Monday, December 22, 2014

The Top Ten Things I Learned at Castle Christian Church!

Hey everyone!

Well, this Sunday (December 28, 2014) will, regrettably be our last Sunday at Castle Christian.  And, as excited as we are to go on to this new chapter in our lives, Vangie and I will be equally sad that our time ministering at Castle has come to a close.  We anticipate that this Sunday will be filled with joyful sorrow!

I wanted to share one last message title by means of the blog/FB page.  My last message at Castle is going to be called, "The Top Ten Things I Learned at Castle Christian Church!"  It's going to be a very different kind of message, but that's ok.  I intend for it to be a fun but reflective look back at what I have experienced with you but also at what makes Castle such a special group of people.

Anyhow, I hope to see as many people there as possible to celebrate and to share!



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Candlelight Service Reminder

Hey everyone,

Please don't forget the Christmas Candlelight service at Windermere Lodge (4444 Front Nine Dr., Cumming, GA). 

The date and time are Tuesday, December 23 at 6:30 PM.

There will be Christmas hymns, a message by Bill Ford, and communion.

See you there!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Jan Abernathy Surgery Successful!

Hey everyone,

I found out yesterday (just now getting on today) that Jan came through her knee replacement surgery well yesterday! 

Thank God for answered prayers!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Betty Earhart

Mike has asked us to be in prayer for his mother. She is at Northside Forsyth hospital in room 5060 with pneumonia. Mike and Trish are in Ohio and Betty's birthday is tomorrow. So if anyone is not sick themselves (as many of us are) and can, a visit would be appreciated.

Please pray for her recovery, safe travels for the Earharts and give her a visit if you can.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Our Church Discussion from 11/30/14

Hello Castle friends,

On Sunday, November 23, Vangie and I announced that we will be leaving Castle to move to the Boise, Idaho area.  As a church, we decided to spend the following week in prayer, and have a brief discussion about possible options for the future of the church.  That discussion was held on November 30, but not everyone was there. Those who were present decided that it would be best to share the bullet-points from that discussion and continue it in some fashion (after prayer this week) next Sunday, December 7.

Basically, the church discussed two options, with alternatives.  The first one I'll list here was not the one which was the most popular, but it is listed first here so that more time can be devoted to the other options.

  1. One option discussed was the possibility of disbanding:
    1. Strengths
      1. This would give the church the opportunity to take what we've learned as a church out into the other churches in our community
      2. This could be done in such a way that the church sticks together in some fashion
    2. Weaknesses
      1. Might be more difficult to "stick together" within another church than it seems
      2. Most of us really enjoy the classroom-style church model we are currently using
    3. This has been given serious consideration and will probably continue to be given consideration, but was not the most popular option.
  2. The more popular option was to continue on as a church.  What form this takes, however, is still in the air.
    1. One option is to try searching for another minister--someone part-time who could continue on in the teaching ministry at Castle.
      1. The concern shared was that the person hired not be a traditional "preacher" but more of a teaching minister
    2. Another option which had some merit, was to rotate members of the church to take turns teaching.
      1. There was some concern about people feeling "qualified" to teach
    3. Another option was for me (Jason) to continue on in some manner from a distance using technology
      1. I, personally, am not highly in favor of this option.  I think it would be a poor substitute for personal teaching and am hesitant to rely on technology for this.  I do not think the church or myself would thrive this way.
    4. Another option was for me to continue providing a kind of "outline" for a while which could be shared with the congregation.
      1. This could fit really well with a church member teaching rotation.
These are all things which the church has considered.  There also may be other options which present themselves in the next week or so.  The good news is that no decision has to be made immediately.  And no decision which is made must be final.  The church has plenty of time to work through this!

SO...please be in prayer this week and be prepared to come to church this coming Sunday prepared to discuss a little further.  If you were not there this week (the 30th), it would be really great if you could be there on the 7th.  Also, it will be very important for people who WERE at church on the 30th to ALSO be there on the 7th.  These discussions won't be very helpful if there is a different group discussing options from week to week!

Thanks everyone, and please be in prayer!


Linda Talley

From Cathy Schmidle:

Hello my Castle Friends,
I just got word that my Dear Friend Linda Talley who worshiped with us has gone to be with the Lord. Please pray for her family as they deal with her loss and the loss of her sister a little over a week ago. They mentioned having a small service for the 2 girls at the funeral home possibly next weekend some time. I will keep you updated, when I hear something, but thought it would be nice if some of us could attend.

Please be in prayer for this family.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Heavy Hearted News

Hello Castle folks,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this.  I have thought long and hard about how to tell you.
As much as I’ve enjoyed being the minister at Castle Christian Church, the college work I initially took to supplement my income has necessarily become my primary source of income.  This was, at first, the best of all worlds for me.  I was preaching every Sunday to a church I loved, teaching students about the things I loved, and using some of my managerial skills to help maintain a wonderful adult program.  And I was making a living.

Unfortunately, however, my work experience has been very difficult and stressful.  I have hinted at this in some of my sermons, but have kept the bulk of it to myself.  While there are some folks I work with whom I love and respect deeply, it has simply not been sustainable to continue there full-time.  

Further, necessary changes to the pay structure in my current job have caused our family some very difficult financial problems.  Between the stress of the job, the change in pay, trying to maintain what is, basically, three jobs for almost six years, and the daily stress of just getting to work my health has actually taken a massive toll.  I am very tired.

I tell you all of this because this year a church in Idaho began to pursue Vangie to help them with their children’s ministry.  We approached this very cautiously and have spent many months thinking and praying about it.  At first, we did not take it very seriously.  But, this fall, we both truly began prayerfully considering the option.  Last weekend, she accepted the offer to be the children’s minister at Ten Mile Christian Church in Meridian, Idaho.  This work will begin in early January—in fact, because we are having to break lease, we will need to leave on the first of January.

This opportunity is a good one for Vangie.  In fact, it is very much tailor-made for her.  I do fear, however, that, because it is a large church and we have often been critical of some of the things we’ve seen in the churches in our community, folks at Castle will feel we have belied what we have taught.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We have spent many hours in conversation with the leadership at this new church and are just convinced that they are a very solid and ministry-minded church.  In fact, despite their size, they have been very modest in their approach to some of the things we have always tried to steer clear of.  I am very impressed with this church, its members, and its leadership.  In fact, many of the conversations I’ve had with folks today reminded me so much of you all.

I am considering a few work options for myself.  The job Vangie has taken should be sufficient to support us until I am able to find stable income.  She is also maintaining her relationship with PURE Ministry, which I will assist her with.  This will also benefit us.  I am hoping to maintain some adjunct work and have a few leads on possible part-time work in the area.  

Mostly, I’m looking forward to getting some rest!

The truth is, as much as I have enjoyed teaching at the college, that is not what will break our hearts.  Our hearts will shatter to leave Castle.  You all have been family to me and have welcomed me, my children, my wife, and my step-son with grace and mercy and so, so much love.  As much as I have heard folks at church say they’ve learned from me, I can truly say I have learned more about being the church from working with you than in all my years of study and all the books I’ve read.  I will forever treasure the time I’ve spent in Georgia with you.  This church has changed me, forever, deep down in my heart.

We truly, truly love all of you.  But we are in a position in which we just cannot stay.  And this opportunity is one which is so good for Vangie and will resolve so many problems for us that we just do not feel we can turn it down.

Therefore, I announced today (11/23/14) that I am tendering my resignation as the preaching minister at Castle.  My last Sunday will necessarily have to be December 28, 2014. 

I believe that you all will obviously need to make some decisions as far as what you would like to do as a church.  I do not know what decisions you will make or how you will come to them.  I do not want to presume to give you advice when I am the one leaving.  However, one of the things we discussed today was that everyone should think and pray this week and come together next week prepared to discuss possible options for Castle in the future.

I hope that God blesses all of you the way he has blessed us through you.

In Christ,


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Don't Forget Agape Sunday

Hello everyone,

Please don't forget that there will be an Agape Sunday meal on Sunday, Nov 16.

This COMING Sunday (Nov. 9) we will be finishing our study of the book of Judges!



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jan Abernathy Procedure

Hey everyone,

I got a call from Ben Abernathy just a little while ago.  Jan's heart procedure went VERY well.  They found no problems with her heart which would prevent her from having the knee surgery she needs so badly.

So that's great news!  Thank you to everyone for your prayers.

Also, Jan told Ben to tell me that the Dr. said the only thing they found in her heart was Jesus!

I suspect that he had some dachshunds on his lap, though.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

November Agape Meal Sunday

Hello everyone,

Vangie and I have a unique opportunity coming up in November.  We were invited to visit with some friends from November 11 through November 18.  This means we will be gone for one Sunday (November 16).

We haven't had an Agape meal for some time, so let's plan on doing one that Sunday.  This means everyone should plan to bring food and prepare to sing and worship together that Sunday!



Friday, October 17, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (10/19/14) on OT Survey!

Hello Castle folks!

This Sunday we're starting our study of Joshua.  It's a fascinating book, but also a violent one.  We'll be talking about how to understand and read it in light of the Gospels, but also talking about one of the central stories (the battles of Jericho, Ai, and the involvement of Rahab).

I can promise that it will be a VERY interesting discussion.  You don't want to miss it!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (10/12/14) on OT SURVEY!

Hello everyone,

The past few weeks have been incredibly interesting in our study of the OT.  This week, we're surveying Deuteronomy and focusing primarily on one chapter, chapter 6.

Because this is such an important passage for Israel and because of the topic, we will also be spending some time trying to understand the concept of the "Trinity" in the context of Israel's monotheism (belief in one God--which Christians share with Israel!).

So, it's going to be an interesting one that you don't want to miss!  We'll see you there!

If you're reading along, it will be important to have read through Deuteronomy for this week.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Family Promise of Forsyth County

Church Family,
Ben and I spoke at church 2 Sundays ago about a new program that is getting started called Family Promise of Forsyth County. A coworker of mine is involved in it and told me about it. Ben & I went to their September meeting at Christ the King Lutheran Church. Attached is a handout that they gave us at the meeting, that goes into more detail about the program (if you'd like to see the handout, email Jan @ and I'll send you a copy). It also lists the other counties/towns in GA that have these programs. Hall, Fulton, Dekalb, Gwinnett and White counties are the ones near us.

If you missed our explanation during church 2 weeks ago, it is a program that recruits 13 churches to help house up to (4) homeless families at a time, with each church housing them for one week at a time, and only doing one week per quarter. The churches house them only at nights, in either a large room or gym with tents or dividers or in separate classrooms (at the church), using cots and/or air mattresses. The same (4) families stay at one church one week, then go on to the next church for a week, and so on. In the mornings, the Family Promise 15 passenger van comes and picks up the families, takes the kids to school and the parents to work, and the others (younger siblings and parents without jobs) to the Day Center, which will be at Freedom Tabernacle. At the Day Center, there will be counselors to help them find jobs and also financial counselors to help them manage their money. There will be church volunteers there also to take parents to job interviews and babysit kids while parents are on the job interviews. In the evenings, the van will take the (4) families back to the church to spend the night. The average time families are in the program is about 2-3 months. It gives them a safe, secure, warm place to stay and food to eat while saving up money for a security deposit and one month's rent so they can rent a house and get out of the program and on their own again.

Our church, of course, can't help with housing the families but we can definitely help with supporting other churches that do and supporting the Day Center by helping provide meals for supper, transportation to job interviews, babysitting the kids and just coming and playing with them and giving the parents a little break, and helping out monetarily for the financial costs that it takes Family Promise to put this program on.

Christ the King Lutheran Church is holding a yard sale on Oct. 10-11 and all of the proceeds will go to Family Promise of Forsyth County. They are asking for our donations of gently used items to be dropped off either Wed 5-6pm or Thurs 9-11am. They didn't say what time the yard sale starts on Fri Oct 10, but I imagine they will start early. So you could bring it by Fri or Sat if you can't make it before then. And PLEASE, PLEASE come by and buy some items and support the cause!!

As of their September meeting, 2 churches had signed up to host families: Freedom Tabernacle and the Good Shepherd Catholic Church. There were about 7 other churches that have shown interest and hopefully will sign up. They will not start the program until they have 13 churches sign up to host families, so as not to burden each church more than one week per quarter. Believe it or not, there are 258 homeless children that the schools know about right now, in K-12, in this county.

For those that would like to know more about the program, they have a group page on Facebook. Please join it and share it so your friends can find out about it. And the next meeting is Oct. 23 7pm at Freedom Tabernacle Church on Freedom Pkwy. Spread the word!

Thank you!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (10/5/14) on OT Survey

We had a great Sunday last week studying Moses' failure with the rock and why he did not enter the promised land.  You can listen to that message here if you missed it.  It's entitled "What?!?!?" 

This Sunday we're going to be finishing Numbers with a study of a very strange story--Balaam, Balak, and a talking donkey.   It should be very interesting and fun!

If you're reading along, you should be finished with Numbers by this Sunday!

See ya!


Friday, September 26, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (9/28/14) on OT SURVEY!

Hello everyone!

This Sunday we're going to study a very important part of the book of Numbers.  To me, it's one of the tough questions I have for God.  Should be a good one!

I've called this message "What?!?!"

Don't miss it!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (9/20/14) on OT Survey

Hey everyone,

Well, we surveyed Leviticus last week, and tomorrow we start Numbers.  This is a fascinating book which chronicles Israel's failure to enter the promised land because of their lack of faith in God!

Should be a good Sunday.  We're calling this one "Epic Fail."

You should have read through Numbers 14 for this week.

See you later!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Joseph Hicks Service

Hello everyone,

Debbie Whigham contacted me about the services for her son this weekend.

Arrangements for my son - Joseph Hicks
Services will be at Scott Wards Funeral Home in Conyers
Visitation Saturday, 9/20 5 - 8pm
Funeral Services Sunday, 9/21 @ 3pm
Burial after service @ Bethel Christian Church also in Conyers

Debbie asked that if anyone wants to do something, she was hoping that we could help make sure Alan has food to eat (and maybe share with me when I remember to eat) while she is running back and forth over the next few days.  She said she's not asking, but if people are wanting to help, that would be the most helpful.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Please Pray!

I received a call from Debbie Whigham today.  Her son, Joe Hicks, died tragically last night. 

Please pray for Debbie and Alan and everyone in their family as they go through the process this week of learning the hows and whys of his death and deal with all of the feelings associated with this time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (9/14/14)

Hello everyone,

This Sunday we're going to be surveying Leviticus!  A lot of people think Leviticus is boring, but I think we will have fun studying some important pieces and trying to understand the purpose of Leviticus and what it meant.

So, if you're reading along, be sure to read Leviticus this week and the corresponding chapter in your text!

See you Sunday!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blood Drive Coming Up

Hey Everyone,

We got news that there is a blood drive coming up on Wednesday, September 17.  As I understand, same time as normal at the Kiwanis building.

The world needs our red stuff, so let's give them some!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Coming Up This Sunday (9/7/14)

Well, you're not going to want to miss this.  This week we'll be finishing up what we talked about last week by exploring the event of "The Golden Calf" in Exodus.  This is an important story about Israel's failure to remain faithful to God while they waited for Moses to receive all of God's commands.

We're also going to explore something called "Open Theism," which is a way of reading certain texts that deal with God "changing his mind," etc.  The question is, "Does God have all of time figured out?"  It's bound to be...well...interesting.

I'm hoping that we'll finish our engagement with Exodus this week.  If you're reading along, you'll probably want to have Exodus finished by this Sunday!



Friday, August 22, 2014

Coming Up This Sunday on OT SURVEY! (8/24/14)

Last week we had a great time talking about Israel's Exodus from Egypt.

This Sunday we're pressing on to talk about Israel's journey to Sinai and what they received there.  Very important material!

If you're reading along in your Bible and textbook, you should have read through Exodus 20!

See you this Sunday!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY on OT Survey! (8/17/14)

Last Sunday we had a great time observing the elements of a seder meal and talking about the first Passover celebration.  A good time was had by all!

This Sunday, we'll be moving forward and talking about the Exodus from Egypt--what happened and what important lesson there is for us as Christians.  The text we'll be covering is chapters 12-15.  So, if you're reading along, be sure to have up to chapter 15 read in your Bible and your textbook!

After that we'll be moving forward a little more quickly, discussing the giving of the law at Sinai, and the means by which God cared for his people as they traveled.

This is an important time in Israel's history, so you don't want to miss it!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Don't Forget About Our Special Passover Celebration This Sunday (8/10/14)

Hey everyone,

Obviously, this isn't Passover season, but that's ok.  We're studying the Passover in Exodus this Sunday and decided to celebrate by observing some of the traditions on Passover.  It should be enlightening and fun!

If you signed up to bring something, don't forget! 

I have:
  1. Chris Graves bringing lettuce leaves
  2. Judy Ware bringing hard boiled eggs
  3. Alan and Debbie Whigham bringing flat leave parsley (1 bunch)
  4. Roger and Sherry and Trish Earhart bringing the charoset (Vangie has sent you the recipe)
  5. Sharon Freeman and Lee Lamb bringing the maror (Vangie has also sent you that recipe)
  6. Jason Rodenbeck bringing matzah
  7. Cathy Schmiddle, Ben and Jan, and Gayle bringing grape juice
Part of the celebration will be having regular food, as well (part of the feast).  So, please, if you're not bringing one of these items, feel free to bring something else!

I'm really looking forward to this Sunday.  I can't wait!  See you then!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

This Sunday (8/2/14)

Hey Everyone,

As I've said a few times, Vangie and I are going to be traveling up North for my sister's wedding this weekend.  I had someone I had hoped could fill in for me, but it looks like he won't be able to.

Therefore, I am recommending everyone bring food this Sunday and plan on having an Agape meal.  We'll see you next weekend!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Church need and county need

Kathie Copeland and her family will be having a memorial service for her mother tomorrow, Saturday, July 26th @ 2:00 p.m. at the Victory Baptist Church in Palmetto, Ga. She will be needing some help with food for the family following the service.

If you want to help, please let Jan Abernathy know (via Facebook, email: or phone 770-889-1526) and bring your food to the "old" Methodist church parking lot across from the Kiwanis building no later than 10:00 am this Saturday. Our parking lot will be full with the AA meeting. Jan will need to know who will be bringing food so she and Ben will know to wait on you before leaving for the service. Thanks.
LAST SUNDAY for stuff the bus this weekend. The Abernathys were able to purchase three bags of school supplies at Wal-mart for $17.00. These supplies will go to children here in Forsyth County.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY on OT Survey! (7/27/14)

Hey everyone,

The past few weeks we've been studying the book of Exodus.  Last week, we talked at length about the story of Moses--how he came to be and the context he was born into.  One of the key issues we discussed was Moses' call from God and all the backdrop of that important moment!

This coming Sunday we're going to be talking about Moses' approach to Pharaoh and the meaning of the ten plagues on Egypt.  It will be great!

If you're reading along, it will probably be best to have read through Exodus chapter 12. 


My sister is getting married on August 2, which means Vangie and I will be out of town on August 3.  I'm working on getting a speaker for that Sunday.  However, we are planning on putting together a Passover meal for the following week. I will be bringing a list of things to make that we can all split up and share.  This will be a great way to commemorate this special event in the book of Exodus.

We'll see you Sunday!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY on OT SURVEY (/13/14)

We had a great Sunday last week as we discussed the life of Joseph and how the Israelites came to be in Egypt! 

THIS Sunday we're going to study the beginning of the book of Exodus.  Doubt we'll get far because there is an important piece I want to focus on in the first chapter. 

SO, if you are reading along, I recommend reading chapters 1-5 for this week. 

ALSO, please don't forget the Sweat Fest tomorrow!  The time has been moved to 2:00.  If you have made any baked goods for the bake sale and can't come, please contact me (Jason), and we'll figure out how to get them from you.

ALSO, please don't forget to bring school supplies for Stuff the Bus!  We're collecting them all through the month of July.

See you Sunday!


Friday, July 4, 2014

Stuff the Bus

Hello everyone!

The United Way is collecting items for kids in the area for school this year.  We're thinking that, as a church, it would be a great project for us to donate this July.  We'll discuss the deets in church this Sunday.

Go here to see the website.

Also, Vangie has posted something on Facebook already about the Sweat Fest next Saturday.  We're hoping that some of our expert bakers could provide some baked goods for this great cause!  We'll talk about that more this Sunday as well!

See you then!


Coming Up THIS SUNDAY on OT Survey! (7/6/14)

Last week we discussed Isaac and Jacob--virtually how Israel became "Israel."  This week we will be delving into the story of Joseph!

For this week, it will be necessary to have finished your reading of the book of Genesis!  The following week we will be discussing Exodus.

See you then!


Monday, June 16, 2014

AGAPE Meal THIS SUNDAY (6/22/14)

Hello everyone,

This past Sunday (the 15th), we had a great day!  Of course, it was Father's Day, which is always a great day anyhow.  But we were blessed by a great time of worship and a wonderful communion message.  We were also blessed to read about the flood narrative, the story of Babel, and the beginning of the people of Israel with Abraham.

This Sunday, Vangie and I will be out of town with our kids.  We have a rare opportunity to take everyone for a trip to see the ocean and experience some peace together (notice I didn't say "quiet"). 

So, this coming Sunday (June 22), please be prepared for an Agape meal.  Everyone bring plenty of food (brunch/breakfast/lunch--whatever!) to share with one another.  I have it on good authority that a surprise guest may be arriving that Sunday!  (I won't say who, so don't bother!)

The following Sunday (June 29) we will be studying the story of Isaac and Jacob!  This will lead us into our story of Joseph--which explains how the nation of Israel came to be in bondage in the time of Moses.

We look forward to seeing you all again in two weeks!  Take care!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY on OT SURVEY! (6/15/14)

Last Sunday was a good one.  We spent time discussing the meaning of being "Created in God's Image" and the meaning of the first sin (the "Fall of Man").

This Sunday we are moving forward.  We will be talking about the flood narrative, but will begin our study of the beginning of Israel by discussing Abram (who, later, became Abraham).

We will also discuss the concept of covenant.  This is especially relevant to us because WE OURSELVES are children of Abraham!

If you're reading along, the assignment for this week was Genesis 12-23.  You may also read that section of our textbooks.

You can read or listen here.

We'll see you this Sunday!  It should be a good day!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Coming Up THIS Sunday on OT SURVEY! (6/8/14)

Hey everyone,

We had a great discussion on Sunday about the different ways people have read Genesis 1.  We had an interesting discussion! 

This Sunday we'll be continuing our study with a study of creation/fall.  In fact, I am posting below a preliminary schedule for what we'll be studying in upcoming weeks:
  1. June 8--Creation and Fall
  2. June 15--Noah's Flood and the Tower of Babel
  3. June 22--Jason and family will be out-of-town--AGAPE SUNDAY
  4. June 29--Abraham
  5. July 6--Isaac
  6. July 13--Jacob
  7. July 20--Joseph
Since we didn't get very far this Sunday, I recommend reading Genesis 1-11 again!  We'll see you on Sunday!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Coming up NEXT on OT SURVEY! (6/1/14)

Hello everyone!

We started our Old Testament Survey series last Sunday (May 25) and I thought it went really well!  We had a lot to talk about as we began what is normally called "Introductory Studies." 

This week, we are beginning our study of Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible).  Some topics we'll be looking at:

  1. An introduction to Pentateuch--and people who question whether it's really scripture
  2. Different understandings of the creation story--what do different Christians think really happened?
  3. What the creation story says about God and about people
  4. What humanity was supposed to be like
  5. What happened to God's creation (sin and the Fall)
I'm calling this message "Intro to Pentateuch: Creation and Fall."  I'm really excited about this Sunday!

If you are reading along in your books, you should probably look through the Intro to Pentateuch chapter as well as the Genesis 1-11 chapter.  If you are reading along in your Bible, you should go ahead and read Genesis 1-11.  I've included a link below to a place where you can read it online.  You can also listen online at the same site!

Genesis 1-11 online

Everyone, I don't know how far we'll get.  There is so much to talk about!  We may get stuck on a specific topic and have to finish this up next week.  I'm looking forward to a LOT of interaction!.  If we do, that's OK.  There's plenty of time.

We'll see you this Sunday! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY! (5/25/14)

Hey everyone,

We've finished our study of James and are beginning our study of the Old Testament!

This week we will be addressing some issues which are important in beginning a survey of the Old Testament.  In biblical studies we call them "opening studies."  We'll talk about context, timeline, etc.  Believe it or not, what we are endeavoring to do is quite an undertaking!  We need to be prepared.

I do have some resources I'm going to share on Sunday, so if you can be there, you definitely should!

See you then!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (5/18/14)

Hey Castlers!

Tomorrow is going to be our LAST SUNDAY in James.  And it's going to be a good one.

In the passage tomorrow, James tells us to pray.  And he appears to make some big promises about what happens when we pray.

I'll be honest, this is difficult for me.  I struggle to understand what James means and why it has never worked this way in my own life.  And I have to assume that James means something different than we think he means.

That's why I'm calling this message "The Problem of Prayer" from James 5:13-20.  I think it's going to be an interesting Sunday!

ONE MORE THING!  I am considering making a change to our plans to do 1 John next.  I am considering doing either a survey of the Old Testament prophets, or a survey of the entire Old Testament.  I'll be asking everyone for their thoughts tomorrow, so please be thinking about this choice!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (5/11/14)

Hello Castle Folks!

We're nearly done with James!  It's been an adventure.  We have two more passages to go.

Last week we read James 5:1-6.  In that passage, James addresses those who are wealthy and powerful and sometimes oppress those who work for them.  And we learned that God will hold those people accountable who treat people who work for them poorly.

This week we are studying James 5:7-12.  In this passage, James will address those who are oppressed and waiting for relief.  Some claims he makes:
  • Persevere--be patient
  • The Lord is returning!
  • Treat each other well while you wait
This one should be a good one, folks!

See you Sunday!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (5/4/14)

It's MAY!

Greetings, Castle folks!  We are getting back into James this week.  In fact, we'll most likely be done with it in a few weeks!

This Sunday we'll be studying James 1:1-6.  This is a very important passage because it reveals God's heart about financial injustice.  In this passage, James addresses things like:
  • wealth and poverty
  • fair pay
  • unfair and oppressive employment
  • self-indulgence
I can promise, this is an interesting passage!  I'm simply calling this message "God Cares About Your Horrible Job!"

Don't forget the James challenge!

See you Sunday!


Monday, April 21, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (4/27/14)

Hello Castle folks!

This weekend was a great one.  We had around 30 people for our Cross-Walk and had a very meaningful experience commemorating Jesus' sacrifice for us. 

Easter Sunday was also great! 

This coming Sunday we are finishing up our mini-series on these important "why" questions about Jesus.  On the 13th, we talked about "models" (different understandings) of the atonement (the theological word for the way Jesus deals with our sin).  We were critical of one called "penal substitution" because the assumptions it has about God are in stark contradiction with the person of God which Jesus Christ reveals.  We landed on a view of atonement called "Christus Victor" or "Identification."  That message was, "Why Did Jesus Die?"

On the 20th, we celebrated Easter by asking "Why Did Jesus Raise?"  We talked about the importance and meaning of the Resurrection for our lives.  We boiled it down this way: If Jesus' death was his identification with our sin and death, and if we identify our lives with his life and death, his resurrection means that we, too, will identify with that resurrection!  It means we have hope beyond this life--hope that helps us continue to do the work of the Kingdom--hope to bear our own crosses!

If you missed either one, these two sermons are available to listen on iTunes (search the store for "Castle Christian Church").  You can also listen to them here.

This coming Sunday (the 27th), we are finishing this series with "Why Did Jesus Ascend?"  We want to discover what the purpose is for the ascension story in Acts.  Therefore, we will spend some time in Acts chapter 1, as well as a few gospels.

I hope to see you there! 



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cross Walk FRIDAY!

Hello Castle folks!

Don't forget that Friday is GOOD FRIDAY!  For the sixth year we are commemorating the death of Christ by carrying a cross in Cumming. 

Also, please don't forget that this year we are meeting at the Kiwanis building, rather than our normal spot.  We will still go through downtown, but will go a different route. 

We'll LEAVE to do the walk at 4:30.  You should plan on getting there between 3:30 and 4:00, that way if you are running late you're less likely to get left behind!

We have the new T-shirts as well.  It's supposed to be in the 50's with a 50% chance of rain.  So, I would suggest wearing a sweatshirt that you can put the new T-shirt over.  You might also decide to bring a light jacket in case of rain.

I'm very much looking forward to the Cross Walk this year.  Mike's got some great songs picked out and I think we're going to have a great day.

See you then!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (4/13/14)

Hello Castle folks!

We had a great Sunday last Sunday.  It's rare that I get done with a message and just feel like it was out-of-the-park, but I thought everyone really related to what we were talking about on Sunday.  If you haven't heard that very important message, check out "The Uncertainty of Our Lives" here or go to iTunes and search for Castle Christian Church in the iTunes store.

This Sunday we are doing something very different.  In preparation for our Cross Walk next Friday, as well as for Easter celebration the following Sunday, we are starting a brief sermon series called "Why?"  This Sunday we are asking, "Why did Jesus die?"

This will be the order:

Sunday, April 13, "Why Did Jesus Die?"
Friday, April 18, CROSS WALK starting at the KIWANIS BUILDING!
Sunday, April 20, "Why Did Jesus Raise?" (EASTER SUNDAY)
Sunday, April 28, "Why Did Jesus Ascend?"

In this Sunday's message, we'll be studying what is called "Atonement Theology."  We will see different ways people have understood the atoning power of Christ's death. 

Don't forget about our Cross Walk!  I have ordered the new T-shirts and they should be done ASAP! 

I'm looking forward to a great week next week and I'm really looking forward to this Sunday!

Take care!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cross Walk UPDATE

Hey everyone,

Just an update on the Cross Walk this year.

Remember, we're starting at 4:30 on Good Friday, which is April 18.  We're going to start and finish at the Kiwanis building.  I think we may have some extra people with us this year, so that gives us a little extra distance!

I have put in the T-shirt order with our printer.  If you have not paid for your family's t-shirts, please make your payment ASAP!

Also, it will be good if everyone can try to be there a little early.  If not, that is ok!



Friday, April 4, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (4/6/14)

Hey everyone,

This Sunday we are studying James 4:13-17.  It's an interesting little passage that always confused me!  But I am confident that we are going to benefit from it.

In this passage, James addresses:
  • The arrogance of our self-sufficiency
  • Our temporary nature
  • The mandate we have to do what we know is right
It should be a good Sunday!

Don't forget, if you'd like one of the new T-shirts, let me know soon!

And now for the James challenge:


Thursday, April 3, 2014


Please remember the Hightower family as they travel through this trying journey ahead for them.

  1. Betsy's sister, Joy, is slowly improving, but still needs prayers. She was the victim of a very severe auto accident.
  2. Bud's mother has been given anywhere from 2 days to 2 months before succumbing to her cancer. She is having trouble breathing and prayers for her comfort will be appreciated.
  3. Also, please remember their grand baby that's due pretty soon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Hello everyone,

Ann Foster put me in touch with someone who is going to be printing new T-shirts for our cross-walk event. 

This time we are going to have yellow T's with the crosswalk sign emblem (below) on the front in the center.

The GREAT news is that the T-shirts are going to be very reasonably priced.  The shirts will be $10 each.  $12 for 2x and $13 for 3x.

The only thing is, we will need to have everyone pay for their own shirts upfront.  So, if you would like one (or more), will you please contact me and let me know via email how many to order?  And, for each one you order, will you please write a check for the appropriate price to the church so we can pay for these?

Please let me know in the next week or so, so I can get them ordered and paid for.



Monday, March 31, 2014

Prayer request

Debbie Whigham's grandson, Jeremiah Hicks, is being transferred to Egleston Children's Hospital for treatment of an appendicitis. She has asked for prayer for him as they are all very concerned. That's all the details we have at this time. Please take a moment to say a prayer for this young man and his family.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (3/30/14)

Our James study marches on!

We were very blessed to have our good friend, Lee Reese, deliver the message last Sunday.  He's a great friend, a great minister, and a great thinker.  His message was timely, exciting, and well-spoken!

This week we are getting into chapter 4.  My idea is to do the first 12 verses of chapter 4, but I don't know how far we'll get.  I've gone back and forth on how much we can do--but I don't know if I can separate them.

So, let's plan on doing James 4:1-12 and if we can't get through it all, we won't.

What is James doing in this passage?  He's addressing a major problem in the church--their in-fighting and selfishness.  James boils all that down to "friendship with the world."   He addresses:
  • Fighting and coveting in the church
  • Pride
  • Assuming we can follow Jesus and be worldly!
  • Slander against one another in the church
I think we're going to find that this Sunday is very helpful to us!

Now for the James challenge.  If you're still doing it, check this version out:

See you Sunday!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cross Walk Coming Up!

Hello everyone,

Just a reminder that Good Friday is April 18 this year!  We still have a little time.

This year I've been thinking about a slightly different direction for us.  A few weeks ago, Roger discussed some serious reflection about the meaning of Jesus' cross.  I am thinking that, rather than our usual focus for cross-walk, I would like to tie in the message on April 13 and on April 27.  I want to take a break from James to discuss the meaning of the cross, the resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus!

So, this is what the calendar will look like:

Sunday, April 13--A message on the Cross of Christ entitled, "Why Did Jesus Die?"

Friday, April 18--the Cross Walk Event at the normal time!

Sunday, April 20--A message on the Resurrection of Christ entitled, "Why Did Jesus Raise?"

Sunday, April 27--A message on the Ascension of Christ entitled, "Why Did Jesus Ascend?"

I think a lot of what we talk about in these messages will be review of stuff we studied in Matthew and in Acts.  But, I think it will be helpful for us to reaffirm some important teaching on what these things mean!

Oh, and one more thing: a couple of people have asked about getting new cross walk t-shirts.  Vangie and I are going to look into having some printed.  I think we may be able to do it fairly inexpensively, but we'll have to have everyone pay for their own upfront.  We'll let you know ASAP!

Later this week I will post information about the message for this coming Sunday from James!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (3/23/14)

Hello everyone!

I'm really looking forward to this Sunday because my children will be here!  YES!!

I am also looking forward to this Sunday because my friend Lee Reese is coming (with his family) to speak to us on the next passage in James (James 3:13-18).  That passage is below:

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

This is a very timely passage for us!

I also am looking forward to this Sunday because it is our intent to spend some time in prayer for our brothers and sisters at First Christian Church.  That church has suffered a terrible blow this week.  It is our intent to be in solidarity with them as they pursue peace and healing.  I have asked some members of the church to lead us in prayer during our normal prayer time. 

So, I hope everyone can come this Sunday for a very important morning of worship, study, and prayer.

Don't forget, the James challenge!  This week, let's read (or listen) to James in the NASB:
James (read OR listen)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (3/16/14)!

Hello everyone,

We're returning to our study of James after a great jaunt into church history with the movie Luther!  I think all of us who were there on Sunday benefited from his story and learned a lot about the church.  Of course, our primary goal was to learn why the last passage we studied in James about faith and works is considered so controversial in the church.

This Sunday we're moving to a new passage: James 3:1-11.  This passage is an especially fun one and I anticipate a lot of interaction this Sunday!  In this passage James will make some big claims:
  1. The responsibility of teachers to build up, rather than tear down
  2. How we use our tongues has massive consequences (we'll want to explore why it is)
So, come ready to learn about this important passage!

Now, the James challenge.  This week, I'm returning to the NIV:


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Coming up THIS SUNDAY (3/9/14)

Hello everyone!

At Castle Christian last week we studied James' teaching in James 2:14-26 that it is, indeed, our works that save us.  Our faith isn't really faith if it isn't acted out.  In this very important message, we discussed the reason this is such a controversial doctrine today and why "saved by grace through faith alone" is misunderstood to imply that what we do has no bearing on our salvation.

The doctrine of "faith only" (as it is often understood) is a product of the Reformation and a reaction to a very legalistic and corrupt time in the Roman Catholic church.  We spent a lot of time talking about Martin Luther and his response to the Catholic church.

If you didn't hear that sermon, you probably should.  You can download the message by searching for Castle Christian Church in the iTunes store, or you can click here to listen to the sermon on your computer: Faith or Faithfulness.

For that reason, we are going to do something very different this coming Sunday.  We are going to watch a film on Martin Luther's life and ministry.  This is a full-length film, so we're going to need to get started right at 10:00.  Obviously, there will be food and we'll celebrate communion together.  But the rest of the morning will be committed to watching this film and stopping it at certain moments to talk about it.

I think this is going to be a great Sunday and one which will help us understand a lot about the development of our faith!

Now, for the James Challenge!  This week I'm posting the text of James from a translation called The Voice.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Marge Bieler

Hey everyone,

I received a message from Trish and Mike last night that Marge Bieler was in a bicycle accident and broke her nose!  However, during her triage they found a problem that required major surgery.

As I understand, she is doing much better now!

We will update as we know more!  Please remember to pray for her.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Coming Up THIS SUNDAY (3/2/14)

Hello everyone!

We've been enjoying our study of James!  This last Sunday, James boldly told us about making sure that we love all of God's people and don't show favoritism of any kind.  It was a tough passage, and a tough message--but we survived and are better for it!!!

This Sunday we move forward to cover the rest of James 2.  In this VERY important passage, James discusses the truth that our FAITH is linked to our WORKS.  This is a passage that has caused a great deal of conflict for Christians through the centuries.  And we're going to talk about why!  And in order to understand it, we'll have to study a little history!

If you want a preview of why this passage has been so controversial, do a little comparison reading.  First, read the passage for this week: James 2:14-26.  BUT, compare it to Paul's words in Romans 4!  On the surface, it looks like Paul and James are contradicting one another!

In order to properly understand why it looks this way to us, we'll have to talk about a guy named Martin Luther, and what he contributed to the church.  Folks, this is going to be a fun one...YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS IT!!!

The message for this Sunday will be called: "Faith or Faithfulness."

Now, for the James Challenge!  Hopefully you're all participating!  This week, I'm posting the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

We'll see you in a few days!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Special Get-Together at the Graves' Home!

Hello Castle folks,

John and Chris Graves (and family) are celebrating one year in their new home!  They've invited everyone from the church out to their house in Canton to celebrate this Sunday afternoon (3/2/14). 

They're asking that everyone come out to enjoy some food and fellowship!  Also, if you can bring a side-dish or a desert, that would be great!

The address is:
821 Sycamore Dr.
Canton, GA  30115

It should be fun!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Coming up THIS SUNDAY (2/23/14)

We had a great Sunday studying the last passage in James' first chapter on the 16th!  You can listen to that sermon (called "So What?") here:

This Sunday we'll be starting chapter 2, which is one of my favorite passages in scripture!  I love it because it convicts me and trips my "righteous indignation" sensor!  In James 2:1-12, James deals with such important issues as:

  • prejudice/favoritism
  • judgment
  • motives
  • wealth and poverty
I'm calling this message "All People Equal" from James 2:1-12.  I'm very excited about this passage and I think you won't want to miss it!

Now the James challenge!  This week I'm posting the New English Translation (NET).  However, instead of putting links for all the chapters, I'm only putting the link for the first.  Just use the arrows at the bottom of the page to go on to the next chapter.

James in the NET

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Coming Up This Sunday (2/16/14)

Hello everyone!

This Sunday we'll be continuing in James 1.  It is possible that we will finish all of chapter 1 this Sunday, which would mean we are covering from 22-27.  However, there is a good chance we'll only get through vs. 25.

In these upcoming passages, James will allude to two very important topics that he will expound upon later in the book.  The first topic is how our actions must reflect our beliefs (or they aren't truly our beliefs).  The second deals with our control of our tongues.

In my mind, the question James answers in this passage is "so what?"  In other words, "What is the point of all this gospel stuff, anyhow?"

And that's what I'm going to call this week's message..."So What?"  Don't miss it!

And now for the James challenge.  This week let's try the New Living Translation (NLT).  The website I'm using doesn't have an audio NLT, so if you want to listen to James, please use last week's links.

Read James:
James 1, James 2, James 3,  James 4, James 5

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Prayer Request

Chris Graves has asked for prayer. She has been sick for a week and is on her way to the emergency room. Please pray for her and their family.

Coming Up This Sunday (2/9/14)

Hey everyone,

This Sunday we'll be moving on to a new topic in James.  He often changes subjects by addressing his readers again.

We'll be reading James 1:19-21.  There is SO much material in these three verses!

In this passage, James is telling us to be thoughtful and careful people, that righteousness is akin to thoughtfulness!  I can't wait to explore this passage with everyone.

I'll call this message, "Slow Down!"

Now, for the James challenge.  This week I'll post the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Read James:
James 1, James 2, James 3, James 4, James 5

Listen to James:
James 1, James 2, James 3, James 4, James 5

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Podcast Updated

Hey everyone!

Thanks to Becca and Debbie, I was able to get the message from last week (Tecia's message) and get it uploaded on the podcast.  That, along with today's sermon (2/2) is available at:

You can also do a search for Castle Christian Church on the iTunes store to download these sermons.

See you!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Prayer request

Lorie Short's father, Ed Morris, is not responding to treatment very well so she is on her way back up to Duke medical. Please pray for Lorie as she travels and for her father and family.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Immediate prayer request

We just got word that Lorie Short's father, Ed Morris, has encountered two pulmonary embolisms following his lung surgery. He is back at Duke and being monitored very closely.

Please remember Ed, Lorie and the entire family in your prayers.

Coming Up This Sunday (February 2)

Hello Castle folks!

I've heard some great things about this last Sunday!  I haven't heard Tecia's message, yet, but hope to soon.  I want to thank her for her message and am grateful so many of our number could be there to hear her speak!  As I understand, Debbie Whigham got the message on her tablet.  As soon as I can, I will get that file from her for our podcast.

This Sunday, we're going to be studying James 1:13-18.  In this wonderful passage, James continues talking about the trials we experience.  But in these important verses, James is very careful to be clear about the source of these trials.  The questions James answers are:
  • How are trials and temptations similar?
  • Where do our trials come from?
  • Is it right to say that "God did this to me" when bad things happen to us?
  • What kinds of things DO come from God?
I hope everyone can make it for this important message!

Now, for the James challenge!  Vangie and I have been very blessed to keep reading through James once a week.  James always gets to me even if I've read it several times recently.  This week, I am including links to read James in the English Standard Version (ESV).  Of course, if you'd rather continue to use your own translation, feel free!

READ James (ESV)
James 1, James 2, James 3, James 4, James 5

LISTEN to James (ESV)
James 1, James 2, James 3, James 4, James 5