Archive for July, 2019

The Words I Would Say

Words-I-Would-Say-Sermon-SlideChange is inevitable. There’s no way of getting around it. They say that nothing is certain except death and taxes, but I think you can add “change” to that list as well. This change has come to Lanark United Methodist Church as I have been appointed to serve Epworth UMC in Elgin, Illinois. It was with a heavy heart that I made this announcement to the family within Lanark’s congregation. But it also with joyful hope because of all that we have been able to accomplish with the Spirit of the Lord guiding us.

This Sunday was the last worship service that I was able to lead for Lanark and we reminisced over the past four years, sharing memories. I thought of first baptisms, improvisational children’s time with possums, vacation bible school water fights, parades, potlucks, and many lessons I had learned while leading here.

We also talked about the teaching that was offered through the Holy Spirit. I shared with them some of the main themes in which God spoke to us. I reminded them that we need to eliminate hurry from our lives. Society tells us that we should run at a breakneck pace all the time and that if we are idle for just a moment, we are failing. But God’s message is always counter-cultural as God says to “be still and know that I am God.” We need our 15 minutes of alone time with God in study and prayer. Here is where we are filled up with the Spirit. Here is where we are able to hear God speak to us, giving us those little nudges for service.

I reminded them that they are loved and that they are forgiven. This is wonderful news, but it means more than just something for them. This also means that since they are loved and forgiven, they too should love and forgive. However, something that gets missed many times is that we need to make sure that we forgive ourselves and that we love ourselves. God calls us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That won’t look that good if we do a crappy job loving ourselves.

We need to follow those three simple rules as laid out by John Wesley, our founder. Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God. Simple but profound bits of wisdom.

Finally, I told them that God was not done with them yet. Yes, we have done some really great things during the four years that God had blessed me with this appointment, but God’s not done yet. There is so much more that God wants to do here. There’s so much more that God wants to do all over creation. So, rise up and claim that which God is proclaiming.

This message is for all of you, too! Everything that I said to Lanark UMC this past Sunday goes for all of you too. God loves you and has a plan for your life. Rise up and follow Christ. Yes, it will be a difficult road, but it will be well worth it.

Let me leave all of you with some words from the band “Sidewalk Prophets,”

“Be strong in the Lord, never give up hope. You’re going to do great things, I already know. God’s got his hand on you, so don’t live life in fear. Forgive and forget but don’t forget while you’re here, take your time and pray. These are the words I would say.”

Change has come, but we don’t have to be afraid, we can embrace it and follow Jesus Christ into the future. This might be goodbye, but never for too long, for we shall all be together again, soon.

Juggling-Chaos-TimeDr. Robert Schuller once told a story about a time in his life. It seems like he was on this whirlwind book signing tour which went along with his incredibly busy career as pastor of the “Hour of Power.” There was always something going on, all the time. In fact there was very little time for other things.

It was during this time when his administrative assistant reminded him of one more thing that was added to his already packed schedule. A few weeks prior, there was an auction where people bid on spending dinner with him. The winning bid fetched $500 and the date was coming up. Robert’s assistant cleared his schedule so that he could spend some uninterrupted time with the winner of the auction.

You could imagine his surprise when he found out that the winner of this auction was none other than his teenage daughter. She has bid her entire savings to spend an evening, uninterrupted with her father.

We, as a society, are addicted to hurry. We value it. We celebrate it. In fact, it seems like if you are spending a little time in reflection, you are doing something wrong. We look around us and notice everyone else filling all their time with activity after activity, work, sports, volunteering, and who knows what else. So, when we finally take our 15 minutes of alone time with God, we feel guilty. The fact is, we need to eliminate hurry from our lives. We need to be able to spend some time, every day, focusing our attention on our creator.

When reflecting on our time, there are some questions we should ask ourselves are; what are we missing by being so busy all the time? Who are we missing? And who is missing us when we are running here and there and everywhere?

This past Sunday, we heard again the story of Mary and Martha. Martha was so busy getting things ready for a meal and Mary was spending time listening to Jesus. So many times, I have been like Martha, so busy working all the time that I missed out on many times to spend with family and with God. I shared about a time that my daughter recorded a message on her toy karaoke player. She was playing with her mom when she spoke these words into the microphone. “Daddy, come home. Daddy, come home.”

How often do we get messages like this that tell us we are spending too much time on things that aren’t that important, when we should be spending that time differently? I think we all know what’s important, we just get sidetracked by what we see in society and on social media. After a while it becomes habit and enters our lives as normal, even though it is far from normal and desirable.

God gives us the ability and freedom to make choices in our lives. We can choose to spend time working on the relationship that God desires for us, or we can choose not to. When we choose the latter, it breaks God’s heart, but he doesn’t force us to change our minds. What we see is opportunities that are laid out in front of us for us to return to that relationship, but we have to take the initiative. These situations are moments of grace from God as he makes the first move towards us. Then we respond by our actions.

Where is God calling you to slow down and spend a bit of time to pray, study, and worship? Can you hear God’s voice? Or are the other voices of society too loud that you can’t hear God in your life?