A Pastoral Letter in the Midst of Covid-19

Lamentations 3:19-26  (New Living Translation)  The thought of my suffering is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.  Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:   The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness; his mercies […]

Autumn

Although summer has always been my favorite time of year for many Autumn is their uncontested favorite. There is a feel about it, distinctiveness to its aura. There are some reasons for Autumn’s captivating attraction: The colors of leaves resembling the brilliance of rainbows, cool nights and warm blankets, early to bed with no guilt […]

The Essential Pursuit

The Essential Pursuit The sudden death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna and seven others in a tragic helicopter crash, coupled with constant news about the Coronavirus outbreak in China—and the fears of it spreading around the globe, are stories that shook many this past weekend. As is often the case, news headlines reveal […]

Tangled Threads

2 Corinthians 4:18 We don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. As we step into the possibilities of a brand new—never lived new year—not only do we look forward with anticipation to writing some new chapters in our lives but we also […]

A New Beginning

I’ve been in the Westgate office a week now.  I have preached one candidate sermon, one first Sunday sermon, and coordinated one worship service.  In car buying terms the new car smell is still very strong.  Some have referenced the first year or so of a new pastorate as the honey moon period—if so I […]

Bullets or Seeds

Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than receive.” Here is some free advice as we are entering the challenges and fresh days of a New Year.  You can offer your thoughts and ideas to others as bullets or as seeds.  You can shoot them, or sow them; hit people in the head with […]

Seeing Good in the Bad

OK… I’ve finally taken the time with a sigh of fatigue to look back over the past few weeks.  During the past two weeks I moved to Mount Joy to be closer to the church, and celebrated my first Easter at Westgate Baptist Church.  A combination of circumstances made it essential that I do much […]

The Journey Home

While filling up my motorcycle at a gas pump the other day I entered into some friendly chatter with a man who eventually asked me, “so where are you going.”      I responded that I was just out for a ride.  He seemed a little surprised.   Then I explained to him that I had just moved […]

Set Apart for a Purpose

The other day I struck up a conversation with a person, not really a friend but an acquaintance.  She was telling me how much she works. How the staff where she works drives her up a tree.  And how the pay and benefits are great but she hates the job and that her health is […]

Grabbing Our Attention

Joel 2:13 Come back to the Lord your God, because he is kind and shows mercy. He doesn’t become angry quickly, and he has great love. I suppose one of the things I love the most about summer is that long days and very active schedules provide for many necessary diversions. And oh how those […]

Time Flies

I recently read an article that plays tongue and cheek with the symptoms of aging.  Of course aging is relative.  For example Mr. Donald Brubaker, dear friend of the Westgate family, always says to me “Good Morning Young Man” or “Good afternoon Young Man.”  When he says this I always smile because I no longer […]

Perspectives

              My friends in Christ, have you ever marveled over how two or three people can hear or witness something and have completely different recollections of what in truth took place?  Have you ever wanted to shake the living daylights out of a friend or spouse or relative and say…”Are you kidding me, that’s not […]

The Lion and the Lamb

It has been a human desire for hundreds of years to make accurate weather predictions.  Oral and written history are full of rhymes and anecdotes meant to guide us in our prediction of weather, fair or foul.  For the farmer waiting to plant, or the merchant wanting to send a ship for trade, foreknowledge of […]

Memory

Some years ago I volunteered to do visitations on a regular basis in a County Nursing Home.  I became sensitized to the expression “short term and long term memory.”   Social workers and nurses would sometimes warn me that certain residents I was visiting had “long term memory…but no short term memory” or in less frequent […]

Be Humble Lest Ye Stumble

Micah 6:8  “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what the does the Lord requires of you but to do justly, to love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God” Proverbs 16:18  “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.” How often must we learn this basic truth, […]

Facing the Truth about Our Faces

2 Corinthians 3:18  “Our faces, then, are not covered.  We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him.” I have learned over many years that communication on the surface is about words, but behind the curtain it is all about so much more.  One learns, refines, and deliberately sharpens […]

New Year Challenge

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then […]

Making Room

Revelation 3:20    Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  At this time, on the heels of Thanksgiving, come all the pressure to do holiday shopping.  In fact, before Thanksgiving dinner was served, there people were literally camping-out in front of the big box retail stores.  There they are waiting for admission to […]

Creating Courage

While on vacation I spent some time in Ocean City Maryland and at the end of the Board Walk is the amusement ride section.  Board Walks are fascinating places if you find intrigue in observing a broad cross section of people.  As I was walking past a young man near the entry to a somewhat […]

Waiting for Advent

Good morning…today we are going to talk about waiting.  We all need to wait sometimes…and just to illustrate what it is like to wait I have an hour glass that I am going to turn over…and I want each of you to be completely silent until all of the sand is completely at the bottom…wait…wait…wait. […]

Bring on Spring… John 11:25, 38-43; 12:12-27

The weather has been about as unpredictable as the stock market these days.  But hey it’s February/March we should be accustomed to some volatility. I well remember several Marches ago the weathercasters told us the big one was coming–Twelve to Twenty inches worth moving our way—unusual for a March.   So people trudged off to the […]

Seven Deadly Sins

Sermon Series In the lurid movie Seven, starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, a maniacal killer roams the streets killing a string of victims in a series of gruesome murders.  The detectives are stumped until they realize that the perpetrator is killing his victims as sort of sick punishment for their having committed one of […]

Waiting for the Lord: Read Luke 7:18-23

What is Advent?  Unfortunately for so many it’s a season that brings on tension and stress as we get ready for Christmas.  Imagine how the conversation would have possibly gone if Archie Bunker had ever talked about Christmas with his son-in-law, Michael.  Michael says to Arch, “Well, what is Advent anyway Arch?  I bet you […]

Homecoming

 John 15:19  I have chosen you out of the world, so you don’t belong to it.  Recently I received an invitation from Messiah College advertising the return of Home Coming Week.  It’s a nostalgic time to return to campus and see old friends talk about old times and have all kinds of social functions with […]

Power in Weakness

Tuesday one week ago, in retrospect, I made the foolish decision to mix it up in a Basketball game at 10:30 p.m. at my gym.  Having played basketball competitively throughout my life this seemed like a rather natural and instinctual choice.  The result at least this time, was that I came down badly from a […]

The Fire Within

Psalm 40:8 My God, I want to do what you want.  Your teachings are in my heart. A few years ago, I participated in the Ministerial Installation service of a very close friend.  After the Service, in the receiving line, a man passing through commented on something I had said during the service. His comment […]

No Judgment Zone

Matthew 7:2  You will be judged in the same way you judge others. I was recently talking with an old friends who has left church—in fact he tells me he is glad to no longer be part of a religious expression.  Knowing that he was formerly very involved in his faith and even Pastored a […]

Now What?

Is there anything as over as Christmas? Colorful wrapping paper and bright ribbons are reduced to trash as quickly as gifts are torn open. Fresh green trees that have graced many of our homes for weeks begin to drop needles until they are discarded on streets, waiting collection. Even artificial trees are stored in plastic […]

Deleting Junk

Part of the simplifying of my life has led me to exercise more and more purging of the unnecessary from my existence.  I recently discovered some uncomfortable and difficult communications, which I had saved and kept in a file folder.  There was great freedom in recognizing it was part of an old battlefield in my […]

Mental Enrichment

I entitled last month’s Newsletter article Refusing Trashy Thoughts and quoted from James Allen’s book As a Man Thinketh—“A person’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must and will bring forth.”  I want to go further this month […]

Powerful Memories

As many of you know, I love the back-country of Lancaster County.  Just this past weekend I had another opportunity to enjoy its winding and winsome beauty after Church.  I was on a slow moving, meandering trip into Southern Lancaster County with my fellow bikers from the Christian Motorcycle Association.  You would expect Christian bikers […]

The Art of Clarity

Recently I had a difficult decision to make.  I went back and forth feeling one way on Monday, another on Tuesday, and several ways on Wednesday.  I studied the upsides and the downsides—I became educated about the product I was considering purchasing—I read reviews both good and bad—glorious and hellacious.  After this “back and forth” […]

“Hats” A Way to Remember

As I write this article I am looking over at a rock on my desk with a large word in one inch lettering—it says simply—“REMEMBER”.  The same type of rock was given out to a number of people I visited just before Easter.  (Some Churches call these folks “Shut Ins.”   I have never taken kindly […]

Refusing Trashy Thoughts

From his book “As a Man Thinketh,” Author James Allen said: “Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes, And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes the tool of Thought, and , shaping what he wills, brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills—man thinketh, and it comes to pass—environment is but his […]

Unblocking the Blocked

OK I admit it—sometimes my brain just seems to stop working and I am stuck with the task of unblocking or unlocking my creative intelligence.  Some people refer to this as writer’s block.  I am not sure why, but it has been happening to me a lot lately.  In fact when I found myself this […]

A Favored Word…

A friend once asked me what some of my favorite words were.  I paused and reached back in my mind then said a few of my favorite…”Indelible, delectable, vivacious, enigmatic”…these were a few, I simply like that way they sound.  As the dialogue continued I was then asked what word in the human vocabulary most […]

Stop Signs

I came to a recent reality in my life that my habit of multitasking was getting the best of me.  While looking for my wallet which I thought I had left in my car…I could not find the car keys to unlock the car, which hopefully housed my wallet.  All this was happening when I […]

Spring Has Sprung ?

Spring has Sprung…At Least We Hope So… Those who follow the stock market are aware that there has been a fair amount of volatility. The weather isn’t much more predictable than the market. Everywhere I go people are commenting on how cold this April has been so far.   I remember several Marches ago the weather […]

Spring Cleaning

Soon after some of the extra demands of my Easter schedule had passed and the weather started getting a little milder for some reason I got in the mood for Spring Cleaning.  That mood rarely comes so I decided to ride the tide while the wave was breaking.  This year’s Spring Cleaning was about getting […]

Storms: Mark 4:35-41

Harvey. Irma. Sandy. Ike. Katrina. Andrew. Agnes. To most of us these are a random assortment of names. But in fact they are the names of some of the most devastating hurricanes in history — storms whose impact  on the lives of people continue long after the clouds have parted, the floods receded and the […]

Communion with God

As I write this article I am on some needed and enjoyed vacation time.  Part of what I have been doing is simply spending time with the Master.  Listening to His holy word and spending more time of intentional prayer and reflection which is as needful to my spirit as food and drink is to […]

Time Is Irreplaceable

If you look carefully at the church sign this week it reads “Time is irreplaceable use it wisely.”  Time indeed is a most precious commodity.  Have you notice that Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it but you can spend it. Once you’ve […]

Defining the Nature of Love

Thank you Westgate Church for all your cards and gifts on my birthday this past January 2nd.  For my birthday I enjoyed a delicious Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl, where you eat free on your birthday.  I have never been to a larger Smorgasbord in my life and I […]

Autumn

Autumn Although summer has always been my favorite time of year, for many Autumn is their uncontested favorite.  There is a feel about it, distinctiveness to its aura. There are some reasons for Autumn’s captivating attraction:  the colors of leaves resembling the brilliance of rainbows, cool nights and warm blankets, early to bed with no […]

Facial Changes

Psalms 40:3  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. It’s interesting what a few hours and a procedure can do to the face.  I began last Tuesday with a normal face and range of expressions.  But as I neared the dental office around noon time my jaw […]

Permeating Paradox

Permeating Paradox Friends, am I the only one struggling with the notion that at times it seems the most consistent thing about life is it’s constant inconsistency? I guess you can place this statement under the heading “things that make me shake my head.”  I have a very dear friend from Philadelphia and after years […]

God Still Speaks

God Still Speaks Psalm 34:18  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those whose spirits have been crushed. Ever wonder if God still speaks…and if so how?  We read in Scripture  “For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through […]

Inclusive Gratitude

We have a saying on our church sign at Westgate right now that says “Be Rich Quickly, Count Your Blessings.”  A few people have made comment to me about the sign and a few have asked me what is meant by it.  The sign addresses the importance of gratitude in fostering inner richness and inner […]

Partnering with God

I don’t watch much TV but when I do there are a few shows that get my time and attention.  One genre of Reality TV that I occasionally enjoy are shows where people are searching for a dream property to purchase within their budget.  House Hunters, Tiny House Hunters, and my favorite Caribbean Life all […]

Boats & Hopes

Many years ago an S-4 submarine was rammed by another ship and quickly sank.  The entire crew was trapped inside.  Other ships rushed to the scene of disaster off the coast of Massachusetts.  No one knows exactly what took place down in that sunken submarine but we can be sure that those young men clung […]

Dreams

Joel 2:28  And it shall come to pass—that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.  Dreams have fascinated people since the beginning of recorded history. In ancient Egypt, people with vivid dreams were considered to be blessed […]

Bread of Life

About 90 percent of my days begin with Bread.  I get up and within the first ten minutes of waking I usually pop two slices of Dave’s Killer Whole Grain bread in the toaster—the only variety in the process is the type of Jam I use on the bread—strawberry being my favorite.   Bread is the […]

Living the Twenty Four Hour Gift

James 4:13-14    “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a such city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit;  whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little […]

Plotting the Resurrection

Plotting the Resurrection is a book written by E.B. White—in the book White observes his wife the autumn before her death and he observed her in the garden busily burying bulbs in the black earth “under those dark skies in the dying October, calmly plotting the resurrection.”   That is a visual image powerful enough to […]

Practicing the Presence of God

I became aware recently that many of my daily activities were being experienced as  habitual, mechanical, and just plain mundane.  In the midst of a dull mindset I knew intervention was needed.  I believe by the providence of God, I was also simultaneously exposed  to some excerpts from a book Practicing the Presence of God […]

Confronting Darkness

I was listening to a late night radio program while doing some mundane paper work and the guest on the radio program referred to modern times as “a return to the Dark Ages.”  In the context of the comment he began to talk about the ills of society, the drug epidemic, societal attitudes to established […]

Encouragement

Hebrews 10:24,25  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…Let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”    In a recent home visit I was pleased to see in open display many cards and notes of encouragement to the one whom […]

A Bouquet of Blessings

He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love.”  Zephaniah 3:17 Folks, I am willing to admit it I love flowers.  Yes the same man who loves motorcycles, football, basketball, dogs, and mountain biking , but l also really likes flowers.   With this in mind here is an interesting mental […]

Practicing the Presence of God

I became aware recently that many of my daily activities were being experienced as habitual, mechanical, and just plain mundane. In the midst of a dull mindset I knew intervention was needed. I believe by the providence of God, I was also simultaneously exposed to some excerpts from a book Practicing the Presence of God […]

Courage Amidst Angst

The dictionary defines Angst as a deep anxiety or dread regarding the human condition or the state of affairs in the world.  Its synonyms include fear, dread, apprehension, worry, malaise, trepidation, unease, disquietude  I’m keenly aware that in many ways Angst is the condition of our age.  There is physical angst over health issues of […]

The Personal Path

Isaiah 26:3  You, Lord, give perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in you.   I remember long time ago in another congregation I served (won’t say which one), I pulled up in my Mazda Miata Convertible with the top down on a beautiful summer Sunday morning.  And although […]

The Secret of Contentment…Philippians 4:10-13

We have been taking a slow journey through the book of Philippians together as a congregation.  In looking ahead toward the next few messages I once again marveled at the profound jewels yet to be discovered.  Philippians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have […]

Writer’s Block

Sometimes my brain just chooses to stop working—or is overloaded with a variety of concerns that thwarts my creativity and intelligent focus.  This is commonly called a writer’s block. It happened again today. I found myself working simultaneously on a newsletter article, a sermon, and answering an important Email.  After I had gotten frustrated enough […]

Time is Irreplaceable

If you look carefully at the church sign this week it reads “Time is irreplaceable use it wisely.”  Time indeed is a most precious commodity.  Have you notice that Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it but you can spend it. Once you’ve […]