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Pastor Earley is the Religion Columnist for the Oldham Era. His articles have been published each week since 2003. Here are some recent articles Pastor Earley has written:
I never realized there could be so many answers to the question, “When you look at a cup do you see that it is half full or half empty?” An entrepreneur sees that the cup is waiting to be filled. A consultant says the problem is that you have too much cup. An accountant would insist that if the cup is a fixed cost, and the water is a variable cost, then the unused capacity should be considered a sipping expense. The marketer would advise that if we position the cup properly we could sell it to both the optimist and the pessimist. Ben Franklin once commented that the optimist is usually disappointed, while the pessimist is often pleasantly surprised. The Bible says, “My cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5), which really changes the whole way of looking at cups. A closer look at Psalm 23 gives us many reasons why our cups are indeed running over.Read this article
My friend, Betty, had suffered the loss of her beloved daughter, and was in desperate search for something to help heal her broken heart. She spoke to her minister who suggested she volunteer at the local helping agency to get her out of her house and help her to think about something else besides her grief. She started volunteering one day a week, then two, and soon she was helping every day of the week. By the time I got on the Board of Directors she was the director of the agency. Her kind heart, common sense, and desire to help others helped her become an amazing director. I asked about her story, and it went something like this.Read this article
Job had seven sons, three daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 donkeys, and the Bible says he was blameless, upright, feared God, and turned from evil. One day tragedy struck, and the army of the Sabeans took the oxen and donkeys. A fire burned up the sheep. The army of the Chaldeans took the camels. A tornado killed his children. The next day his body is covered with boils. Job asks, "Why doesn't God do something?"Read this article
Like many Americans, my celebration of Memorial Day in the past was a relaxed day off, until my eldest son, Lee, enlisted in the Army. His brother, Brian, and sister, Catie, followed in his footsteps, and it completely changed the way I viewed Memorial Day. I am very proud of my three children, and very grateful that all three returned home from war safely. My wife and I wanted to worry about their safety, but we realized our worry would not help them one bit to be safe, so we prayed: A LOT! My children had many positive experiences while serving their country overseas. Thank you Lord for bringing them home safely.Read this article
I think one of the most highly valued character traits listed in the Bible is humility. The Bible is consistent in proclaiming if you are arrogant or prideful there are many bad consequences. If you are humble before the Lord you earn the highest praise from God, and our humility opens doors in our lives for God to use us. However, the Bible does not have a lot of information about what humility is. We think we know it when we see it. So, as you read the following story think about what it teaches about humility.Read this article
Each year when Mother’s Day rolls around I always like to preach about love because when moms have been great moms, the greatest gift they pass on to their children is the meaning of unconditional love. Jesus called this love “agape,” and it is a no-strings-attached, nothing to earn, “I will always love you” kind of love. We don’t experience that kind of love very often in our lives. When we do, it is often our moms that share that kind of love best.Read this article
Jesus never demanded that His followers should fast. In the Old Testament, the Jews were commanded to fast on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27-32). Since all of Jesus’ disciples were Jewish, it was more noteworthy that they didn’t fast when He was with them (Matthew 9:14-17). I remember when I first started thinking about fasting that there were many parts of scripture about fasting, but few people actually did it. Since I have a bit of a competitive streak I started trying to learn to fast so I could have a better faith than anyone else around me.Read this article
In Minnesota, during the summer of 1876, there was a swarm of grasshoppers destroying the crops. It was the fourth year in a row that the wheat, corn, oat, and barley fields were destroyed across the state. There was a fear that the grasshoppers would return, so Governor John S. Pillsbury proclaimed a day of prayer and fasting on April 26, 1877 (that was 140 years ago this week!), urging every man, woman, and child to petition God's protection. When the appointed day arrived, schools and businesses were closed as people prayed for Divine intervention.Read this article
After Jesus is raised from the dead there is this wonderful scene on the beach in Galilee, where Jesus deals with his friend. They have breakfast together after a record breaking catch, and Jesus is alone with Peter (John 21). Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” The great power of this question is more obvious when we read it in Greek. The word for love Jesus uses is “agape,” which means unconditional love. So, Jesus is asking Peter, “Do you love me unconditionally?”Read this article
When Peter was on the mountain where Jesus was transfigured he had the most amazing mountain top experience. He “felt” so good, and was so certain his faith could handle anything. Perhaps he remembered this mountain top experience when he declared, the day before Jesus was crucified, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Matthew 26:35). His mountain top faith must have seemed a distant memory when he denied Jesus the third time, heard the rooster crow, and remembered that is exactly what Jesus predicted would happen (Matthew 26:34, Matthew 26:69-75).Read this article
My family likes to play a game called “Liar’s Dice. Everyone starts with five dice, and rolls them without anyone knowing what everyone else rolled. Then the bidding begins. The object of the bidding is to convince others, lying if you must, that you have made a good bid. When someone calls, “Liar,” then everyone shows their dice, and count only the bid number. If you lied you lose a dice. If you are right the person who called you a liar loses a dice. Last one with dice wins.Read this article
These days there are many places that we do not always feel safe or welcome if we want to let our faith show for others to see. There are plenty of news stories of government leaders, business leaders, and students who have had to decide to compromise their faith or serve jail time, pay fines, or some other public penalty or ridicule.Read this article
Welcome to my short biography about myself. Since I can hardly believe anyone would actually spend a few minutes of their precious time reading about me I will try to make this interesting. I was born and raised in Louisville, KY. My parents are really cool, and still live in Louisville where they continue to worship at Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church. I graduated from Waggener High School in 1977, and went on to study at Southwestern At Memphis (Now Rhodes College), Memphis, TN. I graduated from Southwestern in 1981 with a B.A. in religion.
After college I married the most beautiful woman I have ever met, my high school sweetheart, Martha Shelburne. Eighteen months later we had our first child, Lee, during our first year at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. While in seminary I preached at Laconia and Rehoboth Presbyterian Churches. The city boy met the country church, and what could have been a disaster was a great experience. They loved Martha, Lee, and me, and I loved them, and they taught me so much about the church. I finished seminary with a Masters of Divinity degree in 1985, which makes me a pretty old guy (but well preserved). With formal schooling behind me the fun began in earnest.
I love working in the church, and the first place God sent me after seminary was Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, IN, where I was an associate miniser. Brian and Catie were born there. The congregation was an amazing suburban congregation with so many gifts and talents. Senior minister, Bill Fogg, was a patient mentor and friend. I learned so much in Indianapolis, made some life long friends, and had a great time over those 4 1/2 years.
Next God sent the Earleys to Gallipolis, OH (pronounced gallop like the horse, and police like the security). This 200 member church in southeastern Ohio was a wonderful place for me to apply all that I had learned over the years in my first solo pastor position. I fell in love with the congregation at First Presbyterian Church as well. We had a terrific eight years as the church added 100 members, we traveled all over the country and Mexico on mission trips, and made more life long friends. We could have stayed in Gallipolis for the rest of my ministry, but God had other plans.
God’s next, and hopefully last call, was to help build up the New Church Development in LaGrange, KY. This was something I believe God had been preparing me for since Orchard Park. The congregration had worked so hard for eight years to become established, and they had seen the miraculous power of God many times, as God delivered them from their struggles. However, the congregation was struggling to keep the doors open with about 35 members.
We decided to develop a purpose for our church so that we would have direction, and set out on that new direction. Our purpose statement is “To equip Christians to become disciples to help Jesus Christ bring in the HARVEST.” That is, through the teaching of seven main spiritual disciplines (worship, Bible study, prayer, tithing, fellowship, mission, and evangelism), we help Christians grow and mature in their faith. As they do this they will help Jesus bring in a great HARVEST in LaGrange and around the world.
In February, 2005 we dedicated the Ministry Center after 18 months of hard work. The church members really stepped up, building everything that the state didn't require a certified contractor to do. It was amazing to see the interior of the building take shape and form, and also to see God provide all the finances we needed in many miraculous ways. A year later, in March, 2006 we celebrated becoming an official congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA). After 16 years God had led us to the point to become an official congregation, but we had been a strong and growing spiritual family long before our charter. Each year we grow a little more in numbers, and a lot more in spiritual strength. God is shaping us for the present and the future to serve in amazing missions and ministries around the world and in our community.
If you are looking for a quiet church where you can come each Sunday for an hour, and then return to your routine, satisfied that you can check church attendance off your do to list for the week, then we are not the church for you. If you want to be in a dynamic church where the Bible is preached with energy and excitement dealing with today’s issues, a high commitment church that will encourage and challenge (and sometimes prod) you to grow in your faith, a church where people take their faith seriously and believe Jesus is at the center of their lives, and a church that expects to see God continue to do amazing miracles then we are the church for you.
The faith journey at LaGrange Presbyterian Church is intense, as we have witnessed God’s transforming power over and over in the lives of people. God is calling you to just such a church for the journey of your life. I invite you to give your life to Jesus Christ, and express your faith through the ministries of our church. I promise you will never be the same again.