Thursday, October 20, 2016

Judging Others: Quotes to Live By

“As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to putting people and things in their 'right' place.” 
~Henri J.M. Nouwen

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Of how can you say to your neighbor, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye. 
~Matthew 7:1-5

Monday, October 17, 2016

No Scaredy Cats

Sermon based on 2 Timothy 1:6-10, delivered on October 2, 2016. The letter encourages Timothy to emulate the fearless faith of his mother and grandmother. It's still excellent advice.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Attention Please

Sermon based on Luke 16:19-31, delivered on September 25, 2016. Dealing with the oblivious rich man who never noticed Lazarus starving to death at his gates. What does this mean for us? How do Rod Serling and "dead walkers" factor into this message? Watch and find out.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Rejoice For Those Found, Sermon on 9/11/16

Sermon based on Luke 15:1-10, in which Jesus provides parables about how determined God is to find the lost. We should do likewise and rejoice when the lost are found. We should never withdrawal from others based on fear. This sermon reflected, in part, on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Domestic Violence Workshop: October 8, 2016

On Saturday, October 8, 2016, the Philadelphia Baptist Association’s (PBA) Domestic Violence Learning Community presents, a domestic violence workshop titled “Institutions: Hiding Behind the Lipstick: Silence No More.” The program takes place at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Germantown (41 W. Rittenhouse Street, Philadelphia) at 11 a.m. This is a free event. 

This is a theatrical presentation addressing the institutions of Domestic Violence, including bullying in school, mental illness, drug addictions, incarcerations, religious bondage, and more. 

The desire is to continue to educate PBA churches about this epidemic, with the intent of helping "each one, reach one" person who might be suffering from domestic violence in their local congregation.

Introducing a New Constitution in 2016

The Constitution and Bylaws committee has completed their multi-year project, working faithfully to present the congregation with a proposed new Constitution and Bylaws. The changes in structure of leadership presented will allow for greater participation, the encouragement of many small group missions, and will far better reflect the congregation as we are today.

The findings and proposed changes will be presented on Thursday night, September 29, 2016, with dinner at 6 p.m. and presentation at 7 p.m. Members and friends of Lansdowne Baptist are encouraged to attend.

This is an exciting time for our church. Let's all enjoy it together. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In the Garden: the LBC Youth Garden ... Again

Last week I had a phone call that took me by surprise. One of the leaders of the men's group working with the youth on the LBC Youth Garden called and asked, "Pastor, where are you?" "In my office," was my startled response, wondering where Joe was going with this. "Could you bring me out a couple of baskets? I'm in the garden." Now, it started to make sense. I got the baskets and went out into the garden.

What followed for this suburbanite was the equivalent of a small scale treasure hunt. Joe and I searched among the tomato, pepper, cucumber, and egg plant leaves and stems. We found quite a few ripe vegetables ready for harvest and the promise of many more to come. Before long, we were laughing at the abundance God had presented us. The harvest was heading off to people who needed fresh vegetables. I was startled at the number of pollinators among both the decorative and vegetable flowers. Life abounded in the garden.

Since that day, it has been my repeated pleasure to offer up fresh vegetables to hungry people who show up at the church doors. It is amazing what has come from the garden our youth planted in the early summer. We are still looking forward soon to a week when the children will return to the garden to harvest some of the vegetables for their families and themselves. That will be a sweet day, and it is coming soon.

Here are some recommendations for having a prayerful time in any garden from the Godspace Community Blog site: You are welcome to explore these prayerful options in the LBC Youth Garden any day you like.

Outdoor Service Held, September 18, 2016

Kicking off our new fall season and our return to an 11:00 a.m. worship hour, we decided to do things differently. Despite the overcast skies and a small chance of rain (there was some around 2;30 p.m. but we were long gone by then) we forged ahead, setting up 40 chairs on the lawn, a portable pulpit, and electric piano our musician borrowed from a friend (and for which we were thankful and impressed), and a table with fruit in the back. Why the fruit, you ask? Simple: worship is sweet. That fruit was a pleasant reminder of Psalm 119:103 "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"

Worshiping outdoors allowed us a change of scene we don't often have and, more to the point, offered us a chance to share our faith with our community in word and song. One congregant told me that quite a few people paused in their walks to look and listen. A few drivers slowed or came to a stop briefly on our side street. Hopefully some of these neighbors will feel encouraged to come worship with us soon.

While it can be very "exciting" worshiping out in the natural world where weather an so quickly change, it was a refreshing start to the new season. We hope you will join us soon. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sunday, September 18, Worship Outdoors at 11 a.m.

This Sunday, September 18, 2016, the worship hour returns to 11 a.m. To kick off the fall season, we will be worshiping outside on our grounds by the education wing, near the intersection of Lansdowne and East LaCrosse avenues. Our pianist, Doug Yadevia, has come up with a full, portable, electric piano to accompany our hymn singing. The hymns themselves will be familiar and inviting ones. The sermon will speak to us about prayer that God finds "right and acceptable." The sermon is based on 1 Timothy 2:1-7.

Come out and join us in our joy, worshiping our wonderful God.* Bring a friend along to enjoy this outdoor worship experience. All are welcome!

*Our Sunday school classes for children and adults will begin the following week, September 25, at 9:45 a.m. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to join us for Sunday school as well!

To find out how our outdoor service went, see:

Friday, September 9, 2016

Problems of Perfectionism

During the 2016 ABC USA Minister's Conference, where we explored options for maintaining healthy, balanced lives in the face of our challenging callings, the keynote speaker Dr. Jennifer Davidson warned us not to fall into the trap of perfectionism. Her warning is applicable to all of us, not just ministers.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines perfectionism as follows:

1. a : the doctrine that the perfection of moral character constitutes a person's highest good; b : the theological doctrine that a state of freedom from sin is attainable on earth

2: a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable (see:

As Dr. Davidson stated, we need to stop placing heavy, unrealistic expectations on ourselves and instead of attempting to manage everything ourselves, turning control over to God instead. If we do not, we come to dislike ourselves when we don't meet those expectations. As a result, we will project that negative attitude upon others, making our dissatisfaction with our own imperfections about them rather than dealing with the issues honestly ourselves. 

Humility is the antidote to the myth of perfectionism that eats away at the heart of our spiritual lives, drowning that life in depression, sinking us into despair. If we feel we need to be perfect, we will certainly fail at the things we try, whether they be physical, intellectual, or spiritual matters. 

For me, the key observation was and remains "Perfectionism kills the ability to move forward. We won't try if we can't be perfect." That's what happens when we accept the corrosive myth of perfectionism. 

Author Joshua DuBois, referencing the parable of the shepherd searching for the lost sheep in Luke 15:4-7, remarks in The President's Devotional, "[Our God] is not a God who loves the righteous--because none are righteous, none. He's not a God who values those who have it all together, because who among us really does?" None of us manages to get through life without stumbling. None of us is perfect. 

Finally, author Kirk Byron Jones in his book, Rest in the Storm, warns that we cannot expect each other to be able to address (perfectly or otherwise) all of the problems we face in our sojourn through life. Jones quotes Dr. E.V. Hill's consideration of this matter. While this is a warning for pastors, once again it is good advice for everyone, "Now we need to be careful. Sometimes the expectation that we meet all these demands convinces us that we can. This can give us a messianic complex that is destructive to the preacher and the preacher's family. This messianic complex can work on us so that we can feel bad about not being able to solve all the problems that are brought to us. This is a horrible addiction. There is glamour and glee in thinking that you have the answer to many problems and feeling that others think so. It is very seductive, and we can become addicted to it. And it is subtle; we want to endear people to us, but this can lead to people expecting too much from us, and us expecting too much from ourselves." 

Let's all be humble. Let's all admit we are not perfect beings. Let's lower the expectations a bit, Let's get away from the idea that anything short of perfection is unacceptable. We'll all be healthier for that.

Wishing everyone peace ... and a healthy does of humility ... so we can all move forward together.