Friday, July 30, 2010


Did you know there's 86,400 seconds in a day.  That's a lot of seconds.  How are you spending those seconds? 

Sometimes I think we struggle with our purpose in life because we aren't spending those seconds in a way that honors God. 

When we spend our time volunteering and/or serving others, we get outside ourselves which leads to becoming more selfless.  Which leads to having purpose.

How are you spending your 86,400 seconds?

May you spend them in a way that honors God.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Koran Burning - Ugh!

My friend and fellow GCTS grad recently posted an article on his National Examiner site about a church in Florida that is going to have a "burn-a-Koran" day to commemorate the events of 9/11. 

Instead of being redundant and writing anything about it on my blog, just check out his article here

My question is this: How does an action like that make the grace Jesus offers something people want?

I would love to hear your response to the question.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Imperfect Faith

Mark 9:14-29 is one of my favorite stories in all the Bible and verse 24 just might be my favorite verse. 

In the story, Jesus and three of his closest disciples come down from a mountaintop experience (and literally a mountain) to meet argument, an evil spirit and the inability of the disciples to heal a boy. 

Jesus is frustrated with the whole situation and talks to the father of the boy with the evil spirit.  The father says "if you can do anything, take pity on us."  Jesus says "all things are possible for those who believe."  Then the father says "I believe, help me overcome my unbelief."

I love it.  The father has a mixture of faith and doubt and is honest with Jesus.  And Jesus honors his honesty by healing the boy.  Jesus doesn't chide the father for not having 100% faith, because its not about our faith.  Its about the power of God.  And I believe one way to unleash God's power in our lives is simply by being honest with Him, just as the father was.

That was my point in the sermon today: Jesus honors our honesty. 

May you choose to be honest with God and in doing so find a God who honors your honesty.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Trading up

View more news videos at:

This video is the story of a teenager who traded an old Nokia cellphone for a Porsche Boxter.  Yep, you read that correctly.  Of course, it wasn't a straight up trade.  It took Steve Ortiz two years of trading to go from the cellphone to the Porsche. 

He turned something that wasn't worth much into something extremely valuable.  It reminds me of what God does when we surrender our lives to Him.  There's a song whose opening lyrics share this same truth:

I'm trading my sorrow
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

We can hold on to our junk and let it keep us from really living if we want to, or we can "trade up" for God to take it, redeem it and turn it into something beautiful.

Its what He does and He's good at it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

What's the good?

Romans 8:28-30 is one of my favorite verses.  I'm also aware that's its one of the most overused and abused verses in all of scripture.  I preached on in this past Sunday, if you want to hear it or download it, you can go here

There's a lot going on in these verses and I'm well aware that I didn't cover everything in the sermon, for this blog I just want to hilight one thing and share the main idea.  That way, you can fill in the blanks from the last blog entry. 

Paul says in verse 28: "all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose."  We miss the point if we think this verse is just about our good.  Its not about our good is it?  Its about the good.  So what's the good?  I believe his purpose is the good.  Then the question is what's his purpose?  Paul tells us that people who have embraced Christ are chosen (he uses predestined) "to conform to the likeness of his son" in the very next verse.  There's his purpose.  His purpose for us is to "conform to the likeness (or image) of Christ."

If we do that, then we understand its not about us.  And we will subscribe to this point: God's good in our lives does not always equal our happiness.  Jesus knew that His life was not about Him but about the will of the father.    If we are supposed to emulate the the kind of life that Jesus lived, then we will know that its not about our happiness, but its about his purpose.  And his purpose is for us to conform to Christ.  Which means:
-to love with the same compassion that that Christ loved with,
-to invite people into the kingdom with the same kind of boldness that Christ invited with,
-to serve with the same kind of humility that Christ served with,
-to forgive with the same kind of willingness that Christ served with,
-to speak truth with the same kind of conviction that Christ spoke with,
-to pray with the same kind of eagerness that Christ prayed with

May you strive to conform to His image and in doing so find a life of purpose, fulfillment and joy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I have a confession

I have a confession and you have to come to church this Sunday to find out what it is.  After Sunday I will be glad to blog about what the confession is.  But just know that I feel a little bit uncomfortable sharing what I'm going to share.  However, I think it fits well with what the text is...I'll at least give that away for you.  Its Romans 8:28-30.  I'll even give you the one point...with blanks of course:
God's __________ in our __________ does not always _________our _____________.

See many of you Sunday and don't forget, we have an awesome VBS experience starting this Sunday evening.  We were decorating the Family Life Center tonight and it looks great!  I hope many of you will bring your kids and that you will invite your kids friends as well. 

See you Sunday!

Sunday, July 11, 2010


In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus extends an invitation and a promise.  At first glance the invitation is rest, but if you read it closely, the invitation is actually himself and the promise is rest.  In just these three verses, he uses the words "me", "my" and "I" seven times: "Come to me...", "my yoke is easy...", "I will give you rest", etc.

Also, the yoke he's talking about is himself.  He's asking us to surrender to his ways and his authority and his teaching and when we do that, we will find rest. 
Read it for yourself and you will discover that Jesus is offering himself for people who are weary and heavy burdened.  And the result of accepting his offer is rest.  Not just a "do nothing, purposeless and lazy kind of rest," but a supernatural kind of rest, because Jesus is a supernatural savior. 

A rest that gets us ready and prepared to offer that same rest to someone else who needs it.  When we experience being "in Christ" and the rest that's there, we are called to invite others to experience it as well.  Let us not be "rest hoggers."
Jesus doesn't just offer rest, he offers himself.  Its an invitation I'll take everyday!

May you find rest in Him when you are weary and burdened.  And may you extend the supernatural  rest that you've found as a blessing to others who need it as well.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What's your banana?

This past Sunday I preached from John 8:31-36.  Jesus is telling Jews that have believed in him to step it up and become his disciples.  The reason he tells them that is so that they would know the truth and that the truth will set them free.  

I used the illustration of how monkeys are caught as a way to teach about the kind of freedom Jesus is talking about.  Hunters and capturers in India and Africa will drill a small hole the monkey can get his hand through in a Gourd, Cocunut or even the trunk of a tree.  They will put a banana or some other kind of treat in the hole.  When a monkey comes along, the monkey will try to grab the banana and form a fist to hold on to it.  The fist will be too big for the monkey to get the banana out of the small hole.  The monkey will not let go of the banana because monkeys are selfish and greedy.  The monkey is free, all it has to do is let go, but they don't.  So I asked the congregation, what's your banana?  What is it, whether its something signficant or insignificant that steals the freedom that is ours in Christ.

So I ask you, what's your banana?  What is it that gets in the way of the freedom that Christ wants you to have in this life.  Its a freedom we can have now and its a freedom that is ours for all eternity.  We often make decisions that create some kind of slavery in our lives and Jesus is calling us to follow Him and promises us that if we do that, we will have freedom now and in the future.

May you let go of your banana!


Fear of Success

I'm a little worried.  Many people from Catawba have commented about the sermon on Sunday...all good.  Maybe a little too good.  I had feared failure, maybe I should've feared success.  Now I'm feeling the pressure of trying to measure up to the last sermon.

I'm glad for the success, however, I wonder if I set the bar too high.  I don't want this to come across as bragging or anything, I'm just basing it off what people have said.   

I will just have to trust that God uses each sermon in its own unique way.  I'm sure I will have some messages that just completely bomb and others that really connect with people.  I just pray that through it all I will have the wisdom to strive for faithfulness to God and His kingdom, whether or not the results lead to sucess.

Monday, July 5, 2010

First Sunday Reflections

Well, the first one is under my belt.  My first Sunday as the lead pastor at Catawba UMC.  I was nervous about the service (not the sermon) and wondered if I would have a clue about what I was doing.  Turns out, the people of Catawba UMC are full of grace and understood even when I didn't do things exactly as they were probably used to. 

It was such a neat experience to have two worlds come together.  I met people at Catawba for the first time and had friends from Good Shepherd (the church I came from) attend to support me for my first service.  Like the old addage (yes its cliche' and a little cheesy) says: make new friends and keep the old.  It was equally great to see familiar faces in the congregations along with the possibilities of new relationships that I hope will last a lifetime.

After the service we had lunch with friends from Good Shepherd, relaxed then attended a July 4th cookout at the house of a family at Catawba.  It was nice to hang with people from the church and see our girls enjoy the fireworks.

It was a good, long, celebratory and exhausting day.  A day I would do all over again if I had the chance!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Unfamiliar places, familiar territory

I'm still getting my bearings in the new town for how to get to places.  I went to two hospitals today and even though they were new places, I felt right at home.  I guess a hospital is a hospital and a pastoral visit is a pastoral visit no matter where you are.  While the hospitals were new to me, I was in my element with the actual visits, so I think they went well.

After two days on the new job, I can see I'm going to have to be making decisions on how to prioritize my work time.  I have shut-ins to visit, hospital visits, the normal get-to-know-you visits, community events, church events, sermon prep and I'm sure some counseling and paper work will be thrown in there as well.  I just pray that God gives me the wisdom to make good decisions in how I spend my time. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

First Day

I already love my new job...want to know why?  Because I choose too.  The most powerful, sincere and biblical kind of love is the love that chooses.  I don't know what to feel yet, but I do know what attitude I should have.  And I choose to have a positive attitude that believes God is going to do incredible things through me and through the people of Catawba UMC.

I'm typing this on my first day on the job.  Here are some things I already like:

-Having an office at the church and at the parsonage.

-Having windows in the office at the church and at the parsonage.

-Being close to home.

-The very reasonably priced Bacon, Egg and Cheese croissant at the general store about a 1/2 mile from the church.

-A quiet office.

-A quiet town.

-The people I have met from the church.