Thoughts and reflections from Liberty’s Pastors

September 22, 2022

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR CHRIS

Freedom > Sin/Slavery

When you hear the word “freedom”, what do you think of first? Freedom of speech? Or religion? Or, if it is not too soon and disrespectful, freedom from the monarchy of England and the celebration of American independence. Nowadays, freedom means working from home for some. For me, freedom means having a babysitter so Jenn and I can go out on a date!

But, freedom was originally a biblical word before any of these ideas and situations came to be. This week we’ll explore a few new words: sin, slavery, and freedom. We’ll unpack a famous Scripture from Romans 6:22-23 “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Freedom meant not freedom from sin, but for holiness. Freedom is more than you think.

I love that our church is called Liberty, a constant reminder that we are called to be free. Join me this week to learn more about how you can find freedom in Jesus.

Pastor Chris

September 15, 2022

September 8, 2022

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR CHRIS

 

Introducing Our Fall Sermon Series: Good Words

Throughout the fall, I’ll be preaching a series of sermons called “Good Words” that explores how God replaces our worst words with unimaginably wonderful ones. In a world filled with hate, emptiness, and death…God replaces them with love, abundance, and life. Each week, we’ll take a different set of words and see how God transforms our darkest words with unimaginable light.

As a new pastor at Liberty, I’m hoping this series helps give you a window into my mind and heart as I open up the Scriptures with you. As Psalm 119:130 proclaims, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” So, let’s find out what “words” God uses!  There will be a few weeks here and there on different themes, and all messages are subject to the leading of the Spirit (!!!), but here is the roadmap:

  • 9/11        Love > Hate
  • 9/18        Full > Empty
  • 9/27        Freedom > Slavery
  • 10/2        Life > Death
  • 10/9        Together > Alone
  • 10/23      Grace > Judgment
  • 10/30      Light > Darkness
  • 11/6        Joy > Despair
  • 11/13      Found > Lost
  • 11/20      Heaven > Hell

This week, we’ll stand in awe of how God replaces hatred with love—and how we are invited to do the same.

Blessings,
Pastor Chris

September 1, 2022

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR CHRIS

What Is Faith?

I’m really praying that this Sunday I can help articulate what faith is, because the Scriptures say faith is the way that we hold onto or receive eternal life. That makes faith a big deal! Our tradition emphasizes “faith alone” as the way that we are saved, but faith can be such a confusing idea. What is it? What does it mean to believe? How do I know I have it? What if I only have a little bit? Isn’t faith a gift, and if so, what role do I play?

This past few months I’ve been “experiencing” faith more a lot. Moving to a new place. Trusting that God is placing the right friends, colleagues, and challenges in front of me. Putting my daughter on a bus to first grade for the first time! So much faith in the Olentangy school district! Faith that Ohio would be a good fit. Faith that the lady at the BMV will accept my coffee-spilled paperwork.

Faith is an approach to life, trusting that despite my fears and weaknesses God will carry me even when I don’t see how—in every circumstance that I encounter. I’ve enjoyed reading about how the creation of the Barn was an act of faith, so I know for many of you faith is reflex you know. I’m inspired, and hope you’ll join me this weekend to learn more about what faith is—and how letting go of control and living a life of trust is the best possible way to come truly alive.

Pastor Chris

August 25, 2022

Genesis 1:21,25

So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing
with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds,
and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind and
everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR JULIE

Dear friends,
As stewards of this “good” creation, we are to love all creation. If we love everything, we will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once we perceive it, we will begin to understand it better every day, and come to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.

Pets, in particular, serve as a reminder of God’s gifts to the earth, and of how physically and spiritually interconnected everything on earth is. The Bible reminds us that in the beauty and diversity and complexity of the natural world, we see the hand of the Creator. Every creature that is alive tells us a little bit about God because animals often give without expecting anything in return. In doing so, they express qualities of God like love, generosity and patience.

This Sunday at 10:00 a.m. is Liberty’s Blessing of the Animals service. A special focus for this service is a public expression of the bond we have with creation, particularly animals. You see, we form a bond with our pets that is more basic than almost any other relationship. They rely on us in an intrinsic way, completely dependent upon us for their sustenance and their happiness. They obey us without question, and when they err, they return to us penitent, eager for reconciliation with us. In a way, that bond emulates the bond we should have with God, who is truly our Lord and Master.

Those who have pets may bring them to worship this Sunday to receive a blessing. This blessing is more than an expression of goodwill and caring. It is imparting God’s power in person. The blessing of each animal, by name, means that health, healing, and life are being mediated from God for the benefit of the animal in its relationship with its human partners. We, of course, are blessed in turn: blessed by our pet’s faithfulness, affection, care, and how they expand our family and our hearts.

Please join us for this “furry, feathered, finned” service (even stuffed animals are welcome)!

Blessings,
Pastor Julie

P.S. I was told questions have come in the past relating to whether or not a person’s pet will be in heaven when it dies. Click here for an article that shows multiple ways of discerning this.

August 18, 2022

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR CHRIS

Yesterday, I walked the campus with an incredible man who knew the ins and outs of almost every closet, electrical outlet, light fixture, and doorknob. This campus is huge! I’m still in awe of the beauty of the barn and its setting, and I can’t wait to know more and learn about the hands and hearts that have helped shape it over the years.

It was immediately clear to me that the place we worship in has as much impact on how we worship as the worship itself. We are blessed beyond measure. To be honest, I was quite humbled and a bit overwhelmed as I learned about all the work and maintenance that will be required to maintain its beauty into the future, but I’m excited to help put my hand to the plow and get to work.

I hope this weekend’s message honors and matches the beauty of the Barn itself. I’ll be preaching on Romans 1:16-17 (some of the most influential verses in Christian history). I’ll share the meaning of the Gospel and help us explore together the impact this can make in our lives.

See you Sunday,
Pastor Chris

August 11, 2022

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR CHRIS

 

Greetings, Liberty Barn Church!

This is my first blog article but there are many more coming your way! This week, I want to share with you three things that this amazing church has done that brought me incredible joy.

First, I was greeted by an amazing “move-in” crew. These folks emptied two PODS into our new house, and we are eternally grateful for their hospitality and grace. Whenever your life is in transition and everything is upside down, I’ve learned that the people who show up to either move you in or move you out are the people you can really rely on. I’m so thankful to God for them!

Second, I’m so impressed with your church leadership. I’ve been spending this past week just grabbing drinks or meals with a handful of people and each person is so special and has such a huge heart for Jesus and God’s work at Liberty. Your elders, deacons, and staff are some of the hardest working, talented, and grace-filled people I’ve ever met.

Third, I love it when folks stop by my office and just pop in and say hello. I think there is still a little bit of hesitancy with the pandemic, but please know you are ALWAYS WELCOME to say hello. If you want to say hello, send me an email and we can set up a time to chat. There are boxes on the floor and nothing on the walls, but I’m in the office nearly every day and would love to learn your story. I’ve already met so many incredible folks and I can’t wait to hear how God is working in yours.

More to come!
Pastor Chris

August 4, 2022

Psalm 46:10 (NLT)

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR JULIE

With summer about to come to a close, kiddos going back to school, new programs starting to ramp up, some of us may start to feel a bit anxious. A couple weeks ago in my sermon about Mary and Martha, I spoke about being cognizant of spending time with God, especially in the hubbub of life. So often we become so busy that we lose our focus on God…God our Provider, the God of Peace. If we do not spend time with God, we seem to “go through the motions”, nothing truly has meaning and we become anxious and on overload. A scripture I used during that sermon was a portion from Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God!” In some conversations afterwards about that scripture and how I use it to focus on God, it was suggested that I share what I do.

As I meditate on the first part of this verse, I take off a word each time and reflect on what the Holy Spirit is saying to me each time.

  1. Take the whole scripture as is and focus on what it means to be still and know that God is God.
  2. Be still and know that I am.
    When I think on that, I’m focused on being still and knowing that God is the Great I Am.
  3. Be still and know that I…
    That leads me in many directions when filling in the blank.
  4. Be still and know that.
    To me this is almost an exclamation about everything I have focused on about God thus far…to know that!
  5. Be still and know.
    I focus on knowing God and how God is working.
  6. Be still and…
    Again, that leads me in many directions to fill in the blank.
  7. Be still.
    Yes, be still, Julie. Just be still and wait upon the Lord.
  8. Be.
    Ah, to just be…totally focused on God. To be in the presence of God, and how to “be” with others. How to be a presence for others.

Of course, if you use this to focus your time with God, you may go in other directions each time you take off a word. What does each new phrase mean to you? What new things might you observe or consider? How much more focused and at peace are you? Do not despair if you notice it is difficult initially. That’s just the Spirit already communicating with you and nudging you to, “Hey, BE STILL and know that I am God!”

Still,
Pastor Julie

July 28, 2022

Romans 12:3-8 (NLT)

  “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So, if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift or showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” 

 

FROM THE DESK OF REV. VICKIE DOYLE

During my years in pastoral ministry, I served with five senior or lead pastors and two interim or transitional pastors. It was always hard to say “goodbye.” Sometimes it was even harder to welcome someone new and different. One thing that I have learned is that pastors will come and go, but the church continues.

The scripture above reminds us that each of us have a role to play in the life of the church. We are the body of Christ with each of us contributing to the vision and mission of Liberty Presbyterian Church. How well our new pastor does will depend in part on how well we do our parts.

So, how do we welcome Pastor Chris? I would suggest four ways we can welcome him.

  1.  PRAY.
    Let’s help Pastor Chris and his family to feel covered in prayer. The Apostle Paul said, “Pray that I may be given the message to speak and that I may fearlessly explain the mystery about the good news.”  ~Ephesians 6:19 (CEV)
  2. PUT YOURSELVES IN HIS SHOES.
    What would want someone to do for you if you had moved halfway across the country? “Do for others what you want them to do for you…” ~Matthew 7:12 (GNT)
  3. LET PASTOR CHRIS USE HIS GIFTS.
    According to the New Testament, God intended each of us to use our unique gifts to serve him and further his kingdom. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. Romans 12:6 (NLT) quoted above.
  4. BE OPEN TO WHAT GOD WANTS TO DO THROUGH PASTOR CHRIS.
    Often when we are worshiping outside under the oaks, I am overwhelmed with the presence of those who have gone before us. I feel not only God’s presence, but the spirits of those who worshipped in our historic chapel. God can do amazing things with people who are open to what God wants to do.

God, thank you that we, who are many, are one body in Christ— that you have called each of us to carry out a special role. Speak to us and open our hearts to what you are doing in our midst. Amen.

Blessings,
Vickie Doyle, Parish Visitor

P.S. Pastor Chris’ first day in the Church Office will be August 1.

July 21, 2022

Luke 15:1-3

Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! So, Jesus told them a story…”

FROM THE DESK OF REV. VICKIE DOYLE

Parables are unique stories from the time of Jesus, and the remarkable thing about them is that they are always relevant and always personal. They speak to you and me in the here and now. They surprise us and flip our values. Parables are truth-stories from the mind of Jesus that can change our lives as they proclaim God’s truth for us.

James Moore in his book, Jesus’ Parables about Making Choices (2007), suggests five ideas that can help us unlock the truths found in the parables of Jesus. These are:

  • Parables are short stories that teach a faith lesson and make us think.
  • Jesus saw himself as one who came to serve the needy.
  • God’s love for us is unconditional.
  • The central truth of a parable is often the surprise found in it.
  • Parables usually convey only one truth.

This Sunday, I invite you to come journey with me as we explore some of Jesus’ parables.

Blessings,
Vickie Doyle, Parish Visitor

July 14, 2022

2 Corinthians 3:17

“Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.”

 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR JULIE

My first service at Liberty, I noticed the scripture on the front of the bulletin, same as quoted above. I thought to myself, “Ah, now that’s fitting!” I wondered, though, the root of it and over time have come to understand what it truly means for us Liberty folks. In finding out more about Heritage Sunday coming up this Sunday, learning more through my interactions with congregants and walking the church grounds, so much has become apparent to me.

This verse often contains the word “freedom” in other translations, which is synonymous with “liberty”. Freedom is a deep need of each one of us. True freedom, though, is spiritual and means identifying and taking support in God. It isn’t a matter of doing what you want without restraint, but rather cultivating the right wants and living in obedience to God’s will. In other words, freedom results when our wants align with God’s will. In terms of “Liberty”, therefore, I can see this as being true.

You see, when our church was founded in 1810 by the Cellar, McKinnie and Monroe families, they had originally gathered together in people’s homes to worship. In reading our history, “this tiny frontier church was composed of three united congregations – Radnor, Delaware and Liberty – overseen by a combined Session and sharing one pastor, Joseph Smith Hughs. In 1820, the Cellar brothers, George and John, contracted to build a Chapel.” They took the “liberty”, aligning with God’s will, to build our church by the river. This very humble beginning of our church, through the work of the spirit of the Lord, has continued to grow to now over 1400 members, serving not only each other, but the community, surrounding areas, the Presbytery, and around the globe! Wow! How incredible!

Additionally, when Paul writes this to the Corinthians, he is referring to the glory of God. As we look upon God’s glory, we find ourselves being changed from one degree of glory to another because of the Lord, the spirit, at work within us. Paul is speaking about the way we then gaze upon the life-giving spirit in the faces of our fellow-Christians, and the freedom/liberty to think and speak according to God’s will, giving glory to God. I have seen this life-giving spirit in the faces of our Liberty congregation, encouraging and supporting others. I have also appreciated the long history of Liberty’s warm welcome of “come as you are” (Sidenote: This began when some of the pioneers wanted to attend worship but didn’t have shoes so a Deacon in the church took off his shoes, put his bare feet in the aisle showing it was okay.) All are welcome! Even though we may think differently, all are valued, and we continue to learn and grow through this. All are loved and cherished!

I look forward to celebrating Heritage Sunday with you all this Sunday, July 17 (definitely looking forward to the ice cream social after worship – my favorite)! Liberty has so much to celebrate! Look how far we have come! I cannot wait to see what’s in store!

Yes, “come as you are”!

See you Sunday!
Pastor Julie

July 7, 2022

Luke 10:27 (NLT)

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR JULIE

“Neighbor” is a familiar word. When we hear it in the voice of Mr. Rogers, it is a word that soothes and comforts. We hear him say, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” or  “Hello neighbor” and we feel automatically welcomed and included. As Mr. Rogers certainly knew, the label “neighbor” has the potential to create bonds of affection and care as well as unite people from different backgrounds.

Mr. Rogers was good at noticing and respecting people of various backgrounds, being an example. He noticed who was in the room and yet was going unnoticed. He noticed who was in the community and had no voice or vision. He noticed who was being left out because he knew what that felt like during his lifetime. He was always incredibly kind and did not spend a lot of time lecturing folks who might be considered unfortunate. Instead, he delighted in the gifts they had to share with him.

Sometimes when one has endured hardships and ridicule (like Mr. Rogers), they can see more clearly their neighbor. In the context of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan teaches us that it helps us to not let what happens to us corrupt the God nature in us. The Samaritan is mistreated, maligned, ignored, and stepped around daily.  The culture in which he lives and the way he ensures that he doesn’t become like the mistreatment he endures, is to exercise with others how he would want to be treated by those around him.

The important question, therefore, in the parable of the Good Samaritan, may not be, “Who is my neighbor?” but rather, “Am I a neighbor?” Do you notice and help when people are hungry? Do you notice when people don’t come out of their homes and go check on them? Do you see when someone is struggling and offer to help? Do you defend the weak and uphold the poor or the oppressed? How are you doing as a “neighbor”? How will you live out the commandment to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself?

Love You, Neighbor!
Pastor Julie

June 30, 2022

On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again.
~Gospel according to Willie

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR KEMPER

It is time to “saddle up” and move on! Janet and I will worship with the Liberty family one more time this Sunday (July 3rd), and then we will begin a new adventure with a new church family.

We want to say thank you to everyone who participated in last Sunday’s farewell celebration (yes was a celebration, a celebration of new beginnings). Liberty has blessed us in so many ways. You welcomed us into your family and trusted me to lead and encourage. We may be leaving but the relationships we developed and the friendships we established will always be with us.

Thank you all for the love we were shown, and I encourage you to show the same love and acceptance to Pastor Chris when he and his family arrive.

May God bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you, and may His presence give you peace.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

June 23, 2022

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT)

“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR KEMPER

The Liberty family is ready to turn the page, ready for the “New” God has in store. With Pastor Chris coming on board, and with the continued service of Pastor Julie, the rest of Liberty’s dedicated staff, and the caring, loving community of believers (you, the membership), I can only imagine the wonderful things God has in store.

And everyone needs to be a part of this “New”. Find a way to participate in the life of Liberty. Serve on a committee, volunteer for VBS and the Children’s ministry, work with the youth, join a Bible study or small group study, participate in worship by being a Lay Reader or joining the worship team, serve as part of a mission project, give of your time, talent, and treasure, and above all, pray.

Pray for your pastors, pray for your elected Deacons and Elders, pray for the staff, and pray for the unity and love that defines the Liberty family. Janet and I will join our prayers with yours. And it is with confidence in God’s steady hand at the wheel that we say our goodbyes and follow where God leads.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

June 16, 2022

What Makes a Dad?

“God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea…
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it … Dad.”

—Unknown Author

 

Come worship with us Sunday, June 16—Father’s Day!

June 9, 2022

Psalm 96:11-12 (NLT)

Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!

Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!

Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!

Let the trees of the forest sing for joy!

 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR KEMPER

I love worship! Especially worship that is filled with joy and thanksgiving. When we gather to worship God in the name of Jesus, we open our hearts to the presence of the Holy Spirit, and we become one with each other and with God.

The Psalmist tells us that worship happens even if we stay silent. The heavens are glad, the sea shouts God’s praise, the fields and crops burst out with joy, and the trees sing! Wow! Have you ever been in a worship like that?

I know I have. When ever Janet and I get the chance to walk in the parks or on one of the many trails in the Columbus area, I am surrounded by the majesty of God’s creation, and I can almost hear the trees singing! Worship takes place every day, not just on Sundays. And worship surrounds us everywhere, not just in the church building.

This coming Sunday (June 12), the Liberty family gathers for worship “under the oaks” and we will sing with the trees and celebrate with the heavens and the earth. Outdoor worship has always been very special to Janet and me. We were married at the Chapel of the Big Horns an outdoor chapel surrounded by pine trees high up in the Big Horn mountains of Wyoming. While I was in a daze for most of the service, I still remember being surrounded by friends, family, and God’s amazing creation!

Join your Liberty family this Sunday as we celebrate God’s love outdoors.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

June 2, 2022

1 Peter 3:8-12 (NLT)

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. 10 For the Scriptures say,
“If you want to enjoy life
    and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
11 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”

 

FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR KEMPER

Once again evil has reared its ugly head in our world. Everywhere we look we see hate, fear, senseless death, all resulting in pain, sorrow, and suffering.  How are we, as Christ’s disciples, to react? The new catchphrase is, “your thoughts and prayers are not enough!” While I agree that, as Christians, we are called to stand up in the face of evil, I do not agree with any statement that seems to lessen the power of prayer. Our united prayers are a powerful force that can and will make a difference.

“But what can I do?” we ask,  “How can I make a difference?”

Peter wrote to Christians scattered about in Asia Minor who had been and were currently being persecuted and oppressed for their beliefs.  Some were being killed. Evil was prevalent in their world. Peter encouraged them to example the love of Christ in everything they do. His encouragement is for us, today, as well.

“Don’t repay evil with evil, respond to insults with insults. Be a blessing to the people you meet. Turn from evil and do good.”

This is how we respond to the heartache of evil in the world. We live our lives as an illustration of Christ’s sacrificial love. Yes, stand up for justice! Yes, work for peace! Yes, be an advocate for change!  But in everything you do and say, be a disciple of love. And continue to pray!

May God bless those who have been devastated by evil these past weeks. And may God bless us with the fortitude we need to be examples of God’s love. Amen.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper