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Monday, June 16, 2014

Seeing Things

 “Pastor, you are a blessing to our church; you see things we don’t see.”  These words were in a wonderful note I received recently.

So, you can imagine me trying to figure out how and why I might see things differently, right?  I’ve considered lots of typical answers --- birth place, upbringing, religious training, life experiences, personality, God’s personal word to me, etc.

My best answer today is none of the above.  Instead, I think my “way of seeing” as a pastor has been influenced most a) by my friendship and acquaintance with Christian missionaries, both long and short term, b) by time spent with dozens and dozens of Christian foreign nationals with whom I have had the privilege to visit for a moment, for hours or even days, and c) by using daily devotionals and Bible commentaries by and for Christians from other countries. 

Corrie ten Boom was one of the first to startle me with transformational words from another world view, that of her native Holland and of the Nazi concentration camp she survived.

This morning (June 16th) I am reading a message provided by Lesley-Ann Hix to the online devotional program  She raises the question, “What impact can my short term work and witness have for Jesus in Chile?”  “Is it worth it?” 

She writes,     
“Last summer I lived in Arica, Chile, hoping to find Jesus at work there. Immersed in the culture, building relationships and learning as much from my missionary hosts as I could, I did find Jesus already in motion, but I became overwhelmed.
“There was a lot of work to do, and I was only there for two months. What would happen with the community group I started, or the church I worked with, or the children I loved at the children’s home? How was I supposed to be what they all needed?
“When Jesus sends out his disciples, he relieves them of the stress of having to be…well, Jesus. We work hard following Jesus into good work, but we stress ourselves out thinking we have to have it all figured out. The way things turn out is not entirely up to us. In Chile, I found Jesus already bringing life. So the good news is Jesus will be there long after I’ve left.”

Her prayer is simple,              
“Holy God, I am grateful that you call me. I am grateful that, no matter where I am, I can be a part of your ongoing work. Help me remember that it’s not all up to me. Amen.”

What might you see?  What might you learn?  If you could appreciate the truth of God as seen through the eyes of a Christian from another place?  Egypt, Syria, perhaps, or Palestine where it all began, South Korea maybe, South America, or South Sudan.  Our God is a big, big God, amen?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Identity          Hey! It’s a new year and I have a question.  Do you have a better handle on who you are and where your life is headed than you did at this time last year? 
Maybe that’s not important to you, and that’s ok, but if that question finds you pondering then here are some suggestions.
First, look to God for answers.  Because it is God who made both you and the ultimate destination toward which your life is headed.
Second, subdue your passions.  Because the power of raging wants and desires, loves and hates, regrets and sorrows can re-route your heart to pursue a false heading.
Third, be discerning of friend’s advice, even good friends.  Because while friends can indeed be good counsel, they nevertheless view the questions you ponder from the point of view of their own heading.
Fourth, watch out for that long black train. Because the ways of the Devil are subtle, capable of subverting your best efforts and intentions.
Finally, take Jesus as your daily guide and friend.  Cling to the Father and his holy name. Because there truly is Victory in the Lord.

Affirmation               Here’s a basic affirmation package that might help, when you have time.
God made me.  Psalm 139
The Lord is my shepherd.  Psalm 23
God forgives, heals, redeems me.  Psalm 103
God’s Word became flesh. John 1  

God loves and saved me.  John 3

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Feel the Spirit

Feel the Spirit – Experience the Fruits
Gosh the church is growing. And our ministries are expanding

How much would a little more spiritual fellowship please your soul?

In what ways is God speaking to you? How are you experiencing that call, that need, that nudge to grow closer to God in praise and service?

Where do you think your personal discipleship might make a difference?

Tech/Worship Ministry
The Humeston Church is looking for a few people (all ages, high school and up) who can visualize themselves working the sound and projection booth on Sunday mornings as a part of their personal ministry.

We pretty much need 2 people every Sunday, maybe 3 once we get around to capturing the service on video. But we’ll have to have more than 2 or 3 people trained and available, in order to allow the regular operators some Sundays off to spend out of the booth, either just in the pews with friends and family, or doing something else on Sunday morning.

If you would recommend someone for this ministry, or if you yourself would like to be a part of it, please get in touch with Pastor Dale. We could sure use your help.

Other Ministries
More families with children are coming to church now. If the ministry of Children’s Church appeals to you, we could use extra helpers there too.

In the Fall we will be adding Sunday School classes and of course there will be openings for those of you interested in the teaching ministry.

Through the summer some in our church family will be exploring a) doing ministry as a family, b) making a difference with hands-on local mission, c) men’s work weekends, d) creative prayer ministries, e) a small group ministry, and f) maybe a young adult fellowship. We probably can’t do it all, but are open to your interests and the Spirit’s leading.

We are the church. Together in prayer and ministry.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Difference

If ... God doesn’t make mistakes

Then ... everything God makes is perfect, amazing, beautiful, praiseworthy, and holy.

I know a lot of people who are really down on themselves. That’s Sad.
I know a lot of people who are really down on others. That’s Bad.
Today it is customary to build oneself up by pointing out fault in others.

There are two very different uses for the word “fault.”
The 1st meaning is “a defect or imperfection; a flaw.”
The 2nd meaning is “responsibility for failure or a wrongful act, a misdeed or transgression.”

In the simplest language, then, a “fault” is either something wrongfully done for which one is responsible (meaning #2), or something fundamentally wrong with a person, period (meaning #1).

People who are really down on themselves are inclined to believe that they are defective, that they are a mistake. They are not. But it is SAD that they feel that way.

People who are really down on others are inclined to communicate that there is something defective about them, that they are flawed. They are not. But it is BAD that they are treated as throw-away mistakes, not made by God.

The Challenge ... (a very old one at that) is to both be able to receive criticism and give criticism on the level of meaning #2 without attacking or feeling attacked on the level of meaning #1.

Meaning #1
“Fault” has a sibling named “Shame.” They are the henchmen of the Devil convincing the world (and doing a pretty good job of it right now) that God made mistakes everywhere. Perhaps they have also convinced you of your unworthiness (which of course is a lie)

Look at yourself. Look at others. And say, “God made me/God made you. No defect, no flaw. There is nothing in me or you, in and of ourselves, to be ashamed of. I am/you are not a mistake.”

Meaning #2
So, if God didn’t make mistakes, where do mistakes come from? Mistakes don’t come from God. They come from God’s human creations (perfect in their being) who do imperfect things.

“Blame” and “Guilt” are also siblings. But they are the servants of God. Their job is to address the horrors of human behavior while yet preserving the splendor of created worth. “Guilt” and “Blame” focus on the wrong. They assign responsibility, encourage repentance and restitution, and assist those wishing to do so to adjust their behavior to better reflect their created splendor.

The Difference ... it’s yours to make.

Find, love, and affirm the admirable, the God-perfection, in everyone (meaning #1)

Where there is wrong, address it with vigor, but as one who is also wrong, for only God is perfect (meaning #2)

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Suffering of the Cross

Adapted from a conference by Saint Thomas Aquinas, ca. 1265 A.D.

Q. Why did the Son of God have to suffer for us?
A. Because there was a great need,
first, as a remedy for sin, and
second, as an example of how to act, and how to fashion our lives.

Christ on the Cross is the example of love: Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends.

Christ on the Cross is the example of patience: he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth. Great patience occurs a) when one patiently suffers much, or b) when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not avoid.

Christ on the Cross is the example of humility.

Christ on the Cross is the example of obedience. For just as by the disobedience of one man, namely, Adam, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many were made righteous.
Christ on the Cross is the example of despising earthly things and following the King of kings in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Do not be attached, therefore, to clothing and riches. They stripped him of his clothes
Nor to honors. They ridiculed and beat him, and spat in his face.
Nor to greatness of rank. They crowned him with a crown of thorns.
Nor to anything delightful. They gave him only vinegar to drink.

Q. Is it not true that Christ exemplifies every virtue on the Cross? Is it not true that the Cross itself is the perfection and fullness of God?

Don't Let Money Have Power Over You

Proverbs 15:16 “Better is little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble therewith.”

1 Timothy 6:6, 8 “Godliness with contentment is great gain. And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.”

Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned that in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.”

It’s Lent.
I’m thinking about voluntary sacrifice, after the model of Christ.
I’m thinking about money, and time, and commitment to God, too.

I’m thinking that God’s economy differs quite a bit from commonly accepted economic theory. Here’s an “In God’s Economy” question to lift up that point.

Debt and savings each have their incumbent obligations. Which obligations are easier to get free of?
The obligations of debt, of course. With hard work and responsible planning one can get free of debt and its obligations. But who wants to get out from under the obligations that go with accumulated savings? Who wants to be free of those worries?

Here’s the rub. The message of Jesus, indeed of the whole Bible, is that when money, whether it be money saved or money owed,...when money defines your choices, you are not truly free, and your choices cannot truly be Godly choices.

“You cannot serve both God and mammon,” says the Holy Word.

To the contrary, when your choices are driven by the principles of God – mercy and grace, justice and love, compassion and righteousness – when money is not in the equation, blessing abounds.

Please do not misunderstand. I am not suggesting poverty. The Bible tells us to work, and earn, and take care of our families,... and as “our brothers keepers” to take care of them too.

Having money has power.
Not having money has power.
Don’t let money have power over you.
Don’t let its gain or its lack steal your heart from God.
Don’t let it compromise your “good-doing.”

Learning to Thrive

To really enjoy life, enjoy it with someone else. From the creation story at the very beginning of the Bible to the final description of eternity with the Lord at the end of the Bible it is clear that God made us and all things in relationship.

When God created, God created two, a man and a woman. Throughout the Bible God calls individuals into community, into relationship with each other, into relationship with God, himself.

It seems to me then that God’s purpose is that we not only learn to live with others, but that we learn to thrive in relationship with others. What is the greatest commandment again? but to love God, and your neighbor as yourself.

My challenge to you, if this thought resonates with you, is to not merely try again on improving your existing relationships, but that you also reach out, perhaps to one who would benefit from your mentoring, to someone younger, or someone less experienced at your specialty. Make a new good friend. Thrive on the energy their life brings to your life.

How to improve your existing relationships? Basically, pretty much stop talking and start listening. Then let what you hear, not what you know, govern your next step. One of my facebook friends, a guy, posted this. Hey fellas, don’t you think it time to listen to your wife? She’s smarter than you. Jesus says it best, and more gently: Put others before yourself.

How to reach out as a mentor? Basically, pretty much stop talking and start listening, listening to the people around you, listening to their dreams and frustrations, listening for where a the helping hand of a servant friend (which is NOT a word of advice!!) could make a difference.

Basically, learning to thrive in relationships boils down, then, to spending less time with one’s own ideas and more time with the ideas of others. It requires facing one’s insecurities, momentarily stepping away from things and ways that provide comfort, and accepting the challenge to appreciate another just as he/she is.

To thrive, just go for it.