First Christian Church of Warner Robins
Pastor's Corner
Pastor's Corner

Pastor's Corner - February 2010

A major disaster kills hundreds and hundreds of people, leaves thousands and thousands without the basics of shelter, food, water, and medical care.  Normally all people would bend over backwards to assist them.  Instead we have media celebrities suggesting that they be left to their own devices or they use it as a political commentary.  This should seriously demonstrate that the concept that this is a Christian nation is nothing more than political fodder.

Matthew tells us that Jesus used the parable of the sheep and the goats to teach us, as followers of Christ, how to respond to people in need.  The way we respond to those who suffer is in fact the way we respond to the love of God visible in Jesus.  The Gospels all draw out the understanding that we must forgive and love others so that we may truly be forgiven and loved.

Think of it this way; could you play a musical instrument the very first time that you tried to play?  I couldn’t.  I learned to play the violin, the clarinet and the tenor saxophone.  Everyone took time and regular practice to be able to play (and I freely admit that I was not great on any of them, but I could hold my own).  We can succeed in love and forgiveness by practicing these wonderful gifts.

One of the largest obstacles we face in sharing love and forgiveness and caring for others is our own fear of losing something we need.  I cannot do this task, I cannot help that person, I cannot do anything about that, because I don’t have the time, the resources, the abilities, the responsibility, etc.  It is true that we cannot stop the earthquakes that hit Haiti, the mudslides in California, the starvation of Darfur, the wars, the hatred, the murders; however, we are not expected to deal with everything happening everywhere.

Search your heart for the problem that truly calls out to you.  Let God guide you.  Then explore how your gifts and talents and resources can be put to use in solving that problem.  Say, for example, that you want to help in Haiti.  You can send money through the Week of Compassion, you can prepare health kits and infant kits and send them through Week of Compassion.  You can get together friends and family to put the kits together.  Put out a change jar for the work that will take years to accomplish.  Make contact with the mission representatives of our church serving in the area to learn what the real problems are and what could be done to provide help.  This method can work for major disasters like Haiti as well as local issues such as literacy, hunger, or homelessness.

This is how we start to love and forgive and discover that we are really loved and forgiven ourselves.  Take a step, give it a try.  It is a remarkable experience.

Shalom,  Darrell

Pastor's Corner - December 2009

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Joyous Kwanza.  There is much debate this year about holiday greetings.  I find it fascinating that we can get all worked up about the words shared in a store as we buy, buy, buy in the name of Jesus.  Christmas is not preserved and Christ is not kept in Christmas by the words we use as we bury ourselves in debt to buy things for other people to add to the stuff that already possesses them.  Here is a plan to keep Christ in Christmas no matter what words you use.

Do not leave worship out of your holiday plans!  After all, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  Why not go to church and thank God for this special child.  Also have moments of worship at home.  You do not have to peach (if you have children, they will tell you that you already preach enough), but you should spend time in prayer and study.  If you have children, include them in special story times, light a family advent wreath, pray together.  The church library and most bookstores have resources readily available for this.

Jesus preached that the Sabbath was made for man, therefore, it also translates that Christmas is made for us as well and not the other way around.  Do not let the holidays take over your life.  Say “no” to some of the demands that will wear you out physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Remember the scene of a quiet stable, with shepherds gathered around, all is calm, all is peaceful.  Create space during this season for calm and peace in your home.  It will be a gift long treasured and may even become shared all year long.

Share the value of gift giving, not by spending more and more, but by sharing special gifts that will have meaning.  Children are capable of understanding the importance of sharing with others at an early age.  Make the holiday about giving gifts to others rather than merely about what they want Santa to bring to them.  Take the child to pick out a toy to give away to Toys For Tots, or pick an angel from a tree and fill the need for someone else.  Try to select someone about the same age as your child, someone who probably shares the same likes and dislikes.  Help them select something to give away.  That can become a tradition that the child will treasure all of their lives.

As for other gifts, make them more personal.  Focus on the reason we share gifts this time of year.  We give gifts because we have been given a very special gift.  If we take the time to really give from our hearts to each other, we may find it more satisfying than buying huge piles of stuff that will be set aside before the next year ends.  If you feel the person would understand and appreciate the gift, try giving a gift in their name to their favorite charity, or try a variety of other choices such as Habitat for Humanity, Project Heifer, Bread of the World or even Week of Compassion.

Do not buy into the war of words over the proper greeting for this time of year.  The purpose of the season is to share love, hope, and peace for all peoples.  This is best done, not with words, but with actions.  A wise early Christian told his flock that they should preach the Gospel at all times, and that only when necessary should they use words.  The love of God in Christ will be far more visible when a small number act out of love and charity than if all the nation shouted  “Merry Christmas” at the same time.  Let your actions express the joy of the season and the right words will follow.

Shalom and Merry Christmas to all,    Darrell

Pastor's Corner - November 2009

The key to any relationship is communication.  As Christians, we are to converse with God through prayer.  This conversation is two-way; we speak and we listen for God’s return comments.  When I counsel couples about to get married, I always stress the importance of communication, especially when children come into the picture.  Two parents can easily be outnumbered by one child if they don’t communicate with each other and share answers to children’s requests.

As a congregation, we use a variety of methods of communication.  As in most organizations, there is the “grapevine.”  You know how that works.  Someone hears about something and calls their friend or visits with a neighbor and soon the story is all over town.  We call it the calling tree or prayer chain.  This works well; however, there are times, like all things, when it falls short.  I enjoy the story of the prayer chain notice where a loving elderly woman called to let the next person on the list know that “Mrs. Jones was to have a vasectomy in the morning.”  When the person called tried to explain that this just was not possible, the caller insisted that this was the accurate information and therefore Mrs. Jones was indeed having a vasectomy.  I would love to have heard how the insurance company responded.

We also use the bulletin and announcement time at the beginning of worship.  The bulletin boards in the fellowship hall and sanctuary entrance help convey information to people as they come to the church for worship or other events and meetings.  Inserts and handouts also assist in communicating with those attending church.

Because of technology, we have a way of reaching people all over the world by the use of our web site at  Photos, special music, information, and our newsletters are found there.  This is a real benefit for friends and family members away from home.  It also allows former members to keep track of the events going on in Warner Robins.

Our final tool for communication is the Warner Robins Disciple, which you are holding in your hand right now.  Here is information about what has happened and what is going to happen at First Christian.  This is a tool for us to keep up with the changes in other people’s lives as well.  When someone moves, the newsletter is returned and often labeled with the new address.  The downside is that the person to whom it was sent misses out on that issue.  We also have to put together a list of 200 addresses to maintain the bulk rate permit.  Some months this gets to be a challenge.  Time is invested in producing, folding, sealing, sorting and then often resorting at the post office because the handling requirements have changed since last month.

This newsletter is our primary tool for sharing the life and ministry of this congregation.  We need to put it into people’s hands in the most effective way available.  We need your help.  As responsible stewards of God’s creation and our resources, we want to be more efficient.  It might be possible to send out the newsletter in a variety of formats in order to utilize technology and assure that it reaches as many friends and families as possible.

We are currently exploring mailing out the newsletter first class to those who wish to receive a printed copy and also sending it outelectronically as e-mail to those who would rather view it online.  Doing this could save time, paper, and money.  Please let us know what you think and which format you would prefer to receive.  You can write to the church at 100 N Houston Rd., Warner Robins, GA  31093, call the church at (478) 923-1536, or e-mail us at  No change will occur until the February 2010 issue of the Warner Robins Disciple.

Talk to us, so that we may keep open the best lines of communication possible.

Shalom,  Darrell

Pastor's Corner - October 2009

H1N1, regular flu, pneumonia, terrorists, economic weak-ness, Global warming, etc., etc., etc.  Let’s get all the fears on the table at one time.  Most of us remember the tale of Chicken Little.  As I remember it, Chicken Little was not the hero of the story; rather he was the nuisance who raised the alarm over things that were not a threat.  Granted the list above is serious and not to be ignored.  However, as Christians should these things demand our time, energy and fear to the degree they seem to do?

Paul talks in Romans about not fearing the powers and principalities for they cannot deprive us of what is most important, God’s Love.  Repeatedly, messengers of God are telling individuals and groups to not be afraid.  Even Jesus told all who would listen to not be concerned about food and clothing (I think it would be safe to add any of the above list) for God will provide.  We are to trust in the power and presence of God in the world and in our lives, especially when crises arise.

We fail in our faith and trust in God when we let the fears of all that could happen prevent us from dealing with the challenges God calls us to take on.  The problem with all of these fears is that the focus is on the self.  Yes, we can fear these things for other people, but if we are totally honest, it is the fear that it could be us that grabs us.  Selfish fear prevents us from loving our neighbors as our self.  Selfish fear prevents us from loving God with all that we are and trusting in the absolute Presence that never goes away.  God is present in the face of all these terrible things that “might” happen, and when they really do happen.

Yes, there are things of which we should be afraid.  But that fear should lead us to trust God and face those fears with God at our side, all around us, and within us.  The greatest fear out there is the fear of death; yet we are supposed to have faith that death has been overcome through the Grace and Love of God visible in the life and resurrection of Jesus.  Let the fear become the energy that helps us move to assist those who suffer from diseases; let the fear be the motivation to empower others in love and to take the power away from those who only preach hatred; let the fear move us to truly become the good stewards God made us to be to care for all the Creation for which God called us to tend.  “May God grant us the courage to change the things which we can, to accept the things we cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  This also applies to the things we fear.

Shalom,  Darrell

Pastor's Corner - September 2009

What is the reason you come out to First Christian Church?  In the August 11 issue of “Christian Century” Lydie Raschka talks about the practice of her husband who adopted a spot in New York City as his own.  She tells that he goes to this spot to sit and read and relax, how he cleans up the area regularly, even though it is not the nicest of locations.  She also talks about the little run down church they started to attend and how their commitment and efforts have brought new life to this old church.

What brings you to the corner of Houston Road and Birch Street?  Do you see this corner as a special place for you?  Do you want to commit your energy and time to seeing it have an impact on the lives of others?  Now the challenge is to articulate what brings you to First Christian Church.  Write it down, create a story, put it into words that can be shared.  This is how we tell our story and attract others to our little corner of Warner Robins.

If you are willing, these stories and reasons can be shared through this newsletter in future months.  One of the biggest problems faced by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is that in spite of having something truly needed in today’s world, very few in the church tell the story.  Until we can put the story into our own words and make it personal many people will see it only as a practiced and commercial promotion.  Our community needs personal relationships, not generic promotions.  One of the strengths of our church is a sense of family.  Family is about relationship, interaction and acceptance.  Corporate ads and stories have less impact than personal stories to touch people.

Sit down and start writing out your story, make it as long or as short as you think it needs to be.  Then sit back and read it and think about how someone who does not know First Christian would hear this story.  The next step is the biggest part of the challenge; starting to tell the story to people you know.  Let them know why you go to church, what church does for you, what God has done for you through the church.   Make the story come to life in your own life and in this church.

Shalom,  Darrell

Pastor's Corner - August 2009

I want to commend all the people who helped make this year’s Vacation Bible School a huge success.  All the adults and young people who gave their evenings to lead the programs, do recreation, lead singing, and serve food and refreshments to the kids went above and beyond the call of duty.  By the time you read this you may have been entertained by the children singing songs they learned in VBS during Sunday morning worship.  Special thanks go to Juliet Nolde, Gidget Hurlbert and Mary Jane Rogers for putting it all together.

It is now August.  School is resuming, vacations are limited now to weekend trips and the like.  It is not any cooler, in fact it may be hotter (writing this in July I hope it is not overly prophetic).  The pace begins to quicken again.  In the face of this resumption of school, work, ballgames, practices, etc, etc, let us remember to stop and seek renewal on a regular basis.

For most people who read Genesis 1, they think of God’s creation of everything, but the focus of the creation is the creation of the Sabbath, a day to celebrate what God created and to be re-created through a day of rest and fun.  Sabbath is not to be a time of somberness and isolation.  It is a time to gather together in thanksgiving celebrations.  It is a time to look around at all that God made and agree with the Creator that it is indeed Very Good!

The Jewish faith teaches that work is not to be done on the Sabbath, and we often assume that to mean that everyone sits around and does nothing.  Rather, Sabbath is a time of coming together as family and worshiping, eating, and rejoicing together.  What a concept.  Taking the time to spend with the people you love in a celebrative manner without making a huge production out of it requires someone to spend most of their time working to put it all together and cleaning up afterward.  Come together to pray and play, to worship and fellowship, to rest and restore ourselves and our families.

This is very hard, especially in a society that demands so much of our time.  We must intentionally decide to make it happen.   We must choose to let some things slide so that we might be healthier mental, physically and spiritually.  Maybe a day is too much to ask for in the beginning; do not worry, start slowly.  Take a couple of hours to try it out.  Bring the family together and find a simple activity to fill the time with fun and relaxation.  Begin and end with giving thanks to God for a time of rest and re-creation.  Make it a regular event each week, and as it becomes more of a family custom then gradually lengthen the time until you achieve a Sabbath day.

Also try it out as an individual.  Everyone needs some one on one time with God.  Take an hour that it will be just you and God.  Step away from the electronics, put down the I-pods, turn off the cell phones and just spend time with God in quiet, peaceful communion.  You might be surprised after a few weeks at how quickly an hour passes.  You will also be amazed at how relaxed and ready you will be for whatever else you have to do during that day and even through the week.  After all, Jesus made his Disciples take time to sit and be with God.

Shalom,  Darrell

Pastors Corner - July 2009

You might have noticed a change in the name of this month’s newsletter.  After the June issue was mailed, we received a letter from “The Christian Chronicle,” Inc.  This is the international newsletter of the Churches of Christ out of Oklahoma City, OK.  The editor and CEO indicated that they owned the copyright and trademark for “The Christian Chronicle” and that we were to stop using it.  Some exploration demonstrated the problem.  Even though we only send this out to members and special family, it also appears on our website.  Upon doing a Google search we found our newsletter listed on page three of the search.  Pretty amazing for a church newsletter.  Thanks to all our friends who read about our church online.

At first I was offended by the tenor of the letter.  After time, though, I realized that it was merely the legalize required of such correspondences.  And even though we could retain the name for our mailing list, we would need to change it on the web copy.  Therefore, the Christian Chronicle is retiring after more than 19 years and has become the Warner Robins Disciple.

This is not being done merely to comply with copyright and trademark laws.  This is being done because it is the way the family of God is to settle disputes and challenges.  In chapter 6 of I Corinthians, Paul instructs the church to settle matters among themselves without turning to civil courts.  We are brothers and sisters, not complete strangers.  We should be able to sit down and talk about problems with grace and compassion.

If you look in the current media, all issues are turned into a rabid attack between parties who are absolutely certain that their way is the only way.  No mutual respect is apparent between parties, no sense of being part of the same family, no sense of hope for solution except the capitulation of one side or the other.  We have watched this type of dispute rip through politics as well as churches.  This is not to be the way of the church.  We are to always listen with the ears of God’s grace and seek to discover our commonality; after all we are all part of the Body of Christ.  Each part is as essential as any other; no one is more important than another.

At the end of this month, our denomination will gather in Indianapolis for our General Assembly.  They have been events of great worship and celebration.  They have also been events where tempers came close to tearing apart the Body of Christ known as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  We may not be watched as closely as some of the large denominations, but we are still watched to see how and if we behave like the Children of God or like everybody else in the world.  Will we listen and respect each other, especially when we have differences of opinion?  Will we seek to include all voices or just the ones who will agree with the majority?  Will our decisions reflect the Jesus who came to serve the sick and needy, not those who were powerful and important?

The heart of our church is the Communion Table.  It reminds us that it is the Lord’s Table, not ours and therefore God is the host and decides who is welcome.  Jesus ate with the outcasts of His world.  Respectable people wouldn’t be seen with such people, but Jesus sat at the Table with them.  The Table represents the willingness to give one’s life in love for others, and not just the closest of friends and family.  Rather, this gift was given to all of us, especially people we would say were least deserving (like you and me).

Therefore, may “The Christian Chronicle” continue to experience the blessing of God in their work.  May we all listen for the voice of God in ourselves before we demand what we deem to be our “right”; instead, let us make sure that the “rights” of all God’s children are not diminished in order that we might have our “rights”.

Shalom,  Darrell

Pastor's Corner - June 2009

As we read about the life of the early church, we hear about persecutions, hardships due to poverty, and an average life span was in the 40’s to 50’s.  Today’s news is full of dread as well.  Financial crises in business, homes, and even in churches are an accepted part of the current news.  Retirement plans are drying up, children returning home, parents moving in with children and jobs becoming a premium add to the stress we all feel.  Now we face concerns about our world and environment.

How do we respond to all of this as Christians?  We respond as the early church did.  They responded as compassionate brothers and sisters seeking to offer care and support to the best of their abilities.  We, as did the early Christians, recognize that we are all in the same situation, and that real peace and security is something only accomplished by everyone working together.

This is true for financial as well as environmental concerns.  It doesn’t really matter who is to blame, it is only important to learn the lessons from past mistakes and not repeat them in the future.  It doesn’t matter whether global warming is real or exaggerated, we are stewards for God’s creation and are thus responsible for the care and protection of that which God has made.  We know that we cannot continue to operate as we have for decades because we have more and more demands upon the resources we have taken for granted.  We need to think communally, what would best serve everyone, especially the ones with the least voice in the decision-making.  Recovery should be for everyone, not just those who have always been on top of the heap.

“When you did it for one of the least of these, you did it for me.”  These words of Jesus should sing in our hearts and every effort made to heal not only our financial situation, but our global environmental situation as well.  There will come a time when God asks us what have we done with the resources he loaned to us.  How will we answer?

Shalom,  Darrell

Pastor's Corner - May 2009

Two hundred years ago in the panhandle of what was to become West Virginia, a minister and his congregation prepared a statement to their denominational leadership explaining their vision for ministry in this frontier region of the nation.

The minister’s son, newly arrived from overseas, read and endorsed his father’s words.  On August 17, 1809 the congregation in Buffaloe, VA declared their intention to form a new religious association composed of people from various denominations centered upon the priesthood of all believers, the practice of believer’s baptism and the open and free Table of the Lord.  They called the document the Declaration and Address.  It is one of our founding documents.

One hundred years ago in Pittsburg, PA, about an hour from Bethany, WV (formerly known as Buffaloe, VA), Disciples gathered from all around the country to celebrate the 100th anniversary of this document. On July 29-Aug. 2, Disciples will gather from around the world in Indianapolis, IN to mark not only the General Assembly of our denomination, but also to celebrate 200 years of our history since the Declaration and Address was read.

In those early days, the first Disciples of Christ wanted to celebrate and worship together without all the divisions that existed for Christians of different faith backgrounds.  In a world where education played second string to forging a life on the frontier in order to survive, necessity dictated less distinction between those who were educated and those who were not and our founders believed in educating people so that they could better understand and read the Bible for themselves and thus become better Christians as citizens of this nation.  They welcomed all believers to the table and even though they practiced baptism by immersion, they did not demean any other form of baptism. They strove for simplicity in the practice of the faith so that more people would feel welcome.  All of this was built around the centrality of Communion open to everybody without tests or requirements.

Was the world simpler then?  Were there fewer complications and distractions then?  Why do we seem to get so caught up in the demands and pressures of our world that we build walls for our own protection and in the process push others away?

Surely, with all the threats faced by those living on America’s frontiers, they knew fear from threats to life and health.  They knew people who were dangerous and strange.  Yet the call of our church founders was for welcome, acceptance, and sharing of the promises they had discovered in the life of a Disciple of Christ.  I grant that they had some problems with acceptance of African Americans as equals, and Native peoples as potential friends rather than savages, but the words that have passed through time to each of us need to speak anew and afresh in our hearts and minds.  We need to apply them to our decisions and our fears.  We need to trust that God’s word is indeed for everyone and that God’s love is also to be shared with everyone.

We are called to be witnesses to the love of God that knows no boundaries.  A love that is visible in the weekly practice of communion.  A love that is offered instead of judgment and the assessment of guilt.  In Christ we have been set free and challenged to show that freedom to others and invite them to discover it for themselves and rejoice.  It isn’t rocket science; it is love poured out for all who seek to receive it.  Come to the table, taste, and see how Great God is.

Shalom,  Darrell

Pastor Darrell Gets Peeped

Years ago I mentioned my enjoyment of Peeps, the marshmallow treats in a variety of shapes depending on the holiday. Since that time, I have never had to purchase another Peep. I should have seen the potential danger.

Throughout the year, packages would appear on my desk, on the pulpit, or both. Some holidays, some appeared months after Peep appropriate holidays. After all it takes quite a while for a Peep to go bad. I am not entirely sure which has a long life span Twinkies or Peeps, but my money is on the Peep.

This year I made comments about how pleased I was to have not been buried with Peeps during Easter. Members of the congregation indicated that I should not speak too soon as they would be sold at half price after Easter Sunday. More dire words have not been spoken.

Beth Bickley and Ann Von Almen are diligent, hard working deacons and ministry leaders of our church. They also have devious senses of humor. They live up to my mantra with my wife, “she never gets even, she gets ahead.”

Two weeks ago they began their plot by taking quick and surreptitious measurements of my Ford Escort. They needed to know how many Peeps would be needed for their plan. I have no idea how long it took to gather the needed marshmallow arsenal, but last Sunday they thought themselves well prepared.

Their plan was based on a TV reality show called “Trick My Truck”, they planned to “Peep my Ride.” But I didn’t play as expected. Rather than driving my Escort, I took my wife to work at the hospital and then drove our Prius to the church. The Prius has a larger windshield and surface area than the Escort. They didn’t have enough Peep power. Not to be thwarted by my actions, they visited Walgreens next door and struck a deal with the manager to buy ALL his to see pictures of what they were going to do.

Ann and Beth slipped out of the Sanctuary, during my sermon to begin their work.

Beth’s daughter Amanda Aguilar arrived to assist in the plan. As I went to the entrance to greet those who attended church, and actually stayed to listen to the sermon, “What is Sin,” I noticed a poster board on the outside of the sanctuary door. It read, “You have heard of the show ‘Trick My Truck’ how about ‘Peep My Ride.’ They’re here!”

I knew I was in trouble and did not want to see what awaited me around the corner of the church. After greeting the majority leaving the sanctuary, I ventured around the corner to see what had occurred. To say that I boldly went to face my future is an exaggeration, I stuck my head around the corner of the church just enough to get a peek at the peeps. Everyone was gathered around what had once been a silver Prius.

Coming of the “Just Peeped” sign were to tails made from empty Peep boxes. They were empty because I had a new sunshade for the windshield.

The sign in the front read “…And on the eighth day God made Peeps! And they were good!”

I learned how fortunate I was since the car was locked and the ladies didn’t know that the car keys were on my desk.

Since this event, I have been giving away boxes of Peeps in honor of Beth Bickley and Ann Von Almen and living in trepidation of what may happen next. These ladies are not satisfied with the status quo, they want to go one step farther. Ask not for whom the peep tolls, it tolls for thee (apologies to John Donne).

Shalom, Darrell