Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chill Out

Did you see the cold front move through this morning? More so, did you feel it? Today a cold front moved through the area bringing much needed relief to this early summer warm (hot) spell. It cooled everything off. I've heard that during this unseasonably warm times that crime goes up. Heat has a tendency to drive tempers up too. Every heard the phrase "chill out"? Have you ever told your kids to "cool it!"?
Let me just say, that there are probably some places in our lives that we need to chill out with....right? Maybe you have an ongoing feud with your neighbor, maybe your kids are driving you nuts, or maybe work is a struggle these days. Take a moment. It doesn't cost anything. Just chill out. Turn off the noise around you and cool it. Let that fresh space of pause and nothingness wash over you like a cold front moving through the plains. Next time you feel the anger, next time you feel like losing it, next time you feel the heat.....CHILL OUT.
Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A New Day

Today is a new day. There was a new dawn this morning. The sun rose. The light invaded the otherwise peace and darkened morn. The sky turned a beautiful color of rose and yellow. A new day has started.
What will you do with this day?
My day is full of joy-filled work. Conversations. Writing. Reading. Planning. Praying. Bible study. Making decisions. Visiting. Making room for God.
What does your day fill up with?
Hopefully there will be a pause in your day and you may experience the beauty of the sun as it lights the world.
Rejoice, today is a new day. Yesterdays struggle and troubles are gone and opportunity is before you.
Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Staying Connected

Our world allows us to stay amazingly connected these days. Technology has advanced in such a way as to let us "be there" for others that are far away. The question arises, "Can you have a "real" relationship online?" And what is real?
Our lives are made up of moments, concrete moments, to steal a line from process theology.
These moments are defining for us. The challenge us. The bend us, and sometimes break us.
At our core is supposed to be a strong and faithful relationship with Jesus Christ. When the storms come we find shelter in God. We are given much to weather the storm. Many of us assume that the purpose of our lives is to live a long, full and happy life. I think that assumption is a false one.
My purpose should be to serve God. To follow God. To love God and neighbor. My purpose has very little to do with my own needs and desires.
I hope that all strive to have a healthy relationship with God. If we are not connected to God, then how can we stay healthy.
Some think that going to church keeps you connected. In some ways it does. But coming to church once a week does not make you a Christian anymore than going to a Broadway play makes you an actor.
If you go to watch a Royals game and sit in the stands, I hope you would not suggest that you are a member of the "team", and the coach just didn't call on you to play third base because they didn't "need" you that day.
Friends, please, consider what you stay connected to and who you are connected to in this world. Our connections can lead to great joy and faithfulness, and they can also lead to destruction and sadness.
Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Trusting Others

The other day I was driving home from work and something strange happened. I was following a vehicle on a two lane road and in the distance there was an SUV driving down the road in our lane. It was headed right for us. The vehicle in front of me slowed, as did I. We watched as this person continued in the wrong lane heading straight for us. My heart leapt. A million things ran through my mind. What if this person doesn't move back to their lane? Is there something wrong with them? The person in front of me and I both stopped on the road. I thought about pulling over, but then, about 100 yards in front of us, he moved back into his lane and passed us without even acknowledging us there. It was a man and woman, with the man driving. No visible cell phone in hand, no distractions. The road does narrow a bit through there, but not enough to warrant pulling into oncoming traffic.
Many of us go through life trusting that others will abide by the law. They will stay on their side of the road. So when someone does not, many of our reactions can be shock and fear. I was personally not prepared for someone driving in my lane. I don't know if you can ever be prepared for it. But I guess that I would say that slowing down was a good idea. Waiting to see what the other person is going to do before they get too close was probably a good idea.
I know some who might advocate for jamming on the gas and driving as fast as you can at that other person to make them move, but that is not my style and I don't think that always works.
Next time you have a big decision that requires a reaction, if you can, take some time and weigh all the options. Talk to some others. If it requires immediate attention, pray that you make the right decision.
Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Death of Neda Soltan

As some of you have probably seen and heard, there was a young Muslim woman shot in Iran this past week, following the national elections. She was shot by agents of the government trying to stop the protesting. Here is what I pieced together about her.

Her name was Neda.

She was 27 years old.

She was philosophy student.

She had a fiance.

The video shows her peacefully protesting the outcome of the democratic elections in her country. There were some others who were causing lots of problems. But the video before shows her standing with her father or a professor just watching. Peacefully protesting. The graphic video of her death is tragic. At first I thought this could possibly be a hoax, but sadly I fear that it is not.

It has been reported that the people who shot her were Basij, members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. They did so to stop the protests.

The protests have slowed a bit after brutal force was used over the past few days.

Iranians leaders denied her a memorial service in a Mosque, they do not dispute this. Now they are threatening the life of her family so some are reporting. They are trying to erase any memory of a young woman who stood up for what she believed in, so some are reporting. She has become a symbol, a martyr for a country that has a majority population of people under 40. I pray for her family. I pray for her friends. And I pray for her country during a time of transition and struggle. I don't usually comment on politics or the goings on in other nations but for some reason this story stuck with me these past few days.

Imagine a place where when someone dies for standing up for the their beliefs and then is denied a service in their house of worship.

Imagine a place where they young are not heard.

Imagine a place where access to information through the internet is censored and blocked.

Imagine a place where democracy is said to have occurred, and yet now reports are coming out that there was possibly 3 million ballots cast that were fraudulent.

She was denied a memorial service by the religious leaders so she would not become a martyr.

May God bless those who find themselves in situations of injustice and suffering. May God call us out of a place lethargy and selfishness so that we might too stand up for the oppressed, the lost and the hurting. Stand with others in the global community who seek to bring about positive change through peace.
I pray.
I weep.
I am a Christian and my heart goes out to my Muslim sister and her family.

Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Call Heard, A Call Answered

There is tragedy in this world. Some days it seems like all I read or see is a constant blitz of negativity and sadness. And then, I read an article of someone doing something so kind and so amazing I have to pause and thank God that some people or companies in this world are out there and they ARE listening. You can read the full article here.

But essentially, a cancer stricken girl is granted a request to see the Disney/Pixar movie "Up". She can't go to the theater because of her advanced condition. So what does Disney/Pixar do? They send some staff over with a DVD copy of the movie to preview it in her home. They also brought tons of memorabilia.
I often heard the companies and systems are unfeeling, sometimes even seen as evil. Not this company. They received a call and passed it up the chain and answered the call. They didn't have to answer by the way. But someone decided to listen.
Who in your life or community right now is crying out for some help?
And is there anything within your sphere of influence that you can help bring some joy into some one's life?
Friends, I see the faith as the joyful abundance of God's love shared through us to the world. Go in peace and go with God...and oh yeah, get GOING!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day. It's Father's Day 2009! To all Father's everywhere and anywhere, congrats and always remember to care for your children. Teach them when they are young and they will not stray.

I've heard lots of Father's day dreams from the father's in the church.
Their perfect Father's day would include:
A grilled steak, a good nap, a quiet restful day, fishing, going to the lake and lots and lots of other great and wonderful stuff.

I guess the best thing most father's really want is for their kids to be happy and healthy.

What would you want for Father's day? How about for your kids?

Go in peace and go with God.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

God's Grace

Spiritual giant Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke and wrote about something called "cheap grace". Here are a few of his words.

"Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church.
Cheap grace means grace sold on the market.
Grace without price; grace without cost!
The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing....
Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian 'conception' of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins.... In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God."

And my favorite three lines are:

"Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."

Simply brilliant. Salvation does not give us license to sin, but some believe that it does. Salvation calls us to a new journey of life. Retreat from a life of sin. Repent and sin no more.
Go in peace and go with God.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Multiple Meanings

Do people say what they mean anymore? Or is everyone afraid of telling the truth...or just being honest? Sometimes I fear that we choose to be kind instead of honest. We don't want to hurt some one's feelings. I promise, most people would like to hear the truth than someone just being nice. Every day we go through life and have to determine and develop a keen sense of awareness to interpret what others are telling us. This Sunday is the first day of summer. It's also Father's day. It's also a day in which we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Real meaning can only be found through a relationship with Jesus Christ. It's a choice afforded to all of us. Enjoy summer, although it feels like July is already here. Please have a wonderful Father's day and remember your Holy Father. Finally, take some time to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Join us in worship this weekend as we discuss the words of Jesus "my house shall be a house of prayer". Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hiding In Plain Sight

This little guy was hiding in our garden the other day. He was nestled close up against a potato plant. His little brother had been in that part of the garden earlier in the week so I was actually looking for him when I came upon this little one. I took a step into the garden and he did not move, he did not jump, this little bunny just sat there...shivering. He was a bit scared. He was worried that he might be found out. I quickly grabbed our camera and took a few shots of him. I'm actually about 15 ft away from him in this picture.
Yes, he is cute and he probably should have had the sense to run because a certain puppy named Rheau chased him from the safety of his hiding place, in plain sight.
He really was rather easy to see. He was right there. He thought that he could remain hidden, but could not. Lots of us hide in plain sight. It happens. We struggle, we fail and then we hide the failure until it's found out. The interesting thing about failures...well, the fear of what will happen is often worse that what happens. If you have made a mistake, hurt some one's feelings, or done something that is eating at you...maybe, just maybe you should apologize to that person and seek God's forgiveness. It's available, He is there. Go to Him. Speak to Him. Go on bended knee and pray. Find direction, hope and peace again.
Stop hiding in plain sight. Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Building the Family of God

Again, thanks for all the cards, emails, calls and prayers as I continue to recover. We started a new sermon series this past week and I hope you will be able to join us this Sunday as we continue. On Sunday we discussed the passage from Joshua where we hear "as for me and my house, we will SERVE the Lord." Serving the Lord has multiple meanings, but as I spoke I became keenly aware that the sermon was more like three or four sermons into one. That is what happens when a pastor is off for a few weeks.
But the main point I really wanted to focus on might have been lost in it all. That point is: serving the Lord is your choice. That's it. Pretty simple really. The passage from Joshua says to me- you can follow the gods of this world, you can follow a trail of money, you can focus on yourself, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
A powerful statement to be sure.
We are faced with this choice every day. Do I pursue the desires and wants that tempt me, or can I walk in the other direction...toward God, toward hope and toward glory.
Over these next few weeks I hope you join us for our conversations about building God's family. God's family is an amazingly diverse and loving crowd of people. Hopefully, you will make that choice to follow God, to serve the Lord and to make a change in your life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thank You

Thanks to Phil, Steve and Ron for taking over the preaching duties these past few weeks as I recovered from surgery. The surgery went well and the pain I had experienced all this past year from the herniated disc is gone. Still getting through the surgery pain, but hope to be back preaching this weekend. Thanks for all the prayers, cards, phone calls and visits. And thanks to a few of you for the food. After surgery there were a couple of days when it was nice to have some food in the freezer that we could just heat up. Thanks so much.
So no basketball or volleyball for six months.
I can ride my mountain bike but not on any serious trails.
No weights for six months.
And maybe some golf, but can't swing the driver too much.
Again, thanks for everything and hope to see you in church this weekend.