Friday, August 28, 2015

if it's easy

I have a friend who is a long time church consultant and on the board of the Lydia Patterson institute.  In response to a recent blog post, he sent me a note that I thought was wise...........

He wrote:
Every church has that "lets go back to Egypt" group.  As my old pastor used to say, "if it is easy, it is probably not God's will."

I am just going to tag onto that and remind everyone, that God takes us so far out of our comfort zone...... I think the Holy Spirit lives on the edge of our comfort zone.  We may go years and never feel the leading, simply because we were not brave enough to go to the edge of the world that we know.

What is God calling you to do?  To be?  If it makes you uncomfortable, that is probably a good thing.

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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

have we met?

I embarrassed myself at church a few weeks ago.

I have learned to stop asking people if they are new........ it's always embarrassing to find out that they have been attending for years.

Instead I have started asking, "have we met?"

A few weeks ago, I got the same answer, "yes we have met a couple of times, we have been attending here for five years."

I was mortified.  I am so sorry.  I hope they read this and know that I feel terrible when I can't
remember a face.  You are all so precious and delightful, and I want you to feel that you are valued here at Woods Chapel.

Please wear your name tags and please keep helping me learn your names.  Thanks.

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

two great questions

There are two great questions that I was reading the other day:

1.  what was I created to be?
2.  how can I become what I am capable of becoming?

Interestingly, I find the answer to both of these questions to be found in God and God alone.

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

where were you born?

I was born in Kansas City, MO.  St. Luke's Hospital on the Plaza to be exact.  In fact, back then, it was the only St. Luke's in the city.

Where were you born?

Ok, got that place in your head?  Good.  Here is the question..... why was I born in KC instead of Russia or Nicaragua or Mozambique?  Why were you born where you were born instead of Russia, Nicaragua or Mozambique?

Think about it for a few moments.  There is no good answer.  We were just very very fortunate.  May we never take for granted our blessings, and may we always remember our responsibility to the rest of those who for no fault of their own were born in impoverished countries.

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

Monday, August 24, 2015

someone left

Someone left our church because they thought the church was too big.  Who should we throw out to make the church smaller?  Heaven is going to be a very big church.  I wonder if those folks will want to leave there as well?  Too many people?

Someone left because I won't preach on social issues.  Well, I am sorry about that, but I was not called into the ministry of Jesus to get you to agree with me on social issues.  We have differing opinions and we should get over it and lock arms to do the Lord's work.  I am not going to preach on social issues.  I am going to preach about the God who loves us and forgives us and welcomes us.

Someone left because they got busy with life.  Sports, work, some hobby began to take up their time, and then they were gone.  I see them from time to time.  They aren't unhappy with me, they just got busy with life, and church fell to the side.  If this is you, there is a seat available for you on Sunday morning and we would love to have you back.

Someone left because they are tired of being asked to help with missions.  Wow!  So I want a church that doesn't ask me to give myself away for the sake of Jesus Christ?  I have no idea of what to say to that.

Someone left because the pastor does not preach the Bible in the same manner as the church they were raised in.  And to this I quote the famous theologian Terry McCarty who said, "The Bible is not a hammer."

People leave churches for many reasons.  I wish that no one ever left, but they do.  There are somethings that I cannot fix.  Thankfully at the present time, your church is doing well and is very healthy.

I just have to trust that the majority of folks, not only see the good at Woods Chapel, but are actively engaged in keeping our church healthy.   There is plenty of good to see and to be a part of in almost every church.

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

Sunday, August 23, 2015

friends for life


I was visiting with a couple the other night and they told me that when I finally do retire, that they are going to come see me all the time.  They said that I was going to get sick of them coming to visit. 

Their words made my heart happy.  Over the years I have had, and unfortunately lost a few very good friends.  I don’t want to lose anymore in my lifetime.  The thought that they were saying that we would be friends as long as we live, made me very happy.  In fact, I am smiling as I type this.  J

Value your friends.  They are among the most important things to have in this life.  A man rich in friends, is rich indeed.  And by the way, a great place to make friends is at your church.  And last time I looked, it is Sunday.  See you at the big house.


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

Saturday, August 22, 2015

choice

You have a choice.  You are not a robot.   You are not forced to take a certain action.  You can choose.  Choose to love or choose to hate.  Choose to welcome or choose to judge.  Either way, you choose.  Choose to be mad at the boss, or choose to accept the change.  Choose to trust or choose to worry.

You have the power, you have the choice to make.  Choose well.


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

Friday, August 21, 2015

Raytown and Blue Springs Pt. 2

Here is another reason that we have taken these other churches into the Woods Chapel family.  They needed someone, someone to help them.

There have been times in the past when Woods Chapel needed help.  We forget this but we have needed the help of others in the past.  Other churches helped start us.  Other churches helped us buy the property on Woods Chapel road.  Other churches trained our ministers.  Other churches led training events for us.  Other churches contributed a $400,000 grant to help us get started at the 291 property.

We would never be the kind of church that we are today if none of the other churches stepped up to help us.  And so, we have friends in Raytown and Blue Springs that need our help.  It is not a crime to need help.  Things happen, and sometimes, we need to help each other.  As long as we have the ability to help others, we need to do so.  It is the kingdom work.

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?  Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.  1 Jn 3:17-18

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

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Raytown and Blue Springs

A member asked me why in the world we would take on other campus churches in Raytown and Blue Springs.  Didn't we already have enough to do?  Isn't it just more work for everyone?

The answer to those questions is yes.... we do have plenty to do, and yes it is more work.  Then why do it?

The answer is bigger than "the conference asked us to help."  The real answer lies in potential.  Not how much are we doing for Jesus Christ, but how much can we do for him?

I was never a very good softball player, but I loved to play and I played hard.  I left all of my ability on the field.  I never held anything back.  I ran as hard as I could and I did my very best.   We should approach our spiritual life in the same way.  When we die I don't want to say to the Lord, "here is the one talent back that you gave us."  I want to do everything that I can, I want us to do everything that we can to multiply the kingdom, to fulfill our potential, and to use our God given abilities for God's purpose.

The moment that we shrink back from God's work, we have made life about us.  Yes it is crazy busy, yes it is a lot.  Yes it is more.  But as long as we have breath and strength, let us use it for God's work.

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

50

Something happened to me when I turned 50. [8 years ago]  I began to worry less and I began to find more joy in life.  I began a journey of deciding to be content instead of being upset by so many things.  Now I still have a long way to go, but I am on a different journey than I was before.
 
Today I am aware that most of my life is behind me.  What ever time I have left, I want to spend it being positive, not negative.  I want to engage my energy in what I am for, not what I am against.  Life is much too short to waste any time focusing on what I am unhappy about.  So much of it is beyond my control anyway.

I want to grow in my ability to accept and welcome pain instead of fighting it.  I want to learn to make friends with things that make me uncomfortable.  Think of how many things we used to be so upset by, but now we are ok with them.  Maybe the things that I want to be unhappy about today can become my friend as well.

On my death bed I want to look into the eyes of my children and tell them that they are good and that life is a treat.  Why did it take me so long to start thinking like this?  I don’t know, but I do know that the last eight years have been so much more delightful.


It’s a beautiful day in God’s world, be sure to focus on the good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I am the problem

So you are not feeling well and you go to your doctor and ask for help.    Your doctor sends you home with a prescription for someone else.  It makes no sense. 

But that is how we live and that is how we think.  We are unhappy but we think we will become happy if someone else changes.  I am troubled but if my wife will change, then I will be happy.  I hate my job but if my boss will change then I will  be happy.  We are asking for prescriptions for others when we are the one who is ill.

Start looking past circumstances.  Stop measuring your life by your circumstances.  Life is good.  See it.  Live it.  The problem is not everyone else.  The problem is almost always me- my attitudes, my worries, my dysfunction.

The moment that I realize this and admit it to myself, everything begins to change.  I begin to work on me and I begin to accept that being uncomfortable is just a part of being alive in this world.


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

Monday, August 17, 2015

grace

Marriage can be difficult.  I was talking with a friend the other day about this.  We have all seen couples throw each other away when we thought the marriage could be saved.  We have also seen people stay with a spouse and make it work when it seemed to us to be beyond repair.

To me, the mitigating factor, the x-factor is grace.  Do you have grace for him?  Do you have grace for her?  If so, then God is ready to go to work.  There is still HOPE.  By grace, the power of the Holy Spirit can heal broken hearts and restore the joy of a relationship.  I have seen it many times.

Don't give up.  God is stronger than we think.

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

Sunday, August 16, 2015

waking up

If one would see the good, they must wake up to life.  They must open their eyes and see what God is doing.  My favorite author, Anthony de Mello says that the core of spirituality is waking up.

Here is a quote from his book titled Awareness:

I have not known a single person who gave time to being aware [awake] who didn't see a difference in a matter of weeks.  The quality of their life changes, so they don't have to take it on faith anymore.  They see it.  They're different.  They react differently.  In fact, they react less and act more.  You see things you've never seen before. You're much more energetic, much more alive. 

Today I invite you to look and see what God has done in the world around you.

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

Saturday, August 15, 2015

how many weeks in a row

Last Sunday, I was at church, but not preaching.  Anytime this happens, I get complaints.  "If you are here Jeff, why aren't you preaching?"

Many churches have Sundays where the Central Methodist College Choir or some other group sings.  Many churches have associates that preach once per month.  That gives them an opportunity to preach, and the Sr Pastor a break.

Preaching week after week is exhausting, exhausting to the soul.  To have something ready that is heartfelt and moving is very difficult to do week after week.  When you are a preacher it feels like Sunday comes 3 times per week.  This is why I insists that our associates that are preaching in our various venues do not preach more than 3 times per month.  I am trying to take care of their souls.

From June 14 thru Aug 2, I preached eight weeks in a row.  So on the 9th, last Sunday, I was here, but not preaching.  Actually, we recorded the sermon on Thursday that was played in the Worship Center on Sunday Aug 2.  So I didn't deliver it live, but I did prepare a sermon.  My point is this, a preacher needs a break from time to time for their souls to catch up.

I will be preaching tomorrow, the Lord willing.

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

Friday, August 14, 2015

lost

Tagging on to yesterday's post, many Christians talk about the lost.  Anyone who does not believe in Jesus as I do, well they are lost.  The problem with this, is that quite often, the Jesus that is being held out by Christians is not a good reflection of who Jesus really is.  Instead of teaching that God loves you and forgives you and welcomes you, their Jesus is angry.

It kind of makes you wonder who is really lost.  Many Christians need to lose the angry Jesus and find him all over again.

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

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I don't believe

Some people tell me that they don't believe in God or Jesus or both.  I think that often, what they really mean is this - they don't believe in the God or Jesus that many Christians portray.  Many Christians hold out a God and a Jesus that is angry, judgmental, wears a suit and tie, and is a bit uppity.

I don't believe in that  God or Jesus either.

When Christians begin to hold out the God and Jesus that are loving, gracious, and welcoming, I think there will be more believers in this world.

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

a note from a dear friend

In the book the Shack, God kept saying how fond he was of everyone.  I am fond of so many people.  This is from a dear friend that I am very fond of.

Jeff, I watched a pair of cardinals build a nest in a hydrangea tree outside my laundry room window.   They fussed at me when I checked on them.   I saw them feed their scrawny offspring until one morning last week  I saw the baby atop the tree with the parents loudly  coaxing it on to a new life.  When I checked the empty nest I found one egg still there, sadly not hatching. I know I will enjoy their red coats at my feeder when it's snowing.

I hope you get my message or metaphor of life.  Some days are more difficult than others, but I always hear the birds singing when I first wake up.  
Let's keep hearing the birds sing.

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

surgery

Several have asked me, so here is the story.......

About six years ago I had my gall bladder out.  For whatever reason, the surgeon was not able to remove it laproscopically and I was cut open the old fashioned way.  Big long pirate scar.

Fast forward to about six months ago, and I started to have abdominal pain.  It was an interesting sensation that seemed to get worse the longer that I was on my feet.  After about three months we finally got a cat scan and a diagnosis.  Since all the internal organs were fine and the pain was centered on the scar from the previous surgery, it was either in incisional hernia or adhesions.  Adhesions are little bits of scar tissue that try to attach your abdominal wall to your guts.  The pulling and tugging can be painful.

Yesterday I went in for laproscopic surgery.  Everything went great.  The doctor was very pleased.  It took a little over an hour.  It was not a hernia, but a good bit of scar tissue and adhesions.  The largest section of scar tissue looks to be about the size of a danish roll.  I have pictures if you want to see them.

They cut out the scar tissue and cotterized all of the connections.  Then they took an after picture.  I am all fixed up.  For the first time in a long time, I don't have this odd bump below my rib cage, and when the little entry holes heal up, I will be pain free!

 It is nice to live in a time where God has given doctors the ability to do such things.
I am glad to be on the other side of this story.

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

Monday, August 10, 2015

decisions

I had to make a decision the other day.  It was a difficult one.  Usually I am very methodical about such decisions.  [Aren't all Methodists methodical?]  I usually take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle and list the pros and cons.

This was a tough one.  I did not know what to feel or think.  100 thoughts crowded my mind about all the facets of the situation.  Fortunately, underneath in all there was a lingering sense of what the right action was.  And so I was able to make a choice, even though I had many issues about the choice and many unanswered questions.  It just seemed to be the right thing to do.

Oddly, I am not worried about any potential issues or fallout.  I somehow feel that God is in this and that it will be ok.  Maybe God blesses us in our weakness.

Sometimes our choices are limited.  Pray that you will have direction.  Never stop believing that God loves you enough to help you along through the difficult times.  Yea thou I walk through the valley I will fear nothing, for Thou art with me.

Maybe sometimes we end up doing the right things because we stopped thinking about it and trying to control it.  Maybe sometimes it is ok to just put a thing into the hands of God and just go with it.

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

Sunday, August 9, 2015

three difficult things

Someone once said that the three things that are the most difficult for we humans are:

1.  returning love for hate
2.  including the excluded
3.  admitting that you were wrong

Interesting that Jesus taught that we should do all three.  May we all get better quickly at that which is most difficult for we humans.

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

Saturday, August 8, 2015

From my friend Joy

I really dislike the "picking & choosing" approach to Christianity - and, at the same time-I'm dreadfully guilty of it.

I "p&c" which Bible verses I believe the most; I "p&c" which stories/laws/Biblical characters/teachings in Scripture I relate to the most; I "p&c" which sin is the worst ( & it's always the sin of which I will never be guilty); I "p&c" the preacher/church/choir director/teachers/folks that are welcome/the place I always sit in church, the acceptable music, etc.  and if my "p&c" doesn't  pan out, I just "gospel shuffle" on out to "p&c" another preacher/church/choir,etc.

Actually, I am working on that  "picking & choosing"  thingy-but it's really hard.
It seems to be almost innate and extremely contagious.
Jesus called it "Judge not, lest you be judged" or "Do not judge lest you be judged yourselves".  Luke 7:1 It seems really important to me to squelch this attitude,  but it ain't easy!

Choose to have a happy day!

Joy

Friday, August 7, 2015

re: demons


I was listening to the radio and a song from an artist I enjoy came on that speaks about dealing with demons.

Jeff posted last week about our demons and how we all have them and to be wary of those who say they do not. I think it takes a strong person to share their flaws. They are willing to be truthful to themselves and to others and to be judged …what a tough combination.

As Jeff wrote, “Use all the will power that you have.  Your participation is important.  But always remember that God is at hand to help as well.  When we are weak, then he is strong.  We may feel powerless, but God can help us make it through a difficult time.”

Here are a few verses from the song:

A wall of denial - is fallin' down
Wo it's fallin' so hard - down to the ground
Never knew something so strong could be washed away by tears
But this wall of denial was just built on fear

We've all had our demons from the garden of white lies
Dressed them amused them pullin' wool over our eyes
Go so far as to love them to keep from letting them go
All the while they we're killin' us but we couldn't let it show

No matter what the trouble we carry round inside
We're never safe from the truth but in the truth we can survive
When this wall of denial comes tumblin' down
Down to the ground

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Thursday, August 6, 2015

learn


“Don’t turn away from possible futures before you’re certain you don’t have anything to learn from them.”-Richard Bach

Is there anything we can’t learn from? Of the things I know the most about I still have plenty to learn and of course there is plenty to unlearn, as well. To ignore these truths would be a travesty. There is so much I don’t know and understand. I need to remind myself to pursue those things, even if I fall short, it will be worth the effort.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

freedom


I think it is important to not undervalue the everyday things we can do. Every place, every person and every situation around us is the Mission field. The field is under your roof, in your neighborhood, at the grocery store, downtown, in other towns, and in faraway lands.

This gentle reminder came to me again in a reading the other day.

"Doing small things with great love. An experience of inner freedom and grace allows you to be more compassionate both with yourself and with others. Every time we choose love, grace, and humility over our habituated brain reactions, we expand our realm of freedom. And love can only happen in the realm of freedom.”

The more we become aware of this and practice it the freer we become. God working through us and in us….

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

laughter


I had a good laugh today. A tearful laugh. A belly laugh. An out loud laugh. It brought attention from those not far away. I shared with them what I was watching and boom a laughter explosion took place.

“You’ve got to laugh at least once a day because a day without laughter is like a day without sunshine, and a day without sunshine is like . . . .night.” - Steve Martin

I need to give credit where credit is due, re: yesterday’s blog post. Laughter has been a big part of why I am where I am now. I am laughing more. I am being deliberate in seeking out things that will make me laugh. It is good medicine. Good for the soul.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Monday, August 3, 2015

not flat


Many times I have felt spiritually flat. Nothing would seem inspiring. Maybe the world and its ways had taken the front seat. Maybe I had. One way or another it would happen. This came to mind the other day when I began to write down some ideas to share here on the Blog. I was struggling to come up with anything I was passionate about. Only this time I knew it wasn’t because I was “flat”. So I thought about it and came to realize, for now at least, I am content... at peace. It is not because the world is now perfect for me nor am I in control and making everything right. I made a conscious decision a while back to slow down. Maybe that was the catalyst for this change. Whatever it is, it is working and I am trying to not think too hard about it….I don’t want to mess things up and lose where I am. God, I think, is just looking for a little space... a little time, so he can work on us.

See the good.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Sunday, August 2, 2015

read this.........

Read this from the top down first, then from the bottom up..........

Spirit 105.9's photo.

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

Saturday, August 1, 2015

the purpose of the church

Someone suggested in a facebook post the other day that the purpose of the church is to point out sin or call out sin.

While I do believe in sin and I have personal experience with it, this is not the job of the church or the job of the Christian.  That is God's job and God's alone.  When we point the finger at others, all we do is come across as hateful.  There is nothing Christian about that.  We end up driving away the very people that we would have hoped to have won.

Anyone who points the finger at another, better be living a sinless life.  They better not skip church ever, and they better give 10% at least.  Those without sin, cast the first stone.

Over and over Jesus dealt with sinners with grace and compassion.  The only people he crushed were those who were crushing others, the Pharisees.  I said this the other day, too many modern Christians sound more like the Pharisees and not enough like Jesus.

It is not our job to point out the sins of others.  That is the job of the Holy Spirit.

The purpose of the church is to point people to God and to lift up the name of Jesus Christ.  The purpose of the church is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  The purpose of the church is to offer grace to a broken world.

Grace to you my friends.

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

Friday, July 31, 2015

demons

Demons.  Figurative demons.  Those things that vex us and torment us and sometimes dominate us.  Everyone has a dark side.  People who act like they don't are dangerous.  Flee from them.  Perfect people are fake.  Period.

One person's demon is drink.  Another's is gambling.  One person battles with arrogance.  Another with temper.  One fights depression, one laziness, another abuses prescription drugs.  Someone is physically abusive to others, someone else has multiple affairs.  On and on the list goes.

What every your demons are, it is good to know which ones they are and where you find them.  It is good to know this so that you can stay away from them.  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  Your demons are your enemies.  Keep an eye on them.  Keep them in your sights.  Control them.  Fight them.  The moment you forget about them, or ignore them, trouble is on the horizon.

Use all the will power that you have.  Your participation is important.  But always remember that God is at hand to help as well.  When we are weak, then he is strong.  We may feel powerless, but God can help us make it through a difficult time.

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




Thursday, July 30, 2015

A psalm of lament

Today my middle daughter Jennifer left to join my wife and our oldest daughter, Allision in Florida..... a permanent move.


A psalm of lament when my wife and daughters moved away..........

Every time I think of you I am struck with sadness.
I can't stop the sobbing.
Load groaning from deep inside.

Don't leave me.
I don't want to be alone.
You that I love.... come back to me.

The pets hear the cries of a wounded animal.
They come to my aid.
I am inconsolable.

I can't share this with anyone.
Don't read this blog - don't speak to me of it.
It is too personal, it is too raw.

Finally the cries cease.
A quiet peace settles in.
Love hurts but God is there.

We will see each other as we can.
Distance does not reduce love.
Absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Back to work.
Back to my friends. 
I am not alone.

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