Wednesday, July 15, 2015

To The Ends Of The Earth

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

I love to travel. The thrill of seeing new places and experiencing new cultures is thrilling. If it weren't for time, money, and well... family, I would probably spend more time away from home then at home.

But life gets in the way and I must settle for staying in my bubble. Or so I thought...

I never thought when I was growing up that I would be able to see places all over the world from a computer in my home. I never thought that I'd be "working" with clergy all over the world to help people in mission, share ideas about worship, or discuss theological ideas.

I may not have traveled to the ends of the earth. But now we all have access to most parts of the earth. And when we do something locally, not only can we share the idea, we can also share in other ways as well.

All of our economy, political systems, and spiritual institutions are connected in beautiful and intricate ways that we can't always sort out. Sometimes it frustrates us that there are so many layers to this complex world but the beauty of this is that when we do something out of our love for God, those benefits can be felt globally.

Of course I'd still like to make it to India, Australia, Rome, Greece etc etc But my calling to be a witness to the ends of the earth can be done in ways now that it couldn't before. I can support international ministries, pray for missionaries by name, and share the witness of Christians in other countries with our congregation. I also know that being a good steward of the earth, natural resources, and financial resources can have effects around the globe.

The power of the Holy Spirit is working in ways we never thought possible. All we need to do is join in!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Loving our Neighbors

Romans 13:10
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

When I started in ministry one of the first things I did was take CPR and first aid. Not a Bible class. Not a preaching class. But CPR and first aid. I was scared that someone would need my help physically and I would be standing around praying for them.

My Bible and preaching classes came later, but immediately I began helping people with their physical needs. 

Thankfully I've never had to give anyone CPR but I have had to give someone the heimlich, remove splinters, stop bleeding, and take someone to the hospital. 

I've also fed people who are hungry, made sure they had clothes, and tried to find people shelter for the night.

First aid goes beyond bandaids. And love goes beyond prayer.

When we radically love our neighbor, we sometimes get dirty. We sometimes let our guard down. We sometimes go against our thoughts and go with our heart.

Love fulfills the law because God first loved us. So reach out and spread that love today. You don't have to go far. Everyone has a need or a dream. May your first aid be helping to meet those needs or make their dream possible.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Psalm 117:1-2

Praise the Lord, all you nations!
    Extol him, all you peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
    and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord!

I still remember being in the church one day when I was three years old. I'm not sure why I was there but I remember being alone in the sanctuary for some purpose and walking out the back door. On the wall was a picture of Jesus praying. I paused for just a second. Or maybe it was longer. And my three year old brain processed that this man was something special. This man was God. And this place was holy. I'm not sure why that memory is so strong for me but it shapes my thoughts about God and has given me encouragement to worship in a wide variety of places.

We often think of worship as going somewhere to pray, sing, and learn about God. And while those are some of the basics, worship is so much more.

Henri Nouwen states that:

Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life, not just in the moments we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines. Not just in the moments when life seems easy.

Worship is exercise for the soul. It works both individually and communally. 

Individually we can connect with our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer so that we can praise Him and thank Him for all the blessings in our lives. In our world today we are often bombarded with negative news that we often forget that good things are happening all around us. God invites us into those little miracles in big ways when we worship Him.

But we also worship God with others as well. We are not alone. By being together with other believers, we can see the intersections of the Holy Spirit and see the direction that God is moving us toward in order to transform the world.

Worship is essential to our mission. You wouldn't run a marathon without training first. Worship prepares us, challenges us, and encourages us to be the disciples we are called to be.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Ahh... the cry of those who want to change the world by growing the numbers in their church but feel that evangelism is a dirty word enacted only by those "crazy" people that knock on your door in the middle of dinner (my apologies to the crazy people).

One thing that we need to realize is that evangelism is not about growing numbers. Its about growing hearts. Or growing love. Or spreading God love. Those things usually produce numbers but that's not the point. The point is to spread the good news!

In a sense, I understand the dilemma. How does one passionately follow Jesus without looking like a Jesus FREAK!!!!!!??

Well seeing that one of my responsibilities is to equip people to do spiritual things today is your lucky day! This short 4 step program will guarantee that you too can sow seeds of good news without feeling like the smelly kid in the class. So stay with me. It's just this easy...

Step 1: Know where you are.

Get a map or a compass if you have to but in reality 60% of the population has no strong affiliation with a church, mosque or synagogue so the excuse that "I don't know anyone looking for a church" is not really true. Very few people are "looking for a church" but many are searching for deeper meaning and a way to connect so that they may make the world a better place. Listen to people and hear what they mean (not just what they are saying) and try and help them find what they are looking for - EVEN IF IT MEANS SENDING THEM SOMEWHERE ELSE!

These people may not be your friends or close co-workers but they do exist and you can find them at the grocery store, library, car-pool line, subway stations, bus stops, schools, doctors office, etc... This leads me to...

Step 2: Pray for guidance

Well this seems obvious but I often forget the obvious so I thought I'd mention it here. Sometimes we desperately want to share our blessings with others but don't know where to start. Ask God to show you how to be the person you are created and called to be. I guarantee you'll get an answer BUT be careful. The answer may surprise you. If you are truly open to the work of the Spirit, God may introduce you to someone while you wait for your tires to be rotated that is looking for a church home OR God may show you a news article on foster children in your area that tugs at your heart so much you add on three rooms to your house and take them all in OR God may tell you to quit your lucrative job as a computer programmer and go to seminary to become a pastor. Crazy huh? It happens.

Step 3: Follow Through

Spiritual growth is not a check list (as much as I would LOVE for it to be so) that you just mark off each day. "Read Bible - check. Pray - check. Invite neighbor to church - check. Go to church - check. Give money - check." All good things and all important things for different reasons, but the main reason we are called to "make followers" is because of the follower and who we are following. It's not enough to just invite. It's not enough to just shake their hand at the door of church. It's not enough to just pray that the church will grow and do nothing else.

If you meet someone who is lost do you just buy them a map and hope it turns out okay? No! You get a map and look at it together and walk with them on their journey until they safely reach their destination. And - very important here - you usually don't just say "Oh I know where that is. I'll drop you there." (and then distract them so much they can't find their way back.) You help them find what they are looking for and make sure they understand where they are going and how to get there because sometimes they'll need to get back there again on their own.

If a spiritually lost person is searching and you want to help, help them with the entire journey. This will take more time. This will require you to build a relationship with someone you may not want a relationship with, but a butt in the seat is not the final goal - a life of abundance is.

Step 4: Believe

I know we are out of order here but usually we start out spreading the good news about who God is because of what we believe and along the way we end up spreading news more about what our church is doing and we tend to forget about the reason why.

Believing in what you are doing will show itself in all aspects of your life. If our mission as a church is "to make new and better followers for Jesus" then I not only have to reach out to make new ones but I also have to make sure that a) I am one and b) I'm working on the "better" part.

Step 5: Stop reading and start doing

Hah - I threw in an extra step. Why? Because there are no magic steps to grow your church and there are no magic steps for you to become evangelism leader of the year. DON'T focus on the numbers, the empty seats, the check list that I and many other wish life had but instead focus on God and people. Love God, love neighbor, love self and if you do this it will flow that way that God intends for it to go.

Until Everyone Hears,

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Social Justice

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
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and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

-Micah 6:8

From - The United Methodist Church has a long history of concern for social justice. Its members have often taken forthright positions on controversial issues involving Christian principles. Early Methodists expressed their opposition to the slave trade, to smuggling, and to the cruel treatment of prisoners.

So how do we seek justice?

We can start by looking around us. Do we see people or families who aren't able to live life to the fullest because they cannot get access to basic human needs? Forget your political agenda for a minute and think about actual people. Not statistics. Chances are you know someone who falls into this category. Perhaps they haven't made it known to you. Ask God to open your eyes. Today you might make a discovery. And when you do, start with them. It might not change the world but it will change their world.

Still can't think of anyone? Alright, lets think bigger. What really gets your blood steaming? Cruelty to children? Abused families? Abused pets? People living in poor housing conditions? People who are hungry?

Pick one. Just one for today. Research what is going on around you and then around the world with this particular problem and then find an organization that is helping to fix the problem. Not sure where to start? Do what every high school student does when writing a research paper...

From there the rest is up to you. You can donate. Volunteer your time. Or pray. The bigger the commitment the bigger the impact.

Until Everyone Hears,

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Making Disciples

My favorite toy when I was a little girl was my blocks. I would set up entire towns in our basement, complete with bridges, schools, and houses. We had no way to get groceries or places to work but sometimes we had castles and imaginary chocolate to eat.

I never put places to work or grocery stores in my town because those weren't important to me. My world was school and home. And my imaginary world was castles and chocolate.

I never thought to have much else because I didn't know much else. I never thought to build a church because at that time, I really didn't know much about church.

The mission of the United Methodist Church is to make disciples for the transformation of the world. Most churches have similar mission statement based on Matthew 28:19-20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Making disciples sounds like some sort of output from a factory. "What you making there?" "Oh we're makin disciples today. Model #UMC2015" And if it were that easy, I'd be out of a job.

Making disciples is complicated, messy, interconnected, relational work. It is beautiful, ugly, easy, and hard all at the same time. But its not unlike building my block cities from childhood.

In order to make disciples, you have to be one first. You have to know God and know the church in order to know that it should go in your town (both fake ones and imaginary towns). Otherwise a disciple or church is the same as a made up Dr. Suess term.

Knowing God however is different from studying God. Studying God means I will read the Bible and look through history books. Perhaps take a class. But knowing God comes from being with God. God abides among us and asks us to abide in Him (John 15:4).

I put a school and a house in my block city because I knew those places. I abided in those places. I was comfortable and could be myself most of the time.

Get to know God. Spend time with God. Be in prayer and worship. Read the Bible. Serve others. Stand up for what is right. Then you will know God and God will make disciples through you.

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Christmas Song for Our Youth Ministry

Away in a youth room no room for purple
And gluten free diets are such a hassle
Yet all the dear children in our tender care
Are thriving for Jesus is always there.

The kids are all lowing like Chick-fil-a cows
But dear Rusty Rivers no compassion he vows
And Joe with his eyebrow fixed high to the sky
Is spooning with Rusty til morning is nigh.

The stars in the sky look down on our youth
As they grow close to Jesus and learn the Truth
We love thee Lord Jesus but we always ask "why?"
The kids don't read emails and texts or reply.

Be near us Lord Jesus in 2015
As Red Bird and Eastgate we fit in between
A lot of good lessons we lead and we pray
Will fit us for heaven with Thee to stay.