Friday, December 18, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Summer technically begins tomorrow, but temperatures down in this neck of the woods are already in the mid-90's with heat indexes in the 100's . . . estimated to be 110 today.
When I woke up this morning "Summertime" was playing in my head . . . I am not sure the reason . . . yes, I love the song . . . yes, it is hot . . . yes, summer starts tomorrow . . . but as I sang the words along with the radio in my head these words seemed to stand out, "but until that morning, there's nothing can harm you with your daddy and your momma standing by" . . . I wonder -- I know it sounds strange, if this song doesn't resonant with me as it reminds me of God's providential care . . . perhaps, this is a stretch, but this is what sings in my heart this morning . . . how wonderful to realize that I have a Heavenly Parent who is with me even in the heat of life -- and in the heat of life I am not referring to temperature, but those times in life that cause us to struggle . . . God is always with us . . . protecting, guiding, and comforting and even cooling us off when we heat up.
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high
One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky
But until that morning
There's a'nothing can harm you
With your daddy and mammy standing by
God's blessings on you,
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
It is hard to believe how long it has been since I have added a post . . .
Recently I have joined a small group from across our presbytery who are doing advanced training in transformational ministry. One of the men in the group asked what our experiences have been with transformational ministry. The church I partner with is now 18 months into the process . . . this was my response to him.
Emotionally my experiences have run the gamut from immense frustration to immense joy, but I think now I have learned to be content knowing that it is not about me . . . although, paradoxically, it is about me . . . it is about me being willing to be open to the HS working to help me go deeper and further with Jesus and through me to help others go deeper and further with Jesus.
Honesty . . . I didn’t realize my need to go deeper and further with Jesus . . . after all, I am a MOWS!! A large part of my growth has led me to get off the emotional roller coaster although again in all honesty I still find myself booking a ticket on certain days, but more often than not I don't get on.
If truth be told the greatest emotion I had to overcome was fear . . . fear of people not liking me, fear of making people unhappy. A huge debt of gratitude goes to Tom for helping me reach this place. Interestingly . . .
there was/is a lot of fear in this community of faith about the process of transformation . . . even the word transformation is fearful for some people here and although Tom gave us other names transformation is very Biblical and I won’t shrink from using the word. But I am couching the word in love and grace and gentleness.
I haven’t quite figured out the origins of this fear – on the surface, it may be related to the Presbyterian mantra “we have always done it this way” or it may be related to the real possibility that transformation will bring changes in leadership (which we are already seeing), but I am wondering more if the fear is not related to having to look, assess and perhaps find that their own relationship with Jesus is lacking.
I don’t want to be critical of this congregation, especially as I don’t think they are much different than most mainline congregations, but the sad fact is that it hasn’t been about Jesus . . . it has been about “us.” Yet, almost every day I see this is changing . . . in individual lives and by extension in the congregation as a whole.
Without wanting to sound like an egomaniac it began with me -- really, rather than egomaniac, it was about me growing more into having and living with a servant heart . . . with my own willingness to invest more than I thought I would and could. Although it can be energy draining in a physical sense, paradoxically it has also been life-affirming. God has blessed me with good friends, both near and far, who keep before me my need for self-care. This is a key – self care.
At one point, late last year, for me self-care meant stepping away for awhile from doing transformational ministry (about three months) to make room for more intense prayer, study and planning for transformational ministry. I came back re-energized and recommitted because this is what I believe God desires for this church. It was after this break that I was able to see little blossoms of spiritual growth everywhere. It isn’t huge growth but it is growth and this growth is bringing hope to a congregation that I really believe has been living in a fog of hopelessness for many, many years.
Friday, February 13, 2009
it's broken branches and creaking bones;
it's like a fast from light and heat, a cold retreat.
it's not just beyond the body walls:
there is an inside frozenness, too;
a winter of the heart and soul, dark-cold as coal.
the inner wild is evil-laden,
filled with devils and bright temptation;
marked by love of self and pride, the us we hide.
but there is a way that leads to life:
a lenten journey from dark to light;
a passion path through days of lent and winter spent.
My prayer for Lent is that I learn to slow down . . . to learn to be as the title of a book reads, "A Mary in a Martha World" . . .
What is your prayer for Lent?
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
Before Katrina there was a move to do this . . . membership was around ten . . . although no longer a member of that presbytery I heard that a fairly new member of this smaller membership church made an impassioned plea on the floor of presbytery to keep it open . . . and her plea was echoed by the pastor of a sister church (mid-sized) about 20 miles away . . . so Presbytery kept the church open . . . after Katrina God graced the presbytery and this church with funds to bring in a bright and forward thinking Minister of Word and Sacrament . . . the church yoked with another church in the same town . . . the yoke didn’t work -- it was one-sided . . . the church changed its name . . . and the woman who gave the impassioned plea to keep the church open, her family and her sister’s family left the church shortly after Katrina . . . the church wasn’t able to help them the way they wanted after Katrina . . . Remember, membership was about 10 -- most of them her family and Katrina had done a job on the entire area.
As I have shared this news with folks here they have offered their condolences . . . telling me how sad I must be . . . but I’m not . . . I am nostalgic . . . but more than this I think “what ifs?” . . . what if the organizing pastor hadn’t left? . . . what if after that we had called so and so . . . What if we really understood what it meant to be a church . . . like many churches it was, for a large majority of us, about us . . . not about those outside our doors. When we were doing the mission study for calling a new pastor I remember the fights . . . over whether or not we really wanted to grow . . . If we really wanted to fulfill the mission of the Church and the local church . . . to go into the world and make disciples . . . It is the same struggle that continues in so many congregations, including this one . . . Yes, we want to grow as long as we don’t have to change.
But life -- whether a human life or the life of a local congregation, is about change . . . we are always changing . . . Change is inevitable . . . The question is will we manage change depending on God’s leading us through or will we change drag us kicking and screaming or worse yet passively into the future . . . If the church is alive and organic then they have life cycles just like human beings . . .
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
This new year I pray that we will learn to tell time,