Saturday, August 31- “Why? Can You Make It Hotter?”

     Comedian George Wallace is a funny man. Here is a sample:
    “My mother could say some stupid things. I do something wrong, she’d say things that didn’t even make sense. “You go to your room and you stay there until you know how to act.” I’m in my room for three hours. I come out. She asks, “Did you learn how to act?” I said, “To be or not to be, that is the question.”
     “I was walking around Taiwan and bought some flip flops for my feet. I said I wonder where were these made. Looked under the bottom. It said, “just around the corner.”
     “Freaks everywhere. I went to a church in Chicago. Church had six Commandments and four do-the-best-you-cans.”
      He also had something to say about hot weather. He said, “Don’t you hate it when somebody comes up to you and says, ‘Is it hot enough for you?’ ‘WHY? Can you make it any hotter?!'”
     I live in the Midwest- northwestern Illinois, to be exact. And it’s August. Therefore…it’s hot. Plain and simple. Now, about 2 weeks ago, it was really rather nice. But one the MANY retired teachers who are members of the church I serve said, “It’s nice NOW…but school is starting soon. So it will be 102 degrees in the shade…with a heat index of 224 degrees…on the first day of school!” (That might be a SLIGHT exaggeration of what she actually said…but you get the idea!) And sure enough, on the first day of school…it was HOT. STINKING hot! Melt your shoes to the pavement hot. And, of course, the school my younger son attends…say it with me…has NO air conditioning! Fortunately, the first day of school was already scheduled as an early dismissal day. That’s good. But the five days of this week we NOT scheduled to be early dismissals…they just turned out that way!
     We Illinoians LOVE to complain about the weather- it’s TOO hot, it’s TOO cold, it’s TOO wet, it’s TOO dry! Whatever the weather is doing at any given moment…it’s too SOMETHING! And I will admit that I am as guilty of that behavior as anybody…especially when it’s hot! But here’s the truth of the matter…we can’t change the weather. (I know…right?!) So we have two choices: 1. complain about it or 2. embrace it!
     You know what? Regardless of the weather, THIS is the day that the Lord has made. This one. And this is the ONLY today we have. Therefore we need to rejoice and be glad in it. We need to recognize the fact that this day is a gift- another opportunity to be upright, breathing and about God’s business. We don’t know how many of these we will get. So we can’t afford to squander them by whining and complaining about how they aren’t perfect. Why? Because they ARE perfect- because they are made by God. And God don’t make no junk! (I believe that’s from The Message translation of thee Bible!) So enjoy today. Embrace today. Make the most of today. And most of all…serve God today!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
 Tomorrow- 3:16- Beyond the Gospel of John; A Many-Splendored Thing

Friday, August 30- Stripping, Waxing and Scotchgarding

     The church I serve has been in total, complete, utter turmoil over the past few days! Fortunately, the turmoil hasn’t been relational in nature…but physical. Let me explain!
     Our fall programming is about to kick off- and I mean ABOUT! And in anticipation of an already heavily-used building being used EVEN more, we wanted to get some of the more heavily-used areas of the church cleaned. So we brought a company in to A. clean and Scotchgard (and that IS a proper noun!) the carpet in our Fellowship Hall next to the Sanctuary and B. strip, clean and wax the tile floors in the basement…ALL the floors!
     What that has meant is that EVERY piece of furniture in those areas had to go…somewhere else. That alone was a challenge. It also meant that from Tuesday morning through THIS morning, those areas that are being cleaned are completely off limits. COMPLETELY off limits! Oh. My. Gosh! But we creatively figured out how to use other parts of the building, how to use different entrances…and how to dance around LOTS of tables, chairs and other assorted bits and pieces of furniture that have been piled EVERYWHERE but where they belong.
     As I have watched the building get a bit of a facelift…AND seen how challenging it has been, it has reminded me of how God works in our lives. Think about it- God often makes small “tweaks” in our lives. But sometimes, He feels the need to do a more…major…work. Sometimes, He has to move all the “furniture” out of our lives, block some often-used entrances and do some MAJOR stripping, waxing and Scotchgarding! It’s NOT fun, it’s NOT easy and it seems to take forever. BUT…when it’s over, when we make it out the other side, we are stronger, wiser and more able to face the trials and tribulations that life has to throw at us.
     The next time you feel like you are being stripped, waxed and Scotchgarded…take heart. While it’s NOT easy, you WILL come out the other end. And when you do, you will be glad that you faced the troubles…and survived. And when that happens, God will be able to use you to even greater purposes than He already is!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
 Tomorrow- “Why? Can You Make It Hotter?”

Thursday, August 29- The Trouble With the Holy Spirit

     I am applying for a new job. I know, I’ve been a United Methodist minister for 17 years. I went to school for 3 years to earn my Master’s Degree in Theology so that I could do this. My family and I have sacrificed much to be where we are. But I am applying for a new job. What IS that job, you ask? Publicist/Agent for the Holy Spirit- United Methodist division!
     OK…so maybe I’m NOT getting a new job! (Frankly, I can’t imagine what else I COULD do- A. I feel fully and completely called by God to do exactly what I’m doing and B. I have NO other appreciable skills anyway!) But I have become more and more aware of the fact that the Holy Spirit needs a Publicist/Agent. He MUST- so many churches don’t seem to know anything about Him. And we ALL know that, if you want to raise your visibility, you hire a Publicist/Agent! (To all of my theater/acting/show biz friends- I DO understand that there is a difference between a Publicist and an Agent! But for my purposes today…just play along!) And since the Holy Spirit CLEARLY has a problem with visibility…I would like to offer my services!
     Seriously, I just finished teaching Week 5 of a Six-Week class on the Holy Spirit. And the material has been very…eye-opening. Many people who are attending one of the 2 weekly sessions have shared just how impactful the class has been on their awareness and understanding of the Holy Spirit. Even me, Mr. Fancy Master’s Degree 17 Years in the Ministry (that’s a LONG name!), has had some serious epiphanies regarding the working of the Holy Spirit during these past few weeks.
     The Holy Spirit isn’t just some…”ghost”…who is part of the Trinity…a part we don’t think or talk much about. Instead, He is the very essence of God…His Spirit…that Jesus sent to dwell within us when He ascended to Heaven after the post-resurrection appearances. Jesus lived WITH the disciples while He was here on Earth, but the One He sent, the Holy Spirit, lives IN us- guiding us, moving us, prompting, prodding and behooving us. And if we are open to Him, willing to let Him lead us…control us…then our lives will be blessed beyond measure. It doesn’t mean everything will be “perfect” by Earthly standards. It means that our priorities…our lives…will be led by something much stronger, much greater than the things of Earth!
     Be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He is God’s emissary in this world- God’s ONLY emissary. He is living IN us and wants to FILL us, so that we may better serve God by serving others!
     Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day! Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!
 Tomorrow- Stripping, Waxing and Scotchgarding