Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It is Finished

Our message series for Easter at Catawba UMC will be called It is Finished.  It's about six different biblical understandings of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. 

Here's the layout and scriptures I will focus on:

March 4 - Not Guilty – Romans 3:19-31
March 11 - Reconciled – Colossians 1:15-23
March 18 - Redeemed – Ephesians 1:3-14
March 25 - Final Offering – Hebrews 10:1-18
April 1 - Enemies Loved – Romans 5:6-11
April 8 - Victorious – 1 Cor. 15:50-58

This will probably be the most theological heavy series I've ever done.  However, I think it will be well worth it.

Why don't you read and study these scriptures with me throughout this lenten series.  I think you will be blessed if you do.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Attitude and Generosity

We showed this video at the beginning of the message this past Sunday:

The video led into talking about our attitude when it comes to money and generosity and giving.

We live in a culture that bombards us with advertisements.  The message we receive is "you get what you pay for."  Our value system has become "I will buy the product if it delivers what I want."  That mentality is good (to a certain extent) for spending our money wisely and finding great deals.  It's good for a consumer oriented economy. 

The problem is when we bring that same mentality into the church worship service.  If we aren't careful our attitude might become: I will only "buy" the "product" if the worship service meets my expectations:

- I will only give if the service delivers the kind of music I want.
- I will only give if I feel "comfortable" in the service.
- I will only give if someone remembered my aunt was in the hospital last week.
- I will only give if the pastor visited me that week.
- I will only give if the preacher doesn't make me feel guilty.
- I will only give if the preacher makes me laugh.
- I will only give if ...

This "you get what you pay for" mentality robs the worship service of what it's intended to be about...which is worshipping the God of the universe for who He is and what He has done for us.  The worship experience on Sunday morning is not about delivering a's about connecting with God.

Now, I am not saying that you shouldn't have expectations going into a worship service.  What I am saying is that you should have the right expectations. 

There's is room for disagreement and having an opinion and having certain preferences for how you worship.  However, there is a time and place and manner of expressing those things that can be done without hampering the worship service itself.

The question isn't "am I getting what I pay for" if I give to this church?  The question is "Do I expect to connect with God through the power of the Holy Spirit so that I can become more like Jesus through what happens during this worship service."

What's your attitude when you come into a worship service?  What's your attitude when it comes to your money?  Your attitude will often determine your experience.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Guest Speaker

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This Sunday Catawba UMC welcomed Ron Dozier from Good Shepherd UMC. 

Ron talked about God's cure for anxiety and used Philippians 4:4-7 as his text.

He talked about living in the "as if" instead of the "what if."  Living in the "what if" produces worry, fatigue and anxiety.  But when we have the right perspective, realize we need partnership and understand God's peace, we live "as if" God is with and will help get through anything we face through the circumstances of our life.

To download or listen, you can scroll to the bottom of this blog.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Results

I'm ridiculously happy to say that I passed the Board of Ordained Ministry the second time around! 

Tuesday was a really good day!

After I found out that I was approved Chrys and I went to dinner and a show at Central Church of God in Charlotte and enjoyed the live music of Bebo Norman.

In the words of Ice Cube (not quoted exactly): "I gotta say Tuesday was a good day."

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Boards

I have a big day tomorrow.  I go before the Board of Ordained Ministry again.  Last year around this time I went before three of the Committees and passed one of them, which means this year I go before the two I did not pass.

The three committees are:
-Call and Disciplined Life
-Preaching and Discipleship
-Theology and Doctrine

I passed the one I thought I would have the most trouble with: Theology and Doctrine.

I'm not nervous yet.  It's a totally different feeling this year.  Last year I really thought I would pass.  I was pretty confident in myself.  This year I'm taking a different approach.  While I expect to pass, I'm going to try to go in with a more humble attitude.  Not a lack of confidence, but not a explicit show of confidence either. 

Like I've told people, whatever happens happens.

I will be hurt and disappointed if I don't pass and I will be excited if I do pass, however, ultimately this process does not decide the ministry God has for me and there is freedom in that truth.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


I recently heard Kenda Creasy Dean speak at a conference.  She's the author of the book

In the book she talks about a version of faith that our teenagers have adopted.  She calls it Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.  Here's the breakdown of this kind of faith:
Moralistic: God wants us to be good, to be nice.  Good people go to heaven when they die.
Therapeutic: The central goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself.  God’s wants me to be happy.
Deism: A god exists who created and orders the world and watches over things.  God is not involved in my life except when I need God to resolve a problem.

Compare that to Orthodox Christian Faith and it's pretty empty.  Compare that to the what the Apostle's Creed proclaims and there's some major differences.  Here's some of my personal observations:

MTD                                              Gospel
No Jesus                                       Jesus is the only way
No Holy Spirit                                Holy Spirit is absolutely essential
Impersonal God                             Personal God
No Suffering                                   Suffering has purpose
Personal Happines is the Goal     Obedience/Faithfulness/Holiness is the Goal
It's about me                                  It's about being Others-Centered
Good people go to heaven             Forgiven people go to heaven

(If you are interested, I preached about MTD in the second half of the sermon this morning.  You can listen or download it from the bottom of this blog.)

What's sad is that teenagers are getting this faith (MTD) from the church and from their parents.  I have a funny suspicion that teenagers aren't the only one's subscribing to the MTD version of faith. 

No more MTD for me.  I'm killing it and I hope you do to!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Reason for Everything?

I was recently watching the movie Miracle and have found myself thinking about a random statment from the movie.  Kurt Douglas is the coach for the 1980 USA hockey team.  As the team is preparing for the Olympics, Douglas's character Herb Brooks is particularly hard on the team.  One assistant coach is new to being an assistant to Brooks while the older assistant coach has a history with him.  The new assistant coach is questioning Brook's coaching to the older assistant coach.  The older assistant coach says "Herb has a reason for everything he does."

It got me asking the question for myself in my own role as a leader: "Do I have a reason for everything I do?"  Maybe it's different for ministry, but I can't honestly say I have a reason for everything I do.  I guess the question for me is: in ministry is it about me having a reason for everything I do or God having a reason for everything He does through me?

I would like to think that most of the time I am faithful to Him and that while I may not know the reason or the consequences of decisions I make as a leader, utltimately my hope is that my faithfulness will pay off according to God's purposes.

All I can do is be obedient to God and leave the consequences to Him.  Afterall, He's God and knows what He's doing.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wisdom 101

Our current sermon series is simply called Wisdom 101.  We have been spending time in the book of Proverbs.

This Sunday, however, will be a little different.  We will talk about the sacraments and we will experience the sacraments.  We will baptize a new baby and we will share in Holy Communion together. 

I'm looking forward to it.

And don't forget, you can scroll to the bottom of this blog to listen or download the messages in the series.