Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lives of Change

Being a pastor in a county seat town, one of the common interruptions of my day is people coming in asking for assistance. Some days and with some people, it is more of an interruption than others. It is a rare day that it feels totally "right."

I don't like giving handouts that exasperate the problem by enabling dependence. I have come up with my own policy of helping people that gets more detailed and requires more participation as help continues. Unfortunately, with a steady average of 2-3 requests per week, I have only had two people meet requirements for a second time of helping (which only requires that the person track their expenses for one week).

Today was a good day. One of our recipients of aid came. She had found employment, and was up to date on all her bills. Praise God!

Really. Praise God!

This is exactly the kind of help we are here to help someone get on their feet. To help someone have the dignity to not have to ask for help time and time be completely enslaved to someone else's whims or charity. To show someone the love that Jesus taught us to give. To be Christ to a hurting and broken world.

Today was a good day, and it makes every assistance we give all worth while.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Do You Believe in Grace?

I have a question for you...

Is there something that you could not forgive? Is there something for which there is no going back? Is there some wrong that keeps you from loving someone?

Does Grace move beyond forgiveness? Are there things that you can forgive but not reconcile with another person over?

These are hard questions if we dig deeply in our hearts.

Personally, if someone hurt either of my babies intentionally, especially abusing them, I would need God's amazing power to find an ounce of love, mercy, and Grace within my heart.

What's amazing about Grace is that God is doing this every day.

Perhaps believing in God is one thing...but believing in Grace is another adventure of itself!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blog Construction

I've decided to try a different color scheme to my blog...

What do you think? Do you like the black and yellow or do you like the white background?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Right Idea, Wrong Media

I've posted my sermons on here, but I've never really been comfortable with it. It always seemed like something was amiss. Then, at a continuing education event, something was said that hit me like a ton of bricks...Someone was talking about putting up layers and layers of text on a website, and he pointed out that it was defeating the entire purpose of a reach a post-Gutenburg generation.


Having a ton of text in one post of a blog isn't quite what's supposed to happen, so I'm currently asking our A/V people at church if we could podcast sermons. They've been positive to the idea, and I've been doing some research on what equipment we need/don't need. I don't think it will be hard once we get it going...

I'm excited to include our shut-ins who can't make it to church on Sunday mornings, and I think podcasting might be the best way to do that. Then again, we could post small videos of our service, too, but that would take a bit more of work each week...

What do you think? Text, audio podcasts, or videos?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

UMC Amendments or Brokenness?

There are some significant amendments to the Book of Discipline and to the structure of the United Methodist Church. You may check them out here. These were passed at General Conference 2008, but need a passing vote from the Annual Conference members of all Annual Conferences.

While I am VERY excited for the United Methodist Church to acknowledge its global nature, I am very disappointed that we are taking innocuous steps toward accepting homosexuality.

For clarification, one amendment regarding membership in the Book of Discipline comes after a controversy of a pastor denying membership to an openly practicing homosexual. The pastor was unjustly defrocked without pay by his bishop until the Judicial Council voted his actions within UMC pastoral discretion. Unfortunately, the bishops banded together under a concern of episcopal authority and wrote a weak letter in support of the offending bishop's actions.

At stake now, is the very essence of membership. It is about being in a "club" or is it a vow of discipleship and faithful living?

Membership is not a "right." Membership is a declaration of lifestyle and intentionality to discipleship. If homosexuality is a sin, as the Bible clearly indicates and as the UMC has stated, then the act of unrepentant homosexuality is an obstacle to membership...

Just as unrepentant adultery, lying, stealing, lusting, pride, greed, overboard consumption of resources, etc., are wrong and should be a red flag for membership, so too should unrepentant homosexuality.

We can't pick our sins just because out culture says that something is OK. Why have membership if anyone and everyone has a "right" to it? Isn't that just the same as constituent? To be fair, I have noticed that many vibrant and growing churches dismiss "membership" as status all together.

I may have to evaluate if I do another membership class...Why waste the time of people getting up front and saying, "Nothing's changed. I sat in some classes, and now I stand up here taking vows that anyone could take and not mean."

It seems to me that we are taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back as we continue to water down what it means to be disciple of Jesus Christ.