sorted books before we figure out what to do with the rest.

Plans for our remaining Sundays at Kirkville

The remaining weeks of our time here at Kirkville will be busy ones.  We have saved a few weeks vacation to help us have time to pack and visit our family in CT and western NY.   I am also doing some reading in preparation for my new part-time position at Copper Hill UMC.  You know what I always say, “If the leader is not growing, the people will not be growing either.”    This chart tells you when I will be preaching here and who will be preaching when I am not.   Thank you for your prayers during this time of transition.  I am praying for you too.

 

Community Wesleyan Service Plans May 5- June 16

  Special Day Speaker Message Scripture Other Events that Day
May  5 Missions Sunday Don & Cheri Floyd     4 PM  CLASS 201
May 12 Mother’s Day Pastor Eric  Jesus and the Problem  John 6:1-14  
May  19 Pentecost Sunday Pastor Kelvin Secrets of Spiritual Power Luke 3:21,33;  4:1-15 MBK Christian Unity Svc. 6 PM
May 26 Memorial Day Weekend Pastor Eric      
June 2   Larry Nemitz     4 PM  CLASS 301
June 9 Communion Sunday Pastor Kelvin How Shall we Live? 1 Thess. 3:11– 4:11; Titus 3:3-8 Retirement Dinner 3PM
June 16 Father’s Day Pastor Kelvin Be of Good Courage! Deut. 31:6 Reception following services

A new assignment

My new assignment
My new assignment

 

Today it was announced at both churches that I have a new part-time pastorate in Connecticut starting in July after my retirement from full-time ministry here in Kirkville.   I will begin serving as the pastor at a very old and historic United Methodist Church at Copper Hill, Connecticut.   There is a very roomy parsonage that comes with the assignment where JoAnne and I will reside.   The parsonage is 10 or 12 minutes from the church and both are about 30 minutes from Keely and Mark and Sam.   

The sanctuary of the church is well preserved and was built in 1839—that’s four years before the Wesleyan Church was founded.   It was near the site of a famous camp-meeting grounds.   Like my home church in Haskinville, NY, it was built at a country crossroads.   However, today the hills and vales are thick with modern houses so there is a great opportunity for expanded ministry.   There is also a golf course across the street and a rails-to-trails trail a few hundred yards away as well. 

The best part was the warmth and genuine sense of ministry anticipation that we saw in the staff parish committee with whom we interviewed.    They made us feel very welcome and appreciated from the start.   I could sense the faithful perseverance in the Christian faith that has enabled the church to survive all these years.   I think they will be very receptive to our ministry there.   

This position for us is an answer to prayer.   We were looking for the good works prepared in advance for us to do after retirement.   This will be very meaningful without being too draining.   The economic boost will  help us to handle Connecticut costs as well.   So we are very thankful for this provision and looking forward to serving God together with the folks at Copper Hill.

A new place in cyberspace for my blog

 

A new domain name

In preparation for my retirement from Community Wesleyan Church in a few months, Steven Sgroi, my web technical guru, and I are working to untangle my internet presence from the church’s internet site.   As a part of that process, my blog will have a new location in the future.  For now, if you try to access it from the old address it will redirect you to the new one just fine, but eventually, you will want to find me at the new address site—learntobewise.com.

Living wisely is the focus

I am excited about the possibilities of this name too.   Just think about the fact that one whole section of the Old Testament is devoted to wisdom.   I think also about the last words of Psalm 107 which might just be good mission statement for my blog at learntobewise.com.   I should be writing in such a way that my reader would want to take the Psalm writer’s advice.   “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord” (Ps 107:43 NIV).   I have always felt that one of the jobs of a pastor is to live wisely and help others live wisely also.  So I think this new domain name will be a great fit.   I also like the idea in the name that we are not wise all at once.  Rather, we are always learning and becoming wiser.

State of the Church address

At the semi-annual church conference, I changed the format of my usual report and instead presented a “State of the Church” address.   It was meant to summarize the achievements of my pastorate and describe the position of our church today as I view it.   I am attaching it in pdf format.

The State of the Church

Having reflected on it now for a couple weeks since I wrote it, there is one section that I should have added to the innovations section.  But we take it so much for granted today and know that there is no going back so I did not think of it.   The item I should have noted concerns all the technological advances we have made in using the computer since I have been pastor.   I arrived at the end of the typewriter era in Kirkville.  During my tenure, all record-keeping has been computerized; we used the computer to keep records and generate mailing lists.  Our current database expert volunteer is Josh Basile.  Of course, all correspondence and bulletin preparation has been computerized.  Currently we are using Word and Publisher 2010 to accomplish our work.   After Mahlon Moon’s thoughtful memorial gift of the the projector and screen in memory of Tillie, we entered the era of projected song words, PowerPoint slides when needed, mission slide shows without carousel trays, downloaded video clips, movies on the big screen, and most recently now, joining in a national simulcast.   All this has required consistent upgrading through the years as technology advanced and equipment wore out.  Finally, with a great deal of help from Steven Sgroi, we have become a church with a viable web presence.   We now have our own domain name  –  kirkvillewesleyan.org, on which we maintain our church website, publish three or four blogs and  have the capability for a sermon database in printed or video form.  In addition, again with Steven’s help, we are now on Facebook.   Our web presence is of increasing importance today as people check out churches online before visiting and expect some technical savvy when they arrive too. Ben Mackey oversees the team that makes possible our projection and sound ministry on Sundays.   Also, thanks to Ed Maum, we enjoy an in-house network.   Thank you to all the other volunteers too who make all this happen.

Finally, I would recommend an important parallel anecdotal account of the current state of our church.  If you read my wife’s book, God With Us; Fifty True Stories of God’s Faithfulness, you will see that it reflects who we are as a congregation very well.  So many of the stories describe the ministries of our church co-incidentally as she relays the first person testimonies.   Overall, a very powerful picture of our community of faith emerges.

 

On Celebrating World Communion Sunday

On October 7, we at Community Wesleyan, Kirkville, will join Christians around the world in the celebration of World Communion Sunday.   This year, I did a little research to see what some others were saying about the observance of this special Sunday.   It was a great way to use the spirit of the day to express its meaning.  Here are some of the inspiring thoughts I found expressed by church leaders of other denominations.

It originated when the world was very divided in order to emphasize unity in Christ

 

World Communion Sunday originated in the Presbyterian Church (USA). In 1936, for the first time, the first Sunday in October was celebrated in Presbyterian churches in the United States and overseas. From the beginning, it was planned so that other denominations could make use of it. After a few years, the idea was welcomed by the wider Christian community as an opportunity to move beyond historical and theological differences and worship together. On this first Sunday of October, we celebrate our oneness –our communion – in Christ, in the midst of a world still in need of the reconciling unity of Christ. The Middle English roots of the word “communion” refer to having something in common and to being in a relationship. On this particular Sunday, it is a blessing to be intentionally aware of being “in communion,” that is, sharing Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, whom we have “in common” with other Christians, congregations, and denominations around the world.(quoted from http://resources.mennonitechurch.ca/ResourceView/43/14412)

It reminds us that in order to overcome the divisions of our world we will need to look beyond ourselves and receive from Jesus

World Communion Sunday is an event that bridges denominations and spotlights our commonality in the Body of Christ. This world would be so much better off if we looked for that which we hold in common rather than our differences. Holy Communion, rightly observed, reunites the Church. This is the pastor’s hope when he or she holds up the loaf of bread and says, “Because there is one loaf, we who are many, are one body in Christ.”

Therefore, our focus is in how to get over our differences and find common power to live in Christ. The Eucharist is a time of positive celebration, reunion, prayer for healing, and a sacred time to put others before ourselves

World Communion Sunday was intended as an occasion when persons would be invited to the Lord’s  Table on the same Sunday in many different churches and denominations, regardless of how often those churches and denominations normally observe communion. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) participates in this witness and celebrates the fact that many other denominations are also inviting persons to the Lord’s Table on the first Sunday in October. (from a blog by Rev. Tim McClendon found at  http://www.umcgiving.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=qwL6KkNWLrH&b=7080293&ct=11520565&notoc=1.)

 

We may have different liturgies and customs but we have only one Lord and Savior who unites us

As Disciples, we proclaim the message of unity at Christ’s Table every Sunday of the year, not just on World Communion Sunday. We gather with other Christians every Sunday and declare our oneness in Christ as we take our place at the Table of our Lord. There are many different approaches to the serving and partaking of communion. Different elements are used. Different liturgies exist for communion in different churches. Communion is placed in a variety of positions in different orders of worship. But the message of God’s love for us, made known in Christ, is proclaimed boldly through our worship at the Table. It is this love that we proclaim at the Table that has the power to heal wounds, whether they are the wounds within our own spirits, within our families, within our communities, and between nations. God’s love makes us One. In my view, we are not being truly faithful in our worship unless we are proclaiming that message.

May we find joy in proclaiming that message with passion on World Communion Sunday and on all of the other Sundays of the year. Come to think of it, why be restricted to Sundays? Let us proclaim this good news every day that God gives us breath.

(Taken from Resources for World Communion Sunday: October 7, 2012 Prepared by the Council on Christian Unity, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) accessed at http://www.disciples.org/ccu/PDF/World%20Communion%20Sunday%202012b.pdf)

 

Amended July Schedule

I’m looking forward to the men’s Adirondack retreat this coming weekend.  I usually spend my time reading, helping some of the boys fish, canoeing and watching birds.  It’s a relaxing time.  So this coming Sunday, I will be at Forked Lake, God willing, leading the Sunday service at the Men’s retreat while Larry Nemitz will be bringing the message at Community Wesleyan.   I will postpone the third one of our Kitchen Table Talks on Relationships, the one on the topic of personality differences, until the following week, July, 29th.