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One of Our Freedoms

Yesterday the USA celebrated Independence Day.

One of our freedoms is choosing where, how, and with whom we’ll worship…or not.

“If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” — Joshua 24:15.

In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “Ya gotta serve somebody.”

Your call.

Free to Be…What Exactly?

Rev. Travis Garner is a United Methodist pastor in Tennessee. Last Sunday he wrote and shared this publicly and it’s too good not to pass along to you. It comes in the context of the recent SCOTUS “5-4″ decision that has so many inflamed —

I’m a pastor to both the 5 and to the 4. I’m a pastor to people who sharply disagree with one another. And the bottom line is this: all are welcomed in my church and loved unconditionally by God. And all are asked and enabled to become more than what they are when they walked in the door – a person who is continually growing and transforming into the likeness of Christ. I am grateful that this morning, at my church, there will be space for everyone; all are invited.

From Ephesians 4: “May we all be rooted and established in love, completely humble and gentle, patient, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Remembering that there is one body and one Spirit, and one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”

—All I can add is my Amen. Have a happy and safe 4th of July!

What Kind of Children?

If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Massively big huge colossal word at the start of that sentence.

Great promise. From John 8:36.

But there’s that word.

Only two letters.

If.

Sometimes the very first letter of the word has been the biggest problem.

can be my biggest problem.

Oh, you know that experience, too?

Let’s keep reading: If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

On this 4th of July weekend, which for some has already started today, I’d like to prescribe John 8:2-11 for all of us. That scene with Jesus and that woman sets the tone for our highlighted verse: If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

And if you’re thinking you’ve heard it all before, pay attention to the spin The Aramaic Bible in Plain English gives John 8:36: If The Son therefore will set you free, you will truly be the children of liberty.

Great new identity: you and me, children of liberty.

Thanks be unto God. Can I get an Amen?

“Love ‘Em and Leave” says Rev. Roger

His best advice for ministry is “You just serve and love ’em. And leave the rest up to God.”

So said Rev. Roger in his pastoral retirement moment at our area’s Annual Conference last month.

This isn’t just for clergy, but for every follower of Christ Jesus and our everyday interactions with other people.

“You just serve and love ’em. And leave the rest up to God.”

By the grace of God, let’s do that today.

“She Did What She Could”

He was Wally when we were in school, but now he’s Rev. Warren Latham. Love this guy.

Here’s one example of why, and it’s with his permission that I share this with you:

 

Mark 14:8, “She did what she could.”

These are the words of Jesus

concerning the woman who poured

the alabaster jar of ointment

on his head in the home of Simon the Leper.

I hope he can say that about me.

 

Wow. (Ask me sometime about the Methodist Seminary he’s started in Venezuela.)

As we start this new month of July together, join me in making his hope ours: I hope Christ can say of you and me, “They did what they could.”

See you back here tomorrow.

Which is Harder?

Some stuff sounds easy, but is difficult in real life.

A couple of weeks ago we had our denomination’s geographic Annual Conference.

Part of that includes a Retirement Service with commentary from those pastors being honored for their years of ministry.

One shared this, and like the others in this series it’s not just for clergy: “Love the people and avoid negativity.”

Those two actions go hand-in-hand.

“Love the people and avoid negativity.”

Which is more difficult for you?

I’ll admit the “avoid negativity” part sometimes feels impossible for me. As a former Bishop of ours said, we live in a Culture of Criticism. And it’s only gotten worse in the decade since she said that.

To be honest, I get worn down by it to the point of great despair. And on a fairly regular basis.

“Love the people and avoid negativity.”

Which is harder for you, and what do you do about that?

 

Oops — Monday #8

 Don’t just do the minimum that will get you by.

Do your best.

Work from the heart for your real Boss, for God,

confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance.

Keep in mind always that the ultimate Boss you’re serving is Christ.

The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible.

Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.

— Colossians 3:22,23

“I didn’t study for the test, but God will help me.”

“I didn’t practice this solo. In fact, my trombone’s dusty. But God will help me.”

“Nobody’ll ever know.”

“Just this once.”

“Don’t tell.”

But then, coming in like a wrecking ball, is this: Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.

“Oops” won’t work.

You and I have to work, and we have to do our best work.

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