Why Do We Experience Setbacks In Life?

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. – 1 Peter 5:10

Do you ever think that your level of success in life is minimized by the problems and setbacks you experience along the way? Well, it’s just not true.

Our problems and setbacks don’t determine the shape and direction of our lives. What problems and setbacks do, however, is reveal character. They show us how we respond to fear, disappointments, and failure. They reveal what level of resilience we possess; whether or not we’re content to play the role of a victim; and whether we’re willing to take a risk again after initial failure. In other words, they diagnose our shortcomings and call us to positive change.

Problems and setbacks are the crucible of character formation, and they give us perspective as we pause and evaluate what’s truly important in life. So don’t be discouraged when troubles come your way, instead hang on to your faith, See the obstacle as possibly the way forward. Remember God’s word and ask yourself, “what can I learn from this”. Trust that the God who created you and in whom you place your faith and trust will carry you through your setback or trial.

Strong people are made by opposition like kites that go up against the wind. – Frank Harris

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved. – Helen Keller

Blessings on your journey,

Chaplain Rob

This Weeks Devotional

This Friday will be 33 years now since President Ronald Reagan visiting in a divided Berlin, Germany spoke publicly to Soviet leader Gorbachov and said “tear down this wall Mr. Gorbachov.” It took another two years but the Berlin Wall that divided a city and a nation came down and a united democratic Germany was reborn.

Our Gospel is all about breaking down walls between us and God, neighbor and neighbor, Jew and Gentile, differences that falsely lead to conflict and fighting. That’s why Jesus is often referred to as the Mediator (Hebrews 8:6). And blessed are the peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9).

Obviously one of the most difficult tasks for us in the “human condition.” A never ending calling, but one that has produced results and reconciliation throughout God’s creation. How might each of pray about and pray together for this to occur in so many spheres of life in the next half of 2020?! Let us pray to seek reconciliation and peace where we see conflict and division.

Just as the Berlin Wall finally came down to reunite a people, justice accompanied that reconciliation and rebuilding. It is a community process and takes collective and individual patience to see it through. Remember that God is obviously patient with us! Nevertheless, God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven~~~~+

Let’s step out in faith and do and be what God leads us toward…..The Peaceable Kingdom (Isaiah 65:17-25). The lion and the lamb will lie down together!

Pastor Barry

Not an Apostle but Close

Psalm 116:1-9, Romans 5:1-8 and Matthew 9:35-10:8

On this second Sunday after Pentecost we note that our national Flag Day falls on the 14th as well. It’s astounding when you realize the number of flags in the world, the number of nations! And how memorable our Pledge of Allegiance is when it calls us to “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We are people of faith in a specific nation as are millions throughout our planet. And as Christians, we identify with Jesus who calls us today just as he called that first group we know as Apostles. He pledged Himself to them 100% even if they failed Him multiple times. And the Gospel of Matthew names them: Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John and 8 more!
Remarkably, Jesus gives them authority and power to do a lot of good. He shares God’s call to mission with them weak and inadequate as they are!

The same authority is given to us 2000 years plus later! We should wave that “flag” as well as our country’s flag! It is a powerful Liberty we are given to serve freely our Savior and Friend Jesus. He has empowered us to do that very thing…serve others for the Kingdom of God!

This Sunday we will hear of these early Apostles and their descendants, that is, US! And other Christians around the world in different nations, under different flags but under One God known to us in Jesus Christ.

See you Sunday as you “listen in” to hear your name as well as the names of others even the Apostles!

Blessings!

Pastor Barry

One God the Trinity

Isaiah 1:12-18, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 and Matthew 28:16-20

If you ask a 4 year old, why we attend church on a Sunday, they will likely answer “to hear about God.” When our son Ben was around 2-3 he was seated in a high chair around the table and for some reason our talk was about church. I just asked him “who is Jesus?” Ben replied quickly, “God.” And he kept on playing with a toy as he spoke. He had no depth of understanding to his answer but had picked up enough from his Sunday school and worship attendance to unknowingly make a confession of faith about God and Jesus! Out of the mouth of babes!

We go to church to worship God and to be not only “hearers of the Word but doers” as well. We live in a troubled stretch of time and a word from God is sought. This Sunday is also, besides Trinity Sunday, a special day of the church year as it is Peace With Justice Sunday. So much could be said and needs to be said about our country and the world’s problems. In every town and home we hear social and economic updates on this and that, opinions, and proposed solutions.

Perhaps we first must speak of God and then seek peace with Justice as we remember and act upon the very relational nature of God as Trinity. So, we will do our faithful best to focus on God, listen and (re) learn who God is for us. Never a finished task but one that should lead to the very “abundance of life” Jesus calls us to in John 10:10. And from that we can lean into Peace with Justice for all. All should have “the abundant life” in Jesus.

We will sing the stories of faith, hear the scriptures, pray for one another, recite our historic Nicene Creed, recite The World Methodist Social Affirmation and believe. (If you have a UM hymnal at home, be sure to have it with you as we “live stream” our service). “O God, help Thou our unbelief.” And then continue “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

Join us this Sunday in worship!

Pastor Barry

Troubles have Doubled

If you are like me, during the last two weeks you’ve felt like our national troubles have doubled. From COVID-19 anxieties and grief, to financial and employment disruption, now to an eruption of awareness of systemic injustices, there is a sense of being overwhelmed by the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

Even so, the person of faith, the Christ follower is ever seeking through prayer and scripture and the community of believers, a way forward and through these troubling times. There are as many opinions as there are people! Yet, the person of faith will always seek guidance from our primary sources of scripture, Church tradition, God-given reason, and personal experience. These should shape our opinions more than just what we read and hear from various social media.

Here are some scripture passages regarding “wise behavior” that you might meditate upon when your news and media sources leave you perplexed, frustrated or even fearful and angry. Chew upon these and let them “digest” and spiritually nurture your concerns.

•Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22, NIV

•Don’t quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible. Romans 12:18, TLB

•Steer clear of foolish discussions which lead people into the sin of anger with each other. 2 Timothy 2:16, TLB

•Don’t refuse to accept criticism; get all the help you can. Proverbs 23:12 TLB

•O mortal, the Lord has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 NIV

Read and meditate upon these passages. And afterwards, we might also do well in contacting our various governmental authorities and representatives (local, state, national) encouraging them with your prayers and asking for their knowledge and experience and wisdom to be applied justly to the times we are living in.

Peace and grace to you in these trying times~~~~†

Pastor Barry

Water, Wind, Fire and Cake

Psalm 104:24-35, I Corinthians 12:3-4 and Acts 2:1-21

Most people love a birthday celebration whether at age 1 or 100 or somewhere in between! Pentecost rightly describes the birth of the Church and how the Spirit dwells within it until the fullness of the Kingdom comes.

 This Sunday’s focus in worship is all about how the Church is energized by the Holy Spirit. We will hear of and see many images describing the work of the Spirit.


The Litany of Pentecost will help us celebrate the ongoing experience of the Spirit led life.

L: Let us pray that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, granted us abundantly in Jesus Christ, may bring forth the fruits our God intends.

P: POUR OUT YOUR SPIRIT UPON US, O LORD.

L: That we may love as you have loved us, O God.

P: POUR OUT UPON US THE SPIRIT OF LOVE.

L: That we may rejoice in your gifts and become instruments of joy for those who sorrow.

P: POUR OUT UPON US THE SPIRIT OF JOY.

L: That we may know the comfort of Christ’s resurrection and share his forgiving love wherever it is needed.

P: POUR  OUT UPON US THE SPIRIT OF  PEACE.

L: That we may await your precious promises and work steadily to make them available to those in need.

P: POUR OUT UPON US THE SPIRIT OF PATIENCE.

L: That all may see in us an expression of your compassionate concern.

P: POUR OUT UPON US THE SPIRIT OF KINDNESS.

L: That those in any want or need may be cared for.

P: POUR OUT UPON US THE SPIRIT OF GOODNESS.

L: That our trust in you may not falter and that the trust of others may be well placed in us.

P: POUR OUT UPON US THE SPIRIT OF FAITHFULNESS.

L: That the world may come to see your open heart and the generosity of your concern.

P: POUR OUT UPON US THE SPIRIT OF GENTLENESS.

L: That we may always look forward in hope to the life which you have promised us in Jesus Christ, our living Lord.

P: POUR OUT UPON US THE SPIRIT OF SELF-CONTROL.

L: That we may prove to be your gifted children in all that we are and do.

P: POUR OUT YOUR SPIRIT UPON US, O LORD. AMEN.

Blessings as we enter the Season of Pentecost!

Pastor Barry

Stay the Course (and let go)

Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.——James 1:3-6

I have always had trust issues. When in the depths of despair with my anxiety overtaking me, more times than I wish to admit, I’ve relied on myself. Like James 1:6 states, I became a person “who doubts [and] is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” I saw myself being in control as more important than trusting God because I thought I knew what was best for me. For a while, it seemed okay. Nothing Earth-shattering happened. I continued to live my life, but loneliness and anxiety slowly crept in.

Anxiety for me doesn’t happen at once. It’s like a barely-dripping faucet. “Was that the right decision?” Drip. “Why did I do that?” Drip. “Where should I go from here?” Drip. “Am I doing the right thing?” Drip. And eventually, those tiny, questioning thoughts lead to one big panic attack. The foundation I built upon myself completely unravels, and I, too, feel like I am tossed by the wind.

Nothing is worse than feeling alone when you are full of insecurity and doubt. During one of my quiet times, I began reading James and discovered the verse mentioned above. What this verse shows me is that I have to stay faithful because when I take over and believe my way is correct, that is when the foundation breaks, and I am left more anxious and alone than if I stayed steadfast in him. The timing and the plan may be different than what I want but God is in control.


Once I relinquished control, I realized how free I could be. I didn’t have to let so many anxious “drops” constantly invade my mind (even though sometimes I still sneak a few in there every now and then). Above all else, it wasn’t as lonely. I can rely on someone I know will never fail me and always has my best interests at heart. He makes me stronger, and I can persevere through the hard times because those are the ones that grow my relationship in Him.

As many of us struggle with control, anxiety, and loneliness during this season, we need to stay faithful. I know it can be hard. I know sometimes all we want is normalcy. I know sometimes we think our plan is better, and we’re going to want to disregard precautions. I know some might not see an end in sight. But we need to remember our God is good and he has a plan. By continuing to build our foundation in Him, we can grow towards a place of less doubt and anxiety and remain faithful. For Ecclesiastes 3:11 states, “He makes everything beautiful in its time.”

PRAYER

God,
You know my struggles, and you know my fears. Sometimes, I let anxiety and doubt overrule my judgment but I am grateful you give generously to all without finding fault. During this season, Lord, please help me to continue building my foundation in you and understanding that you have a plan. Through you, I am never lonely, never shaken, and I am strong. Trust is hard to give, but I know that trusting in you is the greatest reward.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Blessings,

Chaplain Rob

Devotional for this week

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things….”
2 Corinthians 5:7 “Walk by faith…..”

We as both citizens of the USA and “citizens” of the world have a “ways to go” before we are clear of this pandemic and on more solid economic ground. For many, they are literally passing through the valley of the shadow of death. We are moving toward an uncertain future at an uncertain speed. We are walking not running. And we walk by faith not by seeing.

I noted today is the anniversary of opening the great Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It was open only to pedestrians that May 27, 1937 with vehicular traffic commencing the next day.
To walk it required crossing a 4,200 foot main span. The world renowned bridge is one of the most visited sites in the world. An engineering feat for its time and a dazzling view of land, water, and sky ever since. But it does feel like a “long way across” when you start out whether by foot or by vehicle! Still….it will get you across the bay!

For us today, to get to some future better than where we are at present many types of “bridges” will be needed. For the Christ Follower we know Him as our ultimate Bridge not only to God’s future but also to experience the presence of the Kingdom of God in our midst! So, we walk and so we find strength to walk. And we are supported as we walk. Underneath the Bridge the Solid Rock holds.

I’ve mixed some Bible images, but I hope you get a sense of both the confidence of making our life journey forward and across with the exhilaration at times of the wonder of the things we see and do and feel as we find our way in a rough and troubled world!
Blessings each day of your walk! Trust our Bridge!

Pastor Barry

Back To The Future

Psalm 68:1-10, Acts 1:6-14 and I Peter 5:6-11

The movie Back To The Future opened in 1985 and has been watched by many ever since. A 17 year old gets time traveled back to the Fifties and he meets his parents before they were married! An adventure-comedy to say the least!

This Sunday’s worship themes include past, present, and future scenes of God’s work from beginning to end of all time. We will time travel! And we will celebrate the Ascension of Jesus who now dwells fully with the heavenly glory of God the Father. We will remember our wonderful heritage as congregations founded in the frontier 1800s. We will remember those who served our nation well on another Memorial Day weekend.

In the present, we do these celebrations and remembrances and we do it with full confidence that the future is in God’s hands regardless of our struggles and troubles.

Blessings,

Pastor Barry

Healers and Helpers

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracle workers, healers, helpers…..I Corinthians 12:28

I have my list of stresses and you have one also. Many of the stressors now come from the coronavirus pandemic. Other issues may appear that are unrelated to masks, social distancing, hygiene, and staying home! Issues that might come up in any time in life, e.g. financial stress, employment challenges, interpersonal relationship struggles, health changes. What’s a person of faith to do when the going gets tough?

Reach out. Look for “healers and helpers.” And in some instances, trained professionals in counseling and therapy should be contacted. To that end, let me offer some resources that help and do so in confidentiality and privacy.

If stress or other factors are leading to undue anxiety or deepening depression or that range of emotions from sad to mad, and any are affecting family, work, or faith, consider seeking help. And it might not be you under duress but it could be a family member, friend or coworker.

I can recommend Insight Counseling Center which is located in offices in First Baptist Murfreesboro, as I have benefitted from a pastoral counselor there. I personally know two therapists in Nashville who are available if one wanted to have even more privacy outside our community. And all three are currently providing on line or phone counseling.

Feel free to contact me for counsel, for information on any of the above or other possible resources. Look for the “healers and helpers.” They are there! And don’t forget: you can be a helper and healer to someone else as well! Lending an ear and then perhaps pointing in a direction for further help.

If you have any joys or concerns please email them to me at pastor-barry@kedronumc.org

Please remember your tithes and offerings. They can be sent to Naomi Lee.

We will live stream on Sunday at 11 am. Bookmark the link https://www.facebook.com/KedronUMC/

Blessings in these unusual times!

Pastor Barry