Monday, August 29, 2011

Bucket or a Pipe

We are in a message series at Catawba UMC called The Three.  The idea of the series is based on what makes a person a person. And if you think about it, the three things that makes a person a person is thinking, feeling and doing.   The series has focused on what it would look like if we submitted each of these areas of our lives (our thinking, our feeling and our doing) to our creator.

Yesterday the message was titled "Doing."

The scripture was James 2:14-26 where James is communicating clearly that faith is about more than just what you believe.  Jame's point is that faith is equally about what you do as well.  Maybe one way to put it is that faith in Jesus Christ saves you and good works done in His name keep you saved.   

The illustration I used was the contrast between a Bucket-like faith and a Pipe-like faith. A bucket's purpose is to hold something. It just sits there. A pipe's purpose is to carry something from one place to another. I asked the question, is your faith a bucket-like faith or pipe-like faith?

Water in a bucket either evaporates or it just gets nasty from just sitting there. Water that is moving is fresh and clean and drinkable. Is your faith like a bucket? Do you just hold to the good things God has done:

-You know God's love...but you aren't showing it to others.
-You believe God has forgiven you...but you aren't willing to forgive when you've been done wrong.
-You have hope for all of eternity...but it's your hope and your not about to share it with others.

Paul says that kind of faith is dead. It's like water in a bucket. It either evaporates and the bucket no longer has a purpose. Or it gets nasty and unuseable.

God is good at resurrection. So if your faith is dead, God can use a pipe and syphon out that hope, that love, that forgiveness and all the other good things of God and allow you to become a conduit of His goodness so that your life honors God and blesses others.

So may your faith be a pipe-like faith and not a bucket-like faith.

If you want to hear the full sermon, you can check it out in the sermon player at the bottom of this blog.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Clothing the Splachnon

This morning I preached from Colossians 3:5-15. In verse 12, Paul says "clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

Paul originally wrote those words in Greek. And in the Greek language the word translated "yourselves" is the word "splachnon". The splachnon in Paul's day was the seat of emotions. The cultural equivalent today is the heart. We say things like "he broke my heart." Which means "he emotionally hurt me."

The splachnon was the seat of emotions in Paul's day.

So Paul is saying "clothe your splachnon (the seat of your emotions) with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."

This morning I asked "how's your splachnon?" Do you lash out in anger when you are hurt? Do you hold grudges when you don't get your way? Do you withhold affection from your spouse when you are angry with him or her? What is your first emotional response when your pride or ego is threatened? Is it anger, malice, retaliation or passive-aggressiveness? If it's any of those things, God wants you to get rid of your old ways and clothe your splachnon with the virtues of love.

So how's your splachnon? How are your emotions? Just imagine how much better all of your relationships would be if they were filtered through the virtues of love.

May you clothe your splachnon in love!

To hear the message, you can scroll to the bottom of this blog and find it there through the player or you can go here and click messages.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Trying to Hide Worry

Our next two day project at CCC was a large wheelchair ramp that had two platforms. The most experienced construction person on our team was a senior in high school who had built a wheelchair ramp last year on a CCC trip. The ramp was for Mrs. Hood's Bible study and prayer group. Of the group, she told us that some are in their 60's, some 70's, some 80's and even a 90 year old. So no pressure on us at all to finish it!

I was worried. Everyone on our team was willing and tried to have a positive attitude, but I was really worried that we would not be able to do it.

I was the team leader and felt it was my responsibility to be positive and I tried not to show my worry.

I'm proud to say that we were able to get most of it done and it actually worked as a wheelchair ramp. I was amazed to see how much we accomplished with the little bit of experience we had on the team.

Because we were unable to finish it, I had asked a couple of guys from our church if they would be willing to stay over on Saturday for a few hours to finish it. Being the awesome guys they are, they said "yes."

So instead of heading straight home from an exhausting week with the rest of our church group, we went to finish the wheelchair ramp. And in 4 hours with four of us it was finished.

Here's a picture of Mrs. Hood on her new ramp:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Improved Prayer Life

On the first two days of the CCC trip we painted the exterior of a house for an older man. We told him we didn't think we could get to the very top on one side of the house (probably 40ft. hight). We had the 28ft. extension ladder extended as high as it would go. Then we had to use a paint roller on an extension rod to get the very top of where we were painting. Since I was the tallest in the group I was chosen to reach those high areas.

Of course we had a spotter to anchor the ladder...but how much could a spotter do if the ladder started to tip or if the one on the ladder lost his/her balance?

My prayer life improved greatly those two days as I painted those high areas. Hornets flew around me. My muscles grew weary with the odd angles I was painting. The extended paint roller was awkward to maneuver as I tried to keep my balance that high up. Did I mention that we had to prime it the first day and paint it the second day? I couldn't wait to finish that high area.

I prayed over and over again for God to protect me and literally reminded myself over and over again that "God is with me."

It feels good to know that it got done and that no one was injured. I truly think God was watching out for us.

Reflecting back I now wonder why I don't have that sense of God's presence and urgency to pray everday. People are always in where's the urgency? God is always where's the awareness of that? Why does it take a risky situation to bring about an awareness and an urgency?

I'm not sure of the answer to those questions but I am sure of God's grace that sustains and strengthens me everyday even when I fail to acknowledge it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


While at my first CCC mission trip last week on the very first work day we spilled the water cooler in the back of the van (a van borrowed from another church). After we cleaned it up we were the last ones to leave and had the furthest to drive to do a two day painting project.

On our way back one of the paint cans tipped over and spilled in the back of the van. (Did I mention we borrowed this particular van from another church). I wasn't mad, I was just exhausted from working all day then working to get the paint cleaned up (which took another hour). By the time I got the paint cleaned up my feet were wet from the water hose I had been using to spray it out and it was dinner time. So I went to dinner with soaking wet feet.

It just so happened that it was our workgroup's night for KP (kitchen patrol). That means your group stays after dinner to clean up the kitchen. It was lasagna night...lasagna night is the worst KP night.

I wasn't mad, just exhausted.

That was my first day of my first CCC mission trip. And at the end of the day I still wasn't mad, but I do think it might've been one of the best showers and best nights of sleep I've ever had.

That was day one.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Carolina Cross Connection

This past week, from Sunday (the 31st) to Saturday (the 6th), I was at Camp Carolwood on a mission trip with 13 others (6 adults and 8 youth) from Catawba UMC through an organization called Carolina Cross Connection (CCC).

There were 5 other churches particpating. Throughout the week we helped over 50 families in the Western North Carolina region. The projects included exterior and interior painting, building decks, building wheelchair ramps, yard work, cleaning and replacing floors.

The experience was the combination of camping and serving. Our Monday-Friday schedule looked like this:
7:00am - Wake Up
7:30am - Breakfast
8:00am - Private Morning Devotional
8:30am - Meet with your workgroup (same all week) and get project details for the day.
9:00am - Gather tools and head out to worksite, work until project is finished or until 5pm.
6:00pm - Dinner
6:30-7or8 - Freetime
Rest of the evening - Organized fun activities, corporate worship and opportunities for sharing what God had done that day.
10:00-10:30pm - Lights out

I have told people that I worked harder last week than I've ever worked in my entire life.

I'll share more details about the trip throughout this week.