Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pancakes and Casseroles

This past Sunday as many of you know we gathered in one worship service to celebrate our commitment to God here at Grace and our next step in the future growth of our church. Over the past few months as we moved through a process of discernment and prayer we have felt God calling us to take the next step, to move forward and ask the question, "Is it time for us to move forward?" The overwhelming response has been YES, it's time to grow. As we moved forward for just about every meeting, the weather just seemed to be against us. We had to move a meeting once and the tent we rented collapsed under the weight of snow and ice. But we perceveired through it all knowing that the direction and vision were from God. And we gathered for a wonderful worship service and afterwards, pancakes from Chris Cakes and the UMW provided some delicious breakfast casseroles. I think there are a few lessons we can take away from the last few months.
1. Negativity gets you NO WHERE.
2. To be a true Christian leader, sacrifice is required.
3. Prayer is essential.
4. Once the right leaders are in place, there is no limit.
5. God blesses the faithful.
Go in peace and go with God.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Story

Several men gathered together to eat lunch as they always did on Mondays. They spoke of sports, work, their kids, hobbies and vacations. Eventually, they did get around to the topic of religion. The eldest man in the group asked, "So men, what do you prescribe to?"
The first man said, "My grandparents were Baptist, my parents were Baptists and I am a Baptists."
Another gentlemen said, "Well we go to the Methodist Church."
Still another said, "Well, as for me and my house, we follow the Lord. So we are Catholic."
Now after that comment the other guys who had not answered started to ponder their responses with great care.
The next man said, "Well fellas, I am a Christian."
A calm slowly fell and a strange intensity enveloped them.
"Ah my friends" another said, "Well, my family and I love God and love our neighbors. We have placed our trust firmly in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
Another said, "Well I am a Christ follower."
And another, "I found my purpose in Christ."
The last man to speak was the one who posed the question. He said, "I believe in the one true God. His Son saved me and now I share His story and my story with anyone who will listen."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Excitement

People are excited here at Grace. What a wonderful day filled with hope and joy. Over the past few weeks preparations have been made and a large group of people are fired up and ready to go! Yes that is right, the preschool carnival is tonight. There is a buzz among the kids today, looking forward to a lot of fun. There will be two moonwalks, cotton candy and other fun games!!! What more could anyone want?!? And of course Sunday is our Celebration Sunday for the end of the Building Campaign. It has gone extremely well and we are all very pleased...and excited. One service on Sunday and then brunch afterwards. Hopefully you can be here for the joyous occasion. I'm excited and a little nervous. This is a big, well, HUGE step for Grace to take into a new direction. If you call Grace your home, let us know if you are coming this weekend. And come join the fun. Go in peace and go with God.

p.s. Go KU!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Prayers Lifted Up

Last night we had a prayer service. Several faithful Christians from Grace gathered together to pray for family, friends and neighbors who are in need of prayer. There were numerous requests about loved ones with cancer, many struggling with loss and others needing to find direction. We shared time in prayer and meditation. We read from Matthew 5.
Never did I believe I would quote this book from seminary, but I did.
"Progress in any area of our lives depends upon taking responsibility for ourselves before God."
To Pray and To Love by Roberta Bondi, pg. 108
It's true though. If we want to grow we need to begin to take responsibility for our lives, and for us last night, we focused on our spiritual disciplines. John Wesley would call them "works of piety". He listed prayer, Bible study, receiving Communion and fasting. Others might include journaling, worship, fellowship, stewardship, service and evangelism.
As I write I move back to prayer. We pray for those who need healing. We pray for those who struggle with life. We pray for those who need direction. And we pray for all those who are lost and need to find Him.
Spend a few moments in prayer today for all those you know who need your prayers.
Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sanctuary

A holy gathering place, consecrated for the purpose of worship. Christians gather in worship and experience the presence of God. They sing hymns, praise songs, hear the Word of God, pray, fellowship, recite creeds, experience God's Word in interesting ways (video/drama) and stand in awe of God's holiness. We baptize, receive Holy Communion, celebrate weddings and gather in a service of death and resurrection (funeral) in a sanctuary.
We are sent forth from a sanctuary to share the Good News, serve the poor and invite others to Christ. Is a sanctuary necessary for a church to exist? No. Do we feel called by God to build a holy gathering place for worship? YES.
Over the next few days many of you will be receiving a commitment card for our "It's Time to Grow" campaign. Please prayerfully consider what God is calling you to do. As Him, "Lord, what would you have me do?"
If you have any questions, contact me at the church or through email.
Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Lord is My Shepherd

The LORD is my shepherd,
Is He?
I shall not be in want.
Really?
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
Yes He does
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Do you follow?
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
Do you fear, do you have worry? Why?
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Are you comforted?
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
Yes He does!
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Did you miss it? Yes, your cup overflows!
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
Surely, Surely they do
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
AMEN

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Planting Seeds

There are many references to harvesting, planting, sowing seeds in the Bible. Jesus speaks several parables about such things. One such passage comes from the Parable of the Sower. At home, we are literally planting seeds. Matthew 13 records this parable "A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9He who has ears, let him hear."
This parable is also recorded in Mark and Luke. Needless to say the disciples are a little confused by the parable. So Jesus pulls them aside and explains it to them.
18"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." If you are still reading this post then God bless you.
Have you ever started something from seed? It's not that easy, especially if you want to produce a good crop. We are starting tomato plants and herbs from seeds this year. We have the trays to start them in, we have "seed starter mix" which is not just dirt. You can't just go out side and dig up some rich Missouri soil, you need "seed starter mix". It's a whole thing. Anyway, you also need water and grow lights. Check out our family blog over here to see what I am describing. If you look back to the parable not all the seeds grow and bear fruit. In fact, 3/4 of the seeds end up dying. Now we are nowhere near that rate hear at home. Out of the 100 seeds we planted, we ended up with 90 plants. That is pretty good.
But we had to take great care with the grow lights, the water and the soil. Now when Jesus spoke of sowing seeds it sounds like they were sowing or scattering seeds all over the place. And in the church we translate this as sharing the Good News everywhere we go. Sadly, some only share the Gospel with a small amount of people. To reach those who are far from God means that we need to sow seeds all over the place. Home, workplace, school, family gatherings, restaurants, grocery store and wherever you feel led to share. No you do not need to take your Bible and quote scripture, in fact, most of the time you won't have to do anything. The Holy Spirit will lead you into moments where you can share with others.
Alright, final example. I carry our Dave Ramsey wallet around with us. And usually when I pull it out to pay for something the cashier asks me about it. And sometimes I am able to share with them why we have it and where they can find one. And on a rare occasion, I will even tell them I am a Christian....and even, yikes a pastor. And then their eyes light up and they ask to be baptized. Alright, it doesn't go like that, usually their eyes glaze over. Really though, it has given me an opportunity to plant a seed. And next time I see them, maybe I can add some light and maybe, just maybe, that seed might grow. Be the light this day, and every day. Go in peace and go with God.
Seeds under grow lights (top left) (top right) Herbs that are growing

Friday, March 20, 2009

Silence

Yesterday I heard it again. I had lost it for awhile, but as with all things, I found it again. It sure took a long time for it to return. I guess I have been busy lately. I forget why I lost it, but it came back. Yesterday I found the silence again. God extends His gracious arms to us every day but for some reason we don't always listen. We are distracted by the massive amount of information that is thrown at us. I was outside when I found the silence again. It was peaceful, it was quiet, and it was good. I needed it. In the silence there is no worry, fear or talking. It's a time of listening. If you are able to find the silence and embrace it, you will find what you are searching for. A passage in Matthew 7:7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." If you notice for all of these actions, ask/seek/knock, there is an indeterminate amount of time that it takes to achieve these things. They are not instantaneous, no, someone has to respond, it takes time to find things and the door has to be opened. We often speak of God working for our good in all things and I know that is true. But sometimes we are not working for His good and when life seems out of control we lose ourselves. The silence is a place to find our direction again. Let go of your fear and worry. Why would we rather carry those two curmudgens with us? Make a new friend today, the silence. She is much more friendly and forgiving of our mistakes. Stand in silence and find your connection to God again. Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hug Your Family Today

Days go by so quickly. Work chews up massive amounts of our time. Then run home to run somewhere else. Families today always seem to be running. Running home from work, then off to soccer/basketball etc. practice. Kids are plugged in at an early age to the post-modern schedule of busyness. As some of you at Grace know we have seen a surge in prayer requests these past few weeks. Some have to do with health, others about relationships. One of Jill's coworkers Shawndra Turner went home to be with the Lord this week. She fought a courageous battle against cancer. When I see the bravery that those who are fighting to live show, I often turn to see how many others are distracted by schedules and work and I wonder, are you making a living or making a life? To make a life implies that your main motivator is relationships. The make a living implies your main motivator is money. I choose relationships. Cherish and hold on to the relationships in your life that bring you joy and happiness. Hug your kids, your grand kids, your wife, your husband and whoever else you think needs a hug. We don't get to have another yesterday, and for some there is no tomorrow. So TODAY is important. Today might be the most important day of your life. Today might be your last. So spend it well. Spend it with joy, happiness and love. Do not waste today because tomorrow it will be a memory. Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Taking a Leap of Faith

This past weekend Mike Hilbert shared with us a few thoughts about our "It's Time to Grow" campaign. The scripture he referenced was Malachi 3:10
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
My assumption is that if we are willing to take a financial leap of faith God will bless His people. We have also talked about not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice. To move forward despite some fear or worry shows our willingness to take that leap of faith. Two big insights from this scripture passage. 1. Bring your tithe to the storehouse of God. God's requirement is to give to God what is God. A simple way to look at it is like this- give 10% to God, 10% to savings, 80% spend however you wish. 2. God tells us to just test Him. Imagine that we would all take that leap of faith and just watch the blessings. I have been a recipient of these blessings and continue to be blessed by God. Mike said he was a recipient of these blessings also. Numerous people in our church have seen what happens when we move our lives more in line with God's intentions. So today, take that leap of faith. Trust in God, trust in Christ. If you take that leap then God will open the floodgates of blessings to be poured out on you. Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

With God All Things Are Possible

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26. Do you believe this statement? This was a response to an earlier statement Jesus had made in regard to eternal life. Who can be saved the disciples mused. I know God does miracles still today. I know that God loves me. I also know that God has a wonderful and exciting plan for my life and His church. So then why do many of us worry so much about issues the life of the church? Fear sometimes immobilizes our ability to pursue God's vision for the church. People are worried about the economy or the future. Some become so worried and scared they run from the church and make excuses about why they are running.
My faith in Jesus Christ tells me "do not fear", "I am with you", "fear not". And yet time and time again I hear the worries of other clergy. Some might say, "just have more faith". Glad to know that I can just heap a few extra scoops of faith and everything will be fine :0).
Much of our struggles really come down to our own personal view of a situation. And we want others to have the same view to validate our view which brings some level of legitimization to our feelings. God has a plan. A plan to build up, not to tear down. A plan filled with hope and a future. So today I ask you, stop worrying so much and start focusing on God. Jesus said numerous times, "your faith has made you well". Declare that you believe, I mean, really believe! Say this out loud- With God All Things Are Possible. Again, With God All Things Are Possible, one more time WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!!!!! Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Break

It's Spring Break in Lee's Summit. The schools are out and children can be seen riding bikes, walking and generally just hanging out. I have not officially had a spring break from school since 2000. I spent many a spring break in elementary or Jr. High doing nothing productive. In High school and college I worked, except for the three times that I actually went on a trip to visit friends. During graduate school I rested because I was working part-time and going to school full-time. When asked by a colleague what I would do back then with a day off my only response was "sleep". Many of us run the tank dry and then go some more. Everyone is busy, running with no end in sight. So I challenge the people of Grace to actually take a spring break. No, don't think I am encouraging you to take off for partying at south Padre Island. No, take a break from your busy schedule and rest. Spend the day with your kids, or go to a movie and turn your cell phone off, turn the tv off and just unplug from your busy day. If you have some vacation saved up take a break. You deserve a break today! God many years ago established a day of Sabbath. I know very few people who observe a day of rest. So your pastor is asking you to take a day off and rest. Go in peace and go with God.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Expectations

I believe good things will happen for me. I expect it. As a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ we should all expect to have the favor of God with us. That does not mean I expect to win the lottery, no way. I expect that God continually works for His good in my life. Through prayer and Bible study we learn the ways of God. The stories enlighten us as we make our way through daily life. My decisions are shaped by my relationship with Christ. John Wesley had an idea of how to make better choices in life. When making a choice, we should consider
What does Scripture tell me?
How does my choice reflect in the Tradition of the church?
Through my learned knowledge, I can Reason the choices out.
What has previous Experience taught me?
I expect that on Sunday I will experience the presence of God in my life in a deeply profound way. I expect that others will also experience God. Some will rededicate their lives to Christ. Some will be seeking a word or two of comfort. Others are looking for inspiration. The task ahead of all Christians will sometimes seem difficult (is that a big enough word?). Insurmountable? Never ending? But in all things, God will work for my good through Him. So, I expect that God will lead me down a path of righteousness and I also expect to experience great joy on the journey. What do you expect of God and what does God expect of you? Go in peace and go with God. See you in church.

Friday, March 13, 2009

United Methodist Church

The United Methodist Church in the US has seen worship attendance drop over the past few years. Worship attendance dropped over 100,000 in just the last three years. Rev. Adam Hamilton guesses at this rate the United Methodist Church will cease to exist in 44 years. After he states that he goes on to explain how he thinks it can be stopped. Rev. David Livingston also has solutions to this apparent rather large and looming problem. As I hear pastors and denominational leaders discuss this I become rather weary. Many think that we need to get more young people to church. Some believe we really need to recruit more young clergy and then ask them how to reach their generation. Some people attribute the decline to social mobility. Others say that the internet has defined a new way of building relationships and with the high number of spiritual sites and online services people are plugging into their "faith" through the web. There are more people now in the United States who claim no religious affiliation than ever before in our history. A study released called the American Religious Identification Survey breaks down the loss of people who identify themselves as Christian. As I read through the survey I realized that this problem is not isolated to any specific region of the country, or one specific denomination. I guess the first thing we need to figure out is why the Christian faith has lost ground. And then figure out how to change the trend. For me I believe the biggest problem facing Christianity is that we have allowed the church, Christians and our beliefs to be defined by what we are against as opposed to what we are for. The churches that are really growing these days seem to have a clear sense of who they are and where they are going. Can something be done to change the decline? I honestly do not know. Our Bishop sat with a group of young clergy a year ago and told us that the Missouri Conference is on the decline. He asked us, "If we do nothing different where will the church be in twenty years?" Most of the respondents in the room said that if we don't change and continue to do the same things that the Missouri Conference would be much smaller, meaning fewer churches and continuing to die. It's as if we are traveling toward a cliff and we are not sure if we have gone over yet or still sliding down. Our Bishop often says that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So we need change to stop the decline. Our Conference has already started to enact radical and Godly change. I feel a sense that we are moving forward and I pray that the changes are working.
I serve in a local church so much of my focus is what clergy can do to help change the trends. So here are a few things I believe that might help us turn around.
1. Stop focusing so much on what we don't have and neglecting what we do have. (in other words, the answer is not just found with young adults)
2. Provide better problem based learning for clergy and church leaders (beyond seminary)
3. Someone once told me enter each church appointment as if it is your last.
4. Don't preach against people, preach for the Kingdom.
5. Remember we are all on the same team.
6. Be gracious with other people's time.
7. Develop a clear sense of identity for the local church.
8. Put a plan of action in place to move toward health.
9. Get the message out into the community.
10. Don't let fear motivate the church, let love be the main motivator.
11. Be an example to your church, family and community.
12. Stay connected, no lone rangers please.

This list could probably reach 100 quite easily, but I wanted to keep it brief. I wonder what other things we need to change to slow or stop the decline. I pray that in 44 years the UM church is still around. I hope that more local churches are growing than dying. Well people of Grace, do you have an answer? What would stop the national trends of church and Christian decline? Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Prayers Required

Please remember this day in your prayers the following people.
Laura's mom, Jeremy's mom, for Mike as he is recovering from surgery, Thomas, prayers for Bev, our praise team, our choir, our staff- Sharon, Debbie, Loren, Nancy, Stephanie, Lee; all church volunteers, prayer team leader Steve, Pastor Jeremy, Pastor Buck, Pastor Brian, Pastor Dave, those who work at Sprint and are fearful of losing their jobs, our Bishop Robert Schnase, our District Superintendents, the United Methodist Church, the church universal, those who are suffering, those who are lost, those dealing with divorce, those struggling with relationships and for those who are lonely.
Prayer should be part of your daily life. I know sometimes we forget, but please pray.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Apologize

Do you owe someone an apology? Have you wronged someone today or recently? If so, drop the ego act and say you are sorry. Maybe it was a mistake or maybe you were just being inconsiderate, but please, tell them you are sorry. Relationships can become strained and sometimes people can begin to drift away from each other when an issue comes between them. Whether it's your spouse, kids, family, coworker or friend, it's time to say you are sorry. Ask them to forgive your mistake and help rebuild the brokenness that has come between you. Make your way through today with courage and humility. Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Patience

Do you have patience? The fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 says "22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Now I am not going to explain these as an exhaustive list of fruit or put together a deep theological article, no, not today. Today I want to focus on patience. Many days I feel I am rather impatient. I have to work on being a patient person. This means that in a society that says that we can everything we want or desire, that the world revolves around me and that the speed at which I receive or achieve things is important I must say that good things come to those who wait. I waited years to find my true love. I waited years to see the fulfillment and confirmation of a call to ministry (1994 call came, ordained 2003). By nature, Christians should be rather patient. But we are not. We allow the culture, work, relationships to be bombarded by time constraints and impatience. I have witnessed people tear out of a line at the drive thru when the line is moving to slow. I have seen people walk away from a movie theater because there were 10 people in line in front of them. If we all learned to be a bit more patient the world would be a much more sane and happy place. I know, I know, we all have deadlines to meet and I am not by any means pushing that nasty practice of PROCRASTINATION. By no means. What I would love to see is everyone actually take some time to spend waiting on the Lord. God delivers amazing blessings and miracles to us all and yet, there are days we are so busy, so distracted that we are unable to see or recognize them. One last story. Last year I was involved in a vehicle accident. Just to remind you, I was sitting at a red light and it turned green. I pulled away and a woman driving a Ford Explorer hit me from behind driving approximately 45 miles an hour. My truck and me were rather injured to say the least. It took around four weeks to receive my truck back. And what I find interesting is that the thing that took the longest time was straightening the frame. Dave Roe's took several weeks making very very small, fraction of an inch corrections to the frame. Sometimes it takes times to fix things. So, if you are waiting on the Lord or waiting for something to happen here is some advice. Pray. Listen. Pray some more. And then do whatever you can to help the blessing or miracle to happen. Oh yeah, did I mention pray? And faithfully and hopefully wait upon the Lord. Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Camp and Scholarships

The deadline for camp scholarships here at Grace is March 15th. Please pick up a form in the main office. The scholarships are for Grace children and youth that are attending Camp Galilee this summer. The two scholarships available are: Heartland Districts Golf Tournament Scholarship and Grace Student Ministries Scholarship. There are also scholarships available through the district (743-9098).
We held our first camp leadership team meeting yesterday and our directors and leaders are really fired up. Our week of camp is July 6-11th. We have several new leaders in place for this year, and of course, many of the same faithful, wacky and fun counselors will be returning. This year we are going with the theme "Time To Grow" and every day we will talk about different aspects of our faith journey and how we can grow as disciples. Please pray for our week of camp, and Camp Galilee. Thank you to Lee and Stephanie Smith for stepping up and helping lead camp this summer. We hope and pray that we have another amazing year. You may sign up for camp at http://www.mocamps.org/. Go in peace and go with God.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Spring Forward

Don't Forget to
SPRING FORWARD
1 HOUR on Sunday!!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

New Sanctuary- The Story of Grace

Grace has been in existence for approximately 18 years. We started in 1990 and became a "church" in 1991. We have had four pastors over our short life. Over the past few years we have tried to really push ourselves to follow God's vision for our community and church. We have tried things that have failed. We have succeeded with things that probably should have failed but with the Grace of God, we press on. Over the past two years we have gathered together to discuss a new sanctuary. I deeply appreciate all the prayers, ideas and conversations over this time to help us focus our efforts and make a clear statement of our future intent. The name of our sermon series this month is "It's Time To Grow". We have seen a 10% jump in attendance this past year and we continue to see new faces and new members join. So, knowing that in the next two years we will outgrow our current facility we are asking every person who calls Grace their home or who is willing to help Grace achieve this vision to call upon God and say- "Lord, what would you have me do?"
Maybe with the economy right now you are a little worried. Maybe you are not sure if this is the right thing to do. Maybe you are just fearful for the future. All I ask is that you pray. Take a moment every day for a week and ask that question. Lord, what would you have me do?
We continue this weekend and we will be discussing miracles. Please join us and remember on this beautiful day, go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Signs

As many of you at Grace know, I live off of Ward rd. Many of you might not know that southbound Ward south of 150 is closed. They closed the lane many months ago to widen it. When finished it will be three lanes, one north, one south and one turning lane. What I find rather interesting is the number of people who see the signs that say "detour" or the massive amount of signs that block you from going south on Ward and still, yes still people go around the barriers and try and drive south. I have witnessed this a few times of the past few weeks. One in particular was at night. It was probably around 10:30 pm and the news was just finishing up. I noticed some car lights shining through the window and looked to see what was going on. There was a car driving south (in the northbound lane) on Ward. Somehow, someway they had missed the signs. No here is the really scary thing. What if someone who missed the signs then runs into someone who has seen the signs, knows the signs, has absolutely followed the signs? The lawbreaker collides with the lawful. There is a great line in the movie signs where one of the characters asks "Do you believe in miracles or coincidence?" Where some people see signs and miracles others just see randomness or coincidence. God puts signs in our path for a reason. I see signs all over. Some of these signs lead us into ministry or mission. Some of the most profound signs come when we have quieted down and listened to God. Signs for me have come at church camp, in prayer, in Bible study, in conversation with others and sometimes they come after a series of events have lead me to a new understanding of something. I believe that God speaks to us every day. But sadly, many of us either quit listening or just ignore the signs. Today is a beautiful day here in Lee's Summit. Please spend some time with God in the beauty of this day. Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Warming Up- Catch Your Breath

The forecasters in the area say there is a warming trend coming. It's from the southwest and we might reach 70 degrees on Thursday. That is blessed news to those of us who are ready for spring. As the sun warms the earth things begin to grow again. The drab and dreary looking grass turns a beautiful shade of green. Greenhouses start to grow their plants for the spring sales, and late spring/summer gardens. Hopefully a few March showers will help this process along. But of course, the forecasters are also talking about some bad weather in a few weeks. Maybe a few snow storms to remind us winter is not over. In my own spiritual walk, I begin to grow and get ahead and then inevitably there is a set back. Something happens to slow me down, I get distracted by a situation and someone just plain ruins my day. There are times in my life where I have grown for weeks and months and then that set back. What do you do with that set back? Maybe sit around saying "Woe is me"? Throw myself one giant pity party? No, I catch my breath. After a sprint or a marathon runners are told not to collapse and fall to the ground. No, they are told to put there arms above their heads and breathe deeply. Refill your lungs and body with oxygen. Maybe you are there now. You need some rest. You need to catch your breath before you can run or walk again. Find the son again in your life and start growing again. Remember to go with God and go in peace this day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wichita Church Start Leaves United Methodist Church

So this past week we saw an elder in the United Methodist Church, most the staff and church leadership walk away from the congregation to start a new congregation outside of the United Methodist Church, but with a very similar name. You can find a news article here with the full story. I'm from that area and my sister lives very close to where Gracepoint was worshipping. She however continues to attend her church, even though young families that she knows were attending Gracepoint. I honestly don't know how to describe my feelings about this. I guess just sad. A growing, vibrant congregation has their leadership and pastors leave. I have never heard of anything like this in the United Methodist Church. What does that teach the people of the church? If you have a problem don't try and work it out, just leave? I'm sure and I pray that everyone had serious, prayerful conversations. I'm sure lots of people will interpret this however they want, but for me, it's just sad. I pray for both congregations and hope that God will magnificently bless both of them.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Moving Beyond Our Wounds

Noted author Henri Nouwen wrote more than thirty books on the spiritual life of Christians. His books inspire, teach and help us through the Christian journey. One of the themes (although not always named) that he continued to write on throughout his life was the idea that we carry a wound. And the wound we carry sometimes causes us to make decisions that are not wholly beneficial to us or others. The wound is a spiritual wound that has been inflicted upon us by others. Whether it was your parents, a friend or someone else, many of us carry a wound. In his book "The Inner Voice of Love" Nouwen says, "There are two extremes to avoid: being completely absorbed in your pain and being distracted by so many things that you stay far away from the wound you want to heal." pg. 3. In my life I have seen people run to those extremes. Some are so full of pain and sadness they are unable to see the light of Christ in their life. Others fill their life with so many things (distractions) to avoid dealing with their actual wounding. So either helpless and immobilized by pain or running, running, running. I know some folks who suffer this. If you are in the midst of a great struggle, have you considered sitting down and having a chat with God about it? Some of our wounds are small, some are so large that we cannot see them heal until God intervenes. One of the sad things about wounds are that if we are wounded, we have a tendency to wound others. Wounds make us selfish, especially when we are backed into a corner. Today is a day that you begin to heal. Call upon your Lord and Savior and ask for healing, direction and purpose. Go in peace and go with God.