A Terrific Prayer for Uncertain, Anxious Times Like These || Guest Post by Pastor Aaron Kunce

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A Prayer that Anyone Can Pray

There are a handful of poems and some prayers I have committed to memory. And there’s a couple I carry with me every day. One of the prayers I’ve kept in a little notebook I carry every day was written by Thomas Merton back in 1958.

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust

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An Ancient Christian Symbol of Love || Guest Post by Aaron Kunce

This past Sunday, we looked at the ancient symbol of love from church history, sometimes depicted in stained glass, and it’s the image of a pelican.

And the reason that the pelican has been one of the ancient symbols of Christianity is because the pelican had been observed doing something very striking. If its little chicks were starving, the pelican, in an act of self-sacrifice, would pierce her own heart to give sustenance to her young ones so they would survive.

Medieval Christians began to use the image of a pelican to symbolize the sacrificial love of Jesus—who gave his life for our redemption and for the atonement he made through his passion and death. References to the pelican and its Christian meaning are found in Dante’s Divine Comedy, Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, and many other writings.

I don’t know if pelicans do this act of sacrifice or if it is merely legend. But the fact remains, that it became a powerful symbol of costly, sacrificial love.

And love has a cost—right?

Love can involve pain and it can involve discomfort. If there is no pain and no discomfort, is it actually love? Love is willing to be interrupted

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What is it That Keeps You from Love? || Guest Post by Aaron Kunce

In Jesus’ most famous sermon, he said:

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad…”

Matthew 5:43–44 (The Message)

Jesus calls everyone to the radical posture of love and to daily resist the lure of the vices that work against love in our lives. And for Christians, love is the heart of living, of being human.

Love is at the heart of the life of Christ, his teaching, and his death on the cross.

Even on the cross, Jesus expressed love for his mother, had compassion on the two rebels being crucified beside him, and loved his enemies … who were in the act of nailing him to the wood.

Jesus called people to turn and receive God’s love and …

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Love: A Theological Virtue || Guest Post by Aaron Kunce

On Sunday, we looked at the virtue of LOVE. Love is in a special category of virtue called the theological virtues.

Theological virtues are virtues associated in Christian theology and philosophy with salvation resulting from the grace of God.

Traditionally, they have been named faith, hope, and charity, and can trace their importance in Christian theology to Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 13, who also pointed out that “the greatest of these is love.”

The medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas explained that these virtues are called theological virtues “because they have God for their object, both in so far as by them we are properly directed to Him, and because they are infused into our souls by God alone, as also, finally, because we come to know of them only by Divine revelation in the Sacred Scriptures.”

And they are huge themes for Paul as he writes to the Thessalonian Christ followers. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he declares that faithfulness, love, and hope are essential to the life, witness, and mission. It was true when he wrote it almost 2,000 years ago, and it’s true now.

This triad—from the very beginning of the Christian faith—is how we …

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Baptism Recap || guest blog by Aaron Kunce

This past Sunday, we played a short video recap of the June 24th outdoor baptism celebration. If you missed the baptism, you can watch a recap below.

This was our first time holding an outdoor baptism at the Heffelfinger’s beautiful farm in Seven Valleys, PA. The Heffelfinger’s (a Living Word family) graciously opened up their home, pool, and property for the baptism. The original date for this baptism of 29 people was a rainy day, so we rescheduled the celebration for the 24th of June and 16 were able to get in the water. The remainder will no doubt participate in our next outdoor baptism on August 19th (again at the Heffelfinger Farm). If you have crossed the line of faith but have not yet been baptized, please consider taking this step at the August baptism!

What a wonderful baptism celebration it was on the 24th! We were blessed to hear 16 stories of salvation—16 stories of God’s grace poured out in Jesus Christ. Each story was short and unique. And each was a story of God bringing people to life and flourishing by the power of his Spirit.

Some of the testimonies were dramatic, some were simple and straightforward. …

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Depth, Courage, and Grace

Stephen from Acts 6-7 was full of the Spirit, full of depth, full of courage, and full of grace.

In my last couple of posts, we explored growing in the Spirit. Did you try the Examen? If you missed my last post, you can read it here.

Today, let’s take a look at three more areas where we all can intentionally experience growth over the course of this new year: spiritual depth, courage, and grace.

Spiritual Depth

How are you currently growing in depth spiritually? Do you make time to read scripture? To soak in the life-giving words of the Bible? If you’ve never read through the Bible, consider using a reading plan (like the 5 Day Reading Program) and give it a go!

Or do you need to start by exploring what Christianity is all about with an overview that can help you process the basic truths of the Gospel? This is what The Alpha Course is all about. Consider being a part of Alpha next month. Alpha begins Monday, February 5 and is 8 weeks long. Register here.

One thing I’d love to encourage everyone to do is to pick up the weekly Message Resources on …

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Full of the Spirit (Part 2)

Picking up from my last post, and in light of this past Sunday’s message at Living Word, we have been looking at lessons from the life of Stephen (from Acts 6 and 7). Stephen was a person who was full of the Spirit, full of spiritual depth, full of courage, and full of grace.

And we are asking the question: What would it look like—in 2018—if this was a year that you intentionally grew in these areas: in the Spirit, in depth, in courage, in grace?

The Holy Spirit is the source of so much in our lives. How can we live in step with God’s Spirit and follow his leading and guiding on a daily basis?

Today, let’s narrow our focus down to how we can live lives that are full of God’s Holy presence. This will actually be very practical.


I’d like to introduce you to an old form of prayer called the Examen. It’s a prayer that some trace all the way back to the beginning of Christianity. Sometimes it’s referred to as “the examination of conscience,” but I’ve always called it by its shorter name—the Examen. It’s a really simple prayer, but also quite …

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Full of the Spirit (Part 1)

This past Sunday, we looked at a couple of dramatic scenes from the life and death of Stephen in the Book of Acts.

Stephen is one of my heroes from Scripture. He really inspires me.

He was the first martyr of Christianity we read about in the New Testament. And Luke (the author of Acts) indicates that Stephen was a person who was full of the Spirit, full of spiritual depth, full of courage, and full of grace.

So, the message this past Sunday was all about asking this question: What would it look like—in 2018—if this was a year that you intentionally grew in the Spirit, grew in depth, grew in courage, and grew in grace?

Let’s start by reflecting a little today on what the Holy Spirit does in our lives, and then in my next post we can think more together on how to live full of God’s Spirit.

Then in one more post after that, we’ll explore how we can be full of depth, full of courage, and full of grace.


This is an important place to start. Stephen wouldn’t have exuded the depth, courage, and grace …

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What Is the True Hope We All Long For?

Well, the New Year has begun. Happy New Year! I hope this will be a year of beautiful flourishing for you.

We all have high hopes for our lives in 2018. But before we run out to chase those hopes, with Christmas behind us, let’s pause for a moment or two to reflect on what it is we are hoping for.

Here’s a question: What is the true hope you are longing for in your life?

And how can you experience “the thrill of hope” amidst the struggles that you may encounter?

As you ponder that, let’s zoom way out and see that people all over the world are hoping—and struggling. And going back in time, we see this is nothing new. People have been struggling to find true hope for millennia.

Two thousand years ago, the people of God—the Jews—were struggling under Roman oppression and searching for hope.

During that time, among the Jews, there was a group called the Pharisees, who put burdensome demands on people and put all their hope in their own ability to be righteous.

Then there was another group called the Sadducees, who made political concessions with the Romans and placed their …

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Baptism Recap by Guest Blogger Aaron Kunce

June in Pennsylvania is such a glorious month.

The weather is usually on the sunny side, and the skies are blue in June. At least this is the way I recall most Junes. A light-filled and beautiful season, after a darker, colder winter, and soggy springtime. And this past Sunday was one of those glorious, special June days. It was a perfect day for a Living Word outdoor celebration of baptism.

Twenty-five people got in the water to make this beautiful, public profession of their faith by being baptized. And well over a hundred people had come along to join in the celebration. Here’s a little re-cap of the celebration.

This was the last outdoor baptism that would be held at the home and poolside of Barry and Lola Bloss. Barry and Lola are a part of the Living Word family and have blessed our church for more than a decade and a half by offering their pool and home for our outdoor baptisms. Their house has been on the market, and now has been purchased, so Sunday’s baptism marks the end of an era. Thank you, Barry and Lola for modeling hospitality and generosity over the years to your …

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