Thursday, April 30, 2009
Alright, for those of you who know me, I'm not just talking about screws and screwdrivers.
Is there something that you thought used to work in your life and now needs a fix or change?
Think about it. Go in peace and go with God.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
And if you are going through a storm and need to talk- contact our church office and we will put you in contact with a loving and caring soul who can help you through it.
816-246-5764 or call the United Methodist Church (Upper Room) prayer line
U.S. and Canada 1-800-251-2468
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I guess I have come to understand ministry to be serving those inside the body of Christ.
Mission would be serving those outside the body of Christ. The difficult becomes some of us have been on "mission" trips doing manual labor and we call that mission.
Other churches call mission evangelism. The Blues Brothers were on a "mission from Gaaaaawd".
And who ministers? Just the pastor?
I heard a great view on this the other day. If the pastor is the shepherd of the sheep what is their role? Well, they take care of the sheep, make sure they are fed, find shelter and make sure they are healthy. Is the shepherd supposed to go find more sheep? No, not their role. The sheep make more sheep.
And then there is mission. Are you on a mission or are you a mission? Do you serve others or do you want or need to be served?
Thought for today is this- Where is God leading you into ministry and mission? If you have accepted Christ then you need to be plugged in somewhere. Go in peace and go with God.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
What a blessing. What a perspective. Sadly too many of us are so wrapped up in the drama in our lives we are unable to proclaim today a nice day, a good day, a great day! On my way to church yesterday a woman tailgated me from Raintree lake to the church. I drive a Ford F150 4x4. The truck sits kinda high and when I look in the rearview mirror and can't see your headlights, you are probably too close. I tried to slow down to let her pass but she did not. I drove the speed limit the whole way as I usually do as I drive from Raintree through Greenwood, up Ranson (Todd George) and then turn on the outer road. She stayed close behind and after the accident last year I am very aware of who is behind me and what they are doing. Thankfully she was not distracted by a cellphone, but she continued to follow way too close. As I turned onto Church st. from the outer road she tried to pass me on the right? Yes, true, I drove down to our second entrance and was getting ready to turn right into the church parking lot and she tried to pass on the right. I came to a near stop not wanting her to hit me. Finally she slowed and noticed my blinker on. She stopped and I drove into the church parking lot.
I don't know who she was or what she thought she was doing but I felt a bit on edge on the whole drive up here.
It's tough sometimes to proclaim a nice day when other people put you on edge. It might be your family, friends, coworkers or maybe even a neighbor.
Within ten minutes of being at church I completely forgot the incident until I was back on the same road this morning. For many of us we have been down that road before...a road that has been traveled that brings apprehension, stress and worry. Today is going to be an absolutely beautiful day. Proclaim that gift today. And please don't let other folks who, are not paying attention or who are bothering you, ruin your beautiful day. Every day is a gift from God.
Go in peace and go with God.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Also, in a society and culture that celebrates speed, champions the short-term temporality of friendships and connection, we witnesses 20 confirmands spend 34 weeks learning about Christianity, the church and God.
This past Sunday, 31 people joined Grace!!! That has to be a record for us.
20 confirmands and 11 adults.
Church, it's time to rejoice and celebrate. We are on a winning streak because we have chosen to be faithful and faithfilled followers of Jesus Christ. We have worked diligently to see God's vision fulfilled! Praise God and thanks be to God.
Great job everyone. Amen.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
1. Unemployment rate
2. Non-mortgage debt
3. Number of foreclosures
Read the full article here.
Rounding out the Top 5 #1 Nebraska, #2 Iowa, #3 Kansas (go Jayhawks), #4 Hawaii, #5 Louisiana.
Now here is where it becomes quite interesting for me. Where are the worst and most unhappiest places to live?
#47 Rhode Island
Yes, there are only 50 states but they included District of Columbia (Washington DC) -#31.
Missouri was ranked #19. Not bad.
One of the writers of the article said this:
"I think that on the coasts — In New York and California — we have a lot of people living beyond their means. But in the Midwest that's often not the case," said MainStreet.com general manager Harleen Kahlon. "Maybe the take-away is that living large is not the answer."
So people in the Midwest might listen to Dave Ramsey before they would listen to Bernie Madoff. I have always believed that happiness or joy comes from my relationships, especially with God. Of course, the things of this world can put great stress on relationships, etc. Sin fits into the picture somewhere too. I guess I will say that I choose to live a joyful life whether I have lots of debt or not. I know that having lots of debt makes doing things in this world that you want to do, or having things you want to have more difficult. But it should not make you an unhappy person.
Dave Ramsey often quotes Proverbs 22:7 -The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. I guess that if you are struggling to make ends meet, life is very stressful, and worrisome. If you have lost your job then it's pretty easy to become frustrated and upset. But you cannot let it take your happiness and joy. Being unhappy, angry and frustrated gets us very little in life. If you are struggling, talk to a friend and try and find a way out of your misery. If you need help, call your pastor or church. Please don't just stay unhappy and sad. There is a way out. We all know people who have made it through their tough times. Go in peace and go with God.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I've often heard the phrase "bloom where you are planted" discussed among colleagues. I have myself used that phrase too. In the midst of daydreams and thoughtless wandering (yes my mind wanders, not wonders) sometimes we walk a path that leads us to what we might describe as greener grass or pastures. The grass for some is always greener. People can't let their roots get too deep sometimes because it would mean letting others in a bit too close. So people choose to move every few years. The keep searching for that next dare to be great situation. The keep walking and walking and over every hill of change they pray that God will deliver them that greener grass. Every rose has it's thorn (1. yes I just quoted Poison) unless it has been genetically altered to get rid of those nasty thorns. Anyway, I guess where I am going is that the grass is not usually greener. It's easy to blame others for our current situations with work, relationships or whatever else we don't want to take responsibility for in our lives. If there is something broken in your life, take responsibility and get it fixed. And if you can't do it alone, then ask for help. Your next great situation might be exactly in front of you but you are too busy looking at the horizon over the next hill to realize it. Our tulips and daffodils both are blooming at home. They look absolutely beautiful. We planted more flowers yesterday so that in a few weeks once we lose those flowers, new ones will bloom. The secret to happiness and joy is not around the corner, it's right here and right now. Go in peace and go with God.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
This next Sunday we will announce the first fruit (campaign offering) total, our pledge total (it keeps going up) and to the total offering for Easter. I said this past Sunday that this would be the largest single offering in the history of Grace UMC and after hearing the preliminary numbers I think that statement will be proved true!!! Amen and thank you to everyone who helped with the campaign, thanks to everyone who pledged and made their first fruits gift.
May God continue to bless Grace as we faithfully follow His vision.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Today is Good Friday, also know as Great Friday or Black Friday. The day that Christians observe the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. It could be said that this is lowest day in Christianity. Today we do not declare a resurrection. There is no joy and happiness. Today is about death. As we remember the death of Christ, we also observe the sequence of events that led to His death. He was betrayed by a friend. The disciples scattered. Peter denies knowing Him. He passed between different religious leaders and then the Roman officials. He is sentenced to death by crucifixion for the crime of...blasphemy.
As we observe this somber day, spend some time with God today. Seek His direction this day and remember that several thousand years ago His son endured unspeakable suffering so that each human on earth might have the chance to receive the gift of eternal life.
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Eastern Church Scripture- John 13-18:1 (foot washing, etc.)
Today at Grace we will gather together and share in the Last Supper experience. We celebrate Holy Communion. As has become our custom, we offer a Living Last Supper. The 12 Apostles gather around the table with Jesus. We remember His words, "One of you will betray me". The disciples step out of the scene and share their thoughts and fears. "Is it I?" they ask. They wonder if they will be the one to betray Jesus.
Many churches gather this day and do foot washing or celebrate Holy Communion. In 1996 I was in Winfield Kansas at First United Methodist Church as the pastoral ministry intern. The Rev. Rick Frisbie has been leading FUMC for several years and they had developed a tradition of presenting the Living Last Supper on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Holy Week. It was packed every night. That year I played James the Lesser. Since then I have experienced numerous Maundy Thursday experience, each with their own special meaning. But I continue to turn back to the Last Supper painting of the disciples frozen in time wondering if they were the betrayer. Join us this evening if you desire a profound and moving worship experience.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Eastern Church- John 12:17-50 (Jesus predicts his death)
So today used to be known, and by some, is still known as Spy Wednesday of Holy Week. Why? Because the focus the day before the Last Supper is Judas, the betrayer. The spy. Judas goes to the religious leaders who do not like this Jesus, a person who by their standards is stirring the people up and speaking against many of them and their beliefs/standards/rules, and offers his willingness to betray Jesus. Around the person of Judas little is known. But his name continues even to this century to mean betrayer. Why did Judas do what he did? Some say he had to so that Jesus would be arrested, crucified, die and be resurrected. Others surmise that Jesus did not turn out to be the person that Judas thought he was. A worldly king that would re-initiate a Davidic kingship. And still others think that Judas was trying to force Jesus to reveal himself as the son of God and with great power take the throne of Israel. There is lots of speculation.
For me, Judas is a person who has really two sides. He was friends with Jesus, called by Jesus and even though the Gospel writers really slam him, he was an Apostle. After everything transpires, one account shows him hang himself, possibly in disgust over what has happened. He is a sympathetic figure, the outsider, the only non-Galilean and the betrayer, who betrayed the son of God, the messiah, the savior of humanity with a kiss. He will be forever known as the betrayer though. No matter how much people speculate about his motives, we know that his actions were that of a betrayer. He betrayed his friend, his teacher, a prophet, healer, miracle worker and ultimately, the Savior. We all have a choice in how we conduct ourselves. On this Holy (Spy) Wednesday, is there a place in your life that you are ashamed? Have you ever done something to someone else to make them feel betrayed? This day, seek a deeper connection to God and search for peace from that shame. Go in peace and go with God.
Eastern Church scripture- Matthew 25:1-30 (Parable of the Ten Virgins and Talents)
If you examine the Gospels there are several "teachings" that are shared by Jesus between the triumphal entry and the Last Supper (located usually on Thursday). So this Holy Tuesday I find in Matthew the seven woes. Tomorrow I will focus on the signs of the end of the age, but today the seven woes. Matthew 23:1-39. Woe to the teachers of the law, the blind guides of Israel. Matthew writes this many years later as he reflects back upon that Holy Week and now is writing to a Christian community. The woe's basically are an indictment against the religious community that say one thing and do another. Hypocrites he says. He ends with, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."
Over those days following the entry he teaches in Jerusalem. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all devote massive passages to those teachings. So as we continue through Holy Week, do your words match your deeds? I say I believe, but do we live that out every day? I love God and love my neighbor but DO I love God and love my neighbor? This day continue to work on those places in your heart that need to be cleaned out. Go in peace and go with God.
Monday, April 6, 2009
For Catholics the Gospel Text is John 12:12-19 (Jesus is anointed at Bethany)
Eastern Christianity- the Gospel text is Matthew 12:18-22 (the withering of the fruitless fig tree).
Now Luke records what happens directly after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. "It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be a house of prayer'; but you have made it 'a den of robbers.'
Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.
So today we can choose which text to reflect, I choose the Luke account.
Palm Sunday people are excited. They shout with joy and praise God for this amazing prophet, preacher, healer and teacher from Nazareth. Right after he arrives, Jesus goes to the temple and drives out the people who were selling things and said, "My house will be a house of prayer". The temple had turned into a trade fair, a flea market, people were making money in the shadow of the holiness of God. Rather offensive to the son of God, so he drives them out. Then, he is challenged by the chief priests.
Let's break this down.
He shows up.
He drives out those who were selling.
He is challenged by the chief priests and the teachers of the law.
From the very moment he stepped into Jerusalem on his last week he was challenged relentlessly by the religious leaders. He had been preaching and performing miracles for the past three years. Animosity had built up between him and the religious leaders because his message did not fit their understanding of the law. The message of Jesus Christ is one of faith, hope and love. For many of us, we continue to be challenged to grow in our faith. Today, I encourage you to rethink your feelings about someone that you have either written off, have something against or have declared an enemy. We are called to "love our enemy", and as we begin this Holy Week, let the worldliness in your life go and begin to let God get ahold of you again. Go in peace and go with God.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Now here is where I make a real connection. Indeterminate tomatoes are also known as “vining” tomatoes. They grow every which way, grow much better when pruned, need a great deal of care, lots of water, fertilizer and light. Only a few things can stop them from growing. One is frost. The other is if they are not adequately taken care of during the growing season.
So the question naturally comes for many of us. In your spiritual life is your growing season over? Are you determinate or indeterminate?
John 15 says, “ 1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” There is a rather fearful and joyful freedom in allowing the light and nutrients to season our growth as disciples. The lovely mystery that is the love of God should not have constraints or boundaries, but for many, it does. Open yourself up to hear the word of God and experience deep spiritual growth in your life. Go in peace and go with God.