Saturday, December 23, 2017

Please join us in celebrating our Savior's birth this Christmas season.

Our Worship times are:

Christmas Eve (December 24th) -  6:00pm Candlelight Service

Christmas Day (Decmeber 25th ) - 9:00am Celebrating Our Lord's Incarnation

We hope to see you this Christmas.

God's richest blessings to you and yours.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Dear Reverend Stuppy

“Dear Reverend Stuppy,
This past summer we moved from the San Francisco bay area to Yorktown. This was to be our new permanent home where we would establish a new life. Our new life was surely to be but not as we had arranged it.
You must be asking yourself, “Do I know this person?” No, you do not, but I must write to thank you for the beautiful message you consistently provide in the York Town Crier.
Our life was not to be as we arranged, but rather how our Heavenly Father arranged it. For, we have returned to the Bay area, in fear and sorrow for the betrayal by our husband and father. All that we believed was, wasn’t; all that we thought we had, we didn’t; and that wasn’t even the beginning. We were not Christians so we were lacking even the foundation from which all lasting life can be built upon.
Each week, we would receive the York Town Crier, and read through the articles, mostly out of curiosity. I hadn’t attended any church in twenty years, and if I were invited, I would give an excuse, and hope they wouldn’t ask me again. Yet I began to read every word of your articles and wait for the next one. They seemed to have a message rooted in truth, and it always seemed to provide comfort.
One month, and two days ago, I received the Lord, and his Holy Spirit into my life. I had never thought there was any source of strength outside of myself. What a joy to know absolutely know, that I have no strength the Lord. Thank you for your loving message, the one you repeat each time, that we are loved and should trust him in all things. Thank you for your beautiful spirit that touches our lives over three-thousand miles away. In His love, xxxxxxxx”
I received this letter in 1991. I treasure it. It reminds me that we never know who the Lord will reach through the words we speak. When I preach in church or teach in Bible Class, I know who is listening. That’s not the case with the articles I’ve written since December of 1987. There is no way to know who or how many people read them. One person told me they cut out my article and send it to their friends.
This Sunday, I am moving to Germany for three years or more to serve there as a civilian chaplain. My wife, Marge, and I are excited about this new chapter in our lives but we will miss all our friends and family here in Virginia.

As I leave, I wish to thank the owners of the Crier, past and present, for allowing me to share God’s Word with you each week. I wish also to thank the sponsors of the church page. I also thank you, the readers, and for your gracious comments and feedback over these 30 years. The York Town Crier is a unique paper and serves the community well. I pray that it will be there for years to come. May God bless you all! Auf Wiedersehen. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Keep Christ at the center of your Christmas celebration!

When I was growing up, our family didn't open our presents until Christmas morning.  I recall how excited we were on Christmas Eve; how we obediently went to bed so we could wake up early Christmas Day to see what treasures our stockings held and to open the colorfully wrapped packages under the tree. As we grew older, I recall how we begged Dad to let us open just one present on Christmas Eve. He resisted for a long time. But, just as dripping water can eventually wear down a piece of hard stone, Dad finally gave in. At first we were allowed to open just one. But, the door was open. It wasn't long before we were allowed to open all our gifts on Christmas Eve.
When my children were growing up, I thought I would be a purist and make them wait until Christmas Day to open their gifts. I didn't last as long as my father. Most of the time they persuaded me to let them open them all on Christmas Eve. I kept saying that the next year I would hold my ground but never did.
Christmas is an exciting time for people, but, it is only celebrated in the fullest sense when we remember what Christmas is all about. It is the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior. It is a day on which God fulfilled his promise to send his Son to suffer and die in our place. Even though we had lots of gifts under the tree when I was a child, my parents never failed to remind us of what Christmas was all about. Their focus was not on Santa but the Savior. It was not on our gifts to each other but God’s gift to the world.
As we celebrate Christmas, we cannot help but be excited. Our excitement, however, dare not center solely on the gifts under the tree, family and friends. It must center on God's gift of a Savior. Remember that the gifts we buy our loved ones are symbols of God’s loving gift to us, his Son – our Savior. Let the lights that shine from our house and trees remind us of Jesus Christ who is described as the Light shining in a world darkened by sin and unbelief. Let the Christmas carols remind of the amazing events that took place when Jesus was born.
Let your children enjoy the stories of Santa, the Grinch that Stole Christmas, and Frosty the Snow Man. But, be sure that they understand that the focus of Christmas is the birth of our Savior. Have a family devotion each evening that reminds you of God’s promise of a Savior and that promise fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.

Include special worship services in your celebration, especially on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Let your family sing out, “Joy to the World! The Lord is Come!” Let your cards not just proclaim “Holiday Greetings!” Let your Christmas greetings express your joy in the birth of the Savior. Keep Christ at the center of your Christmas celebration from beginning to end. If you do, your Christmas joy will be complete. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Being content is another way to say “thanks” to God.

Being content is another way to say “thanks” to God.

All you have to do is watch news clips from around the world to see how richly blessed we are in America. We have a living standard that is the envy of most in the world. Though millions of people have migrated to our land for over 200 years – they still come. Coming to America doesn’t seem to get old. People everywhere leave their country, family, and culture behind to come to our country. Most are looking for what is called the “American Dream.” Many are willing to enter illegally and risk their lives in the process just to get here. All these facts testify to how richly our country has been blessed compared to so many nations around the world.
But there is a strange yet common irony in our land. Though our lives are filled with more blessings than we can use, our constant desire is to want more. What causes us to think that the more we have the happier we will be? I am sure it is just part of our human nature. It leads us to be unsatisfied, and always wanting more.
When we consider our incredible standard of living we enjoy, should we take take some time to think about it and to thank the One who has given it to us.
What a blessing it would be to simply honor the Father in heaven with contentment. What a blessing to rise above the national cry for more. How blest we are when we take time to consider how each material blessing has fit so perfectly into our lives and fulfils our needs. There is a famous saying taken from God’s Word which says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Tim 6:6)
Contentment is just not part of our conversation today. Work harder! Make more! Spend! Charge it! Enjoy it! You deserve it! Retire early! These are the cries of the world around us. Now don’t get me wrong. It is not wrong to work hard or to achieve success or to improve our lot in life. It is quite another thing to be content with what God has given us. Take a test. How happy would you be if you never got a raise; if you never were able to buy a new car; if what you have now was taken from you?
Being content, really content is a gift from God. You can be rich or poor and, if you are content, you will find happiness and peace. Contentment is the foundation of true thanksgiving.
May your Thanksgiving Day be a blessed one! O give thanks to the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endures forever!” (Psalm 106:1)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

How good must we be to please God?

An English duke was out hunting in the forest one day with his men-at-arms when they came across a tree. On the tree had been painted an archery target and smack in the center of the bull’s eye was an arrow embedded deep into the tree. It was a perfect shot. They continued on only to find more targets just like the first. A circle target with an arrow embedded right in the center of the bull’s eye. There must have been a dozen of them. The duke was amazed. Never before had he seen an archer who had such accuracy.
As they went on, they soon came across a young lad with a bow and arrows. The duke asked the boy if he knew who had shot the arrows they had just seen. The boy acknowledged that he had. Much surprised, duke asked, ‘You didn’t simply take a rock and set the arrow into the targets did you?” The boy said he hadn’t. In fact, he swore that he had shot all the arrows from a hundred paces. Immediately the duke asked the boy if he would serve as one of his archers and the boy agreed. Then the duke said, “You must tell me how you became such an expert shot.” “Well,” said the boy, “first I shot the arrow into the tree and then I painted the target around it.”
This how many people become moral or good in their own eyes. We shoot our moral arrows and wherever they hit, we draw a target around them. Some are pleased because they go to church every Sunday but think nothing of cheating on their spouse, getting drunk, or telling a lie to cover up their mistakes. It’s done by comparing ourselves to others. When we do, it’s easy to find someone who is not as good as we are and compare ourselves to them. In the end, we feel good and become convinced that God must feel that way too.
God’s standard for goodness or morality is much different. He says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). It’s clear from God’s Word that his standards for goodness are much higher than ours. In James (2:10), God says, “For whoever keeps the whole law, yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” In other words, if we commit just one sin, we miss God’s demand for perfection.
There is only one way to become good in God’s eyes. There is only one way we can ever hope to be good enough to spend eternity with God in heaven. It is through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only one who has kept the law perfectly. Never once did he miss the bull’s eye. Then, in love he took our sins and their guilt upon himself and took it to the cross. There he endured his Father’s wrath, the pain and torment of hell, in our place. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul writes, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Good took our sins and put them on Christ. He took Christ’s righteousness and gave it to us. It is simple as that. Simply believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Who did you vote for?

I am writing this article just two days before we start to vote. By the time you read this, it will all be over. The elections will be over. The political ads and phone calls will stop. The daily barrage of polling data will at least slow down. The nation will know, hopefully, who will lead our country for the next four years. Thousands of newly elected officials across the land at every level of government will prepare to take over their duties or continue them.
If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that I steer clear of politics at least as far as endorsing a candidate or telling you whom you should vote for. That’s not my job as a pastor. I’d gladly talk politics on a personal level but from the pulpit.
I do believe that it is part of my calling and the scope of this column to speak out on moral or ethical issues that we face in our daily lives. For example, I believe that the life in the womb is a person with a soul (Psalm 51:5) and should never be aborted unless the life of the mother is in danger. I believe God ordained the institution of marriage and clearly states it is to be a marriage between a man and a woman. (Gen 2:18-24) I believe that the powers that be are ordained by God and deserve our respect and need our prayers (Rom 13:1-3).
Over the years, I have covered these and many other issues. My goal is not to share my opinion but be guided by God’s Word. I know not everyone agrees with me but my goal is to speak the truth guided by God’s Word.
I also believe our only hope for the life to come is found in Jesus Christ. I know that means a lot of people are in trouble but that’s what the Bible clearly teaches. Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). We are all sinners – every one of us. Those sins condemn us and we would end up in hell if not for the saving work of Jesus Christ. In love for every sinner, God sent his own Son to carry out the work of salvation. Jesus, God’s Son, was punished in our place. He faced the wrath of his Father because of our sin. He endured the pain and torment of hell in our place. He died in our place. He rose from the dead to testify to all that his work of salvation was complete. Trust in Jesus for the salvation and you will be saved. Reject him and you will be condemned.

Elections are important. I pray that God will give courage and wisdom, guide and bless whoever it is that wins. I pray for his blessing on our nation as well. Most important of all, I trust in the promises of God. He is the one who gives life its meaning. He is the one who keeps every promise. He is the one who will take me and every other believer in Jesus Christ to heaven when we die. Put your faith and trust in him! To God be the glory. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Does God see your faith by how you live?

Five military recruiters came to a high school to make a presentation to the senior class. Each recruiter represented a different branch of the service. Each was given 15 minutes to make their pitch. The Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force recruiters each got up and did a nice job but they ran over on their time. When the Marine recruiter got up to speak, he only had two minutes left before the kids would be dismissed. He walked up and stood completely silent for the first minute and just stared at the students. When he finally spoke, he said, “I doubt whether there are two or three of you in this room who could even cut it in the Marine Corps. But I want to see those two or three in the dining hall as soon as we are dismissed.” When he arrived in the dining hall, he was mobbed with requests for applications. The motto for the Marines is “We’re looking for a few good men.”
If you look in the Bible, you can find several “good men” - Moses, Job, Joshua, the Apostle Paul, John the Baptist, Peter, and many others. They were not perfect but set a beautiful example we would do well to follow. The Scripture also gives us many examples of “good women” – Esther, Mary the mother of Jesus, Lydia, Mary the sister of Lazarus, etc.
The one that the Bible holds out as one of the best is Abraham. He is called the ‘father of believers.’ That’s because he had such a strong faith. One example of his faith was when the Lord asked him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Don’t forget, Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old. He was the son to whom the promises were attached – that Abraham’s seed would be as countless as the stars, he would be the father of a great nation, and most importantly, the line from whom the Savior, Jesus, would come.
One day (cf Genesis 22), God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. As difficult as this request must have been for Abraham, he shows us that he was willing to carry it out. Right before he is about to slay his son, the Lord intervenes. He told Abraham that he now knew that Abraham loved the Lord more than his son.
While I can’t imagine ever being faced with such a request, I know the Lord asks me to demonstrate my love for him all the time. Abraham’s faith was evident from his love for God, his obedience to his command, and his trust in God’s promises. Our faith is made clear in the same ways.
When we make it clear by our choices and our priorities that we love the Lord and his Word more than anything else, we demonstrate our faith. Will you go to church on Sunday morning or stay in bed? Will you read Scripture or simply watch TV?
When you are tempted to lie to your boss, have an affair with someone at work, cheat on your taxes, etc. you let the Lord know what you think of him. Abraham showed his faith by his readiness to do what God asked.
When you do not worry about the future, face trials and troubles in life knowing the Lord is watching over you as he has promised; when you know that death is no longer your enemy but your friends; that your sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ because God says so; you are living by faith.

We can never be as “good” as God wants us to be. Our faith is often weak and imperfect. Thank God we have a Savior who wasn’t. Through his perfect life and innocent death, he gained forgiveness, life and salvation for us. That’s why we rejoice and look forward to celebrating his birth and his return to take us to glory on Judgment Day.