Sunday, November 30, 2008

I think I figured it out


I have never been a big "conspiracy nut". However, I am starting to think I am in the midst of a conspiracy. I was at home with Ginny the other day and she asked me what I was doing. Apparently I was just staring off into space. At that point I was thinking of all the things that I wanted to see accomplished at the church. The number was overwhelming but I just saw so much potential and hope.

I thought about those ideas some more and I have done nothing but for the last several days. So where is the conspiracy? Easy.

The conspiracy exists in the paralysis by analysis that happens. I could spend the next 5 years thinking about all the things that I want to see happen and then ensure that none of it gets done. The conspiracy is built around big expectations and the feeling that success is measured in new members or more money into the church. The conspiracy is built around my own feelings of inadequacy.

I am conspiring against myself in other words. I am trying to trust in myself instead of God.
As I sit here on Sunday morning getting ready to worship, I think it is starting to make more sense. It is becoming clearer.

O God, draw me close to you. Amen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I have been thinking


As I have been preparing my Sermon series for Advent, one think keeps popping up....time.

The innkeeper surely didn't have enough of it. Joseph had a decision to make and was running out of it.
Mary was so young and didn't really understand why it was her time. The shepherds couldn't believe that this was the time.

We are about to enter into a holy time, not that all time shouldn't be holy, in the church calendar...Advent. Yet so many of us barely even take a moment to breathe in between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. We don't appreciate Advent for what it is and what is could be.

Among many other things, Advent can be a time for us to focus in upon the promise of Christ's coming again and also a time to look back at the baby that has already come. It is a time to think of the joy and hop and promise that Jesus brings. It is a time for us to remember those things as we go back to our roots. When we go back to prayer, scripture, fellowship, service, witness. Those things that make us distinctly Christian. This is what we need again.

Isn't it time?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

So I am the Way...right?



I guess I have never quite grasped the concept of possession as far as church goes. you know what I mean right? This is "my" pew and this is "my" project and this is "my" Bible Study. I don't know if it is because I do not have a long church history so to speak, so I never got caught up in all that. Maybe there is other reasons I am not sure.

I just know that nothing drives me as crazy as listening to people talk about things in the church as if they possess them. We don't own the church and it is not ours. We are part of the church. We are blessed to be part of it and can be involved as it goes out and transforms the world through the power of the Holy Spirit.


All that other stuff, is just stuff. The church can't get tied up in things like buildings and committees and nominations and appointments. We need to be out in the world telling the story of Jesus Christ, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned.

It is not my way or your way or Aunt Josephine's way it is Jesus' way.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pride in America



Sunday we had an awesome Worship experience. We paid honor to the Veterans. We paid tribute to those in the military still. We had a few men from the American Legion post bring in the colors. All in all I was very pleased and very touched by how worship went. there was a lot of emotion shared that day.

Of course, I did hear from two different people that we did not salute the flag, I assume by that we were talking about the Pledge of Allegiance.

I hesitate to write this for a few reasons but what the heck. I did not put in a moment for the Pledge on purpose. While I am as patriotic as the next person I believe, I just feel as if that sends the wrong message in a Worship environment. when I go to a counsel meeting in town, no problem at all. Kids saying it in school, no problem at all. I am still moved greatly at a sporting event by the Star spangled Banner (different story I know).

It just seems that in a worship service we need to be careful who we pledge our allegiance too. I think that we did a great job honoring the veterans and a great job remembering the active duty folks.

The whole thing was no where near over the top and at the same time I think that it was not too reserved either.

Believe me, I do not claim to be the only source of truth on this issue...this is simply where I stand. Since I was the pastor, I had to end up dong something that I felt faithful to God in doing.

So I did.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Balance starts with prayer

I have been reading Richard Foster's book, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home. It is a great refresher book and also gives me new insights into prayer.

I ebb and flow with my prayer life. It is constant efforts at some points to remember to pray. Other days it is first and foremost in my mind. This book has helped me to remember the importance of prayer. It is such an important part of my day. When my prayer life is good, my life seems to have more balance to it.

So why do I ebb and flow? Why must I need to read books to remind me how important prayer is? Any ideas?



Friday, November 14, 2008

How does God help?


Did God create us to be able to simply look in the Bible for all our answers? Are we supposed to just laze around until someone points out the appropriate scripture for us to reply on and to trust in? I guess I have a different view of how God operates than that.

God created all that I see and created the people that have built and produced all that I have in this world. It would seem to me that God would want us to utilize all the gifts that we have been given.

If I have a stomachache, I suppose I could simply drink more wine as Paul suggests to Timothy. I suppose if I am having trouble with my skin I could go bathe in the Jordan 7 times. I suppose I could do those things if I insisted that all the answers are in the Bible.

Or what I could do is go to a doctor if my stomach hurt or my skin was a mess. I could go talk to my pastor or a counselor if I needed some guidance. I think that is probably the more prudent answer.

So how does God help? He helps us by putting people in our lives who can help us. He helps us by putting us in the lives of others so that we can help. He shows us how to live and to treat others in his Word.

I guess the best way to sum it up for me is sometimes we are the answer to someones prayer.
So as for me, I guess I need to get my lazy butt up and start doing those things that God would have me do and reaching those people that God would have me reach.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wouldn't it be nice?



Wouldn't it be nice if the next time you were in a Church Council meeting or talking to a group of church people and the following happened:

As a new idea was brought up to the floor, Aunt Josephine and
the others looked at each other and smiled and said,
"Yes we can!"

It does not matter who the crowd is; a group of pastors, church members, lay leaders, lay speakers, it always seems to be the same thing. We allow ourselves to be tied up in the "how we gonnas" and the "we already tried its" and the "well some 'people' have told mes".


I hope one of the results of the election is that people will start to believe in the church that change can happen and people begin to accept that we have to be willing to try new things and even FAIL when we try them. Eventually the people of God need to accept the fact that for the most part the world is different than when they grew up in the church. The same old same old is not going to work. In fact the same old same old has got us right where we are today.

Yes.
We.
Can.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank you




Thank you to all serving now and to all who have served. I thank you and the world does as well.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Whew!


Well Church Conference is over. As usual it was a long couple of weeks getting it all ready and making sure all the i's were dotted and the t's were crossed.

I enjoyed this Church Conference a little more than the conferences past. The District Superintendent kept things running smoothly and despite the "work" of the conference there was an atmosphere of worship in the air.

Some challenges were laid out for the congregation by the D.S., a lay member, and the pastor (that's me). We used some PowerPoint and a little technology for the first time since I have been at West Grove. We watched a fantastic video about a man on a mission to dole out Free Hugs.

As I sit here at the end of a long day, I am tired but happy and very relieved.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Saturday Musings


When I am King of the World (all apologies to Bill Conlin)...

Church conferences will not be held during Worship time.
Church conference paperwork will be minimal and not increase 10 percent every year.
Churches will embrace technology and realize the importance to reaching the world.

Elections will be less divisive.
Voters will hold politicians accountable.

Pastors and congregations will learn to honor the sabbath.
Pastors will be in accountability groups.
Churches will encourage pastors to care for their family.


People will look towards the Bible more than the Dow Jones Average.
People will pray more and worry less.
People will spend family time that is not in front of the TV.

Finally, when I am the King of the World...The Phillies and Eagles will win every year!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tomorrow Night

When we all go to bed tomorrow night, half of the country will be sad, upset, and angry. They will go to bed knowing that their man is not the next president. So what do we do? What can we do to make these people feel better?

Well what we ought to do is no different than what we do every day. We should be helping people see that no matter who wins Tuesday, God will still be God.

As a Christian, the glass is really never half empty. It is always full, not even half full. It is full with the love of God and the power of the Holy spirit. It is full with compassion, justice, and mercy.
So tomorrow and Wednesday and the day after as the pundits continue to beat this election to death, let's find a way to focus people on something more important than this election, let us point them to something eternal.