Monday, March 23, 2009


I just saw some stuff about the Thundercats, and I got major nostalgia going on! If you're asking what Thundercats are, you need to watch this video!

What a great show! Lion-o was awesome, and Cheetara was hot!

I haven't seen an episode in years...maybe I'll have to do some looking around and change that!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Good Neighbors

Sermon: Good Neighbors
Scripture: Titus 2:1-15

Just Like Jesus
God Loves to Renovate - In his book, Just Like Jesus, Max Lucado speaks of how his wife likes to renovate. She loves changing the curtains, painting walls, rearranging furniture. He says that it’s a passion of hers, and that their house is al-ways changing. He says that once they bought their house, he thought that it was all done...that after the negotiating and moving in, they could just relax...Not so...immediately there were remodeling projects and a concerted effort to make the place better.

And has time has gone on, he’s begun to appreciate this about his wife...he even goes so far as to say that she picks up this trait from her Father...Her Heavenly Father! He says, “God loves to decorate. God HAS to decorate. Let him live long enough in a heart, and that heart will begin to change. Walls of anger will be demolished and shaky, fearful foundations re-stored.

God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way...He wants you to be Just Like Jesus.

Something Better - A father tells the story of a how he and his toddler daughter would go to the park together. They would play, and play. After a while, he would go and buy her an ice-cream cone. One day, he bought the cones like normal, but he noticed that his daughter, who had been asking intently for her ice cream, was now shoving sand into her mouth...

Where he intended delicacy, she was shoving dirt. Did he love her with dirt in her mouth. Of course! Was she any less his daughter? Of course NOT! But, he had to take her over to the water fountain, clean out her mouth, and teach her not to put dirty sand in her mouth...

It’s the same with God. God has taken us to the fountain of His love is washing our lives clean. He says to each of us, “I have something better for you...and so he cleanses us of our filth...of our immorality, our dishonesty, our prejudice, our bitterness, our greed.

And while it may not always feel good, and the renovations might be a bit disheveling, We can rest assured that God has something better for us....much better.

Salvation is Here!
The Cross
New Life
- Rabbi Beryl Cohon has been one of the most ex-pressive thinkers in Judaism. Rabbi Cohon used to love to walk down the bank of the Charles River in the Cambridge-Boston area. One day he saw a number of boys sailing toy sailboats. They had seven little boats in the lagoon. Some were moving faster than others; one or two capsized and had to be pulled out and righted; one struck the embankment and had to be pushed off. Some barely had enough wind in their sails to drift along. A few were moving very fast. The same wind, blowing from the same direction, caused some to capsize, some to stall, some to move fast, and some to move in circles. They all were turning in different directions when the same force was playing upon all of them.

The explanation, of course, lies in the set of the sail. As the sail is adjusted, so does the boat travel. If the wind is caught, the skillful sailor can even guide a vessel in the very teeth of the storm.

General Thoughts
Live Wisely – Paul is calling us to live wisely. Jesus said, “Be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.” Part of the Christian faith, of being a Jesus follower is using our heads. To understand wise living. To make good choices. To under-stand that there are easy ways that fail and hard ways that suc-ceed. For example, too many people want to get rich quick and so they fall into the “5 easy steps to wealth” stuff…or they buy with credit cards to “pay it off later” or they buy homes with variable rate mortgages, not understanding that if rates go up they’ll be unable to afford their home! Instead, God calls us to lives of saving, living within our means, of buying only what we can afford, of earning all we can, saving all we can, and giving all we can.

God calls us to live wisely in all parts of our lives, and unfortu-nately, there’s a part of Christian culture that assumes that brains don’t matter…that using our heads isn’t important. I remember in our college ministry there were students who didn’t care about their grades or about learning, and it always made me mad because our professors saw it as a weakness of our faith…that someone being a Christian encouraged us to not think. On the contrary, we are called to be wise.
Filled with Love - In an age when the word 'love' is greatly abused, it is important to remember that the primary compo-nent of biblical love is not affection but commitment. Warm feelings of gratitude may fill our consciousness as we consider all that God has done for us, but it is not warm feelings that Deut. 6:5 demands of us but rather stubborn, unwavering commitment. Similarly, to love our neighbor, including our enemies, does not mean that we must feel affection for them. To love the neighbor is to imitate God by taking their needs seri-ously. [p. 260]

Integrity – We must live with integrity…To be honest, to be trustworthy, to live at home like we profess at church.

No Slandering (Gossip) – You can’t love your neighbor if you are talking about them behind their back. You can’t love someone if you’re assassinating their character. You can’t for-give or not judge someone if you continue to bring up their mis-takes or their moral failures again and again. Jesus followers don’t gossip. They don’t slander. They encourage and edify and build each other up.

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE. "If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."
2. My mother taught me RELIGION. "You better pray that will come out of the carpet."
3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL. "If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"
4. My mother taught me LOGIC. "Because I said so, that's why."
5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC. "If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."
6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT. "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."
7. My mother taught me IRONY. "Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."
8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS. "Shut your mouth and eat your supper."
10. My mother taught me about STAMINA. "You'll sit there un-til all that spinach is gone."
11. My mother taught me about WEATHER. "This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."
12 My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY. "If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"
14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION. "Stop acting like your father!"
15. My mother taught me about ENVY. "There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."
16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION. "Just wait until we get home."
20. My mother taught me HUMOR. "When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."
22. My mother taught me GENETICS. "You're just like your father."
25. And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE. "One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!"

By Life - Deut. 6:4 - I say it alot, but it’s true...the most impor-tant thing we can do is to teach our children when we get up in the morning, when we lie down, when we’re at home or even on a journey, all of life should be spent teaching our children about life and faith. About God and how to love each other. All of life should be an exercise of teaching life. We are called to be teachers, teachers through the way we live.

By Example - We Need People to Teach us what to learn!
A man, returning from a business trip, was met at the airport by his wife. They walked from the gate together and were stand-ing waiting for the baggage to be unloaded. An extremely at-tractive stewardess walked by. Suddenly, the man came to life. Beaming, he said to the stewardess, "I hope we can fly together again, Miss Jones."

On the way home his grew suspicious, "How come you knew the name of that stewardess?" she asked.

The man replied smoothly, "You see, my dear, her name was posted right up front in the plane, under the names of the pilot and co-pilot."

To which the wife replied, "Okay, now give me the names of the pilot and co-pilot."

Sometimes, don’t even know what we need to learn, so we need someone to teach us what to learn. Older adults, we need you. We need your voice in the church. We need you to be active and teaching because you’re experiences and lives can teach us…teach us not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to teach us about what works…about how to slow down and take time for our families…for our faith…for our lives. We need your wisdom and your experience to teach us. And we younger adults need to listen and open our ears to what we might learn.

By Word – God’s word is our authoritative guide of faith. This is why a sermon is such a large portion of worship. As Protestants we believe that in learning from God’s Word, our lives our changed and we allow God’s Spirit to transform our hearts and minds.

But in knowing God’s Word, we also become teachers our-selves. We are ready to help others live the life of faith. We are able to share why we believe what we believe. Why God calls us to lives of purity, etc.

[Apology: I didn't have the ending of my sermon in notes, and I don't remember what I said!]

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Neighborly Faith

Sermon: Neighborly Faith
Scripture: James 1:22-27

What are we doing? - a story about a small, rural, traditional, almost perfect Roman Catholic community. They observed all the laws. They ate only fish on Fridays. But one day, a Methodist moved to town. Everything went well until the townsfolk realized he loved to barbecue steaks on Fridays. He was a nice enough man, but the Friday menu violated Catholic doctrine. What to do? The townspeople decided to convert him; that made the most sense.
In time, their plan worked. Although it was summer, the church was Easter filled, with people standing in the back of the sanctuary. At the moment when he joined the Catholic church, the priest looked at the former Methodist and said, "You were born a Methodist. You were raised a Methodist. Now you are a Catholic!" The church erupted in applause. Everyone was happy.
Until the next Friday evening, when the neighbors again smelled the aroma of barbecued steaks. They couldn''t believe their noses. They got the priest and together they walked up to the former Methodist''s fence. He was looking down at the steak on the grill and said, for all to hear, "You were born a steer. You were raised a steer. Now you are a fish!”

Some conversion stories just don’t have happy endings, do they!?! While this is obviously a joke, there is a serious question of warning underneath the humor: What makes us who we are? Is it what we say we are? Or is it how we live our lives?

Why do we go to church?
Why do we read the Bible?
Why do we believe in Jesus?

Mirror, Mirror...
Doing - Almost 1600 years ago, St. Augustine wrote, "Correct interpretation of the Word of God always increases the love of God and neighbor."

What we read, and what we hear in the gospel must be lived out.

James offers an illustration to help us with this crucial point. What would happen if every morning we looked in the mirror, saw our reflection, and then as we went off to face our day, we forgot what we looked like? It would be a mess, that's what. We wouldn't know if the ID card we were holding in our hand belonged to us or not. We'd go into important staff meetings looking like we just woke up, or we'd go to the ball courts in our best suits.

The same thing happens to the people who attend church week after week but never allow the word of God to penetrate their lives enough to lead them to action. These people listen to the scripture and nod their heads in agreement, but then fail to act according to what they see.

Phillip Brooks told a story about some savages who were given a sun dial, in order that by the casting of the sun's light and shadow on it they might know the time of day. So desirous were they to honor and keep it sacred that they built a roof over it. Sometimes people regard their religion as something to be sheltered and used only on the Sabbath. Religion must be utilized continually to be of real help in life. Ours should be an everyday faith and practice. We should expect our religion to provide us with a wholesome and helpful understanding of God and humanity's relation with him. It should help us to recognize the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. From these concepts we are enabled to develop social consciousness and group responsibilities. This helps us to establish communication and personal interaction between God and man, and man to all mankind.

Avoiding Corruption - James gives us the wonderful image of a mirror held before us which enables us to see who we are in the light of God's love. Then, he cautions, after looking at ourselves in that mirror we should not go out into the world and forget what we, as Christians, are supposed to look like. We are to be engaged with the world, but we are supposed to reflect our true Christian selves instead of the world's persona. We must so live that our Christian reflection is commensurate with what we reflect to the world.

The persona was the mask which actors in Greek drama wore during plays. One character could play many roles. By changing the persona, the mask, a character changed personality. One could easily slip into another role and be a different self. James is arguing for a self in which beliefs and behavior within the church are consistent with one's actions and attitudes beyond the doors of the church.

We’ll get into this more next week, but it is essential to the life of faith that our lives remain pure, unsullied, and holy: Given to God and washed in the blood of Christ.

Neighborly Faith – Last week, we heard Jesus teach about loving God, the primary commandment. And part of that commandment is loving our fellow image-bearers of God…loving our neighbors, which is the 2nd greatest commandment.

The life of a Jesus follower is different from a church-goer. A church-goer goes to church at the right time. A Jesus follower is loving people at the right time. A church-goer knows what a good sermon SOUNDS like. A Jesus follower knows what a good sermon LIVES like. A church-goer listens for good music. A Jesus follower makes good music with their lives. A church-goer knows how to hold a plastic smile for an hour: A Jesus follower knows the Joy of Christ in times of blessing and times of sorrow. A church-goer knows to love their neighbor. A Jesus follower loves their neighbor.

Jesus is calling us to a neighborly faith: A faith that loves God and loves neighbor. Are you willing to follow Jesus? No really, are you willing? Am I willing?

It’s easy to say, but hard to do. I will follow Jesus…I’d like to play a song by Chris Rice. The words will be on the screen, and I would like for all of us to look and listen as he encourages us to live neighborly faith…right here….right now.

Life Means So Much
What are you writing? - The British essayist, G. K. Chesterton, got it right back in 1910 when he wrote in What's Wrong with the World?: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried." We know the scriptures; we are aware of what is necessary, right, and wrong. We, too, often talk the talk but cannot adequately walk the walk. We say all the right things, but too often we cannot put into practice what we know is right and proper. Our failures make us hollow shells that need to be filled.

What are you writing? Is your life a witness to the story of God? Is your life a page in a book that stretches back throughout time? Or are you too buys doodling to actually put down something significant on your paper. Casting Crowns sings a song called “Father, Spirit, Jesus” that says, “God the worship we bring is more than the songs that we sing, it’s a reflection of our ever changing lives...the best we have to offer.” True worship, real faith is living your life for Jesus: Giving it all up for him...and not looking back!

Make your days count! - So what are you doing with each set of 24 hours in your day? The days are short...And our lives are only 70+ plus years. Not that long. It’s easy to say, “Tomorrow”, but what if tomorrow never comes? Or if tomorrow has it’s share of “tomorrow’s”? Will we ever truly live if we keep putting off God’s calling for our lives?

Sundays are for celebrating together...the 6 days between are where your faith is lived out, sharpened, spent, grown, stretched, encouraged, challenged,...and it’s where it counts. Count your days...and may Jesus teach you to truly make your days count!

40 For 40
Compassion/World Vision
Visit Nursing Home
Volunteer with Children

Eric Butterworth tells the story of a "college professor who had his sociology class go into the Baltimore slums to get case histories of 200 young boys. They were asked to write an evaluation of each boys'' future. In every case, the students wrote, He hasn''t got a chance.'' Twenty-five years later another sociology professor came across the earlier study. He had his students follow-up on the project to see what had happened to these boys. With the exception of 20 boys who had moved away or died, the students learned that 176 of the remaining 180 had achieved more than ordinary success as lawyers, doctors and businessmen.
"The professor was astounded and decided to pursue the matter further. Fortunately, all the men were in the area and he was able to ask each one, How do you account for your success?'' In each case the reply came with feeling, There was a teacher . . .''
"The teacher was still alive, so he sought her out and asked the old but still alert lady what magic formula she had used to pull these boys out of the slums into successful achievement."
The teacher''s eyes sparkled and her lips broke into a gentle smile. "It''s really very simple," she said. "I loved those boys." (2)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Celebrating a Wonderful Life

This Sunday, March 8th, was my wife's birthday. Stephanie loves celebrating her birthday, and I tried to surprise her this year. We have had a whirlwind of a month, and with the busy-ness of this weekend, I had her convinced we weren't doing anything special.

Secretly, I had plans for my parents to come to our house and watch the kids while we went out for dinner. Unbeknownst to her, she would come home to a party with ice-cream cake and crazy children ready to inject raw sugar into their bodies.

Unfortunately, Sophie got sick, and I had to pick her up from daycare...meaning that I had to give away the surprise to set up new arrangement...HOWEVER, despite my disappointment, we had a great meal together, a family party, and Stephanie had a happy birthday...though she didn't like my card very much...[insert sinister laugh].

This year Stephanie has picked up more hours at the YMCA, and she is almost full-time. She is super busy...I'm super busy, too. So, it's been hard to find "couple" time to talk and build into our friendship. Even though it was my desire for her to pick up more hours, I've had a hard time struggling with "Mom" not being home, available, 'at our beck and call', etc. I've been down right cranky about it a few times...unfairly.

Yet, here she is working more hours than she is paid to teach preschoolers and help young girls build self-esteem. She volunteers at her church, the daycare, she cooks, she cleans, she takes care of our children, she finds time to go to Bible study, and she puts up with me.

Truly, she is a saint, and I love her!

Here's to you, Steph! In a way it's our happy birthday...because on that day, we all got you!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My Semi-Annual Rant

Here we are again....It's that time of year...The travesty of squandered time...

It's time to change our clocks for Daylight Saving Time. Lose an hour, gain an hour, change sleeping habits, lose sleep...why?

So people can golf more (sorry to all you golfers)?

The last time I checked, the measurement of time has to do with the sun and the measuring of revolutions our earth makes on its axis. Now, unless I missed the latest catastrophic, annihilation of all life on earth, the revolutions on our axis haven't dramatically changed in the last billion years...So, time is still measured the same. We spin at the same rate...Yet our clocks move...hmmm.

Without a doubt this is another attempt by humanity to control those things in our lives that are beyond our control. We want more time in our day, so we make it. We want to be lords over time itself, so we dress-up our clocks and pretend.

Supposedly, this started as an agricultural thing, but that is NOT true according to my sources, which is something I always knew because no farmer would try to change's not how farmers think. They move with time and in time, not control it.

Time began being kept (as we know it) by the early Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer. They used the sexigesimal system. 60 seconds. 60 minutes. 6*4 hours = day. 360 days/year (plus a few more tacked on everyonce in a while). Their aim was to measure the sun and the stars to understand how the gods worked and functioned.

Today, we make the gods change for us. Move over sun, my govenor now says that I have to change my clock....

Don't you know!?! The sun is now wrong! It's DST.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Dark Day

I'm having a really dark day...

On the lightest note, Sophie is sick, and she can't sleep all through the night without waking up to cough and wipe snot from her nose...Of course, she cries to be held each time....every 1/2 hour. So I'm admittedly tired as I began the day.

Last night my uncle was diagnosed with colon cancer. They know little at this point, but the "C" word is always scary, and apparently, the tumor was large. Please pray for my Uncle Kent and his family...that God would offer his peace and that good news may be had.

This weekend I received news that one of Stephanie and I's friends received a less than positive report about his cancer treatments. He needs more chemo, which in his words, he and his wife "are initially feeling somewhere on the spectrum between disappointed and devastated." Please, pray for my friends Alan and Jan...pray for their spirits to be encouraged and for Alan's body to be healed.

And, doing some research for sermons, I read this article about Kenya's past, present, and future violence...and it's implications for feeding their nation. The personal stories of violence were so heartbreaking...a badly scarred mother whose burns are from a church full of people being set on fire...and the wounds of her son's heart who wants to kill and "burn everything." All because a few men want more money...more power. No words adequately describe how I feel reading the article...I can't imagine living it.

Some days the suffering and pain of the world are all too real. Maybe it's a lack of sleep. Perhaps it's Lent. It could be a reminder of the Passion, or suffering, of Jesus...the Suffering for us that proved God's love for us. The Suffering of God for our sins and the sins of the whole world...

Or maybe God is reminding me today that his children are hurting...

And what am I going to do to help?

Maybe it's all of that.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Good Morning!

Hi Winchester First UMC!

Welcome to my blog. Hope you enjoy reading and perusing different things here.

Feel free to comment and leave notes!