All posts by Steve

Steve Kilgore joined the staff of Calvary Church in Lancaster, PA in the fall of 2002 as the Pastor of Discipleship to facilitate the equipping ministries, which include Adult Bible Fellowship and other adult discipleship ministries, and work with the rest of the education ministries. He currently serves as the Executive Pastor of Ministries with a focus on providing ministries that facility individuals taking intentional Next Steps for growing and participating in the leadership and administrative aspect at Calvary. He has also taught part-time at Lancaster Bible College in the area of Spiritual Formation and New Testament. Prior to coming to Calvary he served in two churches as well as taught part-time at Philadelphia Biblical University. He was born in Dallas, Texas, but spent the first 13 years of his life in Guatemala where his parents were missionaries. It was there at the age of four and a half that Steve placed his faith in Christ as his Savior. Steve received a Bachelor’s degree in Bible from Philadelphia College of Bible and a Masters of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Steve and his wife, Mary Anne, have their two boys, Andrew and Nathan (both in college), and live in East Lampeter Township. Steve lives and ministers by the personal motto, Know what you believe and why, live it, be able to defend it. His hobbies, other than playing with his family, include tinkering with computers, reading, drinking coffee with his wife, playing and watching basketball. Steve and Mary Anne are looking forward to exploring new hobbies as they transition to life as empty-nesters.

He is Risen! He is Returning!

Do I live like Christ died yesterday, arose this morning and is coming back tomorrow?

Do I feel the pain of His death on my behalf?
Do I rejoice at the reality of His resurrection vindicating His sacrifice, assuring me of life?
Do I anticipate seeing Him face to face with uncontainable excitement?

Do I live today in a way that if Jesus Christ returns today my attitude, actions, activities and affections would all honor Him?

Do those who encounter me receive the grace that I have received?
Do those who know me best receive both mercy and grace in the abundance I have received?

Do my daily interactions reveal a certain anticipation of resurrection or do I get distracted by the mundane?
Do I do all things, mandatory, mundane or meaningful, as practice of living for eternity glorifying Him?
Do I live with an intentional urgency that today may be THE day He returns?

Do I infect those in my sphere of influence with hope?
Do I inspire others toward certain hope?

May I not have a critical self-centered small perspective
May my thoughts be higher than conflicts around me

May I live by faith that saved and sustains
May my faith have eyes to daily see the truth of resurrection and return

May the gospel be true to me each day, He is my all, I had to surrender self-effort and I must continue to surrender self-sufficiency because I need His saving grace, empowering grace, sustaining grace, hope giving grace

His resurrection gives hope
His resurrection empowers living
His resurrection mandates declaration

I do believe, the best news, He is Risen and He is Returning!
Bless the Lord God for the Cross-work of Jesus Christ and for certain anticipation, for hope.

He is Risen and He is Returning!
Hallelujah! Maranatha!
Praise the LORD! O Lord, come!

Stephen C. Kilgore March 2015

 

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Seven Stanzas at Easter
By John Updike

Make no mistake: if he rose at all

It was as His body;

If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,

The amino acids rekindle,

The Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.

And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
By the miracle,

And crushed by remonstrance.

He is risen indeed!

I’m a believer. I believe that Christ rose physically from the dead on Resurrection Sunday—Easter Sunday.  I cannot imagine better news. And so, with my fellow Christians around the world, I join in declaring, “Christ is risen!, He is risen indeed!”

He is Risen, He is risen indeed--languages

What to say and what not to say to those grieving

For a number of years I struggled to know what to say at funerals, particularly in receiving lines. I actually wrote a poem entitled, when words are shallow, because of that struggle.

As we have gone through the passing of my mother it has been interesting to experience and observe how uncomfortable we as believers can be with death. And I’ve come to realize many of us don’t know what to say in times of difficulty.

One caveat before I write more. We have been incredibly blessed by so many people, which I have shared in previous posts. So, even when some didn’t know what to say and others said things that were not as helpful as intended, the overall care we received from our friends and church were great. But I am trying to learn from my own experience what doesn’t help and what does help.

Personal lessons

What can I do, when I’m the one grieving, to help others?

Be real–don’t try to hide hurt
Be open–people don’t know how to deal with other people’s grief; they take their cues from me
Be humble and grateful–let people do things for me, they care and want to help
Be verbal–detail what I need

What is not helpful to those who are grieving?

Don’t make it about yourself

“I’m sorry for your loss, I…”
“I’m sorry for your loss, I lost…”

Don’t try to equate it to your experience

“I know what you are going through, I…”

These first two are natural, but at the point of loss, it isn’t helpful to hear about the pain of another. That may be helpful later in the process when they are seeking to learn and move forward.

Don’t start giving advice too soon

“I’m sorry for your loss, you know you should…”
“I’m sorry for your loss, I learned that…”

Each person will grieve differently–so particularly early in the process, advice sounds hollow no matter how true it may be.

Don’t treat them as if they were broken

If you are going to hug, hug; they won’t break
Don’t get a sad expression on your face every time you see them

Don’t bring it up every time you see them

Let them bring it up if they want

Don’t expect them to get over it–quickly

Your life will return to normal quickly; their life may be changed forever.

They have a new normal that may take some time to adjust to;
don’t forget to care for them weeks or months after they experience loss.

Most will respond right way; support over the long haul is needed. This may take putting a note on your calendar.

The most common question that people ask–“how are you?”–may be a more difficult question than you intend.
Asking “how are you?” is such a normal question to ask; we often ask it before we even think. But when one has recently faced a loss and it is the primary thing others ask, it may be a bit much.

There isn’t always a good answer
They may not know what to say
It changes from moment to moment

If they want to share their feelings and hurt, they will.  But often they are left responding as if on autopilot–“Okay” or “Managing.”

A better question might be, “How was your day?”

What can I do to be helpful when someone is grieving?

The level of engagement should correspond to the level of relationship.
Those who are closer relationally will be able to do more–that is why establishing relationship prior to loss is so important.

Do focus on them
Do be there, but give them the space they need
Do offer to help with details
Do offer to make a meal–the mundane or routine things of life can be overwhelming
Do support them with prayer and kindness not volume of words
Do tell them specifically what you are praying for–not just that you are praying (though that is also an encouragement)

Knowing someone is praying for comfort or strength for the graveside or memorial service is wonderfully encouraging
Knowing that someone is praying for God’s grace, peace and hope is a faithful reminder and provides kind perspective

Encouraging Words, part 2

Between Facebook, texts, emails and cards we have received countless encouraging words since my mother entered the presence of the Lord.

Encouragement from those with whom I grew up in Guatemala.
Encouragement from those from different churches and institutions we have been connected to.
Encouragement from those whom my mother prayed for on multiple continents.
Encouragement from the faithful family at Calvary Church.
I am really overwhelmed with the kindness that has been expressed.

Another group of rather new friends who have also encouraged me are a group of global workers the Lord allowed me to serve in Asia.  I spent the majority of February in Cambodia leading a study of Doxologies, Benedictions and Prayers (a study I hope to upload sometime). During each of the two weeks I challenged the different groups to write a doxology and a prayer.

When they were informed that my mother had passed into the presence of her Lord, they wrote out their prayers for me. I will cherish these encouraging words. Words that reminded me of the truths I believe and had taught.  As a teacher they ministered deeply as they applied principles and passages I taught.

Though they are personal and all are meaningful, I’m sharing a few here with the hope of blessing and inspiring your hope–your certain anticipation. And as a reminder to me of what encouraging words sound like to hurting hearts.

Dear covenant-keeping, sovereign and loving Father, You know all things and do all things well. You are the healer of hearts and lifter of our heads. Will you lift up and hold up the heads and hearts of Steve and his family at this difficult time so that they see and you love you more. And through their doing this, also help others to see and love you more too. Please remind them of your lasting truth and eternal promises so that they will trust you completely. Through memories of her, remind them of your gracious faithfulness and lavishing love so that they will be renewed in faith and motivated to live in continued surrender to You. Please use Steve in these days to shine your light and love with your strength and wisdom so that You will be seen as very powerful and Your name will be proclaimed and You will be glorified.  In the powerful, life-changing name of Jesus, Amen.

Dear Father, I thank you for sending Steve to encourage us by teachings from your Word. I thank you for his mother who was faithful to your call to go to the nations and who birthed him and reared him to know and love you. Thank you for the many fruitful years you gave her on this earth to influence others into the kingdom and that we could receive some of the fruit of her tireless kingdom focused labor via the ministry of her son. Please open my brother Steve’s heart to have perspective and grateful joy in the midst of this temporary separation so that he may be comforted and not be encumbered from continuing to walk in step with your Spirit as you draw him closer still into the knowledge of your presence. You and You alone have conquered death and are the reason we can rejoice.

Dear loving Heavenly Father, I lift up my brother Steve before you.  May he be sooo secure in the reality of who you are and who he is in you– that he will be able to fully embrace the uncomfortable pangs of grief for himself, for his sister, for his sons and especially for his dad – all mixed with joy knowing where is mom is and how she is rejoicing in the wonder of the infinite God she lived for with her heart, mind, soul and strength.  I pray this so that others around him would see your strength and comfort through his grief.  I pray this so you are glorified as literally 100s of people see the authenticity of Steve’s life as one who believes what he teaches of your overwhelming infinite omni-competence in all areas of life.

Dear Father, Dad, my heart is grieved for my brother Steve, his sister and dad. I know the feeling since you have taken a parent you have given me home (and it still hurts- at times).  Give them your sweet Spirit’s comfort to quench the bitter taste of death.  Bring to their minds the joy of remembering the cherished times you provided for them together and bring to mind and heart the promise of being together again.  Shock those who need it to see the brevity of this life and cause us to number our days so that we will soberly and intentionally go about your business with your grace for your glory. And we ask all these things in Jesus name. Amen.

Father, I lift up Steve Kilgore to your throne asking that you will comfort him by your Spirit in his most inner being, that you will cause your peace to dwell in every part of his heart and conscience, that he will dig down deeply into your loving kindness, that he will comprehend your power to care for him and his loved ones, that you will help him to experience to the full the excelling acceptance that comes with knowing the Messiah, that you will fill him up with all the fullness of your own self, and finally, that you will give him confidence to know that you have already fully achieved this for his dear mom.

Encouraging Words, part 1

What encourages those who are grieving?

Some of the most encouraging words we received as we have faced the unexpected home going of my mother.

I have been praying for you regularly.
I’ve been praying that the Lord comfort and sustain you.

Can I help you with meals?
Can I do grocery shopping for you?
Can I help you with preparing anything for the memorial?

How can I serve you?

Your mother was so gracious in caring and snuggling with our kids in the nursery.
Your mother had such a positive attitude and influence in our ministry.
Your mother was so real.

Those are all things friends of ours have said and done–thank you!

Grieving with Hope

My Mom always said she wanted to be buried with a fork in her hand, because at every church pot luck, someone would say, “Keep your fork, the best is yet to come.”

We often talk about Christian hope, but we have trouble defining it.

In common use, “hope” is either as an emotion— “I feel hopeful” or an uncertainty—“I hope this will happen.”

But in Scripture and through the gospel and the possibility of a relationship with God made right, not based on our own merit but completely provided by the substitutionary death of Christ—our hope, was not just an emotion nor was it uncertain.

Biblical hope is a certain anticipation.
Not just simply belief in a truth, but an inspiring expectation, that the best is truly yet to come.

A young lady my mother had been mentoring mentioned to Mary Anne that she had not seen Christians grieve before.

So we have desired to grief with hope.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, we are instructed that, in light of the reality of resurrection and the coming of the Lord, “that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”

But we do grieve.
Grief hurts. There is a sense of pain from the loss.
Grief is numbing.
Grief brings a deep sadness.

Grief comes in waves, and they are cyclical. You don’t just go through them once.
Grief is not something you “just get over”—quickly.

Biblical hope is not a wish—“I hope so”
Biblical hope is not just an emotion—“I feel hopeful” or “I don’t feel hopeful”
Biblical hope is not just the reality of information—“I know there is a heaven”

Biblical hope has a certain focus—a focus not just on truth, but the One, Jesus Christ, who declared the truth.
Biblical hope has an excitement or anticipation to it—it looks to the future and therefore impacts the present.

Biblical hope is a certain anticipation

Biblical hope enables us to focus on the certainty of God’s word, the Person and work of Jesus Christ, including taking our place on the cross—freeing us from the guilt of sin and giving us His righteousness.

Biblical hope enables us to anticipate without fear the joyous, glorious reunion with Jesus Christ in the presence of God the Father.

Biblical hope does not remove present pain and difficulty—it provides perspective for pain and difficulty.

Biblical hope does not just provide an emotional relief—it provides a settled deep abiding peace even in the face of the uncertainty of life, when the tears come or when the hurt rises.

Biblical hope…
Motivates our daily walk
Inspires our service
Comforts our grief
Assures our doubts
Energizes our faith
Directs our perspective

Grief with hope is not a plastic, emotionless denial of pain.

Grief with hope is not fatalistic but believes in an all wise, caring, personal, good God.

Grief with hope should not be a solo role; it believes not just the truth of eternal life or the resurrection but the true nature of the Body of Christ.

Grief with hope is a moment by moment walk of faith that regularly must refocus on the certain anticipation of meeting Jesus.

Grief with hope is the certain expectation that the impact of the curse of sin has been defeated by Christ and that death truly has been swallowed up in the victory of Christ and that death truly has a limited sting.

My prayer is to grieve with hope.
To walk through, not stay in, the dark shadow of the valley of death.
To have a stronger more seasoned faith.
To be able to better comfort others who grieve.
To give a faithful testimony through word and deeds, to the certain anticipation of meeting Jesus face to face, in His full glory—fully forgive, fully transformed, fully alive.

Stephen C. Kilgore

March 2015