Join us at Bethany House for...

Mass on Saturdays - at 5:00pm (casual attire is our style)!

Rosary Prayer Group - at 6:00pm on the first Wednesday of the month!

Bible Study - at 6:30pm on Thursdays (the Life of Jesus - Serendipity Bible Study)!

Come and join us!

Click the picture for directions...

Click the picture for directions...
We’re located at 408 Levee Road in Mount Sterling, across from the MCHS football stadium.

Contact us at...

Saints Mary and Martha Church
at Bethany House
PO Box 502
Mount Sterling, KY
40353

859-404-8374
mamachurch4you@yahoo.com

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Am I a Believer Fit for Mission?

Dear Brothers and Sisters of Mary and Martha,

I want to share something with you that flows from the sermons I’ve preached recently.  It’s something that can help build encouragement and godly desire within each of us.  You see, the Lord has a unique calling and set of gifts (this combination is often called a “charism”) for each congregation.  MAMA Church’s charism, from the very beginning, has been intercessory prayer and contemplative prayer.  That’s the core of who we are as a community.  The unanswered question for us has been, “How does that fit with the great commission (God’s call to make and grow disciples of Jesus Christ)?”

Since we are not allowed to abandon the charism the Lord gave us, we are given the task of discerning the ways in which he is leading us to participate in his great commission.  But here’s the catch: Discerning the will of God is NOT the same as brainstorming and coming up with ideas.  We’ve gone that route before, and the Lord did not prosper it.  We will not go that route again.  As we read in Proverbs: “There is a way that seems right to a man (or woman), but its end is the way to death.”  If we are attempting to build a community of believers that will last beyond us, it must be built on the foundation of God’s will alone.

What God’s will is for our outreach is, as yet, a mystery – and we must approach it as a mystery.  While I cannot say what it is will be, I can say that it will not be at odds with the charism he has already given us.  He will not contradict himself and confuse his children.  He will build upon what he has already brought forth within our community.  So, however he chooses to deepen our charism, it will be a natural outgrowth of the good work he’s already begun within and among us.  Our existing mission of intercessory and contemplative prayer will play a vital role in this next step, it won’t be jettisoned by it.

As we begin to seriously discern how the Lord will deepen our charism into evangelization (the sharing of the Good News of salvation with others and letting the Lord use us as a means of bringing people to faith in Jesus) and the ministry of mercy (ministering to the spiritual and corporal needs of others), we need to ask him a vital question: “Am I a believer who is fit for mission?”  After all, when we ask ourselves whether we are qualified to do a certain job, we ask whether we have trained ourselves sufficiently for the task at hand.  The question of what “job” the Lord will give us is intrinsically tied to what we have allowed him to teach us.

For example, the call to intercessory prayer should be filling us with a longing to see people come to faith in Jesus.  It should be filling us with a desire to help bear the burdens of those for whom we’re praying.  Likewise, the call to contemplative prayer should be filling us with wisdom about how the Christian life is to be lived.  It should also be filling us with a spiritual maturity that makes us uncomfortable with things or attitudes or practices in our lives that are not of the Lord.  On top of that, it should be filling us with a deeper knowledge of God’s Word and his priorities – that’s why we read (and contemplate) the Scriptures daily.

When answering the question “who is a believer fit for mission?”, there are some questions we need to ask ourselves.  When faced with someone who does not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, would I know how to introduce him to them?  When someone asks me why I’m a Christian, would I be able to share my testimony with them – would I be able to convey to them how Jesus has changed and filled my life with his presence?  When someone asks me a difficult question about God’s way of doing things, would I be able to start them down the road of seeing things from a Biblical point of view?

Have I scared you?!  That’s not what I intend!!  What I do intend is to lead us into some serious “training” to be sent out as missionaries – that we take what the Lord has already done in our lives and link it up with what he wants to do next.  That’s why I want us to seriously engage in “The Purpose Driven Life” – so that we will come to know what our particular calling is and how it can find expression in ministry to others.  That’s why I want us to read books like Lee Strobel’s “The Case for Christ” and Phillip Yancey’s “The Jesus I Never Knew” – so that we know how to answer the questions that will come to us.  That’s why I want us to look into Dr. James Kennedy’s “Evangelism Explosion” – so that we’ll learn how to lead people to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

In one sense, we need to be more qualified in order to answer God’s call to evangelistic ministry and the ministry of mercy.  In another, much more important sense, God will qualify us as he sends us.  So, in a very real sense, YOU ARE the believer who is FIT for mission.  God does not call the qualified, he truly qualifies the called.  And it’s my job as your priest to equip you for the work of mission.  I am called to be your teacher and to serve you as an under-shepherd.  I am called to challenge you and to make sure that you are stretched.  And then I am called to set you loose in the world – a world that is ripe for kingdom harvest.

Some of us may think “I’m not someone the Lord can use in ministry to others; I don’t know as much of his Word as I should and I haven’t learned to hear his voice in my life.”  To that I say, “Great!  That’s why we’re engaging in this time of discernment and equipping.  You’ll learn as you go!”  There may be some of us think “This stretches me too far.  I’m not comfortable with this.”  To that I also say, “Great!  Now you’ve accepted the fundamental truth that there are limits to what we can do.  This is the only way we can come to know why ‘I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me!’ (Philippians 4:13)”

You may as well know this right now: You have been called and you are being qualified.  And there’s no getting around this central point: Because you have persevered in your relationship with Jesus, he wants to use you (and your testimony) to help others do the same.  So stay tuned for further information about the “who, what, when, where, and why”!  You already know the “how” – his name is Jesus!

Praying for God’s blessings in your life,

Father Todd

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A Special Announcement!

Brothers and Sisters,

I’m so very happy to share the news that a special friend of mine – a wonderful brother in the Messiah – Rabbi Rod Eisenberg will be offering the sermon at MAMA Church on Sunday, August 19.

Rabbi Eisenberg is one of the teaching pastors at Journey Community Church in Richmond.  He also serves as a Chapel Volunteer at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex – where I serve as the institutional Chaplain.

I invite you to take a look at one of Rod’s sermons at JCC...

Rabbi Eisenberg's most recent JCC sermon

Please make plans to join us for Mass at 10:30am on Sunday, August 19!

Blessings!
Father Todd

Friday, July 20, 2018

An Important Proposal...

Hello, Brothers and Sisters
of Mary and Martha!

I’m still “floating” after last night’s Evening Prayer!  I’m happy to confess that time with the Lord and his family at Bethany House is just what I needed!  I don’t mind telling you that I entered into our time together last night thinking to myself “I really want to take a nap.”  How wrong I was (and how easily I forget what my soul most deeply needs).  The Lord not only “stepped on my toes” last night but (I hear) moved among others of us, too!

There’s something I read recently that struck me as profound – especially in the context of how we carry out the ministry and great commission entrusted to us.  It’s this: “Be the kind of person you desire to attract.”  Each of us rightly talks about how nice it would be to see the Church (in general) and MAMA Church (in particular) grow and flourish.  But as wonderful as such talk is, it’s still only talk.

If we want to see people come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, we have to be the kind of people who exemplify lives lived with the preeminent purpose of serving Jesus as our Lord and Savior!  If we want to attract people to the kingdom of God, we have to live our lives first and foremost in God’s kingdom!  That’s why I’m offering us a proposal.  I feel as though we’ve become comfortable in our routine of Mass on Sunday and Evening Prayer on Thursday – and there’s nothing wrong with that, in and of itself.  But it doesn’t stop there.

There are people in our community who need to be loved into God’s kingdom.  There are needs in our community that Jesus will want us to meet – especially as we begin to discern the particular purpose(s) for which we were created.  We already know that the anchor purpose for MAMA Church is to be a community of prayer and catechesis.  But we also know that “faith without works is dead”.  Therefore, it’s time for us to begin, in earnest, the process of discovering how our individual calls to ministry can inform our community/parish call to ministry.

And here’s something more to consider: Within ten years (maybe slightly sooner) I will be retiring from my Chaplaincy at EKCC.  As you know, I’m moving ahead with plans to earn a Master of Social Work degree and, upon retirement from EKCC, move into a counseling ministry.  In the meantime, we have a window of opportunity to:

1. Discover our individual and community gifts - purpose(s) - ministry focus;

2. Participate in a period of prayerful discernment (including the building of consensus before moving ahead in any area); and,

3. Building a ministry core that uses us as doorways for non-believers into God’s kingdom.

So, here’s my proposal for us as a community.  It involves two steps…

The first step is to continue in our commitment to daily prayer and community prayer (Evening Prayer on Thursdays and the Eucharist on Sundays and feast days).  This is very important because without a continuation of that commitment, we won’t be able to fully hear where the Lord may be calling us.

We have to be fully prepared for anything the Lord may be calling us into – and I mean ANYTHING!!  Why?  Because that’s just how he works.  I sometimes wonder how much more fruitful my life as a believer might have been had I “thought outside the box” when his call to ministry first came.  Maybe you know of times in your life when you weren’t open to the Lord’s calling and now wonder what might’ve been.  So, in order for us to enter into this proposal with our hearts and minds wide open, we must be in the Word as much as possible.  More often than not, that’s how the Lord awakens us to his will and nudges us!

The second step is committing ourselves to a community (as well as a personal) study of Pastor Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life”.  I know that some of you may already have read through that amazing book.  But, as with all good things in life, there’s always something new to be gleaned and new circumstances in life to be accounted for.  If we’ve read it before, I’m certain that we’ll get something new from it – if only because we’ve now committed ourselves to a life of prayer and study as Christians in the Anglican way.

I foresee taking a few weeks to move through this study.  So I propose that we temporarily commit to gathering on Tuesday evenings or Sunday mornings before Mass or Sunday afternoons after Mass.  (Supplanting Evening Prayer on Thursdays should only be a last resort – we need that time of prayer together, as a community!)

Please remember what we dwelt upon at Evening Prayer last night: “Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given.”  We have been made partakers of God’s kingdom and have been given the responsibility of hospitality to those who are strangers to God’s kingdom.  Like the hospitality of Mary and Martha of Bethany, MAMA Church exists to sit at Jesus’ feet and to feed the spiritually hungry.

My hope and prayer is that MAMA Church will long outlast our stewardship.  But that cannot happen if we don’t choose to do the deeper work now.  Please commit this proposal to deep prayer – with a stated willingness before the Lord that you are open to his leading.

God bless you, my Brothers and Sisters!

Father Todd

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Sunday Sermon...

Hello, friends!

We’d like to share the Sermon from Mass on Sunday, July 15, AD 2018 (The Seventh Sunday of Trinitytide, according to the Church’s calendar).  You can hear God’s word proclaimed and explained via this video!


We’d also like to share the whole Liturgy of the Mass, in case you weren’t able to worship the Lord on Sunday, via this video!


We invite you to join us for worship on any Sunday!  We dress casually and worship begins at 10:30am at Bethany House – 408 Levee Road in Mt. Sterling – across from the MCHS football stadium.

There’s lots of parking behind Bethany House.  If you need a ride, call us at 859-404-8374.

We love Jesus and we love you, too!

The Brothers and Sisters
of Mary and Martha

From My Heart to Yours...

Dear Brothers and Sisters of Mary and Martha,

Here’s a true mystery: We can be covered in the precious Blood of Jesus, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and still find ourselves longing for something we can’t quite name.  Saint Augustine said that “our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”  C.S. Lewis tells us that we are for ever searching for that missing something – and that something is heaven.

I am passing through a restless, searching season in my life.  I’m working as hard and as long as I can to play my God-appointed part in enlarging his kingdom (as all Christians are called to do).  But I’m finding that my heart wants to explode from restless beating.  My mind is consumed with finding that glimpse of heaven.  I would give anything to find the words that adequately express to the Lord how much more I want to see and know.

For now, the peace of the little vicarage deck and my cup of cappuccino must suffice.

Laudetur Jesus Christus!

Father Todd

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

“No More Excuses for Me”

A personal word from Father Todd…

Over the past few months (and especially the past few weeks), I’ve squeezed some pondering into the rocky events of life that Dcn. Emily and I have experienced (health issues, et cetera).  I’ve found myself, many more times than once, asking the Lord, “Can you give us a sense of peace, a season of just resting in you?  It’s been almost four years of struggle, rockiness, and lurching.”

This morning, as I awoke and got ready for work, I found myself asking a different form of that same question, “Lord, I’m tired of being part way ‘there’.  I want to live more deeply in relationship with you.  I want the interior of who I am, the interior of my life, to be more steady in you.  How can I get ‘there’?”

Almost as soon as I offered up that petition, the Holy Spirit began moving.  As I was getting ready to leave for the prison, I had the TV in our bedroom tuned to EWTN.  An episode of “Mother Angelica Live Classics” was playing and she was talking about excuses – the excuses we make to the Lord, to ourselves, and to others when we find ourselves moving away from God’s plans for our lives.

I realized in those moments – listening to a godly woman who was both bluntly honest and filled with the Lord’s presence – that I have been stalled in my conversion/sanctification.  For the past few years I’ve used the excuse of one ‘event’ after another to put off growing in the Lord.  I’ve used those events as excuses to give myself a break rather than excuses to go deeper with Jesus.

As I drove to the prison, the beautiful conviction intensified as I began to see how the Lord could have – and still can – use the undesired events in my life to deepen the peace of my interior life.  The Lord wants, as Max Lucado once said, to carve out a place of calm in the center of our life’s storms.  The only question for me, personally, is how I now begin to live out his intention within me.

There are some practical steps I can take – that I should’ve taken when the storms began for Emily and me nearly four years ago:

1. Keeping the main thing the main thing, as Dr. Maxey Dunnam used to tell us at Asbury Seminary.  This means a single-minded pursuit of listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit in all of life’s circumstances – in contemplative prayer (time spent silently before the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle, the Jesus Prayer, the Rosary, et cetera) and especially in daily, dedicated time in God’s Word.  If God and his will for my life are the main thing, then I have to keep my focus where he is speaking to me – in his Word and in quieting myself before him.

2. Removing all the clutter that can be removed from my daily living.  Jesus told Martha that she was worrying about too many irrelevant things and that her sister, Mary, had chosen to be attentive to the better thing.  What was it that Mary chose that her sister did not?  To let the everyday tyrannies fall by the wayside and sit at Jesus’ feet.  I am a worrier.  I am a dutiful doer.  I am a task-finisher.  And, while those things can be laudable and are needed in expanding God’s kingdom, they are ultimately destructive when they pre-empt the building of God’s kingdom within my heart and mind.  No cart ever pulled the horse!

3. Filling my head with the right voices.  As a full-time Chaplain I am required to listen to as many of the two thousand voices in my prison as I possibly can.  They need to know that I’m there for them, hear them, and will challenge/guide/care for them.  As a parish priest I am required to listen to the voices of my flock, to care for and nurture and even challenge them.  As a husband, I am required to hear the nuances in Emily’s voice, to know and sense when she is in need and when/how I can be there for her.  I am not, however, required to fill my head with the voices of those who inhabit the airwaves and the internet.  In fact, I am required to do the opposite: I am required to test those spirits and to see whether they are serving themselves or the Lord.  I need to turn the radio/TV/internet off and to open myself to the Lord’s voice in his Word.  I also need to open myself to the witness of the saints by taking in the voices of those whose walk with the Lord was/is much stronger than mine.  I need to hear Oswald Chambers, C.S. Lewis, Mother Teresa, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Teresa of Avila, and so many more.

If I want a calm interior life in the midst of the storms that come, I need to actively go about building it.  If I want a sense of serenity in the face of life’s ordinary chores, I need to actively live with those who can teach me.  If I want my life to make a difference in an increasingly ugly and hostile world, I need to fly to the One who can equip me for the task.

No more excuses for me.

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Sunday Sermon...

Hello, friends!

We’d like to share the Sermon from Mass on Sunday, July 8, AD 2018 (The Sixth Sunday of Trinitytide, according to the Church’s calendar).  You can hear God’s word proclaimed and explained via this video!


We’d also like to share the whole Liturgy of the Mass, in case you weren’t able to worship the Lord on Sunday, via this video!


We invite you to join us for worship on any Sunday!  We dress casually and worship begins at 10:30am at Bethany House – 408 Levee Road in Mt. Sterling – across from the MCHS football stadium.

There’s lots of parking behind Bethany House.  If you need a ride, call us at 859-404-8374.

We love Jesus and we love you, too!

The Brothers and Sisters
of Mary and Martha

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Sunday Sermon...

Hello, friends!

We’d like to share the Sermon from Mass on Sunday, July 1, AD 2018 (The Fifth Sunday of Trinitytide, according to the Church’s calendar).  You can hear God’s word proclaimed and explained via this video!


We’d also like to share the whole Liturgy of the Mass, in case you weren’t able to worship the Lord on Sunday, via this video!


We invite you to join us for worship on any Sunday!  We dress casually and worship begins at 10:30am at Bethany House – 408 Levee Road in Mt. Sterling – across from the MCHS football stadium.

There’s lots of parking behind Bethany House.  If you need a ride, call us at 859-404-8374.

We love Jesus and we love you, too!

The Brothers and Sisters
of Mary and Martha