06/01/2016 Transitioning to a New Blogsite

I began blogging in August 2012.  At the time I was serving in the second month of my sixth year as the appointed pastor of Monroe United Methodist Church. It was already a time of spiritual renewal for me and of renewed spiritual vitality for the congregation, and the blogging was the result of both and also became a means for further renewal personally and for the congregation.

Forty-five months later, my journey with Monroe UMC is nearing an end.  I will be retiring the blogsite that I began in August 2012 because I chose to use “Monroe UMC” as part of the domain  name, and it will no longer be appropriate for me to connect with readers using that domain name since I will no longer be serving the congregation as pastor beginning on moving day on June 29th.  Although no new posts will be added to that blogsite after June 28th, readers may still access the blogsite after that date to view the hundreds of posts published since August 2012:  Monroe UMC Blogsite.

Josh Dalton will be serving as the congregation’s new pastor beginning on June 29, 2016.  I pray that the congregation will welcome, love and support him.

Today I am launching this new blogsite, and I will continue to blog on this site through the end of the transition and beyond.  If you wish to subscribe to receive future posts from this blogsite, you may do so at your own initiative.

I am grateful for the nine years that I have served as the pastor of Monroe UMC and look forward to God’s preferred future for me and for the congregation as we part on June 29th.

Grace Upon Grace,


05/25/2018 Waiving Our Rights

Here is an excerpt from today’s reading in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.

If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left. —Genesis 13:9

As soon as you begin to live the life of faith in God, fascinating and physically gratifying possibilities will open up before you. These things are yours by right, but if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. But if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and allow God to make your choice for you. This is the discipline God uses to transform the natural into the spiritual through obedience to His voice.

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Today’s music video features Scott Wesley Brown.
Grace Alone.

Grace Upon Grace,

05/24/2018 Two Anniversaries

Today is the 280th anniversary of John Wesley’s heartwarming experience at Aldersgate in 1738. We United Methodists along with other Wesleyan Christians give thanks for the gift of assurance that he received that evening.

There is a second anniversary today that is not as well-known as that one.  Today marks the 411th anniversary of Captain John Smith and the Jamestown colonists observing their first celebration of the Eucharist, thought to have been presided over by John Hunt, their Anglican priest.  This is the first recorded observance of the Eucharist in North America.

It is interesting to think that 131 years before Wesley’s experience of assurance of his salvation another Anglican priest was celebrating the Eucharist in a colony in the “New World.” Wesley would make his own voyage to the “New World” in the 1730’s, and, in fact, it was while aboard a ship during his voyage that he came to realize that he did not have the quality of faith that Moravian Christians had during a storm at sea. As a matter of fact, Wesley was greatly influenced by those Moravian Christians during that season of his life when he was searching for that kind of faith he had seen in them. It wasn’t until his experience at Aldersgate that Wesley received that kind of faith.

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Today’s music video features a text about the Eucharist written by John’s brother Charles.
Come Sinners to the Gospel Feast

Grace Upon Grace,

05/23/2018 Not To Worry

Here is an excerpt from today’s reading in “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers.

“…do not worry about your life….” Don’t take the pressure of your provision upon yourself. It is not only wrong to worry, it is unbelief; worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives, and it is never anything but those details that worry us. Have you ever noticed what Jesus said would choke the Word He puts in us? Is it the devil? No—-“the cares of this world” (Matthew 13:22). It is always our little worries. We say, “I will not trust when I cannot see”—-and that is where unbelief begins. The only cure for unbelief is obedience to the Spirit.

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Today’s music video features Bobby McFerrin.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

Grace Upon Grace,

05/22/2018 The Immediacy of God’s Action

Here is an excerpt from today’s reading in Streams in the Desert compiled by L. B. Cowman.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.
(Psalm 37:5)

The literal meaning of this verse is:  “Roll your way onto Jehovah and trust upon Him, and He works.” This brings to our attention the immediacy of God’s action once we commit, or “roll,” burdens of any kind from our hands into His. Whether our burden is a sorrow, difficulty, physical need, or concern over the salvation of a loved one, “He works.”

When does He work? “He works” now.  We act as if God does not immediately accept our trust in Him and thereby delays accomplishing what we ask Him to do. We fail to understand that “He works” as we commit. “He works” now! Praise Him for the fact that this is true.

Our expectation that He will work is the very thing enabling the Holy Spirit to accomplish what we have “rolled” onto Him. At that point it is out of our grasp, and we are not to try to do it ourselves. “He works!” Take comfort from this and do not try to pick it up again. What a relief there is in knowing He really is at work on our difficulty!

And when someone says, “But I don’t see any results,” pay him no attention.

“He works” if you have “rolled” your burdens onto Him and are “looking unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:2 KJV) to do it. Your faith may be tested, but “He works.” His Word is true! (V. H. F.)

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Today’s music video features Bradley Walker.
Leave It There

Grace Upon Grace,

05/21/2018 A Significant Day in Wesleyan History

Today is the anniversary of a significant day for Wesleyan Christians.   Dan Graves, in an online article for Christian History Institute, has written about what happened 280 years ago.

He had just been to the American colonies on a mission trip. Yet Charles Wesley was consumed by a deep spiritual void. Although he had been involved in evangelism, spiritual disciplines, and good works for many years, he lacked the joy described in the New Testament and felt no inner witness that he was God’s child. Instead, he often had doubts of his salvation and was sometimes overcome by sin.

Wesley had been ordained in 1735, under pressure from his older brother John. But his failures and anxieties continued. In 1736, he wrote a poem expressing his doubt, saying death alone could confirm him as a child of God.
Early in 1738, Wesley was miserable with pleurisy, followed by a severe toothache. His doctor expected him to die, but a Moravian named Peter Bohler prayed for his recovery. Bohler asked him if he hoped to be saved. “Yes,” replied Wesley. “For what reason do you hope it?” Wesley replied he had done his best to serve God. Bohler shook his head and said nothing, which Wesley took as uncharitable of him, thinking, “Would he rob me of my endeavors? I have nothing else to trust to.”

However, he began to examine the Moravian teaching of salvation by faith alone, and read The Life of Halliburton, a Presbyterian who had experienced an instantaneous conversion. When Wesley’s pleurisy returned, he was cared for in the home of a nearly illiterate but deeply devout Moravian named Thomas Bray. Bray often read the Bible to Charles Wesley. Through it, Wesley gained assurance that God was indeed going to fulfill his promises to him. On the 17th of May that year, still sick in bed, he read Luther’s commentary on Galatians. He saw that justification was by faith alone. Although not clear about his own salvation, he began to press this truth upon the friends and acquaintances who visited him.

A Mrs. Turner, who had experienced such a conversion, came and spoke to him on May 19th, saying Wesley would not rise from his bed until he believed. She spoke with such conviction of her own experience that he began to feel real hope. On this day, 21 May 1738, Pentecost Sunday, Wesley awoke, hoping that this would be the day Christ delivered him. His brother John and some friends came and sang a hymn to the Holy Spirit. When they left, Charles Wesley began to pray, reminding Christ of his promise to send a comforter. He cast himself solely on Christ.

As he lay back to rest, he heard a voice saying, “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, arise, and believe, and thou shalt be healed of all thine infirmities.” It was Mrs. Turner, who felt convinced she should say these words. Charles lay still, hardly daring to hope, his heart palpitating, but could not find the courage to say, “I believe.” But after more talk with Thomas Bray and Mrs. Turner, he felt a firm conviction that his salvation was assured. In his journal, he credited this as the day he received the witness of the Holy Spirit.

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Today’s music video features lyrics written by Charles Wesley.
And Can It Be

Grace Upon Grace,

05/20/2018 Struck By a Cannonball

497 years ago today a cannonball struck a Spanish soldier, fracturing his right leg. During his recovery, he read the lives of the saints and determined to imitate them. He went on to write a guide for spiritual meditation.

The soldier’s name was Inez “Ignatio” Loyola, and the guide he wrote was the Spiritual Exercises. He founded the Society of Jesus, known also as the Jesuits. For hundreds of years now, he has continued to influence people through his writings and through the religious order he began.

One wonders if Ignatius would ever have gotten around to reading the lives of the saints, determining to imitate them and writing a guide for spiritual meditation were it not for being struck by the cannonball and needing a period of time to recover from the broken leg. God does work in mysterious ways!

Have you had any “cannonball” moments?

Please reply to this question and offer other comments by posting to this blog site.

Today’s music video features Blest & Broken.
There Is a Longing

Grace Upon Grace,

05/19/2018 Embarrassing, But Humorous

Today marks the sixth anniversary of an embarrassing moment in my life. I was driving to the site where I, as the father of the bride, would be walking with our daughter Rachel “down the aisle” at her wedding. I had gotten a later start from home than I had hoped and planned. My mother was seated beside me.

At certain points along the way, I was exceeding the speed limit to try to make up for my late start. At one of those points, an officer of the law began following me and turned on his flashing lights.

As I pulled off to the side of the road, I had that sinking feeling. It was bad enough that I was being stopped. . .but even worse that I was going to be further delayed from arriving at our daughter’s wedding at the scheduled time for pictures before the ceremony and worse still because my mother was seated right there beside me!

The officer asked me for license and registration. Then he informed me that I was exceeding the speed limit by more than 15 miles per hour…which meant a charge of reckless driving. Meekly, I explained that I was wearing a tuxedo because I was on my way to my daughter’s wedding and that I had gotten a late start from home. The officer then told me he was going to his car and would return in a few minutes.

The officer returned a few minutes later and told me, “Mr. Riggins, here is what I am going to do: I am going to write you a ticket for failure to obey a highway sign, which is a lesser offense and a lesser fine than reckless driving.” I was grateful for that mercy shown me. . .rather than receiving only justice!

As I signed the paperwork, the officer commented to the woman seated beside me, “You are mighty quiet.” I said, “She’s my mother…the grandmother of the bride.”

Well, when I reached the wedding site later, I said something like the following to Rachel, “You’ll never guess what happened to me on the way here.” When I told her, it provided her with a moment of comic relief from the stress of what she had been experiencing during the previous hours.

The wedding ceremony itself was beautiful and wonderful. The embarrassing experience of my traffic ticket somehow helped us to relax to a greater degree.

Happy Anniversary, Rachel & Niels!

Do you have a story of an embarrassing moment that nevertheless provided comic relief?

Please reply to this question and offer other comments by posting to this blog site.

Today’s music video features Rascal Flatts.
My Wish

Grace Upon Grace,