15 July 2010

Gratitude 15 July 2010

I am grateful for unexpected connections.  I was at work today, when I met a coworker who found out that I was going to South Africa.  It turns out this coworker had been in the Peace Corps.  We got to talking for a little bit and she made quite a few recommendations for books and movies to watch while I prepare for my journey.

14 July 2010

Gratitude 14 July 2010

I am grateful for freedom.  This applies both to the freedoms I enjoy as a citizen of the United States and as a Christian.  Regarding the former, I am free to express my thoughts in my blog without fear of repercussions of American laws.  Regarding the later, I am free to be in love with my neighbors without fear of repercussions of the Law when I live my life according to the Gospel.

13 July 2010

Gratitude 13 July 2010

I am grateful for God's gift of grace through Jesus' death and resurrection.  God's grace enables us to be free from the constraints of the Law - free to love and serve all of God's creation.  The freedom of grace allows us to shift our focus from the doing constraints of the Law to the being in love that follows from the Gospel.

12 July 2010

Gratitude 12 July 2010

I am grateful for rain, even when it rains so hard that your clothes get soaked all the way through no matter how long you are outside.  Rain brings much need nourishment to the soil.  Rain can also serve as a reminder of my baptism and the redeeming power of God's grace.

10 July 2010

Gratitude 10 July 2010

Since I did not get a chance to post yesterday, today I will focus on two blessings.

First, I am thankful for the strong support of my family and friends in Christ.  Tonight's concert was a huge success and everyone's support encourages me as I prepare for South Africa.

Second, I am grateful for my dad.  I have never heard my dad sing before.  It means a lot to me that he decided to sing a song with my mom, sister, and me tonight at the concert.  God has truly blessed me to have such a wonderful father.

My Concert Tonight

My concert tonight went really well.  Thank you to everyone who came out to join in thanking God for the wonderful gift of music.

A special thanks to my sister and mother who helped me put together an awesome program for the concert.

Thanks to my sister for accompanying me tonight and singing a few songs with me.

Thanks to my mom, dad, and Jim for singing with me as well.

Thank you to Tom for helping set-up the audio equipment tonight.

Thank you to Pastor John and Stacy for handling refreshments.

Finally, thank you Pastor Seiple for the wonderful message at the beginning of the concert.  Your words will be with me along with your prayers as I travel to South Africa.

08 July 2010

Gratitude 8 July 2010

I am grateful for packed lunches.  Not only do packed lunches save time and money, but they provide more time for reflection during lunch breaks.  I highly value time for self-reflection.

07 July 2010

Gratitude 7 July 2010

I am grateful for living within walking distance of a bookstore.  Books are an amazing gift as they inspire creativity, imagination, deep thinking, learning, and in some cases social action.  Reading remains one of my favorite pastimes even in the age of electronic distractions.

06 July 2010

Gratitude 6 July 2010

God grants us many blessings in life.  My goal is to be more conscious of God's blessings in my daily life.  To help with that, I am going to pick at least one thing I am grateful for each day and post it here on my blog.

Today, I am going to start with an easy, yet very important blessing.  I am grateful for my loving family.  They have supported me throughout my entire life - through the good and the bad.  I value their insight as I continually wrestle with God's call.  They have been supportive and tolerant of God's call, even as it leads me to far away places like Haiti and South Africa. I have been extremely blessed to have such a wonderful family.

Summer Songs of Thanksgiving

In response to the musical gifts God has granted me and others at St. Stephen, I will be headlining a concert at the church on Saturday, July 10th at 7PM.  My sister will be playing a piece as well as accompanying our songs.  My mother, sister, and Jim McPherson will also be joining me in singing various pieces.  There will also be a surprise guest appearance; you do not want to miss this concert!

We will also be singing some interactive songs for audience participation.  We hope this concert will be an enjoyable time for all as we give thanks for the gifts God has showered us with at St. Stephen.  There will be a free-will offering with proceeds going to Young Adults in Global Mission to help support my year in South Africa.

Good Works: The Effect, not the Cause, of our salvation

In my travels back and forth between Bucknell and home this summer, I keep passing a sign for a church reading: "Good Works are the effect, not the cause, of our salvation."  I can't help thinking how appropriate this sign is as I prepare to volunteer for a year in Durban, South Africa with YAGM.  It serves as a reminder to me of two of the most important reasons for service.

First, service is a conduit to express my thanksgiving for the gift of grace granted to me through Jesus' death and resurrection.  Second, service helps me become more aware of God's ever-present love.  Those I serve with become more aware of God's love through my actions.  Likewise, as I am serving, I see God's love expressed in ways new to me.

Keeping in mind the uplifting power of service, the apparent contradiction between "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith [...] not by works" (Ephesians 2:8-9) and "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20) is resolved.  The joy of my salvation in Jesus Christ is so great, that it naturally expresses itself through service with others.  If my faith becomes so weak that I stop rejoicing in my salvation through service, then my faith has indeed become dead.