Pastor Lee's blog

It Is For Freedom!

Next week we will celebrate the 241st birthday of the United States of America. Even with all our problems, our country is still the shining city on a hill serving as a beacon for liberty and freedom in the world. Around the world, people oppressed by despotic leaders or crushing economic conditions long for the freedoms we enjoy in our country.

One of the most important freedoms we enjoy is that of religious freedom. Our country was founded on the principle that God alone is the Lord of the conscience, not the state. As long as our practice of worship does not physically harm another person, we can believe and worship in the way that God has revealed to us free from the interference of the state.

Now, while our 1st Amendment religious freedoms are invaluable, the freedom that is most precious is the freedom we have in Jesus Christ. This freedom has nothing to do with politics or governments, but rather is a gift from our loving God.

Paul writes that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). We have all been burdened down by the weight of sin. We all have had chains that prevented us from becoming all that God created us to be. We have all been locked up in prisons - some of our own making, others forced upon us.

But the good news of Jesus Christ is that he “gave himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4). In Christ, God did not hold our sins against us. In his death and resurrection, Christ destroyed the power of sin and death setting us free to live without condemnation.

The struggle many people have, however, is that while Christ has set them free through forgiveness, they have not forgiven themselves. Sometimes they stay in the prison even though Jesus has broken open the prison doors and loosed the chains around them.

If this describes you, I encourage you to meditate on the words in Galatians that state it is “For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”(5:1). Christ has set you free. Pray that you would fully experience this truth in your life.

On this 4th of July holiday, take a moment in your celebrations to say a word of thanks to the God who loves you and wants you to live fully in the freedom he has given you in Jesus Christ.

Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee

The Influence of One Life

In the Spring of 1991, I was finishing my last semester of seminary, taking ordination exams, and looking for a church to serve. I interviewed with churches that spanned the country from Denver, Colorado to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However, it was a phone call that came out of the blue from a church I had not even known about that forever changed my life.

A Full May of Activity!

We have a lot going on in the life of the church in the next 30 days, and I don’t want you to miss any of it. So let me list some of the highlights:

• We are nearing the end of the early service season with three Sundays to go. Thanks to everyone who has helped make the early service meaningful. I especially want to thank the worship team: Jack Harman, Ken Davis, Ed Snider, Betsy Cowan, Amber Manzella, Melissa Smith, Ben Kiefer, and Alex Snider for their dedication and commitment to leading early worship. The team will be participating regularly in the one service during the summer.

Trio Discipleship Groups

I want to tell you about one of the most significant activities that I have undertaken in recent years aimed at growing in my faith in Christ.

GLAMA Emergency Assistance Fund

Many churches in Lexington and the surrounding county have some kind of emergency aid program. At First Presbyterian, we have the Minister’s Discretionary Fund. These funds are used mainly to help individuals and families with rent or utility bills. Many of those who come seeking help have had higher bills than expected or have been out of work due to an illness. Unfortunately, there are those who either seek to game the system or who are chronically bad at handling money. It takes a great deal of time to figure out the legitimacy of the need of the person coming for help. Most of the pastors I know through the Greater Lexington Area Minister’s Association (GLAMA) just do not have the time to do the vetting work necessary, and thus they make a decision based on a gut feeling.

God's Light Shines

One of the most beloved passages of scripture is Psalm 23. The image of God as the shepherd who cares for his sheep has comforted and encouraged many people; and who cannot identify with the one who walks through the valley of the shadow of death.
In this life there will be times when we are in places of shadow where we feel that the darkness will overwhelm us. The valley is deep; and the walls are steep; and we wonder if there will ever be light again.
When we find ourselves in these places, we can hold fast to the promise that God is with us and that God’s powerful presence will protect us and guide us; and we can remind ourselves of the truth expressed in Psalm 139:12 that “even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” There is no place of darkness that the light of God cannot penetrate.
So, let us take comfort in Jesus who is the light of the world and trust in the brilliant radiance of the Morning Star.

May the Lord bless you this week.

Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee

Three Resolutions for the New Year

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? - Isaiah 43:19

Well it is that time of year when people use the change of the calendar to make resolutions for the new year. There is something about a fresh year that inspires us to try something different to break out of a rut or to start something new.

As I look forward to 2017 as a church, I would like to suggest three resolutions for each one of us in our congregation.

There is More that Unites Us!

By the time you read this, we should know who will be the 45th President of the United States. While I can’t predict who it will be on this Monday morning that I am writing, the one thing I can be sure of is that nearly 50% of people will not be happy with the outcome.

It sure seems that more than ever we are a divided people over economics, race, politics, and many other issues. It also appears that many relationships are defined by differences rather than things held in common. The prevailing attitude among some people is that “you are either with me or against me.”

Twenty-five Years and Counting!

Twenty five years ago on October 20th I was ordained into the Ministry of Word and Sacrament. I remember that day well. It was a Sunday afternoon at the Lexington Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Virginia. My brothers and my parents had joined me for that important day. The Presbyterian Campus Minister from my sophomore year, John Schneider, the pastor of my home church, Gary Charles, and the pastor of the church I attended in college, John Sloop, all participated in the service. Dr. Charles preached a sermon based on the call of Moses entitled, “Barefoot on Holy Ground,” and Dr. Sloop charged me with the words “be in touch” - in touch with God and in touch with the people I serve.

The Power of Transformation

There is no greater proof of the resurrection of Jesus than a life transformed. I believe this with my whole heart. Over the years I have seen many people transformed because they met Jesus and responded by following with their whole hearts, minds, and wills. It is because of my belief in the resurrection power of Jesus that I dedicated my life to following him and serving those who follow.

The ministry of the church of Jesus Christ is one of the most important ways that God uses to introduce people to the person of Jesus. Through our worship, our fellowship, our discipleship, and our mission, we bear witness to the transforming power of Jesus and invite people to come into His presence. We are the body of Christ, and it is through us that God has chosen to impact the world.

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