Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Orion

When I was in Jr. High school I was a member of the astronomy club.  We had weekly meetings and would occasionally go out to remote parks to look at the stars.  I have always been interested in telescopes.

Having said all of that, I really just know two constellations: the big dipper and Orion the hunter.  My Dad taught me the big dipper.  Orion is a throwback from the astronomy club.  Orion is a winter constellation.  I have watched it rise and fall in the Eastern sky during the winter months each year since I was 13.

Orion is back now, reminding me of the passing of another season. 

Millions of people before me, before us, have looked at the night sky and contemplated the amazing wonder of God.  There is a happy

peace that comes to me from looking up and seeing Orion.  The caring hand and watchful eye of our Father is forever upon us.

"The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky proclaims the work of His hands."  Psalm 19:1

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

Monday, December 30, 2013

hawks

The red tail hawks are back.  I am not sure why, but I love watching these guys.  They appear to be loners, as I never see them together.  They are here in the  cold weather and gone when it warms up.  You will see them in the trees and atop the telephone poles along 291, Anderson Drive, and Lakewood way.  They seem to have territories as they keep about 100 yards apart.

I have seen them snag a snake, mice, and pigeons.  They are quite beautiful.  They are powerful and strong.  Another one of God's amazing creatures.

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

Sunday, December 29, 2013

I loved this

I loved this saying of G.K. Chesterton-

You say grace before meals, that's all right.

But I say grace before the play and the opera,
and grace before the concert and pantomime,
and grace before I open a book,
and grace before sketching, painting,
swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing,
and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

He called this his complete intoxication before life.

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

Saturday, December 28, 2013

singing

Someone noticed that I was not singing in a service on Christmas Eve.  They asked me about it.

It reminded me of a joke.  Why couldn't the pony talk?  He was a little hoarse.

I told them, yes, you caught me.  I was not singing.  Sometimes I don't.  Now I love to sing, and I love to participate, but when it comes to verbal things I have to be careful.  We have lots of services and if my voice fully participates in each one, I will likely have nothing to give for the later worship times.

Please understand and sing louder yourself to make up for me.

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

Friday, December 27, 2013

lights

When I was a kid we had Christmas lights on our house.  Dad put them up until I got old enough to do so, then he gladly retired from that task.  So as we have been able over the years, we put Christmas lights on our house.

When the kids got into high school, we switched to Blue Springs South colors: green and blue.  Don't think anything funny if your kids go to a different high school, I love all of our schools, my kids just happened to go to South so we put up South colors.

In the picture, there are two aberrations.  The one on the upper right is a reflection from the street light.  The red light in the top center is a lone red light.  Amid the blue and green, a lone red light.  Why?  What does it mean?

I put the one red light up, because nothing is perfect.  Because life is good, but not perfect.  It has a bit of a reminder quality.  It has a bit of an attitude.  A sense of humor.  Oops!
Boing!  Life- wonderful, but not perfect.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

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

Thursday, December 26, 2013

thank you

I want to say thank you to everyone who worked to make the Christmas season wonderful.  For those who led the children's pageant and the children of course.  For those who sang and played in the cantata.  For the Jazz band and their wonderful concert.

For all of the singers, ringers, players, readers, hospitality, ushers and otherwise who helped make Christmas eve wonderful.

You are a fabulous bunch and I am the most fortunate pastor in the world.  Thanks for the cards and gifts.  I love you all.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas.

May the joys of family and friends warm your heart.
May the knowledge that you are loved fill you to the fullest.
May your future be filled with hope.

Christ is born.
There is much to celebrate!
Thanks for being my friend.

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

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Today is Christmas Eve.  It's a busy day at the church, but it is a great day to be in church. 

I know that every day is the same.  I know that every day is a gift from God.  But there is something unexplainably magical about Christmas Eve.

Hot Chocolate.  Family and Friends.  Sitting by the tree.  Wonderful Music.  Giving thanks for the last year.  Giving thanks for life itself.  Appreciating God.  Candle lighting at church.  It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.

Today we have services at 10am, 4pm, 530pm, 7pm, 830pm and 11pm.  You are invited and welcome to attend.  If you live far from here we invite you to watch our services live on the web or attend the local church of your choice.

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

Monday, December 23, 2013

a great thought


I recently read an article by Lauren Martin that I found quite helpful and profound.  The article was about overthinking things.  Dwelling on things.  Many things happen that bother us and linger painfully in our hearts.  We should let them go, but sometimes it is difficult.

Here is one of the main quotes from the article, "the only thing that keeps making this thing a thing is that you keep thinking about it."

In other words, let it go.  Just stop thinking about it.  It has no power over you unless you allow it to have power over you.

If you would like to read the full article, here is the link:
http://www.govexec.com/excellence/promising-practices/2013/12/3-reasons-why-overthinking-root-all-your-problems/74870/

I would also say that this kind of thinking is very helpful in learning to worry less.  Jesus was big on that.  Learning to worry less so we can just simply live.  Worry less, celebrate more.

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

Sunday, December 22, 2013

coats

back seat filled up to the windows!
I love coats.  I have a thing for jackets.  I own too many.   My Dad would have asked me, "Son, how many of these can you wear at once?"  Well I know that we take coats to Westport, so I scheduled a day to take a few down.

I mentioned it to staff that I was going to Westport and one person had me stop by their house and pick up 4 coats that they wanted to send.  Amy and Missy loaded me up with coats from the missions room.  And I mean that they loaded me up.

he was very appreciative
The passenger seat and floorboard in my truck were filled.  There is a jump seat in back - it's a super cab for you f-150 fans.  Not a 4 door, but like a door and a half.  Anyway, the back end was packed too.  I had to smush them down so that I could see out the back window.

When I got there, a gentleman sitting on the step asked for a coat.  He was so very glad to get this black and blue coat that one of you donated.  He let me take his picture.

A small act of kindness on your part made a big difference in his life and the lives of many who are cold this time of year.

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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

snow

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.  Well, they are predicting snow for today and into tonight.  That means that several of you will wonder if we will be having church.  Some of you will watch the TV to see if Woods Chapel is cancelled.

We will not be cancelled.  We will be having church.  We will always have church. 
Be safe, but if you can make it, we will be here. 

Now let me say this, please do not skip church because it snowed and then go out to shop.  If we can make it to shop or make it to the Chief's game, then we can make it to God's house.  I have found that the days when we make an extra effort to be there, we often find a greater blessing.

We will be open for business.  Free hugs to all who make it tomorrow.

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

Friday, December 20, 2013

my name is

When I came to Woods Chapel, people called me Steve for months.  That was the name of their prior pastor - a great guy by the way.

I took no offense to being called Steve.  I figured that it would take time for folks to learn my name.

Recently there has been a rash of folks that want to call me Jim.  I guess I will answer to that.  I actually find some consolation in the fact that some folks are having trouble with my name.  I am ok with that because I don't remember every person's name either.

But for the record.  I am Jeff.  Or if you are mad, follow my mother's lead when she was mad and call me Jeffrey Scott.

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

Thursday, December 19, 2013

favorite Christmas songs

There are of course many great Christmas songs, but here are some of my favorite:

Hark the Herald Angels Sing
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Once in Royal David's City
In the Bleak Mid-winter

How many of those four are you familiar with?  Probably all of you know Hark the Herald Angels sing, but do you know the others?  Learning new and obscure songs is kind of cool.  If you don't know the others here are some youtube links: 

I heard the Bells on Christmas Day
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOGz9WqNQoI

Once in David's Royal City
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMGMV-fujUY

In the Bleak Midwinter [this just brought me to tears]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hs9-Sxf9j4

Do you know any obscure Christmas songs that I should learn?

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

winter driving

Last Friday I went to a wedding rehearsal at the Elms in Excelsior Springs.  This was the evening when they were forecasting ice and 2-4 inches of snow. 

Fortunately in addition to the 05 Honda Civic, We have a 2001 Ford 4x4 truck.  It gets about 12 miles to the gallon, so it does not get out much, but in the winter, it is a life saver.  So I prepared for the worst.  I made a packet of food and water.  I packed a blanket and warm clothes.  I charged my phone and gassed up the truck.

Everything went pretty well on the way up there, except that I ate all of the food that I had packed for an emergency.  The way home was slower and colder, but I made it there and back safe.

I was a boy scout.  Be prepared.  If  you are going out in the elements, there are some things that you should do.  Gas up your car, pack food and water, pack extra warm clothes.  It is better to be safe than sorry.

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

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I still miss them

I thought I was over the loss of my parents.  I thought I had healed.  Mom died in 1995 and Dad in 2002.  Last week I visited both hospitals where they died.  I hit both of them in the same day.

I visited a man on the same floor that mom was in at St. Joe and I visited a man in ICU at Research.  For some reason, going to Research was really difficult.  I was not expecting it.  The halls are long at Research and the longer I walked and the closer I got I could feel myself going back in time. 

I felt sad and alone.  I started to tear up.  It all came rushing back.  I miss them.  I guess that is a good thing.  Paul and Mary, you are not forgotten.  Thanks for doing your best.....

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

what do I want for Christmas

The kids are starting to ask what I want for Christmas.  One of them just got a big fat raise and so I told that one that I wanted a lot of things, and really expensive things!  I was just kidding.

Really I don't want anything.  I don't need anything.  I tell my kids that I want them to go with me to Westport or somewhere to care for those less fortunate.  I want to  spend time with them doing something meaningful. 

I am more interested in spending time with them than getting things.  Is that because I have everything?  No I don't have everything, but they are not going to buy me a Mustang are they?  Is it because I am older?  Is it because I have met so many people in the world that have so little?
I don't know why I don't want anything.  Maybe I wanted so much when I was a kid, that my wanter is all wanted out.  Anyway, it is nice to just enjoy the time, the season and the peace that God can give. 

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

Sunday, December 15, 2013

funny or serious

There are some very serious issues in this world.  Injustice, hunger, starvation, death.  We should pray for all of them and do everything that we can to make a difference in the world.  Christians should be positively engaged in the world.

Yesterday I wrote a post about praying that it would not snow on the weekend so that we could all get to church.  I wrote it in a moment of levity.  I did not mean to demean or ignore the real issues of life that we should be praying about.  I was looking for a funny way to remind the Methodists that 1" of snow should not keep us  away from church.

This blog is not always going to be serious.  This blog is not a sermon.  It's about life, all of life.  Life has to have it's moments of levity.  I hope you allow yourself to enjoy and celebrate life without forgetting the weightier issues.

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

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dear Lord,

Dear Lord, The weatherman told us that we would all wake up to a little snow today.  Can you please make it snow during the week and not on the weekend?  When it snows on the weekend, kids don't get out of school.  They don't get the extra days to sled and play in the snow.  Lord, don't you want the kids to have fun?

And Lord, when it snows on the weekend, some good Methodists will skip church.  Here I have worked all week on this sermon and an inch of snow is going to keep some of them away.  I hear that they might be seen out to lunch or shopping later that day, but I just can't believe that.

So, Lord, if you care for kids and your church, please have it stop snowing on the weekends.  Snowing during the week is good for kids and it's better for church attendance.  Thanks for listening.

Amen.

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

Friday, December 13, 2013

funny

I guess I used to be funnier.  When I was younger I was funnier.  More funny.  Funnier than I am now.  More funny things from the pulpit.  Some people miss that. 

Maybe I miss that too. 

Life has a way of wearing on you.  Real life, adult problems.  The innocence of youth is often tempered by the grinding cadence of adult problems.

The larger our church gets, the more problems I hear about.  It all takes it's toll.  But, just for fun, one of these days, I should tell a joke in church and play the guitar and sing.  What do you think?

Sometimes the best medicine is to remember the joy of lighter days.  Either way, it's all good.  Life is good.

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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

a painful memory

For some reason I thought of this story. 

I am 12 years old.  We just bought a basketball goal.  I had never had one before, and I thought it was the coolest thing. 

I went out to play on it all the time.  Then it got cold.  Winter.  No one warned me about what can happen to your fingers in the cold.  I played for hours.  Day after day.  I noticed the tips of my fingers getting sore, but I didn't think that much about it because I had never had this problem before.  But after prolonged play in very cold weather, all ten of my finger tips cracked.  The picture here does not do the situation justice.  They were really dry and cracked and painful.  All ten of them!

Painful, bloody, cracks.  It took weeks for them to heal.  I have never done that since.  I guess that is one benefit of really making a painful mistake, we rarely repeat them.

So if you have done something that hurt yourself, take heart, at least we probably won't do that again for a long time.

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

the power of the Holy Spirit

I continue to be amazed at the power of the Holy Spirit to reach people.  I should not be amazed by that,  but it is very interesting to watch it happen.

Sometimes we humans like to act like the Holy Spirit, telling people what to do and how to do it.  But the Holy Spirit really does  not need our help as much as we might think.   

God was reaching people before preachers existed.  Imagine that!  God reaching someone in their car, in their home, in their dreams. 

When people are ready, they don't need any pressure from us.  God can do the work.  I love to hear the stories of how God has reached into a person's life.  They are amazing stories.  And more often then not, no preacher was needed.

What is God doing in your life?  Is he pulling you towards himself?

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

thanks

Someone stopped me on Sunday and asked how I was doing.  Not in a passing way, but they were asking for real - HOW are YOU doing Jeff?  To that person who asked how I was doing on Sunday:  Thanks.   Thanks a bunch.  Your kindness means the world.   I am fine, but I appreciate the candid question. 

Is there someone in your world, in your office, in your life that you might want to ask that question to?  How are you doing?  Really, how are you doing?  You have the power to make someone's day.

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

Monday, December 9, 2013

making new friends

When you go to church, do you see people that you don't know?  What would happen if every single one of us introduced ourselves to one new person each week?

Families are invested in each other.  I know that you already know some folks, but what's wrong with meeting a few more?  What is wrong with expanding the size of your family of friends?

Show some hospitality.  Make  a new rule.  From now on, I promise to meet one new person every single week.  You may make some great new friends.  Jesus is always looking for new friends.

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

Sunday, December 8, 2013

from a friend.......

A friend shared this with me.......



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

Saturday, December 7, 2013

garage door

I lose my keys.  I lose my wallet.  I always find them - right where I left them.  One of my favorite authors tells me that if you can't remember where you put things, then you are
in too big of a hurry.  He suggests that we slow down and savor the moment of emptying our pockets, of setting out the collection of things from the day.   What most of us do is set our stuff down, all the while our brain is already in another room.  No wonder we can't remember where we put anything.

And so there is that garage door.  That darn door.  I shut it almost every time I leave the house.  But, I rarely remember doing this.  At least three times a week I have to turn around and go back home to check and make sure.  Now I am usually just a few blocks away from home when I turn around, but I go back to check that the door is down way too often.

I guess I need to learn to savor the lowering of the garage door.  I need to live in the moment and the joy of that instead of rushing off to begin the day.

You know, when I think about that, it bears some merit.  Many people in this world do not own a home, much less a home with a garage or an automatic garage door opening device.  Maybe I should stop to be thankful every time I push that button.  Maybe that would turn a frustrating moment of forgetfulness into a brief time of prayer and thanksgiving.

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

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to my dear wife Cathy.  Today she is 29 years old.  She is wonderful and delightful and the older I get, the more I like her.  It is an interesting thing, being married for a long time.  It starts to feel like an old shoe or a pair of jeans that has acclimated to your shape.  It just fits.

Join me in wishing her a happy day.  She is a delightful soul.

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

Thursday, December 5, 2013

behavior

Behavior.  Some of it I like and some of it I don't.  I have values.  But I am not throwing you or anyone else away.

I don't like everything that everyone does.  I don't condone what everyone else does.  I don't even understand what everyone else does.  I am not going to do some of what I see others doing.

But I am not throwing them away.  Or you.  I hope you won't throw me away if you see something in me that you don't like.  When we love people, [and that is why we are here on this earth] we love them in spite of their warts.  Plain and simple.  When we dispense our love only to the worthy, we don't get to give very much of it away.

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

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

sometimes

Sometimes I don't understand.  Sometimes you won't understand.  There are things that we see in this world that we can't explain.  We don't have power over them and we don't know all the details. 

I don't like a thing, but I am powerless to change it.  I know there is more to the story.  It is certainly more complicated than I know.  But I still don't like it.

I can quit.  Or I can hang in there.  Every job, every marriage, every church, every country is going to have things in it that we don't understand and we cannot control.  Don't quit your job, divorce your spouse, go looking for the perfect church or renounce your citizenship.

We just aren't going to know all the details.  We just don't  know the entire story.  It is still a great job.  A great marriage, a great kid, a great church, a great country.  Let me focus on the good and worry less on the rest.

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

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ten reasons

I read a couple of articles the other day on the internet about managing money.  I thought they were wonderful.  They were like, Ten reasons why you will never be rich......

Here are some of the highlights, and I added some of my own:
  • you spend money like you are already rich.
  • you don't have a plan.
  • you don't have an emergency fund set up.
  • you don't save.
  • you started to save too late.
  • you neglected retirement.
  • you sacrificed tomorrow for today.
  • you did not invest in an education that will put you into a good job.
  • you have too much debt.
  • you pay too many fees.
  • you are easily influenced.
  • you have no budget.
  • you don't pay attention to the budget that you have.
  • you don't track expenses.
  • you don't balance your account each month.
  • you don't save via automatic withdrawals.
  • you buy high and sell low.
  • you buy everything new.
  • you think you deserve the best.
  • you try to keep up with the Jones'
  • you are living a life of consumption rather than generosity.
  • you try to retire too early.
  • you have no sense of urgency.
  • you would rather complain than commit to change.

Here are the links if you want to read it all.



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

Monday, December 2, 2013

three things

I rolled out of bed early the other day.  I had three things on my mind.  Three things.  In the middle of the night.  I can't stop thinking of them.  Over and over my mind is thinking about them.  I am dreaming, thinking of them.  No I am awake thinking of them.  I don't know for sure, but I can't stop thinking of them.  Three random things.  Here they are:
  1. I don't feel well.  They Mexican food from last night is upsetting my sleep.  No more green sauce for me.
  2. The movie Pitch Perfect.  The songs are going through my head.  "When you walk on by, will you call my name...."
  3. The sermon.  It's being preached in my head, over and over.  This is not a bad thing.
So, I couldn't take it anymore.  I rolled out of bed and got to work.  I took an antacid.  I sang some songs from the movie.  I worked on the sermon.  Finally, I am at peace and can get on with the day.

What do I take from this dumb little story?   Our minds are amazing.  Incredible.  They are certainly a gift from God if not a spiritual thing.  They are beyond our understanding.  To think that in the middle of the night, while I am sleeping, my brain is still working.  And on all kinds of things.  Amazing.

I pause in this moment to marvel at the wonder of our minds, our bodies, our lives.  Thank you God.

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

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What would Jesus do?

Judgment or welcome?  Which do you choose?  I am often asked, "if Jesus loved everyone and welcomed sinners, why do so many churches push people away with judgment?"

It is a very good question.  I don't know why.  The only people that Jesus squared off with were the Pharisees.  Everyone else, he welcomed.

In my opinion, churches should focus less on judgment and more on welcome.  On, loving people instead of trying to straighten them out.  It is the job of the Holy Spirit to straighten people out.

Life is too good and too short.  Give to others what you want Jesus to give to you- open arms, a loving heart and a sincere welcome.

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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

fickleness

Ahh the fickleness of feelings.  Fickle is an old fashioned word.  It is defined as being characterized by erratic changeableness, or instability, especially with regard to affections or attachments; capricious.  Now I want to look up capricious as well but I will leave that for another day.

Feelings are fickle.  They come and go.  You must have something, then you get it, and you no longer want it.  We throw something away and then we want it back.  Emotions have a great ebb and flow.

Emotions need to be managed.  We are not our feelings and we should not act solely on the feeling of the moment.  Each of us has jumped out in response to some thing and then wished later we had not said that, had not done that, had not pushed the send button.

God is great.  Our emotions tell us that.  Our brain tells us that.  When the wonder of thanksgiving is over, may we look past good feelings that may have come and gone.  May we remember that there is always something to be thankful for, whether we feel it or not.

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

Friday, November 29, 2013

interesting story....


Jeff

I just had to share this with you --- I have been an active advocate for children for almost 25 years and just recently resigned my volunteer position as Vice President of the PTA.  I was just standing in my kitchen telling my husband about a family I talked to yesterday who is homeless. The daughter was at school  -- Junior High age.  She was sitting in the hallway waiting for her mother to pick her up.  The principal walked up and said, "Oh look at the homeless girl."  Multiple people heard. I have been praying about how I wanted to tackle this issue without making things worse for the girl, but have to be her advocate.  So... as I am telling my husband this story my phone beeps letting me know I have a email.  The email is your blog .... well you know what your blog says ..... God at work if you ask me!  Now  using your words  -- you can decide if that is a good story or not -- but it is a true story.

L

On Nov 21, 2013 7:12 AM, "Can you hear the birds sing?" <jeffb@woodschapelchurch.org> wrote:

Can you hear the birds sing?



Posted: 21 Nov 2013 02:30 AM PST
You have a voice.  Will you hear me?  Will you listen to my words?  Stop discounting yourself.  You have a voice that needs to be heard.  You know what to do.  You know what to say.  Intrinsically inside of yourself, you know that you can lead.  Do it.  Stand up.  Get your licks in for Jesus.

If you don't lead, who might do it?  The ranks of leadership are sometimes filled by those who fall into the position because no one else would do it.  Don't let that happen.  You are a leader. You have a voice.

This is your time.  This is your moment.  You are needed.

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

things to say

Happy Thanksgiving.  Today is the day. 

It is a happy day for me today because all of the kids will be home.  :-)

Thanksgiving is a day when most people think of family.  And often, family that are no longer with us.  There is a bit of melancholy to this, but I want to use that feeling to make a point. 

Today you will have a chance to say some very important things to members of your family.  Some of them may not be at thanksgiving next year.  Take the opportunity that you have to say some of the most important words of living:

  • I am sorry.
  • I forgive you.
  • I love you.
  • Thank you.
  • Good bye.
  • I love you. [its in the list twice on purpose.]

Happy thanksgiving!

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

head, heart, soul

Christians begin with head knowledge.  A simple belief, an acquiescing to the claims of the gospel.    A list of beliefs in one's head that one agrees to.  You are now a believer.  John Wesley called this the faith of a servant.

Stage two for Christians we like to call heart knowledge.  A sense that we are loved, that Jesus died for us.  This is something that we can feel.  It has moved from our heads to our hearts.  There is more joy and more compassion in this stage.  Fear is replaced with trust.  John Wesley called this the faith of a son.

Some people gain heart knowledge and then poo poo the time that they had only head knowledge.  Wesley looked back on the earlier stage of his life and did not discount his early experience.  One was simply faith as a servant and the latter the faith of a son.  Don't ever discount your early experience of Christ.  We never arrive, we should always be growing.

Mystic and contemplative Christians have talked about another kind of relationship with God.  An intimacy, a union, a joining, a being lost in the soul of God.  A falling into the mystery.  Two souls intertwined in ways that defy explanation.  Almost as if a person's soul has brushed up against the divine.  Moses' face glowing from being in the presence.  Elijah sensing God walk by.  Jesus hearing the voice of his Father.  The transfiguration.

I can talk about head knowledge and I can talk about heart knowledge.  Soul knowing is hard to explain.  But I think it is something that we can continue to pursue.  It's being at home with God.  Complete trust.  Union with God.  An amazing topic indeed.

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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New rules

I believe that I read this in one of Peter Rollins' books. 

We know the story of Jesus asking the people to turn the other cheek and go the second mile.  It was a law in Roman times that a soldier could ask you to carry his pack for a mile.  Jesus said, "go the second mile."

So the story is told of a disagreement between two groups of Christians.  One group insisted that Jesus meant that you should always be helpful, always kind, always going out of your way for others.  The other group insisted that they only had to turn the cheek once and that they only had to carry the pack for two miles.

Based on Jesus teaching, the second group has advocated for Jesus based rules that ultimately make our lives about ourselves again.  The law has returned.

Be careful of "spiritual" rules that protect your ability to be selfish.  The true rules of Christ throw us head long into giving our selves away for the sake of others.  "I was hungry and you fed me," is not just something for the holiday season.  The life of Christ beckons us to follow every single day.

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

Monday, November 25, 2013

back problem resolved

I have had back problems for years.  I have taken celebrex, done exercises and complained.  Well, I may have found the culprit.  Some years ago my wife upgraded cars to a 2004 Nissan Maxima.  At that time I inherited her 2005 Civic.  We can't get rid of the Civic, even though it has 133,000 miles on it, because it is the most dependable car we have ever owned.  It has a long life ahead of it.

A few weeks ago I drove 240 miles one day and another 260 the next.  My back was killing me.  I got to wondering if it had anything to do with the seat in the Civic.  The car is a great car, but the seat is pretty basic.  It has no lumbar support.

Coincidentally I was at a friends house after one of these long drives and my back was sore.  They had an extra lumbar pillow.  That did not quite do it, so I took a book off of the passenger seat and added it to the support.

Perfect design!  My back is healed.

Here is the funny thing.  The book that I used was from a class that I was in with 28 pastors.  Everyone hated the book.  It was so technical and so theologically painful.  Now, it is put to good use everyday and I have been pain free for weeks.

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

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thankful

This week holds the holiday called Thanksgiving.  A day of giving thanks.  This is the week of thanksgiving.  An entire week where we are thankful.  This is the month of thanksgiving.  An entire month when we are thankful.

Is that enough?  Is that the point?  Does the rest of the year belong to us?  Did we do our bit for God by saying thank you, and then take the rest of our life back for ourselves?

How about a year of thanksgiving?  How about a life of thanksgiving?  How about we start this life philosophy today?

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I thought of this story the other day

A father asked his 12 year old daughter to mow the back yard.  She did a pretty good job it seemed.  She finished and put the mower away. 

The dad figured that all was well since the daughter was watching TV and texting on her phone.  He looked outside at the back yard and noticed that there was a small section that was left un-mowed.

The dad had been having a bad week and this was just the last straw.  He started in on his daughter about the small area that she had left un-mowed.  The daughter tried to explain, but the dad was so angry that he did not give her a chance to speak.

[this is not a good place to be as a parent]

The dad went to the garage, got the mower out and headed for the back yard.  He started the mower and began working on the section of long grass.  When he got close to the middle, he stopped.  He let go of the handle and the mower died.  There, right in the center of the un-mowed section was a box turtle.  The turtle was camped out, taking it easy in the back yard.

The dad started to cry.  He felt ashamed.  He went inside and found the daughter.  She had been watching through the window.  She was crying too.  The dad apologized.

The moral of this story?  There are several.

Sometimes you have to break the rules to keep from hurting people.
Don't be so sure of yourself.
Think before you speak.
Maybe someone that you will be dealing with today has run across a turtle.

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

Friday, November 22, 2013

on being patient

It is difficult to be patient.  We want this thing to go our way.  We have an idea about how the thing ought to go.

Sometimes things are not in our control. Sometimes we have to be patient.  Patience is one of the fruits of the spirit.

Here is something that I think I know:  When  a thing is right, it will work out that way, when a thing is not right, it usually won't. 

Sometimes what I want to happen is not the right thing.  We all have to make peace with things that are beyond our control.  In a few weeks, it will all probably pass along in the river of forgetfulness.

Patience, its a virtue.

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

your voice

You have a voice.  Will you hear me?  Will you listen to my words?  Stop discounting yourself.  You have a voice that needs to be heard.  You know what to do.  You know what to say.  Intrinsically inside of yourself, you know that you can lead.  Do it.  Stand up.  Get your licks in for Jesus.

If you don't lead, who might do it?  The ranks of leadership are sometimes filled by those who fall into the position because no one else would do it.  Don't let that happen.  You are a leader. You have a voice.

This is your time.  This is your moment.  You are needed.

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

a person to be sought

Last week I went looking for someone.  Someone who is solid, dependable and true.  I called them and asked if they had time to meet.  I hoped that they did.  And, not surprising to me, they met me.

In this life, you will meet great people.  People that get it.  People that you can count on.  People that will drop everything and come up to the church office to sit with you.  You have know them for years and you know that they have your back.

Keep an eye out for exceptional people. They are all around you and they will join you in the great effort of the Kingdom of God.  Look for them.  Call to them.  Invest in them.  Enjoy them.  They are all around you, more of them than you might think.

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

what drives a person?

Some people are driven by hatred.  By what they are against.  By what they are mad about.  They spend their lives reacting to things that they don't like.  It is easier to be against something than for something.

I think that most of us have been there at one time or another.

But there is a better way.  What if we live our lives, focusing on what is good instead of what is bad?  What if we spend our lives celebrating what is right instead of focusing on what is wrong? 

Gosh it just seems to me that life will be more joyful and peaceful if we can see the good and give thanks for it. 

It's just a simple choice, a turn of the mind, a change of the brain direction.  A chance to focus on what is positive, to focus on grace.  Lets keep working on this.

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

Monday, November 18, 2013

skunk

The other day I was driving down 291 and I was changing lanes.  65 mph and I am moving over into the slow lane because my exit is coming up.  I notice in the road, right in between the lanes, is a dead skunk.  Flat, smashed, squished, skunk.  Flat as a pancake.  He looked much like the one in this picture.

Well, I am not worried about this.  I don't even try to avoid him.  After all, I am going 65 mph and how stinky can he be as flat as he is?

I did not even feel him as the truck rolled right over him.  But let me tell you what, there was plenty of stink left in that flat skunk.  My truck smelled like a skunk for the rest of the day. 

Lesson learned.

There are some things in life that are just stinky.  Dangerous things that need to be avoided.  See them for what they are and avoid them.  A skunk is a skunk is a skunk.

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

Sunday, November 17, 2013

visitors

There are going to be visitors at church today.
Will you find them?
Will you be able to recognize them?
Will we even slow down enough to notice?

Do you remember your first time at Woods Chapel or at your church?
Today is someone else's first time.

Look for them.
smile at them.
Talk to them.
Welcome them.
That is what Jesus would do.

"I was a stranger and you took me in."

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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

lame

Guys like sports.  They all secretly want to be professional athletes.  Well, that did not work for me, and it does not work for most people.  I played softball as long as I could, and then, I resorted to bowling.  Does that sound lame?

Some would say so.  Well, I just want to keep active.  Last night I bowled my all time high game...
228.

That is very exciting.  Good friends, a good time and a good memory.  The problem of course with a high score is that only a higher one will beat it. There is always a little bit of pressure around the corner.

Life is good.  Let's keep at it.  No matter how seemingly simple or lame the endeavor, lets keep at it.  All of us still have a high score within us.

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

that one chord

I taught myself how to play the guitar when I was in seminary.  I bought a chord book and learned the basics.  Now I say that "I taught myself to play" - real guitar players would dispute this.  In fact many that heard me play today would wonder if I taught myself how to play.

I used to play in church.  I used to sing too.  Anytime the special music did not show up in the old days, I would pick a hymn from the hymn book and the pianist would play and I would fill in.

Over the years I stopped doing this.  We have so many good singers, so many good guitar players. 

You know, that is probably wrong.  I would advise all of you to keep playing and keep singing.  Even if you have one chord that never sounds quite right.  We have to keep playing.

I should take my own advice.  Maybe coming to you soon at WCC- an old guy trying to play the guitar and sing.

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

Thursday, November 14, 2013

somebody told me

I thought of an old song the other day.  I knew it and sang it as a youth. 

When I was a young pastor I was invited to speak at a revival on an Indian reservation.  Almost sounds like I am making this up, but I am not.  They asked me to speak on the topic of "prayers, presence, gifts and service."  I guess they figured that the Indians needed more of that.

A few older ladies came up to the revival arbor and listened.  Most of the people sat off from the arbor.  They sat at picnic tables and on the porches of their cabins, listening over the loudspeakers and drinking cheap wine.  Sounds like I am making this up, but I am not.

At the end of my sermon, I decided to sing a song for them.  [Lord only knows why] The song has this one guitar chord that is difficult for me to play.  I struggled through the song.  I am sure my guitar playing sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard to them.

The song was "somebody told me."  For some reason, I thought of that song this morning.  I still can't play that one chord.  Here are the words:

Somebody told me of the joy they'd had.
Somebody told me that in sorrow you could be glad.
Somebody told me, they were blind but now they see.
I didn't think it could be til it happened to me.

Now let me tell you of the joy I've had.
Now let me tell you that in sorrow you can be glad.
Now let me tell you, I was blind but now I see.
I didn't think it could be til it happened to me.

No, I didn't think it could be til it happened to me.

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

thankful

When I was a child we would sit at the thanksgiving table and my dad would ask us a question.  Each in turn around the table was invited to answer this: "what are three things that you are thankful for?"

It was very uncomfortable because I was not yet accustomed to the gift of gratitude.  We would circle the table and awkwardly mention that we were thankful for our brothers and sisters, which of course, was not true.

But, thank God, today I am much more thankful.  Thankful for 100 things.  For 1,000 things.

Here are my three things for today.
1.  for my wife and children
2.  for my friends
3.  for a loving church family

What are you thankful for?  I would like to know if you have three things that you are thankful for.

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

welcome

I will never forget the welcome extended to me by this church.  I hope that you have felt welcome at WCC.

Sunday I am going to be speaking on the power of "welcome."  Would you mind sharing your story with me about your experience at WCC?  Were you welcomed?  Were you not?

Hopefully you certainly feel welcome now.

It's a beautiful day in God's world, and you are graciously welcomed into this day, be sure to see the good.

Monday, November 11, 2013

your comfort zone

Your comfort zone.  You have one, I have one.  We would prefer to live within our comfort zone.  However, usually the needs of others lie outside of our comfort zone.  We have to change our schedule, our plans and our temperament to meet the needs of others.  We have to make ourselves uncomfortable to do much of what God would ask us to do.

It's like the Holy Spirit lives just beyond the edge of our comfort zone.  Do you want to be used by God?  Do you want to make a difference for Him?  Then prepare to be asked to leave your comfort zone.  Are you willing?

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

Sunday, November 10, 2013

is something bothering you?

Is something bothering you?  I know a few people who have really bad things going on, things that would bother anyone.  But most of the rest of us are bothered by things that are really not that critical.

How many minutes, how many days in a life time do we spend bothered by things that a short time later, we have forgotten? 

Don't sweat the small stuff.  Life is short.  Life is good.

Don't waste a moment worrying, when you could have used that moment celebrating.  Don't waste a moment sad over something that is not that important.  Jesus asked us not to worry. 

Let's see the good.  It is all around us.  It will remain when that which bothers you falls away.

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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

your appointment

This is probably more for my pastor friends, but here goes.......

I am speaking to some pastors today about pastoral care issues.  One of the things that I have watched over the years is what happens when pastors are protective of "their" turf.  Yes, it is "their" church.  They are in charge.  It is "their" pulpit.  The Bishop assigned them to that church.

You are going to get requests to have some other pastor perform the wedding.  The family will want someone else to do the funeral.  It may hurt your feelings.  You have the power to tell them "no."  But just because you can, does not mean that you should.

I have watched many pastors shoot themselves in the foot by insisting that the floor was theirs, the pulpit was theirs, the attention was theirs.  You cannot insist that people love you.  It just does not work.

Once upon a time, a teenager was killed in a car wreck in a particular town.  The Methodist pastor was brand new.  The family asked if the new pastor would allow the old pastor to come do the funeral.  That new pastor said, "no."  The family move the funeral out of the Methodist church to the school.  Someone else did it and after it was over, 5 families left the Methodist church.  That pastor was only there one year.  It was a one moment disaster for that pastor.  One bad decision ruined that appointment.

Bottom line, it is not my pulpit, not my church, not my ministry.  It all belongs to Jesus.  I need to be willing to share.  It is healthy to share.  Share the moment, share the love, share it all.  It is the best way.  It is the only way.

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

Friday, November 8, 2013

comments

Several have asked about why their comments on the blog have not been posted.

Some of you get the blog via email and your comments come to me in an email form.  When this happens, the comment is between you and me and there is no way for me to post it easily.  Writing a daily post is enough of a chore without having to cut your comments from an email and paste them into the comments section.  Just know if you are replying to an email form of the blog, that will be between us.

When comments are posted on the blog site, they can be easily posted, but they do sit there until I read them and moderate them.  I almost always post all of these.  Unless you ask me not to do so.  It may take several days for me to read them, but I will get around to posting them. 

I hope that helps.

And by the way, it is a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

sermon from the movie "the tree of life"

I watched the movie The Tree of Life again last night.  A show that really makes me think.  There is a church scene towards the end, and a preacher delivers this sermon.  I wanted to share it with you.

Job imagined he might build his nest on high – that the integrity of his behavior would protect him against misfortune. And his friends thought, mistakenly, that the Lord could only have punished him because secretly he’d done something wrong. But, no, misfortune befalls the good as well. We can’t protect ourselves against it. We can’t protect our children. We can’t say to ourselves, even if I’m not happy, I’m going to make sure they are.  

We vanish as a cloud. We wither as the autumn grass, and like a tree are rooted up.
Is there some fraud in the scheme of the universe? Is there nothing which is deathless? Nothing which does not pass away?
We cannot stay where we are. We must journey forth.
We must find that which is greater than fortune or fate. Nothing can bring us peace but that.

Is the body of the wise man, or the just, exempt from any pain? From any disquietude, from the deformity that might blight its beauty, from the weakness that might destroy its health?
Do you trust in God?
Job, too, was close to the Lord. Are your friends and children your security? There is no hiding place in all the world where trouble may not find you. No on knows when sorrow might visit his house, any more than Job did.

The very moment everything was taken away from Job, he knew it was the Lord who’d taken it away. He turned from the passing shows of time. He sought that which is eternal. Does he alone see God’s hand who sees that He gives, or does not also the one see God’s hand who sees that He takes away? Does he alone see God who sees God turn His face towards him? Does not also he see God who sees God turn his back?

May you find God, even in the difficult moments of life because it is a beautiful day in God's world, even if we face trying times.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I'm over that

There is an odd sensation that I am experiencing.

I find a thing and it becomes my favorite.  My favorite meal, my favorite song, my favorite something.  I can't imagine that my feelings for this thing will ever change.  I just love it and savor it over and over.  A roast beef sandwich at
Subway.  The song "Into the Mystic."

Then one day, the feeling changes.  It still is a great song or a great movie, but it has fallen from the top of my charts.  What was once something that I could not live without has now slipped.  I am just over it.

Odd human sensation.  I guess its ok to feel this way.  but it sure is cool to have a movie or a song or a meal that you just love........am I the only one that this happens to?  Mmm that sandwich still looks good.

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ouch

Well I am going to be honest and this is a difficult topic.

I was very happy to be out of town for the weekend.  It was great to have a few days away.  [See yesterday's post.]

Then I came back to hear that several people came to church, entered the sanctuary and then left when they found out Jeff was not preaching.  Walked in the door, entered the sanctuary, then left to go home.  Didn't even stay. 

What?  I can't believe it?  Woods Chapel people did this?

This breaks my heart.  Imagine how the other person would feel that was preaching that day.  We have excellent substitutes.  And when did church become about listening to Jeff.  If this place is no bigger than who the pastor is that is preaching, we have a good deal left to learn.

Let's start over.  A church is more than it's pastor.  When you join, you join the family, not the pastor.  When you join, you agree to support it all.  You join it, warts and all.

Friends, I need everyone to be there for everyone.  We must all be in this together.  Everyone matters.  Every member of the body matters.  Please do not walk again.  Ever.  Every time you sit down in God's house there is a blessing in store, regardless of who is praying, singing or preaching.

This is the house of God, and we are all his children.  I love you all.  Thanks for listening.

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

Monday, November 4, 2013

happy anniversary

Friday it was Cathy and my wedding anniversary.  We had the fortunate opportunity to be on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach.  We sat outside and ate sushi at Sushi-Siam at the Lincoln Road outdoor shopping area.

A great gal, a warm evening, great food, outdoors, on November 1st.  It was great!  Thanks for allowing us to get away.

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

Sunday, November 3, 2013

the eyes

Someone once said, "the eyes are the window to the soul."

When you see a person, what do you see?  They are tall, short, thin, bald, brown, white, old or young.  Is that really them?   Are those really the things that make us us? 

I recently met about 30 new friends all at once at a training.  For the most part, they were a very welcoming, very loving group of people.  They would look you in the eye and you could feel the love.  So the eyes are the window of the soul.

It is odd, but sometimes its like you can look right into a person just by looking into their eyes.  You can sense the goodness coming out of them.  Is that weird?  I don't think so, because I am not the first one to notice this.

We are not our skin color or our age.  We are all living souls.  God bless us.  The next time you see someone, really look into them.  See the good.  Send them your love.  Share a warm moment with a friend.  Life is good and to love others is a really blessing.

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

Saturday, November 2, 2013

grateful

So here we are in the month of being thankful.  I love to dedicate the month of November to the cause of giving thanks. 

I have a friend who has posted something every day that she is thankful for.  Every day this year.  Let's find something to be thankful for every day this month.  If we get in the habit, it can become a life style.  A life style of giving thanks.  It does not get any better than that.

I may not post everything I am thankful for, but I am going to think about it every day. 

Yesterday was All Saints Day.  Today I am thankful for my friends and loved ones who lived the life, fought the good fight and have laid hold of eternal life.  So many of them have been a great blessing to me.  I give thanks for their lives, their example, and the memories that I have of them.

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

2 hurts

I have had two of you on my mind the last couple of weeks.  Both of you sent me emails about a hurt that you have experienced recently. 

How I wish I could scoop you up in my arms and make it all ok.  I am so sorry for what has happened.  One circumstance I know, the other person's I don't.  But I feel for both of you.

I know what it is to hurt and I have had many days when I wish someone would come and fix my life.  I want you to know that I love you.  Let's keep at it.  Together we can get there.  You are not alone.

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween

If you missed this story at church on Sunday I have to tell it again.

I was 14 and my mom dressed me up as a mummy for a Halloween party.  This is the picture and I still remember her taking it!

There were several hundred kids at the party at the local Christian church
.  I won a prize for the best costume and I danced to the long version of In-a-godda-da-vida all 17 minutes of it!

For the many times that I have questioned my childhood and discussed it's dysfunction, this was one memory that was a very good one.

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tomorrow is Halloween

Tomorrow is Halloween. 

My mom had a big devil.  She was always worried about him and always resisting him.  People that believe in a big devil often spend lots of time talking about him.  They are wasting time that could be directed toward our loving heavenly Father. For more on this topic see:
  http://www.jeffbrinkman.com/TH_ChristianTheol.html

Anyway, all of this went out the window on Halloween.  My mom loved Halloween!  She would put on scary music, turn the lights down and wait for the kids.  She had a sign with a witch on it that she put on the front door every year that read, "Welcome kiddies, put all your goodies in the box below.  Go quietly and no one will get hurt."

I just want to weigh in on Halloween.  It is not the devil's day.  The devil does not get a day.  he is a created being.  he is not the opposite of God.  he can't be everywhere at the same time any more than Gabriel or Michael, the other archangels.  I am not even capitalizing the word he when I refer to him at the beginning of a sentence.

We should spend our days loving God, not fighting the devil.

Halloween is a great day for kids.  Love them.  Dress them up.  Feed them candy.  It makes for great memories.

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Three wonderful ladies

 
I am thinking about my wife and daughters and how much I love them.  I love my son too.  But I am thinking about my girls today.  All three of them.  This song comes to my mind- a friend of mine got married not too long ago and came down the isle to this.  I loved it.  Here are the words:
 
Her eyes, her eyes make the stars look like they're not shining. 
Her hair, her hair, falls perfectly without her trying.
She's so beautiful, and I tell her everyday.
I know, I know when I compliment her, she won't believe me.
And it's so sad to think that she doesn't see what I see.
But everyday when she asks me if she looks ok, I say:
 
When I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change,
cause you're amazing, just the way you are.
And when you smile,
the whole world stops and stares for a while
cause you're amazing, just the way you are.
 
I love these girls so much.
Here is the youtube link if you want to hear the entire song.
 
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Monday, October 28, 2013

life

Sometimes life brings you a cruel dose of reality.  Sometimes it is my own doing, sometimes it is beyond my control.  It is important when such moments come to you that you don't focus on who is to blame.  If I must take some responsibility for what happened, then that is fine, but that is different that placing blame.

When times are tough, it is not constructive to kick yourself or others.  What is needed is hard work and prayer for a better day.  At the end of every moment of despair, God is still there.  He understands.  He has faced some difficult things too.  We are not alone in our struggles.

The level of a person's mental health is directly related to their ability to see the good even in difficult times.

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

late bloomers

I am pretty excited by the late blooming iris that is declaring God's glory in my back yard right now.  What a surprise!  What a beauty. 

Now the mums are always in bloom this time of year, but they are beautiful too.

Late bloomers.  Things that may disappoint you in the spring, but bring their joy and beauty later in the year. 

I think a lot of people are like that.  You know they have potential, but they aren't showing it.  Other flowers are going to town, but these folks are just not doing it.  Then one day it happens.  They finish college late, they become a great spouse late, they rise to the occasion, they hit the home run in the late innings.

I am sure I have disappointed God many times in my life.  I am sure that in the minds of many, I was a late bloomer.  [some are still waiting for me to bloom] I made many mistakes in my early days.  But let today be a new day.  Rise to the moment, let your goodness come



out.  Recover from the past.  Become all that God has called you to be.  It is never too late.

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

Saturday, October 26, 2013

on attending church

Being a pastor, I think attending church is a pretty good thing.  Does that surprise you?  I think that we find comraderie, learning and joy by attending church that we would likely miss without it.  There is always the move of the Holy Spirit that just sneaks in some times at church that we might otherwise miss.  Are regarding missions, we can accomplish so much more together!

Recently some friends from church visit

ed Ireland and made the decision to attend worship on Sunday morning even though it was their vacation.  Here is the account of that experience:


We were fortunate enough to win a trip to Ireland.  While the whole idea was golf, some sights were taken in as well.  One Sunday morning, two weeks ago, I dropped the guys off at the golf course.  My lady friend had a relative to visit, so I went to church!  I am sending some pictures of the place.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself!  The service had a total of 30 people, (infant included) and I can tell you it was wonderful!  The organist couldn’t make it that day so we all sang the Hymns the best we could.  The hymns were different than here, ones I’d never heard of, but that’s ok, it’s all in the message.

  The place I visited was    Ardara Methodist Church, officiated by Rev. John Purdy ( the one service at noon)  Rev. Purdy also has earlier church service in another small town called Dunkineely. At high noon the Reverend and the members all arrived.  Not early to make coffee…  just in time to hear the Good Word.  J  They do have a lot going on with the church re: events, youth, etc.  I picked up some pamphlets re: their missions/ministry work. 

   The Reverend wore a collar. Now I’m not that schooled in Methodist history, but being in Ireland he did refer to Wesley some, and it was interesting as the message he spoke that day was one you had spoken of just a couple weeks earlier.  Same idea, just his twist.  It was an enjoyable 1 hr.  So refreshing to sit in a small church, so humble,  I’m planning on sending him a note thanking him for his time.  We visited after church for awhile about the local youth/ missions.  He’s even heard of CRU!  A couple members stayed and visited with me, even offered to have coffee in town but I wasn’t able to. 

    If you’d like to take a peek at some of the pamphlets I picked up let me know. ( I even purchased the Women’s Cook book they were selling.)

I can’t say enough how much that morning was so wonderful.  The sun was shining, the grass was green and I truly felt touched that day by the Lord.


What a great joy she experienced and it all began with a decision to get up and go to God's house.
It's a beautiful day in God's world, be sure to see the good.

Friday, October 25, 2013

when you are hurt

I was talking to someone who was recently hurt.

When you are hurt, it hurts.  500 thoughts go through your head.  Justifying yourself, explaining yourself, trying to fix it, even revenge.

It usually takes a person several days to sleep off such pain.  Several nights of rest to go through the cycles of being hurt.  You think you are over a thing, and it can pop back up.  Healing takes time.

Then one day you wake up and things are better.  The grieving process has done its work.  You know who they are, and you know who you are.  You are not going to change being you.  You are a caring person and caring people feel pain pretty intensely.  You can absorb this.  You can move on.  You can focus on who you are instead of living in reaction to something that has happened.

Anyone can see a beautiful day when the sun is shining and all is well.  It takes a special soul to work through their hurt and keep their chin up.

Keep at it.  It will get better.

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

when I retire

Someone wrote and asked me about when I retire.  I hope I live long enough to retire.  If I do, what will my relationship with WCC be like?  This is the question that they were asking.

In the strictest sense of Methodist polity, when you retire, you move on.  You don't go back.  You end your relationship and allow the new pastor to lead.  Some churches have kept retired pastors around.  Sometimes it works well, sometimes it does not.

Is it good for Jeff to preach in retirement somewhere else near here?  Is it possible for Jeff to stay on part time in retirement at Woods Chapel?  All of those are things that would need to be discussed at the time and the decision based on what was best for Woods Chapel.  I am 56 and mandatory retirement is 72, so we probably have a few years to think about this.

I believe I have now responded to the question and offered an answer that is as clear as mud.  So we put our trust in God and keep being who we are.

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

a day in the life

There are many jokes that are made about how a pastor spends their time.  A youngster at our church recently asked their mom, "what is pastor Jeff's other job?"  Surely this pastor thing is only a part time gig.  Hey, he only works one day a week and half a day at that.

Let me give you some insight into the life of most pastors.

Sundays are up early, worried in heart about how the sermon will go.  Meeting people, trying to get this whole worship thing right.  Meeting with someone after church.  Getting home for a late lunch.  A nap.  Yeah!  Then later in the day, any number of things: a meeting on some program, a trip to the hospital, or a get together with someone who wants to talk.

Getting together with someone who wants to talk.  I generally spend 15-20 hours a week with members who want to talk about something.  Breakfasts, lunches, cups of coffee.  Lots of time investing in people.  It is actually the most rewarding part of what most pastors do.

Meetings with leaders and staff takes up lots of time.  I would guess at least 10 hours per week.  Planning, working on, visioning, encouraging.

Reading.  Get some time in for reading.  Find sermon illustrations.  Learn new stories.   Preparing for presentations.  A class to teach, a class to visit.  Someone has happened by the office and wants to talk.  The Christian bookstore.  My boss called and wants to talk to me about something.  Drive to the district office.  Prepare forms for the all church conference.  Someone's marriage is on the rocks, they are on park 2.  Someone needs financial help, they are on park 3.  Review the financials from last month.  Call someone who has been missing from church.

Staff retreat.  Staff meeting.  Worship meeting.  Leadership meeting.  Personnel Team. Team team.  Men's bowling, yeah!  A respite.  Go for a walk to think some things through.  Work through a response to some issue.  Go help at the Hillcrest store.  Go visit with another pastor.

Answer emails  200 of them.  Give projects to other staff.  Design sermon series for the upcoming month.  Encourage someone whose child does not believe.  Prepare a sermon.

What?  yes, prepare a sermon.  Every Sunday, every week, almost anyway.  For a pastor it seems like Sunday comes 3x per week.

Pray.  Listen for the Holy Spirit.  Work on your rough edges.  Hug people.  Meet them for chicken wings.  Yeah!

All in all, there are plenty of things for pastors to do that keep them busy.  And I love this job, this calling, this life.  Thanks for the opportunity!

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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

amazing

My friend Marti shared this and I had to pass it on........ sort of a celebration of the gift of the human mind that God has given to us.


Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy,
 
it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a tatol mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.
 
 
 
Amzanig huh?

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

Monday, October 21, 2013

you are a bad person

A friend of mine is looking for a church in another town.  They visited one where the general message of the sermon was this: "you are a bad person if....."  If you ever did this, you are a bad person.  If you ever did that, you are a bad person.  If you ever.......... then you are probably going to hell.

Wow.  How crushing.  It is no wonder why people hate the church.  It is no wonder why young people and people of all ages are falling away from church.  Who thinks that they get to tell others who is going to hell?

We cannot forget the message of Grace.  It is not "a" doctrine of the faith, it is "the" doctrine of the faith.  If you take grace out of Christianity, there is nothing left.

Please know that you are loved and cared for by God.  You are precious in His sight.  There is nothing that you can do that would make Him want to throw you away.  God loves us, warts and all.  It's unconditional, and that is what makes it so amazing.

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

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Emmerson lived from 1803-1882.  He was a noted American essayist, lecturer and poet.  Not necessarily a Christian, yet he provided much wisdom to the world of his day and beyond.  Here is one of his quotes.

"An individual has a healthy personality to the exact degree to which they have the propensity to look for the good in every situation." 

Lets keep working on that.

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