Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Drop Your Bags

When you come home from a long trip I assume you do what I do. I drop my bags and fall into the couch. Many of us carry baggage every where we go. Our baggage sadly weighs us down. Our baggage is all the stuff we carry with us from our past. Our past can be a strange thing. Many of the bad things that we've experienced are like a sack of stones (Max Lucado- When God Whispers Your Name). We carry this sack of stones every where we go. This sack slows us down. The bigger the stones the slower we go.
So, since it's holy week let's lay that sack of stones at the foot of the cross. Do not allow your past to corrupt your future. We have a second chance. Turn it around. Take a step toward God. Let Him take your sack of stones.
Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One Life

Can you help redirect the course of one life? You can. By your words and deeds you can point people in the right direction. Our capacity to show love and compassion is nearly limitless. Today you might encounter someone who needs compassion. Show it. Today, you might encounter someone who needs to feel cared for and loved. Share it.
Now the other side. If you ignore those people, if you walk away from them, then we are not showing God's love to the world through our words and deeds. So unless we interact and intervene, then we all people to continue down a road of sadness and struggle. Be the person you need to be today. Stand up and be counted as a follow of Jesus Christ. It's Holy Week. Be Holy. Change one life today.
Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, March 29, 2010

He Set His Face Toward Jerusalem

Which way are you facing these days? Toward God? Yourself? The world? There is a passage in Luke 9 that usually comes to mind as we begin Holy Week.
It says "51When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem."
Other translations say: he resolutely set out or steadfastly set out.
For me, it's a matter of direction and destination. Jesus has to know that death and suffering await him in Jerusalem. His disciples knew something was up, because there had been threats made against him and the religious leaders were looking for ways to trap him or catch him.
As I think about Jesus walking toward Jerusalem my heart sinks. How many of us are willing to walk into a storm to save others?
We say we would, but until the event presents itself, it's just words.
So I encourage you this week to set your face in the direction of that which is holy and just. Take a step toward God every day. Go in peace and go with God.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Palm Sunday

The week before the Resurrection of Christ, Jesus entered Jerusalem to the applaud of the crowds.
Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
The scripture records that "the whole city was stirred up". Not just the Jews, but everyone. People asked, "Who is this?"
They answered, "Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."
Jesus had been preaching and teaching for nearly 3 years. He had picked 12 followers (apostles) to help him and carry on his message.
The crowds were excited and cheered.
But soon they would all have a choice. To follow Jesus or walk away. Everyone has a choice. Some choose to follow Jesus Christ. Some do not.
Some choose to follow two to three times a year.
Others follow daily.
Be the example that brings others to Christ. Be the light. Shine.
Go in peace and go with God

Friday, March 26, 2010

Civility Part 2

Treat others as you would have them treat you.
Be kind to others.
Love God.
Love Your Neighbor.
Love Your Enemy.
There is aggression in this world. There is hate in this world. And sadly, we know war.
Choose to walk a different path today. Walk the path of peace. Seek after the one who makes all things new.
Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Civility

Our conversations should be more civil. It should be filled with more kindness, not judgment. When we disagree on an issue, should we resort to name calling? Do you teach your children that? The rhetoric in our country has been worse than it is now. I grew up in a time of what has been called the politics of personal destruction. That means that when you disagree on an issue that you don't just debate and discuss, no you do everything you can to destroy that person. You go after their past, their family and every little word they have uttered or written in their entire life. Not only that, they will then look at who you associate with and if they said anything that is out of bounds, it is as if you said it. Also, they look at your professors and the books you read. Yikes.
For me, I choose to not engage in that kind of destruction or speech. I'm a Christian.
1 Peter 4 says...
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.
I am all for debate, discussion and open conversation. It's when the discussion moves from issue to the person and their motives that scares me a bit.
We did learn in seminary that when reading a book we need to understand the authors motives and their personal situation to better understand the text.
I agree with that, it's always good to know where people are coming from, especially if we use that information to better understand them. My fear is, that information is sometimes brought to the light of day to scorn them. I am not advocating for one side or the other. I ask that you remember that all have fallen short. None are without sin. If you are a Christian, when you speak, please do so with grace and love. Let the words you speak be the words God would have you speak. And when you do speak, other will know where you have been, where you are and where you are going...at least they should.
Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Friends

The New Testament records several stories of close friends. The one that really stands out for me is the story of Paul and Barnabas. Two guys sharing the good news. When Paul struggles, Barnabas is there to vouch for him, to stand up to those who question his motivations. He is there for him. Do you have a friend that is always there for you? If you do...be sure to thank them. Thank them often. Friends are a true blessing.
And if your friend needs you, be there for them. No matter what you have planned and the busy day ahead, stop and be a friend.
Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blessings Upon Your Day

May the God of grace, love and peace bless you this day.
The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Go in peace and go with God

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dramatic Change

Wow, what a difference one or two days can make. Nine inches of snow Saturday and Monday, the snow is almost all gone. Some of the changes that happen in our lives are sudden, but if we watch, many of them could be anticipated, and expected. For some, change is unsettling. Change is the nature of the world. Watch the season attempt to change. Freezing cold and snow and then today, 60 degrees and sunny. And this is not even a place in the world that is prone to dramatic changes! We talk a lot at Grace about praying through transitions. When change comes, instead of fighting and cussing, seek after the wisdom and grace of God. Do not try and take things on alone. When changes come that you do not want and are not ready for, cling to those you trust. Seek Him.
Go in peace and go with God.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Victory and Winning

Last night a 16 seed took on a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. They lost. 16's have met 1's over 100 times and never have they ever won. It has never happened. So why play the game? Why even try to take on a team that is so much better than your team? Because anything is possible. In a world of laws, rules, statistics, percentages and certainty, every now and then something can happen that surprises us. Some things do seem impossible. Just because something has never happened does not mean it won't. It just means it has not happened yet.
Take a look at the story of David and Goliath. Small vs. Big. Sheep herder vs. The biggest and best Warrior.
David won the fight.
Some day a 16 seed will beat a 1 seed. Not sure when, but who knows. It might happen today.
If you feel you are in a place where there is no chance of victory, please do not give up. Find a way out through prayer and conversation. Talk to someone that might be able to help you. Do not give up. Victory might be just around the corner.
Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Plans, plans and more plans

Every day we start out with a list of things in our head. Well, most of us. Things to get done is how my head sometimes says it. I have a list of things I need to accomplish for the day. Tasks. So I make a plan. For many of this it is a natural part of the day, and we have become so accustomed to this, we don't even write the plan down, we just go. As we move through the day we become so focused on checking things off the lists, we forget to enjoy our day. The plan takes over our whole day and we exclude a few important things.
Enter the word discipleship.
Being a disciple partially means that we live a disciplined life.
We follow Christ. Our day should reflect the spiritual disciplines we are called to live out. What does your daily plan usually look like? Does it include time in prayer or reading your Bible?
Might I encourage us to include God in our daily plan. We are included in His plan and I pray that we have a desire to move closer to Him daily.
Reevaluate the plans you have for today, for tomorrow.
Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

A religious holiday in the beginning, has now turned into a worldwide secular holiday celebrating the culture of Ireland. One of the more significant things that has stuck is the wearing of green. As usual, most of us are probably wearing green today (although a few hosts on the mornings shows were not in the Irish spirit).
Anyway, one of the symbols of St. Patty's day is the three leaf clover. It symbolizes the Holy Trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The story of St. Patrick is from the 400's ad. Difficult to know what is legend, myth or true. But the story goes that a young man named Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave. God speaks to him in a dream and tells him to flee. He goes back home (Britain) and trains to become a priest and is called back to Ireland, the land of his captors, to save the Irish.
He died March 17, 461 ad. The Irish Christians hold him in high regard.
Imagine the love that was in his heart for Patrick to return to a place where he had been held captive to spread the good news. The words of Jesus on the cross echo for me when I think of Patrick- "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do".
Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Patience

We are all in a bit of a hurry. Rush. Run. Go. Go. Go. It's sometimes feels like a maddening rat race and there is no exit off the spinning wheel. What are we chasing? Why do we push so hard? One of my favorite Psalms is 27.
It begins-
The Lord is my life and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?
It ends-
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Patience requires trust. Trust that our waiting has purpose. To wait in futility is pointless. We hope. We trust. We have faith.
Go in peace and go with God.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Thank You Pleasant Hill UMC

A big thank you to Pleasant Hill UMC for allowing to preach at their Lenten Vespers service last night. This year the overall theme has been "young preachers". I guess being in my 30's I am qualified to be a young preacher. Really appreciated the great hospitality that was offered from PHill folks, and the other churches in attendance. Belton, St. Paul's in Raymore, Harrisonville and Peculiar UMC were all in attendance. It really shows how connected the UMC is when it comes to joining together to worship and share our hopes, dreams and thoughts about ministry. The Cass Co UMC's have a huge task ahead of them these next few years. Hundreds and thousands of people will be moving into the Cass Co area over the next few years. The county population has jumped 20,000 in ten years. I pray that the pastors and church leaders of those five United Methodist Churches will continue to work together. May God bless them as the endeavor to partner and work as one body to reach those who are far from Christ. Gracious God, be with them as they reach out to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through words and deeds.
Amen.
Go in peace and go with God.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Leap Forward!!!

Did you remember to set your clocks ahead one hour this weekend...precisely at 2 am on Sunday morning? Most of us hopefully set our clocks ahead when we go to bed Sat. night, but it's up to you. This time of year signals a few things. The evenings will be growing longer as the light will reach into the 7-8 pm range. And by the end of summer, 930 pm is when the light will fade ;0)
Also, this is a good time to check your smoke detectors in your house. Change out the batteries.
And maybe this year, since it's time to leap forward, how about taking a leap of faith. What is a leap of faith? It's taking a risk and trusting God. The risk needs to be something in relation to God's leading...like maybe you move outside your comfort zone to serve the poor. It could be a radical change in career. Maybe going back to school. It might be something huge. But consider making and taking that risk. Trust in the Lord. Rest in His Spirit.
Go in peace and go with God.

and....turn your clocks ahead 1 hour

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hardship

This weekend our sermon is "How To Deal with Overwhelming Hardship". We turn to the Scripture and examine relevant passages that point us in the right direction. My hardships and different than my neighbors. Whatever valley I walk through, it may not seem like much to someone else, but for me it could be the most difficult journey ever. So, do not judge your neighbor, especially their struggles. We usually do not know where they have been or what led them to this place in their life. Don't judge at all.
If you are going through a rough patch, come and join us. Hear God's word shared. Don't give up. Come and listen. Make a new connection.
Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's GREEN

This past year the grass in our front yard stayed green until December. Then, the big snow hit. The cold came. And for the past few months many of us having been waiting, patiently waiting for spring to show us that it was not far away. Today I walked outside and as if overnight, the grass int the front yard is turning green again and plants are slowly poking up through the soil. The signs of spring are here. We are not that far away.
Some of us live in a place with little hope. We are stuck in a place that we don't know how to get out of and so we give up.
Friend, do not give up. Remain faithful. Stand steadfast. I know that right now it might be difficult to see the good, to see a future with hope. Call upon the Lord and you will see the path. Jesus Christ is the light of the world. Seek Him daily. Follow Him faithfully.
Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Good Friends

Yesterday I had a chance to be in fellowship with five of my pastor colleagues. Over the past 9 months we have been studying preaching. We all hope to become better preachers, to share the Word more effectively. We read six books on preaching and we finished up yesterday. I have not been in "school" for ten years. I graduated from seminary in 2000. It seems like yesterday, and well, seems like forever ago. Over these past few years I continue to read and study. I enjoy reading. I pound through three or four books a week sometimes. But sitting with other clergy and discussing our preaching styles, other preaching styles and just being in fellowship has been one of the most rewarding experiences in ministry. We each presented one of the books and then we shared a copy of one of our sermons. All the sermons were well though out, well researched and truly inspired. I learned a few things and stories I did not know. In our conversation we all gained a better respect for our situations and our desire to serve. Look around you. Do you have a small group? If not, get into one. I have been apart of numerous small groups in my life. If you are a Christian and need help with your walk, find a good small group. If you can't find one, make one. Studying together is deeply helpful to our journey of faith. I love the passage from Acts 2:42-
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship.

Be devoted to God and one another.
Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Good Fight

Today is a new day with new possibilities. I know there is some holdover stuff we should have finished yesterday, but it's ok, remember, today is ahead of you, not behind you. Many of us sadly spend alot, I mean ALOT of time looking in the past.
In ancient times Roman soldiers were given swords, a helmet and armor to fight in battles. They received the best training of the time to become great warriors and soldiers.
Almost all Roman armor had no or little coverage on the backside. Why? Because the military generals did not want their soldiers turning and running away. The best way to face a fight is to go right at it, no run away. If you ran away the chance of injury from behind was great. Now not all Roman armor is this way, but digs around Ephesus and several other places have yielded this interesting discovery. To win the battle you don't retreat. Put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6)
Right now some of my friends are facing battles. They feel defeated. I pray for them daily. I pray their battles will yield victory, not defeat. I pray that God continues to lead them and that they continue to follow God. Gather together with your friends and family, surround those who struggle with love and compassion. Be there for them. Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Elevator Faith

Is your faith taking you closer to God or away? I ride a lot of elevators. Some make weird crunching noises that worry me. Why should I worry? I have faith. I'm not ready to go yet though. Each day we either move closer to God or away. We don't just hang out. Either we are growing or not. Imagine and elevator being your journey of salvation. Very similar to the yo-yo faith, when we live the life we are called to live we move closer to God. But when we sin, we move away from God. One of the more difficult things people do not realize is that sometimes others are on the elevator with you. They are along for the journey and if you are a leader, well, sometimes when we sin people might follow us in the wrong direction. Make sure your motives are pure and that your heart is right with God when others follow. It is a humble and wondrous experience to be a servant leader for God. Just make sure you are leading others to Christ, not away.
Go in peace and go with God.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

There is Joy In the Lord

Today seemed like a day that was going to go great. Started off well with sun, no rain. Had a great time hanging out with the confirmation class at their retreat. Awesome! Thanks to all the parents for doing such a great job, and to Lee, Stephanie and Carmen for sharing part of your day with them. Afterwards I went to one of my favorite placed, Chick-Fil-A! Oh yeah, nuggets for lunch! Well, on my way there, people were in a hurry and well, were not safe with their driving. Then for the first time ever, they made a mistake with my order ;0(
Great day slowly fading away but I pressed on.
Found my way home and we painted the living room.
Then headed to a 40th bday party for our trustee chair. Nice pics Travis!
And then home with Jill watching the DIY network. Overall today was a good day, despite minor hiccups at lunch and with people in a hurry.
One of the songs we sing at Grace is "There Is Joy In the Lord". As I drove around today that song was in my head for awhile. No matter what happens, rude people, mean people, flat tire, there are so many minor things that send us into a major tailspin. So remember, there is Joy in the Lord. Experience His presence every day, despite the small troubles.
Go in peace and go with God.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Purpose

Purpose has been a huge buzz word in ministry over the past 15 years. It's also found it's way into the corporate culture and even the schools. What is my purpose? How do I find my purpose? Where do I find it when I lose it?
The purpose of a Christian is...
Love God, love your neighbor, love your enemy.
Preach the Good News.
Help the poor and oppressed.
And of course, there are many other tasks we are called to every day.
Seek after God daily and you will discover your path. God's word is a great place to start. Pray. Talk with other Christians. Listen. Watch.
Romans 8:28 speaks on purpose-
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
Our purpose in not ours, it is God who gives us His purpose.
May the God of faith, hope and love bring your purpose and a path.
Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring Is Near- Time to Plant

I like to see things grow. Over the past few years our garden has really taken off. We have gone from a small 8 tomato plants providing 200 tomatoes to 40 tomato plants providing 750 tomatoes. As the weather warms and we shed the winter blues, we look hopefully toward spring. A time when flowers bloom, trees come alive again and gardens are planted. Jesus spoke of sowing seeds and that the seeds that are put in the good soil will grow. Soil needs to be prepared to receive such seeds. It has to be worked up and if needed, nutrients need to be added. You do not just have plant spring up with a seed being planted properly and in the good soil.
In the life of the church spring also means Easter is near. Easter is the big day. Every week we celebrate a mini-Easter in church- celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation. On Easter, families we have not seen in a while make their way back to the church to replant their faith, the sprout again and be renewed. It is a truly joyous time.
Who in your life right now needs to know about the love of God in Jesus Christ?
Be sure to sow generously the love of God.
Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Precious Time

Moments can be missed. Moments can be cherished. Do not spend so much time working that you miss the moments. The whirlwind that is your day can cause bad choices to be made. Days don't start out this way, well, at least I hope I don't with intention. I look forward to the day. Good or bad, I do so with faith. I slow down and enjoy the small moments, the precious moments.
Lunch with my wife.
Great moment.
Other moments are not so much joy as they are experience and sharing the peace and love of God with others.
Talking and spending time with a family in the hospital.
Hearing, listening, watching, pointing and shining. God's love and light can be shared or not. It's our choice. Unwind your day and your hearts and do not miss the precious moments.
Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Big Thank You

My spiritual journey has been full of ups and downs. Yesterday I read a great STORY about former Kansas Basketball player Wayne Simien. As I read, I thought about my own spiritual journey.
I started as a student local pastor in 1998. I was in my second year of seminary and received an appointment as an associate pastor. Before that, I served as a Christian educator in a UCC church for two years. Before that I was a ministry intern in a couple of churches near Wichita. While I was in college I met two guys that helped me along my faith journey.
The first was a campus ministry at KU named Ed Killeen. He was someone who led a Bible study in our fraternity. It was the first time that I remember the call to ministry surfacing.
The second was a pastor at First UMC in Winfield Kansas. His name was Rick Frisbie. He was pastor there for something like ten years. He made time for the college students every month to meet and talk about their future, their faith and just about anything. He taught me a lot and I appreciated the positive influence.
So, thank you to Ed and Rick. I have absolutely no idea where you two are these days but thank you for your time, your effort and kindness.
Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Uncheerable

I have a friend who is in a bad mood right now. He is, well, uncheerable (not a real word). Nobody can cheer him up. He is in a funk. Kinda bummed about life right now. Things haven't really gone his way lately and well, he is just in a mood. Nothing anyone says to him will make him happy or even smile. Just a funk.
If you know me well you know I don't get into moods that often. No funk. No being bummed. I have a tendency to believe the good and well, just live that way. Most of the reasons for being upset or angry in this world come down to us trying to either control things or being upset with how someone else has treated us. I can't control other people. I can, however, allow them to change my attitude for the worse, even though I shouldn't.
So here are a few pieces of advice to those who are bummed right now.
1. Someone else in this world is much worse off than you.
2. There are people in this world that care about you and don't want to see you continue being sad.
3. God cares and loves us all....have you taken your concerns to him without regard to self?

God's will should be done, but so many of us are more focused on what God can do for us instead of asking, "God, what is your will for me this day?"
Go in peace and go with God.