On March 1st, one of the worship teams from THE WESLEY FELLOWSHIP at MTSU help lead us in worship on this first Sunday in Lent.. The scriptures are Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 and Matthew 4:1-11.

Since most of us reading this are past our Twenties all we can do in hearing from these students is to remember what and who shaped us as young adults when we were their age. Those are formative years for education, training, vocation, employment, relationships, and faith formation. Pray for our MTSU friends as they join us for shared worship this Sunday.

See you at worship

Pastor Barry

A Promise in the Pain

When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stout-hearted. – Psalm 138:3

About five seconds outside the womb I think we all discover that this life isn’t easy. And it seems that the older we get the tougher it becomes. Some people have problems or are attracted to difficulties like fleas to a dog. Others make it through life with relatively little difficulty.

But most likely, you’ll face some tough times in life, and it’s not important how your challenges stack up to the challenges of others. Sometimes you might wonder if you are going to be able to make it through, and you will if you hold onto God. He’s promised to see you through.

Are you weighed down? Do you feel overcome with grief or alone in your struggle?

You can choose to take steps to walk through your challenges and come through them a stronger person.

Remember, believing in God and in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean you won’t have problems. But it does mean you have resources, people, and God’s Spirit who will see you through your problems. What could be better?

Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records. – William A. Ward

May God Bless each of you as you go through struggles.

Chaplain Dunbar

Persevering Amidst Hardship

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. – Romans 5:3-5

In 1741 George Frideric Handel wrote Messiah, one of the finest and most inspiring musical scores ever composed. In the time leading up to his greatest accomplishment, Handel’s health and fortunes had reached a low ebb. A stroke had left the right side of his body paralyzed: and he worked under the threat of imprisonment on account of crushing financial debt.

I can’t help but wonder whether Handel would’ve chosen the tenuous life of a composer had he known ahead of time the suffering he’d endure. If not, the world would’ve missed the blessing of this timeless and beautiful composition of praise.

Like Handel, we don’t know what our future holds. But we can be confident that God does, and that He uses every hardship to mold our character and accomplish a plan that remains perfect despite our inability to comprehend it. I pray that today you persevere in that certain hope.

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. – John Quincy Adams


Chaplain Rob

Helpful Things From On High

Exodus 24:12-18, II Peter 1:16-21 and Matthew 17:1-9

America needed a hero in space in the early Sixties. The Soviet Union had put astronauts in orbit while the USA lagged behind. Finally on February 20 1962 decorated Marine pilot John Glenn was launched into space and orbited earth 3 times. In spite of several dangerous moments he returned safely to a hero’s welcome. Today humans still aspire to go “upward and further into space.” We aspire to explore and discover.

What is it about looking upward and beyond!? Our three scriptures all refer to meeting and receiving from God “on the mountain.” Moses and Jesus go up upon mountains and grand things happen from God.

This Sunday let’s look at three messages from God from “on high:”

•God beckons us to explore and receive from God by stepping out in faith and “looking around.”
•We receive both guidance AND comfort from God on high.
•We will never understand completely the revelation of God but enough to go “onward and upward!”

Like a spiritual astronaut let us launch out in faith to see what the Holy Spirit will reveal to us about our God “who dwells on high.” Climb into the “space of our sanctuary” on Sunday and see what God will reveal through Spirit and Truth!

Pastor Barry

When our Plans Go Awry

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9 NIV

Some of our most important dreams are the ones we abandon. Some of our most important goals are the ones we don’t attain. Sometimes, our most important journeys are the ones that we take to the winding conclusion of what seem to be dead-end streets. Thankfully, with God there are no dead-ends; there are only opportunities to learn, to yield, to trust, to serve, and to grow.

The next time you experience one of life’s inevitable disappointments, don’t despair and don’t be afraid to try “Plan B.” Consider every setback as an opportunity to choose a different, more appropriate path. Have faith that God may indeed be leading you in an entirely different direction, a direction of His choosing. And as you take your next step, remember that what looks like a dead-end to you may, in fact, be the fast lane according to God.

Often God has to shut a door in our face so that He can subsequently open the door through which He wants us to go. – Catherine Marshall

Every achievement worth remembering is stained with the blood of diligence and scarred by the wounds of disappointment. – Charles Swindoll

The amazing thing is that God follows us into the blackened ruins of our failed dreams, our misbegotten mirages, into the house of cards that has collapsed on us in some way and He speaks, not with the chastisement we feel we deserve, but of all things, with tenderness. – Paula Rinehart

Dear Lord, when I face the inevitable disappointments of life, remind me that You are in control. You are the Giver of all good things, Father, and You will bless me today, tomorrow, and forever. Amen.


Chaplain Rob

God Gives Us Strength

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will support you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. – Psalm 55:22 HCSB

It’s a promise that is made over and over again in the Bible: Whatever “it” is, God can handle it. Life isn’t always easy. Far from it! Sometimes, life can seem like a long, tiring, character-building, fear-provoking journey. But even when the storm clouds form overhead, even during our darkest moments, we’re protected by a loving Heavenly Father.

When we’re worried, God can reassure us; when we’re sad, God can comfort us. When our hearts are broken, God is not just near; He is here. So we must lift our thoughts and prayers to Him. When we do, He will answer our prayers. Why? Because He is our shepherd, and He has promised to protect us now and forever.

God’s hand uplifts those who are suffering, who are hurting, and who might be alone. Knowing this we realize that we are not alone that God is with us and walks with us through our pain. Will you accept God’s peace and wear God’s armor against the temptations and distractions of our dangerous world? If you do, you can live courageously and optimistically, knowing that even on the darkest days, you and your Heavenly Father can handle every challenge you face, today and forever.

How wonderful to know that however difficult our trial might be, God knows the outcome. He sustains us, He gives us the strength to hold on when we feel like letting go and then if we do let go, He carries us through.

We do not understand the intricate pattern of the stars in their course, but we know that He Who created them does, and that just as surely as he guides them, He is charting a safe course for us.Billy Graham

By ourselves we are not capable of suffering bravely, but the Lord possesses all the strength we lack and will demonstrate His power when we undergo persecution. – Corrie ten Boom

Father, help me to surrender my struggle and trial to you. Thank you for your armor that protects me and thank you that my strength is found in you. Amen


Chaplain Rob

We…God’s Field, God’s Building

Deuteronomy 30:15-20, I Corinthians 3:1-9 and Matthew 5:21-37

This Sunday’s worship falls in between a Friday dedicated to love (romantic?) and a Monday dedicated to examples of character, (Washington and Lincoln) which helped build our marvelous country of freedom, democracy, and prosperity.

And on that Sunday in between “love” and good character our scriptures remind us of the kind of people we could and should be! Moses warns the people to choose the good as they settle in the promised land. Choose and be blessed. Jesus goes to the heart of the matter by looking at our inner thoughts and feelings toward others, and Paul uses interesting images of fields and buildings to describe God’s work through us!

Somewhere in all this combination of “love”, “character” and our calling to be God’s “work,” the impact upon us should be very significant! While staying humble about ourselves, we should not overlook the potential God has placed in each one and in each congregation to really BE something amazing! On being told we can choose, we should feel properly empowered to do great things for God, to actually love God, neighbor and ourselves! To say to ourselves, “With God’s help, I can do this grand thing before me!”

Let’s pass this message of positive potential along to our children, youth, neighbor, and world. God intends the Good for us and to the ends of the earth! Amen!

See you Sunday all you Valentines and potential Presidents of the USA! You fields and buildings of God!

Pastor Barry

Waiting . . . Patiently

But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint – Isaiah 40:31

The dictionary defines the word patience as “the ability to be calm, tolerant, and understanding.” If that describes you, you can skip the rest of this page. But, if you’re like most of us, you’d better keep reading.

For most of us, patience is a hard thing to master. Why? Because we have lots of things we want, and we know precisely when we want them: NOW (if not sooner). But our Father in heaven has other ideas; the Bible teaches that we must learn to wait patiently for the things that God has in store for us, even when waiting is difficult.

We live in an imperfect world inhabited by imperfect people. Sometimes, we inherit troubles from others, and sometimes we create troubles for ourselves. On other occasions, we see other people “moving ahead” in the world, and we want to move ahead with them. So we become impatient with ourselves, with our circumstances, and even with our Creator.

Psalm 37:7 instructs us to “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (NKJV). But, for most of us, waiting patiently for Him is hard. We are fallible beings who seek solutions to our problems today, not tomorrow. Still, God instructs us to wait patiently for His plans to unfold, and that’s exactly what we should do. Sometimes, patience is the price we pay for being responsible adults, and that’s as it should be. After all, think how patient our Heavenly Father has been with us. So the next time you find yourself drumming your fingers as you wait for a quick resolution to the challenges of everyday living, take a deep breath and ask God for patience.
Remember that patience builds character . . . and the best moment to start building is this one.

The best things in life seldom happen overnight; they usually take time. Henry Blackaby writes, “The grass that is here today and gone tomorrow does not require much time to mature. A big oak tree that lasts for generations requires much more time to grow and mature. God is concerned about your life through eternity. Allow Him to take all the time He needs to shape you for His purposes.”

Lord, please help me to accept the sovereignty of your will as I wait on you. Help me to see all the amazing things I can learn about You and myself as I wait and above all draw me close to you. Amen


Chaplain Rob

Now God Has Gotten Personal

Isaiah 58:1-12, I Corinthians 2:1-12 and Matthew 5:13-20

I was only in my twenties preaching at Mt Hebron UMC, Greeneville, TN when I first heard the expression, “I don’t feel like I’ve been to church if I haven’t had my toes stepped on.” Said by an older fellow, a farmer, someone long lived in that church who had seen a lot of preachers come and go, and heard thousands of sermons. I tried to take that as both a compliment (maybe) and as a word of advice.

This Sunday’s scriptures are heavy on the “stepping.” Isaiah finds fault, Jesus finds fault, Paul finds fault. We will hear that in all these passages. Take it to heart and respond accordingly.

But we will also hear affirmation and Good News. Even with criticism of behavior and thought, the Prophet, the Apostle, and our Savior announce hope and promise! Good News! The story should have a happy encouraging word even if our toes hurt some.

Whether as parents, teachers, coaches, supervisors, leaders, advisors, friends, community workers, we are called sometimes to point out flaws, mistakes, misdirection, and correctable behavior. It’s how we grow, mature, and walk through life with some sense of successful living.

“You are great because you are my child, friend, family, co-worker but……please take note! Check out what’s missing here.” “And I promise to check out my own behavior and thought too!”

And the relationship is important when the Word comes to us. After all, the “corrective” comes from our God, our Savior who loves us. And loves those too that we are called to NOT neglect. It is personal AND interpersonal! Everybody is affected!

To what end? So as to all live in The Kingdom of God!

Come and hear this together with each other in worship this Sunday!

Pastor Barry

The Simple Life

Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. – Matthew 18:4 MSG

Want to reduce stress during these turbulent times? Here’s a simple solution: Simplify your life. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. After all, you live in a world where simplicity is in short supply.

Think for a moment about the complexity of your everyday life and compare it to the lives of your ancestors. Certainly, you are the beneficiary of many technological innovations, but those innovations have a price: in all likelihood, your world is highly complex. Unless you take firm control of your time and your life, you may be overwhelmed by a stress-inducing tidal wave of complexity that threatens your happiness.

Your Heavenly Father understands the joy of living simply, and so should you. So do yourself a favor: Keep your life as simple as possible. Simplicity is, indeed, genius. By simplifying your life, you are destined to improve it.

Simplicity reaches out after God; purity discovers and enjoys Him. – Thomas À Kempis

It is part of Satan’s program to make our faith complicated and involved. Now and then, we need a rediscovery of the simplicity that is in Christ and in our faith in Him. – Vance Havner

Lord, help me keep it simple. When I complicate my life, give me the wisdom to simplify. The world values complexity, Father, but You do not. Today, I will strive to keep my thoughts focused intently on Your Word, on Your love, and on Your Son. Amen


Chaplain Rob