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“It Would Be a Merrier World”

Some thoughts… Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…  Ahhh, peace and quiet.  So nice… When you read this, Christmas will be less than a month away and the hustle and bustle will be going on, things to do and things to buy and people to see.  As I write this, Thanksgiving is not even here yet but Christmas lights are already up and Christmas decorations have been for sale in the store since July… well, maybe not THAT early! Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but I pray that Christmas this year will be more relaxed for everyone.  And a reminder, Christmas is not about getting presents but it IS about giving and kindness and love. “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” The Hobbit, Chapter 18  The Bible repeatedly urges us to keep material possessions in proper perspective, simply because we can’t take them with us when we leave this life.  As the apostle Paul wrote, “For we brought nothing into this world, ... Read More »

“What Am I Leaving Behind?”

I was having one of those nights where I could not sleep because I had so many thoughts going through my head. Read for a little bit but that didn’t help so I got up and turned the television on and there was a movie I had never seen, “The Accountant.” It had already started but I watched it and it was an intriguing plot which I will not share because I do not want to spoil it if you have not seen the movie. Anyway, at the end of the movie was a song that I had never heard, but after hearing it I could not get the lyrics out of my head. The song was called “To Leave Something Behind” sung by Sean Rowe. I googled it and found the lyrics and also stumbled across this meditation by Jake Owensby, a Louisiana Bishop in the Episcopal Church: Oh wisdom is lost in the trees somewhere You’re not going to find it in some mental gray hair It’s locked up from those who hurry ahead And it’s time to leave something behind I was just trying to leave something ... Read More »

“I Will Ease Your Mind”

I recently was driving down the road and a song came on the radio that I had not heard in a long, long time.  The song:  Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel.  I have always loved the song and it has always been comforting but never knew the story behind it.  The lyrics are:   When you’re weary, feeling small, When tears are in your eyes I will dry them all, I’m on your side Oh when times get rough, And friends just can’t be found Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down When you’re down and out, When you’re on the street When evening falls so hard, I will comfort you I’ll take your part, Oh when darkness comes And pain is all around Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down Sail on, silver girl, Sail on by, Your time has come to shine All your dreams are on their way, See how they shine Oh if ... Read More »

“Take Heart”

I recently attended The Global Leadership Summit (Continuing Education).  There were numerous speakers and they offered a lot of insight and resources.  One of the speakers was Bear Grylls.  He is an adventurer and his recent devotional, Soul Fuel, describes him as:  “From being one of the youngest climbers to scale Mount Everest to crossing the Arctic Ocean in an inflatable boat, these are just some of the amazing adventures Bear Grylls has undertaken in his incredible life.  Yet what you might not know is that wherever he is in the world – whether inside an ice cave or forging through a jungle – Bear starts each day on his knees, looking to his faith for the fuel to attack the day ahead.  He leads an exciting life but the one adventure that is closest to Bear’s heart is his personal journey with Jesus Christ.” Bear shared this story at the Summit.  He was a British soldier and wanted to become a member of the British Special Forces.  He applied and was accepted, one of 90 who had to endure a rigorous 9-month training.  He thought he could do it ... Read More »

“Are We Following God’s Plan?”

In her book, It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way, Lysa Terkeurst writes: Genesis tells us that the human heart was created in the perfection of the garden of Eden. Can you imagine what the world looked like when God first created it? When He said it was all good. Very good. And it was all perfect. Perfection’s symphony filled the atmosphere. Everything ebbed and flowed in complete harmony. It sang with the richest tones. And danced with ridiculous precision. There was nothing that didn’t look right or feel right. It was beautiful and peaceful and fulfilling. There was perfect peace in relationships. Adam and Eve were so beautifully connected to each other, and they lived in the perfect presence of God. It was paradise where God would interact in direct relationship with Adam and Eve. There was perfect provision and perfect fulfillment of their purpose. There was no sadness or confusion or injustice. There was no disease or divorce or depression or death. There were no misaligned motives, no manipulations, no malicious intentions. It was everything you could ever dream up and then so much more than that. So ... Read More »

“Stop… and Look Around!”

     Traveling is one of my passions.  I have always liked to travel.  I remember traveling with my parents and grandparents– vacations and camping and traveling all over Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois.  It was and is always exciting to see and experience new places.       Since then I have been blessed with seeing many places:  some while on vacation and some through ministry.  I have seen beauty, I have seen destruction, I have seen smiles, I have seen tears.  I have been on mission teams, ministry teams and Disaster Response teams and on vacation.  I have been to Costa Rica, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama, Chile and most of the continental United States.  I have helped with Disaster Response in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin.       Someone once asked me my favorite and least favorite places I have been.  The least favorite place (although I would go back again) would be Haiti.  I still have the images in my mind of all the poverty and struggles and tears (also, civil war broke out while I was there).  My favorite place without a doubt ... Read More »

“Why Me, Lord?”

     “Why Me, Lord?” is one of the first questions we often ask ourselves when tragedy strikes.   Maybe it is the loss of a job, troubles in a relationship, or health issues such as being told one has cancer.  For some of us, the same question comes up when we get a cold or the flu, or have a flat tire, or hit a deer, or break a nail or drop your phone or get caught in the rain without an umbrella.      Somewhere along the way, we have become convinced that life should go our way, all the time.  As a Christian, you may believe God will protect us from every tragedy, large or small.  God is good and because we are Christians, life thus should be fair.  However, life is not fair.  We learn that lesson early in life and about the time we forget, we are reminded with another painful lesson that hurts again.  So again, we ask, “Why Me, Lord?”      Maybe you feel like the path you are on is just unbearable, that it has gotten too steep or rocky?  Maybe it just seems ... Read More »

“We Must Pray for One Another”

Now on that same day two (disciples) were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went into stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scripture to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem. (Luke 24:13-16, 28-33) One of my favorite spiritual writers is Henry Nouwen. In Compassion: A ... Read More »

“A Little Good News”

We sure could use a little good news today!  The weather has been creating havoc, shootings have occurred in New Zealand and the Netherlands, violence is reported regularly on TV news coverage, newspaper articles detail people attacking and criticizing each other instead of working things out, a baby is found dead along  the roadside in Minnesota…  how about a little good news? Back in 1983 the topic was also raised about “A Little Good News”, a song recorded by Canadian country music artist Anne Murray.  In the United States, it was a #1 hit single, staying a total of 20 weeks on the country charts overall.  In the song, Anne Murray expresses despair over all of the violence and suffering she reads about in newspapers and witnesses on TV news coverage, and notes how wonderful it would be if, for just one day, the newspapers and television news anchors had nothing to report, because they had “nothing bad to say”. The lyrics are:  I rolled out this morning…. kids had the morning news show on                       Bryant Gumbel was talking about the fighting in Lebanon                       Some senator was squawking ... Read More »

Questions and Answers With “The Associate”

1. How old am I? 39 in May. I was going to give a long complex answer but I decided to stay with the short and simple 2. Am I married or have I been married? No, I haven’t been. My luck just isn’t there when it comes to this love stuff but I’m working on it. 3. How did I find myself in the ministry? I’ve always been part of the church since birth. When I was a teenager I thought about joining the ministry but went to a public school instead. After school, I returned home to work which only reinforced the position that I should become a pastor since many of my co-workers said I was really “pastor-like” or pious like a pastor. After working for 4 years I finally signed up for the ministry class and found myself at Garrett Evangelical by Chicago. My first appoint was a Peace UMC in Green Bay in 2013. 4. What does an associate pastor do the whole day? This is a good question. Some Associate Pastors are also youth or young adult pastors. Some others focus on music or ... Read More »

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