Month: November 2017

A Generous Christmas Tradition – Guest Blog by John Hilliard

Life can be so busy, especially at this time of the year. We’re preparing for relatives to visit, going to the kids’ choir concerts, hosting Christmas parties, and so much more, that we often miss the needs of others around us. LifePath Christian Ministries provides a place for women and children to live where they can have their basic needs met while they are getting back on their feet again. Meals are an important part of this ministry. Up until last year, they had an old oven that took over an hour to preheat and hours to cook a casserole. Our Christmas Eve Offering from last year purchased a new commercial oven for LifePath, which makes it much easier to provide food for the women and their children.

This season is all about having a heart to give. Living Word has been blessed to be a blessing for almost 40 years. The Christmas Eve Offering is when generosity pours out of us as a wonderful gift to people here in York and around the world. We give all of it away; not a single cent stays at Living Word.

Our goal for 2017 is $225,000, benefitting 20 organizations – 8 …

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A Very High Standard, A Very Good Prayer

John Adams (so far in my reading) is one of my favorite presidents.

John Adams was our first Vice President under George Washington.

John Adams was our second President.

John Adams was the only Founding Father who never owned a slave. Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe were all slave owners.

John Adams was the first president to live in the President’s House. (It wasn’t called the White House until 1901 when Teddy Roosevelt gave it that name).

The day after he moved in, early that morning, John Adams wrote a letter to his wife Abigail, who was still in the Boston area. In that letter, he wrote two lines of a prayer that have become immortal.

FDR so admired those sentences, he had them engraved into the wooden mantelpiece in the State Dining Room. Later, President Kennedy made them more permanent when he had them engraved in a marble mantelpiece.

What were those words?

I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house,
and all that shall hereafter inhabit it.
May none but honest and wise men
ever rule under this roof.

That is still a very good prayer and a very high standard. Although someday, I …

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Freedom OF Religion, Not Freedom FROM Religion

Losing our religion!
Losing our religious freedom?

Freedom of religion and the separation of church and state are important and necessary elements of the democratic experiment known as the United States of America. The Founding Parents of our nation saw the problems in Europe where neither of those concepts were established.

Religious freedom means you and I have the freedom to choose our religion or to choose no religion. I, for one, am very glad to have that freedom. For my early years, I chose NO religion. At age 18, I chose Christianity. Actually, I chose Jesus, and eventually found that in choosing Jesus I had chosen a way, a truth, and a life (John 14:6; Acts 11:26).

Christianity cannot be enforced or mandated. Religious/spiritual faith must be freely accepted. Whoever tells the best story wins the hearts and souls of the listeners. It is up to Christians to tell the story of amazing grace, sacrificial love, and a transformation of life that creates attractive virtue. We must tell that story very well.

Freedom FROM religion and the steady aggression against Christianity from the politically liberal intellectual elite (including a recent candidate for the presidency) is anathema to the spirit …

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The Study of Leadership (Presidents, Kings, and Prophets)

Over the last 6 months, I think have had more conversations on politics than in the previous 6 years! Most of those conversations have been thoughtful. A few have been robust. Occasionally there is some intense fellowship on some political matters.

About 18 months ago, I began a long and deep study of American presidential history. I am using the American Presidents Series as my starting point. When I have finished the series I will have read about every president. I just finished our 12th president, Zachary Taylor. Next up is our 13th president, Millard Fillmore. Click here to find out more about the American Presidents series.

These books are the starting point. For many of the presidents, I then look to read one or two other, longer studies about them.

Why am I doing this?

For one, I want to be a better citizen of our country, and I realized how little I knew of our history.

Second, political matters are inescapably a part of our lives. As a thought leader and influencer of many people, I needed to be more well read and more thought-full on political matters.

Third, I want to be a better leader. For …

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Character is Destiny

It has been said that character is destiny.

Who you are and who you become – your essence, your nature, your internal way of being – is important above all things.

This is why Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard the heart. For it is the wellspring of life.”

The Message translation says it this way: “Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.”

Character is destiny. Who you are is what you do. What you do is what lifestyle you have. Your lifestyle results in a legacy and a destiny, which is why the Bible is so strong on character, virtue, and the renovation of your heart. Ralph Waldo Emerson captures this vital insight in his quote:

The fruit of the Spirit and the description of love are two of the clearest descriptions of the virtuous life (Galatians 5:22-23 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Living Word is here for the renovation of hearts, renewing of lives, and re-imaging of your inner world so you become like Jesus.

It is among the most vital work we will do for the well-being and flourishing of your life.

Pastor Brian

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Happy Thanksgiving

On this beautiful Thanksgiving day, we are overwhelmed with God’s love and goodness. Here are a few things we are grateful for this year at Living Word.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.
Psalm 107

  • Our building expansion will help us reach more people with the good news and love of Jesus. We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings with new and fresh opportunities! Thank you for being flexible with this transition and supporting our efforts. We are grateful for the crews working very hard to make this expansion possible.
  • We added our third service at 8:00 am 10 months ago in the Life Center and it’s a thriving worship experience.
    Ministry partners help make our church come alive on Sunday and all throughout the week. Thank you for serving and being the hands and feet of Jesus!
  • Generosity abounds at Living Word through many mission trips throughout the world and local outreach projects. We can’t wait for Christmas: It’s Not About Us to kick off on Sunday!
  • Baptisms have been beautiful this year with many people (of all ages) saying YES

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Who Do You Love?

This is a follow up post from last week’s post on LOVE.

On this question, Christianity gets REALLY radical. I must write a little longer today to unpack this, but I think you will find it worth a few extra minutes.

Love your TRIBE.
Just about everyone in the world will be able to love family and friends, or at least love some of them. Unfortunately, some of the people who have hurt us the most are the ones who are closest to us – our family and friends. But generally, and throughout history, it is your “tribe” that you loved, took care of, nurtured, protected, and worked for their flourishing. Jesus actually says it is no big deal when you love those of your tribe (family, friends, neighbors). See Matthew 5:43-47.

Love those in NEED.
The biblical worldview of the Jewish faith introduced a strong new theme into an ancient and harsh world. In a world where only the strong survived, where everyone had to look out for number one, God told his people to have a special care and kindness for those who were in need: widows, orphans, slaves, the poor and the oppressed, basically anyone who was …

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Worth Pondering

We find ourselves worrying and taking stock as a nation, in ways we’ve not before. Who are we? What do we want? Which way forward? And what of our values? Is it only by our possessions that we wish to be known? Does what we have matter more to us than what we do?

No, I don’t think so. I think what most of us want – as most people everywhere want more than anything – is to be useful. This and to feel we belong to something larger than ourselves. What is needed now, now especially in this momentous change of scenes in world history, is a common understanding of what that larger something can be. What we Americans need above all is leadership to define the national ambition.

You may be surprised to hear that these words are not about recent times. They were spoken in 1994. They are the words of one of our great historians, David McCullough. (The picture is David in his very modest writing shed. Note the old typewriter!) His words are a reflection on the ending of the Cold War, and yet the spiraling of internal problems in our own country as well …

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What Makes the Purposes of God Real and Powerful

I hope you were a part of our Thanksgiving/Cardboard Testimony Sunday yesterday. It was an amazing time as we celebrated the loving kindness and goodness of our God as seen in the stories he is writing. These better stories of grace are the ones you heard on Sunday, and they are only a small percentage of the vast number of stories we could tell.

Living Word is here to be a place where God is writing these stories of redemption. Living Word is here to be a people who are used by Jesus to help others connect with the God who wants to change their lives.

The purposes of God are always changed lives.

While it is the grace of God that changes lives, we are invited by God to partner with him in creating places, spaces, and relationships where grace can flow and do its amazing work.

So, that leads to the completion of the model I showed you on Saturday. If you missed reading the blog post from Saturday, go back and read that to understand the context of what I say next.

 

If the PURPOSES of God are always changed lives, then the WAYS of

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Why We Are in Our Expansion and Renovation Season at Living Word

Here is a little chart that helps me understand why we are investing a great deal of resources to expand our church facility (building and property).

The foundation of everything we do is the purposes of God at LWCC.

What are those purposes? Simply, through his great grace, to bring forgiveness, healing, transformation, and missional empowering into the lives of everyone. Or, to say it differently, through his great grace, to advance his beautiful kingdom into our broken, fallen, and oh-so-very-messy world. To say it one more way: evangelism and discipleship. We want to create more followers of Jesus and better followers of Jesus.

Then, every particular local church has to determine (through prayer, conversation, discernment, and trial and error) what is our strategic way of mission, vision, and strategy? The purposes of God remain constant, but the ways different churches interpret and advance the purposes of God, that is where we have a wonderful diversity of mission, vision, and strategy. You can learn more about Living Word’s mission, vision, and strategy by visiting our church website. Click on the I’m New Tab and you can go exploring.

One more big step is needed. We must have concrete, specific ways …

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