August Rector's Update

In the western world during the late 20th Century it became fashionable to deride supernaturalists.  Indeed, philosophical naturalism or materialism was celebrated as the only intellectually respectable world view.  But in recent decades supernaturalism is increasingly in vogue – especially among college and university students.  One effect of postmodernism with its celebration of diversity and inclusivity is a growing interest in spirituality, eastern mysticism and religions other than traditional Christianity and Judaism.  G. K. Chesterton’s observation of early 20th Century  English culture is quite applicable to American culture today: “Our problem is not that people today believe nothing – it is that they believe anything.”  Such confusion, Chesterton recognized, leads to destructive moral and spiritual relativism.  

Americans today manifest a deep longing for “something other” or “something more” than what they can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell.  They articulate a faith in a spiritual reality and seek to know it.  Most young and middle age people are not secular.  On the contrary, they express spiritual curiosity and alertness.  There is a growing cultural conviction that there is “Someone” or “Some Reality” out there that is greater than we are.  Over thirty years ago, I was a similarly confused young man with a growing conviction that God exists and that I had a need to know Him.  One evening while skimming a biography of Peter Marshall, the illustrious pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., I was deeply touched by one of his sermons where he maintained that many of our burdens and inner confusion come from lack of trust in God and “misunderstanding of what God is like. We are dismally ignorant of the of the love and power of God.  No wonder we do not trust Him!”  Peter Marshall went on to say that “if you want to know what God is like, look at Christ.  Study what Christ said.  Notice what Christ did.” After reading this sermon,  I began to prayerfully read the Gospels.  I gradually began to learn the truth of Jesus Christ’s words: “And this is eternal life,  that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”  (John 17:3) 

Let’s all devote time to reading the Holy Scriptures daily – praying to know God through Jesus Christ because knowing Him is urgent and important.  This truth is revealed in the words from the Apostle Peter’s testimony: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Let’s also pray to know Jesus Christ better and to love Him more.

Blessings in Him,

Pastor Lyle

Early Pentecost Season

Dear Friends,

As we enter the Green Season or the part of the church year known as Ordinary tine, our focus shifts from the events in the life of Jesus Christ to His teachings and parables. To that end, I want to encourage you to join me in following the example of Our Savior and rededicating ourselves to prayer.  A twentieth century missionary to people inside the Iron Curtain during the years of Communist domination, Peter Dyneka, Sr., lived by this motto:  “Much Prayer, Much Power.  Little Prayer, Little Power. No Prayer, No Power.”  Dyneka’s dictum is more than a clever phrase.  It captures the essence of our Lord Jesus Christ’s life and it is something acknowledged by every Christian who lives a truly Christ-glorifying life.

In Mark 1:21-39 we read that Our Lord had a busy Sabbath in Capernaum.  He had taught in the synagogue and cast an unclean spirit out of a man.  Jesus then went to Simon Peter’s home where He found the disciple’s mother-in-law ill with a fever.  He healed her and then after sunset, when many sick and demonically oppressed people were brought to Him, He healed them all.

In verse 35 we learn that early the next morning, while it was still dark, Jesus had departed to an isolated place where He spent time in prayer with his Father in Heaven.  During this time of prayer, Jesus garnered the strength to continue His ministry of traveling, teaching, preaching, and healing, and through this prayer time learned where His Father wanted Him to go.

In brief, Jesus’ lifeline to His Father in Heaven was prayer.   And if Jesus needed prayer to live a life that glorified God – how much more do we need a robust time of prayer each day?  Therefore, let’s covenant together to commit a part of each day to prayer.   For me, early in the morning usually works well.  But no matter the time, devote at least a few minutes each day to praising God, seeking His protection and guidance for the day’s activities, and interceding for your family and other people in your range of influence.

Finally, consider two prayer opportunities available to everyone on Sunday mornings.  From 9:15-9:45 a.m., before the 10 a.m. worship service at Hodges Chapel, we have a prayer meeting to praise God and intercede for the worship service and needs of the church.  Second, during Holy Communion each Sunday you are invited to go to the prayer ministers (two teams of two persons each) and pray for any need that you want to bring to the Lord.

Remember Our Lord’s example in Mark 1:35.  And take to heart Peter Dyneka’s motto: “Much prayer, Much Power.”  Join me in asking Our Lord to help us become a church family energized by prayer.

Soli  Deo Gloria,

Pastor Lyle

Birth of the Church

Dear Friends,

The Lord has risen, alleluia!   Without His resurrection from the grave, there would be no victory over death and we would be people without hope.  That is why we celebrate with such joy at this time of year.   The time between the Resurrection and Pentecost – the birthday of the church – is thought to be one great Sunday or time of celebration.  In the early church, the believers did not fast during this season because the resurrection of Jesus was such a great source of joy.  Death was defeated and the gates to heaven, with access to God the Father, opened in dazzling joy and amazement and “the Great Fifty Days” from the Resurrection to Pentecost were seen as especially holy.

Unfortunately today, many see the reality of what happened on Resurrection Sunday or Easter as a standalone event with little ability to change lives.  That leads to the devaluation of the death of Jesus and undermines the spiritual power found in the Resurrection.   If the Resurrection is real, and I believe it to be so, then all that Jesus said and taught must be believed and lived.  Each day should be seen as a precious opportunity for becoming more and more the person that God created us to be.  Because Jesus defeated death and sin, we can too.  These are not mere ancient events or pious, well-intentioned words but a promise from God who never wavers but rather invites us to draw nearer to Him that we might know that deep inner peace that our souls crave.

We, at Christ the King, invite you to come and join us as we remember the great things God has done for us and walk the road from the empty tomb to the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.   Jesus is alive, real, and waiting for each of us to live in the transformational power that He won through His death and Resurrection.

The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia!

Pastor Lyle

April, 2012