Rejoice at How God Builds His Church

In l980, my husband Jim and I started attending a PCA church in Eighty Four, PA. The pastor, Nick Protos, did an excellent job explaining the church government, answering our many questions, and welcoming our family of eight into the small church.

About ten years later we heard that another PCA church was being started in Washington where our children went to school. We prayed about a move to support that sister church. Our pastor Gary Baker gave us his blessing to join the group as an experienced elder and Sunday school teacher. Although we missed the saints in Eighty Four, we dove into the new work with a large commitment to build another PCA church. We willingly cleaned the church, taught Sunday School classes, and made hundreds of phone calls. God blessed our efforts. We even gained a daughter-in-law when our oldest son found a wife in Washington.

When we started at the Washington church, the pastor, Bob Boidock, mentioned his desire to see other PCA churches start from the Washington church. How exciting it is to see Chris and Rick Ferguson called by God to do the same thing in the South Hills that we had done in Washington!

It is always sad to see sisters and brothers in Christ leave our church for various reasons. But God has proven himself many times over. When God calls us for a change, he has many blessings in store for his followers. Our family, now numbering 34, was taught well under the PCA pastors in these churches. As our children spread their wings, it was hard to see our families leave us.

An old friend from the Dutch Reformed Church, Charlotte Dudt, encouraged me as a young mother to focus on raising our future church leaders. We praise God daily for leading us to the Washington church. Our church is strong and always changing. I thank God for the glitter stuck in the carpet, hot chocolate stains in our fellowship hall, and the many little ones that we hear during our worship service. Our job is to prepare our families to be the future church. We may even see some of these children become our church leaders in the future.

Keep our church and leaders in your prayers and wait for the changes and blessings that God has in store.

Photo Credit

Links for the Weekend (1/11/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Three Tips for Better Bible Reading

In a post at Desiring God from 2014, Andy Naselli gives three ways to read more of the Bible: audio Bibles, reading complete books of the Bible in one sitting, and reading without chapter or verse numbers.

Jesus as Our Offering

How does the sacrificial system of the Old Testament connect to the coming of Jesus in the New Testament? How does Jesus satisfy the requirement of an offering for sin? At the Core Christianity website, Adriel Sanchez writes about how Jesus is the perfect burnt, sin, and guilt offering.

Dear friends, we don’t come to God with any sacrificial offering for sin today, because Jesus has fulfilled the Old Covenant system of worship through his once-for-all sacrifice. His sacrifice cleanses you, satisfies the debt you owe, and gives you peace with God, allowing you to enter into the presence of the Holy One.

Caring for a Friend with a Troubled Past

Brad Hambrick tackles a difficult but important question at his blog: What does the process of redemption and restoration look like for a person scarred by a past that includes multiple sex partners and abortions? He carefully walks his readers through steps of listening, empathy, honoring the friend’s pace of growth, showing interest in the whole person, and showing compassion. If we want to invite people from outside the church to follow Jesus, these are crucial conversations and relationships to consider!

No one chapter of any person’s life defines his or her whole life. Shame often tempts us to define our entire lives by our most painful moments. One of the unique opportunities of friendship and pastoral ministry – that is different from formal counseling – is that the relationship does not have to be problem-focused. We help lift shame when we take interest in all of our friend’s life by celebrating the good, supporting the hard, and being interested in the mundane.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

I wrote a short how-to article for the website this week: The Best Ways to Follow this Blog.


Thanks to Phil A for his suggestion for this batch of links!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

The Best Ways to Follow this Blog

If you’d like to keep up with this blog, there are a few ways to go about it.

You could check the website regularly. We publish a new article (roughly) every other Wednesday and a links post every Friday. If you can remember to check the website, this might be a good option for you. Most people (including me) don’t have a memory quite this good.

You could also check the private Facebook group for our church. Patty Waltermyer has generously agreed to post links to new blog posts in this group, so if you are on Facebook and part of this group, you can get the content that way. However, as people are growing more anxious about the role of Facebook in our individual lives (and our national affairs), you may not want to rely on Facebook for blog updates.

This leaves two dependable ways to keep up with this blog. (Incidentally, these methods are generally available for any blog you’d like to follow!)

Sign up for email updates. If you look at the bottom of this post or the bottom of the Blog page on our website, you’ll find a simple way to subscribe to this blog. Sign up, and when a new article publishes on the blog, you’ll get an email. Easy.

Subscribe to the RSS feed. This method is slightly more technical, but if you’d like to avoid one more thing in your email inbox, an RSS reader (Feedly is the one I use) is a good way to keep up with multiple blogs/websites at once. If you sign up for a free account, you can enter the RSS feed of this site (or any other blog) and then the reader will show you new articles when they are published. (The RSS feed for this site is http://washingtonpres.org/feed/, but if you ask Feedly to search for the feed using our church’s home page address (washingtonpres.org), it will find it.)

However you do it, thanks for following along!

Links for the Weekend (1/4/2019)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Make Habits, Not Resolutions

Since it’s prime New Year’s Resolutions season, I thought I’d share this helpful article at The Gospel Coalition. Justin Whitmel Earley writes about the difference between resolutions and habits and explains why habits are so powerful.

Unlike resolutions, we actually become our habits. There are no changed lives outside of changed habits. And if we want to actually change, we need to take a sober look at where our habits are leading us.

Longing to See God’s Face

Over at Desiring God, Jon Bloom writes about the song “When We See Your Face” by Bob and Jordan Kauflin. He breaks down the words to the song and how they point him to the great fulfillment of longing in heaven. You can listen to the song at the top of the article.

For my soul very much needs this song’s reminder, especially as another year passes and I am another year older, still fighting against the relentless darkness, still waiting, still desiring something that has never actually appeared in my experience. Not yet. It remains a desire for a promised appearing — an appearing I’m growing to increasingly love (2 Timothy 4:8).

What if Some Christians Are Hypocrites?

Randy Alcorn tackles a tough question: How should we respond to those who reject Jesus because some Christians are hypocrites? After acknowledging that some Christians are hypocrites, Alcorn suggests that we explain why this isn’t a good reason to reject Jesus.

However, note what Paul and Silas did not say to the jailer:  “Believe in us—since we’re so great—and you will be saved.” No, they said, “Believe in Jesus and you’ll be saved.” The Good News is not about how great you and I are (thank God for that). It’s about how great Jesus is and the wonderful things He’s done for us.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog Sarah Wisniewski wrote about Branding and the Reputation of Jesus Christ. Check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (12/28/2018)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Family Devotions

Tim Challies has a great post containing ten ideas and then ten tips on family devotions. I thought everything was valuable, but here are the first two tips to give you an idea.

1. More important than how you do family devotions is that you do family devotions.
2. Keep family devotions simple, especially when starting out. Five engaging minutes are far better than 20 rambling ones.

Encouragement for the Weary

At the end of the calendar year, it’s easy to feel more worn out and tired than excited and energetic. Here’s a post by Colin Smith at Unlocking the Bible addressed to those who feel weary.

Here’s what you know about yourself: You are not God. You’re a created being with limits to your own strength and endurance. You will become weary. You will know what it is to feel spent and exhausted. Feeling worn out should not take you by surprise. Lean into the truth that you know. But that’s only half the answer. 

Bible Reading Plans

The beginning of the calendar year is a great time to reassess your Bible reading practices. There’s a great post at Ligonier which collects links to many helpful Bible reading plans. Maybe you’ll find something here that will be a good fit for you in 2019!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the groups referenced here. 

Links for the Weekend (12/21/2018)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

Look Forward to a Better Christmas

Matt Chandler has a great article at The Gospel Coalition connecting his personal story about cancer to Christmas. Here’s a sample.

Christmas finishes quickly each year. What we look forward to soon lies behind us. But you can look forward to a day that will never end and a future that will never disappoint. The decorations will get packed away. But this year, hope and joy need not. You can look at the God who came and lay in that manger. And you can look forward to the day when he comes again.

Joni Eareckson Tada and Suffering

At Breakpoint, John Stonestreet writes about Joni Eareckson Tada, suffering, and the gospel. Only the true message of the Bible is big and sturdy enough to handle the deep suffering that often comes our way.

This type of Christianity, that’s focused on giving us a positive experience and making us feel good, is a small shriveled vision of the Gospel. This kind of Christianity will crumble in the face of true suffering. It won’t withstand the assaults of quadriplegia, of terminal illness, or of a child with a severe disability. It certainly won’t disciple it’s people to withstand the social disapproval of an angry culture, or a school full of angry peers. It leaves us poorer and anemic.

Internet Church Isn’t Really Church

It’s refreshing (if a little surprising) to see this argument in a column in the New York Times. Laura Turner argues that while live-streaming a church service may be necessary for some, choosing to do “church via app” when you could be there in person misses the point of church.

In an era when everything from dates to grocery delivery can be scheduled and near instant, church attendance shouldn’t be one more thing to get from an app. We can be members of a body best when we are all together — we can mourn when we observe and wipe away tears, just as we can rejoice when we can share smiles and have face-to-face conversations.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

At the WPCA blog this week, Sarah Wisniewski wrote about what God has been teaching her through the book of Hosea. Check it out!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the groups referenced here. 

The Minor Prophets: Not So Scary

anonymous (2016), public domain

“Let’s read the minor prophets,” said Zack. “Neither of us have.”

I did not want to read the prophets. Four hundred pages of “You broke the covenant, now wham! Terrible judgment is coming.” But Zack prevailed (I didn’t have much of a case to skip an entire genre of Scripture). We didn’t set out to do a detailed study, just to know what was written.

As we read through Hosea, the first minor prophet, I found a lens through which to read the rest of the prophets: God’s wrath is so great because his love is so great.

Hosea is best known for the love story between Hosea and Gomer. Did you know that the whole encounter is only the first three out of 14 chapters? I didn’t.

The book illustrates God’s great love for his people through several metaphors, beginning with the marriage of Hosea to the adulterous Gomer to symbolize God’s faithful love to faithless Israel, who were mixing pagan religion into the worship of the one true God. God goes on to call to Israel as a loving parent to his son (Hosea 11:1), a master tenderly hand-feeding his livestock (Hosea 11:4), and a farmer nurturing his plants (Hosea 9:10; 14:5).

The Lord through Hosea describes how he had pursued Israel before resorting to the dire judgment found in Hosea’s prophesies:

For she said, “I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.” … And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. (Hosea 2:5b, 8)

Can you hear the aching grief of a scorned lover? Even as Israel pursued false gods, the Lord had mercy—instead of raining down the covenant curses Israel deserved, he lavished love on them—and Israel attributed their comfort to the pagan fertility gods. Hosea recounts that “The more [Israel’s] fruit increased, the more altars he built; as his country improved, he improved his pillars,” and while for a time God had mercifully withheld judgment, “now they must bear their guilt” (from Hosea 10:1-2).

The story of Hosea and Gomer is followed by seven chapters enumerating Israel’s sins and describing the judgment to come, coming to a devastating crescendo of utter desolation:

Therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle; mothers were dashed in pieces with their children. Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great evil. At dawn the king of Israel shall be utterly cut off. (Hosea 10:14-15)

And then, in the very next verse, it’s as if the Lord of the universe’s voice breaks with grief. “When Israel was a child, I loved him,” he says, “and out of Egypt I called my son. … Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them” (Hosea 11:1, 3). The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob laments that after centuries of covenant relationship, it has come to this. He has wooed Israel as a lover, nurtured and raised them as a parent, and now he must discipline them as their God. Chapters 12 and 13 lay out Israel’s further sin and due judgment, and it is ugly and bloody and sad.

The book of Hosea concludes with an impassioned call to even now return to the Lord. He takes no delight in destroying his beloved (see Hosea 11:8) but desires to restore Israel to covenant relationship with himself. “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them,” the Lord promises. The heat of God’s anger is exactly equal to the fire of his love. If he loved his people less, their unfaithfulness to him would be less offensive. But his love is fierce, and thus so is his discipline.

Were God a human, we would label these swings from judgment to compassion capricious, even vindictive. But God reminds us that “I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath” (Hosea 11:9). God is not lashing out at Israel in a rage; he is pursuing a relationship with his people, first through mercy, and now through discipline (Hosea 5:2; 7:12; 10:10).

Our Lord still pursues a relationship with his people, no longer through prophets but now through his Son, Jesus (Hebrews 1:1). In Jesus’ perfect life on earth, we see what a life of covenant faithfulness would look like–and how short we fall in comparison. In Jesus’ death on our behalf, we see all the curses, all the divine wrath described in the prophets, that our sin still deserves. Under the new covenant we see God’s justice and his love united at the cross, as the wrath of God is poured out, not on us, the unfaithful ones, but on Jesus, God’s own son. God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that we, the faithless ones, could be called the bride of Christ, and we, the ungrateful children, could be called the sons of God.

Zack and I are still working through the minor prophets. I’m still pretty intimidated by them. We often lean on our study Bible notes for historical context and interpretive support. There is a lot of judgment—but also a lot else: persistent faithfulness, deep mercy, and relentless love.

Links for the Weekend (12/14/2018)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

A Podcast

Risen Motherhood is a podcast aimed at mothers. Here is part of their description from their About page.

This is a community that will remind you of gospel-truth, no matter how you feel about your motherhood. It’s for the imperfect mother, still learning, still growing and still fully recognizing she doesn’t have it all together, but we serve a God who does.

If you don’t know about this podcast, there’s a lot to explore on their web page. They have a list of recommended resources (music, podcasts, and books, among other things) as well as resources aimed specifically at children

Of course, their main undertaking is a podcast that releases every Wednesday. If you’re looking for a place to begin, try this interview with Nancy Guthrie on trusting God with your children.

An Article on Bible Reading

In this article at LifeWay Voices, Trevin Wax writes about how routine Bible reading can change your life.

It’s not every day that you find something extraordinary that stays with you. But every day, in the ordinary routine of reading your Bible, you’re still eating. You’re coming to the table, asking the Lord to sustain you and nourish you through His Word. You’re coming to the Gospels, looking to see the Savior again and again. This is an ordinary routine, yes, but ordinary routines can change your life.

An Advent Resource

If you’re looking for something to do with your family during Advent, try these Advent printables from Faith Gateway that correspond to the Jesus Storybook Bible. You’ll need to hand over your email address, but you’ll get an Advent reading plan that can work for kids of all ages.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

We kicked off the WPCA blog this week with a wonderful article by Erica Goehring entitled “Called Inside.” If you haven’t yet read it, check it out!


Thanks to Maggie A and Sarah W for suggestions for this batch of links!


Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the groups referenced here. 

Called Inside

Circe Denyer, public domain

The evening was unusually warm for early April. Large fans hummed to the right and left of the communion table. We could see them oscillating in unison, but their breeze never made it to the choir loft where we rehearsed Mozart’s Requiem for First Presbyterian Church’s annual spring concert. The large double doors at the entrance were propped open, inviting night air to enter the sanctuary like a beautiful spring bride, ready to make her way down the aisle.

Throughout my four years at W&J College, I went home nearly every weekend, so I was an infrequent face in the congregation of this church. However, the pastor and I built a strong friendship, and my music professor often spoke of the high-quality choral performances at First Presbyterian, encouraging students to participate. That’s how I found myself in a choir loft on an April evening, working to perfect the alto line of one of the most beautiful pieces of choral music in the world.  

A choir rehearsal—especially of an intricate, complex piece—can be a frustrating exercise in Red Light, Green Light. Sometimes, only a bar or two passes before the conductor stops everyone for a series of corrections. Off we go again before coming to a full stop once more, only inches down the score. But from time to time, especially in the final weeks before a performance—as we were that night—the music is allowed to stretch and soar. Notes follow notes until the choir hears what all its diligence has finally created.

As our voices rose and fell and blended into one instrument, our sound escaped the loft, burst from the church, and spilled onto the street. Apparently, our music circulated outside, for soon a group of passers-by entered the double doors, compelled by the beautiful sound. The young people, perhaps in their early twenties, elbowed and nudged one another, teasing as they entered a place they didn’t expect to be. They looked out of place in their t-shirts, tank tops, and baggy shorts. One removed a ball cap.  Another ran his fingers through his hair. They settled in the last pew, their laughter and jabs turning to silence and stillness as Mozart worked his charms.

Compelled. Sometimes we are drawn forward without our express permission. We simply cannot help ourselves. We are compelled to take steps we had not planned, to stop when we intended to go, to wait when we were eager to proceed, to speak when we would normally have remained silent, to reach out when our personality would typically tell us to withdraw, or–like those young folks on the street—to enter when we would have walked right by on any other evening. God compels us, his chosen children. Far bigger and mightier than Mozart, the God of all the universe calls us by name to come to him. By his Holy Spirit, he reaches into our hearts and tugs us toward Christ—a beckoning we simply cannot resist. Christ reminds us in John 6:37 and 44, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out…No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And “I will raise him up on the last day.”

Oh, I praise God for drawing me, a sinner, close to himself! The very inertia of my corrupt humanity would have naturally kept me dead in my sin. I could never please God in my regular old human self (Romans 8:7-8). I needed him to pull me away and interrupt what I would surely have been.  

I think of a long-ingrained habit, like putting on my seatbelt. I do it without thinking or planning. Something out of the ordinary must occur to stop the automatic urge to reach over and pull the belt across before driving away from the curb. Sometimes one of my children calls out for help with his car seat, or someone requests that I insert a CD in the stereo or roll down a window. I am compelled to step outside of my routine, and for a moment, I’m pulled out of autopilot.  When I snap back to my task, I feel surprised to find myself unbuckled. Thank God that he has the power to interrupt the automatic path of sin, compelling me and sinners throughout time to draw close and walk beside him toward holiness when our nature would have wallowed in the dark for eternity. We may look at ourselves—post conversion—in grateful awe, knowing that we would never have reached salvation without his irresistible grace.

The impromptu audience in the last row of First Presbyterian may have walked past the pretty church on many warm evenings. They likely lived nearby and socialized in the neighborhood, simply enjoying the night with friends. Perhaps they were heading to meet up with other people or to catch a ride elsewhere. But on that evening, the sweet strains of the Requiem stopped them in their tracks, compelling them to postpone their plans for something far sweeter.

May our Lord always compel us to the sweet beauty of his embrace, a call we cannot resist.  As we walk through lives that are complex and often fast paced, are we waiting in the stillness for his voice?  Listen, my friends. Allow yourself to hear and know his undeniable voice.