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The Long Haul of Faith

Jeremiah 31:27-34, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 and Luke 18:1-8

When did you come to believe? Remember? Or have there been many times when you said, “I believe Lord (but) help Me in my unbelief!”

Our Timothy passage speaks of the influence from childhood of Timothy’s mother and grandmother. He was taught the Holy Scriptures (the OT in this context) early on. How about you? Who was there for you while growing up in the Faith?

With trust in God as your basic attitude have there been times when you found that you had to be persistent in prayer to get through or beyond the unknown stretches when the going got rough?! Jesus tells his disciples a parable about a persistent widow appealing to a bad judge to get justice on a matter. Jesus says to his disciples: “will you be that persistent in faith until the dramatic End of Time?!”

Can we imagine ourselves 10-20 years out? Through thick and thin, holding on with trust and prayer to those points down the line?! This is the question Jesus proposes and is confident (cf – 2 Timothy) that we will be faithful. And being faithful is something that is not ours alone to do; we have mothers and grandmothers, Dads and Granddads, friends and neighbors who help us be “persistent!”

All this is meant to be encouraging for the “long haul” until the “Son of Man comes” – Luke 18:8.

Some days we throw up our hands in frustration over a thousand afflictions. Just keep in mind the One toward whom you throw up your hands! God is far, far more caring than the Unjust Judge who reluctantly grants the persistent widow her request.

Keep the faith everybody!

Pastor Barry

Lord, Increase Our Faith!

Psalm 111 and Luke 17:5-19

Rev. John Collett returns for an “encore presentation” while your pastor observes the day at Locks Memorial’s Homecoming. John has generously booked in the two Sundays in a row. He may become a “regular!”

Our United Methodist way of doing church may have several drawbacks, but the availability of committed and trained preachers and the continuity of worship has been a plus. We ARE a connected people serving a Lord who is all about “increasing our faith.” A healthy working relationship between clergy and laity was one of John Wesley’s goals of leadership and few denominations have done as well as the United Methodist Church in mutual leadership by clergy and laity.

Needless to say, there will always be room for improvement, repentance, and reform! The church does not rest only on the past! Ever onward by renewed faith is our guiding theme.

Join John this Sunday at Kedron, pray for your sisters and brothers at Locks and look for your pastor to reappear October 20th…..”God willing!”

Prayers and blessings~~~†

Pastor Barry

There’s Still Room At The Table

Rev. John Collett brings our message this World Communion Sunday and will preside at the Lord’s Table. Many of you know John from his service as an Elder in The Conference where he has been a pastor, DS, Assistant to the Bishop, and now at Martin College. John and my wife LeNoir served together at Donelson Heights UMC way too many years ago!

He brings a message which will “focus on World Communion Sunday with a take on the Table of Jesus as the Table to which all in the community are invited and that the church ‘longs for’ those who are missing from the Table. It will be a kind of ‘evangelism of the Table” theme.”

Pray for the gathering this Sunday and pray for the one who leads in Word and Table.

Blessings, prayers, and hopes~~~+

Pastor Barry

Nothing Will Defeat Me

This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. – 2 Corinthians 4:7

The apostle Paul led a hard life. He survived a shipwreck, persecution, and repeated imprisonment, not to mention the rigors of constant travel, the need to make a living while preaching the gospel, and the continual challenge of a chronic personal issue he described only as a “thorn in my flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7).

And yet he wrote, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

Why was Paul so resilient? He relied on God as the source of his power.

Our problems may be different from Paul’s, but we all struggle with life at times.

To make it through the turmoil, we must be plugged in to a source of power that is greater than what we can generate on our own.

Pretending we are strong only leads to frustration and pain.

But relying on God for our power allows us to live fully and resiliently in the midst of our ups and downs.

Ask Yourself
Can you think of times when you tried on your own to “be strong” in painful or difficult situations? What was the outcome?

What are some practical ways you can “plug in” to God as the source of power in your life?

Ask God
God, I want you to be my power source. I surrender my own powerlessness to your care and lean on your strength. Give me the courage to more consistently surrender my will to your will.

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

Food, Clothing, and My Precious?

Amos 6:1-7, I Timothy 6:6-19 and Luke 16:19-31

It’s possible…..anyone could fall into hard times and be left with just food and clothing. No one wants to imagine it though. We often read of starvation, poverty, unemployment, homelessness, but few reading this have been there. Yet, life is full of “what ifs….” What if I had been born in a very poor country ? What if I fall ill and can’t work? What if I give until it hurts?

In Jesus and Paul’s time with calls to “seek ye first the Kingdom of God,” and the shift from identifying only as a Jew or only as a Gentile to being a follower of Christ, the real risk of falling into one of the above desperate conditions e.g. poverty, unemployment, was ever present. It made for an exciting life but with potential hardships.

This Sunday will be a call to empathize with those like poor Lazarus at the gate. And a call to beware of the “lure of riches” or rather “the love of money” which are considered to be threats to a life of faith, and, not to put too fine a point upon it, the root of all evil. Strong language indeed!

Yet, the joy of what Christ has done for us is the motivation here! The demanding language is always in the context of God’s grace bestowed upon, unmerited favor. What will we do when grace “sinks in?!” Awareness of grace is the starting point! What follows should be amazing too!

Blessings in your walk with Christ!

Pastor Barry

Either God or Everything Else

In a well-known Bible story about a life-threatening storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus posed this probing question to his frightened followers: “Where is your faith?” he asked them as the wind roared, the seas rolled, and the ship rocked. Their response came in the form of another question, one that revealed the hidden reason for their fear and anxiety. They said to one another, “Who is this man, that even the winds and waves obey him?” (See Luke 8:22-26).

Their answer to the question Jesus asked revealed that their faith was in the wrong thing. They were trusting their knowledge of the sea and their own sailing abilities, both of which were now proving inadequate; they were not trusting Jesus. And why not? Because, as they themselves admitted, they didn’t yet realize who he was.

In another familiar biblical scene we see Mary at the empty tomb of Jesus, weeping because his body is gone. Walking up behind her, the resurrected Christ asks this two-in-one question: “Why are you crying? What are you looking for?” Not recognizing Jesus and thinking he was the gardener, Mary asked him to tell her where he had put the body of Jesus. Her response was similar to that of the disciples. While their faith was in the wrong thing, Mary was looking for the wrong thing. She was so desperate to find a dead body that she almost missed seeing a living Savior (See John 20:11-15).

Both questions Jesus asked “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25) and “Who are you looking for?”(John 20:15) have to do with his identity. Neither the disciples nor Mary had yet figured out who Jesus really was.

Most, perhaps all, human fear and worry is due to this one truth: We don’t yet know who Jesus is. And we worry about things that we have no control over.

By honestly answering the questions Jesus asked, we can pinpoint the source of our fear and worry. We trust the wrong things.

When we realize that our faith is based on something totally unreliable (i.e. money, status, job performance, etc), we are forced to look for something trustworthy. And when we recognize that we’re looking for the wrong thing, our blind eyes can then see the real thing, Jesus.

If your struggle has to do with loving God with your heart, ask yourself these two questions: “Where is my faith?” and “What am I looking for?”

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” ― Corrie ten Boom

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

God Overcomes Our Guilt

Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. . . . If we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. – 1 John 3:20-21

Guilt is an interesting concept. By definition, it is a legal term. A person is guilty when he or she has actually committed some offense or crime. The definition can also include the feeling of having done something wrong. But it is not meant to describe an ongoing emotional state that is generalized into a perpetual sense of shame. That’s why John reminds us that God, who knows everything about us, is greater than our guilt feelings.

If we have a chronic or underlying sense of guilt or shame, we need to get to the root of it. One way to do this is to take what people in twelve-step programs call “a fearless moral inventory” of our lives.

Do we blame ourselves for what happened to us as kids? Are we holding on to some past failure? Whatever is at the root of those feelings must be brought to God and confessed to someone we trust with the realization that God already knows all about it and has taken away our guilt.

I encourage each of us to look at what holds us back today. Remember the past is over, the future is not written, and all we have is the present. My prayer today is that each of us will find a way to let go of any guilt or shame that holds us back.

Ask Yourself
What do you think you gain by holding on to feelings of guilt?

Why is it important to confess those feelings to God and to a trusted person?

Ask God
Dear God, help me to see that while feelings of guilt can be an important signal that something is wrong, they can also be a habit. You know everything, so help me as I get to the source of any chronic guilt in my life.

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

Show Me the Money, Steward!

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1, I Timothy 2:1-7 and Luke 16:1-13

Jesus almost never talks about his income! Financial resources were available through his disciples, gifts to Him as a Teacher, and simply living fairly frugal! Needless to say, money and work and possessions were daily concerns then as much as in our time. Jesus repeatedly guides us through example, parables, admonitions, and community living to ways to approach good stewardship.

“Show me the money” is the oft quoted memorable line from the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire about a sports agent and his clients. That line is now used in so many different settings and is often an exuberant way to express feelings about the blessings and woes of money. Jesus too has a memorable line that most church folks know: “you cannot love both God and mammon” Luke 16:13. Or you “cannot have two masters.” You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

Sunday will be a reminder to be good stewards. And to not be fearful when lean financial days come upon us. The I Timothy passage is a call to pray for all both those who we assume have great resources, e.g. Kings and authorities, as well as “all people.”

Let those who have ears to hear…..hear.

Prayerfully,

Pastor Barry

Eyes Off the Gloom

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

Some years ago the New York Times featured news of a new toy—a plush “Ask Me More Eeyore,” modeled after the gloomy donkey from Winnie the Pooh. The toy is designed for children aged three to seven. The paper remarked that these are just the right ages, apparently, to learn about undaunted pessimism.

Eeyore responds to children’s questions with comments like, “Don’t count on it,” “Doesn’t look good,” “Outcome looks sort of gloomy,” “You can’t win them all,” and “Looks good for you, must be nice.”

Sometimes Eeyore will even ask the child, “You wouldn’t want me for a friend, would you?”

Do you have a gloomy Eeyore in your life? Perhaps you’ve taken on that role for yourself!

If you’re busy looking for all the things that can go wrong, you’re sure to miss the blessings God has prepared for you. Besides, life is too short to dwell on the gloom and doom. As believers our hope is in our Savior, no matter what our circumstance, He walks beside us, He fights our battles and He goes before us in everything. Our hope is not in the arm of flesh, it rests on the mighty and powerful arm of God. Take your eyes off the gloom and focus them on the Lord.

Let’s remember the words of that old hymn: “Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings, see what God has done!”

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

Someone’s Looking For You!

Psalm 14, I Timothy 1:12-17 and Luke 15:1-10

Hide and seek….a fun childhood game. I suppose adults play the game also but over time…..that’s perhaps less fun!

Lost and Found. Every big store or institution has such an office. Airports and luggage!

Home and away. A way of talking about sports games. Also a sense of not being in the familiar home but traveling from hotel to hotel maybe.

Our scriptures, especially the Story of the shepherd seeking the one lost sheep of the 99 speak to our experiences of “hide and seek,” “lost and found,” “home and away.” And what better day to hear about these experiences than a church Homecoming!

Memories and reminiscing take center stage on such a Sunday and rightly so! We remember home and we remember God bringing us home when we have been lost.

Sunday there will be laughter and food and a great rejoicing in just “being home”……..by the grace of God.

Tell someone they are missed, tell someone they are loved at Kedron.

Pastor Barry