Sunday, February 28, 2010

Prayers- Motives Matter

God answers prayer. I've seen it. Miracles happen. If you are asking God, seeking God, knocking on the door and your prayer has not been answered, remember-
Sometimes God says
NO
SLOW
GROW
GO
No means, sorry, doesn't fit with God's purpose.
Slow means, slow down, be patient.
Grow means, hey, your prayer will be answered when you spiritually grow.
And finally, amen, your prayer is answered, go! (Bill Hybels)

Take a look at this scripture-
You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives... James 4:2-3

Ask with the right motives. Go in peace and go with God.



Saturday, February 27, 2010

Take a Walk

The weather has been so poor lately that it's been difficult to get out and walk. The sidewalks in Raintree Lake (where we live) have been covered with snow, and the streets are not much better for walking. The grass is either full of snow or mud. It's a bit of a mess out here. But, when the temperature reaches above 40 degrees, and it's not too windy, I take a walk. Walking is a good thing. The UM church has a step program, asking us to take a certain amount of steps a day to stay healthy. Other companies do the same kind of thing. But walking for me isn't just about health. It's nice to be out in God's creation. The sun is shining, the sky is blue again, birds are chirping and flying, our puppy Rheau is pulling in every direction. And even thought it's rather populated around here, it's still peaceful. I see a few diehard runners out there too, but the walkers are not back in full force yet. They are patiently waiting, waiting for a warmer day. Waiting for the conditions to get better. Remember these words from Psalm 128-
Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. vs. 1-2
Go in peace and go with God.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Challenges

Do you rise to meet the challenge? Challenges? Or do you shrink in fear and worry? 60% of the things we worry about never come to pass, 20% are past situations that we can't change, 10% are the little and small things and only, yes only 4-5% of things come to pass. So, we worry about 95% of things that never happen. Imagine that time.
Fear is interest paid on a debt you may not owe.
John Wooden once said, "Don't let want you can't do interfere with what you can do".
Fear and worry get you nowhere. Anger unless it's righteous, well, it's just anger. Which in turn is selfish. The challenges we face are sometimes beyond our comprehension. They seem to be impossible. And yet, here we are, day after day, living to meet those challenges. The measure of your faith is not how you deal with things during easy times, but times of difficulty and struggle. On Sunday last, I asked you to have a conversation about your finances with your spouse or a trusted friend. If your finances have you immobilized in fear, then cling to a friend. Don't go through these things alone. Do not allow your fear to guide you, but your faith. Trust in the Lord, trust in Him always. Let the peace that surpasses all understanding be with you. Share the contents of your heart with others. Do not burden your children with such things. Talk to your friends or your spouse. There is a different way to live.
And when those challenges come, well, if you cling to the Lord and you have friends to help you through, the mountains become hills.
Go in peace and go with God.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Where does my time go?

Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents took you on vacation and it took FOREVER to get there? I do. The journey took sooooo long. These days a 3-4 hour trip flies by and I hardly notice. February is almost gone. And I know people are saying "when will spring get here!" Time is precious. What we do with our time is an indicator of what we value and love. We spend time with family and friends because we value them. I'm not sure how many of you out there actually sit down and map out your year of what you want to accomplish for your family, where you want to go and plan things out. It's easier when the kids are older because college comes into the mix and that maps out a lot of your time. School maps out lots of time. Sports maps out lots of time. Work maps out a lot of time. Wow, we have numerous things competing for our time. Do you ever feel overwhelmed, tired and burned out? No wonder. Look at all the stuff we commit to and the many different directions we are pulled. This weekend let's sit down and talk about which way we are headed. Have a talk with the family and discover what everyone values. Listen to what is important and then schedule your life around your purpose and values, not competing interests. Hopefully, part of that schedule will include God.
Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Healing and Good Advice

There is a passage of scripture that every time I read it I pause and just think. It's in John 5. Jesus heals a guy by just telling him to get up and walk. Then a peculiar incident happens. Jesus finds him at the temple and says...
"See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." Yikes!
A man received a blessing and then receives a warning.
How many times have we been blessed by God and then go back to our normal lives?
I come upon this passage a least twice a year in my normal devotional reading and it always puzzles me. A blessing then a warning.
Our lives are to be changed by an encounter with God. There is a difference in us. We are transformed. If we just remain the same, was there really a change?
Go in peace and go with God.





Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Three- Spiritual, Faithful, Holy

I'm into 3's these days so here are a few thoughts-
Our church is focused on reaching the
non-churched
once-churched
badly churched.
Our ministries are organized around
worship
small groups
missions
In the United States, 92% of people say they believe in God. So they have some notion of God.
With that in mind, I think we would place our spiritual walk into 3 areas.
Spiritual
Faithful
Holy
Most people if you asked would say they are spiritual.
Faithful would be someone who has decided to lead a spiritually disciplined life.
Holy, well think of Mother Teresa.
Where are you? What is important to you with your faith?
Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, February 22, 2010

First Few Years of Marriage

Two weeks ago 25 couples came forward to renew their vows of marriage. It was a very inspiring and awesome thing to experience. Overwhelming. Being somewhat newly married (22 months). I am no expert on marriage, but I have heard lots of stories and read a mountain of books on the subject. One of the things I read had to do with the first two years of marriage-


The couples who divorced within the first two years showed signs of disillusionment and were negative toward one another in the first two months of their marriage. It is a sign of trouble if a newlywed couple starts to have disillusionment within the first year. The couples who are still happily married are couples who were able to have positive feelings about their spouse in the first two years.

If you find yourself a bit depressed after your wedding, it's ok. It's normal. You've both been caught up in time consuming wedding preparations. It is a sure bet that once you don't have that stress to deal with, you will have a sense of loss. It's similar to the post holiday let down that many people experience.

The couples who divorced within the first two years showed signs of disillusionment and were negative toward one another in the first two months of their marriage. It is a sign of trouble if a newlywed couple starts to have disillusionment within the first year. The couples who are still happily married are couples who were able to have positive feelings about their spouse in the first two years.

If you find yourself a bit depressed after your wedding, it's ok. It's normal. You've both been caught up in time consuming wedding preparations. It is a sure bet that once you don't have that stress to deal with, you will have a sense of loss. It's similar to the post holiday let down that many people experience.


Some other advice from the experts-

Happiness starts within

Communication is the key

Celebrate Anniversaries

Have a date night

Don't expect someone to instantly change after the wedding

Don't have impossible expectations

Keep love alive

Enjoy time together


Marriage is a covenant with God. It is sacred. If you are thinking about divorce, please talk to someone before you go too far. Talk to a pastor or counselor before you start talking to a lawyer. Go in peace and go with God.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's Ok To Mourn

Got news today a friends grandmother had passed. I'm sad for them. I did not know their grandma but I know the family. The family are wonderful folks who are an excellent example of the Christian faith. I'm sad for them. They loved their grandma and they were going to celebrate her birthday this weekend. There is a great passage of scripture from Romans 12-
15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
If you know someone who is sad right now, call them. Talk to them. Let them know you care. Go in peace and go with God.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Being In the Moment

Today I met a really cool guy. His name is Art. He is in sales. I was out and about and our paths crossed. The usual discussion ensued- what do you do? Well, I'm a pastor. "Where do you pastor?
" Grace off of 50 hwy in Lee's Summit. "Oh, I think I have seen it before." Our discussion walked around a bit on the edges of religion and his business life. Talked about where he lived and how difficult it is to get around with all the construction in the area. After a time we both had to move on. For some reason today we spent a few holy moments together. Our conversation was not strained or difficult, it was open and honest. I am not always available to Gold's leading because I am too busy or just oblivious to what is going on around me. Today I was open. Today I listened. Today I had a great conversation with a guy named Art.
Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Next Day

Last night many of us made a commitment to God. Our commitment was sealed with ashes on our foreheads. God looks down on us and sees his children together, marked for Christ, attempting to grow deeper in faith. There are numerous holy days in the life of the church. Ash Wednesday is probably not the best attended, and of course, neither is Good Friday. We even call it Good Friday and people still don't turn out like they do at Christmas and Easter. We are people who want to show up for the joy, not the suffering or sadness. That is what we are though, Easter people. We are a people of the resurrection. And yet, we know there is suffering in the world. We know there is pain. So we begin this Lenten journey again, with new commitments made to help deepen our faith and to grow in the power of God. Let us move toward Easter together, continually reaching out in compassion and love to the world so that other might know the name Jesus Christ.
Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Today is the Day

Today we begin a 40 day journey to Easter. We begin with the imposition of ashes this evening. At 7 pm our congregation with gather in worship. We will be together as the body of Christ. I have thoughtfully pondered what to give up and take on. Some day I hope that my life will be such that I will not need to fast at all, but that seems like a far way off. I hope that those who enjoyed Fat Tuesday will also partake of the Lenten journey, but my fear is that many will not. We like to party and claim holiness, but many of us struggle. Our public face is not the one we live in private. I've often heard it said, "you really don't know what goes on behind closed doors". I guess that is true. We all like to be a good judge of character, but you just never know. So, we try and set the best example we can for others. We share pieces and parts of our spiritual journey with others to help inspire and teach. Go to church this evening. Even if you have never been to church before, go. Tonight is a holy night. Try a Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, whatever Christian church you can find and go in. Hear the word. Listen. Ask. Seek. Knock.
Go in peace and go with God.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Youth Auction and Dinner- Great job!

Last night our youth leaders and youth put on a great dinner and auction. Every year this event seems to just get better. The youth raised over $7000 for camp scholarships and missions. Travis did a great job again as the auctioneer. Thank you Travis for donating your time and talent. Thank you to all of you who opened your wallets and hearts to our youth group. Here is the break down of a few of the items.
Braces donated by Grider Orthodontics went for $2900.
The signed KU basketball went for $1000, and no, I did not end up with it.
The signed MU basketball went for $100, and no, I did not end up with that either.
Thank you to all of our youth for such a wonderful evening.
And thank you to our youth directors. Stephanie and Lee Smith are exceptional leaders who have consistently been a great example to all of our youth and have made this an excellent event. You two are a huge blessing to our church and community. God bless you all!
Go in peace and go with God.

p.s. Don't forget the Renewal of Vows at the end of the 9:15 am and 10:30 am services this Sunday.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Youth Auction and Dinner

Our youth group will host it's annual youth auction and dinner. They use the proceeds for camp scholarships and mission work. This year there are several great items up for auction.
Grider Othodontics has donated a full set of braces.
The Smith's have donated 1/2 a cow, about 200 lbs of meat.
Our United Methodist Women have donated a t-shirt quilt (they will take 12 of your favorite tshirts and put them in a quilt)
The Courtyard Marriott has donated a one night, two rounds of golf package.
The University of Kansas donated a 2009-2010 KU basketball signed by Bill Self and the whole team.
Of course, there are lots of other items. If you would like to bid on the items, especially the KU ball, contact the church office asap!
816-246-5764
Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mardi Gras, God and Fasting

Every year millions of Christians fast during Lent. For those of you who think Mardi Gras is just some huge party to get drunk out, you are sorely mistaken. Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday" which is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is a forty day journey to Easter. Sundays are not counted because Christians do not fast on Sundays, unless you can make it the whole 46 days.
What is fasting?
Traditionally, fasting is depriving yourself of food from sun up to sun down. Some people fast for days, even weeks, only taking enough in to survive (water, juice, etc.).
Fasting helps us identify better with the poor and oppressed, it also helps us identify with the suffering of Jesus Christ and finally, when we deprive ourselves of things, we gain clarity to what is really important in this world. It can strengthen your relationship with God as well if done correctly.
As part of Lent at our church, we often ask people to "give something up, take something on".
That phrase is broken down into two areas-
1. Give something up (or lots of somethings up)
Every year Christians here at Grace give up eating certain kinds of food or beverages as part of their Lenten fast. Here are few examples-
A few teens I know gave up- french fries, chocolate, pop, burgers, etc. You can also give up going out to eat, eating at certain restaurants, going to the mall, etc.
You can also give up texting, cell phone use, facebook and lots of other things.
2. Take something on
Serve at Restart, Lee's Summit Social Services, teach Sunday school, volunteer at your local animal shelter, etc.
Lent is a time of prayer, fasting and self examination. It's tough for some of us I know to change our ways. I guess I would ask, for all of you who do the partying Mardi Gras style, what does your party lifestyle signify? Are you moving toward somewhere in your life or are you aimlessly adrift in a life of sin and misery? Some day the party will end and if the next step was not toward God (as with Mardi Gras), then where are you headed?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Make The Best of It

I have been keeping a journal about the snow fall since Christmas and I don't think we will ever again have this much snow. Crazy! But, with the attitude of if you can't beat em, join em. I decided that we needed a snow fort out back, with a miniature version of our church carved out of snow, a snowman, and then out front, a 7ft snowman. Well, the snow was perfect! We got out there and in one hour all of it was done. So, next time you are frustrated or upset with the circumstances placed in front of you, don't just sit around and gripe. Go and have fun. Don't let them get you down. Make the best of the situation.
Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Three Great Books for Ministry

Fusion by Nelson Searcy
Simple Church by Thom Rainer
Sticky Church by Larry Osborne

Over the past few years I have read hundreds of books on church growth, ministry, worship, disciple making, evangelism, membership and just about everything else you can think of relating to the church. I am currently in PLD (Pastoral Leadership Development) with a group of about 25 clergy, a preaching group with five other preachers and I lead a group on evangelism in our church. All of them center around learning and discerning, but with a different focus for each. These three books popped up and have stuck with me. After reflecting for a few days I think we might say that we are living into the Fusionistic Sticky Simple church model of ministry here at Grace. Two of the books are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but there is synergy there if you work it. If you are member of a church, or you are a pastor, you would do well to sit down and read one of those books. They do not have all the answers, but they have a story to tell and if you listen, you might find some direction for your own walk with Christ. Go in peace and go with God.

p.s. Other books I have read recently-
Go Big by Bill Cornelius
Membership Matters by Chuck Lawless
Unbinding the Gospel and Unbinding the Church by Martha Grace Reese
First Impressions by Mark Waltz
Unchristian by David Kinnaman
Determining the Form by O. Wesley Allen
Jim and Casper go to church by Jim Henderson
What Americans Really Want...Really: The truth about our hopes, dreams and fears by Frank Luntz

that is just to name a few

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Membership At Grace

Prayers
Presence
Gifts
Service
Witness
Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
Pray without ceasing.
Presence at worship unless sick or out of town.
Gifts are shared with the body of Christ.
Service in ministry and mission.
Witness to the world.
We invite new members to live their faith out here at Grace and in our community in those five areas. Essentially we have three areas of focus- Worship, Small Groups and Mission. Finding a place among those is a great way to move forward in your faith. Have you thought about membership at Grace? It's like taking the next step in commitment to Christ in the local church. Many faithful believing Christians are no longer members of a church. Whether they moved or just quit going, they no longer retain local church membership. It's not necessary, but I guess for me the question is, what has kept me from joining?
Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pray Pray Pray

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:13-16
Prayer works. Some struggle to pray. Some struggle to believe that prayer works. I do not. Prayer works. Too many times I have seen prayers answered to not believe. Sadly, sometimes the answer to prayer is no. Pray for a yes! Pray for healing. Just PRAY!
Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Future With Hope

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
This is one of my favorite passages of scripture. Without getting into the deep context of the situation of Jeremiah and Israel, I like the word of God here. God has a plan for His people. His plans include to prosper His people. His plan does not include harm. In fact, God's plan for His people will be a future with hope. If you are in a storm right now in your life this passage probably speaks to you deeply. God does have a plan for our lives. Open your hearts and minds to Him. He will guide you in His righteous paths. Go in peace and go with God.