Thursday, April 29, 2010

Funny

So, yesterday I was driving home from church and saw a funny sight. A family was driving down the road with their sunroof open on their Ford Explorer. Peeking out just above the window was this big dog with the wind in his face enjoying every minute of it. I laughed.
Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mowing Straight Lines

Well, I mentioned it on Sunday, but thought I would say it again for those dosing during that part of the message. There is a passage in the New Testament that says,
"61 Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." 62Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." It's from Luke 9. Jesus encounters several people on his walk and they basically all say they will follow Him, and then make excuses and delay the moment of actually taking a step forward. Verses 61 and 62 end the discussion.
He essentially says that if you are doing something for the kingdom of God, you really should not dwell on your past. If you are going to make a commitment, not only are you forgiven and you need to keep on keeping on ;0)
Move forward. Stopping looking back at your past mistakes. Once you start, don't stop.
So, here we go.
Some of us like to have nice lawns. We like to mow beautiful lines into our lawns. Imagine trying to mow that line while looking back. You might be able to do it for a while, but probably after a few times you would see that your lines are no longer straight. Imagine trying to plow and plant in crooked lines. Then try to harvest that!
So stop dwelling on your past mistakes. Embrace the future that God has in store for you. Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Church Directory

Well our church directories are finally in. As I look through all the pictures I see new and old faces. I see a group of people who stepped out in faith this past year and really pushed hard to realize God's vision for this church. I see a hope-filled church with endless possibilities and opportunities. What will the future hold for Grace UMC here in Lee's Summit? I pray and hope every day that we will be a fruitful people, seeking to live out the Great Commission every day. Right now, we approach several things.
The first is a soon to be all church conference to move forward on the new sanctuary.
Another of course is our summer schedule here at Grace- youth and adults are doing an outwardly focused servant evangelism project in June- working/running concessions at a 10 day soccer tournament--Camp, need I say more?--VBS in late July.
Wow, summer is nearly here. Senior and Youth Sunday is this week.
Today is a day of immense opportunity. What will you do today to advance the kingdom of God?
Finally, I have been praying about a church wide small group to offer this fall 2010. I am still working out details and curriculum, but I hope that many of you will prayerfully consider joining me in trying something new here at Grace.
So, what will you do this day?
Go in peace and go with God.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

HCI and PLD Musings

The Healthy Church Initiative is something the Missouri Conference is doing to help church gather momentum and offer 5 prescriptions for churches to move to a place of health and vitality. I have been sitting with a UM church these past two days talking and mostly, listening. I have been assigned to coach a church after the HCI weekend. For 18 months I will assist them in fulfilling the prescriptions, if they are adopted by the church. There is much more to the process, check the MO Annual Conference website.
Today I can say.
The United Methodist Church is full of great leaders.
People want a vision.
People will follow strong leadership.
Mission cannot be a substitute for Evangelism.
There is hope.
Change is possible.
Growth is possible.
More to follow.
Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Present Sufferings

We have arrived at our present because of our past. Where we go from here is determined by our present. Reactions matter. External forces do have a say. So, today we turn to Romans 8.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Romans 8:18-21

Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Finished with PLD

This year our participated in something called PLD (pastoral leadership development). It's a class that numerous United Methodist clergy have been working through these past few years in Missouri. PLD 1 takes clergy through numerous books that focus on leadership, preaching, evangelism and several other topics.
Well, today we are finished. After eight months of 4 hrs each time and talking about action plans for ministry, listening to great discussions led by Jeff, and hanging out with brothers and sisters in ministry.
I liked most of the books. A few of the really good ones include: Unbinding the Gospel, Simple Church and Communicating for Change.
It's good to sit down with other clergy and talk about leadership, ministry and the future of the United Methodist Church.
Fellowship is good.
Learning is good.
My hope is that many of us will take what we have learned back into our churches and contextualize in such a way that it is beneficial to all.
My fear is that some of us think we have it all figured out and just let the learning's fade away.
So, I pray that we continue to grow in faith, hope and love. I pray that all of our churches grow and reach out into our communities. I pray we remain humble.
Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Great Book

Every now and then I come across a really good book that I like to recommend to others. Andy Stanley has a book called "The Principle of the Path". How to get from where you are to where you want to be is the subtitle. In his usual style, he weaves in some great stories to help support his view that this principle is everywhere and that we can leverage it to our advantage. It's a cross between a Christian/spiritual book and a self-help book.
His main point (which was actually preached in a sermon series awhile back) is:
Direction-not intention- determines our destination. If you have a chance to read this book you should. Lots of great stories and helps us all better understand how we change direction.
Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, April 19, 2010

There He Was Again

Saturday morning I saw him again. Last spring I was sitting on the deck reading and I heard the sound of cyclists cruising on Ward Rd. And inevitably, there are a few stragglers. Last year there was one guy. Just riding by himself. Well, I heard the group coming again this past Saturday. They blew by, probably thirty of them. So I waited to see if he would be there and he WAS! Looked like the same guy. They group past and about a minute later a guy wearing the same clothing, obviously part of the group, was riding by himself. There is always someone at the back of the pack. Rarely do the ride in the front. They can't for some reason keep up. But does that exclude them from the group? Should we abandon them and ignore them?
Some days I feel like I am leading the pack, riding true and nothing can stop me.
Other days, I am in the back, barely able to keep the group in sight.
Be careful with how you encounter others. You never know who you are talking to and honestly, we should treat all if we are encountering the living Lord.
Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Job Description

Have you ever heard someone say "that's not in my job description."? I have. And sadly, they are good people not willing to go the extra mile. I might have even uttered that phrase a few years ago when I was overwhelmed with school, work and life. We are all guilty of limiting ourselves and our time.
We have a tendency to say yes too much and say no too much. Nice double speak pastor ;0)
We say yes to things that sometimes pull us from our core mission.
We say no to things that we fear and might lead us to our core mission.
Every day I have to and need to utilize the moments I have to the best of my ability to glorify God, not myself. That does not mean I stick to some specific set of rigid rules about what I do and what I don't do, no in fact, I am open to where God leads me. If I have a set view of what I am supposed to do, sometimes I exclude opportunities to work stuff out.
Today the church phones were out. The trustee chair called At&t. They said it might be awhile. My sermon is finished. I am still working on Sunday stuff, but I had 15 mins this morning playing phone repair guy. Now, I do not always have time to figure things out, but today, I had a few moments. So after walking around the property see if anything had been dug up, cutting our lines and walking the path of the phone line, I went back inside. Talked to Phil (guru of much knowledge on many subjects). He lead me to a few places to look and everything seemed fine. I was about to give up and then I remembered something that many computer profs had taught me. Always check the power supply. So I switched off the power then turned it back on. Voila! They all work. So, add to my job description phone repair guy (not really).
So today, do something different. Deviate from your normal routine and see where God leads you. It might be connecting with a friend or maybe mowing the yard for someone else today. And remember to always keep the spotlight on God. Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Summer Camp 2010

Ultimate Extreme Camp 2010 is coming together. We hope that this year will be as great as last year. We blew away all previous records of camping in Missouri UM camping. We had the largest group of campers ever assembled at a Missouri UM Camp. We hope and pray for more of the same. Our goal is to change lives for Jesus Christ. We send these campers and counselors back to their communities on fire for Christ to help others find The Way.
If you have not signed your children and teens up for camp, go to www.mocamps.org and register for one of the following camps July 12-17, 2010
Ultimate Extreme Elementary "Take Two"
Ultimate Extreme Jr. High
Senior High Leadership

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Making a Life

Are you making a living or making a life? Do you live to work, or work to live? I love my job. Some of my pastors friends will agree, they love their jobs too. One of them said "he has the best job in the world". I agree. A job can be a career, a vocation, a calling, a project or numerous other things of the like. We spend a considerable amount of time working to earn, working to eat, working to live. Anyone who says they would do their job for free should consider then asking their boss for a reduction of salary instead of an increase ;0)
Some people I know are miserable in their current job. They loathe getting up for work in the morning and then when home at night, carry the fog of the day with them.
I've experienced lots of jobs.
Furniture delivery. Coach. Construction. Admissions office staff. I've worked indoors and out. The best jobs are a synergy of your passions and skills. Our gifts are not always factored in with our jobs. Just because we know how to build a website or a database does not mean we should do that for a living. Knowledge of how to do something is not always a gift. Sometimes it's just learned. A gift in the church might be teaching, preaching, leading and several others.
So, use your gifts and share your gifts. Do not continue down the path you are on if your path leads you in the wrong direction.
Go in peace and go with God.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jesus Christ Superstar- Union Station

Several of us from Grace have seen Loren's performance in Jesus Christ Superstar. He did an amazing job. Loren is our praise team leader. In our Living Last Supper, he used to play Judas. Now he plays Jesus in JCS. The play really holds up these past 40 years. Probably not as sacrilegious as it once was, but still, some very thought provoking stuff. And it's playing through Sunday at Union Station.
During one of the scenes, Jesus clears the temple area. As he was yelling and kicking people out a little girl in the audience behind us said, "What's wrong with Jesus".
She might not have understood what was going on, but she could tell Jesus was upset.
What did the disciples think? They come into town, cheered by the crowds and then he kicks people out of the Temple area saying "My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves".
When you think of your church, remember to make it a holy place. A sacred place. In holy and sacred places God should be the center, not us or some benefit, or even our desire for authority and power. Walk humbly with the Lord.
Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Held Back

There is a great scripture in the Bible that says "Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia." Acts 16:6
God prevented them for going a certain direction. I know that there are days when I think I am going one way only to figure out that maybe that was not the place that God wanted or needed me to be that day. Another version says "having been prevented". God stopped them from going that way. Now I don't know about you but there are days that I hoped and prayed that God would keep me from going in a direction that I was headed. There are other days though, too often, that I continue to run into a brick wall because of my own stubborn heart, soul and mind. If something isn't going right and you feel like you are hitting the wall, did you ever consider that maybe God is trying to tell you something? Maybe, must maybe, God has a bigger and better plan for you. Trust in the Lord. Hang on to Him. Do not resist. He is here and ready to show us the path. Just because you are being held back now does not mean you won't be released to run free and joyfully throughout the fields and meadows.
Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Value and Worth

When you buy a house or refinance a house there is an appraisal done. The appraisal essentially estimates the value of the home compared to other like homes in the area and what they have sold for previously. There is a bit more too it, but basically, they compare your property to the property of others and then set a appraisal value.
Comparisons are not always helpful. When you compare your situation to others sometimes instead of being happy with what you have been blessed with your might focus on what others have and you do not. This is known as keeping up with the Joneses.
Whether it's in the job market, school or even other churches, there is always something that might make our situation look less than blessed.
God loves us all. No matter what, we are offered unconditional love. Unconditional love. God looks upon us with the eyes of a proud parent, excited for our victories and sad during our struggles. If you place value on your life due to your job, the school you attend or attended or some other worldly thing then sadly, you might have a big chance of being disappointed. Our value does not come from comparisons. Our value and worth come from the love of God. And from that love, we go out into the world and share the good news in whatever situation we have found ourselves in.
And remember this- "the world is what you make of it friend, if it doesn't fit, you make alterations". (where did this quote come from?;0)
Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter 2010




Here are some of the pictures from Easter.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Grace, Simply, Amazing

Yesterday was Easter. Yesterday was Easter all over the world. All churches, I mean, all Christian churches celebrated Easter on the same day!
For us, it was a record setting attendance Sunday, great job Grace. Here are a few highlights from Sunday.
The Choir sang two songs and did an absolutely amazing job. Thank you Sharon for all you do and the strong leadership you provide.
The praise team lead a beautiful and inspiring service as usual. Nice job on adding in a hymn ;0)
Special music was Loren, who is also playing Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar this week.
Thanks to the greeters, ushers, a/v team of Toni and Lee, excellent job to all.
Thanks to Kathy for the ultimate Easter egg hunt- I have never seen so many kids going in so many different directions and all smiling. Excellent job.
I also greeted and talked to numerous first timers and returning guests. Thank you for your kind words and we hope to see you again.

I need to also lift up a few things from Holy Week.
Good Friday- Thank you choir and Sharon for helping create a deeply moving worship atmosphere. Thank you to Robin for sharing singing. It was amazing. Of course, thanks to the praise team.

Maundy-Thursday
Thanks to all the guys who help share the Living Last Supper. Each one of you did a perfect job of placing your own identity into the drama, which allowed for us to all see the distinct and different views of the disciples. God bless you all and we are all better for having been apart of such an moving experience.

A few words linger from the week.
Amazing. Inspiring. Moving.

Yes it's Monday and I am a bit tired, but I am blessed. I am blessed beyond measure that I serve God here at Grace. Grace is simply amazing.
So it is amazing Grace.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Holy Saturday

Today is a day of stillness. Today should be a day of quiet and reflection. Those many years ago creation came to a stop. The son of God was in the tomb. The son had been placed in a garden tomb, a shroud was placed around his body and the stone was rolled in front of the tomb. God one and only son was sealed within his death tomb.
As you go about your day today with all the trappings of life, ponder and consider the love God has for us. He held his army of angels back, He allowed the world to crucify His son. He could have stopped it, but he did not. His love for us kept Him from it.
God loves you.


See you in worship tomorrow @ 8:00 am or 9:15 am or 10:30 am.
Easter egg hunt for the kids during the 9:15 Sunday school hour.
Praying you have a blessed day and a wonderful Easter.

Go in peace and go with God.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Your Last Will and Testament

The final words of Jesus.

Father forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34) Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43) Woman, behold your son: behold your mother (John 19:26-27) My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34) I thirst (John 19:28) It is finished (John 19:30) Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)

What will be your final words? A distribution of your wealth? Dividing up your possessions? Go in peace and go with God.

See you this evening at 7 pm at our Good Friday Service.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tonight- The Last Supper

Hey folks, if you are in town and willing, please join us as we sit among the disciples as they share their "last supper" with Jesus. Jesus has just told them all that one of them will betray him and they each pull back in horror. One by one the disciples step away from the table and share their thoughts on the words of Jesus. Each one of them, except one, humbly asks if they might be the one to betray him. These 12 disciples had been following Jesus for nearly three years. To be a disciple meant that you followed, listened, learned and eventually wanted to live up to the Rabbi that was leading you. Please join us this evening here at Grace as we sit among the twelve hearing them ask, "Is it I, Is it I?"
Open Communion for all.
Go in peace and go with God.

p.s. If you were counting, this is the 5th year we have shared this kind of dramatic representation on Maundy-Thursday.