Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

Tomorrow's sermon is the last in the "Stand" series. I originally intended to focus on Gamaliel in Acts 5, but throughout my preparation I keep finding myself being drawn more to the stand that Peter and the Apostles were making in this text. So ... I'll mention Gamaliel, but I'll go ahead and focus on the disciples. The sermon still needs lots of work. This week has been jam packed with meetings and meetings and then with a few more meetings.

On Thursday night I began teaching Christ and Culture at Milligan again. The class went well. The lecture hall in Derthick has been remodeled since last Spring and it seems to have made it a much better room for teaching.

Have a great Saturday. Cheer for the Gators!

Prayers of the Church for Grandview

31 August 2008

When nothing we can see existed, O God, you did not keep silent. You spoke and formlessness found shape; darkness disappeared into daylight; voids became landscapes, teaming with life. Your syllables became planets and plants and people.

When we knew you not, O God, you did not keep silent. Your word became flesh in the womb of your servant, Mary. Your word experienced creation from the inside and revealed to us the very heart and soul of the one who made us.

When your Son was in the grave, O God, you did not keep silent. You spoke and life sprang from the ground, overcoming tears with laughter; grief with joy—because your words are life and more life.

When we, your people, stand on the earth let us not keep silent. Let us, made in your image, echo your words of life. Let us speak them with the expectation that you will use our words in the lives of others. Give us the power to lift the hearts and souls of those around us by refusing to keep silent. Give us the power to heal, soothe, strengthen, and enliven this world with your word.

Lord, we understand that there is a time to keep silent, but please forgive us when we grow too ready to be silent. Give us the wisdom to know when to speak. Teach us the words to use. Help us to be bold in our obedience to you.

Forgive us for making our inclinations, our selves, our jobs, our schooling, or our families more important than the kingdom of God. Forgive us for letting our busy-ness keep us from deepening our friendships with your people and cutting us off from people who really do need to know you.

In the silence, if you are willing, please show us the things that we have made more important than your call upon our lives:


Bless those on our prayer list with peace, joy, healing, protection, and strength. Bless those who are caring for the people on our prayer list. Give to the dying a peaceful death.

Give the gift of speaking words of life to the Coleys, Freelands, Headens, Hillmans, Nyadors, Veals, and Orths. Refresh the McDades in their time with us. We also remember before you the Jacksons and the Colemans as you prepare then to follow your call.

Bless your church all over the world. Guide the feet of national leaders in the paths of peace. Bless, and do not curse, our enemies.

We pray as your Son, our blessed redeemer, has taught us.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Table Day!

The Table has begun! There will be tweaking and fine tuning, of course, but overall I am very pleased with how things went on Sunday. The singing in the 9:30 service was fantastic. The band sounded good and the people really sang out. There were several times when I was moved by it. This service housed 161 people, which means it now has some room to grow, but not at the cost of the feeling of momentum.

The Table is set to hold 133 people . The attendance was 90 (I think, I have to ask Theresa the number again).
Even at 90, though, it looked full and, as far as I could tell, the room had a nice feel to it.

The band was rehearsed and ready.And the service was begun without me.

Jeff even had slides of icons of Joanna (who was the subject of the sermon).

I was surprised by the shift from the 11 o'clock service to the Table. I've never just walked into a service and started preaching. That part was my least favorite part of the experience, but I suspect the shift will feel more natural as I get used to it.

This is shot of the original 11am service and it looks full from here, but he number on the attendance sheet was only 95. I demand a recount! Regardless, that means that we had 185 total adult worshipers during the 11am hour, which is good. ESPECIALLY when we consider that there was still space available in the parking lot. THANKS, THANKS, THANKS to those of you who have willingly parked off site. You are great.

Thanks to Lorna Crouch for taking the pictures. Thanks also to Jeff, Heather, and Theresa for doing the heavy lifting to make this day possible.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

Tomorrow we continue with our series that looks at biblical characters who took difficult stands for the sake of God. Tomorrow we will visit the relatively unknown Joanna, whom Luke twice mentions.Of course, tomorrow is also the beginning of our new service, The Table. I've had my moments of fear of about moving to three services and the changes that will bring to Grandview, but those moments have been replaced this week with anticipation. If I get a chance (later today), I'll post some pictures and a little video I took at the first practice for the Table on Wednesday night.

As we move into the next phase of worship services at Grandview, I will be inviting the Elders to lead the pastoral prayer. In two of the services I don't have a choice, I have to turn it over to others. The day is coming, though, when I will turn even the writing of the prayers of the church over to others. When that happens it will probably be time to re-evaluate my blog. In the aftermath of being on the Beeson adventure, the pastoral prayer has been, for me, the soul of this blog.

I appreciate your prayers for tomorrow's big adventure!

Prayers of the Church for Grandview

24 August 2008

God of power and might, the heavens and the earth declare your glory, pouring forth praise for the one who created all things, seen and unseen. The infinite reaches of space are not big enough to hold you. Miniscule beings at the bottom of the ocean are not small enough to escape your notice

And, yet, despite your power and glory, you know the pain of loss. You know the pain of loss because your word became flesh, lived among us, and felt the stabbing sting of spikes driven into that flesh. You stood by and allowed it to happen.

You could have punished humanity for treating your Son with such deplorable animosity, but you poured tears of grace into the deadly wounds that we inflicted upon your Son. You poured life into death; that empty urn that claims us all. And while we sealed the grave from the outside, you broke the seal from the inside!

We praise you for giving us life and life eternal. We praise you for being patient, despite your power, while humanity did the worst we could think to do to you.

We confess that we are too often afraid to embrace the same kind of love that you have shown us in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. We are too ready to shrink from the challenge of participating in a love that is willing to suffer for others; from a love that is willing to let others suffer for the sake of making you better known to the world. We confess that we don’t even consider loving you that deeply because we get caught up in our selves and our needs and our wants.

In the silence, please accept the opening of our hearts before you, O God, the Fear of Isaac and the Hope of Humanity:


Remember those who are on our prayer list this morning. The list is too big for each of us to know everyone on it. And so, overwhelmed by the need, we hold it up before your throne. Give healing, comfort, strength, protection, and new life to each person. Give a peaceful death to those who have come to that threshold.

Bless the institutions that exist for your kingdom’s purposes, especially Agape Women’s Services, Appalachian Christian Camp, Appalachian Christian Village, Christian Student Fellowship at ETSU, Emmanuel School of Religion, European Evangelistic Society, Higher Ministries, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Milligan College, and the Salvation Army.

We pray, O Lord, as your Son has taught us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Please Be Not Understanding Carefully

The NPR show, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," reported that one Chinese restaurant, to prepare for the influx of foreign visitors to the Beijing Olympics, wanted to translate their name in order to be readable to English speakers. The owner decided to type the restaurant name into a website that translates Chinese into English. He took the results to a sign-maker.

The English name of the restaurant? "Translation Server Error."

In honor of the difficulty of language and the translation of language, I'm posting the following pictures from Special thanks to Lorna for the tip ....
Hey, if you've been without it, then you understand this sign.

I don't recommend the poo poo platter at this place.

Put the cap back on because ... well ... that way Whitemen can't clump.

Where there's a throne, there is a kingdom.

The Chinese are very sensitive to their environment.

Poor Pumbah, he's about to be Pork Loin.

I'm thinking of putting this on the church sign.

Hmmm... this could go on the church sign, too.

Come to think of this, I could put this one by the baptistry.

Oh, look! An Easy Bark Oven!

Any last words before entering the Easy Bark Oven?

I've always wondered about the main ingredient in their dog sauce.

You might want to stay out of this place.

I'm not sure a drunk guy will bother to read this sign, but hope springs eternal.

Just like my bathroom at home.

Can I get that with a side of jerk chicken?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Milligan Class of 2012

The Milligan freshmen have arrived and I had the chance to speak to them on Monday night out at the Doe River Gorge, where they spent the day having a grand ol' time.Worship was led by Bill Jolly and the Grace Fellowship Band. They did an excellent job and I enjoyed the worship time.
I think the new Milliganders enjoyed it as well. We have four Grandview spawn in this class. Marshall, Danielle, Cara Beth, and Ryan.
Things seemed to go fine. I used the Flobots' song, "Handlebars" in the sermon, as well as their song "Rise". We also did "reverse communion," which was an idea I had last week. They were all given bread and invited to bring it to the table as a sign of their willingness to bring themselves to the Body of Christ over the next four years.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

We continue in the sermon series that highlights men and women in scripture who took difficult stands. Tomorrow we spotlight David who could have killed King Saul while he was alone in a Porta-Cave. He could have justified it as self-defense and as a simple claiming the throne that God had promised him. David refused.

The prayer begins with an adaptation of Psalm 57, which is a Psalm of David that the Bible tells us was written when he had fled from Saul by hiding in a cave. I thought this would be an appropriate linking of a Psalm to the sermon and the prayer.

Tomorrow is the last Sunday before we add the third service. Things will change dramatically in just one week. If you're a Grandviewian reading this, tomorrow may be the last peaceful, easy, Sunday for awhile. Once the new service begins things will feel a little hectic for awile (one month? two?) as we seek a new rhythm.

Here's the prayer:

Prayers of the Church for Grandview

17 August 2008

Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy on us,
for in you our souls takes refuge.
We will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
We cry out to God Most High,
to God, who fulfills his purposes for us.
You send from heaven and save us,
rebuking those who hotly pursue us;

You send your love and your faithfulness.
We are in the midst of lions;
We lie among ravenous beasts—
people whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
They spread a net for our feet—
We were bowed down in distress.

They dug a pit in our path—
but they have fallen into it themselves.
Our hearts are steadfast, O God,
our hearts are steadfast;

We will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
We will awaken the dawn.
We will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
We will sing of you among the peoples.

For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth

Remember the sick, the suffering, and the dying. Remember all who serve our safety by putting theirs at risk. Give stable governments to those who don’t have the protection that a stable government provides. Bless this nation. Bless our enemies. Continue to call all of us together into the kingdom of God, a nation of priests before your throne.

Remember those who are on our prayer list this morning, and those we name before you in the silence:


Pure and holy and righteous are you, O Lord most high. You accomplish your will through blameless and honorable action. Forgive us when we compromise the integrity of our faith, when we embrace sinful ways in order to get what we want. By your Spirit, help us to love the ways of Jesus Christ our Savior, who taught us to pray:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Stuff I Feel Like Sharing

What beautiful August weather we are having! When people write books about kids playing outside in the summer this is the weather the illustrators draw for the pictures. Warm breezes. Low humidity. Puffy clouds. And smiles. Below is a picture from one of those "it's good to be alive" moments.Allow me to belabor the point, please. The weather has been consistently good for a week and a half. This is Anna's school. Though the picture doesn't capture the scene well, I just had to smile and snap a picture when I saw how beautiful East Tennessee can be (when the humidity doesn't blanket the views).
When I was at Asbury last week to work on my dissertation I got to go to the Monday morning Beeson student worship time. The sermon was delivered by a Beeson student from Russia. The sermon was excellent. The man's sense of humor reminded me of Yuri Skopylotov, the Russian student at Emmanuel a few years back.
This past week I bought a purple cow. That's right, a 1999 Kawsaki Concours. My Honda has been out of commission for awhile and we need an extra set of wheels at the Wymer home. Jeff Keeling, Johnson City Press reporter extraordinaire' and member of Grandview, was ready to sell. I borrowed it for a couple of days and decided that I could learn to handle a 1000cc motorcycle. Riding this bike is a very different experience than the Honda, but I'm getting the hang of it.
The official opening of the kitchen required a labor force to move the old kitchen stuff upstairs to the new kitchen. Fortunately we had a whole host of folks show up to help. It will be soooo nice to have everything conveniently located when Two 4 Two starts on September 17th.

That's all I feel like sharing right now. I've got a sermon to write ya' know.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

Another week with no posts ... this time, though, it's because I've been dissertating at Asbury. My family (at home and at church) allowed me to get away this week. I picked a bad week to leave home because we had a sick one and that put an extra burden on Cindy (Sorry, Cindy!). She was sweet about it even though it put her in a bind at work.

Tomorrow we continue our series on taking a stand, with Daniel and his three friends who refused the fat of the king's table when taken into exile in Babylon.The prayers of the church are based, as some of you will doubtlessly know, upon the prayer of General Thanksgiving in the Book of Common Prayer. I've fiddled with it some, but it provides such a beautiful framework for the prayer.

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
10 August 2008

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. You are God to Jew and Gentile, to man and woman, to the poor and the rich. There is no person who cannot look to you and be saved. There is no language who cannot hear. There is no heart impenetrable.

We bless you our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. We bless you for the sure knowledge that you, indeed, are God and that we can trust your ways. We bless you for the knowledge of how of how to be in this world according to your will.

And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise not only with our lips, but in our lives by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days.

We confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have been mousy when we should have been bold. We have been afraid to stand strong according to your will. We have fallen for the spirit of the age. We’re truly sorry and we humbly repent.

As always, O God, we lovingly hold before you those who are on our prayer list. Be an ever-present blessing to those who grieve, to the sick, those in harm’s way, to those struggling with depression or addiction.

Lord, for the people and the concerns we have not listed, we pray in the silence:


Lord, bless those who curse us. Bless the ones who hate us and speak ill of us, either as individuals or as a church. Help us to be a blessing to them in the name of Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray:

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

I'm having trouble believing it's Saturday. Didn't I just wake up on Monday morning, glad that I had a few days before the sermon crunch took over my life again?

It's a good thing the Grandview elders are good at calling because there was a lot of pastoral work this week. Also, with the start date of the Table just around the corner, there are more details to anticipate. Fortunately we've got a good team in place.

The theme for this month's sermons will be:We'll be looking at people in the scripture who dared to stand for God even though they were in tricky situations. If I enjoy preparing for all of the sermons as much as I've enjoyed this one, then it will be a fun month (for me at least!). Tomorrow we will look at Micaiah, a prophet during the reign of King Ahab (circa 850 BC, 1 Kings 22). My favorite thing about him? He was a sassy prophet. It's no wonder Ahab didn't like him.

Here's the prayer. If you're in town I hope to see you tomorrow. If you're not in town, I hope don't forsake the assembling together of the body of Christ. If worship isn't local then it isn't universal.

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
3 August 2008

God who became flesh and stood among us, who felt the loam and the earth under your feet, we come before you in our flesh and we take a stand in your name. We stand and proclaim that you are a great God, a great king above all Gods. In your hands are the caverns of the earth and the heights of the hills are yours. The fish that dart through the ocean, the birds slicing through the air, and the beasts prowling the forests all belong to you. We are here to see that the praise and worship of humanity are yours as well.

Accept, we pray, this offering of time that we make by gathering together. Accept the offering of song and hopes and joy along with our admission of pain and disappointment and suffering. Work together all of these things for our good and for the good of those around us. Help us to be a blessing to the whole earth. Give us the wisdom and the resolve we need to make the right choices today so that tomorrow we will be in a position to bless our families, our friends, and our enemies.

Forgive us, Lord, for not seeing the connection between today’s sloth and tomorrow’s inability to overcome evil. Forgive us for being blind to today’s habits that become tomorrow’s sins—sins that work in us like leaven to bring death into our relationships and into our lives. Forgive us for forgetting that the sin really does lead us away from you.

We so often pray that you would give us the desire of our hearts while not realizing how deceitful our hearts are. Lord, please give us clean hands and pure hearts before honoring even our most sincere, but misguided, requests.

We invite you to show us the wickedness that we have hidden in our hearts, the secret desires that surprise even us, the rebellion that we have unwittingly embraced. Show us these things, please, in the silence:


Please continue to bless the organizations that further the work of your kingdom here and around the world. Bless Agape Women’s Services, Appalachian Christian Camp, Appalachian Christian Village, Higher Ministries, the Christian Student Fellowship at ETSU, Emmanuel School of Religion, the European Evangelistic Society, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Milligan College, and the Salvation Army—and all who provide labor and support for them.

Reinvigorate, heal, strengthen, encourage, and embolden those who are sick, struggling, or sad. Give your protection to those who are risking their lives to protect us. Give a peaceful death to those whose time to die has come. Give us the hearts of servant so we might minister to those on our prayer list.

And, as always, we ask that by the power of your Holy Spirit we might mean it when we ask you to bless our enemies—just like your Son told us to do, even our Lord and Savior Jesus of Nazareth, who taught us to pray: