Monthly Archives: May 2013

He counted me faithful…

Today I ran across a note I wrote at campmeeting at Elim Bible Institute about 1 Timothy 1:12:

I continue to be impressed by that verse last night’s speaker hit on: 1 Timothy 1:12: “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…” (NKJV)

My NIV says “…who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.”

One of his main points was that we all end up questioning God and saying WHY am I in the ministry? I DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR THIS!!!! And it’s good to be able to remember that HE is the one who strengthened and enabled us and HE is the one that felt we were faithful and HE is the one that put us into & appointed us to HIS service of ministry.

There are many days when I need to be reminded of that. And I bet I’m not alone!

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Cats & Teens

This post originally appeared on my old blogger blog in December 2006. Sadly, Noel has since died (2011). This is the post as it appeared originally: 

On Monday, a co-worker gave my wife a just weened kitten. It’s of the Asian Leopard family (mostly that is… It seems that after several pure-bred generations, this kitten’s momma slipped out of the house one night unchapperoned). My wife, Gay, has decided to name her “Noel.”
That’s Noel being held up for her introduction to the world by Sarah, and of course, the cat has already lost interest.

Anyways, the girls and Josh are having more fun watching this kitten than TV (Programming’s better and with a cat, you know it’ll be cleaner!)

I have NOTHING profound to say but am again just amazed at the joy of everyday life. YEAH GOD!!!

Watching the girls notice the way this kitten seems to have her own mind and will, reminded of this old joke that circulated years back when I was working in the public school. ENJOY!

1. Neither teenagers nor cats turn their heads when you call them by name.
2. No matter what you do for them, it is not enough. Indeed, all humane efforts are barely adequate to compensate for the privilege of waiting on them hand and foot.
3. You rarely see a cat walking outside of the house with an adult human being, and it can be safely said that no teenager in his or her right mind wants to be seen in public with his or her parents.
4. Even if you tell jokes as well as Jay Leno, neither your cat nor your teen will ever crack a smile.
5. No cat or teenager shares you taste in music.
6. Cats and teenagers can lie on the living-room sofa for hours on end without moving, barely breathing.
7. Cats have nine lives. Teenagers carry on as if they did.
8. Cats and teenagers yawn in exactly the same manner, communicating that ultimate human ecstasy — a sense of complete and utter boredom.
9. Cats and teenagers do not improve anyone’s furniture.

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Resurrection Sunday

This morning I was faced with a question of “What was a favorite moment of 2013 so far (as a pastor)?” After thinking for a few moments, this was my answer:

At the end of our Easter worship service I asked for folks to be praying for our 4 yr old grandson who was about to have surgery that next week. And I referenced the healing power of God and shared how my sister-in-law (that the congregation has been praying for) had actually ‘coded’ that week at dialysis and was literally brought back to life. If God can do that, then we can expect him to give REAL help as we face the things in our lives!

As I finished, a lady in the back row stood up and called for a nurse. I looked back and saw a man who looked unconscious and unresponsive and I saw his face dark and blackish. Four nurses and a retired doctor headed there and I simply started praying. I heard one nurse later say that she was convinced that he was gone. Less than a minute passed before he just started having color again and ‘woke up.’ And this was BEFORE they could even get him out of the pew to the floor to try CPR or any other intervention!

Easter is well called: “Resurrection Sunday!”

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Clergy Peer Groups

A few years back, our bishop, Thomas J. Bickerton, stated a goal of having pastors be involved in small groups together to encourage each other, help each other get better at what we do, and to help hold one another more accountable in our journey as pastors. It was a great idea and a horrible one as well.

GREAT! because we clergy need to stop being the ‘Lone Rangers’ out there… We need each other, we need someone to help encourage when the world gets overwhelming, and we SURELY, like ALL Christians, need someone to boldly ask how our own spiritual walk with Jesus Christ is going.

HORRIBLE! because any time something is arbitrarily decided FOR us, and we then have to live it out on our own, feels like just one more ‘GOTTA’ in a whole BUNCH of gotta’s. Which tends to wake up the rebellious teenager from my past that says ‘I shouldn’t have to’ and ‘You can’t make me!’ (I suppose there’s a chance that I’m not alone in those feelings and responses…)

I was already meeting occasionally with a friend who is also a UM pastor in my conference but was a friend from years before as well. But that didn’t count.

I have since participated in three of the clergy groups (where I was living determined where I attended). All three just sort of stopped meeting… without any decision to stop meeting (that I’m aware of).

So it was interesting to me to read this article from the Center for Pastoral Excellence on “When Clergy Peer Groups Don’t Work ( & Why).”

I was disappointed in that it came from the negative side only. (I ALREADY know A LOT of things that Do Not work… Now tell me some that DO!), but it was insightful and interesting none-the-less.

Check it out! I’d love to hear about clergy peer groups that really HAVE worked (and why/how).


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Why So Much Evil?

In the past few weeks, it’s felt a little bit like the world has gone sort of crazy! Runners in Boston were bombed, a plant in Texas blew up, a building in Bangladesh simply collapsed, entire communities in the mid-west were being flooded, a doctor in our own state is on trial for unbelievably heinous crimes against newborn babies. And on and on the list goes. Many have heard the news and asked questions like: “Where was God?” “Why would a good God allow things like this?”

Peter, in the latter half of the first century, was asked similar questions by those first Christians as they were being rounded up by soldiers and then being persecuted… and killed… just because they believed in Jesus. They couldn’t understand why Jesus hadn’t come back to conquer the evil and take the Christians home to heaven. In 2 Peter 3:9 we read: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (NLT)  God holds off the Day of Judgment because He’s still holding out the offer to repent for those who are still enemies of God.

Now-a-days is just the same. Every time something horrible happens, people  still grapple with the questions of “Why?” and “What now?”  In the gospel of Luke, Jesus is told about a horrible, heinous crime where the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, killed some Galileans as they brought their offerings to the Temple. Jesus doesn’t answer “Why?” but he DOES answer the question of “What do we do now?”

About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.“  —Luke 13:1-5 (NLT)

Back in Eden, Grandpa Adam and Grandma Eve knew only good and God protected them from knowing evil or experiencing its effects. They chose to believe Satan’s explanation of how deprived they were because God was protecting them from the knowledge of good AND evil… and so they took matters into their own hands and they ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And all of their kids through the thousands of years ever since are regularly made to know the good AND the evil. We can thank our great-something or other grandparents for the inheritance… we get to know and feel the effects of evil.

So in God’s perfection, He protected us from experiencing and knowing evil… and we complained. Now we know evil too intimately!

That choice has already been made and there’s nothing we can do about whether or not we know evil. The one choice that remains is: Will we let evil remind us of our need for God? Will we repent and follow Him?

This is my pastor’s letter for the Clarks Mills UMC newsletter: The Flame (May 2013).

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