12/21/2018 0 Comments
Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they are always glad you came. You want to be where you can see, troubles are all the same. Thanks Cheers.
It’s when you walk into a room full of strangers and you hear a familiar laugh, see a recognizable face. It is the group that identifies you first, spots you in the crowd and stands up. Everyone else between you and the table in the back doesn't seem to matter anymore. Its an instant connection as communication begins with nonverbal gestures, hand signaling and voiceless lip movements that beckon you with a smile. When you are asked, “how many will be in your party this evening?,” although you have come alone, it is an instant exponential multiplicity once you say the words,”Im with them.”
You feel more at ease once you identify where you belong. You know that these people share thoughts, feelings, ideals and values that match your own.They are glad to see you. No need for pretense, no performance requirements, no judgement. You hang your coat on the back of the chair, pull the base of your seat beneath you closer to the circle, place your elbows on the table and with a sigh of accomplishment, the Cheers begin. Its a personal status update of the mundane sequence you experienced just before you arrived. Timeless tales of great renowned about the traffic on the way over, or phrases that begin with “Tell me why.., you will never believe..” No matter what it is, they are happy to hear it. Why does that feel so good? Do you have a place like that for the holidays or in your life for that matter?
I no longer hang out by the tetherball court at the playground anymore. We surround ourselves with people who are headed the same direction in life that we are, in this case recess. The anomaly of Cheers is the truth of our basic human need to belong, mingled with the falsehood of the best places to get it. You may have heard:
“Saturday Night Live’s” Pete Davidson’s posted on instagram, “I don’t want to be on this earth anymore” and "I'm doing my best to stay here for you but I actually don't know how much longer I can last.”
Coming up next time, we will continue the theme of “belonging.” There seems to be a counterfeit, a bootleg, a phantom, an antichrist that runs deeper than popery potpourri.
For now, there are two χειρός in John chapter 10. One in verse 28 and another in verse 29. If you belong to Christ, by direct implication you belong to the Father. Which means you are in extremely good hands.
Whether you celebrate or not, have family or not, I pray this season you surround yourselves with the love, joy and peace that comes only from Emmanuel.
12/6/2018 0 Comments
Dude, winter is soooo gay. Which might mean it is a happy, bright, winter wonderland. It may also mean the weather is stupid, and over time has become so sporadic and unpredictable that it is hard to know whether to wear a jacket, shorts or both. It all depends on when you were born.
Growing up, this was the word my brother used when describing a situation that was ridiculous in nature and less favorable than expected. The word has changed in context at least four times since the 13th century. Defined originally in bright colored, happy, phlegmatic tones, later became a secret same sex relationship code. Check out the history of the word gay.
Today you must be careful of what you say. The word “gay” defined by same sex preferences has expanded expression in non-binary values. The discussion has deepened as two groups argue whether or not “sex” and “gender” are the same thing. “Sex is biological while gender is a spectrum of possibility transcending traditional western binary gender roles.” Gender is now described by how one self identifies. It is even considered acts of violence to refer to someone who self identifies with a pronoun contrary to how they may appear to you. PBS has another video that will explain more completely.
When I read Revelation 21, I am always brought to tears by the thought that there will be no more tears. Jenna Bush Hager reads from this chapter as she delivers the second reading at George H.W. Bush’s funeral. When we skip to 1:49:33 of the funeral service you will notice she reads verses one through seven and skips verse eight. It Makes sense because the service was upwards of four hours long. At the same time, although biblical truth, I have always been alarmed by verse eight and would never read it at a funeral. It is a list of second death candidates.
So what does word gay, non-binary personal pronouns and the 41st president’s funeral have to do with each other? Not sure, but whether you are gay, a he, a she, non-binary, or a president, your identity cannot be rooted and grounded in the things of the first heaven and the first earth in verse 1, because they will all pass away shortly. One person says, I’m an alcoholic, a nobody, a lawyer, doctor, indian chief. The other says, “I’m not smart enough,” “I’m afraid,” “I’m an addict,” “It’s just who I am.” The One who created you says you are more than that. It's just hard to believe when our feelings tell us otherwise day after day after day.
Verse seven says that IF we are overcomers we can inherit the new heaven and new earth. When I used to read verse seven and eight, I would shudder because we are all profoundly qualified candidates for the second death. There was a sense of burden to “overcome” on my own, to try and change things about ourselves that are so ingrained, it is as if we were born that way.
What is your title? How do you identify yourself? How does society identify you? Do you believe what they are saying? Names change over time, titles come and go, Christ says you are meant to be children of God. There is not a better name or title than this. The Bible says my old identity is crucified with Christ and yet I live, not I but Christ who lives within me. If we identify with Christ in His death, we will have His life too. Not only on resurrection morning when George H.W. Bush will rise (relax), but today. Being alive in Christ means identifying with Him daily, it is also a golden opportunity to tell someone else the Good News. Would you like that today?
12/4/2018 0 Comments
Outlined in sidewalk chalk was a track that began in the basement of the lodge that circled a figure eight around a couple of the center support beams. I will call it the parable of the “Board Walk.” It is also the mode of transport in this relay race we will call “life,” for all intensive purposes.
You might be confusing “Board Walk,” with “Boardwalk,” the highly coveted dark blue property just before passing “Go” and collecting $200. Do not be deceived friends, it is a highly overrated property.
“So the probability of landing on a railroad every time going around the board is 4 / 40 which is a 10% chance. And the probability of landing on the 3 properties right next to eachother is 3 / 40 which is a 7.5% chance. There are other factors involved like you have to roll 2 dice. This means 6 7 8 are the most common dice rolls, with 7 being the most popular.” --- Thanks Math Stack Exchange.
Therefore you do the math when it comes to 2 properties in high demand. If you ask me, a life long member of the blue collar mid to low class affiliation, I find great value in securing the fixer-upper properties on the other side of Mo-town (Monopoly Town). I gladly accept the Baltic, Mediterranean, Connecticut, and Oriental Avenues. With just a little pest control, a fresh coat of paint and a all you can eat Continental Breakfast, I Monopolize greatly. Don’t believe me? Invite me over and we will play.
Youth Rally was a solo mission for me this year. I and my family went to support, and to educate ourselves in what I would have to look forward to in 2019. The theme was “Identity, Belonging and Purpose.” I found this to be a poignant, thought provoking topic in light of the darkness the enemy of souls seeks to shackle our young people with. This entry will be one of a series based on this theme beginning with “Identity.”
Until then, for those who may not know what the “Board Walk” is, here is a video clip taken from the event that weekend. Notice the person clapping, and the person with the cup. Notice others. I would like to know your thoughts of the parable that spring from the activity. Leave some messages for the podcast. 316-778-0260, it’s a Google number that goes straight to Voicemail.
Things to consider in your reflections are the roles of each person on the team. Observe the team function in relation to the different personality types, the leaders, the engaged and unengaged. Consider the importance of communication and the necessity of unity to take one simple step. How about the seemingly harmless negative talk coming from those within and those without. Think of the role of sideliners and the psychology from the perspective of spectatorship vs participation. “If I was doing it, I would do it this way.” Imagine the dynamic of competition that causes the team in the back to stop trying and never finish the race. There is the epiphany that no matter how many times some of those kids boasted to have done the activity before, it was new every time. Why? Because everyone is different, the nose, mouth, toe, and yet all are necessary in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 with Christ as the head. Then consider the seemingly failed, extremely effective model Christ demonstrated in Matthew 28:16-20. See you next time.
12/4/2018 0 Comments
Good news if you have an IRA (a.k.a. Individual Retirement Arrangement). The contribution limit has been lifted for the first time in six years. What that means for you is that you can contribute about $500 more to your retirement for the 2019 tax year.
The fastest route to Monmouth IL is 5 hours and 20 minutes from the church. That is if you took Interstate-35 through Kansas City to US-36 W. If you have family out in that direction you will be pleased to know that the boil order has been lifted. As a result of water main failure, the water in the area was deemed undrinkable and was required to be purified through boiling.
Look at the lady in the picture holding some cash rolled up, a hot beverage, and her glasses. It captures what we all may feel with the recent eruptions of violence all over the nation. The woman looks this way after a lockdown prompted by a gun call lifted at Pittsburgh Colfax K-8. Thank God no weapon found, and no one was hurt.
So, what do an IRA, boiling water, and a lockdown have in common? Before continuing this article, would you care to share?
If you said something about the spiraling depravity of our world, you have spoken correctly. If you said, “they all have nothing to do with me,” I might agree with that as well. Your life might be a copacetic rainbow pony ride at the moment and that is ok (you’re welcome, Drew).
The other thing these stories have in common are that limitations are being lifted. Some limitations are in place to regulate so that people do not use the favorable tax shelter of an IRA to stash cash quietly. Some limitations come with temporary variations of common practice, like boiling your water. Still some are simply just to protect.
In John 12:32, a limitation is lifted in direct proportion to the physical lifting up of a human body.
"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."
The “I” in this verse is none other than the great I AM. If He is lifted up from the earth, things start to happen. We know He is being lifted up from the earth on a cross, based on the next verse. We see that when He is lifted, a peculiar phenomenon takes place. We know the Earth moves round the Sun in a dynamic equilibrium. The speed of the Earth's movement creates a centrifugal force which balances the gravitational force between the Sun and the Earth (thanks Google). This is the physics of material relationships. Now consider the spiritual draw that comes as a result of what Christ does in the narrative within the cosmic draw between good and evil. The truth of who God is, and what He hoped to accomplish through His Son is made manifest before the universe. The prince of this world 🌎 is cast out and an impossible third option has been created beyond anything we could have ever imagined. Eyes lifted, breath abated, words spoken, “It is Finished,” and with epic proportion, a covenant made since foundation of the world is enacted from the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit in active living Words on the page you are reading at this very moment. An invitation. One thing missing. A choice. Your choice to receive this free gift, today, today, today. By faith you and I can take hold of this beautiful invitation. It has the power to change the course of your next agenda item scheduled in the next few minutes. While it may not feel like it all the time, it is the only way I am able to make it through another minute, hour, day in the face of a scary dying world. Let us lift Him up daily.
12/4/2018 0 Comments
Meet Ms. Givehand
Meet Mrs. Givehand, a 94-year-old African American widow living in Nebraska City her whole life. She lives across the street from the house she grew up in because it had been burned down. Adversity was commonplace for her and her family. She would study twice as hard in order to receive half the grade, and not for lack of knowledge. It was because she was considered a part time person. She became a 1st grade teacher 50 minutes out of town in Omaha because her town would only hire full time people. She drove uphill both ways every morning come heck or high water. She had a reputation to preserve and the odds were not in her favor.
Years ran its course. Mrs. Givehand and her revilers experienced growth and change over time. I have had the privilege of seeing both groups eat peaceably under one roof. Singing together in her vintage floral wallpapered living room in honor her of her birthday. I have tasted the hate free, non-GMO, country fried chicken delivered special from Mary’s Cafe, a place she grew up around, right next to her father’s mechanic shop. It was a meaningfully decadent meal marinated in the ministry of reconciliation.
It was against the backdrop of her life experiences that the deportment of her message impacted me with such great force. She said, “You better finish school and get that paper.” I was touched but not moved understanding the complications of my situation better than anyone else. My education was a patchy quilt with credit hours spent toward Anesthesiology, Computer Science, Media, Advertising, Theology, and Business. At the end of the day, my official transcripts were being held hostage at Southwestern Adventist University because of an outstanding bill that would take some time to pay off. One of the professors from Union College would visit our little church in Nebraska City. He would bring a small group of Theology students to preach. This fulfilled the preaching rotation schedule and allowed Dr. Fetrick to evaluate his students. I expressed my interests to him and he assured me that if I came to Union, some of the hands-on work I was already doing as a Bible worker was directly applicable as credit toward my degree in Theology.
My time was up as a Bible Worker one year later. They decided to vote to extend my stay another six months. Pastor Martinsen, Mrs. Givehand, and others in the congregation voted also to assist with my outstanding school bill. It was a shock, a blessing, and a call. A call to step forward in faith as the amount donated was significant, but $2,753 shy. The Conference was happy to consider me for future employment, and after talking with an advisor, found it would take two years to complete my degree. Registration day came, and my situation had not changed. Pastor Sweigart urged me to step forward in faith with the miracle of his own testimony. I showed up, spent the whole day working through a registration check list that ended with a “DENIED” because of missing transcripts. I was at peace knowing I gave it a good try. On my way back home, I got a text message. I wonder if it is still saved on my phone. I'll have to do some digging around.
12/4/2018 0 Comments
The "P" word
Never been called the “P” word before. The title made me uncomfortable at first. It always felt like something you “are” rather than something you “do.” Like calling a person who drinks water a drinker. A person who breathes air, a “breather.” You my friend would be called a “reader.”
I’ve seen the title deified and trivialized by Pastors and members alike. Role identification and organization are essential for the motion of the movement at any given moment. I find however than when a name is assigned to anything, it becomes bureaucratic. Not sure if that is the right word. I’ll use it in a sentence:
“His mother, Olivia Caceres, sought asylum weeks later and — after enduring one bureaucratic hurdle after another, including a DNA test — was reunited with her son nearly three months after he was taken away.” --Thanks Dictionary.com
The “S” Word
All of this to say I prefer to be called the “S” word. That is a “servant.” It’s how I infiltrated the system and maneuvered my way into your pulpit. It’s how I became Associate Pastor, namely Associate Servant. This was not my doing to be quite honest. I just thought the whole infiltration maneuvering bit sounded kind of cool. It is the working of God through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. I’ll explain how.
Call me Jonah
Not because you “readers” are Ninevites, (no judgment if by some chance you happen to be Ninevite by blood, thanks genealogy.com) Rather because I purposed in my heart to become a disciple of Christ whether I was being paid to do it or not. After a year and a half as a Bible worker in Nebraska City, I received the unofficial training Moses received for 40 years after killing that Egyptian (No worries, my background check came back clean). Call me Jonah because I was certain God was not going to use me in the capacity of a Pastor. It was too complicated, and the time wasted on trying to “become” was time better spent “being” a servant. So I ran, thanks Jonah.
Coming Up Next
If you knew the story of how complicated it was for me to become a pastor, you would be amazed. It was the complication of permanently closed doors that proved to me and my wife that this was the path God had in mind. It was at every step of impossibility that I had to surrender my will to “give up,” and rest securely in the One who opens doors. Coming up next, I would like to share how I was able to be the servant God wanted me to become.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.