Thursday, January 28, 2010

Words

This weekend we are going to talk about being "Born Again". Words and phrases tend to take on numerous meanings, most of which are associated with the group or groups using them. Sometimes it's groups opposed to the them that end up identifying what the word or phrase means. Some in the church do not like the term "born again" because it is associated with a particular "wing" of the church. If I use the word liberal, or the word conservative, it seems like people on either side would call out the good or bad associated with groups that identify with those words. In the story of Nicodemus, Jesus tells him he must be born again. On group in the church has taken that phrase to the extreme, I know, but let's think about that phrase. To be born again means...
born of water and the spirit
a spiritual birth
a change
second chance
having a new parent/father/mother
new life

Those don't sound too terrible, do they? There are moments in our walk with Christ, call them concrete moments, when we are baptized, accept Christ, serve, teach, worship...
Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Friends

Why do some of us focus so much on the past? There are countless new friends out there to make, but for some reason, our minds wander to the people that chose to not be our friends. Friends are there for us, they share with us, they let us in. People who are not our friends are mean, they lie, they ignore, and well, they are just not friendly. I have always considered everyone I meet a friend until they prove otherwise. I am in a position to make new friends on a fairly regular basis. It's kind of nice getting to know new folks. If you listen long enough, you hear the roller coaster ride that most people have been on. The ups and downs come with great stories of how they have made it to this point in their life. To be on that journey with others is such a blessing. To be allowed in is a gift. So friends, stop focusing on those people in your life who choose not to be your friend because there are potentially hundreds if not thousands of new friends out there. I met a couple this week that are so full of excitement and joy (they are getting married soon). It is a joy to have the job that I have and I often say, it's the best job in the world. Make a friend today...a new friend. Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Complexity Abounds

The world is full of complexity and confusion. It seems that the more innovating that goes on in this world, the less and less things I fully understand. I don't think it's an intelligence thing, it's just I don't have time to understand it all. I'm sure you have heard it's not what you know it's who you know. Numerous people will wretch when they hear those words because sadly, in most cases of power and influence, it's true. Never more confusing are relationships. Why don't we all just get along? Ego? Power? Sin? I just don't know. As a Christian I am called to love God and love my neighbor. It does not sound that difficult, but look at the Christians in the world that do not show love to their neighbors. Maybe I just don't understand. It occurs to me that there might be complexity beyond my understanding, BUT... if the God of the universe, the God of the world could send His only son, one and only son to die for me because of love, because He desired relationship over satisfaction, then I could try a bit better to love my neighbor. In fact, I could choose to ignore my own selfish desires and show love to all that I encounter, even if we are cheering for different teams ;0)
Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Sun Was Shining

Did you see it yesterday? As the last service ended we walked outside and saw a bright and shining sun! Wow. How long has it been since the sun was shining so brightly? I know, I know, the sun is always shining brightly but we can't always see it because it's either shining on the other side of the earth or the clouds prevent us from seeing it. Those 7 to 8 days of fog really cut out the light. Visibility was down to ten feet in some spots. And more light didn't seem to work well. So we just slowed down a bit in the fog to make sure we proceeded safely. Vision is a funny thing. Some days the sun is shining in our lives and everything is clear. Other days our vision is clouded by the fog around us, keeping us from moving quickly, and if we do move quickly we put ourselves and others at risk. I guess when the sun is shining leap for joy, shout from the mountain tops and rejoice. When you can't see the sun, grab some one's hand and get through the darkness together.
Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Changed Life

When someone accepts Christ into their life there is supposed to be a change. There is a transformation. Some believe it happens at that very moment, others believe it's gradual. Still others say that is might be at baptism, or some later date. My life is changed because I am a Christian. I read my Bible. I say prayers. I reach out in compassion to help others on behalf of God. I am not perfect, but I seek after God. Every day I hope I am pointed in the right direction and following God. A friend of mine recently reminded me it's when we close off the spiritual part of our lives that everything comes unraveled. There is brokenness in the world. Relationships torn apart by lies, deceit and sin. To have a changed life means that we pursue and embrace the things of God. Do all you can to endeavor to be more Christ-like.
Go in peace and go with God.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti- How You Can Help Now

Dear Grace church family,

Sunday we will take a special offering for the people of Haiti. The United Methodist Committee on Relief has a long standing relationship and presence in Haiti. Any donation we send to UMCOR goes directly to help those suffering. Absolutely no administrative costs will be taken out of your donation. It goes directly to the area to help buy water, food and supplies. Please consider making a donation and write in the memo portion of your check "Haiti Relief". God bless and see you Sunday.

Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Snow Cover

Is the snow ever going to leave? Imagine living in Alaska where the snow in on the ground for months and months. The snow was pretty for a while, but now, it just seems to be in the way of business. It's slowing things down. People are still getting in accidents due to the ice. Have we not all learned to drive on the ice yet ;0)?
The snow did blanket the countryside. It did look beautiful for a few weeks, that is, until the sand, dirt and melting makes it dirty snow which does not look that nice. It's still snow, it's just a bit dirty. As we see the pictures of the hurt, suffering and pain-filled people of Haiti and it's tough to see beyond all the destruction and misery. They are people. Their world looks a lot different than ours. They may seem far away but they are really not that far. When you drive down town in Kansas City and see people begging for money and food, do you see people or have you learned to ignore what you see? It seems that we so much tragedy on tv that we have become desensitized to all the suffering. Just remember, those who suffer are not that different than you or me. We are people. We are privileged to live in the US. We have food, jobs (less than usual), opportunity, freedom, liberty and a bunch of other things that allow us to be the richest country in the world. So, take a few moments and clear your snow covered eyes and see what is real in the world. See who is in need. Help those who are in need.
Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Hope of a New Day

The new day brings possibilities, opportunities and hope. Most arise way to early, then off to work. The travel to work provides it's own interesting experiences and then the day is off and running. At what point do we wish the day would just end? 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm? Maybe it's when we realize that we did not get enough sleep last night and that all the coffee in the world will not jolt us out of our haze. I have hope in my heart. I try and share it every day. Yes to some that might sound goofy. Usually it's the people with little or no hope that make fun of the folks with joy and hope in their hearts. Even though yesterday may have been really rough for you and the road ahead might be filled with some struggles, remain hopeful. Seek after God's wisdom this day and let Him give you peace,

Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Blessed Are . . .

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.



Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Cheers or Jeers for the Snow

I'm not sure when it happens. Somewhere in a sad dark adult place in our heart we make a turn. It is a subtle turn, not a big one, but it really changes things in our hearts, minds and lives. At what age did we adults decide that snow is not fun? Now I personally know numerous people who prayed for a white Christmas and thank you very much Lord, it was received by most of the country. But after a few days of bitter cold temperatures and after the holidays are over adults don't have the joy-filled smiles on their faces that were witnessed not but just a few days ago. Where is the desire to run outside right after school/work and go play in the snow? Oh, adults

don't do those things anymore, because we are adults. Hmmm. Maybe it's when we have to drive to work in the stuff and instead of thanking God for our blessings we curse other drivers for their lack on intelligence on matters of driving in ice and snow and any other reason we can think of during our commutes. After a few days of hiding inside because of the very cold weather it was time to experience to beauty of God's creation. A drive through the James A Reed Wildlife Area can change your perspective. People out ice fishing, yes I said ice fishing, taking pictures, taking walks, just a beautiful day. As the snow fades away this week and the streets become quite passable remember that childlike joy as that first snow covers the world and brings smiles to the faces of little ones. Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Witness and Service

I just witnessed a handful of Jr High and Sr. High youth come up on a snow day and help take down the Christmas decorations at Grace. They went right to work and nearly finished everything. There was of course the promise of pizza, but they came up and worked together. A big thanks to them for giving up a snow day. While many teens are just waking up from their snow day our youth group is up here serving and helping. The next generation never ceases to amaze me. I am in awe.
For sure a great Epiphany today.

Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Forecast- Sin

So I am a bit of a weather nut. I watch Gary, Katie and Bryan. I check the NBC action weather blog a few days before big storms. I like Gary's 3 degree warranty. Impressive.

As a pastor, part of my job is helping people grow in God's grace and try to avoid sin. Sin is separation from God. It is disobeying God. A few sins that are easily defined- adultery, lying, murder, jealousy, lust, greed, sloth, gluttony, etc.
Sin sometimes comes from temptation. Andy Stanley is often fond of saying- direction determines destination. So, which ever way you are facing is probably going to put you to a destination.

What does this have to do with the weather?

Well, let me make the connection.

Imagine if you had someone forecasting yours sins. Every night you would tune into your local sin report. They would look at the relevant data- your experiences over the past few days- and put together a sin forecast. Much like the weather forecast, if we know it's going to rain, we take appropriate clothing. If it's going to be a blizzard, we choose to not go out at all and work from home if we can.

Take a look at where you are right now in your life. Maybe your past is determining your future. Maybe you are on a road you don't think you can walk away from. Has lust taken over your heart and soul and led you down a road you should not be on?
Have you committed adultery and don't think you can be forgiven?

Let me say this- Sin is not good. It destroys relationships. It tears apart families. You don't want to sin...but of course, there is temptation.

So let's take a look at our lives- what does your sin forecast look like- have the last few days taken you down a path you did not think you would be on--maybe it's the past few weeks, months or even the last two years. Maybe it's time that you sit down and pray for direction. Pray for a change. Pray for a way out. Don't let your sin forecast be cloudy with a change of a blizzard of sin.
Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Jesus of Nazareth- sermon follow-up

Yesterday I shared in the message the discovery of a dwelling in Nazareth around the time of Jesus. Here is the story.
Before this find there was much debate if Nazareth existed during the time of Jesus. This was due to the lack of physical or written evidence of Nazareth before 300/400 ad.
Scholars are now saying that Nazareth during the time of Jesus was a small village of no more than 1200 people. So, he grew up in a small town, which when one of the disciples mocks Nazareth "could anything good come from there?"
We also discussed the possibility of his upbringing and what he was taught growing up Jewish in Israel- especially regarding the Samaritans.
Jesus encountered the woman at the well and let her know where salvation was from and that she too could have living water.
He revealed himself to be the Messiah to her very early on in his ministry.
As we begin this series I encourage you to dive deeply into the scriptures and search for your understanding of Jesus. Passages referenced on Sunday were-

Matthew 2:19-23
Matthew 13:53-55
Luke 2:25-32
Luke 2:36-38
Luke 23:3
John 4:7-10, 22-25
John 1:41-42

As you begin your new year, please remember to start the year right. Build some bridges to new people and repair some bridges with people who you have struggled with this past year.
Go in peace and go with God.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

What are your resolutions for this year? I read somewhere that they last longer if you write them down. So here are a few of mine.
I resolve to...
Be less of a fan and celebrate victory for all.
Become more Christ-like.
To continue to work at becoming a better pastor and preacher.
Lead the church I serve as faithfully as possible while not neglecting family.
Rejoice as much as possible.
Be more available.
And of course, be more healthy, eat more healthy, blah blah blah.
My list could actually be a lot longer, but those are just a few highlights.

Resolutions are shown to last a few weeks or months if you are really disciplined. I hope and pray that your 2010 is better than 2009 and that you listen more to God and follow faithfully.