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Monday, January 31, 2011

As Promised on Sunday

At church Sunday I promised I would post the two Cybertales I read from the pulpit. Here they are. Scroll down to read The Christ-like Thing and The Masters Way.

The Christ-like Thing

Chuck and Helen are friends of ours. Years ago I learned an important lesson from them as they told me about a particularly difficult situation they were in.

The small-membership church Chuck was serving was going through a cruel and nasty time. The members were not working out their disagreements openly. Instead, this unhealthy situation was marked by backbiting, criticism and general negativity. Lots of misplaced feelings were being directed at Chuck, Helen and the kids. And it was wearing them out.

I visited with them at their weariest. I felt so bad for them. Trying to empathize I inquired if they were “fixin’ to leave.” Their response was a lesson I never forgot.

Chuck and Helen said that no, they were not fixin’ to leave, but that they were fixin’ to increase their giving to the church from 12% to 16%, even though they did not know how they possibly could. To my astonished, “Why?” they answered, “We just have to find a way to love them more. And in our experience, our heart sometimes follows our giving.”

This is the lesson I learned: I can always love more. Love is what I am called to do. And, in Christ, love is what I am empowered to do.
Pastor, will you give more love to those you serve?
Church member, will you give more love to those among whom you serve?
It is the Christ-like thing.

The Masters Way

Early in my Christian reading I realized that though he never wasted a minute Jesus did not hurry anywhere. I noticed that he stopped lots of times to visit with, help, heal and teach friends as well as strangers. He valued everyone.

Jesus’ life had power because he lived the way he did. He lived for others. Christians believe that Jesus had come on the holiest of missions, to be the savior of the world. But he never let this mission overshadow his earthly ministry.

His ministry was a wayside ministry, a life giving, along-the-way ministry. What he did as he went about was of utmost importance. He was not one, as we say today, with places to go, things to do, people to see, worlds to win. He was one with life to give. And he gave it.

Early in my Christian life I realized that anyone could be like Jesus. I also observed in myself as in others a great unwillingness to live like Jesus lived. Thankfully a few saints in my life took time to remind me of this terrible tendency. I say thankfully now, but I never liked those reminders at the time, not a single one.

One incident is especially vivid to this day. It happened in Mars more than 30 years ago. The congregation was debating whether to address me by my given name or as Reverend or Pastor. Tom, a down-to-earth, retired oilfield worker took me aside one day. He said that he preferred to address me as Parson. I was flattered, but only ever so briefly. For Tom continued. He would do so to remind me that I needed to be a person first.

Tom understood. Calling me Parson was Tom’s way of leading me out of the comfort of my office and into the turmoil of people’s lives. Tom gave me my ministry that day. He showed me the Master’s Way.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

There is HOPE - part 2

Well, I'm at my computer trying to select the proper font for my "There is HOPE!" banner, when a hungry traveler comes into my office. His name is Rod. He's from Northern Iowa, and he looked hungry.

I asked him what he needed and he answered, "I am hungry." "OK," I said, at which point he interrupted me and said, "But what I really need is up there on your computer screen. I need HOPE."

It was a little past 1:00 and I hadn't had lunch yet , so we went to Wojo's Diner. We ate, visited, talked about recovery (his since 1992), and parted. As Rod got in his car he said, "Thanks for lunch, and for renewing my HOPE."

Everyone needs HOPE.
We, the Good News people, have it to give.
Lord, help us give more. Amen

Monday, January 3, 2011

There is HOPE

There is hope for me. There is hope for you. There is HOPE. Just wait and see.

I love the Brandon Heath lines, "There is hope, for me yet. Because God won't forget,...HE's not finished with me yet."

That's a message people need to hear. Or so it seems from YouTube comments. Reckon I'll just have to lift high "There Is HOPE" as a theme to guide the 2011 missional and discipleship ministries of the parish.

Everyone knows someone in need of HOPE. Who do you know? And How can the church help you meet their need? Let us know.