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A Plea for Authentic Community

I probably don't need to tell you that social media has been ablaze with reasons why Millennials are not attending church (see here and here).  And there have been multitudes of Facebook and Twitter arguments about who is right and wrong about divided issues.  Peeling the layers behind the heated discussions that have been filling our Twitter feeds and Facebook walls over the past few weeks reveals a deeper issue that I believe is the key to the success (or failure) of those who consider ourselves to be Christ followers to effectively communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ.  More specifically, for United Methodists to live out our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

The issue at stake is community, the connectedness of people to one another and to God.  Today, our society is so connected (via technology) that we have become disconnected, even isolated when it comes to authentic, face to face connection with one another.  What we gain …

Water

Lately I've been contemplating the power of water and its inherent properties that enable it to flow wherever there is access.  In fact, even when we think we've done enough to patch every hole, cover every crack, and waterproof any point of entry, water continues to find its way into places we would rather it not go.  Over the past week or so, we have not been wanting for more water as it has been raining in buckets for several days.  Not that we don't need the rain; the ground has been soaking it up like a sponge.  However, there are some areas where the ground is causing the water to simply run off, or pool into large puddles.

Witnessing the rain and subsequent pools of water that recede into the thirsty ground has caused me to think about how much we allow God's love to permeate the depths of our souls.  Scripture tells us that God's love is not forced on us to accept, but that Jesus stands at the door of our heart and knocks, waiting for us to answer and let h…

Snowmageddon and Waking Up Before the Sun

I'm just about a week from being able to go home and be with my family.  I've completed two and a half weeks of Chaplain Initial Military Training (Basic Training for Chaplains), and have learned a lot so far.  Today is a day "off" (we don't get days off... just more time to get work done) because of the ice and snow we received overnight. Down here, a little snow causes big problems. In Michigan, we don't have much concern for this little accumulation but we have the equipment to move it around and melt it.

A few things I've learned this week:

In the Army, it's always your fault.  Even if it's not.A haircut each week makes the day go much better (and keeps the sergeant happy)Not getting a haircut means everyone has an opportunity to "learn" (do push-ups) with you. FYI I was not the one who didn't get a cut, so not my fault (oh wait, bullet point one...).Waking up at 4am means bedtime by 8pm.Staying up until 11pm to catch the Grammy&…

CIMT - Week 1 Done

As you may already know, I am serving in ministry as an Army Reserve Chaplain while leading my congregation full-time.  As a Chaplain in the United States Army, I am required to undergo basic training so that I am prepared to minister to my soldiers as a soldier myself.  I have heard people say that Chaplain school is "basic training lite" or that it's "basic training for gentlemen".  Nothing could be further from the truth.  While it is true that our training is not as intense as an enlisted soldier, the requirements are very much the same.  Chaplains are required to meet the same physical, emotional, and psychological challenges with the same fortitude as an E-1 Private (or, warrior as they are now referred to).

The first segment of training that an Army Chaplain is required to go through is called Chaplain Initial Military Training (CIMT).  It is during this segment that we are trained to think and act like soldiers.  Keep in mind that several of us have not…

When You Know You're Doing It Right

Sunday afternoons as a clergy family are interesting...
In the fall, I typically turn on the Lions and watch them (attempt) to play football.  Yesterday was no exception (at least for me - The Lions didn't even seem to show up during the second half).  The boys will get out their Legos, monster trucks, and various other toys.  My wife will typically be seen watching a movie on Chicktime (Lifetime, that is).  Sometimes we will play a family game together, or just enjoy snuggling on the couch as we watch a family movie.  
Sometimes, the boys want to make things.  Usually out of play-dough or sand.  However, many of the gifts that I typically receive are in the form of artwork.  Andrew and Josh both enjoy making works of art and giving them away.  Yesterday, Andrew gave me this drawing of his interpretation of Joseph, from the Old Testament stories.  With a smile on his face, and a hint of pride in his voice, he said "Here daddy, put this in your office."  Not thinking any…

A Quarter and a Thankful Heart

For the past several years, I have enjoyed shopping at Aldi for many of our grocery needs.  When we moved last year, I was disappointed that we would have a longer drive to the store we would typically frequent.  However, just last week I discovered that there is an Aldi in Ann Arbor, YES!

But, why do I talk about Aldi?  And, what in the world does this have to do with my journey with Christ?

Quite frankly, a lot!

For those who have never had the Aldi "experience" (and that's what it is, let me tell ya!), let me elaborate on one of my favorite things about Aldi - You pay a quarter for your shopping cart.  That's right!  But, you get it back when you return the cart.  Not only do you get to back out of your parking spot without the surprise that someone left a cart, just for you, in your blind spot, but the quarter experience is something you can pass on to someone else.  For me, it means leaving the quarter in the cart so that the next person can use it.  I have bee…