Monday, April 20, 2015

corrected

I was whining the other day about something.  My daughter interrupted me.  She said something like, "Dad you are always telling me to see the good.  You should stop this whining." 

I thought, wait a minute, I barely see you anymore, and when I do, I rarely give you speeches on seeing the good.  Why are you giving me this lecture?

Then I realized that she reads the blog every day.  Oops.  I stand corrected.  Yes I do try to remind you to see the good everyday, not just because it is the right thing to do, but I also do it because I need the reminder myself.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.  You too Jeff.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Beautiful

I am so fortunate to be the pastor at Woods Chapel.  The buildings and grounds are beautiful and they speak to me of God every time I drive onto the property.  But the hearts of the people are beautiful as well.  I so appreciate every act of kindness, every anonymous
touch, every talent shared.  You guys are the best.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

choice

We should celebrate the gift of choice.  To be able to choose where to live.  To be able to choose who you hang around with.  To be able to select a church.  We have so many choices.  We take this for granted I think.  We almost act like we are entitled to the freedom and power that choice gives us.

You have choices about who you are and who you will become.  Are you happy with how your body looks?  It's your choice.  Usually people who get plastic surgery are still unhappy with how they look.  To make a choice about something also requires that you adjust to and put up with the associated issues.  I buy a small car, it is underpowered.  It comes with the territory.  You marry a person, for better or worse.

Will you get an education?  your choice.  Will you be nice?  your choice.  You may have grown up in an angry home but you can choose to be different.  Contentment is a choice. 

Who do you wish to become?  Take the first step.  It's your choice.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, April 17, 2015

comfortable

A dear friend sent in this quote:

God doesn't comfort us to make us comfortable.
He comforts us to make us comfort-ABLE.
That is:  able to comfort and love others.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

In seminary they told us to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  Personally I think that most churches spend too much time afflicting the afflicted with guilt and comforting the comfortable.

Somehow the kingdom must propel us out of our comfort and into mission for God.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

praying

Again, one of the greatest sources of my inspiration comes from you my readers.  Another dear friend shared this with me..........

"Once a man was asked, 'what did you gain by praying to God? '  The man replied, 'nothing...but let me tell you what I lost:  Anger, ego, greed, depression, insecurity, and fear of death.'  Sometimes, the answer to our prayers is not in gaining but losing; which ultimately is the gain."

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

K.E. 5

From Barbara Bass:


How many people do you meet on an average day?  Do you bother to even say hello?  I mostly go through my days ignoring the people that I encounter on a typical day.  Christians are to be the salt and light of the world.  It is our presence in this world that can make all the difference.  If we are silent and fail to engage the world in conversation, then we have little impact.


I can't help but regret all the nice things that I have left unsaid.  All too often I am quick to criticize, but oh so slow to compliment.


In my busy world, people are just blurs that pass me by and I think nothing of them.  I wonder how different the world would be if I just started a few conversations, just randomly and casually, being very intentional about saying more than hello to the people that I see.


I was recently involved in the Kingdom Experiment class where studying the true meaning of the Beatitudes drew you closer to not just seeing the image of God in people, but to see them as God does.  As we shared each week the outcome of our experiments, we all grew in our quest for a missional lifestyle, opening our eyes and hearts to those in the everyday mundane living.  Even though the class has ended, I have truly walked away with an alertness to the opportunities to engage with strangers, purposefully, with the goodness of Jesus in me.


Can a person plan a story for their own life and live it intentionally?


Join the next edition of the Kingdom Experiment class tonight at 6:30 with Dave Hackett or Sunday morning at 9:05

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

K.E. 4


Kingdom work is for everyone, including men.  Busy husbands and fathers are kingdom people, too.  Here's what men in our church had to say about the Kingdom Experiment:

“I am definitely glad that I participated in the Kingdom Experiment. Serving in our day-to-day lives is not only doable, but the opportunities are abundant. Being conscious of these allows us to positively affect many around us.” – Brent Parsons 


I am very glad that I was able to participate in the Kingdom Experiment small group.  Unlike typical study groups, the format of the class allows you to learn and experiment in Kingdom work.  The class allowed me to gain greater perspective on the blessings that I have, the struggles others around the world face, and the opportunities I was missing everyday to connect people to Jesus.  The experiments performed and the inspiration I gained from the experiments of other members of the group have caused me to be more intentional in my actions and priorities.  - Jamie Allison

Monday, April 13, 2015

K.E. 3

From Janet Smith:
When I first heard about the Kingdom Experiment class, I was immediately intrigued. I liked the idea of studying the beatitudes and selecting experiments that would bring them to life for me.
During the eight-week class, the other participants and I took an in-depth look at the beatitudes, selected interesting and varied experiments, and talked about what we experienced and learned. It was wonderful!
I loved the conversations and insights gained by reading about and discussing the beatitudes in depth. And the experiments were thought provoking, to say the least. What’s it like to take cold showers for a week or surprise Google Fiber workers with pizza or cookies? What happens when you really get to know the office night-time custodian? How does it feel to pray intentionally for the persecuted, the poor, and those who mourn? Why is it important to honor our sacred spaces? Am I peace-lover, or a peace-maker? I learned and gained insight from my own experiments (such as reaching out to that custodian), as well as the experiments of others (I wasn’t brave enough to take cold showers, but someone else in the class was!).
By reading The Kingdom Experience book, participating in weekly experiments, and (most of all!) being a part of the inspiring class discussions, I experienced important personal growth. My desire to help others and make a difference in the world has significantly intensified. And I have learned that by honoring God through the beatitudes, a pathway emerges that leads to great joy.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

K.E. 2

More from the Kingdom Experiment....
From Mia Fulson:

I recently finished a bible study titled "The Kingdom Experiment".  This study was based on the Beatitudes.  I always expect to gain new insights and to be inspired after a study.  This study made me ask myself: "why did I wait so long?"

I had projects to doing over the 8 weeks.  Some were easy and some were "safe".  I wrote a letter to a hurting friend, I donated to a program in another country for a good cause, I simply noticed people more who tend to be invisible in my community, and baked cookies for nearby construction workers.  This was to make the kingdom a better place.  It did far more than that.

It changed me!!  I am learning to be kinder, more patient, more compassionate, less judgmental, and more interactive with strangers.  I am definitely more intentional and determined to brighten someone's day.

Why did I wait so long?  Why have I missed these opportunities before? Why wouldn't I want to be more kind?  Why can't I love others more?  There is no excuse, but I have been blessed with this NEW chance to do it NOW!!  It requires me to slow down, sometimes be inconvenienced and get uncomfortable.  It has been worth it. 

So readers, who or what needs your attention?  Have you waited too long?
Who needs your encouragement? Who in the world needs a hug or an act of kindness?  Who can you compliment and make feel special?

Go out and make this Kingdom a better place.  I promise - you will bring a smile upon our heavenly father's face.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Kingdom Experiment

We are kingdom people, working to build God’s kingdom on earth.  Are we kingdom people only when we take a break from our normal lives to ‘do missions’?  Or are we kingdom people every day in every aspect of our lives?

This winter, a small group called ‘The Kingdom Experiment’ tackled these questions.  Over the course of two months, we conducted ‘experiments’ for the kingdom – things like writing a letter to someone who is mourning, providing a microloan through kiva.org, and sending care packages to families of children that have been murdered in our city recently.  Our eyes were opened to the hurting and poverty in our city and our world.  We prayed that God would help us to see the world the way he sees it, and to change our hearts to become more like his heart.  We prayed that God would use us to better his kingdom.

Over the next few days, we will share stories from members of our church that participated in The Kingdom Experiment this winter.  This group has an incredible energy and momentum right now, as they are on fire for serving God and working for his kingdom.  Be inspired by their stories, and then join us, beginning April 12 and for the next 7 weeks at 9:05, as we launch new small groups of The Kingdom Experiment at WCC.

From Jill Parsons:
For me, the Kingdom Experiment began as an eight-week Sunday school class. But it became much more. It became motivating, inspiring, heart wrenching and mindset changing.
Each Sunday we focused on one of the Beatitudes and discussed a number of ways in which we could experiment with it that week.  The options ranged from small behavior changes to taking action within our community and beyond.  The next Sunday we shared our experiences.
I loved listening to the amount of good being done by our class.  The Kingdom Experiment and my amazing classmates motivated me to serve in ways I hadn't before, inspired me to positively impact others on a daily basis, broke my heart by teaching me empathy for issues I had never before considered, and kept me focused on doing good in God’s Kingdom.
I am excited for the Kingdom Experiment to find its way into other classes, churches, and groups. Whether you’re currently active in missions or not, you’ll be glad to be a part of this movement!

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, April 10, 2015

happy with what you have

Someone found this phrase in their fortune cookie.  A dear friend shared it with me.  I love it.  If you don't enjoy what you have now, how could you be happier with more?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Prom boutique

How exciting it was to host another prom boutique this year.  Somehow, the ministry made the web page of the national UMC.  Here is an excerpt from the report.  You can read the entire article by clicking the link below.

In the 15 years she has coordinated the Prom Boutique at Woods Chapel United Methodist Church, Fern Truschke Stuart has had her heart warmed by the ways lives have been touched by this ministry.
  • The dad who got tears in his eyes when he saw his daughter in her dress. He said, “We drove two hours to see this moment. Thank you.”
  • The mom in the wheelchair who got special permission from hospice to come see her daughter try on dresses.
  • The teary-eyed mom whose two daughters found dresses at our boutique. The mother said they never had to worry about money until her husband was injured on the job. There was no money for “extras” like prom dresses.
  • A young man who received a tuxedo donated by a friend of one of our volunteers. Not only was it the exact size, but all the accessories to go with it were included.
  • The young lady who was so thrilled with her new dress and wanted to make a donation. All she had was 41 cents, but she gave it to us!
  • The social worker who said, “It’s so much more than a dress; it’s Christ’s love shown through your generous spirits. The seeds you planted through your service will make an eternal difference in some lives!”


It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

birds

Do you ever see something and just wonder, just pause and wonder?

I took these pictures along Lakewood Way over by the Conoco station.  Watching the birds come and go is amazing.  One lands, they all land.  One flies and they all take flight.

What can it possibly mean?

God's creation is amazing.  Who can understand the work of the Almighty?  He has set a code into this world that causes the mind of humans to wonder.

God is truly great.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

the lone cup

Yes, this is a lone cup, sitting lonely and alone outside of your church gym.  Someone abandoned it right here in our parking lot.

I have to tell you that I am seriously annoyed by people that litter.  Driving down the road and someone throws something out of the window.  Yikes.  I don't understand it.  Please don't throw your clippings on someone else's property.  Please don't throw your branches there.  Please don't throw things out of the window of your car, even on Phelps road.

It doesn't take anymore effort to throw something in the trash than it does to throw it on the ground.  Why not use your energy to make the world a better place?

Pick up your trash where ever it is. [there is a metaphor in that statement.]  Leave behind only that which makes the day and all of life, a better place.

It's a beautiful trash free day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Joke day

The day after Easter, in some cultures in considered "joke day."  It is a day that jokes are told in some cultures because Jesus has pulled the wool over Satan's eyes.  The gig is up.  He thought he was winning, but Jesus has the last say.

Now before I tell a couple of jokes, I want you to know that I reject the logic of Joke Day.  There was never any question of the outcome of the battle.  Jesus did not pull it out in the last minute of the game.  God has always been in control.

But, just for fun, here are some jokes.................

What does a dyslexic atheist say?
There is no dog.

Did you hear about the man who was in a car wreck and broke his forehead?
He's ok, it was just a hairline fracture.

What do you do when you stub your toe?
Call a tow truck.

What is green and goes 100 miles an hour?
A frog in a blender.

What is purple and conquers deserts?
Alexander the Grape.

What did they find when they opened Alexander the Grape's tomb?
Alexander the raisin.

Why are pirates cool?
They just rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

You only get one nose in life. 
Don't blow it.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Awake!

What a morning it must have been for the women who found the empty tomb!  What a morning, what a day for the disciples.  Their understanding of everything changed with one bit of news - He is no longer here, he is risen from the grave.

A day that began in worry and fear quickly gave way to joy and celebration.

Easter should still have this affect on us.  We may rise in the morning with despair and gloom, but the moment we think of Jesus, our outlook should change.  The bad news is not the last news.  The worry is temporary, the joy is eternal. 

Don't simply rise to the day.  Awaken to the day!  Jesus is alive, Jesus is with us!
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

the invisible fence

I was thinking the other day about an invisible fence.  The kind of fence that keeps a dog in the yard.  No one can see the fence, but it keeps the dog in.

So it is also true of the invisible fence that we use to keep God contained.  We can't see it.  It is so ingrained in our paradigm that we can't see how we hold him back, but we do.

The dog in the yard, dreams to run free.  God, held back within our invisible fences, yearns to run free.  He yearns to take our brains to places we have never gone before.  He yearns to free us from our insistence on being right and teach us to fall headlong into his love.

How do your ideas about God keep you from experiencing Him?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday

You are invited to our Good Friday services tonight at 7pm in the Worship Center. 

Good Friday. Good because why? Jesus suffers and dies. How is that good? Suffering and death do not sound very good to us.  The service is a painful recounting of the difficult sufferings of Jesus.   It is designed to bring people to a deep appreciation of what Jesus did for us.  While we are repulsed by selfishness, our souls are deeply touched by generous acts of grace.  He that has been given much, loves much.

Good Friday. It's good for us. Because in the death of Jesus, a relationship is made right. Our sins are forgiven and our relationship with God is restored, healed.

Pause sometime today and say "thank you." To say thank you to God is the beginning of living the Christian life.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday.  Tonight we commemorate Jesus' last supper with his disciples.  The service is at 7pm in the sanctuary.  Every one is welcome.

I was reading a bit of Richard Rohr the other day.  He wrote, "Francis of Assisi must have known, at least intuitively, that there is only one enduring spiritual insight - and everything else follows from it:  The visible world is an active doorway to the invisible world, and the invisible world is much larger than the visible.  I call this the mystery of incarnation, the essential union of the material and the spiritual worlds.

What we understand of Jesus is so small. What we understand of spirituality is so small.  I thank God for the opportunities that we have for worship, whether in church or in creation.  There is so much more going on in this world that we are aware of.

"It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

true religion

I learned religion as a child.  I was taught that good Christians are the ones that believe the right things.  The Christian faith, I was taught, is a series of items that make up "right thinking."

Sometimes in order to learn, we must unlearn.  True spirituality isn't as much about acquiring more information as it is about losing some of what has been ingrained in us.  Our paradigm must change.

Today I would tell you that although beliefs are important, there is a relationship with God, and it is an experience that moves beyond belief.  It is grounded not in doctrines, but in awareness, in love, in joy, in hope.  Somewhere along the way, we can learn that God is bigger than our ideas about him, and when we do, we are finally free to dive into the waters of his immense love.

Are you sitting in the boat of doctrine or are you swimming in the ocean of God's amazingness?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

conditions

We like to put conditions on our happiness. 

I will be happy when my kids are healthy.  I will be happy when I make more money.  By the way, Americans are the richest people in the world, but they report that they will be happy when they make 20% more than they do right now.  We have so much.............

I will be happy when I get a new car.  I will be happy when I get that new job.  I will be happy when.....

Do you sense the silliness of such thinking?  We have attached the joy in our life to things that are out of our control.  The fact of the matter is that the Kingdom is within you.  Happiness is within you.  If you are a child of God, and you are, the Spirit within you is begging to tell you that life is good and you are loved.

Are you looking to outside influences and circumstances for happiness or are you looking within your heart to the place where the Spirit dwells?

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, March 30, 2015

quote from a friend

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common – this is my symphony.


William Henry Channing, clergyman, reformer, 1810-1884

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

think about it


It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

how do you show your love for God?

How do you show your love for God?  By believing right?  By faith or actions?

One church has a slogan that says, "we show our love for God by how we treat others."

I love it!!  What a great way to show your love for God.  This is how it works in his kingdom.  In fact, it is the only way that things work in his kingdom. 

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, March 27, 2015

the things that we don't know

I was very surprised when in response to my posts about homeless people, one of our members sent this in:

You don’t know this but my family lost our house (foreclosure) when I was a senior in HS. My dad left home about the same time and we did not hear from him again until we were told he died. I’m not sure how my mom managed because it looked like we would be homeless back when no one used the term. At the last minute her parents agreed to take us in even though my grandfather did not like me or my brothers as we reminded him of our dad. As you know things have worked out very well for me in this life. Even at that time, two of my friends’ parents were willing to take me in if necessary. That time is a constant reminder to me that anyone can be homeless. For whatever reason I did not have to walk that path but I am certainly in no position to judge someone who does. If I see people holding the signs I give them money. It’s not a big question for me. I remember my mom who fought thru everything and my friends’ parents who reached out. I was put on this Earth to share what I have with others. It’s a privilege that I’m grateful for every day. Thanks for your blogs on the homeless. The WCC members help people every day. There is no greater way to practice God’s love as a church body.

You see, a person's experience so shapes how they respond to those in need.  Maybe if more of us had lived through having little or nothing, we would be more understanding of those who do have little or nothing.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

jobs I have had

Someone asked me to post a listing of jobs that I have held in my life.
Here we go.........

In High School
Bicycle Repair man
McDonalds

In College
Gallenkamp shoes
McDonalds
Dishwasher at the School Cafeteria
Setting pins at the manual bowling lanes
Self Service Gas station

College summers
furniture mover

Post college
Asphalt company
youth director

Seminary
Kwik Kopy printing
deck builder
youth director
UPS delivery

Post seminary
bank teller
handiman
associate pastor
pastor

lots of excitement eh?  Let me just celebrate the joy of hard work.  I really believe that to work at a thing and to give it your best makes so much difference in this life.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

to ponder


I read this in an article last week,“It’s often said that we Christians eat our own.” It went on to say, “For a people whose go-to ideas are love for God and love for others, we Christians can be pretty horrible toward one another”.  Well, people in general can be pretty horrible at times. I would hope that as seekers we would be more open, nurturing, forgiving, understanding, tolerant, accepting etc. This article was in reference to a person in the Christian community who broke script and began to ask questions. Thought provoking questions. He did not take a stance of what is true but hit the gray area that invites us to wonder, ask, listen and grow. He dared Christians to dig deeper, think, explore, have conversations and test everything….to take a level of responsibility for our own understanding so that we can move beyond the things and people that shape us in this world. Unfortunately, the things that shape us can bring us to do the very thing that we should not. So we hold up a guard and choose carefully what we say and do and that is a shame. How do we grow in that environment?

Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

shift

For those of you hanging in there with me about this left, right and center thing I want to say thank you. I have been in a rut and I hate ruts. I have been in them enough times to form that opinion. Ruts are a bad place to be. Growth is stagnated. Ruts can cause separation. Even the simplest of things that seem harmless can put you there. Like consistently choosing the sanctuary vs. worship center, back left row vs.  first front right, this class or topic or author vs. that one and so on…. Each in their own way can be good and yet they place us here and never there or with them and not the others and only this type of thinking vs. that etc. I am guilty of this practice. I believe it provides comfort and comfort is where ruts thrive. Like the saying goes, “If you don’t think you have ever been there then more than likely you are there right now.”  Bottom line is I believe a broader base is a catalyst for change and growth. So I am working on that shift. I will be healthier for doing so.

Proverbs 12:15 The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

Peace

Lion’s Den Man

Monday, March 23, 2015

center


Center, I believe, is where we are when we are born. God places us here without leanings. We are then shaped by life and those around us. Things and people encourage us to slide a direction that is away from center.  Sometimes we slide very far. Sometimes we slide back or even go as far as the opposite direction. Sometimes we get stuck in a place. Neither side is either all good or all bad. This is not a good versus evil thing it is a human perspective thing. However, it is a separation from the core of how God would like us to see him and see and treat others.
If you are like me and want to know where you are resting I suggest listening more. Listen to others. Listen to what you say. Reflect on your day. Test what it is you have said and done to those around you each day. When you find your justifications from learned leanings of left or right you can begin to work on the path towards center.

Center is where Love your God and Love others resides in its purist form.
Peace,
Lion’s Den Man

Sunday, March 22, 2015

peace, love, harmony and truth


Where are they found? Left or Right? Maybe the closest we can come to experiencing all of them together is when we find middle ground…center.  I once read that Christ on the cross was reaching his arms to the left and right drawing all to center. Harmony requires love which leads to peace.  It is the place that enables us to learn and grow. If we hold so tightly to our belief of truth (left or right) our tongue gains power and our ears become deaf. There is no room for harmony, love or peace in that place.
Peace,
Lion’s Den Man