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Posts from the ‘Pastoral Thoughts’ Category

We Will Not Forget – A Public Response

On Sunday, February 12, residents in a neighborhood not too far from Central Baptist woke to find hate literature in their driveways. The cards, disguised as valentines, encouraged people to join the KKK and to stop “homosexuality and race mixing.”

It also invoked a reference to “God’s Laws,” encouraging people to not forget.

On behalf of The Central Baptist Church of Riverton-Palmyra, and with the blessing of our Church Council, I will say we will not forget.

We will not forget the call to hospitality and ministry of reconciliation given to us by our Lord, Jesus Christ. We will continue to welcome all and work for justice in this world.

We will not forget the great power of sin to feed off people’s longing and fear, and we will continue to strive to live out a witness to the call of shalom.

We will not forget the spiritual, mental, and physical destruction hatred causes. Not only to those targeted, but also to those who spread it.

We will not forget the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has already conquered the powers of sin and death. And will stand with those targeted by people who still wish to wield their sting.

We will not forget we are part of the story of a New Creation, and with joy we will invite others to join in this journey.

We will never forget,

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
John 1:5, NRSV

Prayer for the World

Crying to God in the Midst of an Epidemic

This prayer was written by Ron Cosgrove, a member of Central Baptist Church

O Heavenly Father

We come before you this day with great concern, fear, and uncertainty. Our planet is faced with a crisis that is growing more serious each day – the outbreak and spread of Ebola.

We come before you in prayer for the safety and future of your children on earth.

O Lord in your mercy,
Hear our Prayer

We pray for the victims and their families as they struggle through unfathomable pain and suffering.

Please wrap them in your tender mercies and guide them as they work through their grief.

O Lord in your mercy,
Hear our Prayer

We pray for the Doctors, nurses, and volunteers. These compassionate individuals have put their own lives in danger so that they may give comfort and aid to the stricken.

Grant them continued courage and strengthen their hope that they can successfully contain this disease.

O Lord in your mercy,
Hear our Prayer

We pray for the lab teams the world over who are working tirelessly to find to find a cure. Grant them patience and wisdom in their quest, as well as determination to continue in their work in spite of disappointment.

May they soon be blessed with the discovery of a cure.

O Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

We pray for all the governments and corporations the world over. May they unite as one in the spirit of cooperation. May compassion, and not financial or political gain, move them in acts of mercy.

May they push aside all barriers and provide better logistics for the delivery of much needed supplies and equipment, as well as to stimulate more research.

O Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

We pray for all the people of Earth. May we also unite as one through prayer, education, and actions.

With your guidance, O Heavenly Father, help us to overcome our fears and prejudice. May we wisely use the talents, gifts, and abilities that you have so graciously given us and work together to overcome this challenge and ensure a better, brighter future for our children and their children.

O Lord in your mercy,
Hear our Prayer

The above photo is by EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection –

Changes coming to youth group snacks

One of the things kids love about Central’s youth group is the availability of snacks. This coming fall, we are changing things a bit. We won’t be eliminating snacks, but we will be eliminating the cheap-o snacks with ingredients that sound more like a chemistry set than a foodstuff. This means no artificial colors or flavors, no chemical preservatives common to engine anti-freeze, and no high fructose corn syrup. All the ingredients will now be natural.

These snacks are, obviously, a bit more expensive. This means the money our youth will bring won’t go as far, limiting intake as a matter of economics.

The Lineup

New youth group sodas

Here are the snacks currently on tap for next year (more will be added).

  • All natural, caffeine-free, sodas (Root Beer, Cherry-Vanilla Cream Soda, Ginger Ale, Cola, Lemon-Lime)
  • All natural juice boxes
  • Water Bottles (We may have to consider a water cooler)
  • Sandwich cookies (Think Oreos)
  • “Squishy Fishies” (Similar to Swedish fish)
  • Home-Popped Popcorn (blue corn from Whole Foods and popped in olive oil)

We hope these new snacks teach that paying a bit more for better quality is better for our bodies, and that these better-tasting, snacks are worth the slightly higher prices. We also hope they help the kids be more open to spiritual development because they aren’t completely jacked up on a chemical smorgasbord!

Land of Misfits

Over the ten years I’ve pastored Central Baptist I’ve come to refer to our community as, “The land of misfit Christians.”  I describe us this way because we simply don’t fit into people’s typical expectations.  We’re Baptists who change our colors according to the liturgical calendar. We sing, with equal vigor, hymns played by the bluegrass band and praise songs on the organ. We offer a liturgical response to prayers, led by a grandfather in blue-jeans.  Most of all we laugh.  We laugh at ourselves, and our own foibles.  We laugh at the absurdity of the world even as we pray for Jesus bring his peace.  We laugh at our stories, poke gentle fun at one another, and even rib the pastor a bit when he’s preaching.

We’re misfits because we live in the creative cracks between all the boxes in which people think we should dwell  – traditional, small, contemporary, large, old, conservative, respectable, liberal.  In those cracks, we discover the Story of Jesus and his love.  We embrace the tales of this Story which have been passed down to us, and celebrate that we’re adding our own mark on it’s telling.

We are a creative group of goof-balls, looking to see what Jesus has in store – and I’m humbled to be called it’s pastor.

Lenten Devotional

A Storied Journey title image

Join Central Baptist this Lent on a journey of discovering the story of the Bible, from Creation to the Resurrection.  You may download the devotional in eBook or PDF format via the links below.

Readings are set up in devotional blocks – Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday throughout Lent. Each block consists of a devotional thought, a Scripture reading, and a reflection question or activity.  We hope this journey will enrich your experience this season.


To download the devotional in ePub format (Nook, Sony, iBooks) – follow this link.

To download the devotional as a Kindle book – follow this link.

To download the devotional as a PDF – follow this link.

Looking Ahead

As 2013 begins to pick up steam, I find myself looking ahead to the journey Central Baptist has in store for it this year.  Some brief thoughts below.

Our transition has moved into the last third of it’s work on behalf of our community.  Soon we will be meeting with our friends from ABCNJ to explore how a structure formed around our mission can look in this context.  This has been a journey Central has needed for quite some time, and I am over-joyed this journey is nearing it’s end.

I’m also looking at leading another reading group before Summer falls upon us.  The Fall groups on worship were a wonderful time, and I’m hoping for a similar challenge in the future.  I’m still uncertain if we’ll be reading a book, or if I work out a devotional study, but by the end of February I hope it’ll be sorted out.

Finally, if you are reading this post then you have discovered Central’s new web-home.  Our old site was getting a little difficult to maintain, and this new location will serve us well going forward.  In particular, the difficulties we’ve been having with our sermon podcast should be a thing of the past in our new location.

It is a privilege to serve among this congregation.  God is doing wonderful things among us through worship and service.  In Jesus’ name, we’ll continue to be witnesses for Jesus’ Kingdom in 2013.