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Showing posts from 2010

There's Nothing Like The Real Thing

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In 1985, The Coca-Cola Company decided to make a change to their world-renowned formula by introducing a new campaign and new taste for their soft drink.  It only took days (even hours in some cases) before loyal Coca-Cola drinkers began to share their distaste (yes, I said it) in the company's decision.  Needless to say, this day in history is remembered by some as the fall of Coca-Cola.  Fortunately for Coca-Cola drinkers, the formula had been changed back to the original and the company has continued to use the original since the failings of 1985.

Thinking about this near-disaster, I can't help but reflect on the implications for the Church today.  How many times do we try to "reinvent" Church by changing our "formulas" (from worship styles to doctrinal beliefs)?  Granted, some of the changes are welcome and much needed so that the Church is constantly working to reach the unchurched in society.  But, when we begin to change the foundations upon which th…

Overcoming Obstacles to Faith

Just the other day, I was at a well-known grocery/department store to pick up a prescription and a few grocery items.  Much to my surprise however, was a maze of center aisle displays with a bunch of "stuff" vying for my attention as I navigated my way to the pharmacy counter and then to the back of the store for the milk and eggs (ever notice that these things are almost always located in the back of the store?).  At any other time of the year, these aisles are relatively clear and it is easy to get where you need to go and get out before making any impulse buying decisions.  Of course, the store is preparing for the upcoming Christmas (and therefore, shopping) season, and to catch those early buyers they are enticing you to buy things that you probably don't need anyway.  Adding to the idea that somehow we have comfort in our "stuff", these things are priced "at amazingly low prices!" so as to save us something so that our lives can be happier and m…

What I Learned From Andrew's First Day of School

Today was the first day of school for our oldest son, Andrew.  As we awakened early this morning to get him ready, Maria and I were frantically checking the clock to make sure we had plenty of time to get him there.  We made sure that our cameras were ready for some great picture taking opportunities, and I had made a special breakfast consisting of monster truck pancakes with bacon-striped rims on the tires.  Needless to say, Andrew thoroughly enjoyed the pancakes and responded by exclaiming excitedly, "Dad, I just knew that you would make me monster truck pancakes on my first day of school!"  Poor Joshua wasn't too sure as to what was going on and our dog, Reeses was trying to get us to go back to bed!  The whole first part of our morning was quite an example of organized chaos (If you can consider my lack of organization, organization at all!)

Then came the car ride... The morning was beautiful as the comfortable breeze met my face while I was driving just a tad over …

Who Is My Neighbor?

This week I have been reflecting on a well-known and oft-quoted gospel story in Luke 10:25-37, about the lawyer who put Jesus to the test in asking "what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"  Jesus' response, though well known to us now was not really expected by the lawyer as Jesus speaks to him the parable of the Good Samaritan:
“Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to th…

Leadership and Fast Food

Today, I treated my son Andrew to lunch at a local fast food establishment as a reward for him helping me with the morning's errands and such.  While we were waiting in line, I began to notice that there was only one person working the front counter register.  Being that it was the lunch rush, I was surprised to see only one person up front.  Something else that quickly caught my attention was the affect of the patrons who were already waiting in line before me.  Many seemed quite angry, and others just stood there with impatient looks on their faces.  It was at this point that I recognized the young man at the front counter was a trainee and was really sinking fast in his work.  What was even more surprising was to see his manager in the grill area of the restaurant, speaking orders to the young man up front.  It was obvious that there was not only a communication issue, but there was nobody there to help this young man with his duties.

As I began to reflect on this situation (wh…

God Won't Fit In Your Box!

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"For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." 1 Corinthians 1:25
This past week, I had the opportunity to travel with our youth to Henderson Settlement in Frakes, Kentucky for a week of service with and for the people of Appalachia.  During the trip, our groups worked to build an addition for a family home, a new shed, and a new roof for a woman in Tennessee.  I was extremely blessed to see our youth working so hard to enhance the living conditions of others through these projects.  Though the week was very hot and humid downright sweltering, God's presence met us there and we were able to complete our projects without any major injuries or hiccups (unless you count the time that I was almost knocked out by a flying hammer, thrown by an anonymous youth group member).
Amidst the backdrop of the mountains, we had several opportunities to reflect on our day in an air-conditioned dormitory.  Often, our times of reflection would q…

What I've Learned From Losing My Voice (besides the fact that others like it)

Last night, I arrived home to find out that my voice is gone.  Yep, no voice (no cheers from the peanut gallery, please).  Today, I am still without much of a voice (even the dog has recognized it and no longer listens to me when I get after him because I cannot raise my voice).  It's interesting because last night was the first healing and wholeness service at Lambertville UMC and tonight is the healing and wholeness service at Emmanuel in Blissfield.  While I am convinced that God does not will us to be sick, I do believe that he can work despite our ailments.  With that said, do I believe this is a spiritual attack?  It very well could be, because I know the demons hate it when God's people pray, especially for healing and we are certainly in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12).  It may also be due to the severe allergies that I have been dealing with over the past several months, or even a combination of the two.  Either way, I am praying for God's total healing to tak…

Confessing for a Lack of Confession

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"Therefore, confess your sins to one another... that you may be healed" - James 5:16 This coming Sunday, I will be preaching the second sermon in our series on healing, simply titled "Obstacles to Healing".  One of the obstacles to healing in our lives, I believe is that of true confession.  I don't mean the simple "I'm sorry... for now" type of confession, but a true deep-down confession of our faults, to God and to one another.  I think many of us enjoy hearing the words of James 5, especially the part where we can experience healing through prayer.  However, I think we tend to glance over James 5:16 and the implications of true confession, or lack thereof.  For some reason we Protestants have veered away from the act of confession, maybe because it seems "too Catholic", or more probable is that confession is tough stuff!

Being a United Methodist and subscribing to United Methodist beliefs, I  share in the belief that there are two sa…

Wesley's Healing Ministry

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The issue of healing and wholeness has been on my heart very heavily lately, especially in light of situations that have caused hurt and pain around the world and in our local communities.  As a result, I have had several opportunities to prayerfully reflect upon what it means to be a Christian, more distinctively a United Methodist Christian and how much of an impact my faith might have upon my local community.  John Wesley, the founder of Methodism realized the impact of faith in a God of love and grace as he not only ministered the gospel of repentance and salvation, but sought to meet the needs of the hurting, the sick, and the poor.
"Wesley was one of the first not only to see the poor as recipients of alms and objects of charitable care, but also to set forth the genuinely Christian duty to eliminate their wretchedness..." - M. Marquardt, John Wesley's Social Ethics. p. 27I believe that God heals today; heart, mind, and soul and that God's grace is continually …

Sermon Audio Online!

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It's what you've been waiting for!

Listen to Sunday's sermon online!  Soon there will be a permanent player on the blog page, until then you can listen by navigating the player below, or you can visit http://www.sermon.net/blissfieldeumc.  In the future, the player will be available on our church website as well http://www.emmanuel-godwithus.org.

Every Last Drop - Getting the Most out of Bible Study

Recently I have discovered the joy of eating a fresh pomegranate.  To those who have experienced the satisfaction of successfully retrieving the juicy and succulent juice-packed seeds that form the "meat" of a pomegranate know that every last drop of pomegranate goodness is intently pursued with a great deal of attention given to the preparation of the delicious fruit for eating.

What if studying the Bible was like preparing and eating a pomegranate?  I mean, what if we pursued the "juicy seeds" of Scripture with the same passion and determination as we do for that last drop of juice from our favorite fruit?  Of course, to find out you will just have to come to church on Sunday! (or you can read my sermon outline here).

In the mean time, take a look at these seven reasons to study Scripture:

By studying the Bible:

We receive confirmation of God's promises through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:11-14)We are given life purpose and a foundation (Psalm 1:1-6,  Psalm …

Give Me That Good 'Ol Berean Bible Study!

I love Mountain Dew, it's great stuff (and helps a bit in the ADD department).  I also remember some of the old Mountain Dew commercials, "give me that good 'ol Mountain Dew yeee haaw!"  I think we all reminisce on things like that and wish that we could have that feeling all over again.  As I read over Acts 17:10-15 and the Bereans' response to the preached Word, I can't help but think "I want that Berean spirit when I read the Word".  

This week our church is going to be starting a Bible reading campaign in an effort to read through the entire Bible in a year.  In an effort to encourage this, I am preaching on how we can benefit from reading and studying the Scriptures as well as the importance of reading Scripture in the life of a Christian.  It is my hope that from this, people will receive the Word "with great eagerness" (Acts 17:11) and will learn to examine the Scriptures with passion, just as the Bereans.
How is your personal Bible s…

Lessons in Trust from a Honda Civic

This past weekend I traded my Honda Element in for a Civic as I needed a car with increased gas mileage for my weekly trips back and forth to seminary (600 miles round-trip).  One of the selling points (besides the mileage) was how safe the car would be on the road.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear that it had earned the coveted 5-star crash safety rating by the government.  Hearing this brought greater ease to my mind as I thought about the many miles I would be putting on a new vehicle (and the precious cargo that I would be carrying at times).

As I reflect back upon my decision to purchase the car, and the trust I placed in the man-made technology, I couldn't help but think about my faith in Christ.  If you think about it, traveling at just 40mph and getting into a crash could send several TONS of force upon your body, causing significant damage or even death.  Yet, we travel "safely" at 70mph + without any thought. 

The question is why I would place my trust so wi…

Have You Ever Thought?

This morning, I stopped at our local Salvation Army to drop off some hat and glove donations from our mitten tree at the church.  This is nothing unusual, as I have been there several times in the past.  But, today I felt a bit different because when I dropped off the donations, the lady at the front desk had mentioned that she had promised a gentleman who entered the day before that there would be hat and glove donations for him.  She was stepping out in faith and believing that God would provide for that gentleman.

Needless to say, the fine folks in our church have donated not only hats and gloves for children, but also some adult sizes as well!  I don't want to complicate the simple message in this life lesson, but to say that God is good and can work through our charity to others.  I can't help but think of Hebrews 13:2 where the author speaks of entertaining angels when we serve strangers.

Have you ever thought about what God may be doing in your life right now, in relati…

Transformed and Renewed- A Look at Romans 12:1-21

In many churches around the world, this Sunday will be celebrated as what is known as Baptism of the Lord Sunday.  On this particular day, we remember not only that Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan (Mark 1:9), but that through the sacrament of baptism we are making a public affirmation of our faith.  In the United Methodist Church, we make a big deal about baptism and the effects of baptism in and through our lives.  Though it is vital and important, we recognize that the sacrament of baptism is not salvation from sin, but is our response to God's grace that has already been poured out upon us. (for a more in-depth look at United Methodists and Baptism, including why we baptize infants, see By Water and the Spirit: A United Methodist Understanding of Baptism - Available as a PDF Download here).  With this in mind I would like to share some insights on transformation and renewal found in Romans 12.

 Just before this chapter in Romans, Paul speaks of the grafting in of the G…