Saturday, May 25, 2013

365 - Our First Year of Ministry Together

As I look back over my first year with you, let me reflect on a few of my favorite things.

I love my early mornings in the office. Since I still seem to be wired for the central time zone, my day begins early, just me and my Boss, a cup of coffee and the daily conversation of scripture and prayer.

I love our great staff. You have no idea how much fun we have, just being on the same team, talking and teasing, praying and planning, working and ministering alongside. What a wonderful mix of gifts and personalities God has gathered here, even with a sad good-bye to Katie and now a big "howdy" to Brooke.

I love our worship, the sense of God's presence and power every time we gather. Informal and traditional, with Lifeline rocking out and the choir raising us up, I love it all. Have you noticed how Richard takes a text or a theme and holds it up for us like a well cut diamond allowing each part of our worship to catch the fire and light of God's Word? Every time we show up, God shows up. What could be better than that?

I love the expressions on your faces when I get up to preach, that look of anticipation and expectancy, the smiles of encourgement, the openness to God's Spirit. What a challenge to me as I study and prepare each week. And as I preach and teach, I can sense the companionship that we share on this journey of faith. I am so grateful that we get to walk this path together.

I love our table time, enjoying good food and fellowship with lots of you, on Wednesday evenings at church, in your home and in ours. Suzanne and I enjoy making new friends, sharing life, and getting to know you more personally. I love hearing your stories and getting a little window into your life. Thanks for sharing. Your hospitality has been a wonderful blessing and we look forward to getting better acquainted with all of our church family.

And, believe it or not, I love our meetings. I love seeing so many of you involved in leadership, willing to invest your time and your gifts in the future direction of our church. I love our discussions about the challenges of ministry in our place and time, and I appreciate so much your openness to an ever expanding, enlarging vision of what our part in Kingdom work might be.

As always, what I love most is you, watching God work in your life. There's nothing better than that for a pastor. Just watching God do His thing in your life, whatever your circumstances, wherever you are in the journey of faith. Through all of the ups and downs, the starts and stops, the peaks and the valleys, God is always at work in your life and in mine.

I love seeing the light come on in your heart the first time you realize that God can use you to do His amazing work. I love the smile of joy and satisfaction when each one of us finds their thing, their place, their part in God's purposes. I love celebrating with you the fulfillment that only comes from being useful to God in Kingdom work.

And we've just begun.

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Act of God?

Since the devastating tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma Monday afternoon, we have seen the grim pictures of destruction and debris and watched the interviews with many of the survivors. The commentators have added their thoughts and a few preacher types have interpreted this event as some form of God's judgment. Those who have suffered such traumatic loss are either blaming God or praising God, depending on their own theological bent. Is it God who sent the storm or God who preserves us through the storm? Is it both or is it neither? Are natural disasters always acts of God?

I reflected on this question awhile back when the volcano erupted in Iceland while I was in rout to Ukraine. Here are my thoughts. I welcome yours.

An Act of God?

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Life in a Box (Reprised)

Awhile back I went through the big Tupperware box containing all the stuff my mother saved from my childhood days. I wrote some reflections and shared a few memories. Having moved to Virginia, I thought it might be good to share these thoughts with all of our new friends. I guess every life has a story to tell. Here's a bit of mine. 

My Life in a Box: Part 1
My Life in a Box: Part 2
My Life in a Box: Part 3

Thursday, May 2, 2013

If Jesus Were from Texas . . .

Last night we were welcoming our new associate pastor coming to Virginia from the great state of Texas. It started me thinking, what if Jesus had come from Texas. I couldn't help myself. Feel free to add your own.

If Jesus were from Texas . . .
  • His disciples would have included Billy Bob, Roy Lee, Scooter, and Bubba.
  • He'd have brought his rod and reel with him when he walked on water.
  • He'd have fed the multitude with catfish and cornbread.
  • He'd be famous for turning water into whiskey.
  • The Sermon on the Mount would have been the Preachin' on the Prairie.
  • The prayer for the Passover meal would have been, "Good food, good meat, good God, let's eat!"
  • His front yard would have been filled with broken down mule carts.
  • Instead of a holy grail, knights would have been searching for the Holy Cooler.
  • He would have cured the blind man with a little tobacco juice.
  • Instead of a fish, the symbol for Jesus would have been a fishing lure.