Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent- A time of preparation before Christmas.

Okay, so it's been forever since I've posted anything on here, and I know it, but I came across this today when I was doing some reading while feeding Abbey dinner, and it really resonated with me.

This is taken from the book called: "Watch for the Light: Reading for Advent and Christmas." It is basically a collection of writings from different authors over time (like Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Kathleen Norris, etc.). I guess it's a little bit like a devotional, geared towards Christmas.

Anyway, here it is:
"Jesus' life began in a stable and ended on the cross between two criminals. The Apostle Paul said he wanted to proclaim nothing but this crucified Christ. We, too, havenothing to hold on to except this Christ. We must ask ourselves again and again: Are we willing to go his way, from the stable to the cross? As disciples we are not promised comfortable and good times. Jesus says we must deny ourselves and suffer with him and for him. That is the only way to follow him, but behind it lies the glory of life- the glowing love of God, which is so much greater than our hearts and our lives. - J. Heinrich Arnold"

I think that it has become too easy to forget what Christmas really is about- to celebrate the birth of Christ. Instead Christmas has become about family, and giving and receiving gifts, none of which, by the way, are bad things. Don't get me wrong, those are all good things- but they have their place- to be done with Christ-like love in celebration of the birth of our King.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Spirituality is one of those things that has always intrigued me, but also terrified me at the same time...if that makes any sense.
For the longest time I thought that being a Christian meant reading your Bible everyday, going to Church every Sunday, praying regularly, and making my best attempt at loving other people (as best as I could), and doing my best not to sin.
Keep in mind, during this time, I was in High School, a teenager, and really didn't know what any of those things were...Even in my first few years of college, I thought that reading my bible for a few minutes, and asking God for strength & grace for the day made me a good person. But I found that as my day went on, it became difficult for me to remember the text I had read that morning, and that I struggled with feeling guilty for this.
As time has gone on, I have found myself still trying to make sense of things, but I am convinced that God can speak to us in almost any and every capacity- through His Word, books, music, even movies and TV. Having said that, I still think it is something that eludes me. I have read a number of different books, but still find myself asking the question of what it is, and how it works...
I think perhaps I might need to get back to the Gospels- to take a hard look at Christ's ministry, and see how he handled himself with others. After all, faith is only faith when exercised in light of community...
I guess that's all for now, comments, thoughts, experiences, stories, etc. are welcome.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kuran burning? We might as well be shooting ourselves in the head...

I felt as though it was appropriate for me to respond to what has been going on in the media about this Florida church's plan to burn copies of the Kuran on the anniversary of September 11th this year.
What I really want to know, is, how, can the Pastor of this church, claim to be loving and serving the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet be showing such hatred towards the Muslim faith?
Now, don't get me wrong, I can understand people's frustration, and anger, even, against the people who were involved in the bombings of September 11th. But in a situation like this, I am reminded of the words of Christ on forgiveness in Matthew 18:21-22:

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."
Where is the forgiveness? Where is the love (insert Black Eyed Peas song here...) for our enemies? God has forgiven us of our sins, why can't we extend grace to the people who hurt us?
Sometimes I think that as Christians, we think that it's okay to love everyone who is like us: socially, economically, spiritually, etc. and that that is where our "love for others" should end. We think that it's okay for us to hate our enemies, and it's justified because they have wronged us, or just because they are different from us.
It is easy to hate something you don't understand. But we also need to remember something else: The people involved in the Trade Center bombings on 9/11 were extremists, and terrorists- not every Muslim on the planet thinks that that is the way to take care of things.
Maybe if that Pastor took the time to at least research the Kuran, and look through it, he might be surprised at what he would find.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What if Starbucks Marketed Like a Church? A Parable.

I came across this YouTube video today, and it got me thinking...

What I love about this video is that it is taken from the perspective of the visitors...this young couple who comes in and just wants coffee...and Starbucks makes them jump through hoops to get it.
Now, obviously, this entire video is comparative to new visitors coming to check out a church on a Sunday morning, but the point remains.
A couple of things I noticed...
First, The couple confesses they are nervous and on edge before they even exit the vehicle. Who knows why they came there in the first place, whether it was because they are hoping to have a need met, or they are just looking for a new church, or they just want to find a place to fit in. Whatever the reason, they are coming to Church seeking.
Right off the bat, the first set of doors they try to enter is locked, when only a moment before a "regular" group of attenders were admitted without a problem.
Next, the "Greeters" are too busy talking about their own lives to even bother to try and greet the visiting couple.
Finally, when they get inside the foyer, they get in line behind a guy wearing a suit, who we can infer would be the Pastor, Elder, Deacon, or some other role of leadership in the church. (At least, that's how I interpreted him.) He takes one look at the guy, and you can tell he's thinking to himself: "You're not good enough to be here..."
Then, when they finally get to the counter, the guy tries to get a cup of coffee, and the Barista embarrasses them by having them raise their hands because they are visitors, and has them fill out information about themselves before he serves them.

If this is how we treat people as the church, then boy do we have problems. And we wonder why people don't like going to church. We ignore them, judge them, embarrass them, make them fill out paperwork, and do everything but what we should do: love and serve them.
The Church was made to serve people, it shouldn't be about the Church trying to get new people to fit into the Church.
I vaguely remember a quote, I think it was painted in the lunch room of my High School...and it said: "If you judge someone, you will never have time to love them." I think it was said by Mother Theresa, and I have to wholeheartedly agree. If we spend all of our time judging people, we will never be able to love them.
I guess the question becomes- what does the Church exist for?
Are we here to save people, to get people to come to our Church, so we can judge them and then take their money?
Or are we here to serve and love people, to meet people where they're at, possibly meet a need they have (physical, spiritual, or otherwise), to come alongside them, and do our best to love and serve them, like Jesus did in the gospels, and the apostles did in Acts?
We have to be willing to love and serve others...end of story.



To start with, I need to say a few things...

First, These are simply my thoughts about...well, anything, at the moment. My intention is not to offend anyone who reads this (if anyone ever does...), but simply have a forum to respond to things that I encounter in my life, basically a public space where I can write. I am not claiming to be any kind of authority or anything, especially referring to religious and theological issues. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Pastoral Ministry from Greenville College...that's it.

Second, I cannot and will not guarantee that I will be "blogging" on a regular basis. I am a ministerial student serving in a local church, am married, have a 10 month old daughter, and lots of homework, so I can't promise that this will become a regular thing.

Third, I am a Free Methodist Pastor, Which means I am a Christian. My world view and thoughts on life are channeled through this lens, and I feel it is only appropriate that readers (if there ever are any) are aware of this up front, as not to be offended or surprised by this fact later.

Having said all of this, I'm not really sure what else I should if anyone else (besides me) ever reads this...enjoy!!
May the Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ richly fill and bless you.