Wednesday, December 31, 2008
HAPPY NEW YEAR !
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Mrs. Shockley's Arrangements
Homegoing Services - 11am, December 29th at First Baptist Church, New Castle. Pastor Witmer presiding. (10am Visitation at FBC)
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Lighthouse Baptist Church Building Fund. Mrs. Shockley desperately longed to see the new building, and now she will from heavenly places.
She Walked in Beauty - Hazel's Song
The poem of Hazel Shockley, by Pastor Tobe Witmer 11/21/08
She walked in beauty every day,
Her head held high, with love and praise,
No fairer maid has graced our church,
With nobler life and virtuous worth.
She walked in beauty to all she met,
With kind reproof and no regret,
Her trust in Him who saved her soul,
Could not be swayed by pain untold.
She walked in beauty as time drew near,
Her faith in tact and her focus clear,
Toward foreign shores where maids like her,
Walk with their Savior with eyes unblurred.
She walked in beauty with family,
Great motherly love and kindness free,
To girls and son both hers and grand,
She kissed their cheeks and held their hands.
She walked in beauty, she preached each day,
Of praise to God, of thanks unswayed,
Her courage remains a landmark here,
While she walks in beauty with her Savior near.
O child of God with face so long,
Can you not join our Hazel’s song?
Can you not praise your Lord for all?
And walk in beauty both proud and tall?
A Very Merry Christmas
J- Justice demanded sins equal payment
E- Except a man be born again, he shall not see the kingdom of God
S- Salvation is of the LORD
U- Under His wings, I am safely abiding
S- Seek Him while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Many thanks to Mont, PCP, and Jeff Washer who helped me with arrangements and greatly encouraged me to stay with my father rather than return to LBC in this hard time. Sometimes there is a great duty tug of war in being a Pastor.
We will miss you all tomorrow, but are so excited that the Lord has worked out for you to hear a great preacher, Dr. Bruce Miller in the morning; and our most able Dr. Bish in the evening.
Merry Christmas, God bless LBC.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Great, Grinch, and Gravy
My heart was overwhelmed with Christ, God's goodness, and joy as I listened to the Christmas Cantata on Sunday Night. "And Glory Shone Around" was a tremendous collection of thoughts about the Incarnation. The choir was the strongest and boldest I have ever heard them, and at one point I almost felt compelled to stand in praise to the Lord.
I do hope you are focusing on Jesus more and more this Christmas. I know some of you will not have the joy of a real Christmas tree and perhaps you are like me and can't understand why Brian won't put red and green on the website.....but despite these small discouragements --- Rejoice this Christmas!!
Concerning Gravy: I like it on Mashed Potatoes, but it has little to do with Mennonite Hogmaw which should be eaten on Christmas. If you have no Hogmaw, eat Ham. If you have no Ham, eat Turkey. If you have no Turkey, eat cashews. If no cashews, we are in a bad economic state.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
We will be returning on Wed. afternoon and will see everyone in the evening service. We will miss you tomorrow and pray that you will have tremendous services at LBC. Please encourage the Assistant Pastor's by your faithful attendance :)
Some of you may have not been at the Thanksgiving service when I announced we are expecting child #5. It was a great surprise to Amy and I and I jokingly say her name will be "Providence". Of course it is too early to know the gender, but little girls smell better when snuggled. If it is a boy, we will be giving it to Jeff and Jess. :) (Oh the joy of getting the last word!) Honestly though, we will cherish boy or girl, so don't send me hate mail about the boy comment :)
One last sad note...Jack Miller's "Pop" died earlier this week. You may know that Jack was greatly burdened for him. I spoke to him today and the funeral will likely be on Thursday. Of course, Lighthouse will do all we can do for the family.
May the Lord bless each of you, we will see you when we get back.
Friday, November 21, 2008
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever. Ps 118
This morning I do give thanks to the Lord! The meeting last night went very smoothly. There was very good attendance- thanks to those who came! I didn't count, but I would guess at least 80 (or more?) from LBC and then some more from the Community. The only concerns raised were respectful questions about lighting, entrances, the dangerous intersection that we already have, etc.
Overall as Community people left, they shook my hand and gave their happy support. There was no one there against the project. Amen! Councilwoman McClellan publicly said it was the shortest Community Meeting she ever had.
So, we live to plan another day. As our economy tanks, that actually favors our project somewhat with quicker permissions and cheaper construction. Our builder (Jim Nowland) told me last night that contractors are begging for work. Construction materials are low also. This is a good time to be building.
The issue of course on our side is continuing to raise the money to put us in the position come Fall of next year. IT IS IN GOD'S HANDS. HE IS NOT EFFECTED BY THE ECONOMY EVEN IF HIS CHILDREN ARE. WE TRUST HIM, WE THANK HIM, HE IS GOOD.
I know He has not brought us this far to make us stumble for lack of money in the final stretch of the race. We wait on Him.
Love Him today!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Another reason for the change is the goal of developing our Mid-week service into a service that focalizes on Biblical Teaching, Prayer, and Missionary Education. We also want to Concentrate this service into a block of an hour and fifteen minutes. Removing the offering will help.
In addition to these changes, beginning in January, our Adult Wednesday Service will move to 6:30pm for a trial period of 3 months. We then will evaluate the change and continue accordingly. Thank you for all the great input we received from the questionnaire on this issue. Your input mixed with prayerful and Biblical wisdom made this decision.
A Bit Late
I had promised to post the totals from the Fall Informed Offering on the Website. As of now, the offering is a bit over $16,000.00.
In our present economy, with the fear of recession, etc., I think we should be thankful for this amount. As a man last night prayed, "thank you Lord for this offering...we know the next one will be bigger..." I think that's good thinking.
May the Lord bless you today. The office is closed this morning for the staff to get away together for some bonding/training/schooling. It will reopen around 2pm.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Our Website tracks those who visit it and the areas of the country and the world where people are enjoying sermons, music, etc. There are many that visit us regularly all over the globe.
I am writing to you to invite you to have a part in what LBC is doing. No doubt by now you realize we are in the process of building a new Auditorium. The Lord has allowed us for over a year now to overflow our present 211 seat auditorium into a video overflow. We presently average around 260 on Sunday mornings and are in serious need of a new auditorium. It is our desire not to go to two services in order to preserve the "family" spirit that we so much enjoy.
Our November Quarterly Building offering is called the "Fall Informed Offering". We brought in our Builder: Jim Nowland and our Site Engineer: Bruce Tease from Landmark Engineering to speak to our congregation last Sunday night. After the presentation, questions were taken from the floor. I encourage you to watch the meetings in our sermon video section.
As a church, we are presently giving through weekly commitments, surplus income, and these quarterly offerings. Our building is not a matter of mere wish, but present need. I am asking you, our worldwide visitors to have a part in what you see God doing at our church. Soon, we will have an online building donation "gateway" through Paypal - but for now, would you please pray about sending "offerings" (not your local church tithes) to:
Lighthouse Baptist Church Building Fund
1842 Otts Chapel Rd.
Newark, De 19702
Your gifts are tax deductible and a tax receipt will be sent to you at the end of the year.
May the Lord bless your consideration of this worthy building for the cause of Christ.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
What I did mean was the Lenders look at our Cash-flow to determine if we can support a future mortgage. The better our present cash-flow looks, the more willing they are to negotiate a loan with us. Cash-flow is the amount of money after the bills are paid.
That is all I meant - we are doing great at LBC! - look at the weekly offerings for yourselves and rejoice that the Lord is above and beyond paying His bills.
Friday, October 31, 2008
The Councilwoman will be holding a Community Meeting about our project on Thursday, November 20th at 7pm. WE NEED EVERY MEMBER AND REGULAR ATTENDER TO COME, ESPECIALLY THOSE OF YOU WHO LIVE IN NEWARK. LOCATION TO BE ANNOUNCED.
Along the same lines, Sunday Night's "Informed Family Meeting" is very important. Our site Engineer, Bruce Tease and our builder, Jim Nowland will be giving short presentations and fielding questions from the congregation. PLEASE BE AT THIS MEETING. WE NEED A GOOD CROWD FOR THE COMMUNICATION OF THIS INFORMATION. PLEASE PASS THE WORD TO EVERY MEMBER AND REGULAR ATTENDER THAT YOU KNOW TO BE THERE.
There have been some very exciting and some challenging developments in our building project. The factor that is most an issue is money: Both General fund cash-flow (extra money for building) and Building fund offering. Our giving is Super, don't get me wrong, but for a young church with a land mortgage, we are attempting an aggressive project. The need is real; our God is rich; his people pray and believe in faith; God will provide at the time needed.
Mischief Night is always a big thing in the Witmer home. Every year since we have lived in our house we have gotten hit by eggs on this night. It is usually our car that sits on the road, and sometimes our van in the driveway. Needless to say, I'm tired of it happening and vowed this year would be different.
I thought many schemes to prevent and punish the perpetrators this year. One of the best was a semi-auto paint ball gun offered to me by Jeff Baker. I imagined laying on the peak of my roof when some destructive teenagers drove by (windows opened, eggs flying). They pull past my corner-lot arms back, ready to launch an Annual series of eggs, and.......WHABAM!!!!!! From the rooftop in full camo and A-Team music in the background comes Pastor Rambo, paintballs shooting at a furious pace. I can see the red balls making their mark, covering car and passenger with a vengeance unknown since our boys stormed Normandy.
Well, I forgot to borrow the paintball gun........so.....
I installed a fake security camera from Harbor Freight for 8.99. Yeah...that will detour them. It occurred to me after installation that you can't see that thing during the night. So, I go down stairs for the spotlight and send Daniel to the garage for the extension cord. As I do this, I am thinking, "In WV, I would just load some shotgun shells with Rock salt and we would be done with this foolishness."
So, I run the extension cord through the front window of our entrance way and clip the spotlight under the "security camera" to shine on my yard and 2 Presidential Candidate signs. (BTW, I had two stolen, one at a time, so I replaced them with 2 large yard signs back-to-back and one fake security camera watching them). Anyhow, the spotlight illuminates the entire yard, car, road, and through most bedrooms of Salem Woods) Excellent. One final precaution: I sent Daniel downstairs for Andrew's aluminum T-ball bat. Yes. Bring it on. (for the squeamish among you, I did not prepare to use Amy's 9mm pistol because the "servant of God must not strive."
Amy and I go to bed.....we hear yelling voices out front -- I jump out of bed with the fury of Jehu and run to the window. Its steamed up....I can't see...through a crack I see crazy a teen driving up and down the road with open windows. I think of my 270 rifle with scope, not 20 feet away in the closet --- no, no, their driving away and they have no apparent eggs. (a few unapparent ones, but no apparent ones). (BTW, an unapparent egg is a a chick with no Rooster-figure in his life)
Anyhow, I go back to bed and shut my eyes.....more rutkas.......I look out the window and there are eggs everywhere....the car is covered, yard covered....it looks like it was raining eggs --- no cars or teens in site. NO, wait......I'm dreaming....the alarm rings. Now I'm awake.....I grab my sweats, hat, flashlight, and run for the front door..... political signs are eggless, car, yard, road....eggless. WITMER PARANOIA HAS PREVAILED.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
A few of my Favorite Things
1. Planters Brand Salted Cashews
2. Panasonic home portable phones
3. Rockport shoes
4. Michelin tires (worth the extra in the longrun)
5. G-2 Pilot pens
6. Honda Sedans
7. Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home
8. Jake's Black-and-White Milkshakes
10. The English Inn in Virginia
11. Echo or Stihl weedeaters
12. Craftsman handtools
13. DeWalt Powertools
14. Hershey's liquid Chocolate (and Milk Chocolate for that matter)
15. More Food: Oreos, Cheesesteaks, Sharp Cheddar, PayDay Bars, Coke, Sunkist, Sprite, Velveeta, Cheeseburgers, Lasagna, Mozzarella Sticks....
OK - there's 15 to make your life better
Great Men's Conference!
We heard good preaching, tons of Amens and good music. Afterward, we stopped at the Charbroil Pit and ate like mad men without their wives :)
Ladies, your Jubilee is this Saturday - don't be a stick in the Mud --- Go!
Friday, October 10, 2008
Revival, Picnic, and McDonalds
We are looking forward to the Church Picnic on Saturday. Please come and bring your lawn chairs, whatever you signed up for, and one 2 liter per family. Don't forget your sports equipment men --- does anyone have a Bocce' set?
Last night was a night of Victories -- I will share one --- You know of my rantings about joining the American Family Association to boycott McDonalds who recently joined the National Gay and Lesbian Association and placed a McD's VP on their board. They also were running pro-Gay advertising in California. Anyhow, because of the pressure of AFA and conservative believers like us, the CHANGED THEIR PUBLIC POSITION. Please read this first hand AFA release below and may the Lord truly bless those that publicly stand for God's Holy and Moral way:
Read the great news below! You all know what my stand has been on McDonalds for the past year or so. I'm happy to say that I can now go back to McDonalds. My children were jumping for joy tonight.
You see, when we all ban together and do what's right good things do happen. If you have participated in this boycott you have something to be very proud of!
AFA ends boycott: McDonald's agrees to changes
October 9, 2008
Great news! Because of AFA supporters like you, McDonald’s has told AFA they will remain neutral in the culture war regarding homosexual marriage. AFA is ending the boycott of McDonald’s. As you know, AFA called for the boycott in May after McDonald’s joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).
McDonald’s said McDonald’s Vice President Richard Ellis has resigned his position on the board of NGLCC and that his seat on the board will not be replaced. McDonald’s also said that the company has no plans to renew their membership in NGLCC when it expires in December.
In an e-mail to McDonald’s franchised owners the company said, “It is our policy to not be involved in political and social issues. McDonald’s remains neutral on same sex marriage or any ‘homosexual agenda’ as defined by the American Family Association.”
We appreciate the decision by McDonald’s to no longer support political activity by homosexual activist organizations. You might want to thank your local McDonald’s manager.
Thank you for caring enough to get involved. If you feel our efforts are worthy of support, would you consider making a small tax-deductible contribution to help us continue?
Donald E. Wildmon,
Founder and Chairman
American Family Association Donate with confidence to AFA
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Stand in the Gap
I am personally against the deliberate removal of several references to God in the new Capitol visitor center. Why are the words “In God we Trust” removed from the representation above the Speaker’s desk of the House chamber? – this is deceitful, inaccurate, and a liberal attempt to cover our Christian heritage.
Why are the words “Religion and Morality” omitted from Article III of the Northwest Ordinance?
Why are the words “in the Year of our Lord” omitted from Article VII of the Constitution in the Visitor Center?
All these and other Historic inaccuracies are deplorable and will not go unchallenged by the American people. Why are you in denial about the church sessions of Congress held in the Capital in the late 1800’s? They were attended by over 2000 people consistently. Why do cover up that they were sanctioned sessions of Congress? Why do you not state that both Congressmen and Presidents attended? Why do you relegate the churches meeting to the lie that Congress rented out the building for people to have church in instead of the truth that Congress was holding church?
I am sorry, but you cannot hide the Christian heritage of our Country. It is stamped on our coins and quoted by many of our God-fearing Presidents. Many of our Generals of History have called on the people to pray to Almighty God, and yes, in the name of Jesus Christ.
I ask you to use your power to make the new visitor center faithful to our Christian heritage. It is HISTORY Mrs. Pelosi, not your opinion that must be recorded for our posterity.
314 Jaymar Blvd.
Newark, De 19702
"the godless pit"
September 25, 2008
Washington, D. C. is filled with impressive structures openly acknowledging God: the Washington Monument , the Jefferson Memorial, the Library of Congress, the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, and many others.
The newest federal structure (scheduled to open in just a few months) is the Capitol Visitor Center – a massive underground facility that spans more area than the Capitol itself. It will acquaint some 15,000 visitors each day – including thousands of school children – with the 200 year history of the Capitol as well as its current content and operation. However, the new Visitor Center has deliberately censored mentions of God from both the Capitol's historical and current aspects.
View the clip on the Capitol Visitor Center
For example, in presenting the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, Visitor Center officials actually deleted the words "religion and morality" from the document. And in presenting images of the current Speaker's Rostrum in the House Chamber, they deliberately omitted the phrase "In God We Trust" from its prominent location engraved in marble above the Speaker's head. There are many other examples. No wonder a congressman has dubbed it the "$600 million dollar godless pit."
But not only does the Center censor God and religion from America's history but it also contains basic historical errors about the war of 1812, the Bill of Rights, the constitutional separation of powers, and many other simple topics.
View the clip on the Capitol Visitor Center
For nearly five years, I have been working with many Members of Congress in monitoring the content and displays within the Center. Initially, those Members were able to correct bad information in the Center, but in the last two years under the new congressional leadership, there has been a real reversal in the willingness of Visitor Center officials to make changes. Therefore, it is now time to get the public involved.
Former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett stated that "Sunlight is the best disinfectant," and he is right. The link below will show you what is occurring in this new federal structure and what you can do to help us get things changed.
View the clip on the Capitol Visitor Center
Thanks for your help on this important issue! God bless!
(By the way, if you know of others who might enjoy periodic email on items usually neglected in the news, encourage them to sign up on the WallBuilders' website.)
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Watch Your Perspective
Anyhow, I was amazed at the occupation of the fans: Beer, Beer, and more Beer. I watched one group in front of us that consumed at least 3 beers a piece. Another guy was a chain drinker and showed visible signs of inebriation by the 7th inning or so.
The first group seemed to come for nothing but beer and talking. They didn't even watch the game. At one point, they were on the "Big Screen" and when told didn't even look up saying seriously: they weren't interested in seeing their faces......WHAT?
Anyhow, I began to think of perspective of life during that game. Everyone around us was drinking like it was just the thing to do. People drink to make their heart merry by dulling the concerns they are dealing with. Believers rejoice their heart by pouring out their concerns in submission and praise to the Lord. (At least they should)
It seems to me that it would be easy to get sidetracked as a Christian if you stared at the Secular World View for awhile. I let myself experimentally ask last night: "Am I missing something...is this drinking-no God-no responsibility-life" the way to go?"
I obviously conclude "NO" - but I wonder how easy it would be for me to say "that's attractive" if I allowed myself to become entrenched in it and stared at it for awhile as many believers do. It is dangerous to think "no big deal" to drinking and a "non-accountable" life and forget that we are always accountable for our bodies, testimony, reputation, testimony to our children, conscience, ability to witness, etc. Can you hand a gospel tract to a beer vendor?
My admonition for you this morning is not to allow yourself to stare and ask the question. Stay focused on fighting the good fight of faith as the Lord told us. The Devil would love for us to be tempted to believe that the "no-rules-beer-life" is the way to go....but we are "not ignorant of his (Satan's) devices".
Have a great day and rejoice in the Lord - your Intercessor is still holding your hand and God's! Your Anchor holds!
Friday, September 19, 2008
All about Newark
Thursday, September 18, 2008
response from ING CEO
Dear Pastor Tobe,
ING DIRECT is for everyone, except those who are truly served by the old way. It’s unfortunate our support with the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has led you to bank elsewhere.
*********Uh.......what? --- Does anyone in the "blog audience" understand Mr. Kuhlmann's first sentence? How is standing against Homosexuality being "served by the old way"?
It would cost us about $10,000 more to take the free dirt now after silt fences are constructed, permits are obtained, etc.
We were previously very positive about the FREENESS of the dirt, the encouragement to our people, the neighbors------but when all was realized, it doesn't make sense.
I am sorry for the false alarm, we will strive harder not to do that to you again. It is really all Jack Miller's fault :) (I love you Jack:)
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Letter to CEO of ING Direct
Dear Arkadi, (CEO of ING Direct)
Thank you for your recent email to your customers. I sadly inform you however, that I will be dropping my account with you. I had planned to use ING as a better savings option for my children’s accounts, until I saw the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. I had originally taken advantage of a $25. incentive you had sent.
Actually, our leadership was in the process of considering ING for $300,000 that we have in a Money Market with Citizen’s Bank. We are a year or so away from building a new Auditorium.
How sad it is that ING has been strong-armed into supporting an Anti-Family organization. I will not be doing business with you and I have encouraged the 150 families that I represent not to do business with you or any Pro-Gay organizations. I certainly understand marketing and selling to a “niche”, but I do not understand or support investing yourself in the Gay Agenda by partnering with GLCC.
The Gay Agenda makes up a small, very vocal minority of this country. The Evangelical Christian community represents a full 25% of the voter base. Nearly all Evangelicals are against the Gay Agenda. I do hope you will economically do the math in deciding to continue to support the Gay Agenda. Until then, I will be informing those that hear my voice that ING supports the Gay Agenda.
Very seriously yours,
Pastor Tobe Witmer (ING Customer)
Lighthouse Baptist Church
302 368 8050
cc: “Pastor’s Heart” blog on www.lbcde.org
Friday, September 12, 2008
Praising My Savior and Colleen
I praise Jesus because He was willing to leave the John 17 relationship with His Father to come to earth for 32/33 years. That was a very special and powerful relationship, and it may have been His greatest sacrifice in our salvation.
I praise Jesus because He loves me as His child. I praise Him that He is the anchor of my soul, sure and steadfast. I praise Him because He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for me. I praise Him because He is not ashamed to call me brother. I praise Him that because of Him, I am already seated in the Heavenlies. I praise Him because just as He was, I am sometimes persecuted for righteousness sake; it is an honor for me to suffer with Him.
I praise Jesus because of each of the wounds of His body that he gave for me. We looked at these during the Lord's Supper on Wednesday night. Remember His head, His back, His face, His comfort, His hands, His feet, His side.
I praise Jesus because He by the Holy Spirit has given me gifts today to use for Him. I have a purpose and a plan for the day. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and to finish that work. I praise Jesus that He watches over me, and immediately hears my prayer and sees my tears.
So today, I could go on and on, but it is enough to say: I praise Jesus, and my Father, and the Holy Spirit within me! Hallelujah! what a Savior!
I do hope this note finds you well, and rejoicing in Christ your Savior. A special Hello to Colleen who works at Rudy's Family Restaurant and is planning to visit our church soon! She is visiting our Website to see her name in this blog. She is a wonderful waitress---go to Rudy's and give her big tips :)
Monday, September 8, 2008
After the first installment of our Music Series last night, some were very interested in the history of dance in worship. I have included a very comprehensive history below. Please note the disclaimer.
The History of Sacred Dance
(Disclaimer: The fact that this article appears on the LBC Website does not mean that Pastor Witmer or LBC condones every detail of its doctrine, etc. Please be discerning and compare it to Scripture.)
The Hebrew Tradition
Dance was an integral part of the celebrations of the ancient Israelites. It was used both in worship in ordinary life and on occasions of triumphant victory and festivity.
The sacred dance mediated between God and humanity, thus bringing the Israelites into a closer relationship with their God, Jehovah.
In many Old Testament biblical allusions to, and descriptions of, dance there is no disapproval, only affirmation of this medium of worship. The people are exhorted to praise God with 'dancing, making melody to him with timbrel and lyre' (Psalm 149:3), and to 'praise him with timbrel and dance' (Psalm 150:4). Dancing is so common that in passages alluding to rejoicing without specific mention of dancing, it can be assumed dance is implied (Gagne 1984:24).
The most frequently used root for the word 'dance' in the Old Testament is hul which refers to the whirl of the dance and implies highly active movement. Of the 44 words in the Hebrew language for dancing, only in one is there a possible reference to secular movement as distinct from religious dancing (Clarke and Crisp 1981:35).
The types of dance used in Israelite society included the circular or ring dance, as well as the processional dance. These were often used to celebrate specific events as when David and the people of Israel danced before the Ark of the Lord, which represented the presence of God (2 Samuel 6:14).
A third type of dance included hopping and whirling movements which were exuberant with joy. At the defeat of Pharaoh's armies following the crossing of the Red Sea, 'Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances' (Exodus 15:20). When David slew Goliath, the women sang 'to one another in dance' (1 Samuel 29:5).
Each of these forms of dance found an expression in daily life and at festival times. At the Feast of Tabernacles, for instance, 'pious men danced with torches in their hands and sang songs of joy and praise, while the Levites played all sorts of instruments. The dance drew crowds of spectators ... It did not end until the morning at a given sign' (Gagne 1984:30). The revered tradition of community celebration found its expression through movement.
However, dance is not mentioned formally in the Mosaic code, nor was the movement free of certain prohibitions. A distinction came to be made between the early, holy dances of a sacred nature, and those which resembled pagan ceremonies. This distinction, made by the Israelites, was to be made even more sharply by the Christians in the following centuries.
The Early Christian Church (A.D. 100-500)
In the first five centuries of the Christian church 'dance was still acceptable because it was planted deep in the soil of the Judeo-Christian tradition' (Gagne 1984:43). Christians were accustomed to celebrating, in dance, at worship and festivals because of the Hebrew tradition of dance.
Christianity was also subjected to the prevailing social and political influences of the Roman Empire. Changing circumstances in the 4th century thus led to changes in the importance and meaning of dance as well as in the dance material used in Christian liturgy. In the course of the history of theatre and dance, Christianity shaped and proscribed new developments. Although seemingly restrictive in these early centuries, 'the church actually created a context for new flowerings of social, theatrical and religious dance' (Fallon and Wolbers 1982:9).
The New Testament gives few direct references to dance. 'But even this points to a possible parallel of the Jewish tradition of presuming the presence of dance without the need to mention it explicitly' (Gagne 1984:35). Evidence of the use of dance as an accepted expression of joy is reflected in Jesus' comment, 'We piped to you but you did not dance' (Matthew 11:17). Similarly, in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son there was dancing and rejoicing on the son's return to his home (Luke 15:25).
Paul reminds Christians that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and that they should glorify God with their bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He further indicates physical movement is an approved part of prayer-like expression when he exhorts Timothy to pray lifting up holy hands (1 Timothy 2:8). The biblical stance for most prayers included raising arms and hands above the head (1 Timothy 2:8). In prayers of confession, kneeling or prostration was common, and in thanksgiving prayers or intercession standing with arms raised was common (Adams 1975:4).
Additionally, recent studies suggest there are more references to dance in the New Testament than originally thought (Daniels 1981:11). In the Aramaic language which Jews spoke, the word for 'rejoice' and 'dance' are the same. Hence, in including 'dance' with 'rejoice' there are references to dancing and leaping for joy (Luke 6:23) as well as 'dancing in the Spirit' (Luke 10:21).
In the two earliest Christian liturgies recorded in detail, dance is used in the order of service. Both Justin Martyr in A.D. 150 and Hippolytus in A.D. 200 describe joyful circle dances (Daniels 1981:13). In the early church, dance was perceived as one of the 'heavenly joys and part of the adoration of the divinity by the angels and by the saved' (Gagne 1984:36).
This attitude to dance contrasts sharply with Roman society in which Christianity first appeared. As Shawn comments, 'Here in Imperial Rome we find the dance first completely theatricalised - then commercialised; and as the religious life of Rome became orgiastic, so the religious dances became occasions for unbridled licentiousness and sensuality' (Kraus and Chapman 1981:42).
In reaction to what the Christians perceived as moral decadence, the church sought to purify the dance by expunging all traces of paganism from the intention and expression of the movement. Dance, however, continued within the church itself, provided the form and intent were holy and not profane. The purpose of liturgical movement was to bring glory and honour to God, and take the focus off the self.
By the third century there is detailed evidence of dance integrated into the ritual and worship of the church in the writings of Hippolytus (A.D. 215) and Gregory the Wonder-Worker (A.D. 213-270). At the same time, there is an increasing emphasis on spiritual thanksgiving in Christian worship. Christian intellectuals sought to overcome the passion of the flesh by reason of mind, the greatest evidence of this being demonstrated through martyrdom.
During the fourth century, significant changes in and outside the church influenced attitudes towards the type of dance used in Christian worship. The major cause of change stemmed from the reign of Constantine (AD 306-337). Constantine converted to Christianity in A.D. 312 and was instrumental in accepting and supporting the church. The Roman Empire officially adopted Christianity in A.D. 378, thus ushering in a new relationship between church and state.
Many references to dance as part of worship in the fourth and fifth centuries are tempered by warnings about forms of dance which were considered sinful, dissolute and which smacked of Roman degeneracy. As membership in the Christian Church became popular, licentiousness began to characterise the sacred festivals.
In the writings of the Church Fathers of these early centuries, there is evident concern with the changing focus of Christian dances. Epiphanius (AD 315-403) sought to emphasise the spiritual element in the dance. In a sermon on Palm Sunday A.D. 367, he describes the festival's celebration in the following way:
Rejoice in the highest, Daughter of Zion! Rejoice, be glad and leap boisterously thou all-embracing Church. For behold, once again the King approaches ... once again perform the choral dances ... leap wildly, ye Heavens; sing Hymns, ye Angels; ye who dwell in Zion, dance ring dances (Kraus and Chapman 1981:49).
This text describes both the literal dance and the spiritual emphasis of the ceremony, while favouring the latter as the focus of the celebration.
This was the tendency of other church leaders, who 'attempted to turn their eyes away from the actual physical movement intrinsic to dance and regard dance from a singularly spirtualised perspective, as symbolic of spiritual motions of the soul' (Gagne 1984:47).
In the late fourth century, Ambrose (AD 340-397), Bishop of Milan, tried to clarify the values and dangers of sacred dance by emphasising the spiritual. 'The Lord bids us dance, not merely with the circling movements of the body, but with the pious faith in him' (Adams 1990:18). He saw dance as spiritual applause and did not rule it out of the church. Similarly, Gregory of Nyssa (AD 335-394) described Jesus as the one and only choreographer and leader of dancers on earth and in the church.
However, other leaders in the church began to voice their opposition to the use of dance. John Chrysostom (AD 345-407), in speaking of Herodias' daughter, commented that 'where dancing is, there is the evil one' (Gagne 1984:50). Augustine (AD 354-430), Bishop of Hippo, warned against 'frivolous or unseemly' dances (Adams 1990:20) and insisted on prayer, not dance. Caesarius of Arles (AD 470-542) condemned dance at the vigils of saints, calling them a 'most sordid and disgraceful act' (Gagne 1984:51).
This conflict reflects the difficulties the Church Fathers were experiencing as the church grew in popularity. The increasing number of converts made attempts to retain the dances of their own pagan cults, so that by the beginning of the sixth century, dance came under severe condemnation in the church.
The fall of Rome in A.D. 476 left Europe without a centralised power. The Church stepped in as the arbitrator of morality, law, education and social structure. The conflicts between the tradition of ecclesiastical dancing and the moral reprobation of the church itself, led to conflict over the use and value of dance, which continued throughout the Middle Ages.
The first four centuries following the fall of Rome were characterised by warfare, invasions of Christian lands by Barbarians, or vice versa, and intense missionary activities. The church was becoming more authoritarian in its activities and the concept of the church as a judicial institution began to outweigh the concept of church as community.
As the conscious use of authority widened and deepened within the church and state systems, there were an increasing number of edicts and considerable legislation which reformed church liturgy. The use of dance was restricted, and continually monitored as the emphasis on the mysterious ritual of the worship service superseded the emphasis on spontaneous celebration and praise to God (Fallon and Wolbers 1982:42).
Gradually a distinction between the clergy and laity was developing as a consequence of the church authorities' regulations on the Mass. Latin was no longer the language of the people, therefore knowledge of the Mass was restricted to the educated and clergy. Choirs took over all sung parts of the Mass, thus leaving the laity to engage in private devotions during the service. Liturgically, participation in the Mass was more restricted for the lay person and spectatorship became the hallmark of this period (Taylor 1976:83).
Inevitably as the liturgy became the reserve of the clergy, two different sacred dance traditions emerged.
The first tradition centred around dance performed by the clergy as part of the Mass. This movement became ritualised and symbolic of the theology of the church (Adams 1990:30). The Mass itself was a disciplined and prescribed sacred movement with definite postures proscribed by church authorities for the moving of ritual articles such as candles, books, and censors (Taylor 1976:10). On special occasions such as Saints' days, Christmas and Easter, the clergy performed sacred dances for the congregation who were spectators of these ritual acts. The usual forms for dance were the processional or round dances.
The second dance tradition that developed, with the approval and guidance of the church, was known as popular sacred dances. These developed in connection with church ceremonies and festivals. It was customary to celebrate these with a processional dance although round or ring dances were popular. They were performed in the church, churchyard, or surrounding countryside during religious festivals, saints' days, weddings or funerals.
It was difficult for the church to regulate these popular dances because the very nature of the dance and its occasion often entailed spontaneous movement. The rhythmic stomping and hopping steps sometimes caused uncontrollable ecstasy. When accompanied by feasting and drinking, these excesses were frowned on by the church.
The dances were usually performed to hymns or carols. 'To carol' means 'to dance' (Adams 1975:6). 'Carol' is derived from the Latin corolla for 'ring', and 'caroller' is derived from the Latin choraula meaning 'flute-player for chorus-dancing' (Oxford Dictionary). Most carols were divided into the stanza, meaning to 'stand' or 'halt', and the chorus, which means 'dance'. Thus, during the chorus, the people danced and unless a solo dancer performed for the stanza, there was little movement as the stanza was sung.
The most common step performed during the chorus was the tripudium, which means 'three step'. This was danced by taking three steps forward and one backwards; then it was repeated. The timing was usually 4/4 or 2/4 and the step was popular for processional dances. Often five or ten people would link arms and then join with others to process through the streets, and around the church, symbolising the unity and equality of the church community.
As the centuries passed during the Middle Ages, however, the 'rising hierarchy eschewed dancing with the people - for dancing symbolises and effected a sense of equality' (Adams 1975:5). Generally the bishops abstained from dancing, although some joined the people dancing, a practice which threatened the developing hierarchy and so it 'hastened church legislation against all dancing' (Adams 1975:5).
Later Middle Ages (A.D. 1100-1400)
As the church consolidated its authority in the medieval period, the censorship of dance continued. Dance was still an accepted liturgical form and various references attest to the rise of dance in the ring and processional form (Adams 1970:22). However, gradually the sacred dance form began to shift and instead of devotional dance, the movement became more theatrical and dramatic.
As public interest in the Mass waned, the Christian authorities made a definite effort to arouse the congregations by including more choral songs, picturesque processions and even ceremonial dances performed in the choir area. John Beleth, a 12th century rector at the University of Paris mentioned four kinds of choral dances, with tripudiam, which were customarily used at church festivals (Adams 1990:22).
The worship dance did persist as the exclusive realm of the clergy. Bonaventure (c. 1260) wrote that in the joys of paradise there will be endless circling, 'rhythmic revolutions with the spheres' (Adams 1990:21). Even as late as the 16th century a manuscript describes an Easter carol or ring dance which took place on Easter eve at the church in Sens. In this dance, the Archbishop is assisted by the clergy who first moved round two by two, followed in the same manner by prominent citizens, all singing songs of the resurrection. The carol moved from the cloister into the church, around tthe choir and into the nave, all the while singing Salvation Mundi (Taylor 1976:22).
However, evidence of worship-centred dances such as these declined in favour of dramatic dance to be used in the church as an allegorical explanation of the Mass. Short plays were introduced into the liturgy to improve its appeal to the laity. By 1100, playlets made their way into eucharistic liturgy and became the precursor to mystery plays.
Aside from the dramatic dances, the attitude of the church authorities to the sacred dance, as well as the popular dances, was restrictive. In struggling to unify and control Christian dance, the church hierarchy issued a number of edicts against the use of dance.
The most widely known of all religious dances in the 14th and 15th centuries was the Dance of Death or danse macabre. The obsession with this dance reveals the medieval people's preoccupation with death. Although initially a spontaneous movement, eventually a set pattern evolved in a processional format. The church sought to prohibit such dances stating, 'Whoever buries the dead should do so with fear and trembling and decency. No one shall be permitted to sing devil songs and perform games and dances which are inspired by the devil and have been invented by the heathen' (Kraus and Chapman 1981:59).
However there was an upsurge in the popularity of the Dance of Death with its grotesque parodies of funerals and frenzied dance outbursts during the period of the Black Plague (1347-1373). The plague was a combination of the bubonic plague and pneumonia and it raged throughout Europe killing half the population of Europe by 1450 (Brooke 1971:14).
Simultaneously, there were outbreaks of dance epidemics known as Danseomania - dance mania. John Martin comments that people were so affected by a succession of calamities that they sought an outlet for emotional stress through the dancing. Other sources have maintained these epidemics were traceable to a poisoning caused by the consumption of diseased grain in rural communities. 'Whole communities of people ... were stricken with a kind of madness that sent them dancing and gyrating through the streets and from village to village for days at a time until they died in agonised exhaustion' (Kraus and Chapman 1981:55).
The dance epidemics reached an intensity that rendered ecclesiastical councils helpless in opposition to them. Despite the church's command to cease the dance manias, the people either wouldn't or couldn't. Consequently, the dancers were often accused of being possessed by the devil.
In the light of these dance manias, the sacred dance liturgies of the church receded into oblivion. Several edicts sought to restrict dance and control its excesses, both outside the church, and within. Yet the numerous proscriptions against church dance only served to push it outside to the streets. While sacred dance by the clergy was beginning to cease, the popular church dances persisted. For a time, the church remained unsuccessful in suppressing these popular dances.
With the rise of papal control of all aspects of Christian life, along with excesses of the Dance of Death and dance manias, the liturgical dance forms began to suffer. What remained of the Christian dance forms were shadows of the former worship-centred celebrations of the earlier centuries. As the focus in church dance shifted to the liturgy, the movement within the church became proscriptive and functional. As the focus in popular dance shifted to the movement of the body, rather than on the divine, it too lost the essence of the original meaning of Christian dance.
The Renaissance (14001700)
The Renaissance heralded the beginning of substantial changes for Christian dance. Historically, it was a period of great upheaval. In 1455 books began being printed and this encouraged an emphasis on intellect, so that the mind was perceived of greater importance than the body in religious growth. The Protestant Reformation (15171529) and the Roman Catholic Counter Reformation as evidenced by the Council of Trent (15451563) wrought enormous changes to the perceived use and value of dance in the Christian context (Adams 1990:23).
What flourished in the dance realm were processional celebrations, theatrical moral ballets and some interpretations of hymns and psalms in worship. Theatre and spectacles were on the rise, and with the emergence of the dancing master, the church's liturgical dance faded in significance.
Prior to the Renaissance, religious dance had become severely ritualised within the church, and only in popular sacred dances did it retain the element of spontaneity. Yet within the ensuing changes brought by circumstances of the Renaissance, the church and civil authorities sought to sedate, proscribe and ritualise these dances also.
Ultimately, however, it was the Reformation, which tended, in its extreme forms to do away with Christian dance. All dances and processions, except funeral processions were abolished (Adams 1990:25).
The Reformation (15171529)
The leaders of the Protestant Reformation were highly critical of traditional church customs. They sought to suppress the use of icons, the worship of saints, and pilgrimages and processions. They preached the renunciation of the world and intensified the struggle between soul and body by placing greater emphasis on the mind. The connection between the body, dance and eroticism was openly acknowledged, and Christians were taught not to glorify the body.
These ideas spread rapidly as the church utilised the printing press, spreading tracts which were highly critical of dance. The following excerpt is from a booklet printed at Utrecht:
The heathen are the inventors of dance. Those who cultivate it are generally idolaters, epicureans, good for nothings, despicable or dishonourable comedians or actors, as well as souteneurs, gigolos, and other dissolute, worthless, wanton persons. Its defenders and followers are Lucian, Caligula, Herod, and similar epicureans and athiests. With it belong gluttony, drunkenness, plays, feast days, and heathen saints' days (Fallon & Wolbers 1982:15).
Yet the early leaders of the Protestant Reformation were not antidance. Martin Luther (c. 1525) wrote a carol for children entitled From Heaven High in which two stanzas support the role of song and dance in worship.
Additionally, the English Church leader, William Tyndale, in a prologue to the New Testament wrote of the roles of joyous song and dance, and was happy to use the words, daunce and leepe when he considered the joyous good news of Christianity (Adams 1990:26). It was as the teachings of the leaders were interpreted by the people that bans on sacred dance increased dramatically.
Similarly, in the Catholic Church during the meetings of the Council of Trent, the intention was less on the abolition of sacred dance, than on seeking unity in liturgical and theological matters. The Council's decrees, however, stifled creativity and growth within the church drama scene. In 1566, statues of the synod of Lyons for example, threatened priests and other persons with excommunication if they led dances in churches or cemeteries.
In general, the church insisted on liturgical unity without the use of dance in worship. As increasing pressure to cease all religious dance mounted, there seemed no avenue for a possible creative revival in dance.
Consequently, religious dance disappeared, or survived in only a few isolated places. Some religious denominations cultivated specific liturgical movements which harked back to the early church dance. Other Christian dance movements were changed into folk expressions, to be seen at weddings or funerals, or else remained buried in the structured movement of the Catholic Mass.
The events of the period eventually led to the eradication of liturgical dance, processions, and most visual arts, leaving only the arts of painting, preaching and music unscathed.
In the post Reformation period both the Protestant and Catholic Church 'firmly attempted to close the door on creative expression of dance in the liturgy' (Gagne 1984:59). The Catholics' increasing proscriptions against dance, coupled with an increasing sense of mistrust of dance on the part of Protestants, forced dance back into the secular realm. 'Dance was given back totally to society, with few exceptions remaining of church-related Christian dance' (Gagne 1984: 59).
Saturday, September 6, 2008
When the Towers Fell
by Theo Docksa
You cannot tell a Hero by the ribbons on his chest,
You cannot tell a warrior by weapons on his vest,
But when a man lays down his life for one that’s not his own,
That man is something special and deserves great honor shown:
When the towers fell, when the towers fell,
And the hope of every American heart lay crumbled on the ground,
They may have taken brick away, with glass and metal spans,
But we still have our Courage, Faith, our Love, and Praying Hands.
We woke up on that morning, just like another day,
Some started school, some work, some home, and some had time to play,
But somewhere close to nine o’clock, we lost our innocence,
When wicked men with plans of death killed thousands without sense.
We reached for hope, we shed our tears, we launched our troops with nerve,
And though we were attacked with hate, our justice soon was served,
Some lost their precious loved ones then, in fires set from hell,
Some gained their faith in Christ that day and now their stories tell.
So from this foolish, hateful mess, came courage, hope, and strength,
May God help us to Never Forget our life’s uncertain length.
Our country holds a special place from shore to nation’s shore,
We stand for Freedom, Faith, and Truth; we’re hated and adored.
When the towers fell, when the towers fell,
And the hope of every American heart lay crumbled on the ground,
They may have taken brick away, with glass and metal spans,
But we still have our Courage, Faith, our love, and praying hands.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Anyhow, I got to talk to a nice waitress named "Famous Heather" about the Lord and invite her to visit Lighthouse. I told her if she went to our website, she would be able to see her name along with the millions of others who could read it.
So, Famous Heather, we do hope you will visit our church and thanks for listening to what has changed our lives....only the Lord Jesus' love on the cross for us.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I can help but smile and praise the Lord for one specific giver. I don't know who they are (I never ask), but they are receiving 22 CD's for their offering of over $6000.00. So, if you see someone downtown passing out LBC CD's, or you get one for Christmas...smile and thank the Lord for this sacrificial believer.
p.s. You know who you are, thank you for encouraging my heart - :)
Our head in the Sand
Do we have our head so far in the sand that we are afraid to publicly take on the Homosexual Movement, the Evolutionists, the Atheists, the Abortionists, and others that scoff at God's Word? Have we become so loving that we forget that God hates sin and will destroy men and nations over it? Have we become so politically correct that we will not stand openly and loudly for our Christian Convictions? If you want to know our battle and you are not afraid to engage, I am giving you a web address to the recently formed National Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. There is a boycott presently against McDonalds by many Believers (myself included). It is sad to think that many believers see no reason to give up a Big Mac that funds Sodomite activity. Please go to the website to see other companies that have purposefully committed money and support of the Gay Agenda. It is an abomination against the Almighty God, and we must remain silent as His children no longer. May the Lord give us the courage to stand in the gap in our generation and bring back the glory to Christianity.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Another day dawns
These last few weeks have taken me in mind to Jesus' words "....this church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." It is a wonderful time to be at Lighthouse: people are getting saved, assurance, rededicating their lives to Christ, confessing sin, using their gifts, praising the Lord...etc. A man put his arm around me on Wednesday night and thanked me saying it was the first time in 34 years that he had read through the Bible. He had just finished. God is Good!...But the gates are pushing back...
There is no reason to individually rehearse the sorrows of Satan against our folks these last few days. Some of members will not find out about these until this Sunday. Some are private discouragements that bring many tears. Our people are being pot-shotted by powerful Satan who hates to see "thriving Christianity" in our congregation. The words of Martin Luther, the "day-star" of the reformation, bring inspiring truth to our struggle against the "damned one":
..."the prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure: One little word shall fell him. (prev.) "Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He , Lord Sabaoth His name, From age to age the same, and He must win the battle !"
To those hurting right now that have lost precious children, fear for their life, face pending flooding waves, have been attacked by Satan's arrows...rest in Christ, the mighty King of the Lord's Hosts - He has defended your soul at Calvary by His blood, and He will defend you by His power against the gates of hell that threaten to undo you! Look to Christ, Learn Christ, Lean on Christ...find mercy and help in the time of need.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
In His Time Offering
I want to transparently share, however, that at this pace, if we were depending on quarterly offerings alone - it would take 5 years of quarterly offerings for us to build....actually, that's not accurate because I did not add inflation of 3-5% costs per year. It would be more like 6 years.
I certainly don't believe it will take us 5 more years, but I want to drive home a point; not to the church, but to you individual reader: Until each of us comes to realize that this is OUR BUILDING, OUR CHILDREN'S BUILDING, OUR GRANDCHILDREN'S BUILDING, we won't sacrifice the necessary dollars to make it happen soon.
Sacrifice is giving what it is not convenient to give. It is not giving extra money, it is giving money that you really want to spend on yourself or your family. I doubt if any good church has ever been built by extra money.
Amy and I struggled a bit with this offering. We were praying for 4 digits to give. I guess I was looking for a suitcase to fall from heaven or something. It did not fall, but God answered. God answered through the realization that we must practice what we preach. God answered through giving what was set aside for other things. Other things that we will miss. I do not tell you this to brag, make you pity, or anything of the like (my God bears witness). I tell you this to challenge you to believe as we do in what God is doing at LBC, and then sacrifice to make it happen in a more useful facility.
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
This statement above may well be the most important part of Bible Study. In our fast paced society, we want information right now. God's Word is not Google. When we slow down and think through each verse, perhaps reading each verse of a passage a few times, then and usually only then can we understand the meaning of the Lord in writing it. Context and word meanings are incredibly important. Verses pulled out of the context of the recipients, culture, meaning in the passage turn into simply cliche's that most often are not even what our Lord meant.
I encourage you to listen patiently and "slowly" to the Holy Spirit as you read...study the Bible slowly and fully absorbed in the context. Pause periodically; look away and "stew" on what that verse meant. Pray through the passage. Don't be content until you get some nugget of God's Mind for you out of the passage.
"The Holy Spirit talks slowly. Only the patient will understand Him."
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Signing Builder Papers
Nowland comes highly recommended from fellow area churches, and also provided us with the most trusted "bang for our buck". Jim Nowland has been nothing but gracious, wise, humble, accessible, and understanding of our Vision. Jack and Jim are bound to become close friends. :)
We will sign the contract to build with them by the end of this week. Amen. "So built we the wall for the people had a mind to work."
Thoughts on a Better High Priest
After preaching this, John 12:23-28 came into FULL FOCUS. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die". Jesus died to Himself and then died physically. Because of this great submission, He brings forth much fruit, and the Father can glorify Him. Think of Jesus' denial of His will as you read v.23-28. Linger on v. 28 and realize the hard decision in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus struggled between His personal will and the Father's. Apply it to Salvation Repentance. Apply it to Christian denial of yourself.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
In His Time CD
Some have requested a "sneak peak" at the songs included in the Gift CD "In His Time" This CD will be given to one time offerings of $300 or more to this Sunday's IN HIS TIME BUILDING OFFERING.
Here are the individual songs for your perusal. We will offer this CD as a one time offering Gift for only a short while to allow for those giving late or on vacation.
I have been listening to this CD and have been tremendously blessed. It is one thing to hear good music, and quite another to hear the Christian family you love singing it.
To God be the Glory for His living hand on LBC.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
State of the Ministry
Concerning Sunday morning: Mary Ruffin (who had health issues during the service) is doing well at home. They have not determined why she was fainting. Please pray as she undergoes several weeks of tests.
It is good to have the Pritt's back from vacation. I'm sure you all enjoyed the teen's presentation from the Mission's Trip. I still don't know why you shouldn't take the girl's hairspray, but I believe them.
Well, take care and let's gear up for a great VBS. We need all Lighthousers to have their children there each night. Let's make it a tremendous time for our children and the children of our community.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I take no responsibility
What a great way to wrap up the softball season-winning the Championship!
It truly has been an exciting ride. Just had to compose on final song as we end the season. (To be sung to the tune of "Victory in Jesus")
I heard about a ball-team
From Lighthouse Baptist Church
'Twas their first year out to have a team In the Fundamental Softball League
I heard about their playing
And how their fans kept saying
If we keep the faith and play real hard
We'll get the victory!
Oh victory in the playoffs
How sweet it is to savor
Each moment that we played and cheered
With our Lighthouse family
The seasons o'er and we'll miss it
How the fans did cheer with each hit
Thank you, Lord, for our victory
Our season sure was fun!
I am more excited than ever about getting the building up. The Lord keeps sending us new people to encourage us that this project is not an option, it is a need. Have you met the Baker family? the Ed Hall family? these are some newer faces that you need to incorporate into your life.
We have a building offering coming up in August that I ask you to begin saving and praying for. Let's make this a big offering! I am considering releasing a Music CD of the "best" of Lighthouse specials for those who give a certain level. We have been thinking about this CD for sometime, but didn't have the right avenue. Perhaps this is it. I don't believe we could sell them because of many copyright laws on songs, but we may be able to give them for a certain level of gift toward the building. I will confer with the great Pastor Pritt and get back to you.
Friday, July 11, 2008
We are Division Champions
Tonight's game was a buffet of entertainment. The highlight was the solid defense by LBC with some absolutely amazing catches. I will repeat what I can remember. Taylor had one of the first amazing snags in Left field with a long stretch. Eric Jones had an ESPN dive, catch, and roll in center field. Mark Baranowski pulled down a screaming line drive from third base...but far greater than all was Brian Mensch's catch that we will coin from now on as "the claw". The pressure was on Brian as he had been punished with a 2 out obstruction play for "waking up" the 3rd baseman. The next inning (I believe) a long fly was hit foul to his position in right field. Brian overran the ball and it actually dropped behind him. When he realized he could not catch it with his glove, Brian sacrificed himself and caught it barehanded with his right hand. It was a most spectacular play and the fans went wild (including, I assume, Mr. Green who came to the game dressed as a cow.)
The offense played a solid game with consistent singles mixed with doubles. The consistent hacking paid off with run after run.
When the final out was made, LBC went wild as the Division Champions. Unbelievable.
Many thanks to the multitudes of fans that came to watch us play. The clappers, cheers, cow, wave, etc. were wonderful. You didn't think we could do it, did you Butchy? What a great time of fellowship that certainly glorified the Lord. "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."
We will have a grand presentation of the Trophy either this Sunday or next.
Praise the Lord for His blessings on Lighthouse!
"I was inspired by this evening's game to compose a song, which is to be sung to the tune of 'Onward Christian Soldiers'."
Onward Lighthouse ball-team
Marching to playoffs
We can be the champions
If we avoid a loss
Two more games before us
Win them-YES, must we!
Hitting, fielding, scoring
We must do all three!
Onward Lighthouse ball-team
Let's go and win two more
Win or lose we'll praise YOU
It's Your glory we play for!
Do you think Pastor Pritt could assemble the choir together tomorrow night to sing this?? (You know I'm just joking, don't you?)
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Lighthouse Advances to Finals
by Brian M.
On Thursday evening, the Lighthouse softball team advanced to the final round of the Division "C" playoffs with a 6-4 victory over GRPC Blue.
Solid defensive play kept scoring to a minimum, with Mark Baranowski turning in several exceptional plays at third base. Catcher Jeff Beebe gunned down a runner attempting to advance from 2nd to 3rd, and Stan Smith anchored the infield at 1st, pulling in everything thrown in his direction. Taylor Stierley and Jeremy Anderson continued to make exciting plays in the outfield, despite the setting sun that plagued them for most of the game.
The offense put up some runs early with strong hitting and smart base running, but the crushing blow came from Pastor Witmer's inside-the-park, 2 run homerun off of the fence in left-center field. (Apparently facial hair does make you hit the ball farther.)
The excitement continues on Friday evening with the final round of play-off games pitting Lighthouse against CUMC at Middletown Baptist Church at 6:16pm and 7:30pm. Come out and see if Pastor Witmer can continue his homerun hitting heroics.
Letter to Mayor Wright
Edmund Burke said, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing.’
Dear Mayor Wright,
I am a Pastor in Newark, Delaware that has heard of your town’s terrible decision to arrest Jesse and Matthew Boyd. It is interesting that you use the phrase “we have to keep the peace” when interviewed by Richard Gould. On the first Christmas Morning, the Angels said that Jesus coming was “Peace on Earth”. The Boyd’s were bringing Peace to Hickory Alive.
You would have imprisoned the Apostle Paul for breaking the peace, wouldn’t you?
Please know that our church will be praying against you and Hickory until you apologize and totally exonerate the Boyd Brothers. This situation could impact the wonderful freedoms of evangelizing Christians everywhere. Please follow the heart of your own father and do the right thing for America and the courageous Boyd brothers.
Pastor Tobe Witmer
Lighthouse Baptist Church
On July 4th, two brothers (the Boyds) were arrested in Hickory, North Carolina for passing out tracts at a City Event. The Christian Law Association, who we support, are representing these brothers. They are from a Full Gospel church that we certainly wouldn't fellowship with, but they were handing out simple gospel tracts. Our liberties are being stolen before our eyes in America. If they can arrest soulwinners in the Bible Belt, they can certainly charge us in Delaware with crimes of evangelism. I have written a letter to the Mayor of Hickory, and the Newspaper (www.hickoryrecord.com) I would encourage you to do the same. The Mayor's father is a Fundamental Preacher. I have told him our church will be praying for the city to drop all charges of trespassing against these young men and to publicly apologize. Here is a link to their story and video that they took on their cell phones of being handcuffed and arrested. If Christians don't make some noise, this case will be precedent for our future.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
The Epistle on the Altar Call
I have been reading the Hall of Faith in Hebrews and meditating on the issue of faith showing some action. In each of the examples given, there was some demonstration on the part of the “faithful” that was often witnessed by others.
In our LBC Constitution it is mandated for us to end our services with an invitation. I understand that this was included as a reaction to the Neo-evangelical and seeker sensitive movements that eliminates such and embarrassing and uncomfortable response to sermons. I agree that we should not do away with the invitation at the end of messages. However, it should be understood that “come forward” invitations are not Biblical. It could be argued, perhaps, in some extra-contextual way I guess that there are remnants in Scripture of messages that demanded an instant response. The formal sermon invitation historically though, is relatively new. It began with the “Revivalists” of the likes of Finney, Moody, Jones Sr., etc. The Altar call was used in Tent meetings to “call out” those for salvation.
The altar call is often abused in our churches and deteriorates to either a way to end our services or a guilt-motivated, time-share pressure type situation. Neither is good or right. I have been in invitations that lasted through 14 verses of “I Surrender all” or have lasted until the Preacher could get nearly everyone forward. You may falsely think this is good. What happens is that churches like this get huge responses in the invitation and the congregants get used to “going forward” even if they are not serious about repentance about the issue or have the Holy Spirit dealing with them.
What is the purpose then to the invitation or altar call? It is to provide an immediate “Yes-submission” to the Lord convicting you about an issue to set up a Landmark Memory of your obedience. Also, I believe an altar response is necessary when you are not convicted about a sin issue in your life and realize your hard-heartedness and beg the Lord to break you. It is fearful to be in sin and not remorseful or repentant.
The altar-call is also a lot of pressure on the preacher. It has become the “thermometer” of the success of the message. This couldn’t be further from true, and you will do a great disservice to a Pastor if you think or elude to this. Most change in the lives of people are long-term God-thinking preached to them that changes their own thinking. Sometimes that means emotional or convicting response, sometimes it does not. This work of Sanctification is not always appropriate to the altar call. The Pastor must remember this or he will become discouraged at a low altar-call to a good message, or prideful of a big altar call to a poor message with a lot of emotion. I have often found myself focusing on how many people may come forward and adjusting my message to provide for a stronger “hook”. This isn’t good preaching. Though our constitution mandates it, you will notice that I vary the way the invitation response is done to be appropriate to the response of the sermon. I may ask you to stay in your seat and make it an altar. I may take a few quite minutes for you to do business with the Lord; I may just close with a song and make very little appeal to come forward.
It must be remembered that “coming forward” is not spiritual or even aids in spiritual change. What is WONDERFUL about though is a very strong response of you saying “YES” to the Lord. It has been noted by other Pastors that those who are sensitive to the “come-forward” invitation seem to take their submission to the Lord in that issue much more seriously.
I am asking you at Lighthouse to help me in this area. I do believe that there is a problem if years of Bible preaching have passed and you have never been to the altar. I also believe that many Scriptural passages do not lend themselves to a big “come forward” invitation and you must give me the liberty to “invite” as I see fit and not always demand or expect a “come-get-right” invitation. There is absolutely no agenda here to remove the invitation and those that would think that this Pastor’s Heart is a step should worry more about the second shooter on the knoll.
In all cases - the goal of Scriptural Preaching is Change to be conformed to the Written and Living Word of God. Christ on paper, and Christ in Person. Don’t let the method rob you of the goal.
With much love in my heart and praise for the Lord who is doing great spiritual things at LBC, I write you. We are having a great vacation and my mind is clearing, the family is loving on each other, my wallet is shrinking, but my batteries are charging. Amy is beautiful and sweet as always. The children are the joy of my heart. I am trying hard to reduce the amount of “World influence” on this vacation and make my fun truly God pleasing. Some of you understand.
Much love to all. Someone harass Scott Johnston and Mrs. Thompson for me. Remind Mike E. that he is losing hair at a tremendous rate. I am searching for a batting cage to help out our mighty softball team. Mench sent me “My swing is gone” so, I’ll try to attach it for your listening enjoyment.
Pray for building money and our sacrifice, pray for souls and soulwinners, pray for all of our spiritual growth, pray for the Lord’s direction for future ministry, pray for IBFL. pray for us to live up to our church name.
The grace, peace, and faith from, in, and to our Lord Jesus be in you always.
Monday, June 23, 2008
"You ask my why I'm Angry"
You ask my why I'm Angry, and I'll just tell you why,
Because my swing is gone.
And when I meet the scoffers who ask me where its gone,
I say, My swing is gone.
It's underneath the ball, and its not a swing at all,
It looks much more like something that's gone wrong.
And if I had no pitching, I'd have no game at all,
Because my swing is G-O-N-E........gone.
Well, its 6:49 am and the Witmer family is leaving for vacation. I woke up early when Amy wacked me with her arm and haven't been able to sleep since. I have had my shower, read my Bible and spent time with my Lord, drank my coffee, read a magazine, did other things and here I sit with most of my family still sleeping. I thought I would spend some time with you.
A Pastor worries about his vacation. You see, there are always problems in people's lives and tragedies that occur almost weekly. A Pastor doesn't want to be away when something is going wrong in people's lives. That is not really a huge trait to admire, its really a guilt thing at times. See, if a pastor doesn't respond to someone's problem, he feels he has let the person down, and often struggles with the question of whether that person will be upset at him not being able to minister at that time. But many people fail to realize (including the pastor) that problems never cease and the Pastor must sometimes delegate the ministering to others including deacons and Assistant Pastors. I am really preaching to myself here and teaching you a bit too.
Anyhow, we are heading out of town by 9:30am and arriving in Williamsburg to meet Amy's sister and brother-in-law for the week. The following week we will be at Amy's Parent's cabin on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I'm looking forward to clearing my mind, being with my family, reading some, writing some, and just generally changing the view for a while.
I hope you will take care and enjoy thoughts of the Superiority of Jesus like we've been preaching on Sundays from Hebrews.
May the Lord bless you dear folks. What a privilege I feel of loving you and having you love me as well. May God richly work at Lighthouse for His glory!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Here is Lola's website. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/lolabug They will need to click on this, then click Read Journal, then go to Page 2 to see the article. If they just want to see the article, here is the link. http://www.standard.net/live/news/131599/
Thanks and have a good day!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I want to give you some highlights to last nights game against Glasgow Reformed Green. We "cleaned their clocks" (oops, that doesn't sound very loving---let's try again) We "polished their timepieces" by a great margin. Here are some of the highlights in no particular order:
Brian Mensch went 4 for 4 at bat blasting one over the left fielders head. Butch smacked a home run which was his first and our first of the season. I think there were two men on base when Butch "caught hold of the ball" --- I was one of them and didn't get to see this marvel because I was running for home.
The fans forced a batter to actually leave the batters box because he was dying from laughter at their "batter take a hike" cheer. Brian Mensch slid into home and into the catcher who sustained only temporary injuries. Pastor Valiante made his debut after being on the injured list with broken ribs from a manly cough. He fielded like a golden glove and made several big plays. He also went from a hero to a zero in matter of moments (inside joke). Chuck Hughes made a great snag and throw to first at one point in the game. He also guarded third like it was one of his twins. Brandon continued to be the miracle hitter who makes it to first nearly every time.
After 2 catching errors Coach Butch pulled himself out of the game to give some of the other guys a chance to shine (I couldn't resist that).
Mark Baranowski had a good night at bat blasting one against the fence. Stan and Stan played very well with elder Stan continuing to be a strong threat at bat. Young Stan played center and caught everything hit to him. The young blood of Taylor and Willard did their part with hard playing and talking it up like pros.
I'm sorry to leave other guys out that I can't remember.....after all, it is 6:30am and I haven't had my coffee.
By the way, the author got hit in the thumb with a line drive, and then walked 3 men in a row.... He also doubled with a line drive to right field (had to say that).
Well, the ole' rawhide has been fun thus far. It is great Christian fellowship and is bringing guys together who never knew each other at LBC. You should come on for a game. There were a large number of fans last night cheering and having good fun.
May the Lord bless you today. Hope to see you at Prayer Meeting.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I will certainly miss preaching from Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a "Man's Man". He is what all believers should be in their Christian life. We need believers to stand up and serve the Lord in this country. Too long we have been the silent majority.
Our Staff meeting just dismissed and all the Pastor's bear the heart for reaching our "Jerusalem". I cannot urge you enough to be involved some where in Outreach. WE are God's mouth for evangelism. God is greatly glorified when He shows His grace on a lost sinner. Jesus is highly exalted as the Savior, Intercessor, Atonement when people call upon Him for salvation. In addition to this high form of Worship, men's souls are also saved from the Lake of Fire.
We have only one life to invest folks -- "Only one life 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last."
I beg you for Jesus' sake, sign up for Outreach, come to the Training this Saturday at 10am-2pm.
I pray today with a burden that the Lord of the Harvest would send forth LBC laborers into His harvest. The fields are white already unto harvest......but the laborers are few.
So glad to be,