Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Living out of Faith, Not Fear

If you didn't make it to worship on November 4, you missed a huge celebration!  There was cake, ice cream, punch, and lots of decorations.  What were we celebrating, you ask?  PAYING OFF OUR 2012 APPORTIONMENTS (Connectional giving) at the end of October!  That is HUGE.  I can't emphasize that enough..... that was a HUGE, BIG DEAL.  It took commitment, sacrifice, faith, and servant hearts.  And that's worth celebrating, big time!

We also celebrated that our church family has grown again.  We welcomed Virgil Glass into membership at Davis Memorial, where he has promised to be loyal to Christ through dmumc through his prayers, his presence, his gifts, his service, and his witness.  Virgil comes to us on profession of faith.  If you haven't had a chance to meet Virgil yet, you can catch him at worship, or at Monday night Bible Study.  Yea Virgil!

We also celebrated that we are OVER 1/3 of the way to our new electronic sign.  If you have not given to this disciple making project yet, I ask you to please prayerfully consider giving a generous gift, so that we may let our community know what they're invited to so that, together, we may nurture our growth in God's grace, learning the ways of God that Jesus taught.  It is a good and worthy project. 

But, if you did miss worship on Nov. 4, you also missed a lesson in living out fear vs. living out of faithfulness.  We talked about two kinds of "what if"..... the kind that is born out of fear, and the kind that is born out of faithfulness.  Living out of fear means staying in our comfort, not moving ahead, not growing,.... dying.  I call it "death by 'what if.'"  But, living out of faith helps us to serve God in ways we never before dreamed possible (like paying our apportionments by October!).  Here's a brief excerpt:

What if.....
we here at Davis
were to focus more on the future,
.....and less on the past.
What if....
we were to give up
the comfortable and familiar,
for the sake of those
seeking a relationship with God?

What if....
we were to focus as much...
.... or even more ....
on the community
OUTSIDE these walls,
....than the community
INSIDE these walls?
What if...
we were to sacrifice time
to nurture our own spiritual growth.....
growing in God’s grace,
nurturing one another’s growth in God’s grace
in order to learn.... AND LIVE....
the ways of God that Jesus taught....
so that we can BE a disciple,
so that we can MAKE disciples?
What if....
What if we were willing to increase our giving....
.... even just a little.....
in order to increase FRUITFUL ministry?

 (and yes, on this last one, I put my giving where my mouth is!)

If you did not hear this message, then I encourage you to go onto the website (, go to Media, then Audio Video, then 11/04/12 Living out of Faith, not Fear. 
Grace and peace,


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Happy New Year?

Traditionally we celebrate the "official" New Year on January 1, at the calendar beginning of a new year.  Something about that human defined threshold excites us..... the prospect of something new, something improved, something changed, something better.  Yet, each new year brings a kind of a trepidation of the unknown as well.  Nonetheless, the new years comes, whether we want it or not.

But January 1 is not the only "threshold" of something new, for that which is capturing our attention and excitement at this time of year is the anticipation of a new school year, and the expectation of learning, new growth, new levels, new challenges and new adventures.  However, this time of year brings "newness" to everyone, not just to those who will be stepping into a classroom soon.  Seems like Labor Day is the unofficial boundary marker of a new beginning, and a fresh start, much the same way that January 1 and the celebration of the new year marks a transition on the calendar.  In both cases, it is the excitement and anticipation of something new..... something good!  Even though these "boundaries" or "markers of time" are human created, they serve a purpose; they give us extra encouragement to grow, to change, to try something new, to step out in faith, to make new or renewed commitments, or to get "back on track" in some way. 

So, what does that mean to us about our church life, our own spiritual growth, and our own call to discipleship?  How will we respond to that inner urge to grow (both individually and as a church), to experience something new, to be a part of something that is much bigger than we are? 

I leave you with those questions, and the challenge to think about how your own heart is being prompted to grow spiritually, and reach out in ministry, witness, and service as we step over the threshold into something new.  I leave you with those questions, keeping in mind that we commit ourselves to being loyal to Christ through this congregation of the United Methodist Church by our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service, and our witness. 

And, I leave you with one other thought as well...... HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Pastor's Process: Licensing School

The last two evenings I have had the honor of participating in what we Methodist pastors know as "licensing school."  This is a one-week, intensive time of learning for "pastors in the making," and every United Methodist Pastor must experience it.  This time of learning is a focused, intense, express "nuts-and-bolts" time in which soon to be pastors learn of the mechanics of worship, administrative details, and Christian Education just to name a few.  One of the purposes of licensing school is to help those who will soon begin serving in the church, whether it be in a ministerial support capacity, or as student pastor of a small local church, as they continue their education and the process of candidacy toward ordained ministry.  After all, most of us pastors find ourselves in ministerial positions before we have completed seminary.  One of the focused areas of learning in licensing school is sermon delivery and preparation.  That's where I came in.  I was one of several pastors who provided leadership and sermon feedback in small groups. 

As I listened to the sermons delivered by the students, I was captivated by the depth of which they shared in their sermons.  Most of the students are "second" career, meaning that their ages are 40's and 50's.  This group brings a wealth and a depth of life to their preaching.  One person was retired military, one was a retired judge.  But in this context, everyone is on the same level "playing field."  As I listened, I could sense how the Holy Spirit was moving in their lives, bringing about healing and insight.  It was a holy thing. 

Although the student preachers have some rough edges (as we all do!), I feel so good about what God is doing in their lives, and that God has called them into ministry with the United Methodist Church.  As I reflect upon my own experience in licensing school many years ago, I can't tell you much about what we learned there, because of the overload of information.  However, I do remember the people, and how God touched us all through shared experience, and shared journey.  I am grateful to be a part of these student pastor's lives.  I am grateful to be a United Methodist Pastor, and most of all, I am grateful to be the pastor of Davis Memorial United Methodist Church.  What a beautiful journey!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Belated Mother's Day Fun

Well, just because today is the day after Mother's Day doesn't mean we can't still have a little fun with it, does it?  I hope not, because I came across some good stuff today.  It's called "Why God Made Moms" and it is billed as "answers given by 2nd grade school children" to some questions.  I think someone sent it to me a long time ago on an email.  I tried to cut it down to just a couple of them, but they are just way too good to cut anything out.  Anyway, just had to share.

And, by the way, thanks to all who pitched in to make Mother's Day 2012 here at DMUMC extra special!  Betty Vance and Michael Jordan for a wonderful breakfast, and Darrell Justice, Carlos Baker, and Steve Barber for taking over worship duties so that I could sit back and just worship.  And boy, did I worship! 

Why did God make mothers?

1.  She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.

2.  Mostly to clean the house.

3.  To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?

1.  He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.

2.  Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.

3.  God made my mom just the same like he made me.  He just used bigger parts.

What ingredients are mothers made of?

1.  God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.

2.  They had to get their start from men's bones.  Then they mostly use string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?

1.  We're related.

2.  God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's mom like me.

What kind of a little girl was your mom?

1.  My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.

2.  I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.

3.  They say she used to be nice.

What did mom need to know about dad before she married him?

1.  His last name.

2.  She had to know his background.  Like is he a crook?  Does he get drunk on beer?

3.  Does he make at least $800 a year?  Did he say NO to drugs and YES to chores?

Why did your mom marry your dad?

1.  My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world.  And my mom eats a lot.

2.  She got too old to do anything else with him.

3.  My grandma says that mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?

1.  Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof ball.

2.  Mom.  You can tell by room inspection.  She sees the stuff under the bed.

3.  I guess mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms and dads?

1.  Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.

2.  Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.

3.  Dads are taller and stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friends.

4.  Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your mom do in her spare time?

1.  Mothers don't do spare time.

2.  To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?

1.  On the inside she's already perfect.  Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.

2.  Diet.  You know, her hair.  I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

1.  She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean.  I'd get rid of that.

2.  I'd make my mom smarter.  Then she would know it was my sister who did it not me.

3.  I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back of her head.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I'm So Confused!

Well, it's Advent, and ...... wait, that's not right!  It's not Advent..... not even close.  We've just come out of Lent, and we haven't yet entered Pentecost, so that must mean that we're in the Easter Season.  But, aren't we finished with Easter?  I mean, that was weeks ago, wasn't it?  

As United Methodists, we follow a liturgical calendar.  That just means that at certain times of the year, we "celebrate" or "commemorate" or somethingate those events in the life of Jesus and the early church.  It's confusing to say the least.  Like, the first Sunday of the Christian calendar year begins with the first Sunday of Advent, usually in very late November or very early December.  Seems odd, doesn't it?  Yeah, I think so too.  The very last Sunday of the Christian calendar year, usually just before or after Thanksgiving, is a Sunday we call "Christ the King" Sunday, in which we somethingate Christ as the victor..... Christ as the king.  Then we start all over again the following Sunday with Advent..... you know, the Mary-Joseph-Baby Jesus stuff.

But wait...... that's not all.  After Advent, we have the Christmas Season (no, it does not end at Midnight on December 25!), the Epiphany season, the season of Lent, (which includes Holy Week), the season of Easter, and then Pentecost.  And, that's where we find ourselves today..... coming to a close of the Easter Season..... the "40-ish" days after Christ's resurrection.  So, what's next?  You'd just love for me to tell you, wouldn't you?  Well, instead of me telling you, how 'bout this?  Check out Acts chapter 2.  I'll set the stage.  Jesus has been resurrected.  Jesus has appeared to disciples, and others.  Jesus gives them instructions to "Sit!  Stay!", and Jesus ascends "toward heaven."  OK.  Now....GO! ... check out Acts chapter 2.  (Hint:  it's got a couple of descriptions..... "the coming of the Holy Spirit," and "The birth of the church.")  

This year, Sunday May 27 is Pentecost Sunday.  So, go and do your homework before then!  And then, come prepared to answer the question:  "Do we eat black eyed peas during Advent?"

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Comics - the Original Blog

Walk into just about anyone's office, home, place of business or personal space, and likely as not you'll find some kind of cartoon up on a wall or a bulletin board.  And, I would go out on a limb to say that 99% of the time it is not just a random comic..... it has direct (and humorous) relevance to that person's life, work, situation.... you name it. 

It is often said that in all humor, the truth is found.  I believe that.... that's why satire is so appealing to us.  It gives us a way to laugh at ourselves.  Some comics are just downright funny in a goofy kind of way, like the comic I have titled "Trouble in Pirate Church," in which pirates are being served communion wafers (crackers).  Of course, what's a pirate without a parrot sitting on his shoulder.  You get the picture.  To me, that's just downright funny in a goofy kind of way. 

Then, there are comics that make a statement about today's culture.  Like the comic that Kenny Gonzalez brought me last week.  It shows Moses standing on the mountaintop holding two stone tablets, with a voice coming from above that says ...........

I got a real chuckle out of that.
But, what about those comic strips, or little one frame funnies, that are humorous, yet make a powerful philosophical statement about life in general?  (a blog in pictures!.... the original blog!) In my own office, I have a framed "Peanuts" cartoon that I feel speaks not only to each of us in our own personal lives, but to the church as well.  In my mind, this particular "Peanuts" cartoon calls us to examine the way we do things, the way we view things, and the way we think about the world in general.  It asks us "what's more important..... preserving tradition at all costs, or changing and growing for the sake of the future?"

So, how would you answer those questions, both for yourself and the church?  Wanna know what Lucy said to Charlie Brown?  Just stop by my office sometime and take a look. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kentucky musings

Greetings from Kentucky!  I miss you all, but I’m having a great time of intensive learning and reconnecting with new friends I made this past summer.  As we got “caught up” with each other at dinner on Sunday night, I reported with joy and excitement all that is happening at Davis.  They were excited for us! 

It was a very long drive into Wilmore, Kentucky (just outside of Lexington), just about two full days.  The first day I made it as far as Memphis, which is almost exactly half way there.  The next day I drove from Memphis through Nashville, and on into Kentucky, arriving in Wilmore just after dark.  Just north of the Kentucky border I noticed something odd on the ground..... SNOW!  However, the next day, we had some Texas type weather with the temperature getting up to around 50, and the snow disappeared.  Right now, it’s back to being pretty cold, but no ice or snow in the forecast..... at least not for now. 

Have you ever heard someone say something to the effect of “on the trip, don’t miss the journey”?  I realized this to be true on my drive to Kentucky.  The first day, knowing I was in for a long drive, I had the radio on, and listened to a variety of things including my favorite tunes on my iPod, talk shows on the radio, and I even found a comedy channel or two.  Yet, I couldn’t find anything that really held my attention, and I was frustrated.  The second day of my drive (about 6-1/2 to 7 hours) I turned off the radio, and drove in silence.  This is the part that I loved, for in the silence, I took in the beauty of the scenery, and listened for God’s “still small voice” as I made my way, hour by hour, across the changing countryside.  On this day, I did not miss the journey, and this journey was a thing of beauty. 

So, I’m exhausted, but it’s a good kind of exhaustion.  My class is intense, but wonderful, and I am learning so much.  I am grateful to be here, but I am ready to come home soon.