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Power Source

We are beginning into the hectic season of the year.

Fall parties, ok Halloween parties, just ended, or are in the works, and we are all preparing for the 2 months of the year we binge eat and go to so many parties we cannot get time to sleep.

And in all of the hecticness of parties and seasonal celebrations what happens to our faith life?

We seem to want to make it all work on the one hour we get in on Sunday mornings, and if we make 4 Sundays of worship, then that 4 hours out of the month will carry us through!

If we only got 4 hours of sleep a month would that be enough?

We need more than 4 hours of sleep to survive, now one could get 4 hours of sleep a day and function, but only 4 hours of sleep in 31, 30 or even 28 days? That is 744, 720 or 672 hours in a month depending on the number of days. And 4 hours is only 0.537%, 0.556%, or 0.595% of the month!

Is our faith going to grow or survive on a half of a percent of our time?

A devotional life, according to Frogs Without Legs Can’t Hear, is “essentially a way of living in the world connected to the saving work and message of Jesus Christ; the intersection between the eternal with the mundane in a way that personalizes God’s saving work and word.”

We need to be connected to God more than 1 hour a week, more than 0.595% of the time!

St. Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing!” All of life is to be connected to God and that is what our devotional life must be.

If we are going to survive as disciples of Jesus, and grow in that discipleship we need to spend more than 1 hour a week with God. If you spent 1 hour a week with others would there be a vital relationship?

So as we dig into the busy party season, let us also dig into devotional time with Jesus.

Be on the look out for our Advent Devotional at St. John’s, and the picture a day Advent devotional I put together. And if you need other resources, ask! I would be over joyed to help.

And God wants more than 0.595% of your time… And your life and the lives of your family will be better off with more time with God also.

So Happy Party Season! And don’t forget about God, because He will never forget about you!

 

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Semper Reformanda

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of Wittenberg Church.

It was the beginning of the Reformation.

The change of the understanding of who we are as the body of Christ. Martin Luther did not want to start a new denomination, or break away from the church catholic. He wanted to reform areas he knew were not aligned with the Holy Scripture in practices of Dogma in the church. He wanted to change the practices to match what was said in the Bible. Radical!

And is this a bad thing? To be in line with the Bible? How many things do we do today that are not inline with the Holy Scripture?

Ecclesia semper reformanda est is a Latin phrase first used by Karl Barth in 1947 and it means “the church is always to be reformed.” Barth derived this from a saying of St. Augustine an early church father. It means that the church must always reexamine itself, in order to maintain purity in doctrine and in practice.

A variation by Barth on his own phrase is Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda. This means “the reformed church (is) always to be reformed”. Meaning our need for change or evaluation is never down.

We need to not be complacent in the way we do things, but always evaluating the best practice. We must be willing to follow Christ where He is leading us, regardless of where we have been, or if we see we need to do something differently. We need to always be focused on Christ and where He is leading us.

To help all of us do this we will be doing a rededication process here at St. John’s starting on Reformation Sunday.  We will individually look at our lives and as a whole we will rededicate our lives to Christ and commit to follow where He is leading us. We will reform ourselves to the body He has created us to be so we might truly be His hands and feet in this place, at this time.

 

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Are you practicing?

It is that time of year that parents rejoice and some youth don’t like. It is back to school.

As if learning is something we only do from Kindergarten through college graduation! If that were only true, the only time we stop learning is when we are dead! And even then I bet we will learn something in the great wonderful eternity we get to spend with God.

So back to school and back to learning new things, deepening our faith and growing closer to God.

The book Frog’s Without Legs Can’t Hear, Nurturing Disciples in Home and Congregation starts by asking, “Are we forming faith?”

And that is a great question to always be asking our selves, as faith formation is a process that never ends.

In the book, there is a story about a woman who was in a coffee shop wearing a cross and the young person waiting on her told her he liked her cross and then asked her if she was practicing?

And that is a great question.

You see faith is something we are given by God but is something we are constantly learning about and forming and growing into. And faith is something more than just a belief. It is something that needs to be practiced. Faith is something that if it becomes stagnate will die. It has to move and grow and change with the times and fill in the spaces between us and God and the world around us so that we can all be connected to God. Faith is not something that stays the same but is a living part of us that changes over time.

St. Francis of Assisi is attributed with saying, but didn’t actually say, but really meant something to the effect, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.” You see our lives should be lived in such a way that the good news of Jesus just flows out of everything we do.

So is your life forming faith?

And are you practicing?

 

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First Service

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them”-Dietrich Bonhoeffer-Life together

How many of us listen to each other?  Really listen.  We might hear what someone else is saying to us, but do we hear them, or do we think we know what they said?

Most of us will hear 3 – 4 words of someone speaking to us and then start formulating what we are going to say.  We will hear where a sentence starts and then begin working on our come back, what we will respond with. In doing this, you are no longer listening, but are paying attention to yourself.  This is one of the first things I work on with couples that I am working through premarital counseling with.  Communication is the basis for every relationship, and if you are not communicating there is no basis for that relationship. This is why we pray, to communicate with God.  Part of this should be silence to listen for what God has to say to us.  We need to listen not only to get to know the other person, but we need to listen, because that is what we have to do in order to communicate.  In order to know how we need to respond we have to listen, and hear what is said to us. Then and only then can we respond with a response that is one that will build the relationship. It may not always be what the other person wants to hear, but it will build the relationship if it is spoken in truth and love after listening and hearing what was said. If we listen and hear, then we will get to know more about the person and grow deeper in relation to them.

That is what Bonhoeffer tells us in the quote above.  We owe it to others to listen to them. We need to hear them and to love them by being quiet and not formulating a response while they are talking.  To hear them as we hear His word.

So the next time you are listening, listen and hear. Grow in relation to others.

 

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Open and welcoming

Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
This past month I was involved in Footloose the musical at Abrams Spotlight Productions. “It was a terrifying experience and it was exhilarating,” to quote my character Reverend Shaw Moore. I have been thinking about doing a production for a while now as several of St. John’s members had been involved and I know a few people who have been in productions and are involved with the theater. Plus I also know several colleagues who do theater. I have played for musicals in the past and will in the future, but this was my first venture onto the stage to have a role in a production. I was worried about how I would do and how I would be accepted.
What I learned at Abrams Spotlight Productions is the theater is what the world show be like. You see the world is made up of all kinds of people. Some are funny and some are serious. Some are short and some are tall. Some can sing and some can sing in their cars. Some can dance, and then there is me. Some of them believe in God and some of them don’t. But the world is full of people who are different. And we should, as followers of Christ, be accepting of others where they are and not try to make them fit into any mold or act a certain way. We should look on them with love and as more significant than ourselves. And to be honest, the theater is one of the first places I have found this.
Everyone at the theater didn’t judge me because I was a pastor, or an outsider. They welcomed me as a co creator in the world we were becoming so that everyone could forget about their troubles for a couple hours. They didn’t worry about if I was good enough, they gave me my part and helped me along the way. They didn’t think I would pull the down because it was my first time, they empowered me to be the best I could be. They didn’t judge me, they accepted me and made me a better version of myself. And that my friends is what we should be doing as the church.
So let us accept everyone as they are, because that is what God did for you, and let us take a look at how we act towards others, and be a bit more like the theater, open and welcoming of every one, because we all are made in the image of God and we all have a gift to give.
I offer you the opportunity I had at the theater, to welcome as God welcomed you, without judgement and openly as people are.

 

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Gather ~ Grow ~ Go

Now is the time to GROW!

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)

According to Charis’ seventh-grade teacher, it is past time to be planting here, “if this was a usual May.” We all know this was not a usual May…

So maybe we are behind doing what we need to be doing…

But my thoughts are to warmer days ahead and a wonderful time of vacation from school and a summer full of fun and time in the sun!

This is not a bad thing to have on the radar screen as we head into the months ahead. But it could be bad if we forget what we are about, people of St. John’s…

You see I have our mission statement at the top of this, Gather ~ Grow ~ Go.  This summer we might miss some gathering, and that is ok. We all need time away and I will be away some times during our gatherings. That is life and we need that time with our families.

We will be going this summer to many places, and hopefully being true witnesses to the love we have received.

But in the midst of all this going, we can still be growing! Now is the time to set our sights upon God and to discover how we will stay connected as we work towards being disconnected!

We need to always be seeking how we will be growing in the grace and knowledge of God. If you need some help see me before you go this summer! But I pray you will be connected to God as you disconnect to recharge in these months ahead!

 

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I Can Do all Things…

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength is one of my favorite verses in the bible.

Paul wrote it to the Philippians as he was thanking them for their concern for him and his ministry. They have financially supported him as he traveled to spread the gospel. He thanks them for their financial support and for their prayers.

He then goes on to explain to them that he has learned to live in any circumstance because he knows that God is always with him and his Savior will give him strength. “for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11b-13)

I was reminded of this verse, because it is on my desk, given to me by my wife in the midst of strife at a previous call to remind me it is not about me, or my situation, it is about who I serve…

This verse does not mean that all of the bad stuff will just go away. It does give us the assurance that no matter what we face that God will always be with us. No matter what trials might be in front of us, or what valley we might be walking through, God is always there with us, giving us the strength to go on. We have been through a lot here at St. John’s since I arrived over 5 years ago, and as a congregation, you went through a lot more in your history before that. We are a testimony to being able to make it through with God. Easter reminded us of the love God has for all of us and how God has given us lives to share. We are a group of people ready to go where God is leading us, relying on Him to see us through. We may not be able to see the end, but we know who is leading us, and walking with us, and because of that, we are able to step out in faith!

I see a body of believers who are prayerful and committed to the mission God has called us to. So let us come together and support each other and pray for each other, and walk boldly with our God into this place and be His hands and feet. Knowing that we do not go alone, but together as brothers and sisters, and with Christ who will be our strength, and give us everything we need.

So let’s step out in faith, knowing that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength!

 

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