Pastor Lee's blog

There is No Longer Jew nor Greek....

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness;...” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. - Genesis 1:26a; 27

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. - Galatians 3:27-29

Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. - Acts 10:34-35

I was angered with much of America over this past weekend concerning the events in Charlottesville where a few hundred hatred filled white nationalists and self proclaimed neo-nazis descended upon that town to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a park. It quickly became clear that their reason for gathering was just an excuse to push a larger agenda of hate and bigotry; and they came looking for a fight.

As a Christian, I firmly believe that all people are created in the image of God including those who look different than I do and who think differently than I do. Every child of God is precious in God’s eyes, and it is our responsibility to look at people as God does. There is no place in our faith or country for any ideology that lifts one race or people above another.

Paul wrote that in Christ all distinctions of one person over another no longer matter: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Faith in Christ overcomes distinctions of ethnicity, economy, and gender. While some of the agitators in Charlottesville may claim faith in God, their attitudes and behavior do not reflect the teaching of Jesus and the practices of the early church. Instead, they reflect the priorities of the evil one who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” - John 10:10

As Christians, we need to stand firmly against all hatred and bigotry and bear witness to the love of Christ in our interactions with all people. We still have a long way to go to fulfill Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of a country where people are judged not by the color of the skin but by the content of the character; yet I believe it will be through the witness and action of Christians that we will move closer to King’s ideal.

The good news is that in a country of over 300 million, the numbers of those who identify with the fringe ideas of this group are infinitesimally small. Eventually, their ideas will be left in the dust bin of history. But in the meantime, let us be a witness to the world of the love of God as we look at the world with the eyes of Jesus, speak with the mouth of Jesus, and serve with the hands of Jesus.

May the Lord bless each of you.
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee

Looking for the Blessing in Change

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

While it is a cliche, it is true that, apart from God, the only constant in life is change.

This past weekend our family experienced some events that gave evidence of this truism. First, my youngest daughter, who was just 4 years old when we arrived in 2005, turned 16 years old on Sunday. This fall she will be entering her Junior year in high school and will begin driving by herself. This major milestone in her life signals to me that she will be with us at home only two more years. Life is changing.

190 Years and Counting!

This month we will celebrate 190 years as a church! That’s a long time!

On July 15, 1827, First Presbyterian was officially organized as a Presbyterian church with two elected and ordained elders among nine members who had been meeting in a log house south of town. During the first few years growth was slow. However, in 1832, the church added 24 new members and began to grow.

By 1840, this increased membership led to the construction of a one room, rectangular brick building on the site of the church today. The only remaining portion of that building is the wall between the sanctuary and the office suite. In 1869, a house for the minister was built located on W. 3rd Ave. just behind the Sanctuary.

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.

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.

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