I Choose the True Road to Somewhere

Barricade the road that goes Nowhere; grace me with Your clear revelation.  I choose the true road to Somewhere; I post Your road signs at every curve and corner.  I grasp and cling to whatever You tell me…I’ll run the course You lay out for me if You’ll just show me how.

(Psalms 119:129-32 MSG)

I began a new book study yesterday and came across this passage in the first chapter.  I have plenty on my plate today; Tuesdays on the Town prep, Praise and Pork Chop prep, Annual Conference prep, however, these verses will not let me rest until I share them!

We are on a journey, together with Christ.  Right?  What wonderful directions he gives when there is no road map to be found.  Let us not loose sight of the prize, striving for perfection, living the everlasting life with Christ.  I am so blessed to be on this journey with so many of you.  At times like this I can feel the joy that God has in store for each and everyone of us.  There are times when we do not understand, and we don’t have to, because God know the plans he has for us and that reassurance is all we need.

I get excited on nights like last night.  There were so many people here in the church working on different ministries, my heart is warmed beyond all hope.  FLOCK was here knitting and crocheting away, prep for Tuesday’s on the Town promotion of the pasty sale by the church and a group painting items to be use during Tuesday’s on the Town, the Franklin County Fair Parade and Vacation Bible School.  It is all about relationship…building relationships with Christ as well as one another on the journey to the heart of God.  Can I hear an Amen?

4:29 PM

 

A year or maybe two years ago we prayed this prayer during worship here at Hampton  United Methodist Church.  A prayer right here, in our hymnals.  I thought wouldn’t it be cool if we stopped everyday at 4:29 PM and prayed?

I had what I thought was a ridiculous idea at the time regarding a way we could all pray together, everyday, no matter where we are.  So along with the many ridiculous ideas I often have I filed it away in the back of my mind somewhere in the ‘5 1/2 inches between my ears.’

Today, driving here (and I do enjoy my drives to Hampton, it is a great time for me and God to have conversation.  I don’t need a phone, so I can do this safely while I drive.)  I asked God to give me some thought or idea to share with my family here and can you believe it?  I remembered this prayer and the number I needed to find it.  Most  of the time I can’t remember what I was doing 2 minutes ago, let alone a year or more.  As soon as I hit the office, I opened up the hymnal to 429 and there it was!

Well, if you are still reading, here is my challenge to you, as well as myself:

Take out your cellphone, open it up to your clock, set the time for 4:29 PM, set an alarm at the softest, quietest sound you will be able to hear, set the repeat feature for everyday and save.  Now each day at 4:29 PM you will be reminded to stop and say a prayer.  Now let me say this again:

TAKE OUT YOUR CELLPHONE, OPEN IT UP TO YOUR CLOCK, SET THE TIME FOR 4:29 PM, SET AN ALARM AT THE SOFTEST, QUIETEST SOUND YOU WILL BE ABLE TO HEAR, SET THE REPEAT FEATURE FOR EVERYDAY AND SAVE.

I often end up having a conversation with God, like today.  I am so blessed that he reminded me of what must not have been such a ridiculous idea after all.  From today forward we, yes, we, you and me and however else accepts the challenge, we will lift up what is on our hearts and minds at 4:29 PM.  How powerful is that?

A Quiet Week

 

This should be a quiet week, to reflect?  to rest? to start the next project?  How about reflecting?  Sunday I had the honor to lead worship as Hampton United Methodist Church celebrated with their graduates.  Now, as I recall or rather cannot recall anything about my own graduation, I felt there was nothing life changing or profound that I was going to be able to share with the graduates and as I contemplated the direction to go in my message that morning, Jesus directed me.

We give the graduates a Parallel Bible with the New International Version (NIV) and The Message for study and comparison.  It was interesting to share with these former students and the congregation the differences in the two Bible versions.  The scripture for the day was Proverbs 22:1-12,  Verse 6 is one of my favorites as a youth, I know my parents were in constant need to keep me pointed in the right direction–and many times as an adult I have prayed I had kept my kids pointed in the right direction.  Read the difference between the NIV.  “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”  Now from The Message.  “Point your kids in the right direction–when they’re old they won’t be lost.”  I don’t know about you, but I get the same message from these two verses, yet would understand our young people if they have a preference for The Message over the NIV.  It was fun and interesting to compare a chapter in Psalms and to point out a couple of chapters in Proverbs the I had highlighted for them.  The reason for highlighting is to suggest when they turn to the Bible they can be reassured this is a starting place if they are unsure where to begin.

Yes, I write and color in my Bibles, as well as store little momentos.  I have part of a chapter in Isaiah highlighted with the 20th verse underlined.  In the margin I have written “INP – Bishop Trimble – 2008”.  This helps me remember, it was a time between my first and second trip to Nigeria.  I was at a meeting at the UM Conference Center in Des Moines for a meeing with the Bishops of both Iowa and Nigeria, and others.  As Bishop Trimble read the words of the 20th verse I was moved.  I highlight, underline and write in the margin to make it easier to find, but also that I don’t forget.  I also have my favorite verse underlined in 2nd Timothy:

For the Spirit God ave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  NIV

God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.  The Message

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.  New English Translation (NET)

I asked the graduates to keep their Bibles close, on a shelf in their bedroom/dorm room, in a drawer, wherever, and when that need to read comes, whether it be tomorrow, a week, a month, or 5 years from now, they can go to it, the Bible, and read God’s word and know God is with them always and forever.  Just as he is for you and for me.

 

Spring Has Sprung…

It has been a couple busy weeks here at Hampton United Methodist Church and will continue to be.  It feels like spring in the church as we see ministries growing and blossoming.  We had our confirmands joining the church and becoming active members of the Family of Christ.  Next week those graduating from high school will be honored with a breakfast and special recognition during worship.  The children of God, brothers and sisters of Christ, moving into new ‘positions’ in the church and community.  Oh, and looking forward to summer…

As the hands and feet of Jesus, who will we reach out and touch with the love of Jesus in the up coming months?  In June we will be preparing, preparing for the county fair, the community parade, Vacation Bible School, a mission trip to the Heifer International Farm in Perryville, AR in addition to the routine of adult Sunday School classes, Saturday and Sunday worship, committee meetings and the ministries that go on year round in the church.

The word routine is underlined.  Please, make this this summer anything but routine.  Have you ever thought about the word intentional?  We often have good intentions.  Yet, at the end of the day, somethings have been left undone, unaccomplished, ‘whatever’.  This summer tell yourself, it is not enough to have good intentions, rather be intentional as you consider where and how you will use your hands and feet for Jesus.  So please, do not make this summer routine, but be intentional about coming to the church, attending worship, assisting with VBS, serving on committees, reaching out to others, those inside and outside the church.

Do you ever do a happy dance in your head?

This was written over a week ago, sorry I didn’t get it published before now.  Enjoy the read:

If I had to pick a song to do my happy dance to, I would pick the first four lines of ‘I’m so Excited’ and let them loop around in my head.  To be honest, I have already done this.  I know how wonderful our Lord and Savior is and I want you to know it too.

I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it
I’m about to lose control and I think I like it
I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it
And I know, I know, I know, I know, I know… (Pointer Sisters)

Again, it has been another wonderful week here at HUMC.  Last Sunday I attended the baptism of Samuel Alexander Stewart Chambers at Beeds Lake.  Yes, it was a bit cold, but Samuel was determined to go through with the baptism.  His grandfather had been baptized by immersion at Beeds Lake and it meant a lot to Samuel to honor his grandfather in this way.  In God’s world nothing happens by coincidence, Samuel planned this with thoughts of tradition and history regarding his own family.

The confirmands were here on Wednesday to run through their parts for Sunday morning and have an understanding of the events of the service.  That is exciting.  It will be our responsibility to continue to engage these young people, making them feel at home as family of HUMC.

I also got a call this week from one of our members asking for an appointment.  (Wow, people actually do that?  Call for appointments?  Most treat my office like a drop in center.  Not complaining, either way works for me.)  Well, I met with young man Thursday afternoon.  He explained he had been very active in the church over the years, some more than others.  He had distanced himself for the last few years and was feeling the need to get involved again.  We talked about where he felt he was being called to serve and we came up with a plan.  I appreciate it when people are actively involved in the decision of how and where to serve.  So often folks sit around and wait to be asked, and often miss some wonderful opportunities if only they would step up and volunteer instead of waiting for the ‘invitation.’  Excuse me, I digress.

I do a happy dance in my head when I see God working through the folks here at HUMC.  I will end with the words of the second song I do a happy dance in my head to, because it describes who we are here at HUMC.  Here are the first four lines of ‘We are Family’ that I also happy dance to.

We are family
I got all my (brothers) sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing
We are family
I got all my (brothers) sisters with me
We are family
Get up ev’rybody and sing  (Sledge Sisters)

Confirmation Sunday, May 5th

 

 

There was a time when I thought, after each major Christian event, i.e. Christmas and Easter, there would be ‘down time.’  Oh, that is so not true in the life of the church.  “Easter comes late this year.”  was a statement I heard several times at the beginning of the year.  And that may have been true, but there did not seem to be anything late about it.  It was here before any of us were ready.  Maybe part of that was due to the crazy weather during February and March, or the fact that we are all just too busy with too much to do.

Here we are, it will soon be the first of May and from there confirmation is just days away.  You know what they say about confirmation and its participants?  Once the youth are confirmed we never see them again.  I once hear a pastor say, I should confirm all the bats in the belfry then maybe we won’t see them anymore.  As I write this entry into the blog, I am thinking about what we can do to keep the youth encouraged and engaged in the life of HUMC.  The word intentional continues to float around in my mind.  We must be intentional in reaching out, inviting and engaging these new members to the family.  We must support their interests.  We must continue to show our love for them at this stage of their lives as much as we did when they were in the early years of our Sunday School program.  We cannot let the business of the activities of the church get in our way of continuing to interact with the youth.

My wish for Confirmation Sunday is that all the members of the church will show up and show support for the newest members of the church.

Holy Week 2019

 

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them

in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

-Matthew 29:19-20

 

As HUMC prepares for Easter, it is a time of new beginnings, a new season in the life of HUMC and all those who pass through the doors coming in and going out.

Today, I took some time to reflection, as plans to travel to the Heifer International Farm in August begin to fall into place.  That time will come before I know it.  I sat down today and read the cards I received at the end of the trip to Sager Brown.  This is a practice I picked up somewhere in my travels, at the end of a mission trip, to have each member take time to reflect and share with other members of the team; where they saw God in the person they are writing to.  Yes, like so many things, I hold onto the cards.  They have a way of lifting my spirits and I find encouragement in them to carry on in my personal journey with Jesus.

This Sunday in worship I am excited to announce that 5 students from the Children 1st Program will be sharing a short drama ‘The Feast’ during the Children’s Message.  I am so inspired by them.  They have so much energy and have worked hard, at the same time had fun preparing for this Sunday.  You will want to be there and witness their gift for the church.  My hope is to have more involvement with the children during worship and other aspects of life at HUMC.

I ask you to take time this Easter and reflect back over the past year and your life here at HUMC.  What inspires you?  Where do you see Jesus?  What do you want to do as a Christian, following Jesus on the journey of the upcoming year?

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