"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
- The bass part - This is the story line of the Old Testament which Jesus carried with him throughout his ministry and particularly during the events of Holy Week. The bass part which provides a foundation for a song is the OT story of how God created the world, called it good, and because sin entered the world, God has been on a rescue mission by forming a covenant with Abraham and eventually with the people of Israel to put the world back to where it was always meant to be.
- The tenor part - This is being aware of the story line of the brokenness of our present world and community.
- The alto part - This is being aware of our own personal story line of brokenness, disappointment, heartache, and grief.
Next week, we will focus on Monday of Holy Week.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Let's call it child abuse.
Many see her as this kind, loving woman.
But I now know better.
Yesterday was Fastnacht Day.
For those of you not of German heritage,
it means night before the fast.
The day just prior to the beginning of Lent
A time to enjoy some final tasty treats
before the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter.
The memories of childhood began to flood back.
As a child,
this seemingly sensible, caring woman
would bring home these doughy pastries called fastnachts,
on the day before Ash Wednesday.
She would then place them on the kitchen table.
Then she would crouch and watch,
like a cat waiting for the mice to take the bait.
We just thought fastnachts were just funny looking donuts.
Little did we know that they were the kiss of death.
As I came to work this past Monday,
I was overwhelmed immediately by the smell of grease.
As I entered the building,
I realized that someone was making fastnachts
in anticipation of Fat Tuesday.
The stench was overwhelming.
You know a kitchen has become a haz mat site
when the bakers are wearing face masks
in order to breathe though the haze of grease.
You know grandma's fruitcake
has been trumped,
when you see a potato based dough ball
being dumped into boiling lard.
I went on the internet and did a little research on these bad boys.
The numbers horrified me.
For each one of those fastnachts that slips down your throat,
add 1215 calories.
For those of you who shriek at the sight of a gravy boat,
tack on 33.5 grams of fat.
For those watching sodium intake,
ring up 883 mg of sodium as you feel your blood vessels constrict.
And for you south beach carb watchers,
meet your worst nightmare
as you calculate in 185 grams of carbs in just a few bites.
Do not pass go.....do not collect $200.......just go directly to the fat farm.
It ain't called Fat Tuesday for nothing.
You could eat 2 of your favorite fast food biggie burgers with all the toppings
as an equivalent march to death.
And remember fettuccine alfredo, the heart attack on a plate????
You might as well call it Lean Cuisine compared to these death balls.
Eve could have had twenty of those forbidden apples before she began to approach the calorie count of one fastnacht.
To work off the effects of this sugary pill of dough,
try bicycling at 12 mph for 178 minutes,
or maybe you have 166 spare minutes to walk at 4 mph,
or just take a 2.5 hour lunch break and
substitute it with 146 minutes of swimming at 50 yards a minute.
Back to my mother.
This is the mother who thought I should spend winter afternoons
on the couch eating snacks and watching movies,
because she thought that skiing
might be too dangerous a hobby.
This is the mother
who thought I might catch a cold because my winter jacket wasn't heavy enough,
after I had slept the night before in an UNHEATED bedroom.
Call me crazy,
but this woman who could easily pass for "Mother of the Year"
has it out for me, as she says with a motherly smile,
"Have another fastnacht"
There are things in life that just look good,
that smell good,
that just taste so good.
Food is among them, but there are many other things that tempt us.
And sometimes, they seem to come from the safest sources.
Eve thought so,
and often, so do we
if we are not listening to the Father
who truly wishes the best for us.
The next time my mom comes around with a plate of those fastnachts,
I think I'll just say, "Thanks but no thanks"
and go climb Mount Everest instead.
"For I know the plans that I have for you,
declares the Lord, plans for your welfare
and not for calamity,
to give you a future and a hope. "
- Jeremiah 29:11
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Here are some Lenten opportunities at Faith Community to guide us through this season:
For the Sundays in Lent (March 1, 8, 15, 22, & 29) our church will be focusing on “The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.” Each family in our church will be invited to read a Lenten devotional book covering this theme. These daily readings will begin on Sunday, March 1. The books will be available to pick up at the Ash Wednesday service and Sunday, March 1 & 8 before and after services.
- Ash Wednesday Service, February 25, 7:00 P.M. Service with Imposition of Ashes
- Lenten 10:00 A.M. Thursday Morning Bible Study, Thursday, February 26 to Thursday, April 16 led by Pastor Robert in Church Parlor (Topic: “Christians at the Cross.”)
- Palm Sunday, April 5, Morning Worship, (8:30, 9:45, & 11:00)
- Maundy Thursday, April 9, 7:00 P.M. Service with Holy Communion
- Good Friday Service, April 10, 12:00 P.M. (This will take the place of the Community Good Friday Prayer Walk which has been canceled this year.)
- Easter Vigil Worship Service, Saturday, April 11, 7:00 P.M. (Confirmands Join the Church)
- Easter Worship Celebrations, Sunday Morning, April 12, (8:30, 9:45, & 11:00)
Monday, February 23, 2009
How U2 connects with me is I followed them while in High School/college and then kept on following them. Drawing on Christian themes and remaining a secular band (although rough around the edges for some Christian tastes) these Irish guys seem to know how to sing/play to our deepest longings. Early in their career, they had a song, "40" based on Psalm 40. I remember how this song introduced me to this wonderful Psalm.
I believe one of Cedarville University's professors has contributed articles on U2's music and the Christian faith. Those who have been to their concerts (they're considered one of the best live bands out there) have said that it was like they were in worship instead of at a rock concert. Now how does a band pull that off in front of 60,000 fans?
Not that they need extra publicity from me since BBC will have a big interview with them and they'll be performing every night next week on David Letterman, but I can't wait to hear these new songs. It's hard to believe that they will be turning 50 in a year or so.
So here's a sneak preview of U2 performing "Breathe" from their new album. Kind of crazy lyrics, but listen for Christian words like "grace," which is one of Bono's favorite words to use. This song rocks live! Watch...
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
It's a tradition of mine,
given to a mom who has been widowed for several years.
Just a simple way to let her know
that she is loved and cherished.
When I walk into her home,
I expect to see the rose on display
in a highly visible location.
I should know better.
the rose can be found on a table
in a closed off room.
A room closed off
from the rest of the house
in an effort to conserve heat........
a room that she rarely enters.
Mom, why don't you bring the rose
out into the living space
so that you can enjoy it?
I am not sure why I still ask questions
to which I already know the answers.
But I do.
Oh, it will last longer if it stays in the cool.
While I have long understood botanically,
the rose's aversion
to warm temperatures,
I have greater difficulty
understanding the purpose
of a beautiful rose not seen.
But that is my mom.
She is a packer.
No, not the football type.
The storing, put away type of packer
Even in this season of life,
where Alzheimers is her constant companion,
somethings do not change.
She was, and still is a packer.
She puts things away.
She doesn't live for the moment,
but prepares for the future.
Roses are placed in seclusion for longevity.
New dresses are placed in the closet for a minimum of six months before the first wearing.
Restaurant gift certificates are placed on the shelf for a later season.
Perhaps it is something from her childhood,
growing up in rather austere conditions on a farm.....
but she believes in putting away,
saving up for a rainy day.
She would spend her summers
canning and freezing every type of vegetable and fruit imaginable,
so that there would be food on the table during the snows of winter.
She would save every penny possible from paychecks,
so that college tuition for four children would be available in its time.
She would store old devotionals
so that they could be re-read in the quiet of later years.
She is a packer.
And so when she receives a rose on Valentines,
she doesn't need to see it to know that she is loved and cherished.
Knowing that it resides in the other room is enough for her.
My mom is a packer.
But she is also a woman of great faith.
She knows that what is visible is not the final answer.
She knows that what is unseen
is even more important than what is seen.
Things like, faith, hope, and love
which are measured in eternity.
When the day comes that she sees what is unseen,
I doubt that she will be very much surprised,
for she has known that it was there all the time.
That is how it is with those who are packers.
Don't hoard treasure down here
where it gets eaten by moth
and corroded by rust -worse! - stolen by burglars.
Stockpile treasure in heaven where it is safe
from moth and rust and burglars.
It's obvious isn't it?
The place where your treasure is,
is the place you will most want to be,
and end up being.
Matthew 6:19-21 (The Message translation)
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Sermon - “There’s Something Different about You”
Features - Transfiguration Sunday & Vacation Bible School Special Offering
Scriptures - II Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; II Corinthians 4:3-6; & Mark 9:2-9
Friday, February 13, 2009
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, summarized Christian practice by encouraging those early 18th century Methodists to live out these three simple rules.
The three simple rules are:
Do no harm.
I told our group how our District Superintendent used these three simple rules to share with someone who had sat next to him on a plane flight and who was open to some practical advice on how she should proceed to deal with some problems and issues she was facing in her life. In less than a minute, he briefly encouraged her to live out these three simple rules, rules which he seeks to follow in his own life.
The first simple rule is "Do no harm." Here are some brief highlights of this rule from our study yesterday:
This rule, while simple, is difficult to live out because of three reasons:
1. It demands a lot of self-discipline on our part.
2. We tend to bind ourselves to a particular ideology/theology, rather than to Jesus Christ, alone.
3. We're afraid of the consequences if we live out this rule. When we refuse to live according to the ways of the world, this will have an impact on who we are inside and out!
Our group talked about ways that we inflict harm on others - gossip, speaking disparagingly about others, manipulating the facts, and diminishing those who disagree with us.
The author of the book, Reuben Job, was one of the keynote speakers at last year's West Ohio Annual Conference gathering at Lakeside, Ohio. This is a man of deep wisdom, spiritual maturity, and substantial Christian conviction.
I probably paid him one of the deepest compliments when I told my group yesterday that he reminds me of the Apostle John. Tradition tells us that John, one of Jesus' disciples was the only disciple to live to an old age. He was so respected and revered for his Christian character that when christians/churches were behaving badly, he would appear in front of the assembly, and because he was in a weakened state, would offer these barely audible words in a raspy voice, "Beloved, let us love one another" and then he would sit down! That's all it took. And people began to behave in a more Christlike way in the way they treated each other.
Next week, because the Season of Lent is around the corner, we're going to need to focus on the remaining two simple rules together.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I met both Dans while on a recent trip.
I had never been to this city before
but I was enjoying the feel of
this growing city.
Restaurants of many cuisines,
the performing arts abound,
sporting events dot the calendar.
The first Dan that I met is in the banking industry.
Like many young people
who populate this city.
he is single, well educated,
Over the last several years,
this metropolis has become a hub of the banking industry.
It is what drew Dan to the area.
Things were good when Dan moved here.
He was in his late 20's when the economy was booming,
His future looked bright and promising.
And then things changed,
The economy stepped into one of the biggest recessions in years.
Now in his early 40's,
Dan's sense of hope has been replaced with fear and apprehension.
He awakes each morning wondering if he will have a job at the end of the day,
He hears the rumors,
the quiet talk in office cubicles....
words like downsizing and layoffs dot the conversations.
10 years ago,
his biggest concern was
how to invest his money,
and which restaurant to choose for a Friday night date.
Now his thoughts have migrated,.....
how will he make it if his job is eliminated.
What about his mortgage?
Car payments, utilities,
Each restless night seems to evoke another financial concern
Life has far more questions than answers these days.
Dan came here expecting an adventure.
He just didn't expect the adventure to be this scary.
I met the other Dan in the same city.
He is slightly older than the first Dan.
At least it appears that way.
Homelessness has a way of aging a person.
He came to this city because it was in a warmer climate.
It makes sleeping outside at night a bit easier.
He has concerns as well.
He wonders if his home will be taken by others,
It's a small space that he claimed several months ago,
under the overpass of the highway.
Squatter rights only go so far when you don't have a mailing address.
Dan has more than one home.
On nights when the wind blows the rain eastward,
he moves to his other home
so that he can better attempt to remain dry.
This Dan is single as well,
and well educated
with a degree in language skills
He speaks three languages
He too, expected that life would be a challenge and adventure.
He just didn't anticipate this type of adventure.
That's what happens when you lose a job,
and you have no family that can help you make it through the hard times.
Like the other Dan, Dan thinks about his health care and the other essentials of life.
Will he get in line early enough to be seen by the volunteer medical staff at the mission?
Will he receive a bus token that will allow him to get across town to a job interview?
Will he be lucky enough to be among those who can take a shower that day?
Will the meal that he is given be something that he actually likes?
If you would place the two Dans side by side,
chances are you would see two very different people.
And if you were so inclined, you would likely treat them very differently
But if you had the time to listen to them,
to hear their stories,
you would know that they are practically the same person.
My dear friends, don't let public opinion
influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith.
If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit,
and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him,
and you say to the man in the suit,
"Sit here Sir, this is the best seat in the house!'
and either ignore the street person say,
"Better sit here in the back row,"
haven't you segregated God's children
and proved that you are judges who can't be trusted?
Listen dear friends. Isn't it clear by now that God operates quite differently?
You do well when you complete the royal rule of the Scriptures:
"Love others as you love yourself."
James 2: 1-4, 8
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Sermon - “Run in Such a Way”
Thursday, February 5, 2009
There are also those who despise them.
And then, there are those, like me,
who are disappointed in them.
I really expected more.
Some would wonder what more could I expect
out of a team that had just won the Super Bowl?
An organization that is now
having to build new shelves to accommodate
all the world championship hardware that it possesses.....
An organization that has had only
three coaches during the last 40 years.......
An organization that has developed
a legion of fans unprecedented in the country.
An organization that
continues to win year after year,
despite losing key players
to the free agent market.
I turned the television on
to watch the the victory parade
through the downtown of the city.
Thousands and thousands of people
crammed into every nook and cranny along the streets,
welcoming their conquering warriors home,
cheering every speech,
every gesture from the team's players.
An entire city
coming together as one
to celebrate their triumph.
And then it happened.
The doors of disappointment opened wide,
and the players marched on in.
It started with one player.
A second stringer. who receives
little playing time.
he began to........
he began to..........
he began to...........
Or should I say,
attempt to sing
It's a simple cheer,
sung by all the fans
at important moments
during each game,
at each pep rally,
at each tailgate.
It consists of 8 notes,
and only three different pitches.
It begins with a minor third.
A minor third!
It's the interval that children
usually first learn to sing
because it is a natural interval
for young ears to understand.
it goes down a major second,
and then finally up a perfect fourth
In musical theory,
(or to all Sound of Music enthusiasts)
it would be sung to these syllables.........
Do Do Do Do Do Do
It is the simplest of melodies,
so that anyone can sing it.
But not this cornerback.
Not even close.
He tried to get the crowd to join in with him,
but he was so off pitch,
they didn't know how to help him.
So his teammates attempted to come to his aid.
Each one more unsuccessful than the previous.
Finally there were eight players
all trying to sing this cheer,
each in their own key,
each one woefully off the mark.
I sat there utterly aghast at what I was hearing.
There is a word for it in music theory.
It is called cacophony,
it means harsh or discordant sound.
And oh, how harsh it was.
I have seen these players storm back
and grasp victory from the jaws of defeat.
I have seen these players
capture the attention of the nation and even the world.
And yet there they were.
unable to sing their way out of a paper bag............
I fully plan to write the coach
and advise that he schedule singing classes
sometime in between tackling drills and scrimmages next year.
It is said that he who sings,
If that is true,
then these world champions
don't have a prayer.
Forget the 6 Super Bowl titles.
These would be the guys getting laughed off the stage
in the first round of American Idol.
Having a song is important.
It is vital.
I have seen people who work their way,
even triumph over many obstacles in their lives,
and yet they seem to have no song.
In the Old Testament,
the Lord instructed singers to be at the front of the army before each battle
In the New Testament,
they sang songs and hymns before the last supper,
If you find yourself
fighting your battles
and you have little or no song.........
call a timeout,
get to a songfest.
Learn how to sing your song.
You just might be surprised at the results.
"Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another
in psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.
Ephesians 5: 18b-19
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I asked Cindy to send me a brief summary of each of her visits as a way of highlighting how Christ is at work in each of our Common Cup Churches. Here are her reflections from her recent trip to Old Town UMC: