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27
Nov
18

Do You Really Know What You’re Thankful for?

Many families gathered last week and celebrated thankfulness. Many churches gathered and had praise services to celebrate the same. I love both and yet this past week I found myself contemplating where I am in life and what I naturally reflect on that I am thankful for. My walk with God, nuclear family and church family are at the top of that list but it seems easy to thank God for those obvious blessings–and then it hit me. There are many who are not thankful for what I consider “natural” blessings because they don’t have them.

When I say that I am thankful for God, I am saying I am thankful for His amazing gift of salvation. I am thankful that I am His child, but what about the many still in our world who have not heard? The many who are processing this whole “God thing.” The many that, due to their situation, feel God is unjust, hateful and spiteful.

Then we move on to nuclear family. I am spoiled with a loving wife. A wife I never doubt will be there when I lay my head down at night. Again, there are many who would long to be married but are not. Many who would love to hear the soft breathing of a sleeping spouse, but their spouse is not beside them anymore.

What about kids? My children are all alive and overall well. I have a good relationship with each of them and they are all in some way following the Lord. What about those who have no children but would desperately love one? What about the many children with no parents who desperately want them? How about those sitting in hospital rooms with their children, or beside graves where their children lie? Parents who would love nothing more than to go out to the park one more time, see their kids make a Christmas list or just have one more picture to hang on the fridge or text to save?

You see, in my flippant thanks to God, I forget how spoiled I am. I take that for granted way too often. I need to do a better job of cherishing, and my guess is that many of you reading this struggle in this way to.

Let’s all not only breathe in deeply the fragrance of the blessings that we daily enjoy but how about we get more intentional about reaching out to those who do not have those same blessings? Not just at this time of the year but all twelve months. Let’s commit to being active, thankful followers of Christ all year round.

23
Nov
18

Boyertown Church Plant Update Nov 2018

On September 30th, the Elders of UPCC announced our decision to plant our first church. We also recognized God’s calling on Bryan Raught to lead the plant in the Boyertown area. As we approach the Christmas season, we know that Advent is about expectant waiting.  Now that we are two months past our announcement, we are expectantly waiting on God to help us pass each mile marker that we have put before him. Here are a few updates to share with you:

 

When are we starting? As we have prayed and considered the best timing, we feel that September of 2019 is our target launch date. This timing will provide the best opportunity to gain traction, develop a core team, and do the logistical groundwork necessary for our first plant.

 

Who is taking Bryan’s place? The Elders have interviewed a handful of men. God has provided some great candidates for us to consider.  As we enter the holidays things will naturally slow down, but we hope to have our candidates narrowed down to one.

 

What’s next?  In January we will begin our first round of informational meetings.  These will be for anyone from the curious, to those seriously interested in joining our plant team. Please watch our website and weekly updates for the specific dates and more details.

 

These are exciting times for our church and we ask for your continued prayers for us as we travel on this exciting leg of our journey.  If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at jbuckley@upccmail.org.

 

16
Nov
18

An open letter to our newly elected or reelected Legislators

Dear Legislator,

The elections are over and I congratulate you on winning or retaining your seat. I cannot even begin to imagine all the hours out, speeches made and conversations you had in order to get where you are today. Whether I voted for you or not, you are now duly elected and will take your seat in January, a seat that brings with it much work and a cherished heritage.

I ask that you carry out your role always keeping in mind the promises you made while remaining teachable. Reach across the aisle graciously and lovingly. Although those from the other party will have different ideas and morals than you may have, they are still human beings and should be offered respect and the opportunity to share why they believe and vote the way they do.

Please remember that your vote carries the opportunity to do great good or great harm to those you represent. I plead with you to not allow ego or peer pressure to move you to act in a way that disrespects who you are as a person or legislator. I commit to you that I will pray for you, talk to you not about you, and listen to you rather than judge what others say about you.

I will ask our great God to protect you personally, give you wisdom for the job you have, and time to not only work hard but to love your family and spend time with them. Thanks for your willingness to serve. It is a great honor and a great responsibility.

Sincerely Yours,

John P Buckley

05
Nov
18

God is not a Republican

I grew up a Republican. I do not remember being forcibly indoctrinated into the party, but I do remember that it made the most sense to me even as a child. They seemed to hold to the same values as my family and I so why look elsewhere? Democrats were not evil, but they were still the enemy.

 

I am still a Republican, although not in the same way that I once was. I have on more than one occasion voted Democrat and even for other parties. To some even that confession will have the hair on the back of their neck stand up. “How dare you?” I have heard. Why? Where along the way did we stop thinking, asking questions and be willing to dig and really see what candidates best support the positions and causes I am most fervent about? It has never seemed right to me that, as a Christian, I should demonize and even lie about “the other party.” There are certainly benefits to sticking with the same party, but they do not outweigh the need for us to vote by conscience not political affiliation. We need to stop allowing the devil to have one more tool to divide the people of God.

 

I know it angers some, but God is not a Republican nor is He a Democrat or of any other party. God sets the moral foundation, no one else does. So rather than fight with each other, how about we pray with each other. Ask God to help give us the discernment we need, in this divisive culture of politics, on who to vote for. Ask Him to protect and guide those currently in office, from all parties. As Christians we should know, better than anyone else, what God asks us to do and not to do. In politics, as in sports, we cannot lay aside our faith and blame it on our favorite team, player, candidate or party. My relationship with Christ is what should define me above all else. Ask yourself, as I too must do, what defines you above everything else. Is it your relationship with Christ? If it is not, then what is? Maybe that will change our conversations and even our Twitter and Facebook posts😊.

 

24
Oct
18

How are you showing Christ’s love to your community?

Ever since we started UPCC, one of our desires was to make sure we went where the community was. God placed us in the Upper Perkiomen Valley and so we have tried to find ways to see what is going on in the community and have looked for new opportunities to reach the community.

 

One of the events we began a few years ago was Fallfest. We rent out a park and set up a bunch of activities. The best part is everything is free!! Each year the event has grown as we have added new activities along with new ways to advertise. Our desire has been for this to be a way to show our community that we love them. Through this event we also hope for individual as well as corporate ways to share Christ.

 

This year we saw it all come together. After a rainy morning God gave us a cool but sunny fall evening. Next God gave us great volunteers who set up the decorations, food, activities, and music. Over 40 people helped us make this two hour opportunity the best it could be. Last, our community came out. We had over 250 people join us and around 100 of those were from our community with four families joining us the next day for worship at church.

 

I love that after almost nine years of ministry, more and more often God has allowed us ways to work together and love on our community and through it show and share Christ.

 

I encourage all of us to look for ways to show Christ’s love and then to be purposeful in sharing Christ’s love through His message of salvation for all mankind. You will be blessed and you will also be obedient😊

05
Oct
18

My personal reflections on planting a church

This past Sunday, September 30 we announced that we are going to be birthing a new church in a community about 20 minutes away from us. As Elders we shared the decision after over a year of wrestling, discussing and praying. As our church family excitedly and prayerfully continues to process this decision, I wanted to give a few of my thoughts that I have had along the way.

 

Making the decision to plant a church is painful. When we wrapped up our June Elder’s retreat and made the final decision that God wanted us to move forward, I was immediately hit with a pit in my stomach. I looked around the table knowing the devil would attack these men, our church and me personally. He hates to see God’s kingdom move forward. Since making the decision to plant it has been painful. Attacks have come in all the areas I suspected. I do not regret our decision at all but know it will be noticed by the devil and attacks will come.

 

Making the decision to plant a church is hard. This past Sunday I looked over the crowd as I shared our vision and I got a little choked up. We are not close to the actual plant date yet but knowing that people I love, have poured into and cherish will be moving on is hard. Knowing that the make up of our body will change is hard. Knowing that my coworker in the ministry, Bryan, will be leaving is hard. It is a good hard. As a parent we work to bring up our children in a way that they can be independent and own their lives and faith. Planting is similar. I still get sad every time I see a packed car head down the road with my child and his belongings inside and so it will be when the new church group heads out. It is worth it all, but it is hard.

 

Making the decision to plant a church is exciting and right. I am so pumped that as we come up on our nine-year anniversary that we are now looking to see the dream we had from the beginning coming to fruition. Planting has been in our DNA since we started. Seeing people wrestling with what God wants is exciting. Seeing God use this to continue to unite us is exciting. Being obedient to God’s model of growth is right.

I have more thoughts but as you process with us what God is doing maybe my thoughts will help you as a member of UPCC, as a friend of ours or even a stranger reading this. Blessings on you all.

 

30
Sep
18

We are planting a church

Usually my blogs are my own words that are focused on my personal or UPCC life.  Although much of what was written I had a part in, the following statement is a team effort.  We read this in our worship service this am(Sunday, Sept 30).  It is exciting to see this desire of ours to finally come to a reality.  Please rejoice and pray with us.

As elders, it is with great excitement that we share God’s clear direction and answered prayers with you today. Over the past year, God has clearly directed our team that now is the time to plant a church. During this process, we as Elders have also confidently identified Bryan Raught to serve as Lead Elder/Pastor of our new plant.

Although many details are still being worked out, we are committed to starting this amazing journey forward as a church. The Boyertown and surrounding area will be the target location for our plant. Although we are not committed to a specific timeline, it is our desire to pursue this process with fervency over the months ahead. On this journey, we will diligently ask God to lead us through each mile-marker along the way (prayer guide below). During this process, the current Elder team of UPCC will be overseeing the leadership for the new plant. It is our desire that our new church plant become a fully-functioning autonomous church; however, just like a new born baby, we want to delicately care for its needs as it matures. Although the plant will inevitably take on its own identity, we are excited for the opportunity to replicate the model and culture of ministry we have sought to establish here at UPCC. As already reflected in our budget for this year, we are also committed financially to supporting this new endeavor until it is no longer necessary.

Why now? Why a church plant at all? These are often questions that accompany a decision like this. As Elders, there are two primary reasons we believe the time to plant is now. First, church planting is very biblical. We are excited for the amazing opportunity we have to follow the New Testament example of churches reproducing themselves for the sake of the Gospel. We know that this journey together will stretch every member of UPCC, but we step out in faithful obedience because God has promised to build His church!

Our second reason for planting is philosophical. Our philosophy from the beginning has been built on developing a relational model for the purpose of discipleship. Our desire is that we maintain a smaller church model where our true passions can be best lived out in community. As God continues to grow our ministry here at UPCC now and in the future, our vision is to plant other churches, who plant other churches who are passionate about evangelism and discipleship.

As we begin this journey, we will be sharing more in the weeks and months ahead and will also be hosting informational meetings to give details. Also, please feel free to reach out to any of our Elders as you have questions. We must stay vigilant and unified; Satan does not take lightly the advancement of Christ’s church. Most importantly, we must be fervent in prayer as we all evaluate our individual roles in the amazing mission God has us on together. To God be the Glory, great things He has done and will do!

By faith and with great anticipation,

UPCC Elder Team




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