I’ll Do It

Perhaps you have seen the new viral video of six-year-old Jordan Warrick’s baptism at a church in Louisville, Kentucky.  Standing in the baptismal pool with the greatest of pomp and circumstance the Pastor declares “By the profession of your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  I now baptize you in the name of the Father and the…”  But before the pastor can finish the words young Jordan cries out “I’ll do it!”, grabs his nose and dunks himself in the water.  He rises up out of the depths of the pool with hands raised as if he has just completed the greatest touch down in history.  If you haven’t seen it, it is worth watching at uverse.com/watch/h___60776371?ref=yfp.

 

Have you ever prayed or waited for God to do answer your prayer or to do something and it didn’t seem to happen?  Do you ever want to grab things by the horn and yell at God like Jordan horn, “I’ll do it!” 

Faith is a journey and impatience is a form of distrust and disobedience.  It is what we feel when we start to doubt the wisdom of God’s timing or the goodness of His guidance.  It is the speed bump of life that we see but we are in such a hurry that we speed over it and then wonder why in the world the muffler or bumper have fallen off from the force of our hurry.  It springs up in anger and frustration over a long wait in the check-out lane.  Or it is the cries of frustration and disappointment when life doesn’t turn out the way we thought it should. 

 

Our Faith Journey from www.umc.org/what-we-believe/our-faith-fourney.

Faith does not happen overnight. It’s a journey. From birth to death we’re growing in faith. There are ups and downs — and sometimes long flat stretches where we seem to be stalled in our journey. But little by little, most of us deepen our relationship with God. In part, this growth in faith is a 

gift. Through our participation in the community of faith, through our openness to God’s love, we receive this marvelous treasure. But faith is also a choice

 we make, an often difficult decision to put God and God’s reign first in our lives, no matter what the cost.

We cannot say that some people are “ahead” in the journey of faith and others “behind.” Faith is not something we possess by degrees. The journey is complex, different for each traveler and involving at least four intertwined pathways:

 

Trusting

First and foremost, faith is trusting. To be a person of faith is to rely on God, to know that “the Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23). It’s to rest confidently in the power and care of the living, loving Lord who’s revealed in the Bible and in our own experience. Faith is to give ourselves to the movement of God’s Spirit in our lives and in our times, not knowing where it will lead.

 

Believing

Faith is also believing 

in someone. In the Apostle’s Creed, for example, we say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” This is not the same as saying, “I believe that

 God the Father Almighty exists.” Rather, we’re confessing our confidence in God, our devoted loyalty, and our allegiance. Such belief may involve going beyond what we’re sure of and taking a “leap of faith.”

 

Following

There’s more to faith than trusting and believing. Faith is more active, a matter of 

doing as well as being

. So Jesus said to his first disciples, “Follow me.” To be faithful is to follow Jesus the Christ. It is to be one of his disciples, seeking to understand his will and his way — and to do it. Such discipleship is not an easy matter. Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).

.

Hoping

Christian faith is also a matter of hoping, of leaning into the future that God has promised. It’s living with the assurance that God is bringing in the time of shalom, God’s reign here on earth. As Easter people, we have a hope born of the Resurrection: God has already conquered sin and death, and the kingdom of love, righteousness, peace and justice is even now breaking in. To abide in hope is to watch and pray for God’s future and to join in the ministries through which it will be realized.

Surrounded by the love and encouragement of the community of believers, we persevere on the journey of faith, ever trusting, believing, following and hoping.

 

 

 



Doctor Crowe

Doctor Crowe

You may not have heard but I have decided to become a doctor.  In three short years I will be Doctor Reverend Mother (at least that’s what my kids say my title will be.)  I am currently taking classes through Emory University Candler School of Theology.  Yes, that is a Doctor of Ministry not a Doctorate of Medicine. 

It has been thirteen years since I completed my Master’s Degree.  I think my brain must have checked out since then.  I am trying to read my Practical Theology book and it reads like a foreign language to me: 

A practice, according to the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre is “any coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative human activity through which goods internal to that form of activity are realized in the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence which are appropriate to, an partially definitively of, that form of activity, with the result that human powers to achieve excellence and human conception of the ends and goods involved are systemically extended. 

That is one very complicated, complex definition of practice.  And, did you notice that it is one run on sentence?  This is from a  

fancy schmancy

scholarly kind of book that costs $100.  If I wrote a paper that way and turned it in, it would have red ink all over it.  Not to mention, I thought practice simply meant to repeat something until you got it right.

Oh, these books make my head hurt.  While the presentation and the language of the books maybe highfalutin the basis of the argument is quiet thought provoking.  (Did you notice all the $5 “edumacated” words I used?  Maybe I could sell this article as a scholarly book and get a fortune for it?)

Practice is purposeful activity for transformation.  It means we practice to get better, to be different.  I have never thought of the church as practice before.  But, as I have read and, reflected theologically (which is what you do when you pay lots of money to think) much of what we do in church is and should be practice. 

Life here on earth is about practicing and becoming better, transformed, for our future life in eternity.  We are practicing here on earth in order to do things well in heaven.  What then should we be practicing?  What is it, we will do in heaven, that we need to get prepared for here on earth?

Well, I don’t think we will be sitting on clouds doing nothing.  So sitting in a pew every Sunday isn’t it; though I do think we will be worshipping and more than just once a week.  I think it will be constant, joyous worship full of thanksgiving and praise.  I so look forward to that, long for that. 

I also think, here we go – I know some of you may moan when you hear this but —- I also think we will be working in heaven.  The idea of working in eternity is a strange thought to many. Yet, Scripture clearly teaches when God created Adam, he “took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). Work was part of the original Eden. It was part of a perfect human life.

God Himself is a worker. He didn’t create the world and then just sit around snacking and watching TV for the next million or so years. . Jesus said, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (John 5:17). Jesus himself found great satisfaction and joy in His work. “‘My food,’ Jesus said, ‘is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work'” (John 4:34).

We will have work to do, satisfying and enriching work that we will be so excited about that we can’t wait to do it.  Work will not be drudgery. We will find total joy in serving and working for God in heaven.

Maybe that’s what we should be practicing now?

 

 

 



How Hot Was It?

How Hot Was It?…

 It was so hot….

            Chicken were laying hard boiled eggs

            Birds were using pot holders to pull worms out of the ground.

            And, Satan decided to take the day off. 

You expect it to be hot in Atlanta during the summer.  We are used to our cars sizzling, burning your hands on the door handles, and seat belts that are like branding irons.  We know we can cook dinner on the sidewalk and that the water parks are going to be crammed.  This summer we have had over 57 days of better than 90-degree weather, which doesn’t seem so bad until you add the humidity to it.  I have felt like my hair was a chia pet swelling bigger and bigger in the humidity most days this summer. 

But, you don’t expect it to be that hot in the church. This past Sunday it was so hot in the church…(drum roll please)…the sanctuary the altar candles were bent over into a full bow. Apparently, sometime Friday or Saturday, our air conditioning system froze up.  The lines to the AC were frozen solid while inside the temperature kept rising. The men were sweating and the ladies were glistening.  Bulletins, hymnals, and choir books became fans.  I tried to convince everyone it wasn’t really that hot we were just on fire for the Lord.  For some reason, I don’t think they believed me.   

In Revelation 3, Jesus reflected on just how hot it was in the church of Laodicea. He said,

15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17

 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

I wish you were hot or cold, not lukewarm. I would have thought lukewarm was a good thing.  Isn’t it almost hot or almost cold (Guess it depends on whether you see your cup half full or half empty)? Jesus isn’t talking about the weather, though.    He is talking about our faith and he says I would rather you would be hot or cold rather than just lukewarm. 

He goes on to explain it in vs. 17.  A lukewarm Christian thinks they are good enough on their own.  They don’t realize their dependence on Jesus.  Coming to church once a week, listening to a 20 or 30 minute sermon is all they are doing. They aren’t studying.  They aren’t growing in knowledge and love with God.  They aren’t really acknowledging or living God in their daily lives.

It is akin to “comfortable” Christianity.  You got just enough Jesus to say you have Jesus but you don’t really want Jesus to change anything in your life.  You are content and complacent in your faith.  Lukewarm Christians have no passion or enthusiasm for living like Jesus.  And Jesus says you don’t even realize you are just as empty and self-satisfied as someone who doesn’t even believe.  You are halfheartedly committed to faith in name only.  Jesus says he would rather have someone who is cold that he can show the way to then to have someone who is smug and unconcerned about the things of God. 

Jesus wants us to love God so much so that we are passionate about living life to the fullest, demonstrating the joy of Christ in everything we do and shining the light on His truths in our life for all the world to see.  He wants us to live a life that shows possessions and achievements are worthless compared to the everlasting hope of eternal life today, tomorrow and into eternity.  His desire is that we be on “fire”, ‘fired up,” excited and dedicated to doing his will so much so that we can’t contain it.

So, I ask you just how hot are you really?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s interesting that Jesus said He would prefer either hot or cold. You would think He would have said, “I would rather you be hot. But if lukewarm is all I can get, it’s better than nothing.” 

You would think that lukewarm would be more acceptable to Him, because it is somewhat close to hot. But Jesus was saying, “I don’t want lukewarm. I don’t want half-hearted commitments. I want you to decide. I want you in or I would rather you were out.”

Here’s why. If you’re hot, you’re in. If you’re on fire, if you’re walking with God, then you’re where God wants you to be. But if you’re cold, hopefully you will at least realize you’re cold and one day realize your need for Christ and come to Him.

But the lukewarm person is in the worst state of all because he is self-deceived. The lukewarm person says, “I go to church. I read the Bible sometimes. I kind of believe in God—when it’s convenient.” That is the worst state of all. What is your spiritual temperature today?


Forgetfulness

 

2 Peter 1:12 (NIV)

 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.

 

Tuesday evening, I ran home for a couple of minutes to eat dinner before choir.  Gene, “Did you go pick up the prescription and get the milk today?”  Me:  “No, sorry,  I just keep forgetting.  I know you asked me several days ago.   I will be sure to do it after choir.”  Gene, “Okay, great,  thanks sweetheart you are amazing,” (okay, maybe I embellished that a little bit).

At dinner:  Misty:   “Mom, did you remember to get the spiral notebooks I needed?”  Me:  “Ummmm, I, uh, yeah, I plan on getting them when I go to get the prescriptions and milk after choir.”

Choir is over.  Whew, what a day, 7:3 0Pm.  I grab a drink and drop into the recliner.  Gene:  “Weren’t you going to go to the store tonight?” Me:  “Oh yeah, I am on my way.”  Grocery store run done, prescription picked up- check.”  9:30 pm, yay, got it all done!  Whoo hoo.

Wednesday morning, 6:30 AM. Misty:  “Mom, did you get my notebooks?”  Me:  “Darn, I knew I forgot something!”  “Mommmmm, I have to have one today and you have been saying you would pick them up but you keep forgetting. ”   Did you know the Family Dollar store doesn’t open until 8 AM and that Race Track and the quickie stores around here don’t care spiral notebooks?  Sigh.  As Gene would say, apparently my “forgetter” is working really well right now. 


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Sheetrock Dust and Yeast

There is an avalanche of controlled chaos happening this week around the church.  In only two weeks we move back into the sanctuary to celebrate and rededicate our building to the glory of God.  Leo and his construction crew are putting the finishing touches on the building and rebuilding the ramp.  Paving crews are pouring cement.  The sound system is being reinstalled.  Cleaning crews are desperately trying to rid the church of all the buildup of sheetrock dust that has permeated EVERYTHING!

This morning in anticipation of the installation of the sound system.  Jesse and I were cleaning out the sounds room.  I was dressed appropriately and prepared to get dirty.  But as I sit here and type I am keenly aware of sheetrock dust in practically every crease and wrinkle of my body.

If you have ever been through a renovation you know sheetrock dust is worse than a whole herd of dust bunnies.  Nothing is safe from it.  It gets into every nook and cranny.  Unfortunately, most of my clergy robes were not protected by the onslaught of construction so I was going through them trying to decide which ones needed to go to the cleaners, when I came across one in a garment bag.  I thought at least one won’t have to be cleaned.  Wrong!  Even inside the zipped up garment bag there was an accumulation of enough sheetrock you could have plastered the whole wall.


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The Shape I Am In

Now you may not have noticed but I am just a little bit over weight… well all right I am a lot over weight.  But I don’t understand why?  Good grief, I must do a thousand  crunches everyday as I bend over pick up toys.  I lift weights, I carry a really big Bible and Gene is always telling me my purse weighs a ton.  And can I run?  I am running after my kids all the time but still  I am slightly larger than a size three.  And I can’t figure it out that is I couldn’t figure it out until recently when I was reading another minister’s newsletter.  It went like this:

 

“And God populated the earth with green and yellow vegetables of all kinds, so man and woman would live long and healthy lives.  And Satan created McDonalds.  And McDonalds brought forth the 99-cent double cheeseburger.  And Satan said to man,  ‘You want fries with that?’ and Man said, ‘Super-size them.’ And man gained pounds.   And God created the healthy  yogurt.  And Satan brought forth chocolate.  And woman gained pounds.  And God said, “I have sent you healthy vegetables and olive oil with which to cook them.  And Satan brought forth chicken fried steak so big it needed its own platter. And man gained pounds and his cholesterol went through the roof. 


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A Game of Tug of War

We have two new dogs, yes, two.  I know I am obviously missing a few brain cells.  Anyways, Samson and Goliath have come to live with us.  Samson is a little four pound Yorkie with extra-long legs.  He is not much bigger than a squirrel.  Goliath is a ”papdachiwennie,” a Papillion-Chihuahua-Dachshund, which is just a fancy way of saying he is a mutt with really short legs.  He weighs about 9 pounds.  Despite their size they are fully grown adult dogs. They are not going to get any bigger; however, nobody told them they are little mutts.  They think they are royalty in our house.

These two adorable pounds of wet tongues and hair have wiggled their ways into our hearts.  Their food is hand mixed to their delight every morning and night.  They lay around all day lounging in the warmth of the sun.  They expect and demand your attention and we willingly give it to them. 

If we sit down the next thing you know one or both of them will soon follow wriggling their little bodies in beside you on the chair.  It is amazing how much space their little bodies take up.  Gene will be squeezed over into a few inches of his recliner while they are stretched out beside him with their feet up in the air reclining and basking in the glory of his attention. 


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A Little Stinker at Christmas

My father was a quiet man of faith.  His father was a preacher.  Two of his brothers became preachers.  He even felt at one time the calling into ministry.  He and I didn’t talk theology or even ruminate over scripture very often; but, I knew he loved the Lord.  He was a Superintendent of his Sunday School department.  He would lead singing at Wednesday Night Prayer meeting and would teach an occasional Sunday School lesson or give a devotion. 

He loved to sing.  I have many very fond memories of sitting at the piano with him singing through the hymn book with him.  He wasn’t musically trained but it came naturally to him.  I would sing melody and he would sing a rich baritone harmony. 

He worked hard and long hours.  He was good at what he did.  He was an aluminum extrusionist.  That didn’t make much sense to me as a child either until one day he explained what that mean using my playdoh press.  His job was to make the little piece would make the shape that aluminum would be pressed through.  He made these dies for things like aluminum ladders, the aluminum framing around windows and aluminum pieces for machinery and such.  He even created pieces for the Space Shuttle and the Alaska Pipeline. 

When he wasn’t working he would take us camping.  He would build huge bonfires and cook breakfast every morning when we were out camping.  We would go hiking, fishing, and fellowship with the other campers in the campground. 

He was also a great wood worker.  He built furniture, cutting boards and ink pens.  Every year we would get some handmade gift of love from him.  He even made his own outdoor nativity scene.  He found a wood working pattern on line and carefully crafted the figures from plywood:  Mary Joseph the baby Jesus, camels, kings, sheep and shepherds.  He built a stable from pieces of a privacy fence and even rigged up a star that would light up on top. 

Every year it was a big production to get out the nativity scene.  As he got older it would take him several days to haul it out of the garage, touch up the paint, and set it up.  Several years ago in the midst of the scene a new character appeared.  I don’t even know now where it came from but there was no missing this unique animal that my father added to the nativity story. 

One day as we drove up to visit there it was sitting right next this holy idyllic scene of our savior’s birth, a large black and white stuffed skunk.  That’s right a skunk. It was as big as the sheep.  I was rather perplexed, “Daddy, since when did the Christmas Story include a skunk?”

My father grinned with a twinkle in his eye, “It’s a reminder to me that Jesus came for even a little stinker like me.”  Thoughts of him saying that brings a smile to heart.  I see it now, in retrospect. My father had always been aware and grateful for God’s grace.  A skunk in the manager scene was his way of preaching it to us and our little corner of the world.  We are all a little dirty and smelly from the lies and sins in our lives; but, the gift and love of Jesus Christ is the sweet smell of God’s forgiveness and grace. 



“Lord, Teach Us to Pray”

Sam Walter Foss addresses the proper way to pray in his poem, “The Prayer of Cyrus Brown”:
 
“The proper way for a man to pray,”
Said Deacon Lemuel Keys,
“And the only proper attitude
Is down upon his knees.”

“No I should say the way to pray,”
Said Reverend Doctor Wise,
“Is standing straight with outstretched arms
And rapt and upturned eyes.”

“Oh, no, no, no,” Said Elder Slow,
“Such posture is too proud:
A Man should pray with eyes fast closed
And head contritely bowed.”

“It seems to me his hand should be
Austerely clasped in front,
With both thumbs pointing toward the ground,”
Said Reverend Doctor Blunt.


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Do You Believe in Prayer?

2″ If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Matthew 21:22

 Jesus did.  He modeled prayer.  He practiced prayer.  He prayed with others and he prayed alone.  If he needed to pray, we need to pray.  If he needed time alone with God, we need time alone with God.

 The world tries to quiet our prayers shouting, “Prayer doesn’t work, so why bother to pray.”  It links our prayers to demands and answers as if the purpose of prayer is to get what you want.  Prayer is not about placing a fast “food” order.  Prayer is a connection and conversation with our Father.

 Did you ever go your parents or a friend with a problem?  Did you go to them and tell them this is what you expected them to do?  This is how you expected them to fix it.?  And if you did, how did that work for you?  To be honest, it never worked for me. 

 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

  Mark 11:24 

When we go to a family member or friend with a problem, most of the time, we are looking for someone to share our pain, our struggles, hopes and fears.  We want someone to listen to us, help  and comfort us. 

 ike a good father, God is overjoyed when his children come to him.  He listens patiently and passionately to our fears, concerns, questions and needs.  He offers us encouragement, support, comfort and direction through the power of the Holy Spirit and His Holy Word, the Bible. He answers our prayers.  I mean isn’t that what we really want when we go to God in prayer.  We want his help, love and support. 

 Seven times in the New Testament Jesus says, “whatever you ask for in prayer” you will receive.  That’s it!  Whatever you ask in prayer, not demand, not when you provide a wish list, but, when you, honestly, go to him in prayer, he will answer. 

 Jesus believes God will answer the prayers of the righteous.  Shouldn’t we?  Do you believe? 

 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” 

  John 15:7

 

Blessings,
Sheila