Tuesday, September 29, 2009

100th Post

This is my 100th post. It seems like such a milestone, which got me thinking about other milestones in my life, so here some of them (as they come to mind) in no particular order:

-Thursday, February 7th: my first blog
-August 21, 1999: wedding date
-May 2004: graduated seminary (Gordon-Conwell)
-Dec 31, 1976: my birthdate
-July 8, 2004: my first daughter's birthday
-Dec 28, 2007: my second daughter's birthday
-Dec 2006: The greatest 30th surprise birthday party ever thrown
-Don't remember the date: skydiving
-June 2006: first appointment as a UM clergy (unofficially started in March)
-May 1999: graduated college (UNC-Wilmington)
-Summer 2000: bought our first house (still living there)
-This morning: our 5 year old made her bed by herself for the first time

I'm not feeling well today. However, making this list perked me up a little bit. How about you? What would your milestone list look like? Why don't you make one, you might just find you've been more blessed in your life than you remember.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Latest Read

I just started reading Don Miller's book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I'm really enjoying it. Here's two paragraph's that I absolutely loved:

"I've wondered, though, if one of the reasons we fail to acknowledge the brilliance of life is because we don't want the responsibility inherent in the acknowledgment. We don't want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage. And if life isn't remarkable, then we don't have to do any of that; we can be unwilling victims rather than grateful participants.
But I've noticed something. I've never walked out of a meaningless movie thinking all movies are meaningless. I only thought the movies I walked out on was meaningless. I wonder, then, if when people say life is meaningless, what they really mean is their lives are meaningless. I wonder if they've chosen to believe their whole existence is unremarkable, and are projecting their dreary life on the rest of us."

So my question for all of us is this, do we want to be unwilling victims or grateful participants?

God wants to write a story with our lives, what story is He writing with your life? Is it boring, controlled, mundane, lifeless and selfish, or is it adventurous, exciting, generous, Spirit-led and purposeful?

If your life were a movie, how would it end? How would you want it to end? If you see a discrepancy in the answer to those last two questions, why don't you start living life in a way that has the ending you want, instead of the ending you're heading to now?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

This is a passage I read to people in the hospital or in nursing homes quite often. Its an excellent pastoral scripture that brings people comfort. I used to think it was about Jesus taking away our burdens and giving us rest, actually, its about Jesus offering himself.

Sometimes we can become so familiar with a passage we forget to look at it closely. That what had happened to me on this one.

Jesus never even hints at taking away burdens and weariness, he does however offer Himself. Now I know he offered himself on the cross for us years ago. But this offering is a daily offering. He is available for us to come to Him for rest AND for learning. Taking Jesus' yoke means submitting ourselves to his teaching, his way, his will, his hope, his ideal life. And that ideal life is only found in him. And our part is simply to come to him with a willingness to learn from him.

This passage isn't so much about our circumstances, as it is about the one we turn to when our circumstances cause weariness and seem heavy. In those moments in time and seasons of life, Jesus offers himself. His promise is that if we come and offer our weariness and burdens to him, he will be the gentle and humble savior we need him to be for us at that time.

May you see through your circumstances, to the one who wants to walk with you through them.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

When you don't know what to pray

I lead a ministry called GriefShare that helps people who have lost a loved one. We had our first session of the semester last night. At the end of the class, after people had shared who they had lost and the intense hurt, pain and sorrow that was there, I didn't know how to to pray. I didn't know what to say.

So I thanked God that he knows how to pray and what to pray when I don't. We are told in Romans 8:26 that "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Just a few lines later, in verse 34 we are told that Jesus himself is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

So if there is ever a situation where you do not know how to pray or what to pray just ask Jesus to do the praying for you through the Spirit. Afterall, Jesus was pretty good at it while he walked on this earth and promised us the Holy Spirit to be His presence with us once He was no longer physically present.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Soul Sharing

As part of the process of ordination in the United Methodist Church, I have to participate in a R.I.O.M. group (Residency in Ordained Ministry). The group consists of fellow clergy at a similar professional level and we are led by a mentor.

Today was the first meeting of our 2nd year together and the mentor basically just let each of share what was going in our lives and ministries for the first 3 hours of our time together. There was a lot of gut level soul sharing that happened. It was good.

I know I needed to hear some things and share some things and it was helpful to me both personally and professionally. How about you? When is the last time you did some soul sharing and soul listening? If its been awhile, call that person you can trust, better yet, schedule a breakfast, lunch or dinner together just to get caught up. Reconnect with that person and get some stuff out and let some stuff in. It will do you good!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Nines

So there was this online leadership webcast/conference on 9/9/09 called The Nines. It was a series of Christian leaders who were asked this question: if you had nine minutes to tell other Christian leaders anything, what would you tell them? It went on all day (I think from 9-9pm).

I watched for about an hour and wanted to share two of my favorite ideas from the conference.

1. Brian McLaren asked "what is the gospel?" He then said "the gospel is about transformation not evacuation." So many pastors think Jesus' message was about getting off this earth and either going to heaven of hell. That idea couldn't be farther from the truth. Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God coming on earth as it is in heaven. That means Jesus is concerned just as much about our lives here on earth as he is about our lives in eternity.

2. Sam Chen (I think that was his name) said that thing that separates pastors of a healthy growing church and pastors of other churches is the pastor's pain threshold. He said for growth to happen you have to have change and change means pain. So he said the more pain you can endure, the more likely your ministry is to grow. He said that if you talk to pastors of large churches, they have story after story of pain and have been able to endure it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Advice

Paul (a guy who wrote most of the New Testament) in a letter to his mentoree Timothy, wrote towards the beginning of his letter "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."

Paul's first advice to Timothy and the church was to pray for "everyone." Now obviously, a literal "everyone" would be impossible, but the point is to pray for those in authority. I often forget to pray for the leaders of our city, state, country and world. I also forget to pray for the leaders in the church, both paid and volunteer.

I have a confession: I don't always think prayer changes anything. How can my prayers make any difference? I'm just glad that what I "think" is not what "is." I believe in the power of prayer because I believe in the power of God. It doesn't matter what I think or feel as long as God is in charge. Its not about the prayers I pray, its about the one I'm praying too. Thank you God!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


How we handle our money is a spiritual issue. In 1 Timothy Paul says "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." Even if you haven't "wandered from the faith," its absolutely possible that you have "pierced yourself with many griefs" based on how you have handled money.

Money is a spiritual issue (like so many other areas of life) because it can either lead to a life of holiness and generosity or a life of fear, worry, jealousy, anger and pride.

The church I am a part of is offering a class this Fall dealing specifically with money from a spiritual perspective. Its about so much more than setting a budget and living within your means, its about your relationship with God and how that effects your relationship with money. Its called Financial Peace University and you can go here to learn more and sign up.

Maybe the statement I should have started this post with is this: "The way we handle God's money is a spiritual issue. Afterall, he gave us the money, we're just stewards of it. Money is a gift from God and if we are good at something, its at screwing up God's gifts to us. So many of us have screwed up God's gift of money and it has led to anger, frustration, jealousy, fear and worry.

May we use God's gift of money wisely so that we get back to recognizing it for what it is: a gift.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Peggy McRee

Peggy was a friend of mine and a member of the church I serve. She died on Saturday. I conducted the funeral service today and gave the eulogy. In the eulogy I talked about what a generous person she was. Not just with her material possessions, but with her love and time. She was genuinely interested in people's lives, it didn't matter if she knew you or not, once you met her, you were a friend.

I don't think I've ever met an unhappy person that wasn't generous. Generosity just seems lead to a life of joy and contentment. Peggy was a generous person and she was able to make the most of every situation. She was full of life and joy and anyone that met her loved her. She was a natural encourager. She always told me I had "pretty eyebrows" and that I was "handsome." Maybe that's why I miss her so much!

Rest in peace Peggy, I will miss visiting you.