Thursday, April 28, 2016

Can Jeff come back?

Several have asked me if I can return to do their family weddings or funerals. The United Methodist Church sets policy regarding such requests. In the Methodist brochure: Clergy on the Move we find these words:

A new pastor comes to an appointment with all the rights and responsibilities of the office. This means the pastor has left the previous appointment and turned that ministry over to a new pastor.

It is not ethical for a pastor to return to a previous appointment to conduct weddings or funerals or to take part in an ongoing function of the church or perform pastoral functions. A former pastor may participate in weddings or funerals ONLY at the initiation and direct invitation of the pastor in charge.

It is helpful for the laity to assist in the adjustment of the new pastor by not asking the former pastor to return, except as a friend or visitor.


There are two main reasons for this policy. First, if a former pastor returns, it interferes with the new pastor's ability to get to know the congregation and be seen as their pastor. Secondly, if pastors return to previous appointments for such things, it takes away from their ability to be effective in their new setting. When I moved to Woods Chapel I was asked several times to go back to Princeton for funerals and weddings. I never did. I wanted to be fully present for my new Woods Chapel friends.

There may be a time in the future when a return would be permissible, but only at the direct invitation of the current pastor. For the foreseeable future, I can't see myself coming back. I hope you understand. Its not what everyone prefers, but it is the right thing for both churches. And as my Daddy always said, the right thing to do is the right thing to do.

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

live it


“We don't think ourselves into a new way of living; we live ourselves into a new way of thinking." – Richard Rohr

It can be tough to change. It is hard to break free of familiar. I think it is important to go after the things (thinking and doing) outside of what is easy and comfortable.  Being around those who have dared to do so already is a step in that direction. There are people who challenge us without saying a word - all they do is live it.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

a word - #2


Another word shared in the same talk I spoke of yesterday was awakening.  In this discussion, awakening referred to a time when things changed, a paradigm shift occurred and things were seen in a different light. Often many things lead us to this moment but I feel clarity comes once we open ourselves to listen and not just to respond. Listen to those around us who care. Listen to your heart. Listen to God. Just Listen.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Monday, April 25, 2016

a word


Interesting how sometimes when a word or phrase is heard it plunges you into a deep thought. It can be a distraction but maybe that distraction is where you needed to head. I followed a distraction like this last week after listening to a talk at the Tuesday morning men’s group. The word was “Pensive”. The word itself speaks to what I am talking about. I had not heard or read that word in a long time and it got me thinking. Everything seems to move fast anymore. I’m sure my dad and grandfather said the same thing when they were my age. I suppose life is always moving quickly and we can travel at its speed or carve from it the time necessary to think and reflect and grow.

Peace,

Lion’s Den Man

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Garrison Keillor on Methodists


Garrison Keillor from the Prairie Home Companion Show is reported to have described Methodists like this:

GARRISON KEILLOR ON "METHODISTS"
We make fun of Methodists for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed, and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese.

But nobody sings like them. If you were to ask an audience in New York City, a relatively Methodist-less place, to sing along on the chorus of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," they will look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their underwear. But if you do this among Methodists, they'd smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach! And down the road!

Many Methodists are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony, a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person's rib cage.

It's natural for Methodists to sing in harmony. They are too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When you're singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of you, it's an emotionally fulfilling moment. By joining in harmony, they somehow promise that they will not forsake each other.

I do believe this: People, these Methodists, who love to sing in four-part harmony are the sort of people you can call up when you're in deep distress.

*If you're dying, they will comfort you.

*If you are lonely, they'll talk to you.

*And if you are hungry, they'll give you tuna salad.

*Methodists believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud.

*Methodists like to sing, except when confronted with a new hymn or a hymn with more than four stanzas.

*Methodists believe their pastors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don't notify them that they are there.

*Methodists usually follow the official liturgy and will feel it is their way of suffering for their sins.

*Methodists believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate.

Methodists think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the peace.

*Methodists drink coffee as if it were the Third Sacrament.

*Methodists feel guilty for not staying to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall.

*Methodists are willing to pay up to one dollar for a meal at the church.

*Methodists still serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color of the season and think that peas in a tuna casserole adds too much color.

*Methodists believe that it is OK to poke fun at themselves and never take themselves too seriously.

And finally, You know you are a Methodist when:
It's 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, and you still have coffee after the service.

You hear something funny during the sermon and smile as loudly as you can.

Donuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee.

When you watch a Star Wars movie and they say, "May the Force be with you," you respond, "and also with you."

And lastly, it takes ten minutes to say good - bye !



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

Saturday, April 23, 2016

one day I will be shaking hands

Some of you have promised to come visit me.  That is super!  I foresee the day, that I will be shaking hands on Sunday morning before worship at Cape Coral, and one of my old friends will walk in the back door of the sanctuary.

I will say to the person whose hand I am shaking, "forgive me, I will be right back."  Then I will walk toward the back door and I will start to cry, I will start to sob.  I will hug you my old friend and I will be so glad to see you.  I will smile at you and I will introduce you to my new friends.

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

hugs

Someone complained the other day that I did not hug them.  I hugged someone else, but not them.

So here is the rule - it's almost an official Methodist preacher rule.  I can hug anyone, but they must initiate the hug.  That is all, it is that simple.

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

Thursday, April 21, 2016

a long time ago

A college friend was telling me about something that they did way back then that they still feel badly about.

Friends, if you did things in high school or college that you still feel badly about, isn't it about time that we move on?  That was a long time ago.  A really long time ago.  We were children..... it is OK.

If we think that God is going to hold those things against us, than we are all in real trouble.  Free yourself from past guilt, and in so doing, free yourself to live today.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

my wife

May God make us all sweeter.  If my wife and kids won't tell you that I am a fine Christian man, then what will it matter what I tell you?  The people that are closest to you, they know your best and your worst.  May we all be so gracious that our family will truly, legitimately grieve our passing.

In one of the Superman movies, a young Clark Kent stands at his father's graveside and says to his dad, "you will be grieved."  Years ago when I told my father this, he said it was the best compliment that he had ever received.  May we all live in such a way that we all be grieved.

If you want to know what kind of a person someone is, ask those that live close.  Look into their eyes when they are answering.  My spouse, your spouse, my kids, your kids will all give a much truer indication of our character and testify or not to our Christianity or lack thereof.

May God make all of us a little sweeter every day.

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

a windfall

Last week I won the lottery.  Almost.

I stopped at Taco Bell [I know its not good for you but whatever....]  I ordered 6 tacos and a large drink [sharing w my wife 3x2=6].

The cashier had just started her shift.  She rang up my total $9.57 and I gave her a $20 bill.  When the drawer opened, there was no money in it.  She started to go get the manager, and handed me back my $20 for safekeeping [now you see where this is going.]

The manager came over with a drawer full of money.  The cashier handed me my change of $10.43, six tacos and a large cup.

Now these are the moments when we have to sleep with our conscience at night.  I could have walked with my $20, the food and $10.43 in change.  I really wasn't event tempted to do that though.

I had to call the cashier off to the side, so the manager did not see, and then I gave her the $20.  Oh, the smile on her face.  She was so grateful!  And I slept well that night.

I am always surprised when people intentionally do the wrong thing and think that they are getting away with something.  We have to live with ourselves don't we?  Always make it right if they give you the wrong change.  Its the only right thing to do.

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

Monday, April 18, 2016

Jeff says

For years we have battled the temptation of some staff and members to say, "Jeff says."  Or "that is the way that Jeff wants it done."  I have fought against this kind of talk because we should never do anything just because Jeff says.  What we do, we need to do because of our mission.  Our decisions should be based on our mission.

If Jeff is off mission, then we need to straighten him out.  If Jeff is on mission, then what we do we are doing because of our mission.  I have always said, Jeff won't be here forever, but our mission of connecting people to Jesus Christ goes on.

We do what we do because of our mission.  Not because of what Jeff says.  Now that Jeff is leaving, that should be abundantly clear.

Do you know your church's mission statement?  Are you living out your life based on a mission?

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

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Pastoral Appointment

The long wait is finally over.  Today I can tell you that Bishop Ken Carter is announcing my appointment to the Cape Coral First United Methodist Church in Cape Coral, Florida effective July 1st.  If you have any friends or relatives that are down there, ask  them to come visit me.  If you are ever on a trip in the Ft. Myers/Cape Coral area, stop by and give me a hug.

I know that this has been a difficult transition for some of you and I appreciate your thoughts, your support and your prayers during the transition.  Just keep praying for peace in a time of change.

Someone asked if I was excited about this.  Well, yes, but there is a great sorrow in saying Goodbye to so many wonderful friends.  One chapter ends, another begins, it is never easy, but the love that we have shared together goes on.  Love never ends.

God has blessed Woods Chapel and will continue to do so into the future.

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


Saturday, April 16, 2016

prayer requests

I am routinely asked for prayer requests.  Jeff what do you want us to pray for?  How can we pray for you?

I am going to harp on prayer for a moment.  I don't like what some American Christians do with prayer.
  • Prayer is not the magic by which we get what we want from God.
  • We do not cajole him to change his ways to our liking.
  • We do not harp on him until grandma gets well.


Do you want to pray for me?  Don't pray that my car will run or that I won't be lonely.  I have a lot of control over many such things myself.

Don't pray that I will live a long healthy life.  I hope to, but I find it presumptuous to pray in this manner.  "God, it may be ok for others to be sick, but not Jeff.  Amen."

Do you wish to pray for me?  Pray that I give myself more completely to him.  That is all.  May God make me more kind, more sweet, more thoughtful and more gracious.  May God help me to be patient in transition, accepting of change.

If I have that, everything else will be fine.

Now, What can I pray for, for you???

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


Friday, April 15, 2016

thoughts


Doctrines were never meant to be enough. That is why we feel so hollow when our Christianity is only about believing a list of the right things. What we believe must not simply reside in our heads, but must fall down into our hearts. Love your neighbor is not just an idea. It is a way of life. Turn the other cheek, go the second mile and offering grace are not just things to believe in, they are things to live out. The moment that we let those ideas fall into our souls, our faith becomes alive!

May prayer become the thing that draws our Christian thoughts into daily actions.

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

















Thursday, April 14, 2016

plodding

Would it be good if we always knew exactly what was going to happen?  Sometimes we don't know everything.  Most of the time we don't.  Sometimes we struggle with how to feel about what is happening.  Change is difficult.

So we plod along.  We get up.  We keep going.  And we trust in God.  Ahh, God.  When we remember that he is with us, life no longer feels like plodding.  When we remember that he is with us, joy returns!  It is ok that we don't know everything, because the One who is bigger than circumstance is with us.  That is good news.

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The 33

I watched the movie The 33 with my wife and daughter.  It is about the 33 miners from Chile who were trapped in a mine for 60 days in 2010.  It is a very good show.

I don't remember the context, but there was a line in the move that stuck in my head immediately.  Someone was dogging on someone else and a third party said this:  "hatred is for children."

I love it.  Hatred is for children.  Stop it.  Stop the hate.  Life is too short.  Hate has no place in the life of a Christ-follower.  If you have any, let it go.

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

growth

We just had our 40 year anniversary as a church.  1976-2016.  Oh how fortunate we have been.  God has blessed our church and we have been used to reach others for Him.

Someone asked why have we grown.
Let me offer some thoughts..........

1. For a church to grow they must have good worship and programs.  Mission opportunities, Sunday School, Bible study and the like.  There must be things at the church that people like.

2. People must invite their friends.  If you like what you have, but keep it a secret, a secret it shall be.

3. You must remove barriers to growth.  If there are great programs and people invite their friends, but there is not enough parking, then the church will not grow.  If there are not enough desirable seats in the pews, no one else will be won to Jesus.  On and on the list goes.  There are a legion of ways that our systems hold us back from reaching others, but when a church is brave and willing to stretch, amazing things can happen.

Thanks for all that you have done over the years to win people to Jesus Christ.

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

Monday, April 11, 2016

dying to self

Jesus asked us repeatedly to "die to self."  Die to your self to find your self.

We take this to mean that we should try really hard to be good.  We take it to mean that we should work really hard to be a certain way.  Stop being selfish.  Force yourself.

What if dying to self means that we must change our central view of ourselves- from separated to reconciled, from rejected to loved, from sinner to saint.

It is hard to stop yourself from being selfish when your core sense of who you are is broken and thrown away.  When we come to believe that we are loved and forgiven, a new self emerges.

Richard Rohr says that this is the point of daily prayer.  We have to keep reminding ourselves of who we are in Christ.

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

Sunday, April 10, 2016

2650 part 2

People are funny.

During the flight emergency [see yesterday's post] people on the plane were pretty calm.  The crew did a great job of keeping things chill.  There was relief that we were safe.  I was glad to be walking up that jet-way.  I didn't care if I got to Florida that night or not.  I was just glad to be back on terra-firma.

Once we got back into the airport, everything changed.

We were met with a box dinner and a promise that our flight would leave on a different plane in an hour.  Two hours later, our Delta phone apps tell us that the flight won't leave until the next morning.  Someone brings this to the gate agent's attention.  He can't say anything until his supervisor shows up.  A short time later, the supervisor informs us that everyone will get their flight cost refunded.  Unfortunately the flight is not going out tonight.  Also, there are no hotels available.  Find a place to crash, see you in the morning.  :-)

Now the complaining starts.  I heard things like, "what?  No hotel?  You could have told us this two hours ago!  This is ridiculous.  You have to be kidding!"

I thought, oh my, a short time ago, everyone was praying for a safe landing, and now we have made it all about us again.  My how quickly selfishness can return!

I talked to several of the flight attendants that had been with us.  They were shaken.  They had never been in a situation like this.  They were not complaining.  They were heading off to their break room to sleep.

So where do you sleep in the Atlanta Airport?  The chairs in B terminal all have arms so you can't lay down on them, so I tried the floor in gate 24, but there was a woman who decided to talk on the phone at 2am.  She had a really big, loud voice......... grr.  I walked down to the food court.  I pulled some stools together in the Samuel Adams Brewery.  I actually slept there for an hour.  I woke at 3am.  Someone told me that E terminal had chairs without arms so you could lay down.  I head out for E terminal.  The train is not running, so you get to walk.  Well I didn't have anything else to do, so off I went.  Gate 12 in E terminal proved to be pretty sweet.  A somewhat comfy place to lay down, and no one talking.  Just the TV talking politics and some pretty bright overhead lights.  But I don't care, I am so ready for sleep.

As I lay down across those chairs and put my head on that backpack, I remembered this story from the life of John Wesley:

During John Wesley’s student days, a poor porter, whose job it was to carry people’s luggage, knocked on Wesley’s door one evening and asked to speak with him.
During their conversation, Wesley observed the man’s thin coat. It was a cold night, and Wesley suggested that he had better get another coat.
“This is the only coat I have,” the man replied, “and I thank God for it.”
Wesley asked the man if he had eaten and the man answered, “I have had nothing today but water to drink, but I thank God for that.”
Wesley, growing uneasy in the man’s presence, reminded him that he would have to leave soon or be locked out. “Then what would you thank God for?” Wesley asked.
“I will thank God,” replied the man, “that I have dry stones to lie upon.”
Wesley was deeply moved by the man’s sincerity and he said to him, “You thank God when you have nothing to wear, nothing to eat, and no bed to lie on. What else do you thank God for?”
The simple man replied, “I thank God that he has given me life, a heart to love him, and a desire to serve him.”
After the man had left with a coat from Wesley’s closet, some money for food, and words of appreciation for the witness he had made, Wesley wrote in his journal, “I shall never forget that porter. He convinced me there is something in religion to which I am a stranger.”


I woke up two hours later and felt much better.  I called my dear wife.  I was glad to be alive.  We all have so much to be thankful for.  Life is too short to waste time complaining.

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

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Delta Flight 2650

Monday this week I hopped a plane that left Kansas City for Atlanta at 5:30 pm.  My connecting flight in Atlanta was to leave at 9:30 and arrive and 11:15 pm.  That was flight 2650.

There were problems with this flight from the beginning.  First we were delayed 20 minutes.  The old "no explanation delay."  They are common, so no one was concerned.  Once boarded, the plane is backing out and the flight attendants are doing their security demonstration.  The pilot interrupts and we have to return to the gate.  There is a mechanical issue.  One of the generators is acting up and it must be repaired.  [A generator provides power to the plane.]  I have actually had this happen before, so I was not concerned.

After about 30 minutes, we started the process all over again.  Pull out from the gate, wait in line it Atlanta for your turn to take off, and then off we go.  I noticed that on take off we seemed to have trouble getting off the ground.  The pilot pulled up sharply at the end, and we were airborne.  All seemed fine.  We reached 10,000 feet and the chairs laid back.  Nap time.  We had reached our cruising altitude of 25,000 feet or so.  The flight attendants were starting beverage service.  Then it happened.

The lights went out inside the plane.  The plane began to act funny.  Now I have been in turbulence before.  Once on a flight to Paris, the turbulence was so bad that people were crying.  The French grandmother next to me took my hand.  So I have been through some turbulence.  This was different.

Beverage service was stopped.  The flight attendants took their seats.  Nothing was said.  But nothing had to be said.  Everyone on the plane knew that this was not normal.  The MD-88 hopped up and down, it bounced, it floated up, and then rapidly downward.  It rolled left and right, so sharply that you thought we were turning, but it was just the plane swaying back and forth like a drunk dancer.

Then the rapid decent.  We probably dropped 10,000 feet.  There was a serious problem.  There was tension in the cabin.  The door to the cockpit is open now and the flight attendant is talking to the pilot through the open door.

Finally the pilot comes on and tells us that the generator is out and we are returning to Atlanta.  Actually we have lost the left engine but he does not tell us that.  The next 15 minutes are some of the most chilling that I have ever experienced in my life.  More rapid descent.  More hopping and swaying.

As I consider the seriousness of this situation I write a few texts on my i-pad to my wife.  A few words about love and peace.   I know that they will not send because it is airplane mode, but maybe someday she will read them and know that I was OK.  I look for Fernando Ortega music on my i-pad, but I never loaded him.  So I go for the next peaceful thing and I turn on Peter Paul and Mary.  I am determined that no matter what, I am going to lean into my faith and rest in God.  Peace, peace, peace I tell myself.

This plane is sick, very sick.  And we are very very low.  We are low like you are on the last approach to the runway........ we are low like this for ten minutes.  Several times you can hear the plane screaming, trying to accelerate to gain altitude.  We are approaching for landing, but the plane is pitched up, trying to climb.  I was concerned that we were going to stall.

Finally, I can see the airport.  The pilot comes on, "brace for landing."  We hit hard.  Much harder than I have ever landed before.  The plane tries to slow, but we have lost much of the ability to slow down.  The pilot is riding the brakes hard.  The plane is shuddering.  Emergency vehicles are now to be seen racing along side 2650.  It takes a long time, but finally we stop.

The pilot comes on and tells us that everything is OK. We will be towed into the gate.  Disaster diverted.  Life given back.  This cat only has 8 lives left.

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

Friday, April 8, 2016

falling into love

I was reading more Richard Rohr the other day.  He was talking about how Christianity ought to be an exercise of "falling into the love of God."  Instead we have turned it into a contest of our worthiness or morality that no one can win, and many don't even try.

By leaving the core message of love, and turning the faith instead into a one up man-ship of who is good and who is bad, we have crushed many people and turned away many people from the faith.

It is not too late to learn new ways.  Sometimes Christians never change their ways until they see how much their judgment is hurting other people.  May we all shuck the judgment, like a butterfly leaves its cocoon.  May we all take flight into that life of love that God intended for us.  That is the life of love, joy and peace.  That is the abundant life.  This is where we find the peace that passes understanding.

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


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Facing Pain

We humans often shrink back from pain.
Imagine a woman who does not want the pain of child birth. She will never know the joy of a child.

Imagine a woman who is pregnant, but fears the pain and keeps the child in the womb forever. The child will never know life and she will live with a sense of loss at what could have been……

Then there the brave person who faces their fears head on.
I see you coming Mr. Pain. No problem. Come on, lets go. Lets go live this thru and get to the other side.
These are those who face difficulty, birth babies and bring new life to the world.

Their bodies will never quite be the same. At times they will wax nostalgic and remember when they were young and in really good shape and had not lived thru the pangs of childbirth, but they would not go back. They recognize that they are the better for it, and the world is a better place because they lived thru their pain to achieve a greater vision.

What are you facing this day? This week? What pain lies on the horizon? What good? What greater good? Never let fear hold you back from bigger dreams.  Pain is inevitable- suffering is optional.

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

the self

I think pretty regularly about the personal battle we all face with selfishness. Although I realize that much is yet to be eradicated from my life, the fact that I think about the battle regularly, gives me hope.

I read this Demello quote:

"You are so proud of your intelligence”, said the master. “You are like a condemned man proud of the vastness of his prison cell.”

And so when we are smug in our knowledge and full of our selves, we can't even see what is going on around us.  I wonder how our lives would change if when walking into a particular situation, instead of thinking, "I GOT THIS.  I KNOW WHAT TO DO,"  instead of thinking that, we walked into situations and said, "what is here for me to learn?"

Let's pray-

Dear Father, what can I learn today?  Help me to put my ego in check so that I can love you and love others.  Amen.

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Cherish

Kool and the Gang did a song called Cherish. It came out in 1985.  I have always like the song, it has a sweet and catchy tune.  Just in this last year, after listening to it for 30 years, did the lyrics strike me.  Here they are:

Let's take a walk together near the ocean shore
Hand in hand you and I
Let's cherish every moment we have been given
The time is passing by

I often pray before I lay down
By your side
If you receive your calling before I awake
Could I make it through the night

Cherish the love we have, we should cherish the life we live
Cherish the love, cherish the life, cherish the love
Cherish the love we have, for as long as we both shall live
Cherish the love, cherish the life, cherish the love

The world is always changing, nothing stays the same
But love will stand the test of time
The next life that we live in remains to be seen
Will you be by my side

I often pray before I lay down
By your side
And if you receive your calling before I awake
Could I make it through the night

Cherish the love we have, we should cherish the life we live
Cherish the love, cherish the life, cherish the love
Cherish the love we have, for as long as we both shall live
Cherish the love, cherish the life, cherish the love

Cherish the love
Cherish the life

Cherish the love we have, we should cherish the life we live
Cherish the love, cherish the life, cherish the love
Cherish the love we have, for as long as we both shall live
Cherish the love, cherish the life, cherish the love


What more can I say?  Here is the link if you want to hear the song:

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

Monday, April 4, 2016

Airline Points

I keep running into people that need help flying to a city or staying in a city where their family is in the hospital.  Often the monetary needs of such folks is beyond the ability of the church to help.

So I had this idea.... I wonder if there are people in our congregation or in reach of this blog that have an abundance of airline or hotel points.  I wonder if those people would be willing to spend some of those points to help someone go visit a family member who was in the hospital a long way away.

If your heart would be moved by such a request, please give me a call and I am glad to tell you about some of the needs that we have from time to time.

Thanks for considering this.

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

Sunday, April 3, 2016

worship

Worship- to get our eyes off of ourselves and onto God.  To stand in awe.  To lose myself in Him.

When our eyes are on ourselves we cannot forgive ourselves.  When our eyes are on Jesus we see that we are already forgiven.

Join us for worship at 8am, 9:05, 10:10 or 11:15am
or watch online at:

Woods Chapel Livestream

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

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Unlearning

We are so full of ourselves.

Sometimes, often, for many of us, maybe for most of us, spirituality begins with unlearning what we think we know.  That which we insist we are right about must be released if our minds will be open to something new.

Jesus' teachings are completely counter-intuitive to the natural human mind.  How we live and what we think must be set aside if we would become followers of Jesus.  Spirituality is often subtraction before it is adding a new idea.

We think that we gain by adding more.  Jesus tells us to give ourselves away.
We by nature tend to judge others.  Jesus teaches us to love.
We insist that our doctrine is right.  Jesus laughs at our efforts to put God in a box.
We hold up the Bible, yet ignore much of its teaching.
We want enough religion to make us comfortable, Jesus wants us to leave our comfort zone.
We justify our lives. Jesus challenges our lives.

Lose your life to find your life.
Lose your insistence on being right to find peace with God.

Stop trusting in your mind and fall into the grace of God.

Sometimes old ideas, even cherished ideas must leave our minds to make room for the teachings of Jesus.

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

Friday, April 1, 2016

waiting

I would like to write something funny for April Fools Day, but I am thinking about something else.  I am thinking about waiting.  This is the time of the year when churches are waiting, and some pastors are waiting.

Who will our new pastor be?  Will we like them?  What church will they assign me to?  Will they like me?  Can I make new friends?  Will life feel normal again?

We are not very good at waiting.  Impatience and worry both are based in a lack of trust.  If we really believe that God has this moment and this situation in hand, then we have nothing to worry about.  All will be well.

It takes a good deal of practice to get good at this.  I hope that you play a good joke on someone today.  Get your mind off of your worries.  God is still Lord of the universe.  As my friend Lynn says, "everything will be alright in the end, if everything is not alright, then it is not yet the end."

Worry saps your soul energy, but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
Isaiah 40:31

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

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sermons online part 2


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On Monday, March 21, I wrote about finding my sermons online. Not because most people cared, but because a couple of peopled asked. Others I know, enjoy the best sleep of the week on Sunday mornings.

Someone commented on the post saying: Anonymous said...

Jeff, I've just got to kid you about this. When you get a new church in Florida, you won't be able to include stories about any of us in your sermons. You know how it goes "back in my old church, there was this person...." Well you won't be able to sneak those stories in, because we'll all be watching your sermons. (Smiles)

Well, I have to go on the record and say that I disagree with the fine person who posted this comment. Although I have held many stories back, I have also snuck in a few over the years, you just didn't know it. The names are always changed to protect the innocent. In the future, if I tell a good story, I will say, "you know there was this woman named Jonnie Wells...." If I tell a painful story, I will not mention any names.

All of life is fair game, and I have 22 years of stuff that is just waiting for a chance to hit the airwaves, in appropriate ways, of course, that are not embarrassing.

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

from Steve Elkins

I love Steve Elkins. He is such a great man. Steve came out of our church and went into ministry a couple of years ago. He is assigned to the Faubion UMC in North Kansas City. I picked up his latest newsletter article and got his permission to reprint it.  Love it.  Here you go.

I really enjoy reading…I guess that’s a good thing being a pastor – there’s always so much to learn and not enough time to soak it all in. I recently read an article about someone who always seemed to be rushing around – it seemed like she ran late to everything in her life because of unforeseen circumstances that always seemed to pop up.

Following the difficulty of finding a parking place near to a class, she burst into the room, winded and frazzled. The teacher immediately recognized the situation and offered encouragement. “Calm down, breathe. You’ve accomplished the hardest part of your practice. You made it here. You did it. Now take your time. Just be present.”

Sadly, when the unexpected enter our lives, it tends to absorb the rest of our day. We continue to focus on the episode that made us late or took us down a different path, but forget to see our eventual arrival as an achievement. Our mind is so affixed on the negative that we never truly get to spend quality time in the present – enjoying an accomplishment of being there.

Don’t get me wrong, venting has its benefits; but only focusing on the negative of our lives hinders us from seeing the opportunities God has planned for us in the present. I’m reminded of a statement I once saw on a bumper sticker: “Happiness is an inside job. Don’t assign anyone else that much power over your life.” Circumstances and people will let us down nearly every time, but when our true joy comes from serving others in God’s name – that happiness can never be taken from us.

There are things we can do on the exterior to support that happiness. For Stephanie and I, we are trying to live a healthier lifestyle. Yes, we fall off the wagon every once in a while when we don’t push that plate away and eat more than we should waddling away feeling uncomfortable. The trick is to climb back on that wagon. God gives us the same privilege when we sin and stray from Him. We simply must ask for forgiveness and once again come under the miraculous grace of God in our lives. God is always thrilled when His lost sheep make their way home.

Living in the present takes practice. We have to remind ourselves that we made it to this point and that, in itself, is an accomplishment. God has some amazing opportunities in front of each of us. Problem is, if we are always concentrating on the difficulties that brought us to the here-and-now, we will miss the joy of the present.

In His Love,
Pastor Steve


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