Tuesday, March 15, 2016

God is Good

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. 14 You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven. 
~ Matthew 5:13-16

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Thank you for being a friend...

Koinonia is about a circle of friends uniting and working together for the Kingdom of God.  Thank you for being a friend.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Are you listening?

When you pray, do you listen?  Many times, our prayer life ends up more like receiving a phone call where the person on the other end of the line does all of the talking without letting us get in a word at all.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Embrace the New Covenant

We seem to be held captive by a series of "If/then" contractual agreements, how liberating it is for God to extend to us a unilateral covenant with no qualifiers.  Embrace the new covenant!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Embark on the Lenten Journey with Granbury FUMC

Join us at Granbury FUMC as we embark on the Lenten Journey.  Pastor Scott's new series, "Circles,"  beginning this Sunday will be examining each aspect of our commitment as United Methodist Church members to support the church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. Each week, there will be a new Lenten Devotional video blog, or "vlog" to provide further thoughts, meditations, and considerations for our Lenten Season as we prepare for Resurrection Sunday.  We hope you will take the Journey with us!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

After a very enlightening visit to the dentist a few months ago, we were overjoyed to discover that Caroline (6 yrs) has a few of her baby teeth that are hosting a nasty cavity or 2 and it was going to mean fillings. So, a few weeks ago, we decided to up the ante  of tooth care and add mouthwash to the girls’ nightly bed time ritual of homework, showers, and brushing teeth.  

For Cadence (8 yrs), it was pretty easy going….for those of you that know Caroline, you know that very little with her is easy going.  We tell people that our girls’ personalities match their hair.  Cadence has straight brown hair, which means she is fairly laid back.  She really likes to be in bed by 8:30, and by 9:00 she begins to get very anxious about it being so late and then proceeds to go to sleep pretty quick.  Caroline, on the other had has curly blonde hair, and I’m pretty sure if we had had her first, we would have stopped there.  I’m reminded of an episode of her getting ready for preschool a few years ago.  After being told she couldn’t wear her special, ruby red, Dorothy from Wizard of Oz, church shoes to school, it resulted in a rolling on the floor, you’ve ripped my arms off catastrophe with repeated shouts of “I won’t be beautiful.”  So, needless to say, introducing something new like mouthwash, something you and I might find commonplace, for Caroline was in fact the end of the world.  

What started out as a small conflict of want vs. need, quickly shifted to a titan battle of wills that I refused to lose…but of course so did she.  She was hysterically terrified of this idea of mouthwash.  We explained how to do it, we both demonstrated how you take a little in your mouth, swash it around to wash all of your teeth, and then spit it out.  We even bought children’s bubble gum flavor! She was not having.  Caroline could not in any way move beyond the crippling fear that she could accidentally swallow the mouthwash and then it would make her sick or even worse.  

After a couple of hours of my wife and I tag teaming the grudge match, we finally decided the level  of Caroline’s hysteria had moved far beyond any chance of this being a fruitful venture and decided to let her calm down.  Then we tried to discussed with her in detail about the alleged poison and let her go to bed with the promise we would try again the next night.  (Which we did by the way and she was surprisingly immune to the arsenic laced substance.)

As she was beginning to calm down, I went into her room to try to console her and have a more rational conversation about the nights events.  I scooped her up  and held her in my lap amidst the sobs and whimpers and asked her, “Caroline, don’t you know that mommy and daddy love you?”  Yes.  “Don’t you know that mommy and daddy would never do any thing, or ask you to do anything that would ever hurt you?”  Yes.  “Then what are you afraid of?”  “I might swallow it.”  

Caroline’s fear of the the unknown, of taking the step to follow what Katie and I were asking her to do (which was undoubtedly for her own good, and for the health of her teeth) had nothing to do with her questioning our love for her.  She in no way thought that we would ever intentionally harm her or ask her to do something that would harm her.  Her fear stemmed from a lack of trust in herself.  She was terrified that her own body would somehow betray her and inadvertently swallow this substance that in her mind could harm her.  

Caroline didn’t trust herself or her body.  For example, when a bird lands on a tree branch I wonder if the little bird lands on the tree branch trusting that the branch is not going to break, or does the bird have trust that the wings that carried him to branch can carry him to safety if the branch does break?

Many times, our God calls us into the unknown, and many times our fear cripples us from answering the call.  Our typical indictment is that we simply do not trust that God can carry us through that which we are called.  However, in this line of thinking, we sell ourselves (and that which our Sovereign has created) short.  Our God created us, and our bodies.  These shells, mortal as they may be host a myriad of complex and fascinating systems and mechanics; not to mention the amazing gifts and graces that God has bestowed out of love for us.  I tend to believe that if God is calling us to something it is because God has gifted and graced us with the skills and abilities to achieve that call.  Does that mean that we can always see that?  No, and that is why often times with don’t answer the call.  We don’t trust ourselves, and all that God has created in us.  

So, today is a word of encouragement.  Ephesians chapter 2, verse 10 states that we are God’s craftmanship.  Other translations use the word, “masterpiece.”  Now this particular verse is in a much longer discord with the Church at Ephesus where the Author is proclaiming a great message of hope to the readers.  Because of their response to the Gospel, they are now experiencing a radical transformation of their personal and social identity.  For the Author,  they are in a way, being resocialized into God’s purposes and family.   But, I think it can also speak to this same notion.  God created us…. God knows us, and if God is calling us to it, then it must be because God has already created or is creating the tools needed.  

The Psalmist echoes this idea in celebration of God’s work in them.   So, I close with the words of Psalm 139:   “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful…

Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why Would You Do That to Me?!

        I remember the moment quite vividly.  A few short months after Caroline was born, we were sitting in the exam room at her pediatrician's office for a check-up and vaccinations.  This particular morning, Caroline was her typical cheery self (as long as we kept her belly full), and the well check-up went smoothly.  But, then it happened!  The nurse came into the room with a tray carrying a few syringes for Caroline's boosters.  Obviously Caroline was completely in the dark about what was about to happen, but she was soon to be made aware.  The nurse routinely prepared each shot, and alcohol swab and laid them each out carefully in preparation for the event that she somehow anticipated was in our near future.  It's almost as if she had done this before and could see the writing on the wall.    Believe it or not, children (nor their parents I might add) enjoy the feeling of sharp metal being thrust into their meaty flesh with the force of a speeding bullet.  (Yes, I'm exaggerating.....just go with it!)  So, the nurse proceeded in swabbing the spot on Caroline's plump little thigh and grabbed the needle.

       I have always felt that we learn best from messing something up.  In fact, when dealing with working on cars, or any home improvement project (please don't ask my wife about the latter subject), I have always felt that if you really mess something up you will never forget how to do it again.  While this is true, it is in the first months of our earthly life that we learn the most about the world around us.  Hot, cold, happy, sad, what tastes good, what doesn't, etc.  Even how to perform basic daily functions like walking and talking we learn in the first few years of our existence.  This was one of those times for Caroline.  As the nurse plunged the needle into Caroline's thigh, every nerve in that location of her leg sent a message to her brain of pain.  It was in that moment that I made eye contact with her.  I saw in her face a look of pain, confusion, and fear all at once. It's easy to dismiss these sensations when we have experienced them so often as to the point that a simple shot from our physician seems commonplace.  But for Caroline, this was a first, and she was not a fan.  If she could have spoken, I believe her words would have been, "Why would you do that to me?!"
       I remember in that moment a sudden feeling of despair and helplessness and it broke my heart.  I am her father, and it is my responsibility to care for her, provide for her, love her, and most importantly protect her.  This was a pain that I could not protect her from, a pain that I could not take away no matter how much I wanted to.  
        We serve a God that never, in any circumstance, desires for God's children to hurt.  While we do in fact live in a world that contains within it forces that are at the very least contrary to God, God never causes us to hurt.  God is a God of reconciliation and fulfillment, not of pain.  Personally, I have never understood how one can find comfort in believing that God would orchestrate, or cause hurt and pain in our life.  These things happen in our life because we live in a fallen world, more times than not, they are the result of our choices or the choices of others around us.  And...when they do happen, it is God grieving with us and for us as well.  God never desires for us to hurt.

       So, what do we do then with Good Friday?  Well, we could easily find ourselves in a heated theological debate as to whether or not God meticulously planned out all of the events surrounding Jesus' earthly ministry, death and resurrection.... Or, we can spend our time in these last days of Lent celebrating the hope we find in the reconciling act of our Redeemer.

       Yes, Jesus did in fact suffer and die, and was indeed resurrected!  This is the great truth of reconciliation and fulfillment of our God.  Paul tells us that it was a death and punishment in our place, to satisfy the impossible coexistence of our holy God, and a fallen world.  And, I might add, that in that moment that Jesus took his last breath, scripture gives us a few examples that God was grieving as well.

        As we approach this Good Friday and Lent comes to a close, spend some time in prayer and thanksgiving for the reconciling, redeeming, fulfilling act of our Creator.  I will leave you with these words from our Savior:

"...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world!"