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Welcome to the LPC e-pistle!

The LPC e-pistle is designed for the friends and families of Langhorne Presbyterian Church and any others who happen by. Pastor Bill Teague shares weekly comments on the world, the life of faith and Langhorne Church. A weekly e-mail, sent by request, keeps members up to date on news and prayer concerns within the congregation. Langhorne Presbyterian Church is a warm, Christ-honoring congregation, and we’d love to have you stop by for a visit if you’re ever in our neighborhood. You can get directions to LPC here.

November 29 – Still The Same Little Kid, Really?

I haven’t seen any of the installments in the “Up” series, but I think I will.  The premise, the story told by the series, is this: Every seven years since 1963 film maker Michael Apted has checked in with a group of fourteen now 63-year olds, a random group, all from the U.K., and all seven years old when the series began. The original 1964 film was called “7 Up,” the 1970 episode was “14 Up,” the 1977 installment “21 Up,” and you get the point.  Wikipedia has a long entry on the project. This NPR review of the just-released “63 Up” provides a sense of the series.

The premise of the “Up” films is to test the old Jesuit adage, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” As we watch the fourteen grow older and travel through life we wonder, are we essentially who we will be by the time we are seven? In the trailer for “63 Up” one of the fourteen says, “I’m still the same little kid, really. Probably all of us are.”

Yeah, I think I’d like to watch the films.

I wonder if I’m still the same little kid, really, I was in 1964. (See my junior high yearbook photo above.)

From what I’ve read, it appears that Christian faith plays an important role in the lives of a couple of the fourteen. Apparently not so much for most of the others.

Would those who have shaped their lives around a commitment to Christ and his ways agree that at 63 we are the same little kids we were at age seven?  Really. Some of us might file a counterpoint based on Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

I don’t have a moment-in-time conversion story. It would not be until my “21 Up” episode that I was certain of my effectual calling (See Westminster Confession, Chapter 10). By then I was sure about my relationship with Christ. Hasn’t nearly a half-century of living with Christ made me someone other than that same little kid I was at age seven or fourteen? Of course, it has. My standing before our righteous God is altogether different. The old has passed away; behold the new has come! Thanks be to God!

But don’t we also know that Peter was impetuous before and after he became a follower of Christ. Wasn’t Paul a zealot before and after the Road to Damascus; Moses hesitant and self-doubting. Wasn’t Lydia kind and generous before and after she heard the Gospel preached at the riverside outside Philippi?

I’m not exactly sure what they are, but so many of the traits that make me me, that God has used for nearly a half-century, are there in that junior high yearbook photo.

“I’m still the same little kid, really. Probably all of us are.” I think this is good news, especially for those of us who have found our new selves in Christ. The transformation of the Christian’s life is not toward something foreign, something alien, a zombie-like change. It is a journey to the person, now freed, God intended us to be all along. Peter learns to tame his impetuousness and Paul his zeal. Moses learns confidence and, we might imagine, Lydia’s kind generosity is made all the better by an uncompromising commitment to the ways of Christ. But impetuousness, zeal, self-doubt, and generosity remain to be used by God.

John, my best friend in junior high, happens to be a row above me in the yearbook photo.  We’d watch “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” together and sometimes play submarines during math class. I’ve lost touch with John and did not see the ““The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” remake they did a few years ago. The submarines app has nothing on our graph paper version.

Things have changed since 1964. In early 1970, at his appointed and accepted time, God made my call to Christ effectual. All things new. Ever since that same little kid has been on a journey to be more and more the person God created me to be. Really.

See You Sunday

November 15 – A Common Grace Hat Trick

Snow, lots of it, fell across the Midwest this past Tuesday.  Planes flying out of Saint Louis and Chicago, Indianapolis and Des Moines, were slow getting out of their gates and delayed getting into the sky.  By evening time flights all over the country were experiencing ripple effect delays.

The plane United Airlines was going to use to for Flight 856, 8:00 p.m. from Newark to Dulles International in Washington D.C., had started the day in Saint Louis, and by noon was already hopelessly behind schedule.  Try as they might, they just couldn’t make up for the lost hour or so.  By 2:00 in the afternoon, United posted an hour plus delay for 856 from Newark to Dulles.

Our Brazilian friends Michael and Sara and little Augusto were booked on United 856 to Dulles where they would connect to 861, a long overnight to Sao Paulo.  The original itinerary had given them an hour and 20 minutes to make the connection.  The delayed itinerary made that connection iffy at best. Continue reading

November 8 – The Good News in a Battered Bible

If you are a balcony sitter and lost your glasses case, I think I know where it is. Check the Lost and Found bin in Heritage Hall.

And to the person who lost their well-worn ESV Bible, it is there, as well.

And to that person who lost their Bible, no scold implied.  In fact, thank you.  Thank you, anonymous Bible reader for the example you have set.

I found the glasses case on one of my rounds of the church and took it to the Lost and Found bin in hopes that it might be reunited with its owner.  That’s when I saw the Bible, alone at the bottom of the bin.  Apparently lost by its owner and found by some Good Samaritan, it, too, had been taken to Heritage Hall in anticipation of a happy ending to its left behind ordeal.

All of us make trips to the Lost and Found from time to time.  We lose jackets and umbrellas, diamond rings and old eye glass cases. And sometimes Bibles are left behind.  That’s just the way things are. Continue reading

November 1 – Why I Love Saint “I Don’t Know”

Happy All Saints Day.  While Protestants tend to be minimalists when it comes to the saints and their days, we do well to remember our bond with Christian brothers and sisters in all times and all places.  For all the saints who from their labors rest…thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.

As minimalists, then, we don’t have to worry much about patron saints, keeping track of their days and their feasts.  But on this All Saints Day, 2019, I think I’ll declare Barnabas my patron saint for at least the day.

When we first meet Barnabas in Acts 4, we learn that his given name is Joseph and that the leaders of the early church give him Barnabas – Son of Encouragement in Aramaic – as a nickname.  Living up to his nickname, we meet Barnabas again in Acts 9 when he encourages the church to welcome their one-time arch enemy Saul of Tarsus into their fellowship as a follower of Jesus now called Paul. Continue reading

October 25 – Persecuted!  For Righteousness’ Sake?

I have already announced to the whole world via my social media accounts and even to my eleven Twitter followers that I consider it the best book I have read in a long time.  Maybe ever.
Eric McLaughlin is one of the first members of the Kibuye Hope medical mission team in Burundi, East Africa.  Along with John and Jess Cropsey, well known to LPC, Eric and his wife Rachel, and Jason and Heather Fader are the pioneers in a growing team of physicians and others who, in less than a decade, have built something of eternal consequence. Kibuye Hope Hospital is a place of healing and the gospel proclaimed in Word and Deed
LPC has had the privilege of contributing a small bit to the Kibuye Hope story.
The book, just published, is Promises in the Darkand through it Eric McLaughlin reflects on the past nine years of his life and ministry as a missionary physician, as he writes, “walking with those in need without losing heart.”  The stories told come from Africa.  The truth conveyed is for Christians in the living of their lives in a real world of need wherever that may be. Tears flow from the stories told; deep thoughts and challenges to the way we live sink into heart and mind as Eric humbly tells us what he has learned. 

It’s really a good book.

Continue reading