Thursday, January 29, 2009

Epiphany: Thursday, January 29, 2009

Today, just a quick quote

Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you.

George Mueller

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Epiphany: Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

One of the things we see with God's promises to His people is that they will be a blessing to the world.  He is blessing them, He is using them, so that they will be a means of light to other people.  He wants His people to be means of grace to others. 

So is it with us. The great things God has given us, His love, His mercy, and grace, He has given them so that we can be a means of grace to others, a way to help others, show them His love.  He has blessed us so we can be a blessing to others. 

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds us today that if salvation comes through the law, then Jesus came for nothing.  It is through grace, not works.  That's really then entire point of Galatians.  We don't earn God's love.  We don't make God love us.  He just does. That's why it's called grace. 

Gospel Lesson

We see the tragic end of John's life in the passage. Remember, John was Jesus' cousin, he was close, he was a friend.  Remember that through Jesus, God knows what its like to suffer pain, tragedy, and loss.  Through the pain of losing a friend, God understands the pain of our loss.  Just as we know that hurt, so does God. 

We can rejoice that we serve a God that is not foreign to us, but one that understands life, love, and hurt. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Epiphany: Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

We see here two amazing things about God. First, He is the God of creation.  He is the one that spoke everything into being.  He is the on through whom all things were made.  He is the one that spoke the very creation into being. And His is all powerful, almighty, and all in all. 

Second, this amazing, all powerful God, He cares for you.  He wants to restore you.  He wants to save you.  He wants to love you.  This all powerful God never gave up on His people. In spite of their repeated wandering away, He always longed to restore them.  He always loved them. 

Just as He does us.  The amazing God of the universe wants to know you today.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul tells the story of how he and his friends were received as brothers by the other apostles.  Let's remember who Paul was before he was a Christian.  He was a bad guy.  He persecuted the Church.  He helped in the stoning os Stephen.  

And yet, he was forgiven by the other Christians, and encouraged to go forth and do great things for God. They had every reason not forgive. They had every reason to not allow Paul in. But, they did. Because as God is a God that forgives us, so are we to be a people that forgives one another. 

As the first Christians forgave Paul, so may we forgive one another. 

Gospel Lesson

It says today that Jesus could not perform some miracles because of their lack of faith.  Remember, sometimes the only thing that limits what God can do is us.  When they believed, Jesus did amazing things.  Today, I don't know what you're going up against, but don't lose faith. Don't lose hope. God is with you.  Believe.  He is there. Rely upon His strength today.  

Monday, January 26, 2009

Epiphany: Monday, January 26, 2009

Its good to back home and resuming a normal routine!  

Old Testament Lesson

The Lord says that for His name sake, He would refrain from bringing judgement against the people. For His name's sake, He would not.  Because of who He is, what His reputation is, the very nature of who God is, He would refrain.  God is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiveness, always looking to forgive, to bring home, to restore, to save. That is the very nature of who God.  That is the core of His relationship with us.  He has every right. But, He refrains. And, instead, He gives grace. 

New Testament Lesson

Paul tells the people how shocked he is that they have left the gospel that He has taught, this gospel of God's grace, and salvation through grace, not by works.  They have left the Gospel to return to a salvation by works. A salvation that says that they have to earn God's love. That it is not freely given, it must be earned based off what you do. Paul says, no!  You have been saved not be your own works, but by God's grace!  Live in that freedom.

And the same is true today.  You don't have to earn God's love.  He simply loves you.  Live in that freedom, the freedom of God's love to you, and let your works flow from that.  

Gospel Lesson

We see in the miracles of Jesus this simple notion of faith. They had faith, even when there was no reason to have faith. The believed, even when there was no reason to believe.  They had hope, even when there was no reason to hope. 

Because they knew the power of Jesus. They trusted in Him, even when there was no reason. 

May we do the same.  

Monday, January 19, 2009

Epiphany: Monday, January 19, 2009

Blogging will be sporadic the rest of the week.  I'm going to Jim Griffin's Congregational Coaching Boot Camp in Dallas Tuesday-Wednesday, and then have to be in Jackson Thursday-Friday for the Pastoral Leadership School of the Mississippi Annual Conference.  

So, I don't know how much blogging I'll be able to do.  But, I do plan on being on Twitter.  You can follow me there at

I'll be sending out tweets and updates from there.  

Old Testament Lesson

Remember that He is God.  There is no other god besides our God.  And, of course we thing, duh. But, to speak of a God is speak of one's source of faith and truth, one's rock, one's foundation.  In this day, is God our total source of faith.  He is the total rock that build upon. Do we place all things on Him, or do we place our complete trust upon ourselves, upon our strength, might, and power?  

He is God.  He is the Rock. He is the foundation.  May we place all our trust upon Him.  

New Testament Lesson

We are told to live a life worth of the Gospel.  What does that look like?  Not  a life of sinless perfection, but a life that that seeks to serve God and each other.  A life that seeks to make the world a better place.  A life that glorifies God through our actions, a life that love our neighbor as we love our self. A life dedicated something higher than I.  Life of service and dedicated to God. 

And, in that, we find a fuller life than we could have ever thought.  

Gospel Lesson

Not even Jesus walked the road of life alone; He had his 12, plus others that walked with Him.  He realized He needed other people.  

So do we.  We need each other. We need the church.  We need the community of Faith. Today, don't try to walk the road of faith alone.  Jesus didn't.  Neither should we.  

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Epiphany: Thursday, January 15, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

God says that when those that are in need cry out, He will deliver them.  He will bring forth water, He will bring forth shade and rest.  And, how does He do that?  How does He take care of those that are in need?  How does He care for the ones most in need of His mercy?  

Lots of ways, but to me, the coolest is this.  He uses you and me.  As the church and as individual Christians, we are the hands and feet of God.  We can take His good news, His mercy, His grace, to all that need to hear it. Through our lives, our words, our compassion, all that we are, God may allow us to be just the thing that someone that we may meet today needs. We may be that communication of Grace today that someone needs. 

New Testament Lesson

God is in the business of bringing His children together.  I heard a speaker this week that had returned recently from a mission trip to Africa, and he confirmed something I found to be true in other places.  America is main place in the world where Christians fuss and fight over our differences.  In other parts of the world, if you are Christian, that's all that matters.  But here, we sometimes like to make a big deal over our difference and allow them to separate us. 

John Wesley said that if you heart has been warmed as my heart has, than give me your hand.  I think today, as Christians, that should be who we are.  If you confess and follow Christ, as I do, then, in spite of any differences we may have, we are family. 

Gospel Lesson

This man's friends loved him enough that they would do whatever they had to do to allow him to meet Jesus and experience Him.  They would sacrifices themselves to make sure their friend was made whole. That's what friends do.  They give of themselves for one another. They do what they have to do to help each other. They care for each other. CS Lewis said that the love of friendship maybe the strongest of all the types of love. 

Today, may we thank God for the friends that we have in our lives. And, may we see to be the best of friends that we can be to our friends.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Epiphany: Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah reminds us once again that God is God.  He is the one, He is the source of creation, He is the one that has brought it all together.  He has formed the seas, He has brought forth the dry land.  He has brought forth life.  Let us remember that all of creation is God's.  The Bible tells us that all of creation gives us a glimpse of God's glory. 

Let's take time to look around today, and see God's glory. And give thanks.  

New Testament Lesson

We are saved by grace through faith.  Or, to put it in another way


He already does.  His love for you today is not based upon who YOU are.  It is based upon who HE is. And, He loves you.  

That's grace. 

Gospel Lesson

Jesus took time each day to commune with God.  He spent time in prayer.  He spent time with God.  And, He was just as busy as we are.  I've learned that the busier I am in my daily life, the more I must spend that time with God.  If I do not slow down and pray, I will miss what God is calling me to.  No matter how busy I am.

No matter how busy you are today, right now.  Stop.  Breathe.  Think.  Pray.  Reflect.  

Take this moment.  And reflect upon God's great love for you. 

You cannot earn it.  It is given.  

Live in that grace. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Epiphany: Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

We see this passage that many of us know so well. Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their hope.  They will soar with wings like eagles.  


Why those that wait? 

Perhaps it is in the waiting that we learn that we are not in control. That it is not up to us. We are not the end of all knowledge and wisdom.  It is God who is.  He is the source, the author, the hope our salvation.  

When we wait upon Him, we learn to trust Him.  We learn to put our hope in Him.  We learn that He is the rock, of our lives.  When we wait upon Him, we turn to Him. And, in turning to Him, we find life. 

In Him.  

New Testament Lesson

He is the head of the body; the church.  No matter what church we go to, no matter what denomination we belong to; no matter what our theology may be.   He is the head.  He is the leader.  He is the chief.  It is His church.  

And, if He is all our Lord, then we are called to work together in purpose.  Imagine if we allowed the things that unite us to be our focus.  Imagine if all of that love Jesus and are loved by Jesus, worked together?  


We, through the power of the Holy Spirit, could change the world. 

May we follow our head, and be at work for His kingdom.  

Gospel Lesson

Notice, wherever Jesus went, He made an impact.  Lives were changed, people were moved.  He had the ability to change lives. 

He still does. 

Today, may we allow Him to change whatever it is within us that may need to be changed.  

Monday, January 12, 2009

Epiphany: Monday, January 12, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Who is like our God?  It is He who made the stars in the heavens, it is He that breathed into the breath of life.  He holds all the world together and is our shield and defender.  Sometimes it is easy for us to forget how mighty and powerful God is.  We can focus on ourselves and our stuff, and we can forget the depth of His power and might.  

Remember today that the very God of the universe, the very one that created everything, both seen and unseen, the Lord of Lords, KIng of Kings, God of creation.  Is here with us.  Now.  In our midst. And He wants to know you.  Love you. Care for you.  Guide you.  

That, my friends, is awesome.  

New Testament Lesson

Paul reminds us that our true inheritance is not of the world, but is the inheritance of the Sons and Daughters of God.  We are rightly called the children of God. Through Him, we can have abundant, full life here in this place and in this time. And, we have the hope of eternity.  

We have the assurance of being loved children, and the confidence of know that will have life, now, and forever. So, let's live boldly!  With courage!  And strength!  And power!  For, we are the sons and daughters of God!  Let's live with the freedom and security of being the children of God. 

Gospel Lesson

We see that God sent John to point the way to Jesus.  In may ways, that is our job as well. Through our lives, our words, our joy, our grace, our friendship, through all we do, that is our calling. We are called to point to Jesus. We are call through all that we do to show others who He is, show His grace and love and show His desire to save the world. 

Today, let's be an arrow pointing to heaven.  

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Methodist Experiment

Kevin Watson at deeplycommitted has started an experiment to see how much social capital Methodist bloggers have. This experiment was prompted by the feeling among some Methodist bloggers that United Methodism does not always do as good of a job as it could at getting the Wesleyan message out there, particularly on-line. So, he wants to see how many views a YouTube video can get if Methodist bloggers work together to promote it. The experiment is to see how many hits the video will receive in two weeks. If you want to participate you can: First, watch the video below. Second, copy and paste this entire post into a new post on your blog and post it. Third, remind people about this experiment in one week. Based on the results of the experiment, Kevin will get in touch with the folks at Discipleship Resources and let them know the ways in which Methodist bloggers are often an underused resource. 

Friday, January 9, 2009

Being a Pastor vs. Being Son

I've had the chance the past few months to put on some different shoes. 

As a pastor I've very used to the hospital.  I've spent time visiting in Jackson, in Memphis, in Tupelo and in nearly every every major hospital in Mississippi. 

But, in past few months, I've had a different perspective.  My mom has had to undergo a couple of surgeries.  Nothing major, thankfully, but she's been in the hospital more the past few months than at any point in my life. 

And, mama is also 80.  I was raised by my grandparents (long story) and they are in great health. But, 80 is 80 and when she is put to sleep, I'll be honest if you don't start getting nervous.  

So, for the first in my life, I've come to the hospital in a different position.  Not as a patient.  Not as a pastor. But, as a son. 

I like being a pastor much, much better. 

Maybe it's just want I'm used to.  Now, there are advantages in being just a son. For instance, I didn't shave today. Also, I'm wearing blue jeans and my favorite Ole Miss pull over.  I forgot my hat at home, or I'd be wearing a hat too.  So, I'm pretty comfortable. 

And, there is that feeling about not worrying about others. When you are pastor, your concern is your church member. How are they?  Do they need anything?  Do you need to lift their spirits?  Pray?  Quote scripture?  

Today, I've watched part of the Cotton Bowl, read the paper, checked my email. Blogged (what I'm doing right now).  

I haven't had to worry about providing care to anyone.  

And, that's the problem.  As a pastor, I have something to do.  A job.  A purpose.  I can be helpful

As a son, I feel helpless.  Sure, I can pray like I always do.  I can stay busy.  I can do lots.  But, it's different.  

As a son, I wait.  I fret.  I worry.  I pace. 

As a pastor, I'm calm and relaxed. Confident.  

As a son.  I worry.  

I really do love what I am called to do and who I'm called to be.  And, I know as a son the things that I know as a pastor.  I know God is at work, God is here, God's grace is always there.  

But, I get so busy taking care of others that I don't have to worry about things myself. 

And, perhaps, it's not just preachers that do that. Perhaps we get so busy living life that we can forget to remember things we know. 

God is good. God is at work. God is here, even know. 

So, the pastor and son are not that different. And maybe, just maybe, we all have that same battle within us.  

And, maybe, just maybe, God understands, knows, and loves us anyway.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Epiphany: Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I probably won't be able to blog much tomorrow or Friday. I've got to go to Jackson tomorrow for a meeting and my mom is having a surgery Friday in Jackson as well.  So, we'll talk to you next week!  

Old Testament Lesson

God will redeem His people.  That is one of the constant refrains of the Bible.  He will not abandon His people, He will not forsake His people.  He will redeem them.  He will save them.  He will not cast them aside.  For they are His, and He is theirs.

Today, may we rejoice in His love and rejoice in the knowledge that His grace is certain and steadfast in our lives.  

New Testament Lesson

This church has lost its first love.  With all that we have going on, all the pressures we face, all the hurdles in our daily life, all this, it is easy to forget what is most important.  It is easy to forget our first love. 

But, if we forget that first love, everything else around it loses it's meaning.  So, with all we face, may we keep our first love first. May we keep our faith, our walk with God, our dedication to Him, may we keep that primary.  And, in doing that, we'll find grace not just in that walk with Him, but in all of life. 

Gospel Lesson

One of the things we are tempted to think sometimes is that with all that is going on in the world, that our concerns don't really matter to God.  After all, with all the fighting, all the wars, all the problems in this world right now, of what concern are we? 

And yet, we see the very first miracle Jesus performed was to keep a wedding from having a problem.  But, with all the problems of the world in Jesus time His first miracle was this.  Now, sure, He did many, many other things. But, His first was in keeping this local, small wedding on track. 

He cares for the small.  He cares for the ordinary. He cares for normal.  He cares for you and me.  In spite of all going on in the world, He hears our prayers, just as He hears every other prayer.  

Do not think you prayers are unimportant.  They matter to you; so that matter to God.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Epiphany: Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Today is Epiphany.  It is the day we remember the arrival of Wise Men. They didn't actually get to Bethlehem until Jesus was older, some scholars think he may have been about two years old.  

But, this day, we remember that they came to worship Him as well.  He was the light to all.  Not just to His people, but to all the world. 

There is not a person you will meet today that God doesn't love. 

That co-worker that drives you crazy.

God loves them. 

You boss that is always in a bad mood?  

God loves them.

That classmate that is an outcast from all the others in school

God loves them. 

Jesus is the light of the world.  Not just of you and me, but all of the world. And we are called to be mirrors of that light.  We are called to shine that light to all. Those that we like. Those that are like us. Those that agree with us.  

And, to those that we don't like. Those that we disagree with us. Those that don't like us. 

For, God loves them, and Christ died for them. 

Today, we remember that the Wise Men came to worship the King. And we remember that the King died and was resurrected so that they, and all of us, could have life to the full. 

At Ripley FUMC in this year, we are going to seek to be full. Full of grace, full of faith, full of life.  

Maybe, in this new year, we can each be full as well. Full of grace, full of faith, full of life. 

For, Jesus came to bring light.  To all the world. Today, we remember that many came to worship.  May we be among that number as well.  

Monday, January 5, 2009

Christmas: Monday, January 5, 2008

Old Testament Lesson

We see the Lord call Joshua to take the lead after Moses' death. And Joshua said, how can I do that?  Moses was the greatest leader the people had ever know.  How could he follow after him?  The task was too great.  

And God said, as I was with Moses so shall I be with you.  Do not fear.  I am with you. For it is the greatness of men that make them great.  It is the greatness of God. 

Today, through His strength, you can do all things that He has called you to. Whatever it is.  You can do it.  If He has called you, given you that vision, giving you that leading, through Him, you can do it!  Fear not!  He is with you.  

New Testament Lesson

In this new year, that's a great passage.  Let us lay aside the weight and sin of the past. It's a new day.  It is.  Today is new. It's a new year.  Full of new life, new potential, new possibility.  Let us lay aside those things from last year. Those things that weighed us down.  Let us start anew. Let us start afresh.  Let us press on towards what God has for us, and let us run with confidence. 

For today is a new day! 

Gospel Lesson

Jesus is the vine.  He is the source of our lives, the source of beings.  And life is found only in Him.  We will not find the life we desire in other things. But, in Him, we will find that fullness of life we truly desire.  Through the life of Christ, we can know what it means to truly life.  Today, and in this new year, let us live fully and deeply within the vine of life, Jesus Christ.