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Sunday, 29 April 2012


Rev. Donald S. Crisp
      by Rev. Don Crisp  

        Pastor of First Baptist Church  
        Smiths Falls, Ontario

PODCAST LINK to CFRA Broadcast - Sunday, April 29th, 2012:

Broadcast Notes:

Embracing your problems’


The Bible says in James 1:2-4:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,(A) because you know that the testing of your faith(B) develops perseverance.(C) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature(D) and complete, not lacking anything.

Cross references:
B.      James 1:3 : 1Pe 1:7
C.      James 1:3 : S Heb 10:36
D.      James 1:4 : S 1Co 2:6


The fact is, we needed to be reminded that God is watching us. The Bible informs us that He leads us, He guides us, He provides for us. Read Psalm 91:11. It says, “He commands His angles to guard over us”. In Psalm 121:8 it records these words, “He watches over us. He watches over our coming and our going, both now and for evermore.”


In fact, the Bible says, “His eye is constantly on the sparrow.”


Again, James 1: 2-4,

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.


Did you notice the spiritual; process, there? Trials are allowed to come our way. Why? To test our faith, so that you and I can develop perseverance. Perseverance, will in turn, help us to gain maturity in our faith.


Now, we don’t count it pure joy because the bottom of our boat has just fallen out. We count it pure joy because we trust God for our journey. We trust His promises that he will be with us during the process. Yes, each one of can say, “I count it pure joy because God’s eye is on the sparrow, and therefore, I know that He is watching over me."


You may be faced with problems related to family, marriage, health problems, vocation, finances, drugs, abuse; well, the list goes on and on. How do you deal with problems that come your way in life? That’s really the question, isn’t it?


A seasoned poet once wrote these words, “It was pain that knocked upon my door and said that she had come to stay. And though I would not welcome her, but asked her to go away, she still entered in, and like my own shadow, she followed after me; and from her stabbing, stinging sword, no moment was I free.” The poet describes a very difficult, painful situation. Many of you listening today, are bruised and immobilized by your trials. The bruises are not always the kind we can see on the outside. We know that. They’re on the inside. Some of us are bruised over the death of loved ones. Others are facing emotional trauma, relational stress, spiritual doubts, marital conflicts, sexual temptations, financial setbacks, occupational disappointments, and so on. Now, here’s the truth; and no matter what some may tell you today, trials are common to all people; and Christians are not exempt.


In today’s text, James shows us how to respond to our trials. So my first point is simply this: You and I are to respond, and not react, to trials. What do I mean by that? Well, first of all, when we react, do we often react emotionally and we regret it later. When we respond, we begin to understand that most of life’s issues are fairly predictable, and we need to respond in a way that will be healthy. Therefore, I recommend that with each issue that comes our way, we stop, we think, and we pray about it.


You see, when we react, you find yourself not only acting emotionally, but often we’re motivated by fear or by anger. We find ourselves acting in a way that is not complimentary to the person, or the issue, or ourselves.


Think of it this way, it’s like a dog with a bone. The dog keeps chewing on it and chewing on it and chewing on it. Isn’t that what we keep doing with our problems: Nursing them, rehearsing them, cursing them? Yes, we are to respond, not to react, to trials. Secondly, you and I are to respond with perseverance. That’s what James was teaching in that text. J.B. Philips’ translation of verses 2 and 3, in James 1, reads this way: “When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers and sisters, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends. Realize that they have come to test your faith. Yes, that begins to make sense, doesn’t it? You see, the trials that God allows to come your way are never meant to hurt you, but rather, to help you.


To persevere will take focus. One has to be consistently intentional. One has to decide from the very beginning, never to give up. Walter Payton never gave up. At just 5’10’’, 202 pounds, he was not a particularly large running-back for the NFL, but he set one of sport’s greatest records: the all-time rushing record of 16,726 yards. Wow! During his twelve-year career, Payton carried the ball over nine miles. What is truly impressive, though, is that he was knocked to the ground, on the average of, every 4.4 yards, of those nine miles. He was knocked down by someone bigger than himself. Yes, he kept getting up because, (now, listen to this); he kept getting up because he understood that his purpose was not to stay down, but to get up, and to move forward, and to persevere.


I think that’s what the Bible’s teaching us in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 when it says, “We are hard pressed on each side but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.”


Here’s the truth: God is not as concerned about my comfort as He is about my character. God is not as concerned about your comfort as He is about your character. “We must learn that failure teaches us.” Proverbs 24:16 says that. "A righteous man, a righteous woman may fall seven times. They will rise again." You see, God wants us to focus on Him; and when we do so, we will keep getting up. We’ll be motivated by a purpose greater than ourselves.


One translation reads this way: “We are knocked down, but we are not knocked out. So get up and move forward and try again!”


O yes, the year was 1831. This gentleman failed in business. He went bankrupt. 1833: he was back on his feet, then failed again. 1835: his fiancé died. 1836: he had a nervous breakdown. 1838: he ran for Speaker of the House in the United States, but was defeated. 1840, Elector: he ran for that office and was defeated. 1843, Congress; well, he ran for that and was defeated. 1848: he ran again for congress and he was defeated, again. 1855: he ran for the Senate, and guess what; again, he was defeated. 1856: he ran for the Vice President of the United States of America. Ah, yes, and he was defeated. 1858: he ran for Senate once again, and once again, he was defeated. And then came the year 1860. He ran for the President of the United States, and he was elected, and one of the greatest presidents to have ever lived. His name: Abraham Lincoln. Yes, we are knocked down, but we are not knocked out.


So get up and move forward and try again.


I think that’s what Winston Churchill meant when he said, “Success is the ability to move from one failure to the next.” I like that: moving from one failure to the next. Actually, I see life as this way; perhaps you’ve heard it: “Every setback is a setup for a comeback”. So, the next time, you think you’ve taken two steps forward, and three or four back, just remember: every setback is a setup for a comeback.


There was a skinny young boy who loved football with all his heart. He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he’d get to play when he became a senior. All through high school he never missed a practice. He never missed a game, but remained a bench-warmer all four years. His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him. When the young man went to college he decided to try out for the football team as a walk-in. Everyone was sure he could never make the cut, but he did. The coach admitted that he put him on the roster because this young lad always put his heart and soul into every practice, and was a great model for the team mates.


The news that he had survived the cuts thrilled him so much that he rushed ti the nearest phone and called his father. His father shared his excitement and was sent seasons tickets for all the college games. Well, you know for sure that the father attended all those games. This persistent young athlete never missed practice during the four years of college. But, he never got to play in any game, either. It was at the end of his senior football season, and as he trotted onto the field to practice, the coach called him over to his side and handed the young man a telegram. The young man read the telegram and he became deadly silent. Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, “Coach, my father died this morning. Do you think it would be alright if I missed practice today?” The coach put his arm around him and gently said, “Son, take whatever time you need.” Well. He did. But soon, a few days later, the game came. Saturday arrived and the game was not going well. It was in the third quarter when the team was ten points behind. The silent young man quietly slipped into the locker room and put on his football gear, and he ran onto the sidelines. The coach and the players were all astonished to see this faithful team-mate back so soon. “Coach, please let me play today. I’ve just got to play today!” The coach pretended not to hear him. There’s no way he wanted his worst player on the team, playing in this close playoff game; not going to happen.


Well, the young man persisted and he kept saying, “Coach, I just need to play today.” Finally the coach said, “Alright, you can go in.” And, you know what, before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little, unknown, who had never played before, was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, he blocked, he tackled like a star. His team began to win. They were motivated, just by watching him. The score was soon tied, and in the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and he ran all the way for the winning touchdown.


Ah, this could be a movie. The fans broke loose, his team-mates hoisted him on their shoulders: such cheering like you’ve never heard. Finally after the stands had emptied and the team had left the locker room, the coach noticed the this young man was sitting quietly in the locker room all alone.


The coach came over to him and he said, “Son, I can’t believe it, but you were fantastic. Tell me, what got into you? How did you do what you did?”


The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, “You see, coach, my dad came to all my games, but today would have been the first day that he could actually see me play. I wanted to show him how well I could do.”


You know, folks, we have a Father in Heaven who’s watching how we’re walking and how we’re living. I don’t want to suggest that life is a game, but the fact is, we are to be like an athlete when it comes to running the race of faith, knowing full well, our Father in Heaven is watching everything. Yes, even when we go through trials and temptations; even when we have problems; even when we walk through the valley of pain.


Now, let’s note the spiritual process, again. Trials are allowed to come our way. Why? To test our faith; that’s why. Why? So that you and I can develop perseverance. Why? Because perseverance will help us gain maturity in our journey of faith, and we will be able to understand that we must trust God: the one who is promising us, to lead us and guide us, and to provide for us.


I want us to look at motivation for a second. Our motivation for running the race of faith, even when problems come, our motivation should be to love God, and be determined to love Him, and be determined to bring Him honour and glory.


I think that is what 1 Corinthians 10:31 is really saying, It says, “So whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” You see, folks, the word ‘persevere’ means to take whatever trial or burden that you are going through, and use it as a platform to bring God honour and glory.


As I close, I want each of us to ponder the following words of wisdom; and as I read these words, I want us to really think about them, and apply our own life to them. Listen to these words:


“I asked for help, that I might do greater things.
            I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
            I was made weak, that I might learn to obey.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
            I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power and the praise of men.
            I was given weakness, to sense my need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
            I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything that I hoped for.
                In spite of myself, my prayers were answered.
I am among all people, most richly blessed.”


Yes, we must learn to embrace our problems; trusting God, the one who will lead and guide us for the journey.

Would you pray with me?
“Our gracious, loving, Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are Lord of the Journey; and Father, even as we pray, right now, we know that life will hand us all kinds of challenges. There will be many valleys that we go through. Father, we want to keep our eyes on you. We want to be able to follow you, not so that we’d be safe or comfortable, but so that we can be all that you want us to be.

Today, Father, I surrender my life to you. Today, Father, I surrender my life to Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus, would you come into my life, right now, and save me? Forgive me of all my sins. Ah, I give you thanks, and, Father, for those of us who already know Jesus as our Saviour, Lord, we would also pray that He would be Lord of the Journey.

Lord Jesus, I surrender myself to you. You are the one who will lead. I am the one who is to follow. And I would just pray that I will be faithful in following you, all the days of my life.
Father, we pray this prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen

Rev. Donald S. Crisp
To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

Sunday, 22 April 2012


Rev. Donald S. Crisp
by Rev. Don Crisp               
Pastor of First Baptist Church, Smiths Falls, Ontario

(CFRA broadcast date: Sunday, April 22nd, 2012)
Podcast Link: ___________________________________________________

Broadcast Notes:
Lessons from the life of Fanny'


The Bible says in 1Thessalonians 5:16-18:

16Rejoice evermore.
 17Pray without ceasing.
 18In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”


There, you have it. God’s will for our lives: Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks. Now, as that as a biblical foundation implies, we have a basic understanding of God’s will for our lives. We can learn more, I believe, life lessons from a lady known in her day as Aunt Fanny. 


Fanny Crosby was born March 24th, 1820, as Francis Jane Crosby. Her parents were Mercy and John Crosby. One month following Fanny’s birth, the Crosbys were alarmed. Something was wrong with Fanny’s eyes. Through the error of a physician who was treating Fanny’s eyes, baby Fanny was now left blind.


Eight months after Fanny’s birth, her dad died. That was in November, 1820. This left her mom, at the age of 21, a widow, with a family of five to care for and provide for.


You know, one life lesson I’ve learn, years ago, is this: Where God guides, He also provides. In this case, the provisionary gift from God to this family was Fanny’s grandmother; her grandmother, Eunice. 


Eunice decided she would be her granddaughter’s eyes, and she began to mentor Fanny in life skills. Eunice taught her granddaughter about botany. Fanny learned to identify trees and flowers by touch and smell. Eunice would ask Fanny to play with a pile of leaves then ask her to identify each leaf. Eunice, without an education, taught Fanny to recite Milton, Shakespeare and Chapman’s Homer, as well as Bunyan’s classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress


Eunice also taught Fanny the Bible. We’re told that Fanny had much of the Bible memorized. And, oh yes, she taught her to pray.


Life Lesson #1, I’m calling “An attitude of gratitude”. And I believe that’s exactly what we see in the life of Fanny Crosby. The Serenity Prayer that we know so well, written by Reinhold Niebuhr, in 1926 goes like this –usually we just hear the first part of it. Let me give you all of the words:

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen. “


Now, there’s an attitude of gratitude. Fanny Crosby, at age 8, wrote these words:

“O what a happy child I am, although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world, contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy, that other people don’t,
So, weep or sigh because I’m blind, I cannot, nor I won’t.”


Now, that’s an attitude of gratitude!


Fanny was married March 5, 1858, to Alexander van Alstyne. In 1859, Fanny became a mother. O, but how sad, the baby died in infancy. Fanny never spoke of it. Nine years later, in the year 1868, Fanny wrote this hymn: “Pass me not, O gentle Saviour.”

We can hear Fanny’s cry to the Lord as she penned those words:

“Pass me not, O gentle Saviour. Hear my humble cry.
While on others, Thou art smiling, do not pass me by.
Saviour, Saviour, Hear my humble cry.
While on others, Thou art calling, Do not pass me by.”

D.L. Moodie and Ira Sankey said of this woman, that she was the reason for the success of their evangelical campains. It was at these revivals that Fanny came alive in her faith in Christ. Did you know that in 95 years, Fanny wrote some 9,000 hymns; more than anyone else in recorded Christian history. And did you know, she received, but a Dollar for each one of those hymns that she wrote. And that’s probably why she always lived in the slums.

Fanny defined a hymn, and I really want us to catch this: She defined a hymn as “a song of the heart, addressed to God”.

If only we in the church could address the music: yes, the old and the new, with an attitude of gratitude. With an attitude that is prayerfully saying that this hymn, this chorus, this pray-song is a song of the heart, addressed to God.

Here are some of the songs of the heart, addressed to God, that are still familiar to many of us, today: “Jesus keep me near the cross”; “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it”; O yes: “Pass me not”; “I’m Thine O Lord”; “Blessed assurance that Jesus is mine”; “All the way my Saviour leads me”; and one of my very favourites: “He hideth my soul”: “A wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord, A wonderful Saviour to me. He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, where rivers of pleasure I see. He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, that shadows a dry thirsty land. He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and covers me there with His hand.”

Wow, those words still to this day take my breath away. “He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and covers me there with His hand.”

These words are truly from Fanny’s heart, as the song was written and addressed to the very heart of God. O yes, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks”… with an attitude of gratitude.

Let’s listen to an attitude of gratitude from a lady who loved God. This is what she said: “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for that dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me, tomorrow, I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had not been distracted by the beautiful things about me.
Have you come to that place, folks, at a time in your life when you’re accepting and rejoicing, and thanking God for the road that He chose for you to travel? Are you trusting His plan for your life?

God says in Jeremiah 29, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not harm you; Plans to give you a hope and a future.’”  Are you practicing His will for your life? Are you rejoicing and praying, and thanking Him for the road you are traveling, no matter how difficult a road it is? Life Lesson #1: An attitude of gratitude.

Life Lesson #2: An attitude of grace. When asked about evangelism, and sharing the story of the cross with those who are lost, Fanny spoke with an attitude of grace. Listen to her words: “Don’t tell me a man is a sinner. You can’t save a man by telling him of his sins. He knows them, already. Tell him there is pardon awaiting him, and love waiting for him. Win his confidence and make him understand that you can believe in him, and that you will believe in him and never give up on him.” O yes, now that’s our Lord’s grace.

Fanny was reminding us of our loving Saviour; a Saviour who, with arms wide open, was saying to the world, “Come onto me all ye who are labouring and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Actually, Jesus will give you love, and peace and joy; the exact things people are looking for today. Yes, we need to know that, Jesus, and in Him there is forgiveness and there is love. And, folks, that is grace.

Life Lesson #3: An attitude that glorifies God. 1Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whatsoever you do, do all to the Glory of God.” For me this means to live well and to die well. This means, live your life, bringing honour and glory to Him, because it’s not about us. It’s about Him.

Fanny lived her life, dedicated to God’s glory, yes, even as she wrote these words: “To God be the glory, great things hath He done, So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, Who yielded His life, an atonement for sin, And opened the life gate, that all may go in.”

Fanny lived well and she died well. She never drew attention to herself in life or in death. It was 1955 when nothing was to mark Fanny Crosby’s grave except a tiny marble stone with the word, “Aunt Fanny; She had done what she could.” Yes, in 1995, there were the words that were added to that tiny marble stone; actually, a greater marble stone was placed there. And now, it reads, as of May 1st, 1955; it reads: “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste to Glory Divine! Heir of Salvation, purchase of God; Born of the Spirit, washed in His Blood.” What a truth for each one of us to embrace. “This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Saviour, all the day long.”

I began by saying, “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.Have you entered into God’s will for your life? Are you able to rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything? Can you say, today, that you have an attitude of gratitude, and attitude of grace, an attitude that glorifies the Living God?

If you haven’t entered into God’s will and God’s plan for your life, let me ask you this question: “Do you know who you are, and where you are going?”

The year was 2000, in January, the leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their favourite son; you know who he is, Billy Graham. They invited him to a luncheon in his honour. Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation. He was struggling with Parkinson’s Disease, at that time, in particular. But the Charlotte leaders said, “Billy, we don’t expect a major address from you. Just come and let us honour you.”

After wonderful things were said about Billy Graham, he stepped to the podium, and he looked at the crowd, and this is what he said: “Today, I’m reminded of Albert Einstein. The great physicist, who this month, has been honoured by Time Magazine as the ‘Man of the Century – Albert Einstein’”. He said, “Let me tell you a story about Albert Einstein. He was traveling from Princeton, on a train, where the conductor came down the isle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he came to Einstein, he reached into his vest pocket; couldn’t find the ticket. He reached into his trousers’ pockets; couldn’t find the ticket. It wasn’t there. He looked in his briefcase, but couldn’t find it. He looked at the seat beside him. He still couldn’t find it.

The conductor said, ‘Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket. Don’t worry about it.’ Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the isle, punching the tickets. And, just when he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physician down on his hands and knees, looking under the seat for the ticket. The conductor rushed back and said, ‘D. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry. Don’t worry about it. I told you, I know who you are. There’s no problem. You don’t need a ticket, I’m sure you bought one.’ Einstein looked at him and he said, ‘Young man, I too, know who I am. But the fact is, I don’t know where I’m going.’”

Having said that, Billy Graham said, “Do you all see the suit I’m wearing? It’s brand new. It’s a brand new suit. O yes, my children and my grandchildren have been telling me I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So, I went out and I bought this suit for this luncheon, and for one other occasion. Do you know what that other occasion is?”, he asked. “This suit, which I am wearing, is the suit that I will be buried in. And when you hear I’m dead, I don’t want you to immediately remember the suit I am wearing. But I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am; I also know where I’m going!”

As I think upon those words, I’m reminded that February, 1973, where I stood, myself, living in Toronto. I stood on an 8th-floor balcony, at four o’clock in the morning, and I looked up into the sky. I wasn’t a believer. I didn’t think about God. I didn’t know God. But, my life was a mess. I didn’t know who I was. And, I didn’t know where I was going.

And yet, I reached out to the Lord that night. I asked Him to come into my heart and into my life, and to save me. And from that moment on, He did marvelous things in my life. And to this day, I now know who I am, and I know where I am going!

You know, that’s my prayer for you. Do you know who you are? Have you come to terms with who you are in Christ? And, the fact of the matter is, if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, that, if you were to die, right now, then you would immediately be absent from your body, and present with the Lord; Heaven bound and Glory bound, simply because of what He did on the Cross.

I’m going to ask if you would pray with me right now:
“Father in Heaven, I just ask right now, in the name of Jesus Christ, that you would search deep within my heart and my life. And I pray right now Father, that you would save me, that you would love me, that you would forgive me, that you would give me that hope that I need to go forward in my life. O’ God, I pray, right now, that Jesus would not only be my Saviour, but, in fact, that He would be my Lord; that He would be the one who helps me make the decisions of my life; That He would be my wisdom; That He would be my guide; That He would be my ‘All-in-All’. Lord, I want Him to be Lord of all; Lord of every area of my life. So, I surrender, now. Come into my life, and into my heart, Lord Jesus. Amen.”

So, again, friends, do you know where you’re going? The Bible says this is the hour of Salvation. There is Salvation in no other name, but the name of Jesus Christ: Jesus who said, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full. Whoever believes in me will have eternal life.” Yes, whoever makes that trust-decision in Jesus, receives forgiveness and love and peace, both now and forever more.

Why don’t we pray for God, and ask God for some of us to ask God to forgive us and to save us; For others to ask God to lead us right into the centre of His will for our lives. But for all of us we need to ask God to LEAD, GUIDE and PROVIDE:

“Our gracious loving Heavenly Father, hear our prayer. We pray, right now, that you would come into our lives and forgive us. Lord, may we just bathe ourselves in your love, right now. Lord, we want to give you control of our life, and we do so now in the name of Jesus. We ask you, Heavenly Father, that you would just love us completely. We ask right now, Father, that you would set us in your will, according to Your Plan, so that we can rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and that every thing that happens in our life, that we would give you thanks; knowing full well, that this is your will for us. Thank you, Father. We love you, and we thank you for loving us first, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Rev. Donald S. Crisp
To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

Sunday, 15 April 2012


(CFRA broadcast date: Sunday, April 15th, 2012)
Broadcast Notes:
Searching for God’

Today’s message starts with the Bible passage from Psalm 27:7-14   (NKJV):

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
10 When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.
11 Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
12 Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
14 Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

There is a deep need to experience God, to know and experience Him in a profound and personal and intimate way. Going beyond the formal or mechanical knowledge about God that is so common: to quicken our worship and take it beyond mere formalities; to make our study of faith relevant; to intensify our mission; to enrich our Church life. That is, to give us a personal claim on our faith; to take us beyond mere tradition.

All the great prophets knew God this way, that is, face to face…..
To experience God personally has been the lifeblood of Christian faith and the key to the Church’s fellowship and effectiveness. We can know God and experience Him because He is a person; because He is accessible; because he is friendly.

The point is, God is a self-revealing God.

Yet, we need to search for God, for we discover that it is not always easy to meet God face to face.
The Psalmist said, “Seek ye my face. My heart says to me, ‘Thy face, Lord, do I seek.’ Hide not Thy face from me.”

To experience God is desirable, yet often difficult. Things get in the way. Our other experiences get in the way. Our presuppositions sometimes get in the way. And circumstances create blockages.
Please open your Bible to Psalm 27. Let us consider the Psalmist’s dilemma and its resolution. Psalm 27 is often taken by scholars to be composed of two separate and quite different psalms: Verses 1 through 6 being a positive, upbeat declaration of faith in God, and Verses 7 through 12 being a lament; a downbeat cry from the heart.

The problem with this assessment is that it doesn’t answer the question of how these two pieces or psalms came to be amalgamated in one song, if they are mutually exclusive and don’t belong together.
A second problem exists. This critical view misses the whole point of the psalm. The point that is being made is that we can have a clearly defined formal faith (verses 1 through 6), that can be sorely challenged if we don’t have a close and intimate fellowship with God. That is, if we don’t have a daily experience of God, Verses 7 through 14.

Taking Psalm 27, then, as it was meant to be, as a single unit or whole, we see that it commences with a declaration of faith. And a marvelous declaration it is. Quote, “The lord is the stronghold of my life.” Not much wonder, then, that the psalmist is able to put the serious, but rhetorical question, “Whom shall I fear? Of whom shall I be afraid?” The answer is, of course, “No one”, because God, in whom I trust, will protect me. “My adversaries shall stumble and fall,” (Verse 2), “in the face of many adversaries, I shall be confident” (Verse 3). “He will hide me in his shelter. The house of the Lord shall be my refuge” (Verses 4 and 5).
Note that all of this is in the future tense. This is the psalmist’s expectation as to how he will handle life as it unfolds in the future, made on the basis of his formal confession of faith.

But then we come to Verses 7 through 12. It introduces a note of reality. This is the psalmist’s experience, present tense. Experience takes us beyond expectations. Life in the present isn’t always like that we expected. And our response isn’t always as noble and as successful as we had hoped. We recite our Creed, read our Bibles, and go to Church. But then reality hits, and then the confidence and courage that we expected to demonstrate, in the face of it, dissipated like mist. Our noble and conquering attitude sputters, proceeds in fits and starts, or perhaps doesn’t even materialize. Now, we can’t afford to be without a creed. No man or woman can afford to face life without a well-rounded framework of faith. We don’t have time to find one when trouble strikes. If we don’t have a creed, we should get cracking and find one. We can’t afford to be without a creed. And it should be a competent and well thought-out creed. After the Bible, I prefer the Nicene Creed, (, myself. It was hammered out over a considerable period of time, using the Bible as its basis and the life and experience of faith as its touchstone. 

The Nicene Creed has been the bulwark of the Church through the ages. But even the best creed isn’t enough when the harsh realities of life fall on us, in the present, like an infantry barrage. What we need in addition to a sound creed is a deep experience of God. This is what the psalmist was faced with. He had recited his creed, quote, ”The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” Then reality struck, and he began to say, “Hear, O’ Lord when I cry aloud” (Verse 7), “Turn not thy servant away in anger” (Verse 9). “My father and my mother have forsaken me” (Verse 10). “Give me not up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me and they breath out violence.” Then the psalmist remembers what God once said to him in a moment of personal revelation, “Seek ye my face.” In other words, “Seek my fellowship. Seek my presence. Seek my counsel.” And the psalmist did just that.

The lesson we learn from Psalm 27 is an important one. We need a second creed and we need a personal, and if possible, a continuous experience of God. We need God to answer our prayer. We need Him not to hide his face from us, but rather, to disclose Himself to us in an act, or acts, of self-revelation. We need Him to take us up in His strong hands and carry us. We need Him to teach us His ways and lead us and protect us. In other words, we need a personal, persistent and profound experience of God.

On the one hand, we need a sound creed, a formal outline of faith, a specific and adequate theological framework within which to live our lives, make our decisions and face our futures. We need to be able to say at all times, “The lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?” We need to be able and willing to embrace intellectually, and deliberately, the great Trinitarian faith of the Bible and the historic Creeds, which have kept the Church and its faithful members on track for two millennia. We need to accept and rejoice in Luther’s “The Bondage of the Will” and Calvin’s “Institutes” and “The Basis of Union” of the United Church of Canada. But on the other hand, we need to know intimately and consciously the God of whom the Bible and Creeds speak.

What we believe intellectually can give us a great deal of confidence and courage, but we are human. We have personal limitations. When we are faced with the hard realities of life, with fear and despair, and when the bottom begins to fall out of things, we may well begin to ask, “Will God really be there for me? Can I really count on God?” Of course we are not simply talking of having an emotional experience of God. Emotions rise and fall like the tides. They are unstable. The experience of God that the Bible advocates is based not on our emotions, but rather, on God’s unveiling Himself to us: His self-disclosure, in other words; an objective revelation of Himself to us. That is what the psalmist meant when he prayed, “Hide not thy face from me.” This is the God we can count on. We know we can because He has revealed Himself to us, clearly and unmistakeably to us in Jesus Christ, personally and profoundly and continuously, our ever-present Saviour and Lord.

Consider, again, this: What prevents us from experiencing God despite all He does to make Himself known? What prevents us from that? The first kind of problem that stands in the way of our experiencing God is sociological and psychological. What I mean is the captivity of the Christian mind and heart by certain perspectives that have washed through us and immunized us, and thereby diminished the possibility of our knowing God intimately. These perspectives have neutralized or subverted our capabilities of moving conceptually and experientially beyond the norms and expectations set by those perspectives. Take for example the captivity of the Christian mind, and the Church, by the surrounding culture. Current traditions, morays and attitudes determine what is acceptable, and indeed, possible. Once what were peripheral and amoral gods are now ‘in’. What was once heretical has now become the new orthodoxy. The occult and new-age ideas and Satin-worship is in. The Trinity is out. The Department of Education and Boards of Education are increasingly scandalized by traditional Protestant faith. The historic faith is ridiculed by both Queens Park and Hollywood. In that climate it is not easy to believe that you can or should have an experience of God of the Bible. Add to the cultural scenario, the influence of the enlightenment, which has caused the Western, and to some degree the Eastern World, that part affected by Marxist thought, or what once was, to move towards a man-centered universe. A consciousness of God has largely been replaced by human self-consciousness. This has affected everything from education to advertising; from ethics to political and social administration and science. This self-interest and self pre-possession affects all of us to some degree, even the Church. And it prevents us, often, from letting go sufficiently from our perspectives and preoccupations to allow us to be completely open to God. Our narcissism stands in our way of getting to know God intimately. Add to this the growing emphasis on pluralism and relativism. If God is only one among a pantheon of more or less equal gods, and goddesses; if one god is as good as another, and as powerful as another, why should be bother to get to know the Biblical God in a particular and profound way? The captivity of our minds by culture, by current educational philosophy and by a long-standing in the primacy of man, and even our religious preconceptions, prevents us from taking an experience of God seriously. And this affects all of us to some degree or another. It is a bondage that neutralizes any serious spirituality; unless, of course, we cast off those bonds. That would certainly change things.

The second kind of problem is moral. What stands in the way of experiencing God, can be our sin. Your iniquities have separated you from your God. “Your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear you” (Isaiah 59:2). If we insist on doing what God rejects, we cannot expect to have a deep experience of Him. Nor should we hesitate. To put it off is a sign of self-will, or moral or spiritual doubt. “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:6). In other words, don’t put it off. Show some earnestness. Nor should we seek to control it. We should let God be God and let God name Himself, define Himself and reveal Himself.

When we see the Lord we should seek the God of our fathers, who has given us the Law and the Gospel. We should not seek some strange god or accretion of gods.

The third kind of problem is that of faith, or lack of it. We should seek the Lord, believing, but so often we seek with only half a heart. We are called to seek the Lord with all our heart, and all our soul. Sometimes, even our theology is either cold and legalistic, or indifferent and stands in the way.

And finally, let us consider waiting on the Lord. God wants to reveal Himself to us. He wants us to know Him and Love Him, and fellowship with Him. His incarnation in Jesus Christ, His activity and His word, and by His Spirit, are clear indications that God wants to be experienced by His children. We need to jettison any and all of those conditions, whether psychological, sociological, moral or spiritual, that prevent us from knowing Him intimately, and as a friend.

“We need to wait upon the Lord” (Psalm 27:14), not just chronologically: that is, wait until He acts and reveals Himself to us; wait His leisure; but also as a servant waits upon his master; To serve Him; To put ourselves at His disposal; To make ourselves available to God; To read His Word; To think His thoughts; Believe His Gospel; and, of course, to pray.

Expect God to expose His presence to you. That is His will and His way: To open up Himself to people. Why should He not do so, also, to you and me? Remember the words of Jesus, “If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:11).  Remember the words of the Lord through Isaiah 65: “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me. I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said ‘Here am I, here am I’, to a nation that did not call on my name.” 

God is certainly ready to be experienced.


Will you pray with me?

“Heavenly Father, we find life often to be a conundrum. We don’t know where we are or in what direction we are going. There are challenges beyond anything anyone might find too difficult to do anything about. We find your love to be too limited and we need you to address your power and peace to our situation. Heavenly Father, reach fully into the depths of your unmistakable concern for each of us. We are convinced that your mercy is a sweet mercy. Lift us out of that morass of life and death that is overwhelming and destructive. Set us free, we pray. Thank you, Father.  Amen”

Dr. Allen Churchill
To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

Sunday, 8 April 2012


(Easter Sunday, April 8th, 2012, PODCAST)

The Resurrection of the Body'


The Bible says: “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them. “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” (John 20: 1-2).



Of all people, the Easter story opens by focussing on Mary of Magdala. We should always keep that at the front of our minds when trying to come to terms with the strange and mystifying reports about the resurrection of Jesus. Here she is, the supremely forgiven sinner, utterly devoted to her Lord, determined to be near the body of Him who had made her feel worthwhile and significant despite her questionable past, whose feet she had already anointed with her tears, coming early in the darkness before dawn to the tomb. Whatever may have been going through Mary’s mind, we cannot know. How did she handle the death of Jesus? Why was she at the tomb before dawn? What had she planned to do? Or had she just wandered there because, even in death, Jesus still filled her whole consciousness? Immediately, Mary notices that something has happened to the tomb. The great stone which had closed the mouth of the tomb had been removed. Without examining the tomb, without looking inside, Mary jumps to two conclusions. First, the body of Jesus is no longer in the tomb. Second, someone has stolen it.

Who moved the stone and who removed the body have been questions asked for more than nineteen hundred years, ever since this remarkable series of events took place. We should not be surprised, therefore, that the Bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, should have raised the question in the newsletter of his northern England diocese, Easter of 1985.

Forty or more years ago, the Bishop of Woolwich, John Robinson, also caused a furor by raising the same question. A friend of mine, from Guildford in Surrey, wrote about the new “renegade Bishop”, whose appointment thrust the church into one of its biggest theological disputes in decades. Jenkins denies the resurrection and other miracles were real events and saw them as mere symbolic stories. He makes three points about the account of the empty tomb. First, “the empty tomb cannot prove, does not establish and may not even mean the resurrection.” Second, it is possible that Christ’s body was still in the tomb, the disciples having forgotten where his tomb was, or that the disciples may have stolen the body. Third, the story of the tomb being empty may have been concocted by the early church in the same way “people all over the world rapidly believe appropriate stories to support their religious beliefs.”

What in the world, some asked, was the Bishop trying to do? Had he lost his marbles? Was he not biting the hand that fed him? Had he no concern for the simple believer who has a difficult enough time living the Christian life without the Bishop pulling the rug from out under him so far as his faith is concerned? Certainly I could sympathize with the ordinary person’s reaction to the Bishop, as well as that of the majority of the House of Bishops. Indeed, some enthusiastic critics attributed the fire in Yorkminster Cathedral to a bolt of lightening sent by God as a warning to the church not to consecrate too many more like the Bishop of Durham who had himself just been consecrated there! This whole episode pointed up the rather sad fact that the church and its faith have always had much more to fear from its internal critics than they ever have had from external critics. That is why Principal Jowett of Balliol College, Oxford, once warned his niece, “My dear, you really must go on believing in God despite what the clergy tell you!”

On the other hand, there may have been some benefits arising from the Bishop’s bombshell. So far as I know, there was no reason to criticize the Bishop’s motives. He was not trying to destroy the church. On the contrary, he was attempting to interpret the Easter faith to the modern mind. The title of his controversial article was, “The meaning of Easter.” He obviously believed there was something about Easter he could commend to the enquiring mind. He didn’t want people put off by what he thought are complicating and unnecessary factors, like tombs empty or otherwise. I have personally heard David Jenkins on several occasions at Oxford in the 1960’s and there was nothing in what he had to say then that could be attributed to bad motives. He may, indeed, have been wrong despite his very creative mind, but we should try to understand what his was attempting to say.

In a more recent radio interview another Bishop made the point that faith is based not on the historical resurrection of a body but on the ‘meta-historical’ reality that Christ who died is very much alive in a spiritual way today. And, in one sense, he was right. Resurrection, in Biblical terms, is much more than bringing a dead body back to life. New and different conditions obtain. A whole new reality is introduced. The risen Jesus has a somehow different relation to time and space than he had while engaged in his earthly ministry. Whether or not resurrection in this sense can occur without the tomb being emptied is another question. The Bishop’s concern seemed to be that if our faith is based on the historical, it runs the risk of being disproven by historical evidence that runs contrary to Biblical claims. The category of ‘meta-history’ avoids that problem. Nothing can be proved, but also nothing can be disproved.

At any rate, the Bishop raised some provocative questions. As Christians we should know what we believe and why we believe it.

It is not enough simply to believe. Jesus said we should love God with our minds, as well as with our hearts. Here is an opportunity to scrutinize some of the foundations of our faith.


If we are to be concerned about the difficulty the modern mind might have with the Easter faith in its historic form, perhaps we should ask a question or two about this remarkable phenomenon we call “The modern mind”. What exactly is it? Is it impervious to mistakes? Is it always and completely logical? Does it know about this world? Is it prepared to admit the existence of other kinds of universe that contain kinds of space and time different from ours? Dietrict Bonhoeffer, some several years ago, coined the phrase “Man come of age”, to describe the new world in which now we live. Other scholars agreed with him and began to tailor the gospel to accommodate this marvellous new phenomenon. Some even wrote an obituary for God! Theology was re-written as either psychology or anthropology. Religion, as a subject for study, replaced faith that was once personally held. Group dynamics and yoga became popular. Man was smart and could only get smarter. He didn’t need the supernatural, and any attempt to suggest that events in history could be attributed to the Hand of God were laughed out of court.

The behaviour of this modern man “Come of age” was, however, not entirely what was predicted. People couldn’t get rid of their guilt, however hard they tried to believe it didn’t exist. Universities found they couldn’t prevent students from dabbling in the occult. No matter hoe hard people tried to lay God to rest the “Jesus People” caught the attention of the youth and the “Charismatic movement” erupted in the most tradition-bound churches. Sales of Christian books shot up, and it was publishers of such books that were in least danger of the wave of bankruptcy that threatened to engulf the publishing world. The result was that Harvey Cox of Harvard  who once predicted the demise of the church (the Secular City) , has subsequently written (Religion in the Secular City) about “The unexpected return of religion as a potent social force in a world many thought was leaving it behind” (p.20). The question that needs to be asked, therefore is this: Is the modern enquiring or even agnostic mind really impressed by a devaluation of the Easter claims? Does it really make it easier for the struggling mind to come to faith? Isn’t the modern mind more impressed by an honest attempt to work through the historical assumptions and historical evidence as they apply to the Easter reports in the New Testament? That is what Frank Morison, a tough-minded London journalist, did with the Easter accounts. He was determined to disprove what he considered to be these preposterous claims. He wrestled with the facts and made a surprising and unexpected discovery. You can read the account of his investigation in his well known book “Who moved the stone?”

More than this, we need to ask the Bishop, what exactly is ‘meta-history’? Consider the subject of angels for a moment. Many people find it difficult to believe in angels, let alone demons. We don’t meet too many angels walking down the street on any given day. Despite the popularity of Michael Landon in his TV show, “Highway to Heaven”. And don’t we find it just as difficult to believe in angels even if we are told that they live in a different dimension than we do? If we find it difficult to believe in angels in some ‘meta-historical’ dimension, why should we find it any easier to believe in Jesus risen in a ‘meta-historical’ dimension?

Further, in liberal Protestantism we have always put considerable weight on the importance of the historical Jesus. This has been a major focus of our faith and the inspiration for our ethics. The earliest church always referred back to Jesus of Nazareth who went about doing good (Acts 10:38).

The question we should ask is this: Do the Easter texts belong primarily to the historical tradition about Jesus, or do they belong primarily to those texts that provide mainly theological interpretation? It is clear that for the writers of the Gospels the Easter story belongs primarily to the historical tradition. What is presented as happening on Easter morning is presented in all its diversity and boldness with every little interpretation. It is as though the authors were saying: ‘This is what is alleged to have happened. Now, you make of it what you will.’ There is very little comment supplied. We are left to make our own judgements and interpretation. The Easter story is not an addenda to the account of the historical Jesus. It is an intrinsic part of that account.

One final question: Would the disciples have come to believe even in some sort of ‘Spiritual resurrection’ of Jesus on a meta-historical plane if they had checked out the tomb and found his decomposing body still in its place? Is it likely that they would have been prepared to accept martyrdom for their preaching of the resurrection, if they knew that Jesus’ body was still in the tomb? The Bishop has raised some important questions, but there are other questions on the other side that also need to be raised.


We need to keep in mind that Mary of Magdala, Peter and John, who were the first to find and examine the empty tomb, according to the accounts, were Jewish. They brought with them to their Easter experience, whether of the empty tomb or the appearances of Jesus, a Hebrew mind. A Gentile mind, with its own assumptions of life after death, might have responded in somewhat different fashion. The presuppositions we hold act as a screen, or a filter, through which the data of our experiences passes leading us to certain conclusions about the nature and meaning of what we have experienced.

One set of Hebrew presuppositions, which we know from a study of the Old Testament and the intertestamental Jewish literature, are these: Man is considered to be an animated body, not an incarnate soul. The anthropological focal point in the Old Testament is not an ethereal soul, but a physical body quickened by the breath of God. Death occurs when God withdraws his spirit (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Genesis 2:7). For this reason, which corresponds to the general Biblical notion that matter is good because it has been created by God, when the Hebrews developed the expectation that there would be life after death they did so in terms of resurrection of the body, not as the Greeks did in terms of the immortality of the soul. For the Hebrew, the Kingdom of God will come in history, not in some super or meta-history. There is a realism, we might say an earthiness, not only in Biblical history but also in Biblical revelation and eschatology (doctrine of the ‘last things’). And the Hebrews were fussy about the rules of juridicial evidence. There had to be two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15). And female witnesses would not be taken very seriously.

There were other presuppositions that prevailed in the Hebrew mind. First, there was no place in Old Testament thinking for the resurrection of an individual. Resurrection was expected to be corporate, the resurrection of a righteous nation. Second, resurrection would occur not immediately upon death, but only at ‘the last day’ when God would fulfill his purposes. This means that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus would need to be overwhelming if it were to convince his Jewish disciples, for his was a single resurrection and the day of the Lord had obviously net yet arrived.

The evidence for the resurrection is often criticized on the grounds of the lack of trustworthiness of those so-called primitive Jewish disciples. They are criticized for being ancient, gullible, easily influenced, and therefore unreliable. Some ancient peoples may have been gullible in these matters. But Israel had already done its demythologizing within the framework of an historical mind set. Israel’s monotheistic faith had helped them overcome the mythological conception and influence of the local fertility gods. And, Israel’s juridicial system emphasized the importance of the memory in passing on with accuracy what it has heard and seen.

We need to recognize the importance of Jewish presuppositions and trustworthiness of judgement in assessing the evidence of Easter.


Let us turn now to the question of the empty tomb. The narrative belongs to the earliest tradition of the church.

It is clearly implied in the epistles of Paul (1 Corinthians 15:4; Romans 6:4). And of this passage in John’s Gospel, William Temple writes: “It is most manifestly the record of a personal memory. Nothing else can account for the little details, so vivid, so little like the kind of thing that comes from invention or imagination” (Readings in St. John’s Gospel, p.376).

But what of the accusation that the body may have been stolen? Who had a motive? The Jews might have wanted to prevent the Christians from stealing the body and claiming Jesus had risen as he had predicted he would. The Romans might have wanted to prevent such an event from happening, whether undertaken by Christian or Jew. And certainly the Christians might be suspect. But, again, the Christians were proclaiming the resurrection fifty days after the event and were prepared to die for their faith. You aren’t prepared to die for an obvious hoax which you yourself have perpetrated. No, the Christians didn’t steal the body. And neither did the Jews or Romans, otherwise one or other would have made short work of the Christian preaching by producing the body. They couldn’t, because they didn’t have it. And, further, it is highly unlikely that the tomb was confused with another one which happened to be empty. After all, there is evidence that a guard was placed at Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 27: 62-66). And anyway, surely someone from among the Jews, Romans, and Christians would have remembered where it was.

The Bishop of Durham is correct when he argues that we need more than an empty tomb to prove the resurrection. That is what ‘the appearances’ provide. But resurrection cannot be claimed apart from the tomb being empty. The Hebrew mind could never have accepted that for one moment.
What the empty tomb does, along with the appearances is to force us to debate the issue on the resurrection on the level of the historical. It forces us as Christians to expose our views to historical criticism. It is good to have to answer the critics on their own ground without introducing the fictional category of the meta-historical. That is to revert to the mythological, the very thing we must avoid.

Add to the empty tomb the reality of the appearance of the risen Christ. First to a woman, which no Jewish church would ever have dreamed of doing, if it wanted to make up a story. No, that forced its way through because it was authentic. Second, to numerous groups of disciples, at different times and under varied circumstances, with the reports totally unharmonized. There is no sign of invention and no opportunity for hallucinations. So impressive was the evidence that it overcame several Hebraic assumptions the disciples would have held. Yet it met other Hebraic criteria without which the disciples could hardly have been persuaded. And it was powerful enough to turn cowardly disciples into courageous witnesses to the gospel of life. Of course, what had happened was not mere resurrection. Christ was now alive forever more. Time and space no longer limit him from walking down our Emmaus’ roads (Luke 24: 13-35) with us.

John the disciple needed only the empty tomb to convince him that his beloved Master was alive (John 20:8). For St. Paul, it took a special appearance (Acts 9:3-4) of the risen Christ. What will it take for you?

And what remains is the implication of the resurrection of Jesus for us as we face death and dying. “Because I live, you also shall live.”

Will you pray with me?

“Holy God, righteous, merciful, and powerful, cleanse our minds and free our consciences from the things that divide us from you. Open our eyes to your resurrection glory!  Amen”

Dr. Allen Churchill