Monday, January 3, 2011

Sun Stand Still

As I was finishing up One Month To Live. I received a free copy of Steven Furtick's Sun Stand Still through Waterbrook Multnomah's "Blogging for Books" program. I had seen Furtick on television talking about this book a few months back, and I was eager to read it. I was excited about his discussion on the difference between "standing in hope" and "walking in faith."

I am usually bored by these--well, many--kinds of books because I read the introduction, then feel I'm pounded over and over again with the same message until I say "yeah, yeah, yeah....I get it..." Furtick's premise of daring to ask God for the impossible was established early, punctuated with examples from his ministry at Elevation Church in Charlotte.

But, here's the difference. He didn't just say, "this is what the Bible tells you to believe, this is how we applied it, and this is what happened, so you should try, too." He really described what our response needs to be in order to see God's miracles unfold, and Furtick allowed for his writing to unfold in such a way that I was even more challenged at the end than I was at the beginning.

I was excited by this book, and not just because it was free. So, I'll be passing it around. It's just what CUMC and JC need to read as we work toward becoming one church so we can "activate our audacious faith."

Friday, December 3, 2010

One Month to...

The strangest thing happened yesterday. I gathered a stack of books for the children from the church library and took them home. Each had been chosen, one by one. When I got home, I was moving them from the kitchen to another location. Within the stack, I found the companion study book to Kerry and Chris Shook's One Month to Live. We had a series about this sometime last year at CUMC.

How'd that book get in there? I don't know. But, I thought how this 30 day challenge is a perfect way to go through the Advent season and remember what's important in my life. It's central idea is what would you do if you only had one month to live? I'll finish it on my birthday, just in time to ring in the New Year.

If anyone would like to join me in this challenge I have a few extra books in my office. I'll even give you a green band bracelet to remind you to "live with no regrets."


So, I'm eavesdropping on this conversation. Two little girls--neither 
of them mine-- are sitting behind me in the lounge of the Performing  Arts Factory. They're probably nine years old, and they are waiting 
for their class to begin.

The one girl has brought a beginner's Bible to their table, "let's 
read this, the stories are really timeless," she says. The first is 
about the servant going to find a wife for Rebekkah. It's a love 
story, and they excitedly take turns reading a paragraph.

Then, it's Jacob's "stairway to heaven" and Joseph being his father's 
favorite son. The two keep reading until a father comes to say that 
class is beginning.

"We were reading this," the instigator of this scene proclaims, 
running to show her dad the Bible. She is so eager to show him the 
book that she forgets to put it away. She must run back to the lounge 
again to place it on the shelf.

I wonder if the second girl had ever heard those stories, or was I 
witnessing some pint-sized evangelism at it's best.

When's the last time you were so excited by a story that you said, 
"look at this," "listen to this," or "read this with me."

When's the last time you sat beside someone and told them about this 
great love story of which we are all a part.

My prayer is that I can always be as excited as those little girls. 
That kind of enthusiasm is really timeless.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gambling is Gambling

I remember why Christians shouldn't gamble...
Our United Methodist Social Principle against gambling is one I have struggled with for a long time. I marked most of my early milestones with gambling. The lottery ticket and horse race at 18, slots in the Bahamas for my High School Senior week, my picture on the "Wall of Winners" at the Tropicana in Las Vegas when I was 21, my favorite game--roulette--in Atlantic City for my bachelorette party. I walked away from all of that when I was called to the ministry of a pastor.

Even when table games came to Charles Town Races and Slots The Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, I was proud to maintain those principles and stay away from the attraction.

But, last night I caved with a simple wager.

Broken Commandment number one: "Thou shalt not covet." My neighbor Bryan has this "Book It" tee-shirt that he bought at Urban Outfitters. I want that shirt.  Bryan loves the Dallas Cowboys. I hated football until last year/this season when I have found myself drawn into the drama of the Cincinnati Bengals. I became an Ochocinco fan last year when he changed his name, because I love anybody that finds a creative way around No-Fun-League rules. I want one of his jerseys....there's that covetousness again.

The second sin: pride. Well, when you talk trash to a good friend and neighbor the way I did it's just prideful. "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)" Plus, it's among the seven deadly sins.

So, in just a simple bet, I've managed to break one of the Ten Commandments and commit one of the seven deadly/cardinal sins. I'm going to stop this assessment because I already have enough for which to repent.

I'd given up betting on sports after my Michigan Fab Five lost to North Carolina because of Webber's technical foul in the 1993 NCAA Basketball Championship. I only lost, like, $1 to my friend Peter who is now a sports agent, but I thought I'd learned my lesson back then when I was in junior high. Besides, I was sure that T.O., Ochocinco, Carson Palmer, PacMan Jones, and a few other hardened criminals on the field in orange (already my favorite color anyway) would crush the prettyboys--ahem, Cowboys.

The terms: that "Book It" tee-shirt against my home-brewed sweet tea for A YEAR.

All I can say is, "Lord forgive me!" as I put the kettle on the stove. How much sugar will I need for a gallon a week?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Spiritually Ready for Back to School

So, I've been told the 25 cent crayons are out at Walmart, and in-service days for teachers are beginning. It's back to school time! At CUMC we're going to be hosting a clothing swap for the neighborhood to get read on Friday, August 13th. I've been cleaning out some closets for it since the kids seem to gain inches overnight.

 On school days, I like to say a prayer with the children on our way to school. When they were younger, I worried about the lessons they would learn. Asher once prayed that he would be the classroom helper that day. I told his teacher, I wasn't sure if I wanted it to happen for him or not, because the lesson would either be that we immediately get what we pray for, or that prayers aren't answered. (Matthew 7:7-11 is a great reflection for those days).

Pockets is a devotional magazine for kids that I always looked forward to when I was young. Online, they have a great Back to School Litany that families can use to spiritually prepare for that day. And, we can always stress the message in that old song that my father would sing to us every first-day morning: "school days, school days, dear old golden rule days..."