Conservative Congregational Christian Conference
Pastor Jim's Blog
On this page, Pastor Jim Wheeler will periodically share his thoughts and prayers with us.
7/24/2012 ~ Worship
There is an ongoing discussion these days in
churches about worship. There are
debates about whether to use hymns or choruses; whether to stick with
traditional instruments such as organ and piano, or introduce electric guitars
and drums; and whether to have both a “traditional” worship service, and a
“contemporary” worship service. Many
churches have shifted to a worship team format versus the traditional choir and
choir director format.
Lost in the debate sometimes is the most basic
question: what is worship? As I look at scripture for the answer, I see
that worship is basically a RESPONSE. Whenever people in the scriptures were given a view of God they hadn’t
seen before, they responded with worship.
Consider Moses at the burning bush. He realizes that the One speaking to him is
God Almighty, and he is afraid to be in His presence. God tells Moses, “Take off your shoes for the
ground around you is holy.” Worship is a
response. Consider Isaiah in the Temple
in Isaiah 6. He sees the Lord in a
powerful vision, “high and exalted,” with angels crying, “Holy, holy,
holy.” And Isaiah worships the Lord in
fear and trembling. Worship is a
Consider the apostles in the boat when Jesus commands the
wind and the waves to cease their raging storm, and they obey. The apostles exclaimed in fear and amazement,
“Who is this? Even the wind and the
waves obey Him?”
Worship is a response.
And consider those who met Jesus after His
resurrection. Matthew tells us they
worshipped Him (cf. Matt. 28:9, 17).
Worship is the response of a person who has just seen God
through an experience, a revelation, a scripture, a testimony, or through
nature. The Holy Spirit shows us
God. Your eyes are opened and you see
His glory, beauty, magnificence, awesomeness, and your heart responds with
praise, thanksgiving, awe, and adoration.
Worship is a response.
For the month of May I am on the last leg of my sabbatical.
The other day one of my minister friends asked me, “So, what is your goal for
your sabbatical?”. I replied “goal?”, and we had a good laugh together!
Seriously, I do have some goals for this time. One goal is
to REST of course, physically, mentally, and from the demands of ministry.
I also want to improve my computer skills, which are pretty primitive. I have two
friends who are both good at computer who are coming in for a few hours each
week to help me. They are going to teach me such things as making a PDF, making
an email list, putting things into folders, and downloading pictures from our
Another goal I have is typing. As I type this piece, I am
using two fingers! I did take typing in high school, but I only got up to 14
WPM!(my teacher was pregnant and passed everybody, plus I spent most of the
term on the beach surfing!)
Well these two goals are very important to the ministry; I
have found that most of my minister friends can do these basic things and I
can’t, so I am a bit lost in a world I can’t afford to be lost in. It’s time
for the old “dinosaur” to get up into the 21st Century!
I also plan on playing a little bit of golf. You say “Are
you a golfer?”. And I say “well I’ve been playing golf since I was 14; my game
is what it is!” But I like playing maybe 4-5 times a year, so now I can play
just a bit more. You say “That doesn’t sound very spiritual”, and I say that
one of my minister friends had a 3 month sabbatical last year and I said to him
“so Tim what did you do on your sabbatical?”. He told me his philosophy “you
should do what makes your heart sing!”. So I am adding this fun thing,
otherwise all typing and computer for a month could become tedious.
What makes your heart “sing”?
Are you getting any “sabbatical” time in your life?
4/15/2011~ House of Prayer
Jesus, in a very famous scene from the Gospels, took the
time to fashion a crude whip one day in the Temple in Jerusalem. He
subsequently wielded that whip to literally drive out the animals from the
Temple that were being sold for sacrifice. At that time, Jesus also overturned
all the tables of those who were in the Temple conducting a money exchange for
those who needed to pay Temple fees.
Why did Jesus act in such a violent manner? Because the
Temple was to be a place of worship. But it had become a market, a place of
merchandise, of commodities, of commerce. The Temple had been desecrated by
consumerism. Jesus said, "My Father's House ids to be a House of
Isn't that what every church is to be, a House of Prayer?
Prayer should be the very foundation and backbone of a church. God's people are
to be people of prayer. We are to live and breathe prayer. All the rhythms of
our lives, and the life of the Church, is to be punctuated with prayer.
We are more than halfway through a holy prayer
"experiment" here at CCC, called "Prayer Groups." Launched
by a team of six people who helped me prayerfully plan it, we began after the
first of the year. There have been two
phases of six weeks each. Approximately forty people enrolled to participate in
a one-hour weekly prayer group at five locations around the area. The format
has been simple: begin with worship, and then move into intercessory prayer.
(These are two sides of the same coin.) We will finish this experiment in early
What is the purpose of this experiment? To discern how deep
is our commitment as a church to corporate prayer, that most basic of Christian
disciplines. But also, to stir up a desire to pray corporately, and go deeper.
The question most on my mind as pastor is, where is God
taking us NEXT in prayer as a church? When this exercise is over, what form
will prayer take at CCC? We know God wants to build CCC into a "House of
Prayer." But just what will it look like?
1/4/11 ~ New Year's Resolutions
Are you making any “New Year’s resolutions”? Like finally deciding you are going to get
serious about exercise? Or you are going
on a diet (especially after all those Christmas goodies you ate!) and lose
those extra pounds? Or you are going to
stay in better touch with your cousin who lives on the other side of the
What about resolutions that relate to Jesus? Maybe you are determined to pray more, or
read through the Bible in 2011, or join a small group Bible study.
Why do we make “New Year’s resolutions”? Is it because we have neglected something
important that we should have been attending to? Was there some “discipline” that used to be a
vital part of our life that is now missing, and we feel the need to restore it?
But why do this at “New Year’s”? I personally don’t make New Year’s
resolutions. A resolution implies a
self-examination, a self-inventory. But
isn’t this what the believer in Jesus is to be constantly engaged in? I am not talking about morbid introspection,
and constant obsessive self-scrutiny. But as I read the Scriptures and look at the lives of the people I find
there, I find attentiveness, a diligence in their lives. They led “examined” lives. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Paul, John all
paid strict attention to their hearts. They constantly guarded their hearts. They kept the fires of devotion to God stoked. They fanned the flames of passion for God
constantly. They knew too well how
subtly the world, the flesh, and the devil can steal your heart away. They never took a “day off” from following
Daily prayer gives believers the opportunity for daily
The weekly Sabbath gives believers the opportunity for
The communion service each first Sunday gives believers the
opportunity for monthly resolutions.
If a believer is doing this, why the need for New Year’s
I want to live a disciplined, examined life every day,
trusting the Holy Spirit to reveal to me when I am beginning to drift from
12/15/08 ~ The Prayer Room
Imagine, one entire room of this church devoted to prayer. “The Prayer Room” was established several years ago, and has a name plate on the door designating it as the “Prayer Room.” Over the years, this room has been the scene of much prayer. Healing prayer sessions for both physical, and emotional healing have taken place there. Saints have used this room for personal prayer. The group that meets on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. to pray for the worship service, meets in the “Prayer Room.” The intercessory prayer group led by Carol Carraro, prays in the “Prayer Room” each Monday evening.
Originally, the “Prayer Room” was furnished with existing furniture, as well as four chairs Charlie Beach and Adele Buyak purchased. Recently, I conveyed my desire to do something new with the Prayer Room. It seemed like it needed a new look, and a re-tooling to make it more inviting for those who wish to pray. Judy Byrne took on the challenge, much as she did with the Library. Working with a shoe-string budget, she has had the Prayer Room painted, had new carpet installed, obtained a used couch in very good condition, and purchased some other furniture. As of this coming weekend (12/21/08), the Prayer Room will be about 60% completed. Judy has other decorative ideas in mind, but the main idea is that it will be a room that invites people to come in and pray. All that remains is for the Holy Spirit to be welcomed into the Prayer Room to sanctify it for God’s purposes, much like the Holy Spirit came and filled the Tabernacle when it was completed, and years later, the Temple, when it was completed.
Imagine, an entire room of this church devoted to prayer! Won’t you come in and pray?
August 11, 2008 ~ Jesus Christ, Your Healer
Many of you are familiar with our mutual friend, Father Nigel Mumford. Formerly the director of the Oratory of the Little Way in Gaylordsville, CT, he is now director of Christ the King Center for Healing in Greenwich, N.Y.
Nigel’s primary calling is “to put people in touch with Christ, the Healer.” I have begun to think of the Gospel, in all its many facets as a “healing.’ Isaiah 53 is the greatest Old Testament passage on Christ’s Atonement, vividly describing His substitutionary death, i.e., His death in our place, for our sins. Isaiah describes how Jesus took our transgressions, our iniquities, our suffering, our deaths—how all of our bad “stuff” was laid on Him.
But one of the most well known verses in Isaiah 53 is v. 5: “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”
Healing! Jesus’ death has healed us totally and completely. Jeremiah 17:9 says in the NASV, “The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jesus Himself said in Mark 2:17, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Jesus came to heal the sin-sick souls of every man, woman, and child. His forgiveness and cleansing are not just a judicial transaction, but a healing of hearts, by reuniting us with the source of our wholeness and spiritual health—God.
In Matthew 8, we are told of Jesus’ ministry, which included healing of sickness, disease, and casting out of evil spirits. After healing Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever, He healed “many who were demon-possessed… and healed all the sick.” Then Matthew says this in v. 17, “This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: He took up our infirmities, and carried our diseases.”
There is Isaiah 53 again! Jesus not only bore our sins (spiritual sickness), He also bore all our sicknesses (physical sickness), and also all our sorrows (emotional sickness).
Jesus’ atonement is a total healing of spirit, soul, and body.
May you be put in touch with Jesus Christ, your Healer!
August 7, 2008
I thank the Lord for three wonderful weeks of vacation; I love what I do, but I also need to get away now and then and just rest.
I am also thankful that while I was away the “team” back here at CCC was very busy keeping everything going. I am so thrilled that my old friend Chuck Schleich could “come back home,” and bring the message for two Sundays (Chuck is my predecessor and we worked together here for ten years). Then our precious Anne Kendall brought, I’m told, a powerful message for Communion Sunday (you can access these messages on our website for July 20, 27, and August 3).
I am really pleased that the upcoming conference on the Holy Spirit is going so well. Scheduled for Saturday, November 8, 2008, a wonderful planning committee has been established, and I am told every position is filled. People have stepped up to the plate to do all the many jobs needed to make it a successful conference. Our speaker is Pastor Richard Adams of Bethany Assembly of God, Agawam, MA. You will be hearing much more about this in the days ahead.
The idea for the conference was conceived as I met with my Pastoral Advisory Board. I told them that according to our Vision Statement, and based on Acts 1:8, that we cannot fulfill our purpose as a church, which is the Great Commission, until we have been empowered by the Holy Spirit—everyone! So a conference was suggested as a means of highlighting the necessity of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit for ministry, and living the Christian life.
Our greatest need in planning for this conference is PRAYER. People should pray that God will wonderfully bless this conference, and that the Holy Spirit will be “poured out on all flesh” (Acts 2:27), and that we will all be empowered to be bold witnesses for Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.
“We Welcome You, Holy Spirit!”
July 5, 2008 ~ True Freedom
On Independence Day weekend thoughts of our nation’s fight for freedom were in all of our hearts. Patriotism, fireworks, and remembrance of lives lost 232(?) years ago, and celebration of a precious heritage: freedom and liberty were the themes we focused on. Judy and I watched the special on TV July 4th from the nation’s Capitol commemorating this great day. Thank God for our freedom.
But this year is also special for me. Thirty-five years ago the Lord Jesus Christ set me free from sin! I have come to know the truth of that verse that says, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin…so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” We were all slaves to sin before Jesus set us free, but now we have been set free from the tyranny of sin to become slaves of righteousness.
I gladly surrender to Jesus to become His slave, His bondservant, and serve righteousness rather than wickedness as I did before. So many Scriptures talk about this:
- Romans 6-8
- Galatians 5
- John 8
So on this July 4th weekend, I am certainly thankful to live in a free country. But I am even more grateful to have the true freedom there is in Christ—freedom from the grip of sin.
May 19, 2008 ~ We Welcome You, Holy Spirit!”
I am told that technically speaking the “season of Pentecost ” lasts only one week! The week extends from Pentecost Sunday (May 11 this year) until Trinity Sunday (May 18 this year). Following that we are, in the words of the Book of Common Prayer, in “The Season After
All of this is to say that our new Pentecost theme is only good for one week! We worked hard to come up with our theme, and I want to stick with it for awhile!
Following the successful Lenten theme of K.Y.E.O.J. (Keep Your Eyes On Jesus), we had asked the congregation to submit ideas for a Pentecost theme. We received 16 entries, and the elders prayerfully selected “We Welcome You, Holy Spirit.” This theme first of all fits in with our Vision and Mission Statement:
Vision: Supernaturally empowered by the Holy Spirit, to continue Jesus’ ministry on earth.
Mission: Using the book of Acts as God’s training manual, we will follow the example of the Apostles in order to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission, and glorify God.
From what we see in the ministry of Jesus, the Apostles, and the early Church in the book of Acts, they needed to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to do what God had called them to do, namely win the lost to Christ. It stands to reason that we also need this same empowerment.
Secondly, if the Holy Spirit is what we all need, we all need to recognize this and open our hearts to the third Person of the Godhead. We want to be open, inviting, welcoming to the Holy Spirit.
Let our attitude be: “We Welcome You, Holy Spirit!” Pentecost ,” which extends until Advent (i.e. Christmas for all you non-liturgical folks).
April 7, 2008 ~ “I Have A Dream”
Last week the nation remembered Martin Luther King, Jr., the great civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968. Many recalled his famous speech “I Have A Dream” where he painted a portrait of an America without racism, and discrimination.
As we move deeper into Easter, the season of Resurrection, and celebrate the Presence of our risen, ascended, glorified, exalted Lord Jesus Christ, I also have a dream. It is the dream of what the church in Collinsville will look like when Jesus makes His Presence powerfully felt.
I dream of a church that boldly proclaims Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord with such power that many respond and come joyfully into His Kingdom. I dream of a church that clearly hears the voice of Jesus and sees visions of our resurrected and exalted Lord. I dream of a church that expresses extravagant compassion and generosity towards all the hurting people and outcasts and helps the poor. I dream of a church that breaks the power of witchcraft and the occult in people’s lives. I dream of a church that prays so powerfully that buildings shake, jail doors open, lives are changed, evil spirits flee, angels appear, and dreams and visions happen. I dream of a church where miracles and healing are commonplace, easy, and where cancer is obsolete. I dream of a church that is fearless in the face of opposition, persecution, and even martyrdom. I dream of a church that is overflowing with the joyous sense of Jesus’ Presence, and worships Him extravagantly. I dream of a church where marriages and families are miraculously healed and restored. I dream of a church where the power of drugs and alcohol is broken, and where all addictions—pornography, sexual, immorality, eating, smoking are destroyed. I dream of a church that sets the mentally and emotionally ill free, and gets them completely free of psychotic drugs, antidepressants, and bipolar medications. I dream of a church where “shallow discipleship” is unheard of, where all believers are strong, and committed to holiness and righteousness.
That is my dream. I believe this is the kind of church Jesus desires also. May our risen Lord Jesus Christ cause it to happen.
~Pastor Jim Wheeler
February 25, 2008
Leviticus 25 describes the Year of Jubilee. Once every 50 years, the trumpet would sound on the tenth day of the seventh month on the Day of Atonement. Jubilee means rejoicing, joy, celebration, happiness, elation!
Why was there such joy throughout the land of Israel? Because with this trumpet blast was the announcement of liberty and freedom! All the bond-servants were to be set free. All debts were to be cancelled. All land sold to pay off debts, was to be returned to its original owners. In other words, the Year of Jubilee was the time when everything was restored. God did not see servitude, or debt, or selling of body and land due to poverty to be permanent. It could only last 50 years. Imagine how happy people were when the Jubilee came!
Jesus, in Luke 4, went back to His hometown of Nazareth. On the Sabbath day He went to worship at his hometown synagogue. He stood to read the scriptures, and He was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1-2: "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, to proclaim the year of our Lord's favor."
Was Jesus saying that His coming was the ultimate fulfillment of the Year of Jubilee? The release of all who are held in some kind of bondage? The release of those who are demonized? The healing of broken hearts? and bodies?
I think that is exactly what Jesus was declaring. My question is this: Is 2008 the Year of Jubilee for the Collinsville Congregational Church? Is this the year we see those in demonic bondage released? Is this the year we see hearts open up to the good news of Jesus Christ? Is this the year we see the broken-hearted healed? Is this the year we see those who are addicted set free? Is this the year we see broken marriages and broken families restored? Is 2008 the year CCC fulfills her divine calling and purpose?
~ Pastor Jim Wheeler
February 6, 2008
WOW! Lent came up fast this year! It seems like we just finished Advent, and now it is Ash Wednesday already (2/6/08). Our theme this year is "Keep Your Eyes On Jesus" (K.Y.E.O.J.), based on Hebrews 12:1-12, our anchor text. Each week I will refer to this passage, but also tie in collateral passages such as Revelation 2-3, dealing with the seven churches in Asia.
Lent emphasizes, of course, the appreciation of all that our Lord Jesus Christ accomplished at the cross and the empty tomb on Resurrection Day. It is a time for self-examination, evaluation of our spiritual state before God, repentance, renewal, and reconciliation. Christians focus on confession of sin, obedience to God, and the need to change things spiritually.
What we sense the Lord saying to us this Lent is "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to Collinsville Congregational Church." We will ask that question over and over again: What is the Holy Spirit saying to CCC? The Lord said many things to CCC over the years. The question is, are we willing to obey him? Will we follow Him? Will we say, "YES" to Jesus, the Lord of CCC?
CCC is at a crossroads; it's decision time. The Lord has plans for CCC, a divine destiny. Are we preparing to accept and fulfill that destiny? He is extending an invitation to us; are we willing to accept it?
Each week I will look at a different period of change in Israel, called revival, to see what it looks like to respond to the Lord, or not. We will have discussions each Sunday following Coffee Hour. There will be a Lenten Thought for the Week, and a bulletin page: "What Lent Means to Me." Of course, we will also have our Palm Sunday Breakfast, and our Good Friday Service in the evening.
It's going to be a good Lent, if we "Keep Our Eyes On Jesus!"
~Pastor Jim Wheeler
January 19, 2008
The blog took a brief leave of absence during the Advent season; and what an Advent season it was! People have asked me, "Well, how was your Christmas?", and I tell them, "One of the best ever!" Why was it good? last year ('06) as I inquired of the Lord what to focus on for Advent '07, He seemed to impress on me "Handel's Messiah." As Advent was approaching, I began to do research on this great work of music. Being married to a musician, I had a rudimentary appreciation of "Messiah." I remember once during our courtship in southern Connecticut, Judy took me to a "Messiah Sing-In." Held at a local church, they asked people who would be singing (Judy, not me) to sit in their spot according to voices (soprano, alto, tenor, etc.) Judy sang her heart out while I listened; a very enjoyable experience. Of course it helped that I was deeply in love with this soprano!
Judy has a copy of the complete score of "Messiah," so I began to go through it. I discovered that each of the 50+ sections of "Messiah" is based on a Scripture text, King James Version. There are nonother words - all Scripture. As I did further research, I discovered that Handel didn't write the text, only the music. His friend Charles Jennens wrote the words - the libretto. He handed it to Handel, who in three weeks wrote the music of this famous oratorio. I also discovered that the "Messiah" traces the entire plan of redemption from the distant biblical prophecies written hundreds of years before Jesus came, to His birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, return, and the final triumph of Jesus Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is very rich in its themes and imagery, and is glorious to listen to.
I bought a special two-CD copy of "Messiah" and as I meditated on the Scriptures directly from the score, and listened to the glorious music, I was wonderfully touched by the Holy Spirit. For the four weeks of Advent, I just traced the themes right through. I am not sure how it was received - I think it was fairly well received - but I had a wonderful time. I was so thrilled with what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ - our Messiah. God took me to a whole new level of appreciation of His master plan of redemption in Jesus. I entitled the series "Portraits of Messiah." It is recorded on CD if you would like to listen. One special feature was that each week I played one of the selections from the CD for the congregation to listen to. Glorious!
~ Pastor Jim Wheeler
December 10, 2007
After I arrived at Collinsville Congregational Church (a.k.a. "CCC") in 1983, approximately mid-late 1980's, the Council of Elders decided to completely do away with the annual "Stewardship Pledge Campaign." This had been a tortuous event every year where volunteers would contact people to wring out of them an annual faith pledge for the church. The elders would then establish the church budget based on these pledges, or promises of support. We decided to go based purely on faith, trusting God to supply all the church's financial needs. We also agreed to teach the congregation about stewardship so they would understand their biblical responsibility to the Lord and to the church.
To my knowledge, this teaching never took place. As we continued to trust God for the finances, we were OK for a few years. But in late 1995 -- early 1996 we hit a financial crisis. I will never forget the Annual Meeting of 1996 when the bleak financial report was given by the Church Manager. There was almost a palpable sense of fear that hung in the air. The Lord spoke to me and said "You haven't taught My people about stewardship." I immediately began to put together a four-message series on stewardship based on scripture, challenging people to trust God with their finances by tithing (i.e. giving 10% of their income to God via CCC -- that is where the trust comes in, to be able to live off the 90%).
The results were impressive. For 90 days we had testimonies from people of how God had blessed them financially as they trusted Him to provide. Person after person told of God's faithfulness. The objective was not to get the CCC coffers full again, but to lead God's people into responsible biblical stewardship. But when God's people will do this, God will also bless the church. God did bless CCC and the financial crisis ended later on that year. God is so faithful. We have learned that our God is big, huge, and can do anything! We learned to trust Him to provide. God doesn't need our money, but our money is the key to our hearts, and our hearts are what God is after.
~ Pastor Jim Wheeler
November 26, 2007
I began to be involved with NWAC (Northwest Alliance of Churches) about a year ago when my friend Ron Boratko told me of a pastor from Canaan, CT who was writing his DMin dissertation on the Second Great Awakening. The part that really grabbed me was the fact that this great spiritual revival began at the Canton Center Congregational Church in October 1798. I said, “What?!” So I began to inquire further and ended up becoming involved with this prayer movement from Litchfield county (they have graciously included me even though I am from Hartford County, although I can see Litchfield County through the woods in my backyard!) God is doing something in Litchfield County that I have not seen before in my 24 years here. There are a large number of churches and pastors who meet regularly to prayerfully brainstorm what God is doing, and what direction to go in. In addition, about 25 folks, lay and clergy, meet twice a month to intercede for an hour. There is no other agenda, only PRAYER for Repentance of God’s People, Reawakening of God’s Presence, and Release of God’s Power. Recent events have included two “Reclaiming Our Spiritual Heritage Tours,” where the pastor from Canaan, Ed Eastman, takes us to actual sites of the Second Great Awakening. On another occasion, they held a regional Vacation Bible School. In September 2007, we engaged in three Saturdays where teams of people journeyed to every town green in Litchfield County (including Canton) to pray blessings from God into that town. This prayer tour culminated Sunday, September 30 at Coe Park in Torrington, where we were led in powerful prayer for Litchfield County by Pastor Frank Mwebasa of Uganda.
Recently we learned of a similar move of God in Berkshire County, Massachusetts (just to the north of Litchfield County.) Since March 2007, a large group of pastors have felt led to meet for prayer and to plan a revival service in Pittsfield called “Revival Fire.” This event occurred on Sunday, October 28, and was attended by about 800 people, 25 of whom were from NWAC. We felt we wanted to join with these folks in solidarity, since God seems to be working strongly in both regions.
Interestingly, the day after this event, a church in Berkshire County sent a picture of an apple tree that split in three because it produced so many apples. This happened between Sunday evening and Monday morning. Is this a sign from God of a great harvest of souls coming?
~Pastor Jim Wheeler
November 12, 2007
It is Veterans Day, or, as my father, a veteran of WWII and the "Battle of the Bulge" says, "I'm old-fashioned, I call it Armistice Day." As we think proudly of our veterans and the many sacrifices they've made to keep our country free, I believe this altruistic trait we see in people comes from God. To have loyalty to your country to the point of serving in the military, or going to a foreign battlefield to fight, and risk being wounded or killed--where does this come from? We normally see only selfishness, self-preservation, and ego in other people. But the desire to give of yourself can only be an instinct put in the human heart by God.
It is God's nature to give, and to sacrifice. "For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). "This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32).
Thank God for our veterans, thank God for giving us hearts that want to give and sacrifice, and thank God for being loving and giving Himself to send His own Son to die for us.
~Pastor Jim Wheeler
November 5, 2007
Why do people go to church? Although there are many reasons, the most basic motivation is so simple that we almost miss it. People go to church to meet God! If we give them everything else but God, we have failed. We shouldn't substitute causes, projects, or issues for what they are really seeking--God. We can't even substitute people (a.k.a, "fellowship") for God. Bible study, prayer, evangelism are all very important, but we must give them God. We must give them Jesus. We must give them His Presence. The Presence of Jesus has always characterized and distinguished Christianity from all other religions. We are people of the Presence.
For some time now, folks at CCC have been praying for the Presence of Jesus to intensify at CCC. We do feel His Presence very generally most of the time. But there have been occasions when it has been very strong. Such an occasion was Sunday, 11/4/07. As we began to worship the Lord this Communion Sunday, we focused on the Cross and the Blood of Jesus, as the focal point for our lives and our worship. The hymns and choruses were all on this theme. As worship leader I felt led to include "There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood," which Judy played flawlessly without any advance notice. The scripture reading was on the blood (1 Peter 1:18-19 and Isaiah 53:4,5). Along with Isaiah's emphasis on the healing side of the atonement was the chorus "I Am The God That Healeth Thee."
As we were approaching a time of prayer, I was asking the Lord what to pray about. Just then Anne Kendall gave a tongue and interpretation focusing on "comfort," that God was desiring to draw us to Himself to comfort us. Linda Holbrook followed this with a Word of Knowledge about a "healing blanket" descending on the congregation.
There was my prayer direction! I led the congregation to receive the healing Presence the Lord Jesus was bringing. As testimonies followed, Lois Caron told of the spot they had found on her lung just this week. We immediately laid hands on her right then and there and prayed for the spot to disappear.
The meditation was on Jesus, the Bread of Life from John 6, and a wonderful time at the Lord's Supper as people came forward to receive the elements, and quite a few received anointing and blessing. Testimonies followed which spoke of the Lord's faithfulness. Jack Bates, visiting with Sharon, spoke the word "complete" to us. It was complete. We all felt the strong Presence of Jesus. Praise His name!
~ Pastor Jim Wheeler
October 14, 2007
Recently, in the September 2007 issue of Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel, there was an article entitled “ America’s 10 Coolest Small Towns.” We were all surprised and delighted that our own Collinsville, Connecticut made the list! Somebody thinks Collinsville is one of the “coolest” towns in the U.S.A. This has caused quite a stir in Collinsville as word got back to us. Everybody began to speculate on why Collinsville might be so “cool.” Articles have appeared in local newspapers. People’s opinions have been published. Everything from LaSalle luncheonette, to the rails to trails, to the Farmington River, to the old Collins Company factory, to the quaint, 19th century look have been ventured as an explanation. And it has begun to bring additional people here to check out this “cool” little town.
Immediately, I began to think of how “cool” it is that the Collinsville Congregational Church is right smack in the center of such a cool town. It seems to me that God has positioned CCC in this town to reach Collinsville (and Canton ) for Christ. As we have been celebrating our 175th anniversary as a church, I have been thinking that God put our church here 175 years ago for a reason: to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Sam Collins had only just come to town and founded his axe factory when the church began in 1832. The town’s name was changed from “South Canton” to “Collinsville” in honor of him.
But we are here to honor Jesus. We will best honor Jesus by winning the lost to Christ through prayer, worship, and evangelism.
~ Pastor Jim Wheeler
October 9, 2007
Our service was very special on October 7. First of all, my mother was there from NYC, and also her sister, my Aunt Marilyn from San Diego. Aunt Marilyn came to know Christ over 20 years ago after visiting us in Dallas when our son Jim was born in 1979. She heard my testimony of meeting Jesus and it had quite an impact on her, as well as a few other things God did to open her eyes to see Jesus. Now, we're both working on Mom!
We were celebrating "The Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem," joining Christians from all over the world to pray for Jerusalem, Israel, and the Jews. Many thanks to Rose Beaudry who helped plan the service and co-lead it with me. She has a real heart for Israel and the Jewish people. We began with a power-point presentation on the screen accompanied by Israeli music.
Following that we entered into some really spirited Israeli-style choruses accompanied by tambourines and violin (Sue Wittmer). Rose then spoke on the significance of the day of prayer.
Then several people led in prayer for Jerusalem including prayers for Peace, Justice, Truth, and the salvation of the Jews, that they would see Jesus as their Messiah.
My communion meditation was entitled "Prince of Peace," based on Romans 1:16-17 (and Leviticus 16), showing how Yom Kippur points to Jesus as the "scapegoat" who carries all Israel's (and our) sins away.
The Lord's Supper took on new significance for all of us as we saw Jesus' heart for His people the Jews and also for the Gentiles.
May God open the eyes of His people the Jews to see Jesus their Messiah. They are the apple of His eye and He loves them.
~ Pastor Jim Wheeler
September 24, 2007
We culminated the celebration of this church’s 175th anniversary with a service of worship that focused on CCC’s spiritual heritage. Included was the original hymn composed for and sung at the dedication of the first church building in 1836. We recited the church’s original covenant and Articles of Faith from 1832, as well as our current covenant and Statement of Faith. I brought a message entitled “The Church’s One Foundation”, based on 1 Corinthians 3:11. We are glad to celebrate the fact that in 1832, this church firmly established Jesus Christ as its solid foundation, and though we have had many ups and downs in 175 years, Jesus Christ remains our foundation.
Between the service and the luncheon, “Water2Wine” again played, but this time they played all original music. We praise God for them!
Then at noon, over 100 people sat down to a catered luncheon in Collins Hall. Among our guests were two former CCC pastors, Rev. Bruce Anderson, and Rev. Charles Schleich. Some ministers from Canton graciously joined us, to celebrate with us. Our Canton First Selectman, Mary Tomolonious, said a few words of greeting. And eleven “Fifty-Plus Year Members” were honored.
Many thanks to the anniversary committee and chair, Pat Atwater, for all the hard work in making this truly a year of celebration.
As the Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us for 175 years, may we continue to maintain Him as our Foundation and Head.
~ Pastor Jim Wheeler
September 17, 2007
Yesterday was a good day for CCC. There are little signs that God is moving in our midst.
We were pleased to have "Water2Wine" visit and lead us in worship. Jeanette (flute, keyboard, and vocals), Ginette (rhythm guitar and vocals), and Ed (lead guitar and vocals) led us into one of the most precious times of worship and God's presence that we have seen lately. One person commented afterwards, "It seemed like there was a pulse coming up from deep within; something I haven't felt in worship before."
Water2Wine will be back next week to play for our 175th Anniversary Luncheon.
The Rally Day picnic was good, as usual. What great weather! Lots of good food, lots of good conversation, and lots of good people. Thanks to all the crews who set up and took down the canopy (a.k.a. "Tabernacle"), tables and chairs. And much thanks to Jackie Hanson for all her planning and preparations.
The day culminated by baptizing David in the Farmington River. David trusted Jesus as his Savior three weeks ago.
God is on the move!
P.S. A woman received prayer for her father in his 80's, who was having serious heart trouble and was hospitalized. Monday morning, the doctor came in and couldn't figure it out - the man seemed to be doing alright now, and he's about to be sent home!
~Pastor Jim Wheeler