It’s Not About You!

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – Hebrews 10:24

The first sentence of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life is this: “It’s not about you!” Do you believe that? Does your life reflect that? It’s a struggle for me, and I bet it’s a struggle for you.

Consider these situations: You’re in the checkout line and the older gentleman in front of you wants to write a check, but can’t find his checkbook. He locates his checkbook, but now he has no pen. Finally pen in hand, he inquires about the date. The clerk noticing his out-of-state check calls for approval. This short “in-and-out” errand adds additional minutes to your packed schedule. It was probably the most inconvenient experience you’ve gone through. There ought to be a law! Or in the words of my mother, “It’s always something!”

Or what about your restaurant experience with the hamburger and no ketchup because the waitress forgot. She is off talking, ignoring your request, and crying about something. The serving station has ketchup but it is her job. So you sit, tap your fingers on the table, and shoot darts at the lady crying at the back of the restaurant.

Did you think to say a kind word to the gentleman to help settle his nerves, or tell the waitress that you hope things get better. You might even leave a bigger tip or offer to pray for her. It’s not about you! Look outside yourself. It’s what we’re called to do. Try it. See if God doesn’t affirm you for it.

Only God can give us a selfless love for others, as the Holy Spirit changes us from within. This is one reason we must receive Christ, for apart from His Spirit we can never be freed from the chains of selfishness, jealousy, and indifference. Will others see Christ’s love in your life today? – Billy Graham

Chaplain, Rob

Love Your Neighbor

Let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth. – 1 John 3:18

If you’re like me, you live a life in community, but your community isn’t likely one to include your neighbors. I know people who have lived in their neighborhoods for years and still don’t know their neighbors’ names. Busyness blocks out the world immediately around them.

A friend of mine recently shared a story with me. She said that she’s lived in the same neighborhood for twelve years and never really reached out to any of her neighbors. Having learned that one of her neighbors was battling cancer and leukemia, she thought that the time had come to express care, concern, and love to her.

So, she wrote a note, wrapped up a little stuffed bunny, and approached her neighbor’s house. Her heart was pounding. Was she opening herself to ridicule? She knocked on the door, wondering how this little gift and expression of care would be received. When the neighbor came to the door, she could tell that this hand delivered expression of love really moved her. The whole 10-minute process, doing exactly what God wanted her to do, was a blessing to both and an expression of the love of God to her neighbor.

Do you need to step out of your comfort zone and express love and concern to someone? Just look around you; the opportunities are there. We just close them off in our hurry to have a day without interruptions. Express some care and concern for someone today. Lend someone a helping hand. Spend time (and money if necessary) to be an agent of God’s love. You know you need to do it!

You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes. – A. A. Milne

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

Fathers, Children, and Seed Planting

John Wesley, father of millions of Methodists, had no children, no offspring. His marriage was not particularly a happy one. Yet, he was a father. Just look around the world!

This Sunday we will give a measure of honor to those we call father, to those who were also “dads” of sorts to groups of children on ball fields, clubs, Scouts, schools, and churches. Men who cared and helped us grow up and grow in the Lord. Biological fathers, step-fathers, uncles, older brothers, coaches, teachers, others who appeared as mentors and guides. Like “Dads!”

Our Mark text is about growth. And how even the Kingdom of God takes time. It’s “in our midst” but not hardly complete….just yet! Growing! And in I Samuel, the Word for us is about sons who can be leaders, even kings with power and authority. And the act of calling, responding, growing into…..maturity and behavior that points to the Reign of God in our lives, our communities.

Just as these words and acts of God manifest themselves in our two congregations, in different ways with different histories, (yet all siblings of the One Lord) we accept that we are still seeing the Kingdom of God grow in our midst, like a small seed into a large bush, like children growing always into spiritual maturity even we “can’t always see the growth ahead, we continue by faith” II Corinthians 5:7.

So, we remember those who left us examples, tool kits, game plans, who took us to church, put up with our missteps, misadventures, and did it, hopefully, with patience and wisdom. When they inevitably failed at times we remember what they took us to hear about at church: forgiveness and hope!

For the “fathers” still with us and those of us called “father” we look to the Heavenly Father to be our guide and show us the Son who never “forsakes us, never leaves us!” Play ball, do the chores, walk that walk, keep that faith, learn the trade, listen to that call….to be that “somebody for somebody else!”

Bring that “inner child” and any other child with you to worship this Sunday!

Pastor Barry

Size Doesn’t Matter

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:1

We live in a culture that values things that are large, extravagant, and impossible to miss. For this reason, we’re tempted to look at the struggles in our rather ordinary lives, and consider our victories insignificant if they’re not acknowledged or recognized by others.

But that’s just not true. Victor Hugo, the great French playwright who penned Les Misérables, rightly said our “greatest actions are performed in minor struggles. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment and poverty are battlefields which have their heroes, obscure heroes who are at times greater than illustrious heroes.”

It’s not the size of the audience, or the amount of applause, that determines the value of your achievements. Live your life before the one true God. And live it with faith, hope, and love even though you’re not getting accolades for it. Remember, your true character is what you do when no one is looking.

Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip. – Will Rogers

Blessings,

Chaplin Rob

Who’s In Charge Here?!

Summer is time for back yard, camp, picnic fun. Kids will choose up and play games. Who gets to go first? Who gets to pitch? Who gets to take the lead on the hike? Youngest? Oldest? Strongest? Most athletic? Pick straws? Rock, paper, scissors? Somebody take the wheel!

In our Samuel text, leadership has been done poorly, so they want a king like other nations. God reluctantly grants their request through Samuel the prophet. In Mark, it’s clear that many disagree with the direction Jesus is heading and with his authority! Conflict arises! Paul, to the church at Corinth, where there was plenty of conflict and resistance to him, stays determined to not give up. God will come through for us.

Yes, as communities and families and tribes and institutions we invariably, in due time, will have conflict, need leadership to work through the troubles, and are called upon to believe God is with us in our struggles.

We value peace and harmony so much because we know how hard it is to get there! And when we are at peace, we are all glad! It is just hard to stay put in peace! Maybe we need a leader! Jesus has some things to say about that and steps up to the dismay of his family and the religious leaders.

Let’s listen in this Sunday to leadership troubles and look to Jesus for example and His and Paul’s words that lead to a better Way! See you soon!

Pastor Barry

A Good Meal on a Good Day

Summer time and the menus begin to change a bit. Grills get a workout as do picnic baskets. Ice cream makes a frequent appearance…for some, almost daily in the heat of summer! Food is good! We work up an appetite in the activities of work, vacation, travel, and play!

As we come to the Lords Table this Sunday we are reminded that however we understand The Lords Supper or Holy Communion it is a taking of spiritual food represented by bread and the cup. As with most meals, at any season, we should look forward to it!

As United Methodists we continue the practice of John Wesley of inviting ALL to join in, all ages, all denominations. The table is the Lords Table not ours to restrict or judge who is worthy. We each are invited to examine ourselves, our conscience before we approach the Sacrament but all are invited.

This sounds a lot like any meal between friends and family when all are assumed to be welcome. And if a visitor drops by we usually say, “pull up a chair and eat with us!” If someone wants “seconds” we don’t think twice about passing the plate or bowl! And there is most always an abundance at hand so no one goes away hungry. Sunday dinners growing up were often THE big meal of the week!

We truly feed upon the Word and upon the Sacrament of Holy Communion and are well fed and nourished for each week of life’s journey toward the final complete Heavenly Banquet. May it be so this Sunday as we gather together to ask the Lords blessing! Bring the family, the visitor, the friend, bring those who hunger and thirst for the Bread of Life in every season, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring!

Pastor Barry

Change For The Better

Isaiah was given a vision of angels, hot coals, his uncleanness, and a heavenly voice. From that encounter he says “Here am I, O God! Send me!” Nicodemus is told he “must be born again” through the Spirit and all his future before him will change! Paul in Romans 8 says it’s either us and our sinful nature leading us….or it’s the Spirit leading us!

Three remarkable passages about change, transformation, and Who is bringing this change to pass! True enough, we can coast along in routine and habit to a point and then….what once worked, doesn’t work anymore! At this point, God is already ahead of us like a Father waiting on a prodigal to come home.

This Sunday we will remember how important change is whether at times by force or by persuasion. Memorial Day weekend reminds us that service to a greater cause can result in the greatest sacrifice of our own life. We remember and honor those who died in service to our country. Those who died to bring about change from threat or injustice. It is also Peace With Justice Sunday where we acknowledge that if there is no justice amongst us in community many are left without real peace. The struggle to live by the Spirit (Romans 8) is never ending and is always about Social Holiness not just private, personal piety.

We remember that John Wesley’s “transformation” at a church study on May 4, 1738 was not just about his change but was to lead to change in English society for the better. Some historians say that the Wesleyan movement in England saved that country from the violence like that of the French Revolution!

Change and transformation leading to peace in our lives and justice throughout the land. Such is the message of the Prophets, Apostles, and Jesus!

Amen!

Pastor Barry

It’s a Matter of Trust

“Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory” (Psalm 50:15 NLT).

When I ask people what keeps them from trusting in God, they sometimes say, “Well, I haven’t seen what’s on the other end, so I’m not going to trust it.” Yet they trust all the time in things they can’t see.

We can’t see television or radio waves, but we watch TV and listen to the radio. We can’t see cell phone waves, but we use our phones every day without thinking.

It’s selective trust. We trust what we want to trust.

What about you? Are you willing to trust in the One who is unseen but is more reliable and more dependable than any technology this world could create? Are you willing to commit your life to him?

If you are, I encourage you to pray this prayer:

“Dear God, forgive me for my pride and for thinking that I don’t need you in my life. I’m sorry. I admit that I need rescuing. I need saving. There is no way I can pay for my sins on my own.

“And so I’m asking you, Jesus, as much as I understand it, to rescue me and set me free. I am calling on you because you’ve said that anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

“I want to commit my life to you, and I want to learn to trust you and know you better. Give me the better life and set me free. In your name I pray, Amen

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

Reframing Our Work

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Too often we view our work as a curse rather than a divine calling. Renowned author Dorothy Sayers is precisely right in observing that we need “a thoroughgoing revolution in our whole attitude to work.”

Namely, that our work should be viewed not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which we find personal delight and magnify God’s glory. Sayers believes work, “should be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself; and that. . . (men and women), made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing.”

With the right attitude your work can be a source of personal blessing and a vehicle for glorifying God.

Train yourself to recognize the hand of God in everything that happens to you.  – Andrew Murray

Blessings,

Chaplin Rob

Advocates in the Spirit

Another Sunday, another “bases loaded!” Using our Spring and Summer pastime sport to illustrate this coming Sunday is fitting as we have (at least) three wonderful occasions to celebrate:

1. The 50th Year of the United Methodist Church
2. Pentecost Sunday
3. Our local church heritage at both Locks Memorial and Kedron

You can decide which “base” you would place each on. Wherever, we want to “bring them ALL home!”

There are at least 19 Wesleyan denominations in the USA. Largest of these is US the UMC at about 8.7 million. There are 29 million Methodist members throughout the world in 108 countries. We are a presence most everywhere to bear witness to the Gospel, the grace of God upon us, “warm hearts, trained minds, extended hands to help.”

And Pentecost reminds us of the indwelling Holy Spirit, our Advocate, the Lord Jesus bestows on us to renew us along our spiritual path. John Wesley had the Holy Spirit empower him to spread the Methodist movement in spite of his previous failures as a missionary and as a despondent, beaten down Christian!

And here we are today off Almaville Road and Rocky Fork Road continuing to offer the Gospel in word and deed following both old and new ways of sharing what previous generations in these two congregations have done since the early 1800s!

A lot to be thankful for, a lot to look forward to! Bases loaded? Step up to the plate and help bring all of our historic, spiritual blessings home in worship this Sunday!

Pastor Barry